Searching For D’an

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Earth’s sister planet Panole Siris – Tedn Galaxy

During the Second Cycle of Aton,

They searched for D’an for two straight days before catching him hiding in the caves of the Atmont Wilderness Territory.

Prior to that, D’an’s life was spent traveling and studying other civilizations. He was a genius who roamed the planet alone. He visited the largest cities in Panole Siris Major, and trekked through the blazing deserts of Panole Siris Minor.

He claimed no one place as his home. He taught himself the disciplines of math, physics, biology, archeology, and digital technology. His powerful brain was capable of remembering anything he ever learned, and saw.

Whenever he came to a city, or small village, his reputation preceded him and he was welcomed. He always shared knowledge that benefited their lives. It was considered a high honor if he came to where they lived.

While visiting the city of Evermist, D’an was approached by two men who asked him to meet with their master. He graciously accepted the invitation and followed them to a mansion in the wealthy Ka Corners section of the city.

Their master, Khel Oreda, was one of the richest men on the planet. His guides took him inside, then excused themselves and disappeared down a long corridor.

D’an waited for him in the massive entryway, casually noticing the signs of wealth everywhere. Sculptures made from rare metals graced the ornate shelves around the room.

Finally, Khel Oreda made his grand entrance down a marble stairway that ended where he stood waiting. He was a short squat man dressed in clothing that glittered when he moved.

“Thank you, kind sir, for coming,” Oreda said.

“How could I turn down an invitation from someone as important as you,” D’an replied with a smile.

“No banter then, if you don’t mind. I’ll get right to the point. I need you help.”

D’an’s calm expression never changed. “I have been known to help people. It’s in my nature. However, I do have limits regardless of the stories you may have heard. I’m not always able to assist.”

 “Then hear me out, and let me know if you can. Please, take a seat in the chair right there.”

Oreda paced back and forth for a moment before speaking, “I want immortality. I want you to help me live forever. If there’s one person on this planet that could do it…it’s you! I’ve prepared a laboratory that I think will impress you, stocked with all of the latest technology known today.

“If you help me, I will make you the second most wealthy man on the planet. Just think of the many projects you could finance to help needy people? You’d be able to buy anything your heart desires.

“Will you help me?” 

A very ambitious project sir. Will you allow me to think about it for a day?”

“Of course. You can spend the night here,” Oreda offered.

“Thank you, but I have someone waiting for me. That’s why I came to this city.”

“Tomorrow afternoon then. I’ll see you out.”

Atmont Wilderness Territory.

The moment after D’an left Oreda’s mansion he decided against helping him. He was uneasy with the request. It just didn’t feel right. What he wanted would have repercussions somewhere down the road.

Within an hour D’an had secured a ride to the Atmont Wilderness Territory. It was a place he sometimes came to meditate at. There were fruit trees and bushes with eatable berries to live on. Wild potatoes could also be found.

The caves provided shelter from the elements. But not from pursuers! The two men who guided him to Oreda, appeared one day and forcibly took him captive.

The City of Evermist – Oreda’s Secret Laboratory

“I’m really disappointed in you D’an. I hoped you, a man of many sciences and disciplines, would jump at a chance to extend life forever. Now, what will I do with you? You ran off like a frightened school boy instead of the greatest genius of our time!

I could torture you until you agree to help me. I could turn you into a zombie and let you wander around the putrid slums of this city until you die of starvation. Or, I hope your listening closely, I could give you another chance to change your mind. What will it be?”

As he spoke D’an formed a plan.

Plainly my best choice is to cooperate. With that in mind, I’ll attempt to do something no one before me has done. I’ll need time to inspect what’s available here, and to request anything I may still need to grant your …request.” 

Three Months Later.

“You understand why I have to transfer your brain into the cyborg I created. It would outlive your decaying body otherwise. Have no fear. Your two men are here. Nothing will go wrong.”

D’an put the gas mask over his mouth and counted to ten before removing it. His sleeping patient was ready for surgery. Hours later, the transfer was complete. He gave instructions to his two men on how to take care of him, and left, as agreed.

He was no prophet, but was reasonably sure Oreda would regret getting his request.

A Year Later.

Oreda the Cyborg was an outcast.

Civilization wasn’t comfortable with the Freak who could live forever. His cyborg body was so far in advance of the current technology that it would take 500 years before another of his kind would be created.

Historians say that Oreda was last seen wandering in the vast deserts of Panole Siris Minor searching for D’an.

As It Stands, this tale is a twist on getting more than you bargained for.

The Great Whodini Aka Malgog

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Roaring 20s – America

It was a Golden Age for magic in America, thanks to escape artist and magician Harry Houdini, and his contemporaries.

The competition among magic acts was fierce with performers like George The Supreme Master of Magic, Chang and Fak-Hong, Thurston The World Famous Magician, Alexander, The Man Who Knows, and the Black Houdini.

Some may argue that it was a time of naivety and gullibility. One thing was for sure, people were always looking for the next great trick, or escape. This story is about one of those magicians.

Pima, Arizona – The Valley of the Gila River

It was just breaking light when the Martian space ship crashed into a copse of trees near the Gila River. Two, of the crew of three, were killed on impact. The survivor was still inside an escape pod that was never launched.

When Malgog woke up hours later, he felt like every bone in his body was broken. His head ached and his vision was blurred. Somehow he got out of the pod that was partially pinned down by a massive bank of computers that shifted on impact.

Instinct told him to get clear of the crippled craft. Once outside he looked around at his surroundings. No cities. No people. That was a good. He crawled back inside of the ship and gathered some supplies.

While inside, he activated two plasma bombs. He was almost a mile away when they went off, disintegrating the ship. The glow competed with the rising sun.

Malgog was stranded. Marooned on Earth. He knew full well he’d never see the underground oceans of Mars again. If nothing else, Malgog was logical. He was also thankful that he could live in Earth’s environment.

The tunnels and caverns of Mars provided an atmosphere much like Earth’s.

As he walked through the rough countryside, he began mentally preparing himself for contact with earthlings. He had a language app on his wristband that sent translations directly into the receiver implanted in the back of his skull.

He reviewed what he learned in the Galaxy Guide To The Planets. There was a summary of mankind’s evolution and history that left off somewhere after the Civil War in America.

Malgog had two very positive things going for him; like all Martians he could read minds, and his strength was that of five men.

When he reached the little town of Pima, founded by the Mormons in 1879, he walked down the wooden sidewalk peering inside of windows. He passed the bat doors of the town saloon, and approached a man sitting on a wooden chair precariously balanced on two legs.

He had a bottle of whiskey in one hand and was mumbling to himself when Malgog said “Hello.”

It startled him enough to bring his chair down on all fours as the man looked up at the speaker. He was a tall man with a good tan and a bald head. He was also wearing an outfit like the drunk had never seen before.

It was a black one-piece affair that fit like a second skin. He wore a belt with metal pouches. The drunk, whose name was Arron, looked at the wall near where Malgog was standing and the poster on it.

The poster featured a colorfully clad magician waving a wand and wearing a cape.

“Hello, right back at you,” he replied. “Who are you? A magician? The next Whodini?” he laughed heartedly at his own joke.

An inspiration came to Malgog, and he said “Yes. I’m the Great Malgog!”

That seemed to sober Arron up a bit and he took a long look at him.

“Where’s you cape?” he demanded.

“Lost. I could use your help. I’m stranded here without any means due to unfortunate circumstances.”

“I like the name Whodini better,” he mused. “All right then friend, follow me. You can sleep on the floor in my rented room. I might even have an extra blanket. Been getting cold at night. It’s almost winter.”

Two Year’s Later.

Arron still couldn’t believe his luck. Malgog turned out to be an instant hit on the magic circuit, and he was his manager. No more Podunk towns like Pima. They had a grand house in Boulder, Colorado. Servants and all.

Malgog was so popular in the Midwest that he and Arron only picked the best venues. Their partnership was solid, and served them both well. In the main room of their elegant house there were photographs of him lifting impossibly heavy objects.

Theatre posters with examples of The Great Malgog’s magic tricks also adorned the lavishly decorated room.

His success did not rob him of his logic. He purposely stayed away from the West and East coast magic circuits. The one thing he didn’t want to do was to become so famous that people demanded to know about his background.

He could invent one, but it could eventually be debunked. Instead he preferred to be a man of mystery in real life. He never granted interviews with the press and always left by back exits after his performances.

Arron was his connection to the world. After six years Malgog retired, and they bought a ranch near Billings, Montana. Before Malgog died 15 years later of natural causes, he confessed his true identity to Arron…his one friend on Earth. He creamated the stranded Martian and threw his personal things into a lake.

But, Arron couldn’t just let Malgog’s story go untold. When he went to the press he was greeted with skepticism and laughter. Finally, his brother appeared and put the now frail old man in a home.

So, now you know the story of the greatest magician there ever was – and it wasn’t Harry Houdini.

As It Stands, this tale of a marooned Martian was a fun way to revive the Golden Age of magic.

The Liar Legion’s Last Stand

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Andromeda Galaxy – Westrah, Ursae

The leader of the once unchallenged Liar Legions looked down at the valley below at the armies assembling against him and his warriors.

Arken was the legion’s last surviving  general. As he stood atop Mountain Purn his mind wandered. He remembered when he joined the legions as a mere boy of sixteen. Now, 30 years later, he and his men were all that stood between the Truth Teller hoards and his way of life.

He recalled better days when there was no penalties for lying. Just the opposite, a good liar moved up quickly in the legion leadership ranks. It had been so for uncounted centuries.

But the new century saw the rise of the unrelenting Truth Tellers. They based their beliefs on the truth – no matter how hard it was to pursue. For decades they infiltrated the government and quietly took it over – a bloodless coup…at first…

That changed after the riots in Tel-Pa city when a crowd of Truth Tellers killed two of the government’s legionnaires. In the ensuing crackdown, four Truth Tellers were arrested and later executed.

That was the moment when the Liar Legions saw the writing on the wall – they were no longer in charge because of their beliefs. Three legion generals gathered all the warriors who were willing to fight and die.

The chronicles say that many of the legions men surrendered and took oaths to always tell the truth. The hard-core that remained assembled in the nearby mountains. They picked the highest point, Mt. Purn, for their headquarters.

From there, they conducted raids against the ever-swelling ranks of the Truth Tellers. A year passed, before the combined forces of the Truth Tellers were able to overwhelm the legion’s outposts.

They still faced a formidable climb to get to the top of the mountain. Arken’s warriors set traps everywhere. It was winter and the freezing winds lashed out like a living thing. Yet, the legionnaires all knew it was just a matter of time before they died defending their beliefs.

Arken looked down at the base of the mountain where tens of thousands of tents were pitched. They were color coded by divisions. Their brilliant colors reminded Arken of when he was a child playing in the flowery fields of Danber, his birthplace.

It was there that he leaned how to properly lie, and when to lie. There were rules. He was schooled in them before being allowed to join the legions. There was a time for white lies, and a time for outright lies.

The right to lie was his inheritance. Being a patriot, he happily joined the legions and rose through the ranks. He could think of no greater honor than to die defending his beliefs.

As his mind wandered one of the warriors came running up to him.

“It’s started,” he said.

Arken tore himself away from his thoughts and followed the scout to the south side of the mountain. They looked like ants below. An endless line of ants slowly working their way up to them.

By midday the ants were working their steady way up from all directions. Hundreds died in the lethal traps his men set, but the others just pushed on relentlessly.

Arden wished they’d have had more time to fortify their headquarters. The outer wall was only five-feet tall. Not enough to stop a determined warrior.

When the first of the attackers finally hacked his way up and over the wall, he was met by a shield wall of grim veteran legionnaires. Others followed. Spears stopped the first wave of Truth Tellers.

The second wave battered the sword swinging legionnaires but their shield wall held fast. The enemy had to clear thousands of bodies out of the way to resume the attack. The depleted ranks of the Liar Legions prepared themselves for the third wave.

Despite the carnage Arken was still alive and leading his warriors. His armor was battered and covered in gore, like the others. As they waited for the next wave it began to snow.

That’s when the final assault was launched.

As It Stands, this tale is an opportunity to examine the validity of belief systems.

Swimming With Sharks On Saturn

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Saturn – Newil Intergalactic Air and Space Center

“Be careful you clumsy idiots! If you drop that tank I’ll have your hairy hides for lunch!” the loading dock foreman shouted.

The four giant Ujit laborers from Uranus growled to themselves as they slowly walked down the ramp. The glass cage was covered with a black tarp. Inside, a Great White shark slept, dreaming of easy prey.

The Ujit’s were met by a lifter robot. It took the cage with ease and rolled off to a special receiving area for earth’s sharks.

Newil City – The Temple Of Meat 

“And I say to you my children, there are many pathways to Heaven. Swimming with sharks is one of them,” the preacher said.

The congregation of 500 worshippers all tapped their feet in unison and chanted, “We are meat! We are meat! We are God’s chosen elite.”

As they chanted, a line formed next to a massive aquarium. A ladder led to a small platform at the top where worshippers jumped off and swam for their lives. A school of sharks instantly descended upon the first swimmer.

The water quickly turned red as they tore the worshipper apart. Meanwhile, more worshippers were jumping in and swimming for a safe platform set up on the north side of the giant aquarium.

The congregation watched in fascination as the sharks mauled, mutilated, and ate their fellow worshippers. On this particular day, one worshipper actually made it to the safe platform unharmed.

A roar of approval went up as he raised his arms in triumph. He was a saint now, joining the others who successfully made it before him.

Newil City Hall

The city elders were having a special meeting to decide what to do about some of the religious cults that were luring innocent Saturnians away from their civilized society and beliefs.

Some, like The Temple of Meat, slaughtered their own parishioners, but were able to get away with it because all religions were allowed to practice their faith in any way they saw fit.

It was the law.

The city elders argued for hours about possible solutions to stop the dangerous trend. Cults were popping up in the city like poisonous mushrooms. Something had to be done. They had no way of knowing that an answer was coming soon.

It started when the earthlings decided the declining population of sharks demanded an answer. An international, and intergalactic, message was sent out by authorities, “Earth’s sharks can no longer be hunted, or imported.”

The House of Meat maintained an enormous underground habitat for it’s sharks. A dedicated staff fed and took care of them. Despite their best efforts, all attempts to breed them failed. So, they did their best to keep them alive for as long as possible.

When the first quake hit, it was like an atomic bomb had gone off beneath the city of Newil. Huge fissures opened in seconds. Then a pause. Then a series of lesser quakes that shook domes, bridges, and towers for minutes.

Among the devastation was the shark habitat. The waters had drained away leaving broken glass and slowly dying sharks.

Among the survivors were three “saints” from the Temple Of Meat. They realized that they could no longer practice their religion on Saturn. With heavy hearts, but with hope, they took the next commercial flight to earth.

After reading all they could about earth, they decided to go to the United States of America where everyone was guaranteed the right to practice their own religion.

As It Stands, this piece is an off-beat comment on religions, and people’s rights.

Days of Discovery, Nights of Terror

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Alternate Earth, Andromeda

Plex was an adventurer, amateur archeologist, assassin, and lone wolf.

Since being abandoned at six-years old, Plex had always been on his own. His remarkable survival skills were legendary.

His adventures over the course of two decades, were chronicled in every planet in the solar system. His very name became synonymous with fantastic discoveries and daring deeds.

The mountains of Moibus, Ceres IV

Plex could barely see through his goggles. The snow storm was turning into a full-on blizzard when he spotted the building. A round granite tower with one door and no windows.

When he drew near, he saw an old man open the door and gesture for him to enter. Once inside, they descended down a flight of stone stairs and emerged into a great cavern. Candles were burning in little alcoves cut into the native stone.

Shadows danced along the rugged rock walls and the lava stalagmites that rose as high as a hundred feet in the air. The light from the candles reflected off the eyes of little creatures peering out from jagged rock formations.

They walked for a while in silence as the guide led Plex into a network of twisting tunnels. Finally they came to a large room where a throne sat. It’s inhabitant was a tall gangly man with white hair and beard. He wore an ornate helmet.

His guide backed out of the room, bowing with respect.

Are you the one they call Plex?” the man on the throne asked in a shrill voice.

“I am, lord,” he replied.

“It’s said that you accept any challenge, as long as it makes for a good adventure and pays well.” 

“That’s true.”

“Well then, I have a challenge for you that should be irresistible.”

 “I’m listening, lord of Moibus.”

“I want you to go to Hell and get my wife who should not be there. It’s me, Satan has a problem with. He cannot hurt me in my kingdom, but he had his minions capture her when she was taking a nap in the courtyard one day.

How can I enter hell? I’m still alive, and the devil hasn’t come for me yet?”

“My necromancer has a spell that will allow you to enter hell, and return with my wife.”

“I’m intrigued, but I’m still curious what kind of bounty  you’re offering? The rumors I heard suggested a person’s weight in the rarest gems in the galaxy.”

“It’s true. Look behind me at the open chests with gems spilling out onto the ground,” the Lord of Moibus assured him.

Plex walked over to them and studied the glittering mass, buying time before giving an answer.

“Where’s your necromancer?”

Hell.

To Plex’s surprise, Hell was darker than a coal mine during a full eclipse of the two suns that surrounded Ceres IV. The spell transported him instantly.

If not for the occasional fire accompanied with screams, he was blind. The thought of finding anyone seemed like a dark joke. He didn’t know which way to go. He steadied himself from panicking and tried to remember everything the necromancer told him.

He counted one hundred steps and stopped. Turning to his right he knocked on the obsidian wall and it swung inward, exposing a dimly lit, sparely decorated room. A woman sat on a small bed and watched him with curiosity as he entered.

“Have you come to free me from eternal nightmares?” she asked with tears in her eyes.

Yes. Come here, and let me hold your hands.”

As she approached the necromancer’s words came to him;

“Hand-in-hand. Hand-in-hand. Let go, to save a soul.”

As they grasped hands he realized the mistake he made, after repeating the chant. Save a soul. One soul. Not two souls!

He didn’t have time to blink his eye before she disappeared, and the lights went out!

As It Stands, a price is often paid for those bold adventurers who go where no one else has gone before.

The Pleasure House of Pindor

 

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Pindor, Venus – circa 2339

Entry into the Pleasure House of Pindor was based upon a point system.

It was the goal of every Venusian to someday go to a Pleasure House. Every city had one.

They accumulated points by serving the government. Depending upon their position in the government, some added points faster than others.

For instance, gardeners were highly prized. Only the best were hired to take care of the planet’s greatest national treasure – the Passion bush, which bloomed year-round.

Venusians weren’t allowed to enter the point system until they were of age and actively serving the government.

Dorin was only months away from being qualified to serve the government. All of his life he listened to his elders sing the praises of the Pleasure Palaces. Going to one meant an eternity of peace and joy.

For years, Dorin walked past the Pindor Pleasure Palace on his way to school. He memorized the beautiful towers and golden domes, often dreaming of them. His curiosity was so great about what happened in the Pleasure Palaces, he often plotted ways of sneaking inside one.

With two weeks to go before Dorin could work for the government, he found a way to get inside.

After carefully casing out the front door from behind a lush Passion Plant (known throughout the solar system for their beauty) that surrounded the building, Dorin saw three people approach.

Two government officials in their pale green uniforms escorting a man in white robes.

One of the officials held up a small metal disk and the door slide open. Without thinking, Dorin followed the group before the door closed. Once inside he dropped down to all fours and stayed as far behind the small group as he could.

Still, if one of the officials had turned around he would have been spotted in the bright light of the lavish entryway. Murals with Mindor Birds flying over green hills graced the opulent room.

Rare Venusian artifacts were displayed on tables and shelves on one side. Soothing celestial melody came from hidden speakers. The whole effect was encouraging to Dorin.

He saw the small group enter a doorway that glittered with rare elements. Surprising even himself, Dorin got up the courage to follow them. When he opened the door there was a hallway that ran for about fifty-feet, before splitting off left and right to two more corridors.

The trio had disappeared.

He picked the one on the right, and immediately saw a row of windows and doors. Cautiously, he peeked through the first window. He was in time to see a doctor give the man a shot in the arm.

The man sunk to the ground and died with a smile on his face. Two white-clothed orderlies threw the body on a cart and wheeled it out the door. Shocked, Dorin backed away from the window.

His heart was beating so fast, he could hear it. He wanted to run, but some perverse curiosity urged him to look into another window. He almost screamed! Inside was a meat rack with dead Venusians hanging from their feet!

A row of butchers were chopping off arms and legs and placing heads and torsos on a conveyor belt that disappeared into another room. Plastic barrels of the limbs were carted off by more workers.

Numb with shock, Dorin moved down the hallway and peeked into another window. He watched with growing horror as torsos and heads were put into large grinding machines that turned them into a lumpy pulp.

Connected to the grinding system was a belt carrying buckets of the pulp to metal containers with Plant Food written on them.

As It Stands, controlling people can only be achieved when they buy into a great lie.

Scotties Galaxy Space Route

 

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Houston, Texas 2122

Executives at the main mail terminal watched The Milky Way Mail Express quickly disappear into the heavens.

“So, this is your first time eh?” Captain Scott “Scottie” Jorgenson asked his new co-pilot.

“It is! I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally get off the ground. I hated my earth route in Atlanta, Georgia.” 1st Class Delivery Mate, Morris Mayweather, replied.

“This solar system route takes a year to complete. Then you start all over again,” Scottie warned.

“I knew what I signed up for sir…”

“Don’t call me sir! My name is Scott. If you want, you can call me “Scottie.”

“Okay. What’s it like on Mars, our first stop?”

“Let’s put it this way, you won’t be exposed to the Martian landscape or atmosphere. We land in a company airport with a simulated earth environment. Martian Milky Way Mail Express Terminal employees will offload our cargo as we have a spicy Martian rum at the airport bar.”

“Damn!” Morris exclaimed, “it doesn’t get any better than this!”

“Remember that when we get to Neptune,” Scottie said.

“What do you mean by that?” a suddenly worried Morris asked.

“Nothing… don’t worry about it. Every planet is different is all I meant.”

Venus

“Wow! I wonder what’s going on outside?” Morris asked.

The two men were in the terminal lounge waiting for the Venusians to off-load the cargo. Neither were drinking. There wasn’t a bar at this stop. Looking out through the see-through dome they watched as thousands of Venusians were protesting something.

They angrily waved signs with images of the Milky Way Mail Express Logo on them.

“What’s going on?” Morris asked.

“Union busting. They’re former workers in this terminal who dared to organize for a more livable wages.”

Saturn

“It’s not polite to stare, didn’t your mother teach you better growing up?” Scottie scowled.

Morris blushed with embarrassment and tried not to look at the Saturnian workers. They resembled giant purple snails with arms and a long head. Watching them slowly slither over to a row of forklifts gave him the creeps.

“What’s the matter, didn’t you read all of the manual? It has photos of every alien species that you’ll meet.”

“Yea…I saw them. It’s just that seeing them in person is a lot different than seeing a photo of them.” 

“Fair enough. While I’m confirming contents of loads, would you go activate a couple of cleaner bots to get that slime off our cargo hold ramps when their done?”

Mercury

“It’s amazing watching them work! Those eight arms are so powerful they’re not even using fork lifts to off-load the cargo,” Morris marveled.

“Another thing about Mercurians is how orderly they are,”  Scottie pointed out, “I’ve never had a problem with paperwork or returned cargo with them. They’re punctual, and pleasant to talk with. Let’s go over to that bar and listen to them tell stories. They’re great story-tellers.”

Jupiter

As soon as they landed and exited the ship, Scottie and Morris were instantly surrounded by black-shelled security guards waving weapons.

“Don’t panic,” Scottie warned Morris, “this is routine on this planet. Just hand them your papers and company identification badge.”

The language translators on their wrists allowed them to understand their questions. After ten minutes, they escorted them to the dock area where they could watch the cargo come out and check it off against their manifests.

There was no lounge area.

Uranus

“Why aren’t Milky Way Mail Express employees off-loading our cargo?” Morris wondered.

“Because the company employees all have slaves who do their manual labor. Just like the company manual reminds us, this is a slave planet. The only way Uranusians can get manual labor done is to buy slaves on the intergalactic slave exchange.”

“They kinda remind me of kangaroos with those tiny arms and that long tail.”

“Keep it down. They also have excellent hearing and I hear they don’t appreciate being compared to an earth animal.”

Neptune

“Wait a minute! There’s nothing in the manual that says we have to carry weapons!” Morris whined when Scottie handed him a Laser gun.

“This is the part where we use common sense Morris. Don’t worry, the company wants us to stay alive. It’s hell trying to get good help these days. Here’s a belt and holster. Put it on.”

As the ship slowed down and came in for a landing they could see flashes of colored lights streaking across the Milky Way Express Terminal docks. It was the same thing every time.

The cargo they brought was food. The giant plastic crates containing the precious cargo were worth dying for. Only the wealthy could afford to pay the prices Milky Way Express charged.

The poor tried to live on the leftovers in the trash heaps of the rich, and by killing small wild mammals. Whenever there was a shipment the poor gathered their laser guns and attacked, hoping to steal some of precious cargo.

As the giant bay doors opened to allow the ship to enter the terminal hundreds of desperate men and women swarmed into the temporary opening. The Neptunian military was waiting and opened fire.

When the ship was still the bay doors opened. Scott and Morris saw a cluster of soldiers nearby and went up to them.

“Can you tell me where to find the loading supervisor? We just arrived.”

A laser beam hit one of the guards and he crumbled! The rest scattered and Scott and Morris followed one of them to an area where hundreds of troops were assembled for a big push against the attackers.

As they watched, the formation slowly moved forward, like a Roman legion, and drove the attackers back through the open bay door. The slaughter was sickening, as the ill nourished, and ill-equipped  Neptunians were mowed down like rows of wheat before a threshing machine.

Afterwards, a Milky Way Mail Express loading supervisor organized his employees and they off-loaded the rest of the cargo on the ship. Paperwork was signed and they left for home.

When they got back to earth Morris told Scottie he was going back to his old route on earth. He couldn’t hack it.

That night, over a bottle of tequila, Scottie and the owner of Milky Way Express Inc. bemoaned the fact that it was almost impossible to find good help anymore.

As It Stands, corporate evil is a theme that has many paths.