Ah, it was a nice, easy-going day. The security team didn’t run across any weird subterranean mole monsters in the geothermal plant. All clear, meaning they could go on the streets and keep an eye out for anything too disruptive. Meanwhile, I tossed some engineers and geologists down there to see if we’re going to have a problem with that big hole through the undersea mountain base of the island. I know, you hear words like “engineer” and “undersea mountain base,” and you expect them to be more exciting. That’s why I’m thinking of having the palace rebuilt to resemble a giant skull.
That ought to be easier now. Peace is almost declared. Only almost.
I don’t know how Beetrice did it. I’ve hardly spent any time around her to see any growth in diplomatic ability or anything like that. I hope she didn’t fuck them into submission. I know I used that to solve a human resources issue, but it doesn’t make for good foreign policy. If you do that, having an attractive leader is just inviting lots of wars. They hate you because you’re beautiful. More like they want to be fucked into submission by you.
Ok, so let me get in to what’s going on. A small swarm of Buzzkills arrived on the island bearing a case for my eyes only. They didn’t know what the hell was going on with all these people setting up a tent city legislature on my lawn. I was out there watching the days session in my robe, having just awoken at the crack of noon. I’d spent another late night out enforcing my word as law. Last night, bird was the word.
We had an attempted break-in at one of the markets. Even though everything was pretty much under government control, there were a few certain supermarkets that received all the food. People might sell their own homemade produce or what-have-you, but food from the Agriculture Mall was distributed at these certain hubs. There’d been an Institute of Science idea passed around about lacing the food with Unity to ensure compliance. I didn’t see anything following up on it. It goes the other way, though. They’d also considered using the markets to distribute an edible vaccine. State control is a bit like fire or death rays; it can be used for good or evil.
It had been a small gang led by someone in a bird costume. Really long beak, cape of feathers, a general green and black color scheme going on. Not a terrible costume, but he’s going to look stupid if he can’t fly. Unless he’s supposed to be The Amazing Ostrich-man or Emu-tilator.
“Go. Take what you can and spread the petrol all over,” he commanded. Then he jumped as some of it splashed against his boot, then onto his calves. “What are you doing?” He whirled around to face the person who dared to splash gasoline on him.
He found me, standing on the dead body of one of the guys he brought with him, holding a gas can in one hand and a flare in the other. These things are really coming in handy for me. I need another flame-spouting saxophone. To our bird man, though, I said, “Me? Nothing. Just thought I’d stop by for a midnight snack. I’m feeling like chicken tonight.” Then I tossed the flare.
That story ran a bit longer than I intended. But I digest. I mean digress. Yes, digress. I actually don’t digest because he really could fly.
So yeah, I’d missed some sleep the night before, as someone will do in that situation. I wake up, check on the lawn, grab a newspaper, wave at the people bicycling by, then have some bee people land with a chest in front of me. Some days, it occurs to me that my life is a little weird.
I sipped a cup of something I’d been assured was tea, looked at the chest, then up at the Buzzkills. “You really shouldn’t litter. If those guys decide to make it illegal, I might have to kill y’all.”
“Forgive us, Emperor Gecko,” said one, bowing deeply. “We bring an urgent message from Queen Beetrice on the negotiations in North Korea. She has been trying to reach you by phone, but the number you gave her is not working.”
I told her not to call me, that I’d call her. When she insisted on having some way to contact me, I gave her a number for this church in the United States run by a former porn star.
“Oooh, yeah, shame about that. So, you’re delivering something to me?” I asked
The Buzzkill who took the lead nodded. “Yes. We would have warned you if the number was correct. As a matter of fact, my Queen wishes me to ask you for a cor-”
“So!” I clapped my hands together. “Let’s see what’s in the box, shall we? It must be important.”
“Queen Beetrice would be more than happy to explain everything you need to know if only you gave her a call,” the Buzzkill persisted.
I bent down over the chest and started opening it up. “No, that’s fine. I’m sure it’ll all be self-evident.”
“It’s locked,” said one of the other Buzzkills a second before I popped it open. They’d really make great faceless minions, if someone didn’t care.
And, really, I do care. I care a lot. I’m a caring individual. Life is a precious thing, as relatively sparse as it is in the universe. The existence of a multiverse somewhat undermines that, but I think my reasoning is still justified. But gems and priceless paintings are also precious things, and that makes them ripe for stealing or destroying. I mean, look at me. I hate people, but I still consider them special enough that I don’t go around killing all of them, barring a couple of times I got a bit agitated.
That level of self-control is why I didn’t feed anyone the peace treaty. That, and Buzzkills mouths are… interesting. Not interesting in a bad way, but not human.
So I’m somehow not being arrested or sent back to my home Earth. I mean, I was going to try and make that happen on my own, treaty or not. On the one hand, I should give her credit for making sure that happened. On what I wish was someone’s severed other hand, the condition for this is that I never leave the island of Ricca, where I will be officially recognized as Emperor so long as I hold that title. Oh, and all the countries involved in this treaty agree not to try and knock me off the throne.
I stay, I’m fine. I take one foot off the island, like to steal a nuclear power plant, and it’s open season on me until I hit Riccan shores again. It was a smart move by them. I gotta recognize that. That’s like studying Hitler and not acknowledging the Night of the Long Knives. You can hate someone and still see when they pulled off a piece of brilliance. They have every reason to believe I’ll be deposed and killed or exiled. I have a bad track record for ruling.
North Korea is to remain separate and under Queen Beetrice’s rule, who declares fealty to the Emperor of Ricca. While the rest of this is typed up, there’s a line here written in pink pen that adds, “as his future wife, to be married no later than one year from this date.” I guess Beetrice didn’t convince them to include everything she wanted. People keep wondering why I’m not looking for relationships all the time, but do y’all see the kind of shit that goes down when I stick my dick somewhere?
There are also restrictions on building up military, allowing in people to make sure the government isn’t doing any human testing, developing or building weapons of mass destruction, and returning the rest of the captured territories to whoever ruled them before the Claw made his big move. There’s a legal term for that. In the States, it’s called “We totally didn’t lose the War of 1812.”
I think Beetrice ceded a bunch of rights to offshore oil, fishing, and other useful territories. I pretty much have no sovereign water now. So yeah, that’ll make the populace happy when they decide to rewrite whatever toilet paper bill of rights their representatives come up with.
Oh, and then there’s the trade restrictions. Boring. Yawn. They don’t want us having plutonium, uranium, or excessive amounts of orange juice. Either they want to spread Scurvy or they’ve heard about my skill with explosives. I’m just saying, the world’s lucky Isaac Newton got popped on the head with an apple. If it had been an orange, shit might have gotten real. George Washington cappin’ Redcoats with an Uzi. Man, I wonder what the time-traveling Teddy Roosevelt and Nikola Tesla are up to?
So it looks like everything’s done and wrapped up, right? Peace in our time. Happy, happy, joy, joy. Hell, I didn’t even have to sign the thing. I apparently signed my name in bright pink pen, and with different handwriting, then wrote “Call me.”
I didn’t call her, despite the Buzzkills annoying me about it. They were so rude, I didn’t even invite them in for vodka and scones with myself and Qiang. Gotta work on alcohol tolerance while they’re young. Instead, I told them to find some other housing for a stay while they recovered from the trip. They just flew in and I’m sure their arms were tired.
It was in a drunken slumber that the goodish news got a lot less good. I had cut off Qiang after awhile, but I kept on going until I passed out. That isn’t too bad on its own. I just don’t tend to do it. It messes with waking up from the dreams. That night, I dreamed of the Good Doctor walking with slow, deliberate purpose into Qiang’s room, where she slept like a mess on her bed. He wore his costume of black leather and a mask that could have been inspired by surgery garb if it didn’t have a visor. The tools of his grisly trade glistened around his waist in the poor video quality of the dream.
The Good Doctor turned and looked right at the camera, then walked over to Qiang’s bed. I wanted to wake the hell up when I saw him pull out a scalpel. Luckily for everyone and the world that he instead carved a message into the wall. “Any time I want.”
I woke up to Qiang’s screams in the morning. It wasn’t a dream. The Good Doctor is here for me or for Qiang. Would he kill her? Had I not killed his own daughter, I’d say no. But now he wants me to know he’s here and he just might do it.
Clearly, my dear old friend is in a lot of pain. He wants to die. As his bestest best buddy in the whole wide world, I should support his decision.