Canto Twenty – Wing One Airborne Once More
The two lizardmen were both secured in the passenger seats in the cargo area of the wing. The fat one was causing the anti-gravity compensators to work seventy-five percent harder, but Biznap and Farbick had always kept Wing One in tip-top shape. It flew like an agile glide-wing aerial beast through the toxic fog of the Galtorrian skies.
“Why is there so little life left on this planet?” asked Farbick.
“I think a better question is why there is any life left at all?” said the fat one.
“What has happened to your planet?” asked Biznap.
“Great warriors rose up to do battle and win at all costs,” said the fat one.
“And while they did it, corporate parasites like Bahbahr here grew wealthy and horded all the best food, all the best technology… the best of everything,” said the little one.
“And warriors like Stabharh here destroyed the towns and cities and society that they claimed to be fighting for,” said the fat one. “This one would not be alive if I hadn’t persuaded him to work for me and protect my interests instead of continuing the carnage.”
“It is possible to get tired of killing,” said Stabharh. “I rather enjoyed it once, but when Grakknarh and I escaped from the scabbies I realized that there were really no more mountains to climb, or cities to burn. A Galtorrian can’t live without something to strive for.”
Looking out the front viewing portal of Wing One, the crew and the two visitors could look down on the scarred and pitted landscape. There were buildings of concrete and steel everywhere, but none were wholly intact. Many were on fire, slow-burning fires that produced long dark plumes of greasy smoke and bits of burning rubbish. No green was visible anywhere. The colors of the landscape were brick-red from rubble, burnt orange from open flame and firelight, black from soot and cinders, and filthy brown from dirt and sewage. It was a sad and basically repulsive landscape.
“If you’ve stopped destroying things,” Starbright thoughtfully asked Stabharh, “then what keeps you alive? What do you live for now?”
“Keeping Bahbahr alive and carrying out my assignments in spite of scabbies, fires, and loss of will has become a game. It keeps getting harder, especially now that Grakknarh is dead. I don’t want to do it forever, but it only ends when the scabbies kill and eat me. I’m not particularly looking forward to that.”
“I don’t know why you are so gloomy,” said Bahbahr. “I couldn’t be any happier. With most of the population of Galtorr gone, look at all the resources lying around ready for me to claim them as my own. I may already be the richest man on the planet.”
“You may be the only man on the planet soon enough,” said Stabharh.
“I can live with that,” said Bahbahr with a grin that chilled Farbick to the bone.