Canto Forty-Five – Aboard the Galtorrian Space Cruiser Bone Head
The lizard soldiers roughly tossed Farbick into the holding pit on top of Starbright who had been tossed down roughly before him. The Grandpa Munster face of Senator Tedhkruhz grinned down at him from above.
“I will allow you all to see the sights of beautiful Last-Star Fortress on the southern coast of the Bone Continent before we cut you all up for meat.” Tedhkruhz cackled with porcine, gloating laughter. Porcine was a good Earther word for pig-like, Farbick knew, and nothing reminded him so much of a gluttonous pig as the plans he had heard from the mouth of the Lizard Lord, Senator Tedhkruhz.
Bahbahr lay up against the wall of the prison pit, sobbing quietly to himself in inconsolable misery. Stabharh stared at Farbick with cold, lizard eyes.
“Are you planning to return to the moon when you’ve eaten us?” Farbick asked, trying to make it seem an innocent question.
“What? Fat Bahbahr’s stupid Gundahl Base? Of course not. I have already blown the poop out of it with the biggest boom-bombs my people could manufacture. There is nothing left of it to take possession of.”
“You are going to leave it for any other warlord to take?”
“What? You mean Emperor Rekhpahree? That unctuous toad has no space-worthy ships left to get up here. Once we leave it, there will be no one coming here for a very long time, probably centuries.”
Farbick looked at Starbright’s frightened eyes and winked. She had to know that the Galtorrian War Lord was playing right into Farbick’s selfless plan.
“You all get some sleep now, you hear?” gushed Grandpa Munster, “you have a big final day ahead of you tomorrow… all four of you.”
The lid was pulled over the top of the pit with a metallic clang. Everything went to black at the same instant that Starbright caught hold of Farbick’s arms and pulled herself into his comforting embrace.
“So,” said Stabharh’s cold voice in the pitch darkness, “you hid the lizard children so Tedhkruhz wouldn’t find them and eat them.”
“We did,” admitted Starbright. “At least they will live.”
“Why did you do that?” asked the soldier in a grim accusatory voice.
“We thought that those children deserved a chance to survive. They have a future.” Farbick knew the Galtorrians didn’t understand self-sacrificing love… not the way that Harmony Castille had taught the Tellerons from her little black book of Hebrew fairy stories… But he figured there must be a heart in that lizard-man’s body somewhere.
“You would do that for creatures of another planet who would’ve eaten you if you had not fed them with your machine? Why wouldn’t you want to see them die along with you?”
Starbright sounded deeply hurt by that. “If I am doomed, why would it help me in any way to see them doomed too? Your planet is deeply troubled. You need those children alive. They are your future.”
“Yes,” said Stabharh bitterly, “Galtorrians’ future, not yours!”
“I think the future is not yours or mine.” Farbick weighed his words carefully in the darkness. “I think the future belongs to all of us. We don’t wish your people to die any more than we would wish for our own people to die. It is the nature of those who are alive to want to keep living.”
“Not all people, frog or lizard, can possibly survive. Survival of the fittest is the way of the Universe.”
“Perhaps,” said Starbright softly, “but the fittest doesn’t necessarily mean only the individual when the whole race is at stake.”
The darkness grew very quiet. Was Stabharh thinking of a reply? Or did he lose interest and fall asleep? Perhaps Farbick and Starbright needed rest too.
“You frog people are just like the other alien races we met…” the small warrior lizard said after a long silence. “You always talk about peace and helping others along the pathways to the stars… but this is actually the first time I have seen an alien practice what he preaches.”