Canto Forty-Nine – The Prison Pit of the Bone Head
The darkness was so complete that Farbick felt completely blind. He could feel the warm slumbering body of Starbright cuddled up against him. He could hear the blubbering of the deposed lizard overlord, Bahbahr. He could also hear the whispery breathing of Stabharh somewhere quite near.
“Are you awake, Stabharh?”
“Of course. My job has always been Bahbahr’s security. I am not about to sleep if I am on the brink of failure. There has to be a way out of this.”
“I wish I could believe as you do.”
“You don’t think you can overcome the present situation?”
“Of course I don’t. The Telleron people are usually lost whenever they face a difficult situation like this. We are inbred and sort of stupid.”
“What? You outsmarted Bahbahr!”
“He hasn’t been outsmarted before?”
There was a long cold silence. Then Stabharh said, “The reason Bahbahr is an overlord and one of the most powerful people on the planet is his ability to always be right and always make a profit. The men at the top of our meritocracy are always the most capable.”
“How does he always manage to be right?”
“I enforce his will. I remove those who see things differently.”
“And yet, he would eat you before he allowed himself to starve to death.”
“Yes. It is my function to preserve and aid him.”
“Including dying for his benefit?”
“Are you certain he is worth that sort of obedience?”
“What do you mean?”
“It seems to me that your overlord’s greed and lack of concern for his fellow Galtorrians is what is causing your society to break down, and your planet to be destroyed. His desire to beat his enemies has caused everything to go wrong.
“So, he has been relying on you to make him right and make him profitable. He would be wrong and broke without you. Has the ultimate result benefitted you, or made your life better? Especially if he ends up eating you?”
Again things went unnaturally quiet. The silence seemed endless to Farbick.
“Are you suggesting I should’ve done more for myself and less for Bahbahr?”
“I just think your boss should’ve cared more about his people, especially you, and less about his own comforts and desires.”
“I agree with you that your people are pointless and stupid… compared to the intelligence of the Zeta Reticulans they are babbling idiots. But I think you have accurately described the failures of our people. We are not stupid, but greedy. We are not incompetent… but we are too ambitious and selfish, and we overlook potential problems to get what we want as quickly as possible.”
“Do you think Senator Tedhkruhz has the same failings as Bahbahr?”
“He rose to power by telling everyone, Bahbahr included, what they wanted to hear. Whenever the opportunity came up for Tedhkruhz to betray some other powerful overlord or ruler, he stabbed them in the heart and destroyed them. He thought he had beaten us before when he bombarded Gundahl, but I got Bahbahr safely away and saved him until now.”
“How loyal do you think Tedhkruhz’s men are?”
“As loyal as me.”
“Are you going to back Bahbahr all the way to the death?” Farbick asked pointedly.
Again a long silence followed.
“Do you think Tedhkruhz’s minions might rebel against him?” Stabharh asked.
“I don’t know. I think it would be in their own best interests. But how could we do anything about it?”
“We need you to talk to them the way you are talking to me now. Your ability to make sense… well… I think you are not stupid or incompetent. I think if Tedhkruhz were smarter, he’d be deathly afraid of you.”