Canto 82 – Siege of the Seadome (the Blood-red Thread)
Ham Aero was chafing in the wrist cuffs. He’d been stripped of his yellow and blue combat armor, as had Ferrari and myself. We all lay on the hard metal floor of the seadome brig. Ham was working at the cuffs, seemingly knowing how to break free in a Houdini-esque fashion. He twisted them back and forth, rolling his knuckles over in a very interesting fashion. I have never seen such a form of double-jointedness before.
“I am supposed to execute all three of you,” the black-suited commander was saying. “I know I am supposed to, but I can’t see killing someone like you, Duke Ferrari.”
“Why don’t you let me go, then, soldier?” said Duke Ferrari in his oiliest political voice. He almost seemed sympathetic to our captor and potential executioner.
“Admiral Tang has personally ordered your immediate execution. What will I do?”
At that moment, the Commander of the commando team we came with came in with two armed guards. He still wore his armor and seemed remarkably fit compared to the wear and tear that showed on the rest of us.
“Why haven’t you killed them yet?” he asked of the Black Commander.
“I had to confirm that the orders were not a mistake,” said Blackie.
“Nonsense. You know what the Admiral wants. Just do it!”
“I called Planet Mingo Command to confirm the order before I do it. I don’t want to kill the former ruler who did the most to help my people in his lifetime.” The Black Commander took off his helmet to reveal a snake-eyed Human-Galtorrian face. He was of the fusion race that dominated the Imperium.
“What happened to your loyalty?” Duke Ferrari asked the yellow and blue Commander. “I thought you were on our side?”
“I am. I don’t want his people to claim that you made a mess of things with your little rebellion. The people idolize you, but they don’t realize what is actually good for them. A government of a space empire cannot be a democracy. You have to have order to maintain the rule over so many worlds.”
“Save me from military intellectuals!” moaned Ferrari.
“Give me the fusion gun, Commander,” said our former friend. “I will take responsibility for their deaths.”
“Ruts rowing on here?” said the metallic voice of a mechanoid mutt, possibly a Great Dane.
I looked at Ham. He had his hands free, ready to grab a gun and fight for our lives against impossible odds.
“Commander Doo!” The two commanders stiffly saluted in utter surprise. “What are your orders, sir?” said Commander Blackie.
“I rahnt rorder! Rese men are under the protection of Rord Rayrond King! Roo will not harm them!”
“What? Lord Doo! We have to kill them. They are a danger to the Imperium.”
The snake-eyed commander seemed visibly relieved. It was as if this message from the dog’s mouth was exactly what he wanted to hear.
“Will you release us, then?” asked Duke Ferrari.
“Res!” said the mechanoid dog. “Roo are free. Rord King rahnts it that way.”
“I protest!” cried our commando friend, our false friend.
“You’re a weasel,” said Blackie. His slug-thrower gave off a quick blast, piercing the traitor in the chest plate of his armor. As he slumped dead to the floor, Ham began freeing us from our cuffs. The Black Commander helped.
“We are grateful,” said Duke Ferrari. How can we repay you?”
The dog-mechanoid looked at us with artificial eyes, creepy eyes. “Roo rill rule Farwind as risely as roo took care of riss sector before. Re are all allies now.” It didn’t seem right to be set free by a mechanical talking dog, at least, not without a set of meddling kids to go with him, but I was in no mood to question our good fortune.