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Chapter 5 Ė When Presidents Beg (page 1 of 10)



Four beats before the telesci-call came in I knew that, looking out upon the least of Un-Great Lakes with the sun high above, it was simply the most beautiful thing I could ever have imagined to see, barring off-species nudity and the inclusion of ten or more odd species of mind-altering sexutoads. I knew it would ring through my memorable technamind and imagiflouri-soul forever. Iím no dummy, I activated my Sterling Photochromic Memorachip to lock it in for future reference.

The call that rang through our heads as we arrived in the lodge in Charleston was indeed from the president of New Terra, but what he'd begged for was infinitely beyond even the very most of what we could have expected he could ever even hope to dream of what he may ask, if I may take that half a sentence to over-qualify it.

"Tek," said See Clinton the 42nd, "I need you to save the universe again."

I wish I could have pretended it was unexpected, but it wasn't. The Galactic Federation of Civilized Planets had foolishly disbanded the billion-man army upon proclamation of interminable peace, even against the wishes of forward thinkers like Tek. "Mr. President, I told you not to disband these armies," I said. "I told you that without other trades, they'd just take up arms again and seek to overthrow our universal peace."

There was a pause on the other end of the phone. Burggl and Melo watched me in anticipation of what might follow next. There was a moment's hesitation, twice the clearing of his presidential throat and fully three discernible smacks of bobbleheads on his desk. "I know, Tek, but war has broken out again."

Fortunately, the armies hadnít been disbanded, but "disbanded", a critical difference requiring only the employment of bolded quotation fingers and the expenditure of many trillions of dollarenmbi. They could be reactivated quickly enough but the fire would need a spark, and that spark could only be me.

The president was a good man and I respected him terribly, as everyone throughout the entirety of the heritage of my bloodline always had. I'd once been offered his job, but I'm no politician and I truly hate the politicians. Not just for their lies, for which theyíre routinely discovered, uncovered and graciously allowed to recover, but for their ability to collect tens of trillions of undisclosed New Terran Renmimbdollars by which to resign to other planets without so much as a scrap of oversight. Itís a terrible system, really, even if it does benefit my own party almost exclusively, and my benefit does love to party, as well as vice versa.

And when I say itís a terrible system, I mean this political structure as much as the solar one in which we live. Iím a patriot; donít get me wrong. Itís just that all the giants are gas and all the orbits elliptical, who needs that? That doesnít mean I wonít fight to the death for these systems, just that I still prefer it be the death of someone else over myself and under my bayonette, and preferably a stranger or entire planet of strangers.

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