The Land That Time Ignored
The Madrak woke up with a yawn and stretched his arms. He looked around for his gumyup pipe, found it nestled between the four lovely bosoms of his sleeping bedmate, and carefully lifted it up for a long toke. The smoke filled his lungs and he giggled.
Sometimes it was good to be the Madrak.
It was never a title he had particularly wanted. After all, his grandfather had been the Madrak, and he had died a horrible death.
Granted, that was due to a flesh-eating venereal disease, but it was still a cautionary tale of the pursuit of power and privilege. Or so said the next Madrak, who was his son (and the current Madrak’s father). That Madrak had died in his bed at the ripe old age of two-hundred and twenty-seven after living a long, boring and uneventful life, and left his son saddled with the seemingly endless duties of rulership and monarchy.
And they were of course only seemingly endless, as the new Madrak had swiftly learned the secret of successful administrators everywhere: Delegation.
The Madrak had found that his monarchy was filled with departments and bureaus, and that there was nothing that these department heads and bureaucrats liked better than justifying their existences through the ability to make decisions in his name. And so he let them.
It wasn’t a perfect system, of course, and on occasion the Madrak had been forced to exile or execute a delegate who had failed to keep him protected from the mundanities of administration. He tried to be fair in his rulings, but at the same time examples had to be made of those who kept the Madrak from his drinking, smoking and womanizing.
He got up from the massive bed and looked at himself in the full-length mirror. It was perhaps not a wise decision, as all those years of drinking and smoking had left the Madrak with more than a bit of a paunch. One might even say he was a tad obese, if one wasn’t afraid of being flung into the disintegration pit.
Still, too much flesh was better than no flesh at all, a sentiment he was certain his grandfather would have agreed with.
As the Madrak admired himself in the mirror, thankful to still have a full head of dark red hair, the door to his bedchamber slid open. His personal servobot, VUX-182, rolled in, chirping a happy tune.
“Well, it’s nice to see you up and about already,” said VUX-182. “I expected you would still be asleep. It’s not even noon yet!”
“Good morning to you, too,” said the Madrak. “What’s on the agenda for today?”
VUX-182 rolled over next to the bed and glanced at the four-breasted woman who was still sleeping in it.
“I take it we’ll need a cash & dash?”
The Madrak frowned. He didn’t like to think that he was so predictable. On the other hand, a quick payout and a surreptitious escort out of the palace was preferable to a lengthy and possibly ugly scene later on. The Madrak gave VUX-182 a quick nod as he pulled on his silk robe.
“This time, at least wait until she wakes up” he told the servobot.
“Very well,” VUX-182 said, a note of disappointment in his robotic voice. “We also have that dinner with the Krallakian ambassador.”
The Madrak grimaced. Krallakians were a dour, studious race who drank little and joked even less. A dinner with one was like sitting through a lecture with a philosophy professor who had had too many quaaludes. He looked at VUX-182 hopefully, but the servobot shook its head.
“No, you cannot cancel,” VUX-182 said. “The Krallakians are the only race interested in opening a resort on this continent.”
The Madrak snorted as he tied his robe. His people had not had the foresight, or the greed, of their distant cousins across the ocean. When investors came to Zaladon IV with the intent of making the planet a traveler’s paradise, his ancestors had stood their ground, laid down the law, and refused all offers to sell their land. They prided themselves on their fortitude and then watched with no small amount of dismay as the peoples to the west sold every last rock and grain of sand and then moved off-world with their wealth. That had been over two-hundred years ago, during the reign of the current Madrak’s father, and to date not a single hotel or casino had broken ground in the east. The Madrak’s people were more than a bit peeved at the seeming injustice of it, and he couldn’t really blame them. His people were farmers, laborers and craftsmen, noble professions all.
But every last one of them would give it up for a fat fistful of credits and a ticket offworld.
The Krallakian offer wasn’t going to be that good, but the Madrak saw it as a start. If he could get just one resort built he was certain others would follow and just maybe his people could start to know a bit of prosperity.
The idea of sharing a bit of his own prodigious wealth, or at least reducing the burdensome taxes his subjects paid, never occurred to the Madrak. After all, he had his own sybaritic lifestyle to maintain.
“All right,” the Madrak grumbled. “But at least tell me there’s a matinee at the arena. I could use some entertainment before dining with the Krallakians.”
“You’re in luck,” VUX-182 said as he rolled around the bedchamber, picking up stray pieces of clothing off of the floor. “The security patrols brought back some new prisoners last night! It seems they killed several of your Deloobians before they were subdued.”
The Madrak raised an eyebrow. The Deloobians were large purple lunkheads, but they tended to be very effective at slaughtering whatever they were pointed at. He doubted any of these prisoners would survive even a single day in the arena, but then again it sounded like they would at least put up a fight.
“Well,” said the Madrak with a smile, “maybe today won’t be so bad after all!”