When Everything Goes Wrong
Just Another Day
“In the name of Vulxoix, Qweh, what have you done?”
The color drained from Princess Ondina’s face as she entered her laboratory to find all thirteen members of her core staff lying on gurneys, each with horrific injuries inflicted upon them.
Ondina’s half-brother King Qweh guffawed at his sister’s revulsion. Although Qweh dwarfed her by more than half a meter and outweighed her by more than 100 kilograms, much of his weight being powerful muscle, Ondina whirled on her brother, kicking him as hard as she could in the shin. Although he was momentarily startled, Ondina’s face reddened as Qweh burst out laughing.
“An excellent strike, Baby Sister,” he chortled, enraging Ondina by chucking her under the chin. “Not enough to incapacitate me, but, there again, combat never was your forte. Oh, you would be a formidable enough opponent against an ordinary adversary, even against one of the guards. Ah, but as you can see, none of them can best me.”
“That’s probably because your goons held them down while you savaged them,” Ondina snapped. “I despise you with every molecule in my miserable being. I wish you were dead!”
“Then why not make me so, Ondina?” Qweh jeered, stroking Ondina’s cheek in a suggestive fashion that sent a wave of nausea through her. “Sweet, quiet Ondina, blessed with the power to cure or kill. Why don’t you reverse your empathic abilities and twist your astral grip around my heart, wringing the life from me as you burned the ability to grow new life from your own womb? Come now, Sister, if you loathe me as much as you say you do, why not strike me down?”
Ondina pushed away from Qweh, turning her attention to a tall, slender young man with shoulder-length hair the color of warm loam. He was bleeding from multiple wounds and angry bruises marred his pale skin. Blood bubbled from his lips as he gave a quiet moan. Ondina gently pressed a hand to his stomach and zircon light flowed from her fingers. The man gripped the princess’ hand, pulling it away from his body.
“Aqnax, I can heal you,” Ondina pleaded.
“Please, your majesty, don’t,” the man insisted. “Dear Princess Ondina, I love you with all my soul in life or in death. You are sweet and giving and my fidelity is ever yours. But oh, Your Majesty, I beg you, let me depart now for the Fields of Strans where I will be reunited with my beloved brother Aattul.”
“If this is truly your wish, my friend,” Ondina agreed reluctantly.
Ondina held her hands over her bodyguard’s heart. Dark blue light streamed from her fingers and tears flowed down her cheeks.
“My friend and protector Aqnax, I release you from your broken body to reunite with your beloved brother in the Fields of Strans. Go in peace. It was my pleasure to have known you.”
Ondina wept quietly as she crossed her bodyguard’s hands across his heart. She kissed his forehead and pulled a white shroud over his face. When Qweh folded a mighty hand over her shoulder, she shrugged it away.
“Why have you done this?” she snarled. “Why would you decimate my household this way? What did any of my servants ever do to wrong you?”
“I simply grew tired of their faces,” Qweh replied capriciously. “It’s time to freshen up the palace. Think of this as a gift for the achievement of your thirty-fourth Fegan, Ondina.”
“In what sense could this gruesome spectacle possibly be construed as a gift?” Ondina demanded. “These people were more than servants to me. They were my family.”
“How kind of you, my lovely sister,” Qweh jeered, gripping Ondina’s face in his great hand. For a moment she feared that he would force a kiss on her, but instead, she felt his hot breath against her ear.
“There is no need for this sort of massacre to ever transpire again, dearest,” Qweh cooed. “It’s not too late for you to agree to be my queen. You know that there is nothing that I would ever deny my bride. We are both still young and strong enough. Undo the damage to your womb that you may bear an heir for Os’aen. Our wedding could coincide with the Festival of Phulphean. If you care about the people of this realm as you claim to, you know what you must do.”
“You would show no mercy even if I were to accede to your demands!” Ondina spat. “Allow me to get on with what I must do and trouble me no further.”
“The blood of your servants and, indeed, of all Zecor is on your hands, Sister.”
“I am not the one who maimed these poor souls. I am not the one responsible for the genocide of the Ahprizites, Abdeg, Liqan, Praz, or Rydig. I am not the one who ordered repeated attacks on Nysfan or the invasion of Irull, Fali, or Voczens. Nor did I helm the elimination of Sholnoith and Cravas. The House of Pasaw and especially their petty tyrant king are responsible for these atrocities. Now, kill me or leave me alone. Allowing you to rape me would not stop your rampage, and I refuse to bring a child into the world to be abused by you.”
“Vewy well, Wittle Sister,” Qweh crooned, planting a wet kiss on Ondina’s face, laughing as she angrily rubbed his spittle from her cheek. “It looks like I’m going to have a busy day interviewing replacement servants. Salvage any of this motley crew that you can or wish to. I wouldn’t blame you for chucking the lot of them. They certainly are a rough-looking bunch, and they seem rather useless and lazy, just lying about bleeding all over everything.”
“Get out!” Ondina cried, pitching a flask of Ktenologic Serum at Qweh’s face.
The caustic black ooze ate a hole in the wall to the side of the tyrant, who chortled mockingly.
“Guess I’ll have to send a repair technician to fix that,” Qweh noted with a vexatious smirk. “It seems you may be developing a spine, Ondina. Perhaps I’d best watch my back after all.”
An Ahprizite hybrid thief named Serab lived in the ruins of West Holpry’s Ghetto Cefig, which Ondina and Qweh’s father King Giraq’s troops had invaded thirty years previously, killing most of the inhabitants. Having lost everyone dear to him, Serab spent his days tending to the remaining buildings in the ghetto and stealing rations from Qweh’s troops, stationed at various outposts in the vicinity.
As Serab walked the ghetto during his midday rounds, he noticed a patrol in Thricron Park. He observed that they were attired in hunting garb rather than scout’s drab or the armored gear of shock troopers or the ominous black of the extermination squads with their skull-like protective helmets. The elfin thief’s careworn face twisted into a wry smile.
“Zaecek ilma Guqrils Qweh chadu crax’e ocell bralqir dexes. Bruzith! Tosqils ghonceks crattens ghoncek qorgels veldruts shivers ulnurs. Thrised huz’e diz’ai thrillals deseds.”
“So bloody King Qweh has decided to lead his lackeys on a hunt for the hopeless. I’ll fix him! The suns have been dancing a strange dance for three lunar cycles now. Today is a fine day to die.”
Qweh and his troops took no notice of the diminutive Serab creeping through the tall Qerkon grass like a scor’ets hunting uvits. A rhyme in his mind made him smirk with glee. He had made up his mind that he would die, but if he were successful, the downtrodden citizens of Os’aen would have a chance to be free from the tyranny of the House of Pasaw at last.
“Zixels sudel larea shakvieks kheiqoiks hekrull.
Scak’ux, ghen’a sudel zixels mesa, qhenkul.
Sudel khunzits dhanzoit mesa edo zeinnai ghemhod mesa.
Usniels mesa deseds.
Ilm khaviex strinad’e.
Phe’iet khaviex pheka xuv’eok.
Phumhea mesa’e khaviex angain.
Ferkro lendrid scak’ux.
Can scrox’in scak’ux.
Xostrel trunqul thumhoir’e Sis’it khaviex.
“See me creeping through the bushes with it open wide.
No, you can’t see me, you fuck.
I will poison your water and ruin your bread.
Before you know what’s hit you, you’re gonna be dead.
May the blood run from your eyes.
May the piss stain your thighs.
May you shit yourself blind.
No rest for the wicked.
No dignity for the devil.
May your soul be deposited in the sewers of hell.”
As Qweh and his lackeys laughed and gloated, making their plans for the day’s hunt, Serab slipped into the King’s day-tent. The monarch’s flask sat on a small table beside his lounge-bed. It was filled with a strong, indigo-colored wine called Aidhains. On a small plate was a portion of Otoill and Broll, a popular combination of savory bread with a spread made from animal marrow.
Serab pierced a sparkling capsule resembling a jellied piece of quartz with the tip of his dagger and dropped the contents into the flask of Aidhains. He pierced another capsule and sprinkled it over the Broll spread atop the Otoill. Satisfied with his work, he quickly filled the purse strapped to his waist with coins and a ring.
On the Run
Serab slipped out from under the tent and hurried away from the encampment. He was close to the fence at the edge of Vruukud Field when a voice cried out.
Serab picked up his pace, scurrying under the fence. He hurried through a dry aqueduct that ran beneath the ghetto. He didn’t want to remain in the aqueduct in case Qweh’s troops decided to turn on the water and flood him out. He hoped that the debris littering the dilapidated buildings would provide the cover that he needed to escape.
Serab prayed to Ogvox that Qweh would consume the poison-laced food and drink and would die an excruciating death. He would do his best to avoid capture, but if he were taken, he planned to consume his last Truvrids capsule and avoid torture.
“Verqruid qorgels laheans. Suvud bonnens shiegoil. Ovvets shivvets dreizi throsox, akzeons sudel thrazuks.”
“This life has gone on long enough. I am ready for it to be finished. But if you need more from me before I depart, I am prepared to be your servant.”
Serab led the king’s forces on a merry chase for close to an hour. He held back his laughter as he heard them tripping over debris in the hallways and stairwells and prayed that one or more of them would break something, hopefully, their damn necks.
The thief’s luck finally ran out. He was preparing to depart the old health clinic when he was surrounded by Qweh and a dozen of his henchmen. The scrappy little man pulled his dagger, hoping to give his attackers injuries they’d remember for the rest of their lives before they took him out. He was irritated by the king’s amused expression at his threat.
“What are you laughing about, you rodent’s ball-sack?” Serab demanded. “I’m quite aware that I am outnumbered. I expect to die, so I have nothing to lose. You are quite a bit bigger than me, but I could take out your eye before you were able to crush my bones. It is my understanding that it is your little sister who possesses the magical strength in your family. Your magic is only as strong as that of a dying sheep with its last piss draining from its incontinent bladder.”
“You certainly have a way with words, don’t you, Thief?” Qweh chortled. “Do yourself a favor and give up. You'll only hurt yourself if you attempt to make an escape. You are outnumbered and outclassed. Unless you wish to die this day, you will drop your jutu and surrender. Come now, little mouse. I do not wish to harm you. I have a need for you. Princess Ondina requires a new bodyguard. An exceedingly unfortunate accident befell her last one."
"He fell down and hurt himself," snickered one of the brutes accompanying the King. "Very clumsy he was."
“Yeah, I’ll bet,” Serab quipped. “I imagine that those in His Majesty’s employ have a high probability of suffering an accident.”
An Offer He Can’t Refuse
"Now you, Lad, evidently you are not clumsy," the King speculated. "The Princess needs a bodyguard who is quick on his feet, which you evidently are. You're an ugly runt, so she would not be tempted to exercise her overzealous sexual appetites by grinding against you in the night. This will be to my benefit. You see, the Princess performs important work for me, and she is more productive if she has slept for the requisite number of hours. This can't happen if she has spent the night riding the cock carousel. So, tiny exlet, are you up for the job? Decide quickly. I am a busy sovereign with a kingdom to rule."
"Takes a dozen of you brutes to catch a little mouse like me?" he chuckled. "Most excellent Qweh, perhaps you should consider replacing these fools with soldiers who can actually do their job."
"Oh, you are perfect!" Qweh snickered. "You are exactly what Ondina needs. A droll exlet with a zany charm, and what a giant among men! Well, what are you waiting for, you muscle-heads? Shackle him so that I may present him to the Princess as a gift for her birthday!"
Serab was far stronger than Qweh’s guards expected. He fought viciously, wounding eight of his captors before a metal collar was forced around his neck. Qweh brought his face close to Serab's.
"A giant in an exlet's body," Qweh guffawed. "You buffoons could take a lesson or two in hand-to-hand combat from this one."
“Your majesty, I would advise executing this murderous thief on the spot. I imagine that it was he who poisoned your food and drink,” Qweh’s physician, Crik Akvils, revealed as he rushed into the room with the flask of Aidhains and the slice of Otoill spread with Broll. “Perhaps he’d like to partake in a morsel himself.”
“Yeah, I’d like that,” Serab agreed. “It’s been quite a merry while since I’ve enjoyed Otoill with Broll. Aidhains is heady stuff, but what do I have to lose? Bring it here, my good fellow.”
The poisoned food and drink went flying as Qweh’s gigantic hand struck them from his physician’s grasp. A moment later, Crik Akvils slammed against the wall.
“Hivel!” the enraged tyrant roared. “What good is he to me if his soul has gone sailing across the Stix? Death by truvrids is too easy. He will serve me better by becoming a specimen for my sister to heal or release.”
“A triad of pardons, Majesty,” Doctor Akvils groveled. “I was thinking only of your welfare. Please take mercy upon your foolish servant for acting in haste.”
“On your feet, Crik, you’re all right,” Qweh ordered, pulling the doctor to a standing position and into a bone-crushing bear hug. “I apologize for striking you and thank you for your loyalty. My temper got the better of me. Now, let me have a final word with our new friend, and we’ll be on our way to the Ktenology Center.”
Advice from the Spirit Realm
Serab had no intention of leaving the room alive. He knew of the medical experiments performed by Qweh on his prisoners and was determined not to become the King's newest test subject. He was about to spit a wad of mucus in the despised monarch's face when his departed brother's voice screamed desperately in his mind.
"Serab, no! Do not resist!"
Surprised by the vehemence of his brother's insistence, Serab became docile.
"All right, I'll follow you," he agreed.
"Well, quite a sudden change in attitude," Qweh remarked, a look of surprise on his face. "A wise one, I may add. It would have been foolish to bathe my face in your saliva, little man. I would have had you vivisected for such misbehavior, and not even my sweet baby sister would be able to heal you. She would have had to call upon her necromantic skills to dispatch you to the realms of spirit in order to quiet your cries of anguish. It grieves the poor Princess every time one of the disobedient citizens of Os’aen puts her in this position. So, for the sake of the lovely Ondina, no further insolence from you, little nymphling?"
"None whatsoever," Serab promised.
"Excellent. Then let us be on our way, Pet," Qweh ordered, roughly yanking the chain around Serab's neck.
"If I end up dissected, Joub, I will make a most excellent stew of you when I find you in the Meadows of Ysung," Serab thought to his brother.
"Do not be afraid, Serab," Joub replied. "I love you. If he were going to torture you, I would fully have supported your desire to drench his face with a nasty gob. The Princess Ondina is this wretched realm's deserving regent. She is terribly lonely and has long dreamed of having a friend. You can make one another’s dreams come true."
This work is part of the back story for the malevolent light colony in the Star Trek TOS episode “The Lights of Zetar,” which was written by Shari Lewis (January 17, 1933 – August 2, 1998) and Jeremy Tarcher (1932–2015).
Submitted to the End your story with someone finally conceding to another’s point of view prompt on 20 May 2021.
The story was also inspired by the Write a story about someone sticking to a course of action even when it’s clearly wrong prompt.