Sharoma Frontierverse Why Did The Groigan Dance? Chapter 21

Why Did The Groigan Dance?

Chapter 21

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

"Ah! Baron, Duke, good to see you again! And you brought a friend! Is this the vaunted Squire Sinclair I've heard so much about? He doesn't seem to have airs about him."

The Emperor peered closely at the Squire, then smiled gently. "I'm just having fun, my good Squire. Pleased to meet your acquaintance."

Sinclair smiled nervously, looking around at the green walls of the Hall of Alexander and the great computers lining them. "Thu-thu-thank you, my lord Emperor."

"'Twas nothing - allow me to introduce you to my council. You've already met the good Baron and my loyal Duke. This good man here," the Emperor said, and pointed majestically to the slight man sitting at the end of the table, "is Prince Graham Floyd, my head of Intelligence."

"Pleased to meet you," the Prince said pleasantly.

"Likewise, my lord Prince," Sinclair replied.

"It's nice to see the two of you get along so well," Duval went on, "as I am sure you and the dear Prince Brunswick will get along fine as well. The two of you lads' personalities are so very compatible."

"That's putting sugar on it," Charon whispered to Bush. Bush grinned.

"Aren't you going to greet our young Squire, Prince Brunswick?" the Emperor inquired gently.

Brunswick's back went straight, and he held his head high. "I still do not believe a person of his station" - the word came out in a sneer- "should be permitted in here, sir."

"That is still no need to be uncivil."

"That is perfectly all right, my lord Emperor," Sinclair cut in sweetly; his posture matched Brunswick's exactly. "I am honored to sit in a council with one of Prince Brunswick's obvious superiority. Are you certain he is not the Prince of Intelligence?"

The room quieted, except for the soft chuckle of Prince Floyd.

"How dare you exhibit such insolence!" Brunswick shrieked, rising out of his chair. All the blood in his body now seemed to fill his face. "Guards! Come teach this..."

"Oh, do be silent and learn to share in the joke, Prince Brunswick," Duval sighed. "I would have thought you learned your lesson from our last meeting."

Brunswick threw himself down into his chair and crossed his arms. The Emperor laughed and waved his hand. "You three may take a seat as well. I've had Eileene bring a chair for you as well, Squire."

A few moments later, when all were settled in comfortably, the Emperor went on. "I trust you informed these two of the situation on the way here, Duke Charon?"

"Yes, sir."

"Splendid." The young Emperor turned to Bush. "Any comments?"

"No sir, other than ones Duke Charon told me you already thought of."

"Ah. Unfortunate, but God does as God wills, eh? Any thoughts from you, my innocent Squire?"

"No, sir."

"Sad, but not unexpected. If you feel you have anything to add to the conversation, if a sudden thought flashes across your mind, do be a good lad and speak up."

"Yes, sir," Sinclair gulped. The haughty attitude seemed to leave him when he spoke to the Emperor.

"A sudden intelligent thought, mind you," Brunswick commented. "We don't wish to hear of your pet monkey or how the pigs make good mates in your neighborhood."

Sinclair let out a low growl, and leapt from his chair, hands curled into fists, but he stopped suddenly, the small hand of Emperor Duval in his face cutting him off.

"That's enough, Squire!" the small man shouted; veins bulged in his neck, and his eyes shot daggers - but not at Sinclair. "I did not invite you into my private chambers to have you be violent." His eyes, already locked on Brunswick's smug face, narrowed dangerously as the Prince let out a chortle. "Do you find something amusing about the situation, Brunswick?"

"Do you not, my lord?" Brunswick asked, too stupid to know when to be silent. "We invite this... this peon into our chambers and he acts like an animal." Brunswick stopped an blinked. "Sir? My lord? Why are you staring at me so?"

"Get out," Duval whispered, slowly counting to ten and clenching then unclenching his fist.

"Sir? This primate makes a few jungle noises and you ask me to get out? I don't understand."

Then Brunswick was on the floor, and an enraged Duval stood above him flexing his left hand. "I do not like to resort to physical means," the Emperor gasped, angry but at the same time shocked with is actions, "but there are some idiots with whom words just won't work. You are one of those idiots, Brunswick, and I've suffered your presence long enough. Get the hell out of my sight."

"But my lord...!"

"I was not playing, Brunswick," the Emperor whispered, raising his hand. The guards stationed in the room raised their carbines and aimed them at the fallen Prince. The sound of the bullets loading into the chambers (energy weapons were not allowed around the sensitive machinery) echoed off the walls of the stark, silent room. "One," the Emperor said calmly. Brunswick looked around frantically, but saw no sympathy in the eyes of Charon or the Emperor, and only amusement in Prince Floyd's. He didn't bother to look towards Bush or Sinclair.

"Two," the Emperor continued. "I'd hurry if I were you, Brunswick, those soldiers look as if they know what they are doing."

"You don't know what you are doing, my lord," Brunswick stated, and slowly began to rise to his feet.

"Two-and-a-half."

Bush didn't realize that such a large and graceless man could move with such swiftness.

"Well, that takes care of that oaf," the Emperor sighed. "I wonder why I kept him around for so long. Oh well. Welcome to the Alexandrian Council, Sinclair."

Sinclair grinned weakly.

"This leaves me with a gaping hole where my War Council used to be. Fortunately we have a perfectly fine replacement right here." Bush felt a touch at his shoulder. "You have to the job, my good Baron. Or, should I say, my good Marquis."

Bush heard Sinclair gasp behind him, and understood the action. He heard his heat rate starting to pick up, and a tremendous pain shot up the left side of his old body. He managed to squeak out a pained "Help me" before he fell to the ground in an agonized heap, his heart already stopped.

Continue the story with Chapter 22