“Some miser stories being repeated endlessly… but why?”  The King asks.  “What purpose is there to it?”

“Some well-deserved punishment,” the Captain insists.

“Why punish anyone who comes to Coatingsdale?” the Commander attempts.

“We’ll come to it when the time comes,” the Captain replies, “for now, you’re to finish your story and leave.”

“I don’t have to justify my existence nor that of my planet,” the offended King retorts.

“What are you afraid of Captain Traumatic?” the Commander continues, “what scares you most?  Oblivion?  Death? Belchiore?  Being lost in space and never finding your way home?  Not knowing your name or the meaning of happiness?”

But the King, resolved, impatient and wanting nothing more than to hear a good story, towers over the Commander and looks him in the eye like never before, like a King would look into the soul of this own prisoners and decide upon their being right or wrong, upon their innocence or guilt, upon their life or death.

“I’ve told you all I know,” the Commander says.

“Quite possibly, because Belchiore transmitted it,” the Captain continues, “but there’s more to it.  You know as well as I do that we need the truth in order to survive, unless you want to live a worse outcome than that you described.”

“There’s a third option worse than—“

“—Yes, Labaguette,” the Commander utters.

“What is it that would be worse than wishing one’s head could explode?” Labaguette insists.

But the Captain won’t have it as he stares threateningly into Labaguette’s eyes and the Commander’s.

To be continued…


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