by Brian K. Asbury
Manga Khan wiped his mouth, a sigh of pleasure escaping from it as he did so. “Ah, L-Ron,” he said. “That was the best muffin I’ve tasted in ages. Well worth letting those idiot humans and the Green Lantern go, I think.”
“The latter was probably a smart move, anyway, M’lord,” said L-Ron. “The G.L.s tend to get a bit cranky if they find out one of their own is being held prisoner.”
“Whatever,” said Manga Khan, whose mind was already on other things. He rose and waved his hand over a control. A tri-D globe of the Earth appeared in the center of the room. “So, what do you think, L-Ron? Shall we make this our next port of call, now that all repairs are completed? I’m sure the Earthlings are just dying to sample some of the delights we have on offer. They’re a primitive people, and we’re well overstocked on beads and trinkets. It should be a good opportunity to offload some of them.”
“What about the risk of Mister Nebula turning up, M’lord?”
“Oh, I’ve thought about that, L-Ron. It’s only a very small risk, and we could be out of there before he even notices us. There’s no other reason to avoid the place, is there?”
“I think, M’lord,” said L-Ron, a note of concern in his voice, “that you’d be wise to cast a glance over this first.” He thrust a computer pad towards his employer.
Manga Khan at first merely glanced at the pad and made to hand it back. Then he did a double-take, looked at it again, and read it very, very carefully. He stared at L-Ron. “Is this information reliable?” he asked.
“It comes from the best seers on Naltor,” said L-Ron.
“This is trouble,” Manga Khan said, handing the pad back. “Big trouble. Earth is not going to be a healthy place to be when this lot hits the fan.”
“Well, then,” said Manga Khan, flourishing his cape as he strode towards a window with a magnificent view of the stars. “In that case, I think we’ll stop off at the Srelbmub homeworld to transact a little deal regarding our newest acquisitions, and then we’ll make for Pluboss III. It’s right across the other side of the galaxy, and it’s said to be lovely at this time of year.”
“M’lord Manga, Pluboss III is a radioactive wasteland populated by hideously deformed mutants!”
“Ah, that sounds like my kind of people,” said Manga Khan. “Order the helmsman to set course, L-Ron. Best speed. Whatever Pluboss III is like, it has to be safer than staying here is going to be!”