Chapter 12

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"Admiral, such a pleasure to see you again."

"The pleasure is all mine, Councillor.  Please, make yourself comfortable."

Admiral Xarnax Splurmfeen  sat at his imposing black marble desk, in the spacious great cabin of his quarters.  Behind him, through a floor to ceiling window, the moon hung against the star-spangled inky blackness of space, the lunar terminator creeping slowly but perceptibly across its surface, as darkness and light engaged in their eternal battle.  Forcing himself to smile warmly at the immaculately dressed woman seated across the desk from him, it was only a matter of seconds before his facial muscles began to ache from the unaccustomed exertion.

"Thank you for making the time to meet with me," said Councillor Uva Kwoin, returning Splurmfeen's smile with a much more natural one of her own.  As if you had a choice.

"Please Councillor, no thanks are required.  It is always a pleasure to see you."  As if I had a choice.  

"Tell me Admiral, how is your invasion progressing?"

"Flawlessly Councillor, flawlessly.  What else would one expect from a lowly Level One civilisation?  It's not as though a backwards, isolated, inconsequential speck of irrelevance like Earth was ever going to give the forces of Rigel any trouble.  Honestly Councillor, I'm afraid the Galactic Conglomerate has wasted your valuable time in sending you to check on such a one-sided little war."

I love my job, thought Splurmfeen.  I love the conquest, I love the authority, I love the insults and I really love the shouting.  But if there's one thing I hate, it's having to play nice with the scum-sucking, parasitic, waste-of-space GalCon bureaucracy.

"Oh, you know the GalCon, Admiral.  We bureaucrats have to justify our existence and keep busy somehow.  Making sure that the correct forms have been filled out, checking that the regulations have been followed, reporting back to the ruling council and so on.  All the little tasks and minutiae that keep the galaxy running."

Councillor Kwoin steepled her fingers and regarded the admiral.  Oh, how I love my job, she thought.  I love the travel, I love the authority, I love the clothes and I really love the expense account.  But if there's one thing I really love, it's grabbing hold of the stick that high-end military boneheads like Splurmfeen invariably have stuck up their rear ends, and giving it a really good twist.

"And of course there are always those rare, unfortunate occasions when the invasion of a newly discovered civilisation fails to meet the conditions required by GalCon.  Then of course there is no end of paperwork—organising reparations to the planet in question, recovering GalCon expenses, ensuring those responsible for the failure are brought to account."  She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs.  "But obviously Admiral, you have nothing to worry about.  I'm sure an invasion conducted by such a capable, experienced officer will satisfy all of GalCon's criteria."  And if not I'll be all over you like a Rigellian at a hat sale, you arrogant moron.

"You are too kind, Councillor."  Smug hag.  "Of course the criteria will be met.  Earth's so-called armed forces have been crushed and their governments captured or destroyed.  Complete victory is imminent and very soon you will be in a position to ratify Rigel's dominion over the Earth."

He's right, of course, reflected Kwoin, more's the pity.  But she wasn't about to let the Rigellian know that she knew that.  She batted her sculpted eyelashes.  Let's at least see if I can wipe the fake smile off his cretinous face, before he strains something.  "And what of the land mass known as Australia, Admiral?  I've heard a little rumour that its leader remains at large and that it therefore technically remains unconquered.  No doubt this is just a little hiccup and you have the situation well in hand?"

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