Chapter 26

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"Greetings, viewers.  Strarl Fabulon here, coming to you from the blazing heart of the Rigel-Earth conflict, on the outer edges of the civilised galaxy.  I'm on board the Rigellian battlestation as PGN's sole biological correspondent, braving the horrors of warfare to bring my devoted viewers the very latest news on the invasion.  I'm joined today by GalCon Councillor Uva Kwoin, the official tasked with overseeing this obviously extremely dangerous warzone.  Councillor, I'm sure the intense and relentlessly perilous nature of this battle must be keeping you very busy, so thank you for your time."

"Always a pleasure, Strarl."

"Councillor, what are your thoughts on the unexpected resistance being displayed by the Earthanese natives?"

"I must say I'm as surprised as everybody else, Strarl.  Nothing in the limited information available regarding Earth suggested they would be anything but a walkover for Rigel.  Their military organisations are laughable and the amount of reality TV they watch even more so.  I've rarely seen a planet more deserving of Level One categorisation."

"And yet here we are, Councillor.  Less than a day away from the deadline for satisfying the 99% rules and the Earthwegians are still yet to be officially conquered.  Do you have any theories as to how they have managed this remarkable feat?"

"Not really, Strarl.  This missing Australian prime minister must simply be very plucky or extraordinarily lucky.  Or possibly some combination of the two."

"And tell me, Councillor, given how close Rigel are to satisfying the 99% rules, is it possible that Galcon may bend the rules a little, in their favour?  I'm sure the Rigellian members of the Conglomerate would be in favour of declaring Earth conquered, even if the conditions aren't quite satisfied."

"The preferences of members of the Conglomerate are of no consequence in these matters, Strarl.  GalCon rules apply to all.  Let me be very clear.  If Rigel cannot satisfy the 99% rules, then I will not be ratifying their conquest of Earth."

"Strong words, Councillor.  And what of these apparently super-powered humans?  What are your thoughts on them?"

"Oh, I think that's all most likely a bit of a beat-up, Strarl.  Exaggerations, rumours, unfounded innuendo - you know how it is."

"But the video, Councillor.  What of the video obtained by Scoo...obtained by PGN?"

"Strarl, I'm sure nobody knows better than a TV journalist such as yourself, just how easy it is to doctor video like that.  No, I'm sure the whole thing is a fake.  Super-powered Earthlings?  Preposterous."

"Well, thank you for those frank thoughts, Councillor.  Although I must just correct one little part of your statement.  I'm no longer a TV journalist.  From now on you'll find me out in the field, dodging danger, braving battles, reporting from the front line."

"Allow me to apologise, Strarl.  And also to compliment you on managing to keep such immaculate nails, in your rugged new role."

"Why, thank you Councillor.  It's a real challenge, I can tell you.  Did you know that I had to bring my very own manicurist with me?  There's not so much as a single nail salon on the whole battlestation.  And don't get me started on the liqueur selection available.  It's lucky I packed a reasonable selection, otherwise aperitifs would have been a disaster.  And then there's the lack of...er, never mind.  Ahem.  Thanks once again for your time, Councillor.  This is Strarl Fabulon, signing off from the front line.  Stay safe everyone.  Because I won't be.  Safe, that is.  Nope, danger everywhere.  Fabulon out."

"

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