Chapter 45

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A frowning Zebular Prax emerged from under the covers of the pool room's sofa bed, and fumbled for his buzzing communicator.

"Whatever it is, it can wait.  What?  Fine, go ahead.  He's done what?  Well, can't they turn them back on again?  Keys?  Are you serious?  You are serious?  Bloody hell.  Well, we've got a whole freaking invasion force on site, can't they just find him?  No time?  Well, how long have they got?  Ah, crap."

The tousled head of the bartender emerged alongside Prax's.  "C'mon Zebby.  It's getting lonely in here."

The High Lord waggled his eyebrows suggestively.  "Never fear, my dear.  I have some very special executive attention in store for you."  He sighed, as the squawking from his communicator rose in volume.  "No, not you, moron.  Look, tell them to find Splurmfeen and turn those bloody engines back on again, otherwise they'll just have to evacuate the station.  The Earthlings?  What about 'em?  Total extinction, huh?  All life on the planet wiped out?  Hmm.  Ah well, sucks to be them.  No doubt GalCon will be a bit pissed, but at least we've got Splurmfeen to blame it all on—destroying a planet will make him an even  better scapegoat.  Hmm—yes, this could actually work in our favour.  Tell 'em to not even bother looking for the admiral.  Just get everyone off the station.  I mean, it's not as though the wretched thing isn't insured.  What?  I don't care who you put in charge of the evacuation.  Just pick the most senior officer left on board, you idiot.  Let me know how it goes."  He winked at the bartender.  "But not for an hour or so."

The hologrammatic projection of Fabulon and his Rigellian interviewee winked out of existence

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The hologrammatic projection of Fabulon and his Rigellian interviewee winked out of existence.  EJ raised his eyebrows.  "See?"

Before anybody had a chance to respond, the PA system once again burst into life.  "Attention all members of the Earth expeditionary force.  Fleet Admiral Xulip Vane here.  The impending deorbit of the battle-station has now been assessed as irredeemable, and non-scheduled touchdown, associated with rapid disassembly and conditions non-conducive to continued existence, is now imminent.  Accordingly, units aboard the battle-station are to evacuate, immediately.  Incoming ancillary units are to assist with said evacuation.  And all units had better move pretty bloody fast, unless they want to end up as a stain on the scorched and lifeless surface of the planet Earth.

"As personnel scans indicate that Captain Zlep Flenson is currently the senior fit officer remaining on the station, he will take charge of the evacuation.  That is all.  Vane out."

Flenson's mouth opened.  When no words came out, he closed it again.

With a sigh, Chek drew his small but enormously powerful gun, and pointed it at Flenson's head.  "Looks like you've hit the big-time, Rigel-dude.  Congrats."

Flenson's mouth fell open again.

Max held up his hands.  "Whoa, Chek.  What are you doing?"

"You heard the bigwig, Earth-dude.  Our friend here is now in charge of the bad guys.  I figure by definition that makes him a bad guy, too.  It's a shame, 'cause he was kinda growing on me.  Anyway, time to say bye-bye."

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