POISON IS A
Looking through the window, Rick felt like the entire planet was spread out before him. He could see the entirety of the city, and farther out to where the large towers of modernity gave way to the flat open spaces of the countryside. The city itself, was a crystal garden of glass buildings cut into elegant curves, seamlessly morphing from one shape to the other. The buildings’ flowing forms were broken up by clean streets, and hover cars swarming along the graceful structures. Among the buildings, small forests of Cajaran trees: organic growths that were simultaneously white, transparent, and the entire spectrum of colors, adorned the city. In the air, floating above the already dizzying heights of the skyscrapers, were the sky towers; buildings were held delicately in place like chandeliers, by large hover glyphs of various designs. Rick placed his had on the glass and smiled softly. The dazzling landscape of Cajara, almost let him forget for a moment the unpleasant company he was in. Almost. A loud and deliberate cough behind him made certain he did not forget.
"I’m sure the view is great Rick," Kelarg said, needlessly clearing his throat, “but we were having a discussion.”
Rick ignored him choosing instead to continue to look out the window. Kelarg waited for him to respond, growing more irritated with each passing second. He glanced at the table where the food he’d ordered for them laid neglected, and though it would have seemed impossible, his irritation grew further. One plate was half eaten, the other untouched, both with a combined price that could pay the rent of a modest house on a poor colony planet.
Finally, Rick sighed. "Please remind me what we were discussing, the poison seems to have affected my memory,"
"Oh please, you didn't even touch the plate,” Kelarg scoffed. “And besides, poison is merely a formality."
"Really?” Rick said with an air of disinterest. “I’m sure blocking the trade lines of colony planets is also a mere formality." He turned from window to look at the man.
Kelarg grunted, and hatefully sneered at Rick, though he did not dare meet his eyes. He had known from the beginning that any conversation with Rick Lupaine would be fruitless, and he detested that fact that they were even in the same room, but as one of his most profitable endeavors depended on Rick minding his own damn business, he had reluctantly setup the meeting.
Maintaining a smile, Kelarg poured himself a drink, keeping his anger in check as the blue fizz rose to the rim. "It’s business Rick, Pilan’s government broke the terms of our contract."
"Ah, yes, I see. They broke the contract," Rick said monotonously, then he turned toward the window again. He smiled fondly as he looked upon the city and the people going about their daily lives. How many millenniums had passed since the planet had changed from being a few scattered disorganized villages, to becoming one of Nol's most influential governments?
Kelarg moved to looked out the window as well, getting closer to Rick, but still maintaining a comfortable distance. His expression as he stared down was one of disgust. He hated the planet mainly because Rick loved it, but also because he firmly believed that no government was as good and transparent as the Cajaran monarchy presented itself to be. They could cover it up and make it pretty, but soon their true nature will show, it was only matter of time. His face morphed into an expression of vile humor. Oh, he looked forward to the day when Rick would have to rain judgment down on the planet he loved so much. He chuckled softly at the thought and took a large swing from his drink.
He felt Rick watching him and was reminded of his predicament. Pilan’s rebellion had only been the most recent in a string of reports concerning his businesses. Blocked off trade routes, partners backing out of deals, and suppliers rebelling, had become the new normal that Kelarg had had to deal with since Rick returned from the Binding. For five years, Pilan's government had quietly met Kelarg’s demands, giving up their rare blue wood for five percent of its actual worth. Without even daring to complain, they pitiably bore the weight of his foot on their economy, now because Rick had returned, the filthy colony worms dared to get funny ideas. Of course, he couldn’t let them off easily. Kelarg smirked when he recalled the look on the Planetary governor’s face when the man begged, tearfully, for him to call back the ten Iclaxian made world-destroyers he’d sent to Surround the planet. Looking back now, if he’d knew he would have to deal directly with Rick because of it he may have just called them off. He sighed heavily and took another swing of his drink.
Still looking out the window, Rick’s brow slowly creased into a small frown, his facial muscles strained painfully to maintain an expression so unfamiliar to his usually jovial face that his reflection in the glass looked alien. "Kelarg," he said in almost a whisper, "Don't do business on Cajara anymore, your presence on this planet is like a leprous blemish… filthy and corrupting."
Kelarg stiffened at the insult, and his brow twitched with the effort it took to contain is anger and keep his expression even. "That is a bit uncalled for don't you think," he said forcing out a laugh.
"Not really, you're very existence is a stain," Rick said laughing softly, as he turned to face the man again. There was no trace of the frown left in his expression. "And I don’t say that lightly, however, I can't simply get rid of you as your more reputable dealings are the back-bone of certain worlds."
"So, what are you intending to do Lupaine?"
"I'll ask you to kindly remove the ships surrounding Pilan and end your dealings with the planet."
"And when I refuse?"
"I'll destroy the ships; and should you send more, or continue to oppress Pilan, well, then I'd have no choice but to put an end to you and your entire gang. I will find a way to deal with the consequences after the fact."
Kelarg clenched his fists so tightly that small cracks formed in the glass, and his empty hand shook as he stopped himself from attempting to strangle the man. Smug bastard, he thought, violently knocking back the rest of his drink, then a cruel sneer warped his lips, let’s see how long you can keep that arrogant attitude. Kelarg met Rick’s as he sent telepathic orders to the world-destroyers. He would not suffer a quiet humiliation, even Rick Lupaine would not be able to get to a planet half across the galaxy before the weapons fired. Or so he thought.
"This is simply how I do business Rick, and anyone who…" He started to say, but the end of his sentence was spoken to an empty room save for the golden residue of power left hanging in the air. Kelarg suddenly convulsed wildly, dropping his glass and his knees to the floor. Rick’s voice echoed forcefully in his mind, overriding all thought and function ‘Get off this planet, and don’t return.’ The telepathic command faded as quickly as it had come, but the shock left Kelarg gasping and writhing on the floor; his mind and soul forcefully subdued.
# # #
In the vacuum space around colony planet Pilan, world-destroyers moving on Kelarg’s orders, turned their deadliest weapons on the planet and fired. Steam immediately crystalized, as hot beams of nero-matter shot through the vacuum of space, towards the small blue and brown orb. When it hit, the nero-matter would break through the planet's atmosphere, corrupting the air on an atomic level before hitting the surface and mutating plant and animal into organic deformities of life and flesh entangled with disease. The planet would not meet a quick end, it would drag on and stagnate, as a rotten carcass forced to live.
# # #
On Pilan, the people watched as the beams of torment, the punishment for their sin of hope, headed towards them. Some cried and wailed, while others simply held the hands of their family in silent resignation. As the beams go closer and tinted the planet in their sickly yellow light, the people held their breaths and waited for the end. A few moments passed, and nothing happened. Still more moments passed, and they looked at another in confusion over their still living state.
In the sky, as though caught within the thin membrane of a bubble, the yellow beams were held in place, frozen just before the first of them reached the planet’s atmosphere. The people did not know how to react at the miracle they were witnessing, so they simply stared in awestruck wonder.
# # #
In the void of space Rick Lupaine smiled, one hand outstretched, effortlessly holding back the destructive beams by an unbothered palm.
He spoke, and though his voice went unheard in the vacuum of space, it clearly reverberated in the minds of those aboard the world-destroyers, Pilan, and its neighboring planets.
Pointing a finger, he said "I invoke the unquestionable, and unparalleled order of the House of Lupaine, against fools who seek to oppress and exploit, and those who follow orders without question. I sentence you to destruction."
His powers expand and reached out as a thirsting dragon. Matter and anti-matter formed equilibrium under the command of his will, and the vessels were torn apart. Black bands of matter took the form of blades, hammers, saws, and other weapons of destruction to tear the ships apart. Purple veins of anti-matter swallowed whole chucks of metal and eat up the beams of nero-matter. Like a sawtooth to paper, Rick’s powers raged upon the ships till there was nothing left but small metal scraps falling into orbit around the planet. Soon, even those fragments where cleared away by the Galactic Union's space cleaning organization.
The news of the destruction of Kelarg’s forces quickly spread on news stations on every planet. The event was a resounding affirmation to the galaxy that the master of the House of Lupaine had returned.
Sinking deep into the chair, he raised shoeless feet up to caress the drivers head. Rolling his eyes, Min continued driving, ignoring the foot going into his ear.
"How boring, when we first met you would squirm and giggle every time." Rick sighed.
"And I've known you for 369 years since then, it would be strange if your antics still surprised me," Min said slapping the foot.
They both laughed, and Min slowed down as they encountered some traffic.
Rick put down his foot and leaned forward, then asked, "so, what are people saying about me these days."
Min thought for a moment, laughing "They call you Nol's most eligible bachelor, Second most handsome man in the galaxy, Protector of the universe, Shadow puppeteer of the government, most troublesome..."
"Most handsome obviously? Who's ahead of me?"
"Prince Sol," Min said smiling
"Ha, what a joke. Sol has been asleep for over 700 years, most of these kids weren't even born yet. I've known him since he was a child, up until his 1010th birthday, his face was pimple marked and splotchy with weird yellow patches, honestly." He was lying, the whole galaxy knew what Sol looked like from childhood to the last time he was awake. "What utter nonsense,” Rick continued “Min, who do you think is more handsome?"
Min was saved from replying as they reached their destination.