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: It is a pleasure to see you, your excellency, and I would be honored to expedite your clearance through security. Zete
: Please, call me Zete. Does all of Earth look like this? Terl
: Oh, I'm afraid so, sir. Zete
: Pathetic. All the green and the blue sky. They told me this planet was ugly, but this has got to be one of the ugliest crap holes in the entire universe. Terl
: I couldn't agree with you more. Zete
: I hate these puny undersized planets. The gravity is so... different. Terl
: Well, one does get used to it. Zete
: And the human animals, grossly undersized. Ker
: They don't make very good eating, your excellency.
: Ker, I'd like you to meet Chirk.
[Ker grunts appreciatively
: She's, um... she's, um... Chirk
: His soon-to-be newly acquired secretary. Terl
: Yes. Ker
] Really? Terl
: [quietly, to Ker
] She's stupid enough not to be a menace, good-looking enough to be decorative; she gets drunk with economical speed... Terl
: [normal voice
] - and has other advantages.
[Chirk extends her very long tongue
: Ooh. I can see that.
: I don't know what you're so down about. You still get to be head of security, which, from what I can tell, is a pretty cushy job. Terl
: Well, I can assure you that I was not groomed since birth to have some cushy job that even a moron like you could perform. While you were still learning how to SPELL YOUR NAME, I was being trained to conquer GALAXIES! To do anything less is a disgrace to my entire family line.
: Home office is well aware of your academic achievements and obvious talents. That's why we decided not to keep you here for another 5 cycles.
[Terl laughs in relief
: [joining in the laughter
] It's a joke! Terl
: Oh, thank you sir. I don't know if I could have kept my sanity to be here another 5 cycles. Zete
: We've decided to keep you here for another 50 cycles! With endless options for renewal!
[echoing as the camera zooms in on Terl
: With endless options for renewal! With endless options for renewal!
[Zete laughs maniacally. Sound fades out, slow motion as Terl looks at Zete and the Planetship and his assistant laughing and sneering at him
: [echo effect
] Those options, of course...
: Those options, of course, being at home office's discretion, not yours. The senator... has a lot of friends.
: Has a lot of friends.
[Ker has made a recording of Terl discussing how he's going to keep the gold a secret from his superiors
: I've been thinking, 80/20 is a pretty fair distribution of the gold. But I should get the 80 percent. And with my share, I'm going to fire all my wives and buy new ones. Maybe pretty ones this time. Kerbango? Terl
: Congratulations. You've finally learned how to get proper leverage over someone, haven't you? Ker
: Uh-huh. Terl
: Which means I haven't wasted my time trying to train you, have I? Ker
: You're not upset? Terl
: Oh, don't be crazy! Do you know how long I've waited for this day? And I know just the perfect way to celebrate.
[he pulls out his gun
] What are you doing? You can't shoot me. I made a copy, and gave it to someone for safekeeping. You are just too good of a teacher. Terl
: How about giving your old teacher a clue as to who this might be? Ker
: You insult yourself, sir. You know you taught me better than that. Terl
: Well, how the hell am I supposed to know who it is? Ker
] I don't know. Terl
: I mean, it could be anybody on this damn planet. It could be a mechanic... Ker
: No. Terl
: It could be a concubine... Ker
: No, no, no, no! Terl
: It could be anybody in the communications office. Ker
: Wrong! Terl
: I hate these things, I feel like... like it's a test that I'm not prepared for! Well, hell, it could even be...
[he pulls out a severed head
: Our friendly bartender!
[he points his gun at Ker
: Please. I made a mistake.
[Terl blows one of Ker's hands off
: I've wasted my time, haven't I? Ker
: Sir? Terl
: If you're going to lie to me, at least have the decency to do a credible job so I don't look like a complete idiot for having tried to trained you!
: You said we use picto-cameras to spy on other offices but under no circumstance do we spy on our own office. Terl
: That's right, *we* don't, *I* do!
: The photo is from last week's recon drone. It shows a rock slide in the mountains, it exposed a gold vein. Terl
: And you were waiting for me to be transferred so you could turn it in and get all the credit for yourself. Ker
: I didn't think you'd mind. Terl
: I don't mind. Turn it in. But before you do, pretend that you're not a complete imbecile and check the compo-gradients.
[Ker inserts the photographic tablet into a computer
: The mountain's full of uranium. No Psychlo could get there without his breath gas exploding. There's no way to mine the gold.
[Terl starts beating Ker with a metal rod
: But what I do mind is that you betrayed me over a lousy recon photo! Ker
: But it's worthless, you said so yourself! Terl
: But you didn't know it was worthless!
: But we have to pay the new workers. Assistant Planetship
: Maybe you were absent the day they taught economics at the academy, Ker, but nobody works for free. Terl
: Man-animals do. What if we were to train them how to mine?
[the Planetship and his assistant laugh
: Man-animals operating machinery? Have you blown a head gasket? I will be the laughing stock of the universe!