Author : Bob Newbell

The Shallivak landing craft detached itself from its mothership and began its descent into Earth’s atmosphere. Turrox, Subjugator of the Jor’demm Empire, Conqueror of the Rinnt Confederation, Destroyer of the Hegemony of the Hyojexxi Star System, Absolute Monarch of the Shallivak, and owner of a dozen other titles watched the Earth through the windows of the vessel.

“This world will be the crown jewel of the Shallivak Imperium,” said Turrox to no one in particular.

“It is a great prize,” noted Turrox’s chief military adviser, Forlen.

“Forlen,” said Turrox turning to his companion, a veteran of a score of successful campaigns and conquests, “I’m going to handle these humans as I did the Waroon Dynasty on Dremla VII.”

“Ah,” replied Forlen. “I remember it well, Majesty. Under the pretense of establishing a trade agreement, you met publicly with the Supreme Dynast. And then, with your legendary speed and agility, you slew him before his horrified subjects. The Waroon put up almost no resistance to our forces after witnessing Your Majesty’s unanswerable fierceness.”

“And so it will be with these primitive Earthers,” said Turrox.

The vehicle made its approach to the designated landing site, a place the humans called Edwards Air Force Base. Turrox, Forlen, and several other Shallivak donned their encounter suits, entered the ship’s airlock, and waited. At last, the outer hatch opened and a motorized gangway extended itself. Two guards descended and took their positions on either side of the ramp. When they saw the human delegation in the distance, the guards exchanged concerned glances. A few moments later, Turrox and Forlen walked down the ramp. Forlen gasped.

Finally, the Shallivak monarch and his entourage stood before the humans. Or, rather, they stood beneath them. Turrox looked up at the American diplomat who rose over him like a skyscraper. The tallest Shallivak who ever lived might have stood even with the top of the Earth creature’s shoes. Forlen looked back anxiously at the landing craft, fearful that one of the humans might pick it up and walk off with it.

Turrox, Victor of the Battle of Vendicor Prime, Subduer of the Chelminar Alliance, Vanquisher of the Pudraki Dominion, said to the towering Earthling with a meek and nervous voice, “Would a five percent customs duty on imports be acceptable?”

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