Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

A gas giant named Zeus in the Organa cluster is so big that even its moons have moons. These mini-moons are called moonlets. There are 45 moons and over three hundred moonlets. It makes for very complicated diplomacy.

Resources were too scarce for outright war between all the moons but skirmishes broke out all the time. Diplomats became necessary. The Moon Council consisted of 352 representatives, one from each inhabited moon and moonlet.

One diplomat stood out from all the rest and not just by reputation. He dressed in leaves and rags and had a long beard.

His moonlet was known only as the Swamp Moon and it had a population of one: him. It was the smallest moonlet, just barely over the asteroid line.

He had proclaimed himself the Swamp Moon King. He was so ridiculous that the rest of the Moon System decided to go with Prime Ministers, Presidents, High Masters, Council Heads and Representatives rather than name themselves kings or queens. Ironically, in their attempt to avoid being anything like him, they made him the only king in the council.

He was quite old now. Many of the other diplomats here on the Moon Council had come and gone due to elections, border disputes and death yet the Swamp Moon King remained.

The Moon Council was called to order and The Swamp Moon King sat down.

“The council is called to order, by the shadow of Zeus.” Said Pretoriat Minister Reddia Morecombe, presider of Fiddler’s Moon and speaker of the house. “Firstly, let’s tackle new business. Anyone have anything to bring to the council?”

The Swamp Moon King raised his shaking, elderly hand with a rustle of leaves. The last time he’d brought something up had been three years earlier. It had been a motion to legally recognize plants as family members. It was struck down with a good deal of laughter but it was remembered fondly. The King raising his hand as always a welcome departure from the usual boredom of diplomacy.

“My time grows short and kings need an heir.” He began. The gathered diplomats smirked, entertained anew by his always ridiculous attempt at regality.

“I would like to introduce my daughter.” The council fell silent, intrigued. Daughter? Everyone knew he lived alone. “The Swamp Moon Princess.” He continued.

He opened his coms and the giant televiews pinged to life with an image of a beautiful young woman. Comely, curvy, and head held high.

But her eyes were the orange of autumns leaves and her skin was the bright green of the inside of a sapling. Her ivy hair spilled over her shoulders.

“Her mother passed away last year. She is all I have left.” Mother? A rustle of whispers blew through the hall as the gathered council talked in confusion to each other. Viewer counts from the moon network climbed as news of an actual princess spread and people switched over to see.

“Her name is Petal. But in a short time, you will come to know her as the Swamp Moon Queen. I hope you will afford her every courtesy and accept her reign as you have mine.”

“But you live alone! How on earth did you produce a daughter?” asked Leviah Miranda, Second Minister of the moonlet Mecon.

“I am a xenbotanist first and foremost. A human biologist second. Her mother, you see, was a tree.” Said the Swamp Moon King, and smiled serenely, eyes tinged with sadness.

“We hope to find a decent suitor for her before I die.” He said.

The flurry of activity that followed pleased them both greatly.


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