Author : Anthony Rove

King Alexander—that was the name he had chosen for himself, anyway—leaned back on his throne. It wasn’t very comfortable. After a lifetime of resting his considerable girth on plush synthetic fabrics, the primitive wood-on-iron chair hurt his backside. He disliked the austerity imposed on him by indigenous tech. But then again, he wasn’t here to be comfortable. He was here to win. And victory was so damn close he could almost taste it.

The Royal High Priest stood at attention directly across from the throne. It (Alexander was never quite sure whether the beasts he had dubbed the “Macedonians” had any proper gender) was a short, squat, two-legged thing. At a quick glance, the creature looked like a shrunken, pale, misshapen human. It had a face, two black eyes, and a gaping central opening that might charitably be called a mouth—although it wasn’t used for speech.

The High Priest’s chalk-white skin began vibrating. A tiny device lodged in King Alexander’s ear canal detected the delicate series of pulses, and whispered its translation,

“Glorious God-King Alexander, I have excellent news from the front. The campaign was successful. Paris has been taken, and Napoleon captured.” Alexander leapt from his throne and raised his meaty fist into the air. Alexander had never been a dancer, but after clinching the semi-final, he felt like dancing. He shuffled his feet rhythmically while the High Priest looked on patiently. After a few moments, Alexander managed to compose himself.

“They didn’t try to hurt him did they?” he asked. The High Priest shifted its weight back and forth. Over the last year and a half, Alexander had learned that this seemingly nervous movement actually indicated bemusement.

“Of course not, my Lord. Even the most brutish foot soldier knows better than to try to harm a God.”

“Right. Yes. Of course. Just making sure.”

The man who called himself King Napoleon arrived in King Alexander’s throne room a short while later, escorted by two Macedonian guards. He arrived unfettered and surrounded by a dim, blue light.

“Leave us.” boomed Alexander in the most god-like voice he could muster. The guards obeyed, leaving the two men alone in the throne room. King Napoleon let out a prolonged sigh and extended his hand. King Alexander shook it vigorously.

“Good game, Alexander.”

“It really was. If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said you were going to crush me for sure.” Napoleon winced at the compliment.

“Yea, well stuff happens. I have to admit, poisoning our wells was a good move. Scared the crap outta ‘em. Made ‘em think I couldn’t manage our resources. They pigeonholed me as a war-god.” King Alexander understood entirely. Even if the locals were a bunch of savages, it was extremely difficult to keep up the veneer of omnipotence.

“Although,” Napoleon continued, “I’m not quite sure how you managed to get your guys around my sentries at all.” Alexander grinned.

“I’ll tell you after I’ve won the championship on Trappist-1e.” At this, Napoleon managed a weak smile.

“Well, enjoy the perpetual winter. After this hell-hole of a planet, I’m sure you’ll be glad to get out of the heat.

“Out of the fire and into the ice box,” Alexander agreed. “The other good news is that the locals on Trappist-1f are supposed be a little bit more tech savvy than these guys. Hopefully they’ve figured out how to make a comfortable throne.”

“Well, best of luck. I’ll be watching on the casts. But now, I’ve gotta catch my ride back to Earth.”