“He is the youngest, the youngest ever.” Emperor Bartala said.

“Why are you doing this? Why are you deviating from the centuries old traditions of Ploonar?” The Muse of Mischief asked.

They were sitting on the patio of her and Agent Brzko’s home on Earth. Listening to the waves of the Pacific Ocean below them, she was trying to determine if her oldest friend was all right. Her first thought was that he may have been infected with mind altering bacteria.

“Wisssi will be the youngest Emperor that Ploosnar has ever had. Has any other ever surrendered the title to his offspring while still in his prime?” She asked.

“No  M. It’s never been done.”

“Then why Bartala, why are you doing this? With a lifespan of more than 200 years you’re really only in your prime.”

“Exactly.” He answered. “I’ve been thinking about his since you mentioned it.”

“Me? You’re going to put this on me?”

“You don’t remember.” He said. “You came to see me before you left for Clyrea X9 the first time. It was the time we taught Wisssi how to ‘raid the fridge’, as you say. You suggested that he could take over for me and I could work with Nalau.”

“That sounds like something I’d say.”

“So you see, this is your doing.”

She just looked at him, waiting for more. She wouldn’t let him off that easy. He’d be trapped here on Earth with her until she was satisfied with his answer.

He took a deep breath and slowly released it. “I envy you M. I’ve always envied your freedom. I don’t think I ever really held it against you, but I longed for it. When we were young we had great fun planet hopping and causing a little trouble. But then my father passed and I became the Emperor of Ploosnar. The position certainly has benefits, but for more than a decade now, I’ve watched you, and my wife, and my best friends make a difference in the Universe. And Wisssi has had plenty of time to explore and enjoy the freedom of his youth. He and Nguvu have been all over the Universe.”

“But…” She attempted to interrupt.

He held his hand up to silence her and continued. “I know what you’re going to say. I’ve made a difference on Ploosnar, and even to some degree throughout the Universe – like when I helped the Rogsaars get back to Myaad. I see the deep personal satisfaction that comes from the work all of you do, and I want that for myself. I also want a chance to share that with my wife. Wisssi will excel as the Emperor of Ploosnar. In fact, I suspect he may be a better Emperor than I ever was. He has new, innovative ideas about the roinad empire. He’s already expanded the market by working with the Dragons. At his age, he won’t let tradition stop him, he’ll forge a head in new directions and I think Ploosnar will be better for it.” He paused and took a sip from the fine china teacup beside him. “What do you call this stuff again?”


“I like this stuff, I REALLY like this stuff. I feel invigorated!” He said.

M just laughed at him.

“So if Wisssi becomes the Emperor of Ploosnar you’ll be homeless. What’s your plan?”

He looked at her and smiled.

“Oh I see.” She said sarcastically. “You want to live in the spare house on Misko.”

“Well you DID have it built for me and Empress Nalau – under different circumstances, but nonetheless.”

“Bartala you know I’d love to have you that close, even though it probably won’t be good for us.” They both laughed. “You realize that you’ll be taking orders from your wife right?”

“Yes. And I fail to see how that would be any different than it is now.”

“She has a full crew, they’ve been working well together for many years. Numia and her make a great team – they can anticipate each other’s needs when they’re working. How will you fit in?”

“It is a shame that Numia will never be able to return to her home, but she seems to enjoy her new life. I don’t intend to intrude on to my wife’s ship. I’m having my own built – I’m still the Emperor of Ploosnar, and can use the resources as I see fit.” They both laughed.

“Oh, this is where you two are?” Agent Brzko said as he came out of the house.

Bartala turned to see who was behind him, he jumped up and greeted Brzko. “Agent Brzko, it’s nice to see you.”

“You don’t usually hang out here with Bartala M, what’s up? Everything OK?” He asked, pulling up a chair.

“Yep, it’s all good. I wanted to find out the real reason Bartala is stepping down as Emperor of Ploosnar, and I figured if he refused to tell me the truth I’d threaten to leave him here.” She grinned at Bartala.

“Oh you are an evil one M.”

“Yep. Hey Brzko, Bartala wants to come live on Misko. Are you OK with that?”

“Really? How can you be the Emperor of Ploosnar and live on the Planet of Portals?” He asked, taking a sip if M’s espresso.

“I’m relinquishing the throne to Wisssi.”


“Yes, I want to do something else with my life, and he will be a better Emperor than I ever was.”

“I’m surprised you don’t keep a residence at the palace. I would have guessed you’d want to keep the… luxury. I guess that means M will have to give up the purple rooms too.”

“He doesn’t know does he?” Bartala asked, looking at M.

“Probably not, he’s been out with Zri in the Vaproutov Galaxy.”

“What don’t I know? What did I miss?”

“Ezopica Mischievous Wisssdartai is not just to be bonded with Nguvu – they are to be bonded.” He could tell that it hadn’t clicked for Brzko yet. “Bonded, as in marriage.”

“Holy shit! Are you serious? I had no idea they were involved that way.”

“No one did, they kept it very discreet.” M said.

“Has a Dragon ever married outside their species before?”

“No. This will be the first. So you can see that my place is no longer at the palace on Ploosnar.”

“I do see that now!” Brzko said. “Has there ever been an Empress that wasn’t Ploosnarian?”

“Yes, but never one as… well, never one that could breathe fire.” He said grinning.

“Wow. So are you going to play house husband to Empress Nalau on Misko.”

M laughed so hard that she lost the sip of espresso she’d just taken.

“Hardly Brzko!” Bartala said, doing his best to look insulted. “Actually my new ship will be ready in a few days, and my crew and I have already attended flight and defense training on Gaznzul. We’re ready to join you.”

“Wait, you said you lost weight because you’d become vain about your appearance. You were actually training with the Gaznzulians.” M asked shocked. “I can’t believe you were able to hide that from me. Does Nalau know?”

“Of course.”

“Wait, you said crew.” Brzko said. “You’ve already selected a crew? Who?”

“Several that you rescued from the VReoria specimen ship have been living on Gaznzul, but not really settled in.”

“Oh, so they’ve all been there for a while.” M said, thinking out loud.

“Yes, with the exception of my first officer.” M and Brzko just looked at him, waiting. “Do you remember Scomia?”

“Of course, the young Keateran that Kilome adopted. She’s going to be your first officer?”

“Yes. You know we stayed close while she was finishing school on Ploosnar. She’s never really settled into a profession, she’s restless and eager to explore more of the Universe.”

“What about Chuna and Blona? Are they still running roinad freighters?”

“Mmmm hmmm.”

“So when and where is the ceremony for Wisssi and Nguvu?”

“Next week – there will be three ceremonies. First a mostly traditional bonding on Dragona, then a wedding, then the ceremony of ascension on Ploosnar.”

“Mostly traditional?” Brzko asked.

“The Great Assembly of Dragona has agreed to open the ceremony to immediate family/”

“Oh! Are you serious?” M asked.

“Yes. It’s true.”

“I wonder why Ferocity never said anything.” Brzko considered out loud.

“Because he doesn’t know. I only found out minutes before I was kidnapped and brought to this beautiful place on the most infantile of planets.” He said pretend frowning at M. “Now I’ve had a lovely time M, but will you please take me home. There’s little time to prepare and I need to see Schatorren. As the father of the groom I must be impeccably dressed.”

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