Zerak, having drifted back to the sleazy hotel, is in his room lying in bed.
“Stupid Zarkor and his stupid video games!” he is saying to himself. “What self importance! What an ego! What monumental thoughtlessness! What reckless insensitivity! Fffffffft! What do I care?! He was just trouble anyway. All his ridiculous theories, his rudeness to inferior species, he never kept his room neat, all his useless and obsolete gizmos cluttering up the ship! I’m better off without him!”
Zerak tries to get comfortable in the rock-hard bed, shifting to different positions, but gives up. “I wonder where Zarkor is right now?” he wonders, staring at the ceiling. “He’s probably in the ship playing that horrendous holo-game, making slaves of innocent life-forms! Playing God! And where am I? Lying in this cheap, cruddy hotel room! I could get murdered in this crazy place and he would never know! Or probably care!
“And what about that circus business? Professor Wonderland’s stupid dancing donkeys! I bet there is no such thing! Makes grown men long for the tranquility of their mother’s breast, indeed! What a con-job that was. I’m glad all this happened, opened my eyes to the kind of creature he is.
“Tomorrow I’ll contact Uncle Zebon. If Zarkor’s got our ship, I’ll take him to court! That will show him! That ship is half mine; he won’t get away with this!”
Many Time Periods later, Zerak finds his way to Uncle Zebon’s compound on a little known planet in an obscure sector of the Galaxy. Uncle Zebon, alerted to a ship landing nearby, drifts out to discover who could have possibly discovered his secret location. To his surprise, Zerak appears in the airlock of the ship.
“Well, Zerak! Uncle Zebon exclaims. “What brings you to my abode, and how did you discover it?”
“Hello, Uncle Zebon, “Zerak says as he drifts to the ground. “It’s the only place I could think of to come to. Uncle Zebon, I’m homeless!”
“Homeless?! What do you mean?” exclaims Uncle Zebon in surprise.
“Zarkor’s run off with our ship and left me in some cruddy hotel on some stupid planet! See, we went to this stupid circus and…”
“Come to the house, Zerak, and we’ll talk about it.”
Uncle Zebon leads Zerak into his house to a comfortable room with a nice fire blazing in the fireplace. “Now, Zerak, what’s all this about?” Uncle Zebon asks.
Zerak, settling down in a chair, says, “Well, I’ve been hitchhiking around the Galaxy trying to find you, Uncle Zebon, for ever so long! Do you know how hard it is to catch a ride in this part of the Galaxy? This Sector is so obscure it isn’t on any map!”
“Yes, I know,” notes Zebon knowingly. “Having a controlling interest in the Galactic Atlas Corporation does have its benefits. You know I don’t like strangers dropping in unexpectedly.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about that!” Zerak agrees. “This is the most desolate, anonymous, absolutely worthless planet I’ve ever come across in all my travels! I had to…um…borrow a Lifeship and search the Galaxy to find you! But I knew you’d be holed-up in some place like this.”
“I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘holed-up’, Uncle Zebon says. “My compound here has all the amenities, including a robot guard. One of my stature in the Galaxy tends to make enemies occasionally.”
“I’m sure.” Zerak agrees.
Uncle Zebon looks at Zerak carefully. “Now about your problem. You say Zarkor has taken your ship and left you behind? That surprises me. The two of you were always thick as thieves, if you’ll pardon the expression.”
“I know,” Zerak says dejectedly. “That’s what I always thought. See, we had this little argument about him buying this new holo-game. But it’s not a game, it’s for real and immoral, and he refused to see the evil of the thing, and got all incensed because I wouldn’t allow it, and he deserted me in this wretched hotel room on this planet and…”
“I get the point, Zerak. Well, Zarkor was always a little pigheaded and determined. Still, there’s good in the lad.”
“Good for what?!” Zerak asks sarcastically.
“Now, now, we mustn’t become too upset,” says Zebon, trying to calm Zerak down. “All this can be settled out I’m sure. In the mean time you can stay here as long as you like.”
“Thanks Uncle Zebon,” Zerak says. “You’ve always…well mostly…been good to the two of us.”
“That’s settled then.” Uncle Zebon hovers a little higher in his chair. “I’ll have one of my servants show you to your rooms.” Uncle Zebon turns his attention to a door leading into a hallway. “Oh Otto! Otto!” he calls out.
Soon a robot appears in the doorway and leans into the room.” Yes boss?” it asks in a scratchy metallic voice.
Zerak looks at the robot and cries out in horror, “Oh no! A Cyberoid!”
“Of course,” Uncle Zebon says calmly, “they make excellent servants.”
“But, but…” Zerak says in alarm.
“I know, don’t be frightened. The Cyberoids are now harmless. They told me how you and Zarkor helped them find the Metal Planet where they now make their home. It’s not far from here, as a matter of fact. Some of them commute and work for me to make extra Value Units. They’re very diligent workers, and of course they never tire. This one will take you to your room. We’ll talk later.”
“If you’ll follow me, sir,” the Cyberoid says politely. Zerak drifts cautiously after the robot into the hallway and disappears into the interior of the compound.
Meanwhile, we find Zarkor in the Lightship sitting in the den looking at his new-bought holo-game, mulling over the previous events of the day.
“Now, to Rule the World! Ha ha ha ha ha!” he laughs in mock hilarity.
Then in a more thoughtful mood, he ponders to himself, “I wonder if this is a good idea. I mean, I’ll be manipulating sentient beings and they won’t even know it! They’ll think it’s all their idea. I can be kind to them, but I know the moment will come when I’ll get bored with that and I’ll be thinking about creating a little excitement, like a war or maybe some religious persecutions, or inciting a revolution, or setting up a vicious dictatorship, or just playing with their minds.”
His thoughts gaining momentum, Zarkor continues, “Like appearing above them in the sky, admonishing them and threatening apocalyptic retribution for their transgressions against The Lord Thy God. He he he, that would throw them for a loop! Give them something to think about! Traumatize them good, put some respect for ‘ol Zarkor in them!”
Zarkor now begins to bob up and down with the enthusiasm of a new thought. “Or, start messing with their ecology! Earthquakes, volcanoes, sinking continents, pestilence, plagues, pandemics, car crashes, stock market meltdowns, zombies, vampires, demon possessions, adversity, catastrophe, calamity, devastation, decay and ruin!” Calming down a bit, he rationalizes, “Umm…for psychological evaluation, of course.”
The glint in Zarkor’s eye dims a bit as he remembers Zerak’s counsel. “I know Zerak wouldn’t approve of all this, but on the other hand, so to speak, who cares? He was always reprimanding and admonishing me for the smallest, most miniscule things! Like that time I accidently leaned against the Death Ray Control Panel and destroyed that planet, what was its name? I said those things happen! It was an accident! What more could I say! There was no one left to apologize to anyway!”
Zarkor mulls over his past transgressions. “So I’ve caused a few inter-Galactic cataclysms. Nobody’s perfect! Maybe this game is immoral, wicked, depraved and deceitful. Maybe Zerak is right after all. Maybe I should find Zerak and apologize and be friends again like we used to be. Maybe I’ll just chuck this thing and go back to Ultra-Mega-Nintendo.”
After a moment of thought, Zarkor finally makes his decision. “No way! I’m playing this!!”
End Chapter 3