Chapter 1-What’s going on with our duo.

Fwee the Kostan shifted, trying to find a comfortable position on the stone chair. She widened her lips into a smile to show sympathy to someone supposedly her superior. “I’m sure there’s no need for you to cry, General. Just find another Earther. They have plenty more where she came from.”

General Plarn slumped even more, his face buried in his hands. “You don’t think I’ve searched for her replacement? If I could go to Ghar and tear her away from that traitorous slime who stole her from me, I would.” Tears dripped onto his desk and pooled on his datapad. He put his hands down on the desk and lifted his chin, staring at Fwee with red eyes in an even redder face. “For the last time, there are no other Earthers on Kosta like Mel. Plus, I’m not crying. I’m in pain.” Burying his face back in his hands, he groaned, “So much pain.”

Even the open space in the split cleaving Plarn’s skull in half seemed swollen, making him almost as disgusting as the other round-headed races. Fwee glanced at her sometimes partner, Tlpar. A ball skulled Vahdmoshi, worry creased Tlpar’s gray, smashed in face. Tired of smiling when all she wanted to do was leave, Fwee didn’t even try to comfort her lover slash business partner. That could come later. Right now, she saw a financial opportunity neither one of them could let slip by them.

Fwee leaned forward, tapping the metal desk to get the General’s attention. He grunted as she began, “Look, sir. I have a plan. Detoxing from Earthers is clearly painful, so don’t think. Instead, let us go to Earth for you, pull as many people from there as we can, and help you find someone like your Mel.” She leaned back, trying to ease the pain in her bony behind. “We can go back and forth until someone fits your needs.”

Plarn wiped his eyes and sniffed. “You have an excellent point.”

“Thank you,” Fwee replied, trying to keep the smug pride from ringing out.

“I have all of Kosta’s military at my disposal. I’ll send ships there to retrieve as many as our cargo bays can hold.”

Fwee and Tlpar stared at each other, panicked. “No, that’s not—” she began.

“You’ll flood the market,” Tlpar blurted out. “The populace from Lesser Worlds will have no value.”

Tlpar’s drawn-out whine scraped along Fwee’s nerves. She needed to convince Plarn to let her be his Earther supplier, not his armies. “You could send just us. We know the scent you prefer. Plus, we can get in then get out without breaking any Lesser World rules the Gharians have.”

“Do you think I care about their laws right now?” Plarn wailed, smacking his desk with a fist. “I’m in pain. No one should have to endure this. I’ve given the order, so there’s no discussing this.”

“Have you considered other lesser beings might emit the pheromones you crave, sir?”

“I can’t think right now.” He covered his face with his hands again as fresh tears began streaming down his pale, pudgy cheeks. “I’ve sent the alert to take full loads of Earthers and bring them here. If you want to gather people from the other lesser worlds, fine. I don’t care. All I want is another pet like Mel.”

So he’d already silently ordered his entire force to Earth? Tlpar began sending a stream of curses to her over their internal communications. She shut him out, wanting the silence to think. With the Kostan military sent to Earth, she needed another way to corner the market. Her system ran the programming which charted the best course to Earth and other lesser worlds in nanoseconds.

“The Alliance will assume you mean war,” Tlpar offered. “Do you think Churn the Magnificent will be pleased?”

“I command the military, not her. She will accept whatever I do.” He moaned, rubbing his eyes on a sleeve. “As for the Gharians and their Alliance, I don’t care. They’ll mumble something about being kind to lesser beings while looking the other way. They’re weak, which means we can do whatever we want.”

“I don’t—” Tlpar began until Fwee glared at him. “I don’t think that’s a bad idea, sir.”

“Of course it isn’t. It’s mine.”

“Thank you for giving us an audience, General.” Fwee stood, her muscles stiff from the cold stone. “I’m sorry you’re suffering and vow to do my part to ease your distress.”

“Bring me Mel or her replacement.”

“Yes, sir.” She eased toward the door along with Tlpar. “I have a plan to solve all of our problems. You’ll see.”

Plarn just groaned, put his split forehead on his damp datapad, and groaned while waving them on. Fwee didn’t linger but left, only relaxing once clear of Plarn’s guards.

Tlpar’s steps rat-tat tatted as he followed behind Fwee’s more determined footfalls, both sounds echoing off the smooth marble walls. “What now?” he hissed. “Vahdmoshi is ruined. We’re ruined. Our entire economy will wither to a speck.”

“Not unless I can help it.”

“What can you do against Plarn’s forces? What will happen when Churn the Magnificent finds out what he’s done?”

Fwee burst through the double doors leading outside. The man really had no imagination. “It’s not my problem. In a galaxy where Earthers are like bacteria, we’ll need to hit first, trade in the other lesser beings, and make our credits while we can.”

Tlpar scampered after her. “Good. Round up the others as an exotic alternative to the plentiful and boring Earthers.” He caught up as she walked down the capitol building’s gleaming white steps. “I like it. Should we get fresh samples from the various planets? Maybe include an Earther or two to show how brown and dull they are?” he panted.

Fwee stopped, and he ran into her as she said, “You’re reading my mind, darling.”