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The Emperor’s New Brain – by John
Zav paused outside the Galactic Emperor’s chamber, palm against its massive yellowed enamel door. With reverence, he caressed the surface, an uneven mosaic of bumpy trapezoidal bits, and was tempted to reminisce. He raised bushy eyebrows. Near the ceiling, the mosaic stopped short and the underlying golden door panel shone cold and unfinished. With a sigh, he pushed through.
“Ah, Our Royal Alchemist, at last! It does not do to keep Us waiting.” There was an edge to the Emperor’s voice, belied by his broad smile. His teeth sparkled from his round moon face, throwing flecks of color about the long, narrow chamber. They were more floating opal than enamel, but then, that would be his legacy.
“My humble apologies, Your Royal Upsidedness,” began Zav, watching for the usual curt wave of dismissal from the ivory throne. Receiving no such reprieve, he plunged into the full honorific. “Your Royal Upsidedness, Emperor Definatis Gargantua Slomo the Ninety-seventh, Bob, Brightness Beyond the Blackest Hole, Son of the Seven Thousand Star Systems, Rightful Heir from the Unapproachable Core to the Ends of the Spiral Arms, Light of Illusory Transience both Dominant and Sub-dominant, and Promulgator of Infinite Wisdom–”
“Cease!” Emperor Bob bounded from his throne and stuck his pickle of a nose in Zav’s face. An onslaught of foul breath nearly choked Zav, but he pretended not to recognize the smell of overripe marsupial fur wine. “We shall drink if We so choose! Besides, it doesn’t discolor.” The Emperor lost his balance and grabbed Zav’s cloak for support.
The Alchemist stood strong, despite his millenia. “Sit, my Liege. How may I serve you this day?”
Back upon the crimson cushions, the moon-faced monarch moaned. “We are so confused! Why does the galaxy make no sense?”
Zav patted him and made encouraging noises.
“The Lords of the Systems bring me no peace. All day long, they argue about words and meanings. They turn to Us for answers.”
“Perhaps I may be of assistance, Most Regulated One?”
“Yes, yes! You can. Lord Salvas of Triminar wants to know how to apply Truth in a post-Truth debate. His ring dwellers insist they are the rightful center, but Triminarians on the planet reject such ring-centricity. Is it all feelings, or do the facts matter?” When Zav hesitated, the Emperor dismissed the question with a wave. “No matter. We exploded Triminar. Problem solved.”
Zav spluttered, “Sure-sure-surely there are better solutions, Majesty.”
“Oh, if there are, then they do not fit Our brain. You must find me a new brain.” Zav had not heard such an outrageous demand since Emperor Jellybean, some fifty-three rulers ago, had requested peanut butter to be spread in the void of space, so that all citizens could walk from planet to planet. And yet, they all were like this, smug satisfaction beaming from their angelic faces.
Zav sighed. “It is a most unusual request, Sire. I must know more in order to produce the desired effect.”
“More?” His Royal Upsidedness kicked his legs up the throne back and laid on the seat of power, tongue lolling from his upside down lips. “You bwant to know bmore? The Delegates from Mother Earth West and Mother Earth East both claim the entire planet. Two Mothers, one baby planet. Since We descended from Ancient King Slomo, We knew the answer: Threaten to beam-split the planet in half and give to each equally. Do you know what they did?” Zav shook his head, dreading the answer. “They splintered into four more factions. Now I have to divide the planet six ways!”
“Please, sire, did you divide the Earth?”
“No, no. Our long-suffering Self shall exercise patience. But We are losing patience with the Cult of Self-Actualism. They wish to define cis-, trans- and exo-botanical categories in the Shatternut Squash Trade; it has thrown the Trade Routes into hyportation disarray. And the Normalists have a point that unmodified Shatternuts are the only true way to achieve transcendence, because the biological knockoffs don’t work anyway.”
“Pardon me, Sire, but if it is a matter of naming, then what is the harm in allowing more variation in the language?”
“It’s not just about what people call things. This impacts Taxation. The Royal Galactic Treasury!”
Zav tugged at his chin. “These, then, are matters of logic and diplomacy. My specialty is Alchemy.”
“Exactly. Alche-make Us a new brain that can reconcile these problems, and We shall rule forever!” He ran his tongue across his incisors and waggled a finger down the chamber. “Or at least until Our Teeth adorn yon door.”
“This may take some time, Upsidedness.”
“Tonight! You know how you always have a headache after your daily cloning. Which is another thing We do not understand: Why must We be made the old fashioned way?”
The Alchemist thought this a rhetorical question, but he recited the correct passage from The Book of Rationale, just to oblige. “As the Son of the Seven Thousand Star Systems, with DNA donated from each ruling family, you are beholden to them all. You are the amalgomation of all human life and the living representation of universal unity.”
The Emperor puffed out his cheeks and resembled a beet. “Our brain is saturated with blood, yet even this is insufficient. Go now, Our Royal Alchemist, and prepare Our New Brain. At once!”
The operation was successful. The Emperor awoke, alert and hopping with joy. The new Brain was as good at resolving diplomacy and identity conundrums as it was in applying Post-Truth to facts. No more worlds exploded and the galaxy grew healthier. Zav–or rather, each daily clone of Zav–was proud of his accomplishment, though History might not appreciate it.
For, though the Emperor received his new brain and indeed this caused the Galaxy to thrive, the Emperor’s New Brain only possessed one word: “Ribbit!”
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