Friday, July 4, 2014

Page 749

Luther spun around to confront his sister again. “Enough of this. What is your point? Are you trying to make me believe that you will hurt Lila if I do not cooperate? Do not make me laugh, Helen.”

“She has a husband and two daughters now,” the Queen continued, “but I am sure you knew that already.”

Luther looked at her coolly. “I know you are bluffing, sister. You would never do such a thing.”

Helen expected this. Now she had a choice to make about how best to convince him that she was not bluffing. The temptation, of course, was to stare him down and tell him he was wrong to doubt her with as much severity as she could muster, but she did not believe that would work on this person. This was a man who held no respect for her whatsoever. No, the best tactic here was surely just the opposite. She had to be nonchalant, as if taking the life of an innocent person was of no consequence to her, as if Luther’s suspicion made no difference at all. And that meant she could show no hesitation.

“My only dilemma now is that I have four candidates to choose from,” said Helen. “I assume you care for the husband the least, so I shall begin with him and work my way toward Lila. I am sure you will understand my conviction by the time I reach her. Or would you prefer that she die second as a small measure of mercy for her children?”

“You would never harm a child.”

Helen kept her expression utterly flat. “There are over forty million people in Atreya. Roughly one quarter of them are children. How many of those would die if I were unwilling to take the lives of two foreign girls? I wonder.”

Luther clenched his jaw and squinted at her.

“Perhaps I should start with the daughters, then, and spare the husband. That way might prove more expedient.”

“You wouldn’t--”

Helen returned the notepad to its place inside her coat. “I will bring them here to visit you so that you can see with your own eyes that I am not playing a trick with corpses. You will exchange words with them, confirm their identities for yourself, and then watch them die.”


  1. In the end, his greatest weakness was arrogance...always certain he was in control. Always holding all others in disgust.

    And worst of all, horribly, devastatingly underestimating his sister. She'll do it all right - she's the kind of ruler who can make that decision. The fact that untold thousands of her own subjects are at risk are all she needs. It's a colder, harder sort of morality than many can stomach. But it's one I understand. I respect her for it...and Luther had better learn the same. Fast.

  2. Edit salad here.
    "No, the best [the] tactic here was..."

  3. Personally I believe a benevolent monarchy to be one of the best forms of government, but this rarely lasts longer than 2 generations before you end up with tyranny, one of the worst forms of government.

    Like Helen said. It's high risk, high reward.

  4. I believe she'd do it...

  5. Yes, but there can also arise benevolent people from a democratic system, and it has lower risk, and around the same amount of reward.

  6. No, it's lower reward too, as we in the US have been shown repeatedly over the last few years. Old joke: if pro is the opposite of con, what's the opposite of progress?

  7. The problem with republics and other democratic systems, is that there is so much red tape to go through before you can get anything done. This makes it low risk, because it's hard to push through legislation that is detrimental to the country as a whole, but it's also low reward because its hard to pass legislation that is beneficial to the country as a whole. This pretty much goes for republics as well.

    Try looking at what congress accomplishes within a 4 year term, and then look at what short reigning monarchs have achieved within similar time frames.

  8. Not all democracies, Sheesh everyone just uses the US as an example, what about Norway, Germany or Botswana? They have a democratic system and it works well. The problem in the US is brought about by their specific system ,not by democracy.

  9. And you're sure it's not the case that they're just as frustrated and you just don't hear about it?

  10. Well. It probably doesn't help that the US is starting to lean towards a Plutocracy. I'm sure the system could be improved upon if enough people in power cared to.

    Glad to hear some countries are doing it better.

  11. Lol, that joke is cold. Never heard it before but definitely worth remembering. Thanks

  12. I like H. Beam Piper's comment on government in Lone Star Planet; "Keep a government and it's your servant. Let it get strong and you are it's servant." That's overly simplistic though. Power doesn't cause corruption but it certainly attracts it. Like Edmund Burke said; "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."