You might recognize my voice and face as those of your Ambassador, known as Carcinogennifer Honeyvenom of Dewclaw Manor. The first thing you should know about me is that as you hear or read these words, I am most assuredly dead, either at the beaks and talons of New Prussian torturers bent on obtaining strategic intelligence which I do not possess, or, if fortune and justice smile upon us, as a result of the bomb I am delivering to Admiral Pandora of the New Prussian Weltraumflotte.
The second thing you should know is that the first thing affords me a certain liberty to discuss matters about which I have not been entirely truthful of late. I have, to be frank, been a poor fit into Weatherbean society since my arrival. Oh, you’d never realize it, since my chameleonic nature permits me to blend in fairly inconspicuously wherever I go. But it’s true: I have slept poorly, when at all, since my arrival, and I have itched at every social stricture, rankled at every custom, and only managed to get through the day without being cast out of polite society entirely by tightly gritting my teeth and putting on the performances demanded by Weatherbean society… and a bravura performance it has been! I enjoy a very high rank, I have served with distinction as your Ambassador, and no door is closed to me.
But this is not because I am an especially clever Space Lizard (although that certainly didn’t hurt). It is because of unearned privilege.
I do not know how long I have to relate this story before I am seized by the Admiral’s agents, so I’ll be as uncharacteristically brief as I can be. I am not a Good Citizen. In part because, as you will soon discover, I am not a True Citizen at all, but mostly because I am simply not a good person. Space Lizards are infamously cold-blooded, calculating, selfish, ruthless, cunning, well-hung, and interested mainly in long-term profit. They can be reliable partners in all sorts of chaotic adventures, if there’s a solid likelihood of a decent payout at the end of it all. They won’t betray you for a short-term spacebuck; that’s an amphibian trick like Don Mondo used to pull. If we turn against you, you’ll know you’ve earned it. But charity is an alien concept to the Space Lizard. I just had to look it up again, and I’m afraid I still don’t get it.
Your Bartlebot will attest to the fact that I was one of a party of two upon arrival on Weatherby. Our citizenships were assigned randomly, as is the weird-ass custom: Carcinogennifer Honeyvenom was the respectable Tea Sea, and Ssskidwish was her Sea Pea ward. And thus we entered polite society, and thus we began to pursue our mission to unmake it.
For we were not mere colonizers from Britannia Prime. We infiltrated the colony for the express purpose of profiting off the revolutionary forces roiling underneath the surface of society. We knew, in fact, what is well-known to most Sea Peas: Weatherby may be a fairly rich colony of Her Majesty’s, but all its riches flow into the pockets of an undeserving minority: the so-called “True Citizens” which any other world would denounce as aristocratic, bourgeois, perfumed pantywaists.
It is a poisonous system, and its toxins are addictive. Let me tell you how I know.
As I said, when we arrived here, we were two. Ms Honeyvenom was the TC nom de guerre adopted by Lieutenant Gilligan, late of the IMV Carcinogic Denture. Her ward Ssskidwish was, in actuality, Captain Ssskipper of that same vessel. I, the Lizard speaking to you now, am in fact Captain Ssskipper. Which means that, according to the laws and customs of Weatherby, I am Ssskidwish. So why am I masquerading as Ambassador Honeyvenom?
You may have noticed that you haven’t seen us two together in some time. In fact it has been nearly a year, since last July, when we failed to attend each other’s wedding feast. The Ambassador had just returned from her first visit to the New Prussian homeworld, having decided, against my better advice, to pursue a course of… well, she referred to it as “self-interested co-operation” with the New Prussians, but you and I would rather call it what it was: appeasement. We quarreled, I emerged the victor, and I adopted her persona and dress, and served her for my wedding dinner. Where, after all, did I find the ingredients for this repast?
Course 1 30 Fried Squawmate Scale Crisps, lightly salted
Course 2 50 Autotomized Skink Tail, fresh and wriggling
Course 3 30 Parietal eye and Komodo venom soup
Course 4 70 Sauteed Jacobson’s organ, fluffed with cloacal aioli
Course 5 80 Dewclaws-on-a-Stick, dusted with powdered sugar
Course 6 400 Ice-cold bottle of “Ol’ Lizard’s Blood” root beer, poured over ice cream
You warm-blooded mammals (and the more sentimental of you arthropods) may consider this a cold and cruel act, but I assure you, it was the only proper outcome by Reptiloid ethics. Lieutenant Gilligan was my sister’s favorite egg, and I held him in the highest regard. But, as I alluded earlier, Weatherbean society is poisonous to those who benefit most from it. As a duly-stamped True Citizen, the newly-minted Carsssy rose rapidly in society’s ranks, getting the fashionable apartment and rubbing elbows with the trendy and powerful, while I, her lowly Sea Pea ward, toiled day and night to keep the actual gears of our endeavors turning.
And at what cost did this society shower its largesse upon the True Citizenry? Let us ask the sandfish, whom we ate and grew fat upon, without ever asking them in their own language what they thought about the matter. Let us ask the late Ensign Walleye Crusher, who was murthered most foully and viciously for attempting to make that very inquiry of the sandfish. Let us ask the fugitive Olivier Sylvain, either driven to crime or framed for the same by social forces demanded by our excuse for a society.
I could see revolution on the rise, and though Gilligan and I had arrived with the mission to profit off just such a phenomenon… I confess I had grown roots here, in Weatherby, on Weatherby, of Weatherby. Gilligan was lost to the blindness and raw ambition demanded of the True Citizens; I could not get him back. But his ill-considered work needed to be undone, and only I could undo it. I donned the Ambassador’s guise in the fervent hope of revisiting the New Prussian foe, determining its abilities and resources, and sowing as much disinformation in its direction as I could. So far, it hasn’t worked as well as I’d have liked, but they haven’t killed me yet, so I still hold out some hope.
To maintain my access in order to continue this ruse, I needed to be both Ssskidwish and Carsssy. I wed two different people: Melisande Copse, wife of the Ambassador, and Lady Jane, my own cyborganic bride. I loved them both, as both are genuinely lovable, and I love our children as well. These people have become my newfound roots. I only wish it were possible for me to live long enough to see them thrive and grow old in happiness and peace, here on Weatherby. Our home.
But that is not possible. The only way they will be able to survive at all, let alone know a moment’s peace or happiness, is for me to die. I am the only one with potential access to the Admiral of the New Prussian Fleet, and if I can get close enough to him… I have secreted a bomb on my person, a piece of ordnance powerful enough to disable his flagship and sow enough chaos in his fleet operations to give our own Hussars and Dragoons a better fighting chance in this struggle. I do this because Weatherby deserves to survive, not as it has been, as a two-tiered society of Haves and Have-Nots, but as a free and just society, wherein any given individual, no matter how lowly of birth or unfortunate of Bartlebot-assignment, has the chance to take from the world every cent they can wring from it. Such is the Space Lizard dream: profits for all, unfair advantage to none who don’t actually earn it. And let this be the Weatherbean dream as well.
Ask Her Majesty and I think she’ll agree.
Toward this end, I, Captain Ssskipper of the Carcinogenic Denture, die an unremarked and unremarkable death. Let my grave be an uncharted swath of space in Weatherbean orbit, where my glowing embers shall be blown within hours from now. Ssskipper is a profiteer, a charlatan, a cannibal, a fraud, and a rude sonofabitch with an irritable cloaca. Nobody needs him around anymore.
But let Ambassador Honeyvenom be remembered, for her selfless sacrifice to Her Majesty’s colony of Weatherby. The times are hard, and the sky above Weatherby is currently darkened by the New Prussian fleet. But after hearing these words, go outside, hold your heads high, and look to the stars. And if you see a bright flash where the darkness is densest, take heart. For that light is Ambassador Honeyvenom’s final gift to Weatherby. That light signals the turn of the tide. Remember: after Pandora, there is… Hope.
Let there be Light.
Flatus Ad Aquilae!