"Is that going to blow up?"
"Well, I mean, only if i mess up, " -- OohLookShiny
"Hwell," sighed Ax'and'l, "put the concoction down."
"Relax, I know what I'm doing."
"I will not relax, I have fifteen near-death encounters as evidence in my favour." Ax'and'l considered those past incidents, "Including seven where you said you knew what you were doing."
Hwell exaggeratedly, and very carefully, put his concoction down. "You'd prefer that I was making it up as I went along?"
Ax'and'l blanched. "No."
"Then leave me with what I know about doing?"
Ax'and'l couldn't leave it at that. "You're certain we tried all the diplomatic channels?"
"The ones that don't end up in a diplomatic marriage, aye..." he steadied his arm to add a specific number of drops to the goop. Then he stirred it in very slowly. "We're better off faking our deaths and never coming here again."
Ax'and'l ran the numbers in his head. "You know, I can get you a nice tuxedo at very short notice..."
"You and I both know that a marriage will end up with us being worse off, my friend. My genes do all right, but my companionship..." he mimed an explosion. "Fireworks just this side of Metaluna."
Which was, as Ax'and'l recalled, a planetary war that left the surface an irradiated ruin for two millennia. The survivors either went off-planet or underground and were obligate agoraphobes as a direct result. Ax'and'l also recalled that Hwell had three ex-wives who were very happy to be ex-wives and sundry progeny that he occasionally sent gifts to, and remained on good terms with.
"Yes, but is another faked death strictly necessary?"
"After what I accidentally did to a cultural treasure? I'm sorry my friend. But yes, it is."
Now events strung themselves together. "Does this have anything to do with the punch bowl, the Prince's daughter, and that half-gallon of cheese dip?"
"And the reliquary. Yes." He artistically placed the contents in the middle of the room and lit the wick.
Ax'and'l groaned. "This always happens. Every time they invite you to a party..."
"Come on. Out the sewers before anyone knows why there's no bodies to be found."
Ax'and'l followed at due speed. "If I had an Hour for every time you said that--"
"You wouldn't need to work in intergalactic trade," chorused Hwell. "Now shoosh, they have sound detectors."
Behind them, Hwell's concoction did, finally and actually, blow up.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Catmando]
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