Grab a pashmina, my Sparkles! That chill you feel is King Valla’s glacial glance at Locke! His frigid frown at the Frostburn spaceport positively shot across the galaxy and raised the hair on your lovely arms!
Let me back up a few bars, maestros. No one expected to see Valla’s visage at all on this ignoble igneous ingot. Sour memories of Locke’s surprise rout of dashing Dauphin Boone have lingered in House Valla, causing the King to take a royal raincheck whenever Locke’s punched the WILDCARD clock.
That was—and, darlings, I’m nothing if not frank—a bit of a letdown. Who wants to spend every moonrise on a mined-out briquette quarry with nary a Royal Majesty or even a lousy Highness to class up the joint?
Trust me, Sparkles, one can only drink so much plutonium liquor before that and all the bloodsport starts to feel a little… downmarket.
So, thank the motherboard that Locke finally did something to get things moving—both figuratively and literally! His practice-field stunt of deploying Wotchy’s heretofore-secret weapon, Barf Bark, left all the Lubabubians slipping in their slop and gripping their guts in misery!
But we Chronians are nothing without our machines. (Ahem!) And Locke’s untimely unleashing of our top-shelf tech seems to have shortened Valla’s temper down to a monarchical modicum!
So it was a cranky King who stomped down onto the landing pad last evening. With all of Frostburn there to gawk at the greeting, Locke met him with his usual heart-melting smile. But I swear, Sparkles, the withering snarl he got in return could have doused the 300-year-old briquette fire still raging down in the mines!
Locke may have a substantial set of Chronian clankers, but he’s no dummy, chummy: he bowed right then and there, meeker than a squeaker.
You know how they say royals are like herpes—spot one, and there’s gonna be a whole rash? Well, the hoi polloi were set to redeploy when who should tramp down the ramp but Prince Boone! As he and Locke shook hands, your intrepid blabbermouth thinks she detected an even bigger grin than The Next In Line usually offers. No doubt that was schadenfreude for the tongue-lashing Papa Bear was about to hand to his rival…
Oh, but I’m positiving leaping ahead of myself!
You know how they say royals are like mushrooms—spot one, and there’s gonna be a whole ring? Well, the hoi polloi were set to redeploy when who should descend to the launchpad but Princess Neva, up close and girl-sonal! I was all set for a tete-a-tete with the fairest one of the royal set—but my Sparkles, she gave your stalwart stooly’s arm a single squeeze and walked right past!
Seems Neva came to Frostburn not to mingle but to jingle her toolbelt in the Chronian repair garage. Let’s hope Locke can take advice as well as he takes revenge!
The hatcheck droid at Summons Hall tells me that the Royal Suite has sat so reliably empty for the last five years that many a pal of a chambermaid or barkeep passed a weekend there, enjoying six attached rooms of resplendent luxury for not a mana!
We don’t know if any freeloading friend had to be chased off the chaise, but we do know that once the blue-blooded brahmins were squared away in the crystalline crib, luckless Locke was summoned there by mecha moth for an audience.
Precisely what was said in the King’s study is lost to the solar wind. (Even my sources have some scruples, my Sparkles!) But we know the rub—and the rub is a drubbing! King Valla holds Locke personally responsible for the Barf Bark imbroglio. He’s in contempt of Court! And as punishment, Locke’s been fired!... with one proviso. If Locke can beat Bolgar in Frostburn Arena, he’ll win his job back and all will be forgiven!
If he fails… he bails!