Recently a lutonium leak on our cruise ship forced to make a temporary stop for repairs at the Kingdom of Putzonia, a minor planet in the Znargh cluster that I hadn’t visited in ten years. Oddly, the only reason I was there the first time was when I was covering the Galactic Conference and our ship was delayed for minor repairs while picking up the Putzian corespondent.
At that time, King Bozoid III was facing a huge economic problem, having conquered the entire planet, stuck with a huge standing army he no longer needed and all treasures plundered and in his personal treasury there was no economy to speak of. Cruel, brutal and taher simple-minded Bozoid came up with a rather unique solution.
Before we get into that, let me describe the mindset of the Putzonian people. Ruled by Kings and Emperors for thousands of years they are a basically feudal and fiercely loyal society. And did I mention simple-minded? The favorite game of the Bozoid line of royalty and it’s subjects was the simple card game of Solitaire. So much so, there are no other sports to speak of.
After his final victory, about one year before I had arrived there the first time the King decided that he would create an economy and reduce his army with this simple game. A grand tournament at the top of 8,000m Razorside Mountain was held in a newly constructed stadium.
One by one soldiers were forced to play a hand of solitaire before the gathered crowd. If they won , they were rewarded with an amount the equivalent of a years salary for every point they scored above what the King had set as “par” and dismissed from the army. If they won by over 25 points the amount was doubled in what became known as “the King’s penny” by the audience. Should the player not make par, he was returned to the Army.
Shockingly to off-worlders, if the player lost the hand, they were pitched over the wall and slid down miles of razor sharp rocks where their remains er picked over by crows. By the time I first attended this event, the bones and rotted flesh covered up to the 2,000m level. When I asked my hosts at the time how the people put up with such cruelty, I was met with open mouthed astonishment. The King “said”… “those were the rules”… “was i some sort of liberal regressive”… “shut up or you’ll be next”… etc. Questioning the King was completely unheard of and an alien concept to these people.
Things had changed upon my latest visit, though not much for the better. I learned the size of the Army had been cut by over 5,000,000 men. About 3.5 million to the crows. King Bozoid III had died in his sleep of Terminal Flatulence and his heir Blupon II had ascended to the throne.
Blupon was not only simple-minded, he was actually mentally challenged and a mutant to boot. With one seal like flipper, he presided over Round Two of the Games while slobbering, drooling and talking with a lisp due to a tongue the size of a small dog.
Round Two now consisted of basically the same rules, but consisted of those left from Round One and those who volunteered. Death for those who lost their hand was not mandatory, it was now a program to distribute wealth and weed out the “stupid” from Blupon’s remaining army. If a player made the slightest mistake during play, sharp eyed spectators would rise in their seat and point at him, screaming “DUHHHH!!!” at the top of their lungs. The King would then stand and acknowledge the duh, and after a second duh the king had the discretion to make it a “Death Game” where the player was shot in the back of the head or garroted should they lose.
Blupon is known to be inattentive and let things slide, often a third duh is required. Realize the immense pressure on a player to not make any mistakes with 35,000 people pointing at you and screaming “Duh”, “Fool”, “Kill Him” at the top of their lungs!
At the time of my latest visit, Blupon had been ill with an infection from self-gratification with his flipper hand and the crowd had taken it to themselves to impose “Death Games” without consent of their King. Dozens were slain, including some who weren’t allowed to complete the game first and many with only a single duh. One who had been double duhhed, yet went on to score a “king’s Penny” win made the mistake of gloating to the crowd and was beaten to death by spectators like a Sanders Democrat at a Trump rally.
The King was so enraged, that upon his return to the stadium, in a spit and stuttered rant forced everyone who had attended the Games during his absence rounded up and forced to become contestants.
When I departed, every vacant bunk was taken by previous Games winners leaving the planet for somewhere else. Rumours abounded that Bluford’s infection had left him unable to produce an heir to the throne and no one wanted to be around should he not survive his next attempt at self-gratification.