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The Money Reform Party

Star Woes

Chapter 34

Down in the Imperial Palace Mews, a group of visitors was muttering discontentedly amongst themselves.

"I still can't see how this conducted tour of the Palace Mews is going to help us rescue Mark and Tamara," muttered Jerry.

"Her Grace and His Highness," the colonel corrected him.

"So what's your plan to get inside the Palace?" Dan asked the colonel.

"Well, I had thought of getting a job as a cleaner, then with mop and bucket I could fight my way through the guards."

"So why not?" asked Dan.

"Its all carpets, isn't it? No need for mops and buckets and I can't fight with a vacuum cleaner. I'd get the cord tangled up."

"Hiya, guys," a familiar voice called them.

Out of a door of the Palace emerged Mark and Tamara.

"So what are you guys doing here?" asked Tamara.

"We're here to rescue you. I thought the Emperor had you in his clutches," replied Dan

"He did, at first, but really he just needed help with his money problems, I mean, you can't very well pop along to the Citizen's Advice Bureau when you're the Galactic Emperor, can you? He's actually a really nice guy when you get to know him. Did you know, his first name is Gorgewalker? Oh, and he says that we can have Tattoo Two and call it New Aldershott. Isn't that great? So where to now?"

"You are free?" asked the colonel suspiciously.

Tamara gazed about.

"It looks like it."

"But your plans? To save the galaxy from its debts and to prevent the rebellion?"

"Oh, the Emperor liked our ideas and intends to implement them."

"That's it?" asked the colonel. "It all ends just like that? Shouldn't there be a big spectacular explosion involved somewhere?"

"You think that spectacular explosions solve things, colonel?"

"No, not as such, but... I can't believe it's all so easy."

"Everything is easy when you know what you are doing, colonel. It's like you with your mop and bucket."

"I see."

"The Empire is sorted. Once you get to the root of the big, underlying problem, all the little problems sort themselves out. All the consequences and symptoms of the root cause just disappear."

"So everyone lives happily ever after?"

"Yes, why not? Who's going to have a problem?"

"The Credit Masters? They will not be happy."

"Not at first, but they will eventually benefit in ways that they cannot yet understand. We will have removed a dreadful tyranny from them that they did not even know had them in its control."

"Even so, Your Grace, Highness. I think we should beware of them."

"What can they do, colonel?"

"Kill you."

"Kill us? There will be no profit in that."

"Maybe profit will not be their motive."

"Profit is their only motive, colonel. Okay, guys. We can all go home now. Unless anything else needs sorting."

"Well, there's like this dire emergency on Bacchanalia," suggested Jerry.

"What's that?"

"The brewery's malfunctioning."

"You're kidding? Oh, come on. What are we waiting for?"

When they arrived on Bacchanalia, after a long journey through hyper-space to the Outer Rim of the galaxy, they found that the brewery was not, after all, malfunctioning, but a few beers soon smoothed ruffled feathers and Sheila Diggerdigger was able to explain the real reason for the distress call. The planet had a debt that it could not repay, and unless it was somehow found, they would all end up as the debt-slaves of Nathan West.

When they realised the amounts involved, Kerry and Jerry opened their wallets and found the required sum amongst their small change.

The Bacchanalians organised a barbie on the beach. This was no great shakes, as they had a barbie on the beach most evenings, but this one was in celebration of their freedom from debt.

Toasts were drunk. A few speeches were attempted. Some people had little real idea what the fuss was all about, save that Sheila Diggerdigger no longer had a face like a constipated jimbuck, which was reason enough for celebration.

The visitors spent a while on Bacchanalia. They were all due for some time just to chill out, relax and do nothing much, to enjoy life on the beach, to learn to surf, and to teach those who were interested the basic facts of good financial management.

The Bacchanalians made them all very welcome guests. Tamara was able to inform them that the Emperor had removed their Restricted Planet status and that the Aldershott Starship Company would start a yearly service to connect Bacchanalia with the rest of the galaxy.

After a time however, Tamara became anxious to leave, for one thing, she remembered that Standardia, for all its people's pig-headed ignorance and stupidity, was also in need of their help, but mainly because she got fed up with the Bacchanalians' insistence on calling her ‘Tammy'.

There was a large crowd to greet the Jubilee Endeavour when it arrived at Standardia City Interplanetary Spaceport, and puzzled looks on the faces of the crowd when Tamara stepped down from the ship.

"You again?!" cried an aghast and amazed Governor Stardust.

"Me again!" agreed Tamara.

"Who again?" asked a puzzled Jeff Clintwood.

"Her! Again!" declared the Governor.

"What? You're bothered again? Here we are come to help you out, and we get no thanks," said Mark.

"We don't need your help, buster. We can stand on our own two feet. We don't need no help from nobody."

Mark counted up the negatives and decided that that meant that no help was needed.

"So, you were expecting someone else?"

"Sure am, buster. You just stick around and see how we Standardians sort things out."

Leaving the Spaceport, Tamara led her friends back to her aunt and uncle's house, where introductions were made all around. It was there that, shortly afterwards, they watched as a second starship that day descend from the clear blue sky to land next to the Jubilee Endeavour.

When Barcla the Hoard stepped from his ship, he cast a brief suspicious glance at the other craft, before turning to smile broadly and magnanimously to the waiting crowd. If he had expected rapturous cries of ‘Six more years!', he was to be disappointed. There were a few cries and whistles, but these came more out of habit than anything else. He detected a wariness in the crowd.

He had been told about the gold, from Greenboi's visit the year before, and he knew that he had a problem, for these yokels would expect him to take gold in settlement of his loan, and for him to be thankful for it, but he no intention of ever having the loan redeemed. It was his hold over the planet, but an outright refusal of the gold would make these people resentful as, in their simple fashion, they regarded the gold as valuable and expected everyone else to do so as well.

"Greetings, people of this fair land of Standardia. You prosper as ever, I see," he boomed beneficently.

"Greetings, Mr Barcla. Welcome to Standardia, sir," returned Governor Stardust.

Trailed by Barcla the Hoard's guards, the party of host and guest processed up to the Governor's residence. Here a table was laid out on the porch, and on this table lay two almost even sized piles of paper currency and a pile of gold coins. Governor Stardust picked up the slightly larger of the two piles of notes.

"Your interest, Mr Barcla, sir. Six hundred and forty dollars!"

Barcla accepted the money without demur.

"And now," continued the Governor, enthusiastically, with one eye on the crowd. "I am pleased to announce that we are able to redeem your loan entirely!"

"Three thousand two hundred Standardian dollars or Imperial Credits," Barcla the Hoard reminded him easily.

"Yessir. Here we have six hundred dollars in your issue of paper money and two thousand six hundred dollars in our new gold dollars!"

An immense cheer went up around the crowd, accompanied by the standard Standardian hollering, yelping and whistling. Barcla the Hoard waited for the euphoria to quieten down.

"Gold, Governor? I have no wish to purchase gold. It is very heavy and not very useful."

"Ha ha, Mr Barcla, sir. You ain't exactly buying it. It's money. We're using it to pay off your loan."

"No no, my dear Governor. Gold is a commodity and like any commodity its value lies with its usefulness to the buyer. I have no use for it. It certainly cannot be used to redeem a debt. It is not legal tender."

Governor Stardust grew anxious and somewhat angry.

"You ain't gonna accept gold?!"

"My dear fellow, I have no use for it."

Stardust picked up the remaining six hundred dollars.

"This is all the goddam paper money we got left! Next year, when you come a-calling, how're we gonna pay you six hundred and forty dollars out of this?!"

"My dear Governor, do not distress yourself. The way out of your difficulty is very simple. You need to earn more dollars or Imperial Credits. Now as it happens, I have no use for gold, but I do have use for some of your land, let's say ten thousand square kilometres, and I also need some of your resources and people to build me a palace on that land."

"How much?"

"Shall we say, a thousand dollars for the land and another thousand for the palace?"

"Two thousand dollars? That still ain't enough to pay off the debt."

"Ah, but that is just for one year, my dear Governor. I shall make further payments in forthcoming years. So you will soon pay off your debt."

"Yes, I guess. Still that is a lot of land for the money."

"It is the barren wilderness that I'll be buying. How much is that worth?"

"Well..."

Governor Stardust thought for a moment, and the words of that goddam Tammy Woodsawyer echoed around his head, how she warned him that they'd end up having to sell their planet to redeem their debts. Just then Tamara herself appeared.

"What do you want?" Stardust barked at her ungraciously.

"Ten thousand square kilometres of Standardian wilderness," she replied. "For which I am prepared to pay sixty thousand Aldershott shillings, which are legal tender throughout the galaxy and the equivalent of three thousand Imperial Credits."

"What else do you want? You want a goddam palace, too?!"

"No, Governor. Just the wilderness."

"And what will you do with it?"

"I shall turn it into the Aldershott Memorial National Park."

"That's all?"

"That's all."

Governor Tex Stardust stared into Tamara's eyes. She was one uppity female, but then she was royalty, and she was kinda cute in an upper-class sort of way. Maybe he would get to bed her after all. He made his decision.

"It's a deal."

The End

Next: Postscript

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