The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival HTML version
"And I will make every effort to see that you are happy," said the warden. He stretched his arms out
interlocking his fingers and resting his hands on his stomach. "But if you're naughty," he unlocked his hands
and pointed a finger in shame, "then I must punish you." He locked his fingers again and hung his head in
And now he'll tell you how, commented the cat.
The warden unfolded his hands and gestured toward one of the guards standing near the platform. "My
guards carry whips," he said. "And they use them to spank bad little boys and girls." He nodded at the guard.
"Show them Lachish."
The guard raised a short, synthetic leather whip into the air and brought it down hard on the surface with a
loud cracking sound.
The warden winced. His fat jowls quivered back and forth. "Or if my children are lazy and won't do their
chores, the guards must use their stinging sticks." He nodded to the same guard. "Show them Lachish," he
The guard raised a long slender electric prod in the air so that all the prisoners could see it.
"And I won't tolerate my children becoming rebellious." The warden became angry at the thought of it. His
mouth drew tight against his jowls. "If they do, then I must use the burning lights." The warden paused. "My
assistant will explain," he said as he pointed to the man on his left.
The man stepped forward and glared down at the prisoners. "We have phasors located every twenty feet on
the wall above the prisoner yard and the pit." He stopped talking a moment as he pointed toward a thirty-foot
wall in back of the platform. "Inside the prison yard and connected to the outer wall, there's a fifty foot tower
which is manned by five guards twenty four hours a day. His hand darted out indicating the prisoners. "If there
is any trouble or rebellious action which constitutes an emergency, the guards in the tower will switch on the
phasors. The phasors will automatically fire random shots into the prison yard." The man stepped back.
"And then, of course, we have Roqford." The warden pointed at the huge cat lying next to him. "On order
he will kill any naughty child."
The woman two spaces down shuddered as she looked at the cat.
Roqford opened his huge eyes and casually glanced at the prisoners. The only naughty child I would ever
kill, said Roqford, isss the fat one standing next to me. He started licking his other paw.
Ben became curious. If you're not here to serve the warden, why are you here?
The cat's mental smile was languid and leisurely. I'm a prisoner like you, he replied. Three yearsss ago I
was convicted of cat slaughter on Telephore Six, my home planet. I was sent to one of the Galactic prison
Ben noted Roqford's unusual indifference toward the story. Did you kill the other cat? he asked.
Only in self defenssse. He stretched his neck out and laid his head on his paws again.
Ben shifted the weight to his other foot. How did you get here? he asked. Somehow, he thought the cat's
luck had been diminished along the way.
The warden had heard I wasss on the prison planet, and he sent for me. Roqford mentally made a clicking
sound as if quickly forcing the air from between his cheeks and his teeth. He thought it would be cunning to
ussse me asss a scare tactic for the prisonersss. He threatensss to send me back to my small cage if I don't
cooperate, or if I get out of line. Roqford smiled sardonically. But he won't.
"Now that we have dispensed with the unpleasantries, my children," continued the warden, "I shall explain
what you have to look forward to." He smiled benignly. "Unlike the last warden," he said in a serious tone,
"who made his children work sixteen hours a day," an expression of being appalled swept across his face, "I
will let you work only fourteen."
There never was another warden, said Roqford in the middle of a huge yawn.
He's lying? asked Ben.
Quite frequently, said Roqford taking the time to lick the back of his paws and clean his whiskers. He'sss
afraid of a prisoner uprising.
He must be paranoid, said Ben. This place appears to be guarded like the Crystal Palace of Geord.
He'sss just naturally nervousss, replied Roqford.
"And once a week," the warden went on, "all my children will get a complete day of rest."
Running out of workersss, said Roqford in a weary tone. So, they just recently started the day of rest.
"And once every six months you will all receive a new body suit."
Never happensss, said Roqford. He stood up on four paws. The speech isss finished, he said. He jumped off