Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Gastronarchy

Hector's rubbed his sore nose with his sore hand. The alien with the probe also rubbed its nose. Or proboscis. Or whatever the hell that long hose coming out of its face was called. He'd slugged it to get a sore hand after it had jabbed him in the nose with that long silver probe.

The alien clicked its mouthparts at the two other aliens in the room. Hector and the aliens stood in a blank grey room. His discarded chicken salad sandwich sat on the floor where it had fallen out of his grasp. He didn't have butter fingers - the teleporter had materialized the sandwich before it had materialized his hand so it had fallen through his ghostly appendage.

"Don't fuck with a man's sandwich," he said. "I was really hungry."

The aliens watched him with bulging compound eyes that didn't move and which gave the impression of impassivity. They were clicking to each other like cocaine-addled telegraph enthusiasts.

Hector kneeled down and picked up his ruined sandwich. "I don't suppose that you gentleman have a cafeteria."

More clicking.

"Useless," he said. He walked along the featureless walls. As his fingertips slid along the polished metal, a panel recessed and slid aside to reveal a corridor. He had to bend over to fit, but he did and began working his way down the hallway. The hallway smelled of popcorn and he followed his smarting nose until he entered a large room, full of aliens but also full of long counters covered with impressively large sneeze guards, the universal symbol of the buffet

"With those noses they'd probably have to be an inch thick," Hector said. He walked up to the nearest buffet and saw that the sneeze guards were an inch thick.

Something that looked like chicken salad was piled into a metal pan made out of the same material as the walls and the buffet. A few slices of bread sat nearby. Hector made himself a sandwich and ate it.

"You little freaks make some decent chicken salad."

He had another, and another. A crowd of aliens gathered around him as he ate. The clicking grew louder and louder until he reached sandwich number seven, when it fell to a hush.

"What, never seen a hungry man before?"

The alien with the probe stepped forward.

"Watch it," he said, raising a hand.

The alien did something with its mouthparts that looked for all the world like a slow-motion re-enactment of that time that he put a firecracker in a grapefruit. Then it spoke in an uninflected staccato.

"We mean you no harm."

"Well, alright," Hector said.

"Our emperor is dead."

Hector took his time making another sandwich and replied only after he'd finished the first bite.

"I suppose I'm sorry to hear that."

"Do you know how we select our new leader?" asked the alien.

"No," Hector said.

"The new emperor is selected by being able to eat the largest percentage of the old emperor the quickest," the alien said.

Hector stopped chewing.

"Is this him?"

"Yes."

"So you aliens taste like chicken?"

A burst of clicking from the alien to one of his colleagues, then the reply. "Yes."

"This buffet is made of your old emperor?"

"Yes."

"Am I the new emperor?"

"Yes."

"Then I command you to land next to my factory," said Hector J. Horden, owner of the largest chicken manufacturing plant in the United States.

The Moral: The proof that all gastronarchies eventually fail is that you can't name a single one.

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