The Man Who Used The Universe by Alan Dean Foster

“No one else has the ability to do that, not to mention the will or the drive.” Chaheel made a gesture of disgust. “It will all fall apart, this grand, awkward alliance of yours. There will ensue chaos, dissolution, war and worse.”

“I don’t think so, Chaheel. I think that what I’ve built for my own needs will hang together. I believe there are enough individuals of purpose and intelligence to manage it. You, for example.”

The psychologist emitted a grunt of surprise.

“Yes, you. I’d like you to…. I offered you a job once, a long time ago. It was not a real job. You performed services for me you were unaware of. This time I mean to make use of you honestly. I am capable of that, you know. You could be important to our new government.”

“‘Our’ government,” the Nuel murmured sardonically.

“It will be that in truth as well as in name when I am dead. And you will outlive me by many years. Look at the offer dispassionately, Chaheel Riens. Look at it as a scientist. If you are convinced I have done wrong, here is your chance to correct me. The new alliance, the new peace, is it such a bad thing?”

And Chaheel had to admit that it was true. Peace was better than war, no matter the motivation behind its establishing. Commerce was prospering, Nuel and humans and Orischians and Athabascans and all the other sentient races who were part of the new alliance were safer and happier than they’d been since the beginning of interstellar contact between sensitives.

As for the Tremovan, who knew what they were really like or how they might react to real contact with the alliance? That was something for the future, a future which Kees vaan Loo-Macklin was preparing a hundred sixty billion beings for whether they liked it or not.

And yet … and yet … whatever he did, however grandly he lied and cheated and falsified to serve his own private demon, the end results always seemed to benefit the majority of intelligent peoples.

Loo-Macklin was coming around the desk toward him now, turquoise eyes wide open, demanding a response, a reply. He extended a massive hand dry with the wrinkles of age and smiled that peculiar, impenetrable smile.

“I stand openly before you, Chaheel Riens, accused by you of being a murderer of both men and Nuel, a traitor to two races, of using and manipulating individuals to serve only my own desires, of adjusting the future of all to sate my own selfish needs. I deny none of that. Will you therefore come and work for me? I have need of your good advice and your special intelligence. For you see, Chaheel Riens, you are much like me save for one thing. You are moral.

“Knowing all this, can you do anything _but_ come to work alongside me?”

Liar most profound, Chaheel thought. User without compassion. Murderer of innocent multitudes.

Hail the savior?

“All that you say is truth, Kees vaan Loo-Macklin. You are the most monstrously evil, self-centered, cold, and uncaring individual your race has likely ever produced.” He extended a pair of glistening, slime-coated tentacles and exchanged liquid with the man.

“Naturally I will help you in any way I can.”

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Categories: Alan Dean Foster