Working for King Thief is kind of wearisome.
“Go forth,” he’ll say — that’s how he talks — “and bring me left-handed wristwatches!”
Which is, so to say, pretty difficult, because how can you tell a left-handed wristwatch from a right-handed one when it’s not on a wrist?
But King Thief always knows, and woe betide the pickpocket that tries to fool his discerning eye.
“You have betrayed me! How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is an ungrateful child. Alas! Gone indeed are the good days, the best days; indeed do we live in a fallen time. Guards! Take him away!”
And away they’ll haul the poor son of a bitch.
Sometimes King Thief forgets why he was angry, and everything is forgiven.
But this is rare.
More often, some troublesome punishment bubbles up out of his delusions.
Some people are keelhauled, which is maybe survivable on the ocean — if you’ve got a good pair of lungs and can keep your mouth shut while the barnacles are taking the skin off your back — but on the Moon it’s pretty much universally fatal.
Some people are shaved and let loose inside one of the moonbases without any clothes on.
Sometimes they die of embarrassment!
This always makes King Thief sad.
“Now do I regret me my anger, for now — now ’tis too late, alas! — now I see how honest and true he was, and acted not out of malice but sheer youthful disregard. Better I should have been, to have been lenient, merciful, for such crimes and misdemeanors cry for clemency. No wise king I, no sagey potentate! Alas! Truly now are we fallen upon harder times!”
And he’ll put on sackcloth and ashes — and ashes, boy howdy, are they hard to come by in space — and sit in mourning for a week or a month until the whole cycle starts up again.
It’s murder on the organization, but what can the pickpockets do?
He’s King Thief!