You Cannot Own Them

“Which is my ‘best side?’ That is what you call it, correct?” The translator never took his eyes off the alien potentate, seven feet tall and a mass of blue tentacles. Sweat shone on the translator’s face as another alien, also a column of writhing blue, translated the Danish into alienese.

“I don’t believe in a person’s best side.” The painter looked over her easel at her subject. “I paint truth, not flattery.”

The alien shivered and twitched, and the translator said, “For this, you are considered your people’s greatest living artist.” The translator’s cheek twitched.

“Your people, now,” the painter said as she painted. “You conquered us.”

“True. You are my people. Just remember that I am not yours.”

She shrugged. “Are you familiar with performance art?”

“Transient events as artistic statement, yes. They are worthless. You cannot own them.”

“Makes this even better.” She turned the painting around, revealing blue tentacles looming over Earth. Layers of paint caught the overhead lighting, casting the alien as angelic. She flicked a lighter to life. The oils caught immediately, and what had been heavenly turned demonic when lit from the flames below.

The translator fainted as the potentate shook with rage.

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