Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Sehlat's Roar Issue #1
What follows is the bulk of the contents of the first issue. Any missing articles may have preceeded this post as supplimental works posted subsequent to this offering.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
How to be a Penniless Movie Mogul -- All in One Easy Lesson
* * * * * * * * * * *
Four drunk aliens walking down the side of a super highway, thinking Earth people are cows! Can you imagine that? Well, if you can, you need help because you’re on the same wavelength as the people at EDWIN CONNELL Productions.
H----- H-----, T------ H-----, R---- A--, and J--- B--------, all of whom are charter members of ECP and make up the Board of Directors, are busily at work trying to make the above statement become a reality. . . At least. . . they were. The movie in which they were to accomplish this was originally scheduled to go into production on July 23, 1975. But here it is October 3rd and they still don’t have anything final to put on film.
What it really boils down to is a lack of money. As of this date, the movie fund has all of 25 cents. Lots of capital, huh. They can’t afford the film! Or the camera for that matter. Because of the nature of the movie, it may be necessary to film on location somewhere in northern Michigan. They can’t afford the gas to get there. The only thing they have enough for is a pencil! And that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel. . . Ah, correction. They can’t afford a barrel!
“Money can wait,” they said. “All we want to do now is talk.” And talk they did, for 2 ½ months.
Actually, it wasn’t until September 14, 1975 that the movie idea really took shape. It was decided during a meeting of the Board of Directors that the movie would be a SF short. It was also decided that it would be called “Space 1998: A Visit to a Strange Planet.”
Although originally it was meant to be a serious movie, so far the format consists of a series of comical misadventures. It takes place in the year 1976, which, at the time of this writing is next year. A group of alien astronauts assigned to study the civilizations of the planet Earth discovers a malfunction in one of their main engines. After deciding that they can’t make it to their home planet because of the damaged unit, they land on Earth. After that point the story becomes a collection of zany incidents centered around the aliens and their search for some way to repair their ship.
Penniless Moguls, continued
Later, they emerge from the woods in which they have landed and come to a highway. Here they meet a wino swigging from a bottle. He looks at them, then at the bottle, then at them again, drops the bottle and runs away. Curious, the aliens pick up the bottle and drink it down, with the usual results.
Crazy? Yes, but you were warned. After all, as one of our bright and shiny directors has said, “Living is doing all of those crazy things you always wanted to do, but never quite dared.”
I guess the people at EDWIN CONNELL Productions are just living.
Mrraneti of Cait, part 1
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(Note: This is the first in a series of studies of various races of the Federation, presented as a service to serious ST writers who would like to know more about such peoples as the Mrraneti, Tellarites, Andorians, Orions, Rigellians, and the like. We would appreciate feedback – not to mention other studies. TH)
I’ve chosen the Mrraneti to begin the series primarily because I’m partial to the cat family, but also because I find Lt. Mrress (animated version) intriguing, and because the Mrraneti play an important part in “The ‘Les Mesdemoiselles Federation’ Affair.” Which you will read later.
No proper study of an alien race would be complete without a description of its physical attributes, the nature of its basic social unit, and the multidimensional overview of its general cultural pattern, all necessarily brief and generalized.
If one were to characterize the Mrraneti through comparison with Terran life forms, one would be forced to classify them with the feline group. They have the same blunt face, large wide-set eyes, upstanding ears, flexible tail, and retractable claws common to all the cats. Furthermore, their juveniles are spotted, and all retain markings typical of the group.
There is, among the Mrraneti a marked sex difference. The males are both taller and heavier, weighing in between 80 and 95 kg. (176 and 209 lbs.) on the average. Their most striking attribute is a long, heavy mane. The females, weighing in between 50 and 65 kg. (110 and 143 lbs.), have shorter finer manes, little more than cheek tufts in some classes.
Fur coloration is generally beige to russet overall, shading to buff along the ventral surfaces and to the dorsal ridge of sable or black, with other markings, generally clan-specific. These include the presence or lack of brow marks, cheek stripes, tail rings or tip and light and dark extremities. The manes are usually darker in both sexes, tan shading to black.
The Mrraneti skeletal articulation is decidedly feline, particularly in that they walk on their toes, each foot having four. They are, however, completely adapted for bipedal movement, although their center of gravity is better suited for the fast sprint or trot than for the walk. Though they have only eight toes, they have ten fingers, each equipped with a fully retractable claw. As their fingers are blunter than those of humans, most fine manipulation is performed with the aid of the claws. This extends the Mrraneti manual dexterity slightly beyond that of humans, since claw-tips can get into places that fingertips can’t.
Physically speaking, then, the Mrraneti most resemble the Terran lion, although the resemblance isn’t complete.
Mrraneti of Cait, part 2
The similarity between the Mrraneti and the lion of Terra extends beyond appearance into their very way of life. Among this species, the basic social unit is the pride, rather than the family, as among humans. Out of this unit arises the whole of their complex societal structure.
A typical pride consists generally of a group of related females, either sisters or cousins, or both. This core, numbering anywhere from three to seven, is responsible for selecting its pride-masters from either the bachelor groups, or through trades (often very complex) with other prides, and for raising the resultant off-spring with them. There are seldom more than three pride-masters in the pride at any given time, and their tenure of residence is usually seven to ten years. During this time, they copulate freely with all the females when the latter come into estrus, normally in the spring. This and the changing of pride-masters tend to allow for the greatest genetic spread of traits, thereby preventing inbreeding. At the same time, the relatively low fertility rate among the females acts as a brake on the population growth curve.
An interesting sidelight of this kind of interrelationship is that the Mrraneti have no equivalent for what humans call romantic love. Six is a very enjoyable pastime during its season, but for the rest of the year it doesn’t enter into the relationship at all. The Mrraneti know affection, loyalty and companionship, but not the specificity of the human pair bond, and certainly not the neurotic addiction that so often passes for love among humans. Each individual finds a wide and varied constellation of relationships open to him, so loneliness is virtually a word without meaning.
As an intelligent, self-aware species, the Mrraneti are relatively young, on the order of six to ten thousand years of recorded tradition. Yet during this time, they have evolved an extremely complex social system based on the pride, which governs their every action. It is complex, yet flexible enough to handle almost anything. To the outworlder, it seems even more complex than that of the Vulcans, yet somehow, it seems to work for them.
The Mrraneti are polite and formal almost to a fault, or so it often seems to the outsider. There is a very good reason for this. It is an outgrowth of their carnivorous nature and territorial background, and serves to channel aggression firmly in the proper directions and maintain interpersonal harmony. The fact that other peoples don’t recognize the need or reason for this apparently excessive formality is placing a serious strain on the Mrraneti exposed to the outworlders. Sooner or later, one of them may be provoked into a regrettable action.
Mrraneti of Cait, part 3
Based on the pride, which is essentially a group of related females selecting mates from a large pool of possibilities, the Mrraneti social structure is best described as a matrilineal patriarchy. This is, lineage is counted through the mother, while authority is held by the father. Outworlders tend to find very confusing the idea that authority should reside in the males, who can be removed at anytime by the females. Even more confusing is the ingrained deference of the pride-masters toward all females, particularly the pride matriarch, the oldest female in the group. They respect her desires although she submits to them.
Beyond the pride is the clan, which consists of all the females within the area of the clan holdings, usually several thousand square kilometers. All are related, and claim to be able to race their ancestry back to a single founder. There is some evidence that the Mrraneti may indeed be a colony of an earlier civilization – or, an even more intriguing possibility, they may actually be a carefully bred race of descendants of the Terran lion, an experiment by some past race like that which preserved cultures from Terra which might not otherwise have been viable.
Each clan is rigorously exogamous, exchanging males freely with neighboring clans. It is custom with the force of taboo that no male may copulate with any female of his birth clan, an injunction passed down through the tradition in tales of horrible calamities visited upon the erring ones.
Because the clan is the highest step on the organizational ladder of the evolving social structure, government is totally decentralized, resting essentially in clan, pride, and individual. The exo-sociologists on the early contact missions were completely baffled, unable to understand how the Mrraneti could have advanced so far in such a short time without a centralized government. The Mrraneti tried to explain that it was precisely because of that lack, but they were misunderstood. As a result, the Federation tried to impose upon them as a condition of membership a republican form of government, but Mrraneti just laughed and refused. It wasn’t until the Vulcans, stuck with their own unnecessary form of republican government explained to them that there were uses for the apparently useless, that they accepted. Their executive officer is called Master-of-Prides and serves primarily as a figure-head, there being no laws for him to execute. The legislative assembly consists of bachelor males who gather together during the mating season (when there’s precious little trading to be done because everyone else is totally occupied) and spend the time telling tall tales, which to no end shocks the human ambassador in residence, because he fails to realize that these males are in the process of editing the Tradition, a very important part of every Mrraneti’s life. As for the judiciary, it is called the Council of the Wise, and is the only body for which there is any purpose recognizable to humans. It consists of the oldest members of each clan, those who have lived beyond the breeding age. Each clan has its own council to setting internal disputes. For interclan difficulties, a very rare occurrence, the Councils get together for a very careful consideration of the Tradition and, after much deliberation, render a decision. Most of the occasional disputes are of a civil nature; crime is a rarity, and murder is looked upon with such horror as a denial of society that the murderer, if unrepentant, is perpetually banished. Murder is so rare that there have been no recorded cases in nearly a hundred standard years. However, increasing outside contamination may alter this.
Mrraneti of Cait, part 4
The Mrraneti have an enviably stable currency in their gold and gold-backed credit. A secondary medium of exchange is the males of the species, but they know better than to trade solely on such a chancy thing as genetics. Their general market seems picayune by comparison to the vast selection available to the rest of the Federation, but it is quite sufficient for the present needs of the Mrraneti, and quite flexible enough to be able to handle any future needs. They are presently exploring the broader market of the Federation to see where they may contribute most profitably. Some possibilities are wool and leather goods, ceramics, artworks, foodstuffs, refined metals, rare alloy, and the like.
Trade on Cait is carried on primarily by the adolescent and young adult males, to whom wandering is a way of life from the age of seven to that of about twenty or so, when they reach physical maturity and are tapped for mastership.
Besides goods, the trade caravans also carry the major burden of communication between prides and clans. Technological advances have as yet taken only a small bit of this burden, not surprising since the Mrraneti are extremely conservative and like to consider carefully the ramifications of any alteration before allowing it in. This may seem odd in such a highly advanced culture, but it is actually one of the prime factors in that advance.
The Mrraneti have been called lazy and indolent, even decadent, but some who have seen how much leisure time they have to spare from letting carefully tended machines perform the most time consuming of the chores. This is because they enjoy it to the hilt. They are excellent artisans and entertainers, rivaling the Vulcans in the richness of their artistic ability and tradition. All of their art is based on the vast oral (and oral means something quite different to the Mrraneti) Tradition, which is as old as they are.
Strictly speaking, the Mrraneti have no written literature. Their only written language is mathematical, used in engineering and related areas. Everything else is encompassed by the Tradition, which is so extensive only the Vulcans have any conception of what it’s like. It surrounds every Mrraneti from birth. IT consists of the pride’s traditions, the clan’s traditions, the lays of derring-do learned from fathers who once roamed far and wide. With such wide communication as it available to the individual, either directly or indirectly, he or she usually comes in contact with a considerable portion of the Tradition in the course of a ling lifetime. Of course, no one person could possibly know the entire Tradition, but because everyone learns as much as possible of it, and thereby contributes continuously, it is truly a living, growing part of each individual.
The communication of such a rich tradition calls for a language capable of communicating extremely subtle and fine nuances. Rather than the exceedingly complex, precise verbal language of the Vulcans, the Mrraneti have opted for body language, so that their every action is communication. This, although their verbal language consists of little more than sounding-sounding grunts, growls, and coughs, there total language is actually a very subtle, flexible instrument of expression, not at all artificial, but flowing and naturally graceful.
Although to the outsider, the Mrraneti may seem excessively formal, this formality in no way implies rigidity of response. Rather, it is symptomatic of respect for all others. The Mrraneti realizes the truth that formality based on respect is actually far more flexible than is familiarity based on disrespect. For them, all manners and customs are predicated on respect for the other person.
Out of this respect for self and other comes their philosophy and theology, neither considered a formal discipline. The first is generally a subject for idle speculation (assuming there is any time left over from the many other pursuits) and the other is considered a forgone conclusion. Obviously the universe is an ordered creation and equally obviously, the creative force is benevolent. For the Mrraneti as a whole, there has NEVER been any doubt on this point. At the same time, however, they have never shown any tendency to anthropomorphosize this creative force. Indeed, there is no explicit means of referring to it. Instead, it is implied by every thing they do. In other words, their theology is so totally practical as to have no room for speculation at all. As a result, human theology, with its confusion of concepts and emphases, is a complete mystery to them.
Mrraneti of Cait, part 5
One may properly chide me for making it sound as if the Mrraneti are perfect paragons of virtue. They aren’t, of course. They are often guilty of a kind of puzzled smugness that comes of comparing their society to that of, for example, humans. They have, in the past, been guilty of some horrible gaffes in their relations with other species, notably the Tellarites and the Andorians, this due to their chronic inability to understand that other races are NOT the same. Their stable society is under increasing outside pressure that could shatter it, if the danger is not recognized in time. Already there is an increase in the number of civil disputes requiring arbitration.
A society based on respect can be maintained only as long as that respect remains inviolate. The Mrraneti have taken mutual respect for granted since the beginning, and therefore have no defense against disrespect. Although they might be characterized as godly by Christians (and too good to be true by everyone else), they’ve not had the experience of fighting their way through the weeds to reach the sun, as humans and Vulcans have, thus they have little or no resistance as a species to the disease of pride and the desire for self-determination. For the Mrraneti, the danger is indeed grave, but one should be reminded that the greater the crisis, the greater the opportunity for growth.
In presenting these thoughts on the physical, social and cultural aspects of the Mrraneti of Cait, I hope I have succeeded in conveying some of the essence of this mysterious people. If I have, that is enough for me. TH
(And the image includes the following text and was originally placed at the end of the article)
"Let us run together in
the Joy of our
~ Ancient Mrraneti saying
Monday, July 10, 2006
Crossword for Puzzle - Freaks!
Death, Where Is Thy Sting?
Death, Where Is Thy Sting?, part 1
Indeed, as they lay sprawled in the pilot’s and co-pilot’s chairs, one with his head hanging to one side, the other bent over her half of the control console, they seemed lifeless already in the gloom, relieved only by the starlight shining in through the three forward ports.
Then the woman who lay over the controls stirred, hardly more than a trembling of the finely shaped fingers of her gangling left hand. The tremor soon ceased, stilled into motionlessness. A moment later, with one smooth effort, she lifted her head from the console, brushed tumbled black hair from her bruised and cut face, tucked it nearly behind elegantly pointed ears. A single sweep of dart eyes under upswept brows told her the status of the tiny vessel. Efficiently she touched controls, but there was no response.
She turned then to the young man, who lay in ungainly confusion in his chair, head drooping over its back, his arms hanging. She touched his exposed neck to one side of his prominent Adam’s apple. His pulse was, for a human, rather weak and fast, and she showed no signs of imminent arousal. For the present, however, he was alive. How long he would remain alive was problematical.
As there was nothing she could do for him immediately, she returned her attention to the vessel, rising slowly from her chair, acutely aware of her own serious internal damage. If life was to continue for either of them, she must at least attempt to devise a means of signaling the starbase as to their whereabouts. Supporting herself with a hand on the back of the chairs, she made her slow way aft. There was some power still, for the gravitational field was being maintained at one-sixth it’s normal strength. Perhaps it would be possible. . . .
In the aft compartment, containing access to the life-support system and the engines, she examined the read-out panels, a blaze of glowing oranges and three lonely yellows. There were no cool, comforting greens. She flipped circuit breakers, cutting power to all systems save life-support and gravity to conserve the remaining battery reserves. No logic in feeding power to non-functional systems. The orange lights winked out, leaving only the yellows. Taking up the first-aid kit, the woman made her difficult way back to the dark control console, aware that once she sat down, she would not be able to rise again. Already her condition had deteriorated to the point where she could no longer control the fine tremor of her hands, or the worsening fluctuation of her vision. She sank into the chair.
Blinking, she removed the diagnostic scanner from the kit and ran if over the unconscious human. The reading was grim; fractured ribs, punctured spleen and liver, causing massive internal bleeding. In addition, his back had been broken in at least one place. She reset the scanner for herself, and was not surprised to find her own readings just as serious. The only confirmed her own internal awareness.
Now a low moan escaped the half-open lips of the human beside her. She watched as his eyelids fluttered and he swallowed convulsively. Lifting a shaky hand to his ribs, he probed gently, winced; let it slide back to its original position as he rest from the exertion. Finally he opened his intensely blue eyes and looked slowly, dizzily, around. Again his Adam’s apply bobbed before he managed to ask, his voice a husky whisper, “What happened?”
“I do not know precisely, Daniel,” replied the woman quietly, “I would hypothesize that we have been struck by a meteoroid of sufficient size as to overwhelm our deflector screens. . . We are airtight; however, our battery reserves are minimal and our communications capability had been completely destroyed.
The human took all this very calmly, which seemed to contradict all the woman might have expected, given the inherent emotional instability of humans.
“Oh. . .” he sighed softly. Then his eyes came back to hers. “What about you?”
“I have sustained severe internal damage which will lead to death within five hours, maximum, without assistance,” she replied with quiet resignation.
The man made no immediate response, but closed his eyes as if very tired. Eventually he opened them again and looked at her. “I don’t think I’ve got even that long. . . . You’ve checked out communications thoroughly? I mean, even if they can’t get a ship out here in time for me, they might at least get here in time for you.”
“There is no power to the board, Daniel, and in any case, I lack the strength and necessary knowledge to attempt such repairs as my be required.”
Again there was a long pause, during which there was only the sound of the human’s labored breathing to be heard. Finally, he murmured, “Well, then, it does seem our only hope was that Traffic Control was monitoring us. . . Unfortunately, don’t even know we’re coming because we’re two days early.”
He sighed, a sound that ended in a grunt of pain. After a moment to recover, he asked softly, “T’Krrel, what’s our fuel situation?”
“The fuel indicators read empty. I must assume this means damage to the storage areas has allowed for leakage.”
“Well, there goes that idea – unless maybe it froze and left a trail of glitter – no, I guess I must be getting delirious,” he chuckled, then winced again.
“Are you in pain?” asked the woman with a hint of concern.
The shook his head slightly and murmured, “No, only when I breathe too deep. . . You?”
“Negative. I retain this much control.”
For a long time then, there was silence as the human closed his eyes and seemed to doze. T’Krrel leaned back in her chair and relaxed, gazing absently up at the stars shining in through the ports. They were bright and hard, of all colors of the spectrum, all at unimaginable distances, beyond even the exact calculation by eye of which she was capable. She could deal with such distances only in the abstract. On the concrete level, they had no meaning.
She turned her attention almost reluctantly inward. She could slow, and possibly even suspend the deterioration of her condition for a time, but to what end? The probability of their being found before the battery reserves were exhausted was so close to zero as to make any such attempt essentially an exercise in futility, an exercise without value. She could do nothing for her companion.
Were it not for her and her assignment, he would be safe aboard his mother-ship, not out here, dying alone and without friends or family. She wondered briefly what rituals humans used to ease the pain of leaving life. There were none for her, although perhaps there might have been, once. She knew a moment of excruciating loneliness in the face of those distant stars hung in the lifeless, uncaring void.
Death, Where Is Thy Sting?, part 2
“I hear,” she replied, turning her head to look at him.
His voice growing a little stronger as he opened his eyes and looked back at her, he asked, “T’Krrel, what is life?”
Could he read her thoughts, she wondered? No, her barriers remained intact. Perhaps his thoughts paralleled her, then.
“There is no complete answer to that question,” she replied softly.
“I know. . . I just wanted to see what you would say,” he murmured, his voice like that of a tired child. “What’s the purpose of life, then?”
T’Krrel considered a moment, then said, “The purpose of life is to live to the greatest fulfillment of one’s potentials and the most complete blending possible of diverse elements into a harmonious whole.”
“To what end, T’Krrel?” The human’s voice, though still soft, seemed to have taken on power, and his face seemed to be growing almost translucent, as though a light shown through, an odd phenomenon T’Krrel couldn’t account for.
Perhaps this was the humans’ ritual, this litany of asking and reassurance. But the answers he demanded were more than she could give. “Unknown,” she replied with a hint of regret.
“T’Krrel, how can you have looked it in the face all your life and still deny it?” he asked, lifting his head slightly.
Perhaps he referred to the god humans still professed to worship. She could not comprehend how they could logically continue the practice in the fact of the vast impersonality of the universe. The man looked at her with an odd expression apparently compounded of puzzlement, anxiety, and – and joy, then whispered, “T’Krrel, he’s here, all around us, always with us, shaping, molding, finishing us. . . I haven’t much time, but I tell you I SEE him. . . You – don’t understand, do you,” his voice ending in hardly more than a sigh of sorrow for her lack of comprehension.
“No, Daniel,” she murmured almost sadly, “I do not understand.”
His death was imminent, yet he seemed perfectly assured of what lay ahead for him. “T’Krrel, come with me anyway.”
What was this? Surely he must be delirious. How was there any logic to the belief that two could go together? And to what point was such a belief? Death was oblivion, to be returned to with a kind of relief--- The human’s intense blue eyes caught hers. Now his words pleaded for her acceptance as he struggled to control his failing body.
“T’Krrel, haven’t you ever been -- gloriously happy? So full of joy – you couldn’t bear it? . . That’s what it’s like. . . Come with me. . . Please?”
He did not seem at all afraid. She knew an instant of terrible doubt. Was it really possible that he did know the answers – and had asked the questions for her sake?
If he did know, then it was only logical to accept his invitation. After all, if she must go, was it not better to go in company? With difficulty, she climbed out of her chair, falling clumsily to half-kneel beside him, clutching at the arm of his chair as she fended off a wave a black dizziness. Was there time enough? Had she strength enough? Or would she be left behind? Vision dimming, she struggled to pull herself upward. She MUST make contact. For an instant her sight cleared and she realized she half-lay across the human’s broken form. “Daniel,” she whispered, her voice harsh with the effort. “I would come. M-may I touch thee?”
His answering affirmative was almost inaudible. Drawing on her last reserves, T’Krrel lifted tingling-numb fingers awkwardly to his burning to forehead, fumbling uncertainly for meld as her strength trickled away like the last grains of sand in an hourglass.
She found herself caught up in strong arms, strangely familiar – and welcome arms. The area of contact spread like wildfire, wrenching from her control as she stared in awe. . . She never noticed when her head drooped to Daniel’s shoulder and her hand fell away.
“See, T’Krrel, I told you he was here.”
Death, Where Is Thy Sting?, epilogue/ author's comment
When the shuttlecraft was found three days later, quite by accident, and brought into Starbase 10, the portmaster and the chief medical officer didn’t expect to find its occupants alive, nor did they. When the craft had been warmed to ambient temperature in the docking bay and its batteries recharged enough to open the door, the two men stepped into the cold, dark interior. Here they found the frozen bodies of Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Hendrickson, late of the POTEMKIN, and T’Krrel of Vulcan, who was to have been the new field representative in the base offices of the huge trading firm of Thzverit. The expressions on their still faces seemed to indicate that death had been peaceful. After a long moment of silent contemplation, the portmaster cocked an eyebrow and nodded slightly, murmuring, “Hmmm. I’d such like to see what our resident Vulcan theologian has to say about this. . .”
(Author’s note: INTERPHASE readers may recall the Connie Faddis is planning an article on why we enjoy writing ‘get somebody’ stories. This stems from her many letters of response to one particular interpretation printed in INTERPHASE #1, namely “Dying Inside.” Personally, I hated it. That’s why I wrote this story, partly to purge myself of the distressing emotions aroused by the interpretation, and partly to show that there is another way to handle the continual need for catharsis we as paradoxical creatures must satisfy. Which of the two ways is the better I leave to you to decide. TH)
Incidental Filler, Page 31
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Fertile mind doth barren flesh
And as a flame of darkness burning now --
I from my bed of pain arise
and stare with blind eyes.
As if my dream of you I'd find
in some dark shadow --
Sweet physician, dark and fair,
Flies my burdened soul to you.
And strive to stay and enter there --
And some entwined communion
to sustain --
This "self" of mine can find no gain.
~ Ms. JH
Sunday, June 18, 2006
"Return From Talos", By Ms. JC
"Return From Talos", Part 1
“Are you all right, Mr. Spock. You look rather dazed.”
“Yes, thank you, sir. I established a meld with the -- with Captain Pike before beaming him down, and I am still slightly disoriented.” Spock paused for a few minutes and Kirk left him alone to pull himself together until he spoke again. “Captain, may I ask the precise meaning of the term 'son of a bitch?' I understand the words, of course, but the expression seems to have an idiomatic resonance beyond the root meaning.”
“It does indeed, Mr. Spock. Did Chris call you that?”
“Yes, sir. His transmission of the term was quite clear. But I received no impression of anger.”
“No, I don't think he was angry, Mr. Spock. Come over here. There's something I want you to see.” Kirk indicated the view screen, and replayed the last message from Talos. This time he watched Spock and the Vulcan watched the young, sound Christopher Pike follow the graceful girl into the underground lift. Suddenly a gush of emotion nearly overwhelmed Kirk, and he literally shut his teeth on the cry that rose: “Would you do that for me?” Shaken and ashamed of himself, he turned away from the impassive Vulcan and moved to a chair on the far side of the room. He chided himself. Spock had served Pike for fourteen years. No wonder he had been prepared to jeopardize the career of his new captain. And probably he'd known Kirk would be glad to help. The captain studied the pattern of the wall texture intently until he was sure he could control himself. When he turned, Spock was standing patiently a little distance away. “Thank you, Captain,” he said.
Hours later, Kirk was to realize that he had inadvertently done exactly the right thing. At a moment which might be expected to extract an emotional display from the Vulcan, he had moved away, allowing Spock the space to recover himself in private. Now, however, Spock's thanks conveyed nothing. Perhaps fortunately, the door opened before he could respond.
“Come in, Bones. What is it?”
“The Talosians need a supply of medications for Captain Pike. Will you authorize me to beam it down?”
“Yes, Bones. Go ahead.”
“Right. The lab's already working on synthesizing it. We'll be ready shortly. I've just finished giving the Talosians a complete explanation of Captain Pike's condition. They have his records, but they needed them interpreted. I don't know whether they understand it all, but they certainly mean to follow the regimen to the letter. He'll be well cared for, Mr. Spock.”
“Yes, Doctor, unquestionably.”
McCoy reached for the nearest intercom and instructed the lab to beam down the drugs when they were ready. Intercom off, he hesitated. The constraint in the room bothered him.
“Er, congratulations, Mr. Spock.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
“Yes, listen,” Kirk rallied. “This calls for a small celebration. Will you gentlemen join me in my quarters? Mr. Spock?”
“Thank you, Captain. But I believe that as the defendant it is my place to offer the invitation. Will you gentlemen join me in my quarters?”
McCoy and Kirk exchanged glances. Hot tea was hardly their idea of a celebration. But it seemed important not to rebuff this overture from the usually aloof first officer. In unison, they nodded acceptance, and Spock waved them to elevator.
In his quarters, Spock apologized in advance. “Events began to move so fast that I had no time to clear my work or prepare for your visit. Please forgive the deficiencies of my hospitality.”
While Kirk and McCoy were still politely disclaiming, Spock crouched before a small cabinet. From it he unearthed bottle after bottle. The humans looked at each other in astonishment, then rose to help him carry the collection to the table. McCoy spotted a familiar shape. “Isn't that the sake Sulu gave you last Christmas?”
“Yes, Doctor. Most of these are gifts. I have had little use for them. But I hope you will find something to your liking.” Spock got three Vulcan cups from a higher cupboard, and poured out their choices. Then, impelled by their expectant looks, he poured a small measure into his own cup and sipped cautiously.
“Well,” McCoy sighed. “So ends the god-damnedest charade I ever saw. Spock, how the hell did you get into all that?”
“It is a rather long story.”
“We have the evening before us.”
“I must admit I'm curious too, Mr. Spock. But you don't have to tell us if you don't want to.”
“I do not object, sir, if the matter interests you.” Spock paused a moment, then began. “I heard about Captain Pike's injury shortly after it happened, but as we were then patrolling Sector IV, I could do nothing beyond sending him message tapes until you sent me to the Jon Conference. From there I took a day off and went to see him. He was in an extremely agitated frame of mind, as I discovered by melding with him. He found life under the restrictions caused by his injuries unendurable, and he begged me to find a way to kill him.”
Kirk and McCoy stirred, but Spock went on unheeding.
“This was, of course, a logical request under the circumstances. However, I had spoken with his doctor, who told me that there was some chance that the Giulini treatments, then being tested, would repair some of the damage. I communicated that possibility to Captain Pike and made him promise to give the treatments time to work. In return, I promised to come back the next time we were in the area. If he still wished it, I would take him to Vulcan.
“On Vulcan, as you may know, suicide is legal under certain conditions. If a person can prove a logical case for suicide, such as incurable, painful illness, or disability like Captain Pike's, the State will help the petitioner execute his purpose.
“When I visited Captain Pike again, I found that the Giulini treatments had proved entirely useless, and he was in despair. He reminded me of my promise. But most unfortunately, the situation in regard to Vulcan had by then changed completely.”
The Gam case,” McCoy muttered.
“Precisely, Doctor. It seemed highly unlikely that I would be allowed to take Captain Pike to Vulcan, or that any Vulcan court would hear his petition if we did present one. It seemed I could not help him. But neither could I leave him in that condition. At this juncture, I received the first message from Talos.”
“Apparently, sir, the Talosians never relinquished their contact with Captain Pike's mind. When I melded with him, I gave them access to my mind as well. Their message was an invitation to bring the captain back to Talos. Upon reflection, I decided that this was the best possible solution. The rest, you know.”
Silence fell. McCoy got up, drink in hand, and began to wander idly around Spock's workroom. He thought over the story Spock had told, and it struck him as incomplete. “But why the charade?”
“The charade, Doctor?”
“Yes. The Court-martial. All that.”
“That was necessitated by Captain Kirk's pursuit. If everything had gone according to the original plan, none of this would ever have come out. Captain Pike would have disappeared, taken to an unknown destination by secret orders fed directly into the Enterprise computer and then erased. No one would ever have known where the ship had gone. And, Captain Kirk, I assure you no blame would have been attached to you. Your record would have been unblemished.
“That I prefer not to discuss. However, I give you my word it is so.”
Kirk nodded curtly and began to question Spock about some of the details of his strategy. It was obvious that Starbase security was wholly ineffective against a knowledgeable senior officer, and he wanted to explore some of the loopholes Spock had discovered for future consideration. McCoy continued to prowl. The events of the past hours had shaken him severely, and the mild activity was soothing. Idly, he punched the recall on the desk reader. He read a few lines, mildly amused. Did Spock spend his free time studying the details of human psychopathology? He read a list of symptoms, and suddenly everything fell into place.
“Of course.” His voice grated a little.
“What is it, Bones?”
“That's how you were going to save Jim's reputation, isn't it, Spock?”
Part 2, continued
“Of course. It's so obvious -- so damn LOGICAL -- I don't know why I didn't think of it.”
“What IS it, Bones?”
“Tell him, Spock. Tell Jim how you can be so sure his career wouldn't have been hurt.”
“Doctor, I fail to understand your interest in an aborted plan.”
“Because, Spock, I still think this is the damnedest show I ever saw outside of a traveling company. I think you ought to be HORSEWHIPPED! But I don't think you deserve to loose Jim's trust. And he's only human, Spock. He can't help wondering. I think he needs to know exactly how you planned to save his skin.”
Spock was silent. Kirk rose. “What do you mean, Doctor?”
“It would've been simple, wouldn't it, Spock? A first officer kidnaps his former captain and takes him to an unknown destination. Then -- when, Spock? On the way back? Irrational behaviors appear. Severe paranoia was a good choice. It's easy to fake. And then what? Rehabilitation? Or, no. You'd be thorough, wouldn't you, Spock? Tragic. 'Suicide while of unsound mind,' and everyone sympathetic, and anxious to hush it up. No one could blame the captain whose ship was stolen by a deranged first. All very regrettable, but no action to be taken --” McCoy broke off at the expression of horror on Kirk's face.
Kirk jerked his head, and then McCoy made a tactical error.
“May I use your facilities?”
“Of course, Doctor.” Spock was wooden, but he politely indicated the inner door. McCoy stepped through and activated it behind him. The captain needed to interview his first in privacy now. Maybe he should have left entirely, but he hadn't wanted to seem too blatant.
Damn and blast! the 'facilities' were Vulcan, of course. Well, at least he was out of the way.
“Have you served any other captains?” Kirk's voice was low and tight, but it carried clearly to the inner room.
“No sir. Only Captain Pike and you.”
“Well, thank the Lord for small favors! Now you listen, you ---!”
Kirk's voice rose to a roar. This would never do. Abruptly, McCoy rose, went into the shower, stripped, and turned on the jets.
“Was the captain very angry?”
“I do not think so, Doctor. The burden of his message, if I understood him correctly, was that pointed ears are not to be equated with expendability.”
McCoy grinned, translating back. He began to regret missing the Captain's diatribe. It must have been a classic.
“Yes, Mr. Spock.”
“May I ask the meaning of the term 'son of a bitch'. . . ?”
Saturday, June 17, 2006
How you do haunt me, Spirit of
things left unsaid:
There never was a sword so keen ---
as the blade now through me struck
And I am hounded to my bed by
disease for which there is no cure.
Oh, that it could bare its voice
This love which now within me burns.
And yet, this -- so great a love,
May best be kept unsaid.
Lest the empty laughter which from
your bowels would tread
should I tell you,
Would leave me still and dead!
~ Ms. JH
"The 'Les Mesdemoiselles Federation' Affair": Installment one
1) Written in the mid-seventies, this story reeks with many things that any open-minded, evolving, and progressive person these 30 years hence would find repugnant. The chauvinism (misogyny?) alone is cause for alarm. But hey, wait, it predates so much enlightenment. It’s, in fact, written by a woman, an important reminder of just how far we've all come.
2) I found myself wishing that the whole thing had been written as a parody! Because there's enough high camp to fill a hundred gay & lesbian film festivals in this baby. And while I am Gay, I have NO idea whether my collaborators are, as I lost track of both of them in the early 80's. The author of this story is one member of our trinity, Ms. H. Happily married at the time.
3) The drawings are scans of the originals, which were done directly on the thinly waxed screens for the mimeographs using a special stylus that scraped away the wax to allow the ink to bleed through and print. The whole production was done via mimeograph and this first issue was produced on the mimeograph of the First Congregational Church in my hometown. (None of us were members. The connection was a classmate who was also the minister's daughter and his wife who was my 3rd grade teacher, the Reverend and Mrs. B.) Produced in this way, the illustrations are a little sketchy -- but I like that as it offers historic authenticity to the work.
"The 'Les Mesdemoiselles Federation' Affair": Chapter ONE, part one
Deciding everything was as ready as it was ever going to be, Dayton took a deep breath and hopped down, returning the chair to its place along a bulkhead. What a monstrous task it was trying to keep the contestants out of each other's hair -- or fur, as the case might be. Twenty-four hostesses, the maximum number allowed by the voluminous order sheaf, just wasn't enough to handle any rough stuff. Fortunately there hadn't been much -- yet.
“Gather 'round everybody,” she called. The other girls, of all colors, sizes and shapes, all wearing the red dress uniforms of ship's services, hurried over to form a huddle around the senior ensign. “Okay, we all know how much Bran's depending on us to keep things quiet and calm. Are there any questions on our orders?”
“Well, it's not exactly about our orders,” spoke up Ens. D'kura, a dark skinned girl with a medium Afro and large gold earrings, “but why isn't he going to be here?”
“I don't know Cassu. But he sounded awfully tired. Could be he's hoping to get in a little extra shut-eye. Any other questions?” asked Dayton. “Okay, let's not disappoint him.”
Chapter ONE, part two
The first group to arrive was the Tellarite delegation, not so much interested in punctuality as in the prospect of a free meal -- or so it seemed to Dayton. Certainly their first stop was the table bearing Tellarite foods, which she had discovered were so spicy they burnt her mouth. Maybe the Tellarites liked their food highly seasoned because otherwise they'd never even taste it as they bolted it down -- or maybe they bolted it because it was so unbelievably hot.
She had just got to the reflection that perhaps the notorious Tellarite bad temper was caused by chronic indigestion and heartburn when she noticed the Vulcan girl standing in the entranceway, looking around. Had she been human, Dayton would've thought she seemed rather shy and uncertain. But she was Vulcan. The ensign hesitated, then shrugged slightly and walked over.
“Hello, I'm Shirley Dayton. Won't you come on in?”
The Vulcan blinked once, then tilted her head leftward. “I'm T'Alyen. Peace and long life, Ms. Dayton.”
She had lifted a hand in the strange bifurcated salute Vulcans used. Thinking fast, the ensign raised her hand as well. “Uh, live long and prosper, T'Alyen. . . Would you like something to eat or drink?”
“Very well,” was the Vulcan's only immediate reply as she allowed Dayton to escort her over to the table beneath the banner. She studied this, with its IDIC symbol and Anglicized welcome, for a moment, then inquired curiously, “Do you know the meaning of the words and the symbol?”
“Uh,” started Dayton, “well, Cmdr. Branfield says the words are glossed as 'Live long and prosper,' and the symbol refers to your concept of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination. . . Kind of appropriate for -- tonight.”
“It is,” agreed T'Alyen, examining the selection and picking up a strange-looking piece of cake. “Prookle. . . Have you any Vulcan crewmembers?”
“No,” replied Dayton, also picking up a piece of the cake. “Why?”
“There is one here who knows the Vulcan taste,” commented the Vulcan after a reflective bite.
“Must be the commander, then. He's the one who programmed all this. . . Say, this is delicious. What did you call it?
“Prookle. . . This is a particularly intriguing and creative combination of colors and flavors,” replied T'Alyen thoughtfully. “There WAS a human at Dakainya for a time three Terran years ago. His name was Jeremy Branfield.”
“That's Bran,” nodded Dayton, taking another bite.
“Bran?” inquired the Vulcan, dipping a glass of thick red juice from one of the punch bowls.
“Yes,” answered Dayton, following suit. “It's a nickname we use -- in referring to him in his absence. 'Cmdr. Branfield' takes too long to say, so we call him Bran, like we call the commodore 'Wes' and the chief engineer 'Henny'.”
T'Alyen's only response to that was a non-committal, “I see.”
Chapter ONE, part three
T'Alyen made her appearance then, the silver trim of her pink tunic and pants suit sparkling in the half-light. Dayton couldn't help admiring the way she could move with such poise through the intricacies of conversation with members of five other species on a wide range of subjects, from astrophysics to the fine points of the dance. This really was the Vulcan concept of IDIC in action, she decided.
“If you like prookle, perhaps you would also find yunyon to your liking. It is a fruit most esteemed among my people,” suggested the Vulcan in her low, well-modulated voice as she indicated a bowl of half-peeled fruit and a dip.
“I'm willing to try anything at least once,” returned Dayton, setting down her glass. “I just need a guide.”
T'Alyen showed her how to peel the fruit and section it, setting the seeds neatly in the bowl awaiting them, then dipped a section in the sauce. Dayton followed her example and discovered the fruit was almost unbearably sweet and the sauce almost unbearably tart. The combination was heavenly.
“Shirley, I am curious. May I ask what you meant by saying that you need a guide?” asked T'Alyen after several minutes.
“Well,” said the ensign after a moment of thought. “All this is kind of like an unexplored country. I don't know the names of any of these dishes -- except the prookle and this -- yunyon. I don't know what any of them tastes like, or what they're made of, or -- or anything. So I need a guide to show me the country ---”
But T'Alyen apparently wasn't listening anymore. Dayton broke off, curious to know what was causing the slight frown on the other girl's dark face. She seemed to be listening to something else. Trouble, maybe? Alerted, the ensign pricked her own ears.
Somewhere behind her, at the table for human dishes, she heard the hissing giggle of a Mrraneti girl as she listened to a human's description of some incident having to do with a Tellarite. She could only catch a word here and there, but she recognized the fake southern drawl of Trina Anderson, one of the human contestants. She sighed and picked up her glass of juice, dipping up more as an excuse for watching.
T'Alyen wasn't the only one listening. It looked like of Yteskar, an Andorian with what Dayton considered a nasty mind, was also intrigued by the conversation. To the ensign's trained mind, that spelled trouble in the making, but there wasn't a darned thing she could do about it. . . Well, nothing official, anyway.
“T'Alyen, I don't believe you've met Ms. Anderson or Ms. Mrrim,” said she in as conversational a tone as she could manage.
The Vulcan blinked and turned her dark eyes searchingly on the ensign before saying quietly, “I applaud your suggestion. I have met Ms. Anderson, but not Ms. Mrrim.”
“Come on, then.” Dayton couldn't quite keep her voice steady as she led the way. “Uh, Mrrim? This is T'Alyen of Vulcan. She is a dancer, too.”
“I am honored to make your acquaintance, T'Alyen,” purred the lynx-faced Mrranet in her stilted English. “What iss the dance that you perrforrm?”
T'Alyen proceeded to explain.
“Trina,” murmured Dayton softly, “what are you trying to do, start a fight? I didn't hear exactly what you said about the Tellarites -- and I don't want to -- but Yteskar did. If she repeats it to the wrong persons ---”
“Look heah, deahry, Ah'll say what Ah want to say to whoever Ah want -- an' y'all cain't stop me,” hissed the platinum blonde, nastily.
“Maybe not, Trina, but if somebody smashes a pie into your pretty face, you can't say you weren't warned.”
“Ah thank y'all ever so much for the warnin', little girl.” drawled the woman in the purple gown, turning away in contemptuous dismissal.
Clenching her fists briefly, Dayton half-wished someone WOULD smash a pie in her face. How Anderson got away with that kind of snottiness was beyond her.
“You Mrrim?!” barked a hoarse Tellarite voice beside her.
She jumped, just as the Tellarite woman snatched up a pie and hit the Mrranet in the face with it, rubbing it in before Mrrim could even open her mouth to protest.
“Hey --” started Dayton, making as if to interfere.
The Tellarite shoved her aside with one strong, hairy arm. She caught herself just too late to prevent the enraged woman from dumping a whole bowlful of orange punch over Trina's head.
“What the hell do you think you're doing!” squawked the human, whirling angrily, all pretenses at an accent gone. “I'll have ---”
“You PEEG, Anderson,” growled the Tellarite as Dayton tried to get between them.
“Come one, you guys ---” she started urgently, but the maddened Tellarite merely shoved her away again. She caught her hip on the corner of the Sandorians' table hard, and her leg gave way with a faint popping sound. She collapsed into a heap on the deck, the abrupt, intense pain startling a yelp from her.
“You called me carrion, I treat you like dirt, PEEG!” rumbled the Tellarite, ignoring T'Alyen's attempts to intervene and shoving Anderson back against the table.
“You BEAST!” shrilled the red-faced woman, picking up a German chocolate cake and hurling it at the snout-nosed Tellarite. She ducked. The missile smacked into the back of an Andorian's head, right between the antennae. She whirled like lightning, her blue-skinned fingers exploring the mess adhering to her cottony white hair.
“Who did thiss!” she hissed sharply, her red-rimmed eyes flashing fire.
“That one,” returned the Tellarite in a growl of aggrieved injury, pointing at Anderson with one hairy paw. “See how humans insult intelligence ---”
“WHAT intelligence, Greva dahlin'?” snarled Anderson, crouching at the ready like a cornered animal.
“O, please, stop it, you guys!” cried Dayton from where she sat. She was hard put to contain her tears of pain. But none of the would-be combatants paid her the least attention. All she could so was watch helplessly as the Andorian and her three sisters joined the Tellarite in advancing on Anderson. The human slid behind a table and picked up another pie, waited, threw it at the Andorian. The latter ducked and returned fire with a dish full of sticky fudge. The human couldn't quite avoid the barrage, as a piece squished itself into her damp hair.
“Damn you clods, anyhow!” she screamed, dodging a casserole and running the short distance to the Tellarite table. Here she picked up a bowl of some hot chili-like food and threw it at Greva, yelling, “Have some of your own crap in the eye!”
By this time, almost everyone had stopped talking and turned to observe in surprise. Through her tears of pain, Dayton saw Ensign D'kura not far away, watching in frustrated helplessness, forbidden to lay a hand on any of the contestants.
“Cassu!” called Dayton with an effort. “Cassu, c'm'ere!”
The other ensign turned, then hurried over to kneel beside her. “What happened, Shirley?”
“I think I dislocated my hip,” she gasped. “Listen, get Bran down here right away with a security detail. Hurry!”
“Right on!” replied D'kura crisply, rising and walking quickly away.
By now, the battle forces had grown to include nearly all of the Andorian contestants, several more Tellarites, two Mrraneti who had been hit with punch or cookies by accident, and most of the human contestants. The later were outnumbered, but were putting up stiff resistance.
The telepathic Schillians had withdrawn to the farthest part of the large room, and the Vulcans stood observing in what looked to Dayton like helpless confusion. She couldn't really blame them. What little she'd read about them seemed to indicate that they very well might not know how to deal with raw, uncontrolled emotion in members of other species -- not to mention the fact that they must find it distressingly painful.
Nearby, the Mrraneti watching the fight seemed to be applauding the good moves of each side indiscriminately, and booing the bad ones, while the Andorian judges conferred together in low whispers. The Tellarites watched and made bets while the rest of the hostesses either fidgeted or tried to be helpful to those watching.
“You are injured,” came T'Alyen's voice, conveying to the ensign's ears the faintest hint of -- of chagrin and anger.
Dayton looked up, puzzled by what her ears told her, then nodded absently, wishing the marines would hurry up.
“One has done violence and must be punished ---”
The ensign caught the Vulcan's hand urgently. That WAS anger. “No, T'Alyen,” she urged firmly. “It wasn't intentional. Please, let Bran handle it. He'll be here any second.”
The girl looked down into Dayton's pain-twisted face for a moment, her own face quite impassive, then relaxed a little and said formally, “Thee are wise for one so young ---”
Just then the lights came up to full, announcing the arrival of the marines, a group of chunky young men in red with business-like expressions on their faces as they went about the task of separating the battling contestants by species. Their leader, a tall young man wearing the green of command, flipped his mop of wavy black hair out of his sleepy eyes and snapped, “All right, knock it OFF! . . That means you, Anderson.”
The girl who had just thrown a plate full of Jell-O at one the security men, whipped around, all traces of beauty wiped out by the animal snarl contorting her face. Snatching up a lemon meringue pie which had miraculously escaped being thrown earlier, she stepped behind the Vulcan table and flung it at the commander. He caught it with a deftness bespeaking of superb control and barked, “Anderson, c'm'ere!”
“Wha should Ah, you creep!?” she sneered. “Y'all think you're so great, come an' get me, ol' ha an' mighty Jeremy Branfield.”
The commander's lips tightened, and for a moment, Dayton really thought he was going to smash the pie into Anderson's ugly face. He didn't, however, but set it very gently on the Mrraneti table immediately behind him and said, his voice low and tight, “Kerrigan, please restrain this -- woman -- and bring her over here.”
“Yessir,” replied the red-haired Security Officer, obeying with alacrity.
When he had her in the center of the room, her hands firmly pinioned in his, Kerrigan looked over at the commander. Branfield swept his dark grey eyes over the heavily breathing combatants, all of whom were badly stained, before asking abruptly, “Do I get the impression this -- person is responsible?”
“She called me carrion!” barked Greva, nursing a cut on one cheek.
“Did she now.”
“She threw a cake at me,” added the first Andorian.
“It was an accident,” grumbled Anderson. “Greva ducked.”
“Oh. That makes it less a crime?” inquired the commander with a sardonic chuckle. “. . .look, ladies, a contest like this is no place for vindictive childishness. If you can't behave yourselves, you've no business being here. These gentlemen will escort you back to your quarters to clean up.” He looked around at the badly littered deck, then said, “In view of the circumstances, I think everyone should call it a night.”