I’ve moved my rant down to the bottom of the page. I’ll keep it, because I still stand by what I said, but the art is much more important.
Anyhoo, all that aside, on to the song. We’re back in town for the day, so I played it on my beloved piano that I’ve had since I was four. Here it is; it’s called “Sapphire Sky”:
and here’s the art for today — I’ll continue with my kaleidoscope pix.
And here’s the second half of ‘Live and Direct from Spock’ (and I really would like to hear what people think of this!):
Live and Direct from Spock, part 2 (Link to part 1 here)
(c) copyright 2010 Karin A. Robinson
Bodine’s is the only place in Spock worth visiting. Ivor Bodine, one of the original settlers of Spock, has turned a water-mining canteen into a five-star restaurant, but, unfortunately for the sensibilities of gourmands everywhere, he’s used the same decorator as Lady Carmen. Gilt-encrusted fountains and chrome-plated hydropods glisten in fuchsia torchlight, and one thousand two crystal chandeliers (as advertised by the holo-neons just outside the restaurant) sparkle in eye-crossing splendor, their torches set to create spinning rainbows of dizzying color. The booths along the sides of the main dining room only add to the sensory overload. Bodine must have spent more than a half-million Orchids alone on the seat coverings; they’re upholstered with the amazing new fabric Holo-Zip™, set to an undulating, neon tiger-print. Behind the booths, the holo-walls have been set to resemble a tropical beach at sunset. They even have holographic parrots, and Kat instinctively ducks as one swoops right by her, its wing slipping through Charles’ head.
“I miss the real birds in Freedom Park Green,” Kat mutters. I also miss good taste, she thinks. Compared to this, the Orchid Room at the Moonborn Café is like the kitchen in Granna’s Burrow.
“What are you scrolling on about?” Charles smiles, wrapping his arm around her shoulder as they weave their way through the main dining room. “You’ve got Galadriel for company.”
“Your father’s krecking falcon is hardly ‘company,’ darling. She nearly took my finger off the last time it was my turn to feed her. I swear that bird has it out for me.” Kat sighs. “Of course, that’s just because her master is so very fond of me.”
“Can we try to have a good evening without you slegging my father, please?”
“Oh, but I do enjoy it so,” Kat sneers. “He really makes it so easy, too. You won’t believe what he said to me just yesterday. He was –”
“Kat, I’m serious. Can you lay off him?” Charles frowns. “He’s going through a rough – well, he’s just not in a good mood right now.”
Kat stops, and turns to face him. “Chaz, what is going on? And don’t tell me it’s nothing. I can scan you like a doc.”
“Kat, I’m not supposed to –”
“Charles Arthur Parkhurst, how long have we known each other?”
“They put me in your crib the night I was born,” Charles grumbles. “But seriously, I’m not –”
“Download it, Parkhurst.”
“Pop and Mom are getting a divorce. She wants to marry Alison.”
“Sweet Gaia,” Kat says. “How are you feeling about this?”
Charles shrugs. “Well, I always thought it was strange that they stayed married for so long. I mean, Mom’s totally sappho. Pop’s the only man she’s ever been with, and they haven’t coupled since they had me.”
“And yet they had a lifetime contract,” Kat says, shaking her head. “It doesn’t make any sense. She doesn’t like men, and he’s probably the reason why.”
“Kat, that’s not nice.”
“He’s not nice.”
“Kat, you’re being unfair. Pop and Mom were raised in the same Burrow. They got married a week after their Third Ascension.”
“Yeah, but a lifetime contract?” Kat says incredulously. “We’ve been in love since we were seven, and we’re only going to get a five-year contract.”
“Yeah, but we’ll probably end up renewing it over and over again,” Charles grins. He kisses her lightly on the cheek. “Face it, Sandersen, you’re stuck with me.
And my father.”
“Well, I’m happy for Anya and Alison,” Kat continues, smiling. “They’ve been together fifteen years, right?”
“Sixteen,” Charles replies. “But remember, you don’t know a thing. They’re not going to announce anything – the divorce or the wedding – until after next Orchid Day.”
“But that’s four months away –”
“I knew I shouldn’t have told you,” Charles mutters glumly.
“What, you don’t think you can trust me?”
“I know I can’t. Please, Kat, this is important.”
“I’ll behave myself,” Kat smiles, as they continue walking to the back of the main room. “For tonight, at least,” she hisses in his ear as they enter the private dining room.
“And she says, ‘I think this one’s already gone off,’” Carlos’ voice booms out, followed by an explosion of laughter, complete with one of the captain’s trademark wolf howls.
“Sounds like Pop’s feeling better,” Charles murmurs as they approach the table.
“You didn’t tell me that Anya was here,” Kat hisses in Charles’ ear. Anya Torqueda and Wing Parkhurst are sitting side by side, his arm draped around his soon-to-be ex-wife’s shoulders. Susan sits on his other side, holding Wing’s hand, deep in conversation with Rebecca on her right.
“You didn’t think they’d settle it over a trans-Belt link, did you?” Charles whispers. “So are we too late to order?” he calls to the group at the table. He kisses his mother on the cheek and hugs his father.
“Katherine, darling! You’re looking marvelous in that uniform,” Anya smiles, rising to hug her.
“It’s nice to see you, Mama Anya,” Kat returns the hug, reddening slightly. If one more person tells me how wonderful I look in this spamming uniform, she thinks, I swear I’m going to go totally grezman and scream.
“Come sit next to me, pup,” Anya says, directing Kat to one of the two empty chairs. The other one is next to Percival, which Charles slides into eagerly, flicking Kat’s father a shy smile.
“So you met the new medtech,” Rebecca smiles across the table at her sister. “Is he as much of a fleb as I said he was?”
“Funny woman,” Charles replies dryly. “You know, I’ve really missed you since you’ve been at Phobos. When do you go back, so I can start missing you again?”
“Ease, pups,” Susan growls.
“Aw, Mom, we’re just twizzing, aren’t we, Charlie?” Rebecca winks.
“Call me ‘Charlie’ again,” Charles Parkhurst smiles, “and you’ll find out. In any case,” he continues, “it was a real crank to see Kat’s face when she saw who the new medtech was.”
“I’m glad I could help with the joke,” Percival grins, and Charles visibly reddens.
He’s got it bad, Kat thinks. Dad can’t help but notice. And yet –
“Linkup in ten, Jamal,” a man calls, backing up into the room and balancing an array of vid hardware on his shoulder.
Wing springs up out of his chair. “Ben, what the kreck are you doing here?” he snarls.
Immediately another man sweeps in, with gleaming teeth, bright eyes, and camera magnetism a parsec wide. Jamal Sigourne can fake sincerity with the best of them, and he positively oozes open earnest charm as he slides his way right up to the captain. “Wing, old click! Great to see you. Perce! I was just on the planet, thought I’d drop by and say hello!”
“And you just happened to bring ten billion viewers along with you,” Percival growls, standing up and coming round the table menacingly. “Jamal, this time you’ve crashed it.”
Wing holds up a hand. “Perce, let me handle this. Jamal, I’m giving you five seconds –”
“Five second to linkup, Jamal.”
Jamal grins. “Your public loves you,” he says in an oily voice, blowing Percival an insolent kiss.
“And we’re on in three …” Ben holds up two fingers, then lowers one, then points to Jamal. It’s a gesture they know all too well, and they easily slip into the roles that the reporter has forced them to play.
After all, Kat thinks, there’ll be plenty of time for Wing to pull a proper fission later. Jamal can’t keep the camera running forever…
“Hello, Luna, this is Jamal Sigourne, and I’m coming to you live and direct from Spock, where Lady Carmen is of course performing tomorrow night, and I’m here with the man behind the makeup, his Royal Highness Prince Percival: entertainer, diplomat, athlete, and Heir Apparent to the Buckingham Lease. Your Highness, I’m sure I speak for everyone in the Solaris System when I say that we’re all delighted about Lady Carmen’s tour of Mars, but why Spock?”
“Spock is a great city, with wonderful people,” Prince Percival replies, smiling winningly at the camera. “We’re all just thrilled to be here, Jamal.”
“And I’m sure that the citizens of Spock are thrilled to have you, your Highness. But the new Civic Theater can only hold two thousand people. Why aren’t you performing in Halta City, less than a thousand kilometers away?”
He’s a krecking reporter, Kat thinks angrily. He knows spamming well why Dad doesn’t dare set foot in Halta City. And yet her father’s smile never wavers, and his voice oozes with professional gloss.
“Well, Jamal,” Prince Percival answers cheerily, “sometimes I prefer a more intimate venue. There’s a special magic to be had, performing for a smaller audience.”
“And what do you have to say to the followers of the NewWay Church in Halta City who have repeatedly threatened to kill you?” Jamal asks, his voice still syrupy-sweet.
For a moment, a flicker of anger flashes in Percival’s eyes. Then he slowly allows himself to grin, a wide, almost-natural-looking expression, the product of many years of careful training. “Jamal,” the prince begins diplomatically, “some folks like to concentrate on the negative, but it’s always been a tradition in our family to focus on the positive and move forward into the future. Tomorrow night we’re delivering a special concert of mid-twentieth century music, and there’s one lyric in particular that I’d like to leave you with. To quote the composers Lennon and McCartney, ‘all you need is love.’”
“That’s an admirable sentiment indeed, your Highness, but I do have one more question before you and your family begin supper.”
“Just one more question, then,” Percival smiles, his voice silken-sharp, his eyes glinting severely in the torchlight. Behind him, Carlos has also stood and is beginning to flex his muscles ominously, all the while keeping a friendly grin pasted on his lips.
Kat, standing slightly behind Wing and Anya, can see her captain’s hands, nonchalantly thrust behind his back, signaling to Carlos in Assassin Code.
“How do you feel about the upcoming divorce of your bodyguard, business manager and close personal friend, the infamous Captain Parkhurst?” Jamal asks.
Wing’s fingertips freeze, and all around the table everyone gasps.
Percival wheels around to face his cousin, the ‘Prince’ persona shed completely. “You’re getting a divorce,” he hisses at Wing, “and I have to hear about it from Jamal?”
“Ease, Perce,” Anya replies sharply. “We were going to tell you tonight.” She glares at the reporter. “This is beneath even you, Jamal. Our family might be –”
“All right, that’s enough,” a harsh voice growls. A team of armed men in Moral Missionary Militia uniforms step out from thin air, their holo-masks shimmering briefly as they shut down.
“Civs duck and cover now!” Carlos shouts, drawing his blaster. Rebecca, Percival, Susan, Charles and Anya immediately hit the floor before he’s finished the sentence. Kat resists the impulse to join them, but instead draws her weapon and stands between the two Assassins.
A rough-shaven arnold steps forward, an l-rifle carelessly held on his hip. “It’s three against eight, Parkhurst. Or should I say, two and a half?” he sneers, nodding at Katherine.
“My daughter,” Carlos growls, “is a fully trained combat officer of the Luna Smugglers’ Guild.”
“She’s a mere girl, fresh out of your so-called Academy,” the man replies.
“W–wait a minute,” Jamal stammers. “I recognize your voice, you’re the one who linked … I swear, Wing, I had no idea …”
“Here’s a news-vid for you, Sigourne,” Wing Parkhurst snarls. “You’ve sold us out for a krecking scoop, you stinking sleg.”
“Language, Parkhurst,” the man titters. “You are still on-link, you know.” He turns to Jamal. “And I don’t think I need to tell you,” he continues, “that if you shut your cameras off, I will have to kill you.”
“And you’d hate to die off-camera, Sigourne,” Wing mutters. “It’d cut down on your ratings.” He turns to the man holding the l-rifle. “Well, Marcoux, you’ve got us outnumbered, eight to three.” He twirls his blaster with an ironic smile. “I’ll give you one chance to surrender.”
“I’m not sure I understand you, Parkhurst,” Marcoux answers smoothly. “I have the guns and the muscle. You have some frightened civilians under the table and a girl pilot to back up a smuggler and a … musician.”
“We all have our sidelines, Marcoux,” Carlos replies evenly.
“But not anything we wish to announce to the whole of humanity,” Marcoux says lightly. “You’re known for your sharp wit, Parkhurst, but not for your restraint. You had the callousness to jest with Citizen Sigourne about ratings. In order to keep your civilian charges alive in a fray against so many opponents, you would have to use certain techniques that the audience might find rather disturbing. So disturbing, in fact, that the repercussions might be …” he pauses dramatically, “… terrible for your family’s ratings. Their public opinion ratings, for example.”
Wing shoots Carlos a questioning look, and Kat sees her father’s husband shake his head almost imperceptibly.
“We’re sworn to protect this family,” Carlos says quietly, “with our lives, if necessary. And by whatever means necessary. Good publicity is optional.”
“Ah, yes,” Marcoux sneers. “Citizen Carlos Ramirez and his famous, if almost legendary, sense of humor. And such a pinnacle of manhood, too. Your RBI record for out-Belt college baseball remains unbroken, I believe.”
“What does my athletic record have to do with the price of oranges on Europa?” Carlos asks, his eyes narrowing.
“You are married,” Marcoux growls, “to a she-male who makes his living prancing around onstage in a slinky red dress. Yet you claim to be a man yourself.”
“I was, last time I checked,” Carlos replies with a scowl. “Perce and I are, in fact, in a trio-marriage with Sumi Kimyoto, the mayor of Freedom – oh, but that’s right, you don’t think women are people, either.”
“You’re a sorry excuse for a man, Ramirez. Do you fudge that she-male when he’s wearing his stage costume?”
“Once a night, and twice on Saturdays,” Carlos snarls, his eyes flashing dangerously. “Not that that’s any of your file.”
“Marcoux,” Wing says irritably, “either fight us or get to the point. I assume you do have a point, or were you just bored and decided to experiment with creative suicide techniques?”
“I think you’ll find that I have the upper hand, Parkhurst,” Marcoux replies. “Now lay your weapons down before I’m forced to kill you.”
“If you’d wanted to kill us, Marcoux,” Wing replies, “you would have tried already. And failed miserably, I might add. Now quit scrolling. You’ve got those billions watching – let me guess, we’ve got a trans-Belt link window open, don’t we?”
“Confirmed to Jupiter, Saturn, Rodenberry Station and Xiang Station, as well as most of the inner solar system,” the camera-tech says quietly. “I’m sorry, Wing.”
“You’re not to blame, Ben,” Wing mutters. “All right, so by now I’m sure all the networks have picked up the link, even on Earth. You’ve got at least half of Solaris watching. Now,” he says, gritting his teeth, “what do you want?”
“Simple,” Marcoux announces in a cheerful tone. He turns to the camera. “In the name of Jesus, I’m going to execute the strumpet-whore she-male known as Lady Carmen, while all humanity watches.”
“He forgot to laugh maniacally,” a voice comes from under the table. “If he’s going to say things like that, he has to laugh maniacally.”
“Keep out of it, Perce!” Carlos barks. “And I’ll thank you not to blaspheme the sacred name of Jesus with your bigotry,” he growls at Marcoux.
“Don’t you talk about blasphemy to me, you image-worshipping papist.”
“So do you think I’m less than human for my love or for my faith?” Carlos replies in a voice as cold as space.
“Only the righteous shall enter the house of the Lord,” Marcoux snips primly.
“I hate to interrupt such a fascinating theological discussion,” Wing says, rolling his eyes, “but I’m going to anyway. Look, Marcoux, the point is academic and you know it. If you’d managed to squeeze a few dozen of your blaster-toting acolytes in here, you might – might – have had a chance. But you’ve only got eight, and you know that I’ll do what needs to be done to protect the Heir.”
Marcoux chuckles quietly to himself, shaking his head. “You see, Parkhurst, that’s where you’re wrong,” he tells the captain. “I don’t have eight men. I have nine.”
“As if one more brainwashed sleg is going to make a bit of difference,” Carlos replies in a low growl. “So where is this extra trooper, or are you counting the voices in your head now?”
Kat shivers involuntarily as she watches the Martian smile and shake his head.
“Such a python, Citizen Ramirez. But I could have achieved my objective with only a few men. But these ‘blaster-toting acolytes,’ as you call them, Parkhurst, are all loyal members of the NewWay Church who have paid good money – hard water-credits, not Orchids – to be here tonight to see the death of Satan’s lounge singer.”
“You must be thinking of my Uncle Kadif,” Percival calls from under the table. “He used to perform on Asimov Station under that name.”
“Enough, Perce. Marcoux, you can threaten the prince all you like, but you’ll still have to go through us first,” Carlos says in a leaden voice. “Too bad you chose your accomplices by creds rather than actual combat skill.”
“Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong, Citizen Ramirez. The she-male is going to turn himself over to me for execution.”
“Thanks, no, I think I’ll stay alive,” Percival answers. “I have a gig tomorrow night, and the sponsors tend to be unhappy if the main act dies the night before the show. But I’ll be certain to remember you if I ever need a crazed grezman to threaten my life in front of billions of viewers.”
“Percival!” Carlos snaps. “Will you crash it already?”
“Ease, Carlos,” Wing sighs wearily. “Though, really, your Highness, you aren’t helping.” He raises an eyebrow at Marcoux. “I’m sorry,” he says blandly. “I believe you wished to do a bit more frothing for the audience before we kill you, yes?”
Marcoux glares at Wing. “About five years ago,” he begins, “I attended a seminar on military techniques at Phobos, and heard an extremely … instructive lecture given by a member of the Assassins’ Guild. The title was ‘Power at a Point,’ and the lecturer maintained that all one needed to sway the outcome of any battle, no matter what the size or the odds, is power at one vital focal point. The speaker provided various examples of times when wars involving millions of troops have been won or lost in a moment by the actions of one soldier applying the right power at exactly the right point.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed my talk,” Wing growls. “But, if you’ll excuse the pun, I fail to see your point.”
“He’s talking about the camera, Wing. He thinks that the fact that the rest of Solaris is watching will keep us from protecting our family,” Carlos replies darkly. “He should think again.”
“Actually, Ramirez, you’re wrong,” Marcoux laughs. “Originally, I did think that the eyes of humanity focused in judgment upon you and your sins would be enough to protect me in my commission of God’s work. But then I realized that I was dealing with dangerous barbarians, and so I decided to … focus my power at a much more vital point. Brassarian, you can turn off your holomask.”
Kat shivers as the space right in front of her wavers briefly and an armed soldier steps out of nothingness, a blaster aimed right between her eyes. She forces herself not to flinch, but instead stares readily into the man’s eyes. The captain won’t let me die, he’ll save me, she thinks frantically. I hope …
“Perce,” Jamal whispers hoarsely. “He’s got –”
“I can see,” Percival says, slipping out from behind the table.
“Perce, get down,” Carlos warns. “Let us handle this.”
“I’m not letting him hurt Kitty,” Percival answers quietly.
Dad only calls me Kitty when he’s worried, Kat thinks. Sweet Mother Gaia, I hope I don’t die …
“Your Highness, with all due respect, please stand down,” Wing says in an odd voice, his blaster aimed right at Marcoux.
“I’ll kill your daughter if you move, fudger,” Marcoux tells Percival.
“I wasn’t going to move, you Martian sleg,” Percival growls.
And Dad never swears unless he’s really angry …
“Of course, when his Highness says ‘you Martian sleg,’” Susan calls from under the table, “he means no disrespect –”
“Crash it, Ambassador,” Wing mutters.
“Enough!” Marcoux shouts. He raises his rifle to his shoulder. “‘The judgment of the Lord cometh, and right soon.’”
“So what happened to ‘thou shalt not kill?’?” Percival asks dryly. “Or has that one fallen out of fashion in Halta City?”
“The prince, of course, realizes that the citizens of Halta City subscribe to a diverse set of ethical and spiritual beliefs –”
“Suze, you can quit apologizing for me,” Percival snaps. “The man’s holding a rifle on me, and one of his clicks has got a blaster aimed at our daughter. I think the audience will forgive me for indulging my emotions.”
“Only the Lord can forgive you for the unnatural things you have indulged in,” Marcoux answers. “And soon you shall be able to plead your case before Him yourself.”
“You’re certainly sure of your theology,” Wing says conversationally.
“Especially for someone who claims to speak for Jesus,” Carlos adds.
“I let the word of the Lord speak for itself,” Marcoux replies sanctimoniously.
They’re keeping him talking, Kat thinks. The captain’s hoping that the longer Marcoux talks, the more time he’ll have to get distracted and let his guard down. But nothing is distracting Brassarian, who holds his blaster steadily pointed at Kat’s head. I guess I’ll have to create my own distraction ….
Faking a look of shock, she gasps at Brassarian. “Wait, I recognize you,” she cries out. “You got thrown out of the Moonborn last year. You’d coupled with seven of the Hollanders and you wouldn’t pay. You’d requested all males, too,” she adds, silently hoping she hasn’t gone too far.
The look on the trooper’s face tells her she’s hit the water-lode; Brassarian turns a bright violet, his eyes opening wide.
Well, who would have scanned it? she thinks with amusement. Of course, the ones who shout ‘fudger’ the loudest are the ones who think they have something to hide.
Brassarian wheels around to face Marcoux, turning his back on Kat. “She’s lying, Father Gregory, I never –”
“You idiot!” Marcoux shouts. But Kat kicks round and scythes Brassarian’s legs out from underneath him before he realizes his mistake. Kat’s attack is all the distraction that Wing needs; in a flash he is standing beside the reverend, a laser-knife held at the Martian’s throat. Carlos has managed somehow to disarm three of the troopers, glaring at them severely as he holds his blaster on them.
“Order the rest of your troops to stand down,” Wing hisses savagely, his eyes glinting in the garish torchlight. “Now,” he adds with a growl, nicking Marcoux’s neck slightly with the blade. Kat can smell the sharp tang of burnt flesh as the NewWay cleric winces.
“You wouldn’t,” Marcoux begins in a small voice.
“Try me,” Wing answers quietly, and smiles.
It’s the smile that sends shivers down Kat’s spine. When the captain smiles like that, it means that someone is about to die.
Marcoux licks his lips nervously, then slowly lowers his rifle. “Stand down,” he whispers hoarsely.
“But Father Gregory –” one of the troopers protests.
“The Lord will judge these sinners, Brother Unity. Lay your weapons down, all of you.” Smiling angelically, Gregory Marcoux holds his rifle out at arms’ length and theatrically lets it drop to the floor with a loud clatter.
Wing steps back, lowering his blade. “So now are you going to come quietly?” he mutters. “Mind you, if you want to struggle a bit, I wouldn’t mind an excuse to kick your sorry glute.”
“I will be martyred for my cause,” the reverend says softly.
Something’s not right, Kat thinks. He’s still performing for the camera. She feels herself diving toward her father even before she sees Marcoux drawing the second blaster. As she throws herself between Percival and the Martian, she feels a white-hot blaze of agony erupt on her left shoulder.
So this is what it feels like to be hit with an l-beam, she thinks dimly, struggling to keep to her feet. It’s not as bad as I thought…
“Kitty!” Percival shouts, grabbing Kat and pushing her down to the floor as Marcoux fires a second time. Father and daughter roll together under the table as a brief tussle ensues above them. Soon everything is silent, and Kat realizes that she has had her eyes tight shut.
I wonder who won, she thinks fearfully. And if I’m still alive.
“Lieutenant!” Wing shouts. “Lieutenant, are you all right?”
“I think so, sir,” she hears herself reply. She looks down at her shoulder. Where she’d expected to see a gaping wound, she instead sees a tear in her uniform peeling away to reveal a barely scraped shoulder underneath. “It’s only a scratch, sir.”
“And he missed me,” Percival says. He raises himself up on one knee and helps Katherine up. The rest of the family emerges slowly from behind the table. Carlos is holding a blaster on the huddled militia men, and Wing once more has his blade humming at Marcoux’s neck.
“Just give me one good reason,” Captain Wilmington Parkhurst hisses, and Kat is amazed to see him trembling with rage. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t slit your throat right now.”
“Uh, Wing?” Ben the camera-tech says tentatively. “We are still on the air.”
“Just giving the man what he wants, Ben,” Wing says, his eyes glinting menacingly. “He just said he wanted to be a martyr.”
“Wing,” Percival says quietly, “his cause doesn’t deserve a martyr.”
“Perce, he could have killed her,” Wing growls.
“But he didn’t. Don’t sink to his level.”
Wing does not move.
Prince Percival of Luna draws himself up to his full height. “Captain, you may consider that an order. Stand down.”
Wing lowers his weapon. “Lieutenant,” he says flatly, “cover the prisoner while I cuff him.”
Marcoux smirks as Wing snaps the cuffs on his wrist. “One day the Lord’s judgment shall come,” the Martian cleric gloats. “And on that day you shall reap what you have sown.”
“You just don’t get it, do you?” Carlos snaps in an exasperated tone. “This is who we are. How we love and who we love isn’t any of your file.”
“At least I’m a whole man,” Marcoux sneers.
“And if I’m only half a man for being married to a man, is our wife twice the woman for being married to two men?” Percival laughs bitterly. “I’ve heard it all before, and it’s all so much bushit.”
“Perce –” Susan begins.
“Yes, Ambassador,” Percival grimaces, pinching the bridge of his nose. “My language, sorry. Ben, d’you think you can turn the camera off now?”
“But, your Highness,” Jamal protests, “our link is telling us that we’ve now got higher ratings –”
“His Highness wants that camera off,” Wing says through gritted teeth, “and his Highness wants that camera off now. Please,” he finishes with an ominous snarl.
“I turned it off when Perce asked me,” Ben replies softly, shooting Jamal a disgusted look.
“Well, in that case,” Carlos whirls round and fires his blaster at Marcoux, who collapses to the floor silently. “Don’t worry, I only stunned him,” he says to Susan, who has opened her mouth to protest.
“Thank you, Carlos. You can leave him there,” Wing says, turning slowly to Jamal. “Right now, I have to deal with Citizen Sigourne,” he murmurs smoothly.
Jamal laughs nervously. “Hey, Wing, old click … you know I would have never… I mean, I didn’t know, you know that, right?”
“Don’t worry,” Wing growls, putting away his l-blade and pulling out a set of titanium knuckles. “I wouldn’t dream of hitting your lovely face.”
“Wing!” Percival snaps.
“Just once, Perce,” Wing mutters. “Just let me clonk him once.”
“No, Wing,” Percival answers, frowning. “After all, the man is a member of the press. And, what’s more, he’s a click. Almost part of the family.” He steps forward, putting an arm around Jamal’s shoulders. “Why, I’ve always admired your broadcasts,” the prince continues, in an overly cheery tone. “I remember one interview you did in particular. I’m sure you remember it, too. I’d just knocked out Liston in the third round of the all-Luna bantamweight championships, and what was it you asked him when he woke up in the locker room? Do you remember?”
Jamal looks down at his feet. “I asked him what it felt like to be punched in the face by a prince … now, wait, Perce –”
Percival Sandersen laughs lightly, patting the reporter’s shoulder. “Jamal, we’re both entertainers. We both have an audience to please, and so I can’t just think of my own satisfaction. However,” he continues in a lower voice, “endanger my family again, and I’ll let Wing’s mother deal with you.” He lets this sink in for a while before turning to his husband. “Carlos, can I trust you and Wing to take these Martians to the proper authorities?”
“It’ll be our pleasure,” Carlos says, grinning menacingly.
“No, it won’t, Carlos,” Percival replies in a tired voice. “I’m sending Jamal and Ben along to make sure you do this one by the doc. That means no twizzing around, right, Captain?”
Captain Wing Parkhurst rolls his eyes. “As your Highness wishes,” he sighs wearily. He turns to Katherine, frowning as he regards her critically. “Lieutenant,” he begins severely, “you were issued that uniform less than a week ago, and already you’ve gotten it torn and bloody. You’ve even got a button missing. The tunic will have to be turned in for rags.”
“Yes, sir,” Kat says in a dull voice. Oh, yes, Wingo, you scrab, she thinks bitterly. I deliberately planned on getting shot, just to inconvenience you. She glares up at the captain, and is surprised to see him actually smiling at her.
“Lieutenant,” Wing tells her approvingly, “you’re a credit to that torn and bloody rag. Well done.”
So here’s my rant:
I was almost going to call this post ‘Independents, Anonymous, and Asshats — oh, my!” But that would hardly be respectful. Because despite everything, I still honor both of the first two groups very, very, VERY much. I still want to meet/hug/trade stories with the Independents and Freezone, and I would love to go to an Anonymous protest, mask in place. I have even considered posting my own video.
But the third group — asshats — I can live without. I stand behind the phrase; it has the right amount of silliness to convey my utter disgust for a very few loudmouths I recently encountered. Here’s what happened. A few posts ago, I put up a song called ‘Pour It On,’ dedicated to the brave souls of Independent Scientology. It was well received and kindly commented on over on their site; they’re a real nice bunch of folks who have been through a lot. All well and good. Then, apparently, song was posted over here:
and, unfortunately the keepers of this blog have some beef with the Independent Scientologists. What it is, I don’t know or care, but it did color their view of me, and the comments were less than kind.
Their loss, eh? When I write a do protest song for Anonymous (which was something I intended to do already), I certainly won’t post it there; someone compared me to Janis Joplin (horrors!) and I just can’t stop laughing.
— a later edit:
Man, what a f**ked up group! I thought I’d do some reaching out, challenge some minds to think, and sent a comment to the Anonymous blog. How they responded you can see at the above link. I tried again, only to be met with nothing but adolescent pique and petty joy over what they viewed as hurting my “butt.” Sad. I thought the group would be about honest debate, but apparently they have tarred me with the same brush as they do any who are not part of their clique. I’m sure that the few who commented do not represent the overall group, but I was hoping for a bit of honest debate, and all I got was jeers and boasting to each other how much they’d “hurt” me. Hmmm … let’s see … how am I feeling? Disappointed in human nature? Yah, a bit, but no more than usual. Angry? Of course; I wouldn’t be a Scorpio if I wasn’t angry. Misunderstood? Hell, yeah — I thought I’d write a song to be nice, and it turns out that no matter what I say, some asshat stillthinks I’m a Scientology spy. But hurt? My response: thhhthhhthhthhhppppppppt. Actually, let ’em blab — more glutes on seats. Maybe I’ll go viral and get a chance at some actual fame, that’d be nice. Maybe I should go poke them again, if it’s so easy to get seven infantile flames to one reasonable objection. Naaaah, they’re not worth it.
For clarification — I support ALL the folks who fight against the cult of the C of S, whether it be Anonymous, Independents, Freezone, whatever. I believe in freedom of religion, and Miscavige’s church is anything but free, in just about any sense of the word. Whatever you may or may not think of L. Ron Hubbard, if someone finds a path to a higher understanding through his writings, than that’s fine and dandy with me. I, myself, talk to trees and spirits, so I’m not one to judge.
So, that night I was feeling pretty angry still and realized that it wasn’t helping. The asshats at the Anonymous blog hadn’t hurt me — I know my own skills enough to know that I don’t write “shit music” — but I was still worked up that the only reason they were being so rude was that they’d decided I was an enemy before they even heard my song; nothing I said or did later would garner anything but hostility and ignorance. Frankly, I felt misunderstood and insulted that a group whose goals I respect so highly would show me such a poor welcome when I entered their domain. I kept needing to remind myself that the idiots who threw such infantile comments at me did not represent the larger group. After all, Anonymous, as I understand it, is for the support of all those who are abused by the cult of Scientology, not a group that counts itself as AGAINST the very people who could use their support the most. But apparently, some political beef between the Independents and Anonymous meant that to support one group means you are immediately persona non grata in the other. Excuse me, aren’t they all supposed to be on the SAME F**KING SIDE?????
So I was pissed. Still am, a little.
So I went to Temple. Since I’m pagan, the time and place of Temple is flexible; I go when I need it, and to where I am moved to go. Last night, I went to the Three Sisters — a group of three trees that are particularly holy to me — and prayed for guidance. Guidance came in the form of a message that I needed to thicken my skin, and a reminder that at least this time, I hadn’t felt hurt, only angry, which is a big step for me (usually I won’t allow myself to feel anger without going to hurt first, which is emotionally messy). But since the shit-flinging had not settled on anything other than skills of which I am confident, there was no hurt.
So fling away, asshats of the world! My skin will thicken and it will be good for me. And, I learn the valuable lesson — people never really see *you*, they only see the *you* they want to see. The asshats of the Anonymous blog wanted to see a crazy Scientologist who was spreading more of LRH’s lies; they failed to see the pagan who merely wished to reach out to them as well.
“They” and “them” — separation, side-taking, de-humanization — it’s all evil. It keeps you from listening to the real message. I could keep posting all I liked in response to their insults, but the bottom line is that they’re incapable of answering with anything but contempt, because they’ve grown so addicted to hate, they’ve forgotten the compassion that is supposed to drive their cause.
This is not to say that all of Anonymous is like this. Anonymous continues to do vital work to knock down Scientology from the outside. The Independents are tearing it down from the inside.
And just because they disagree on L. Ron Hubbard, some of them feel they have to hate on each other. Sad, really sad.