Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Doctor Who: Prequelitis

....nice.

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Christmas? Piss off!

And so another year draws to a close and another time-wasting, bandwidth-gobbling half-arsed unimaginative little video file that probably contradicts a billion different copyright laws. But, as I've always like Galaxy 4 (and think wistfully of how close Chumbliemania had to got to taking off), here is a special vid for all the millions and billions who have yet to see episode three, Airlock. Let's just say that I enjoyed this episode a hell of a lot more than The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe, OK?


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And to the rest of you...


Monday, December 10, 2012

Just passing the time of day...



















For the first time revealed the unreleased Doctor Who annuals of the 1980s, censored by JNT at the time for their intense political commentary and artistic decisions...



CONTENTS

Unwise Investments
A New Life
Return to Aquatica
Behind the Scenes on Doctor Who: Script Editing
The Time Thief
Special Cargo
Tricks of the Light
An Inner Demon

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Red Dwarf X

Hugely impressed by the latest series of Red Dwarf - mind you, Back to Earth left me praying the show was dead, so that kind of quality leap shouldn't have been TOO hard to achieve. And so, I reflect my admiration via the medium of early 1980s bubblegum music. A true expression of my creative genius, I'm sure you'll all agree.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

More Emotional Trauma

Once again, the Youth of Australia reflect my increasingly-fragmenting life...
 
 
 
[Andrew, Nigel and Dave are walking down the road. Andrew is reading Assimilation2.]

Andrew: [shakes head] Who writes this shit?

Dave: [in the middle of a story] ...and then he goes, "This is all your fault, Generation Y! You screwed everything up! Do you have any IDEA how often I fuck my wife?!" And his wife finds him on the computer and deletes all his accounts!

Nigel: Pity she left that insulting wikipedia article up.

Dave: Yeah, I know. But I think, if anyone clicks on the link to his blog, they won't find anything there and I can just refute the claims as a total badass.
 
[They approach a service station.]
 
Dave: OK, next order of the day, the weekly budget allowance.
 
Nigel: Pah. Why do we have to put all our money into one account, hmmm?
 
Dave: Because this way we can stop certain members of the household going apeshit on eBay and then defrauding Centrelink to the tune of thirty grand.
 
Nigel: Oh, that was ONE time! Besides, I paid it all back - with interest. Bastards never even thanked me.
 
Andrew: You know, we never did find out how you managed it.
 
Nigel: Didn't you? It was just that money I got when there was that raid on the art gallery...
 
[Wibbly-vision and harp music.]
 
Dave: Oh, ENOUGH of the bloody flashbacks! Right...
 
[They reach the ATM. Dave swipes the card and punches in the PIN.]
 
Dave: What do we want?
 
Nigel: Six hundred bucks - that's two hundred each.
 
Dave: [to Andrew] Can you believe he didn't get into two-unit advanced in maths for the HSC?
 
Andrew: Very easily. Get on with it Dave.
 
[Dave punches a few buttons.]
 
Dave: Wierd. Insufficient funds.
 
Andrew: Maybe the ATM doesn't have that much cash. Notch it down a bit, we'll make another withdrawal later.
 
Nigel: You're kidding, there's a fee involved!
 
Andrew: It's only two dollars! Here!
 
[Andrew shoves a gold coin into Dave's pocket.]
 
Andrew: Another economic miracle. Get on with it.
 
Dave: OK... three hundred bucks.
 
[Beep.]
 
Dave: Um, two fifty?
 
[Beep.]
 
Dave: Seventy-five?
 
[Beep.]
 
Dave: Twenty?!?
 
[Beep.]
 
Nigel: Oh, for crying out loud!
 
[Nigel punches some controls.]
 
Nigel: What's the balance?
 
[Beep.]
 
Dave: Seventeen bucks.
 
Nigel: That is not right. That cannot be right. There should be thirty times that!
 
Andrew: He's right!
 
[Andrew pulls out some unopened mail, tears it open and peers at a statement.]
 
Andrew: Yeah, this is less than a week ago. Closing balance... best part of seven grand!
 
Dave: [to Nigel] What have you done?
 
Nigel: Don't look at me! If someone's emptied the account, it has to have been in the last week. I, therefore have an alibi.
 
Dave: Yeah.
 
Nigel: So obviously it was one of you.
 
Andrew: Don't be stupid, Nigel.
 
Nigel: It wasn't us...
 
[Dave panics.]
 
Dave: Holy shit! Internet fraud! Someone's stolen all our cash!
 
Nigel: Maybe it's just a computer error...
 
[Andrew kicks the ATM.]
 
Andrew: The stupid thing's in perfect working order!
 
Dave: How could someone do that to us?
 
Nigel: It's you, Andrew, you never hide your PIN!
 
Andrew: I don't need to! As long as I've got the card, they can't use it!
 
[He shows them his visa card.]
 
Andrew: See?
 
Nigel: Well... I've still got mine.
 
Dave: Me too.
 
Nigel: So... how could someone have accessed our account to take all the cash?
 
Dave: Who cares? They have done! We're broke! Oh GOD!
 
Andrew: But what about my quarterly dietician bill?
 
Dave: And what about the fee for my psychotherapist?
 
Nigel: And I'm just out-and-out an acquisitive bastard! THIS IS SO UNFAIR!
 
Andrew: We've got to cancel our cards!
 
Dave: What?
 
[Andrew takes out a mobile and taps at it.]
 
Andrew: Hello? Yes, I... I know this is for lost and stolen cards... look, we checked our balance, it wasn't right, can you put me through to the right department? Yes, thank you. No. Go ahead.
 
[Beep-beep.]
 
Andrew: Hello? Call disconnected? She hung up on me!
 
Dave: THE BITCH!
 
Nigel: Oh, let me try, you over-folicled freak. [dials] Hello? Yes, there are irregularities in my account balance, can you put me through to... yes... enchante, sweetheart... uh huh... uh-huh... uh-huh...
 
[Nigel hangs up.]
 
Nigel: FUCKING HELL!!! We're not in business hours! And on a weekend!
 
Dave: Oh god! [dials] Hello, I want to cancel my cards please. Yeah. 5585 494 5859. Yes. Cancel them. Canceled? Good. And can you send out a replacement? Thank you.
 
[Dave hangs up.]
 
Dave: BULLSHIT! They can't even do that!
 
Andrew: The point is, our cards are cancelled.
 
Dave: Which means no one can possibly hack our account.
 
Nigel: Who'd want to? What evil enemy of ours would hack our account, steal everything except for less than twenty bucks, then COME BACK for it later?
 
Dave: I'm going to have a heart attack. This is it. It is all over. Can't breathe!
 
Andrew: Nigel.
 
Nigel: Andrew.
 
[Nigel holds Dave in place while Andrew dropkicks him. Repeatedly.]
 
Andrew: CALM! DOWN! CALM! DOWN! CALM! DOWN!
 
[Dave wheezes and nods, calm. Nigel punches him.]
 
Dave: I'm calm! I'm calm!
 
Nigel: I know, that was for the brilliant idea to share our account!
 
Andrew: Look, this isn't a big deal.
 
Dave: Big deal? WE HAVE JUST LOST ALL OUR CASH! We couldn't afford a Vote Mitt Romney T-shirt and bumper sticker! We cannot even get what we have from a machine!
 
Andrew: Nigel...
 
Dave: I'M CALM! BUT THIS IS STILL A BIG DEAL!
 
Andrew: Look, the bank lost our money. The insurance will pay out. They'll replace our cash.
 
Nigel: ...really?
 
Andrew: Yes. At least five thousand bucks of it, anyway. It's automatic.
 
Dave: ...you're not lying to a sick man are you?
 
Andrew: Course not! I mean, if it was over ten grand, we might be awkward, but it will be a simple way to put it back into the account.
 
Dave: So... we're going to be all right.
 
Nigel: Yeah, more or less.
 
Dave: Right.
 
[Relieved silence.]
 
Dave: But what if they don't pay up! What if the hacker fools them into thinking we took out the money?
 
Nigel: We canceled the cards when we found out!
 
Dave: That could be part of the scam! They'll think we're trying to defraud them!
 
Nigel: But we didn't!

Dave: THEY WON'T BELIEVE THAT! THERE'S NO JUSTICE IN THE WORLD!

Nigel: David! Why would we empty our accounts totally unexpectedly, then try and scam back possibly less than what we already had? It wasn't us. We are innocent.

Dave: So it's a thief?

Andrew: More than likely. And they aren't us.
 
[Another pause.]

Dave: So... we tell them the truth... and they believe us... and they put the money back...

Andrew: ...yeah...

Dave: ...what then? What's to stop it getting stolen? AGAIN?

Nigel: Look, don't panic, Dave! We can contact the credit union, we tell them what's what. Fill out a few forms, answer a few questions, we'll be fine.

Dave: Except we all need new cards.

Andrew: OK, an extra week here or there. This is just, you know. A dry patch.

Dave: So... the best case scenario is... we are completely broke for the next month.

[Beat.]

Nigel: Pretty much.

[Beat.]

Nigel: So...

Andrew: You still got that two dollars I gave you, Dave?

Dave: Yeah. Why?

[Andrew and Nigel slowly turn to look at Dave. Dave pales. Then he sprints.]

Dave: I FUCKING HATE MY LIFE!!!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

RIP |Dr| [K{eir}y]Ron(ald) Ma(l)le[tt]

One more thing... Yeah, it's one more thing...One more thing to put in line, one more thing to waste my time,
One more thing that I can't take, one more thing and I'm going to break!
One more thing...

Yes, my poignant friends, I am afraid that the ancient and worshipful blogspot maturityofaustralia, AKA Kyron's Blog of the Specifically Relevent (can you see what he did there, children?) has ceased to exist. The blog is no more, it has ceased to be, we blunk and we mussed it. After the Silver Smurfer (sheesh...) was forced to curtail his public involvement when his seminal work Everyone Under 40 Is A Wanker Plus I Fuck My Wife Like All The Time! was brutally and vindictively edited by unknown, dark and mysterious forces it seems that entire repository of wisdom, kindness and spiritual enlightenment has been erased forever. Oh, the tragedy. Frankenstorm Sandy was as nothing to this intellectual carnage! Now where can we go to learn basic truths like "shit retail service is the norm", "it is all Generation Y's fault" or "Dave Restal is the Fucking DEVIL!!!" any more?

Hold me. I... I tremble.

So, quick round up.

- my cousin Amanda now has different lungs and a heart bypass operation yet she isn't even twenty. How is that fair?

- Beth "Not Actually Kate Tollinger" Chalmers was in the last episode of Miranda and fled the room when she accused her GP of being a Time Lord. Coincidence?

- Speaking of which, I've listened to UNIT: Dominion and have come to the conclusion that Big Finish has absolutely no clue about its own continuity any more, or at least they have no idea what happened in Season (spit!) Twenty-Seven. That aside, it was pretty damn cool and a full-fisted effort to do a NuWho story with the Seventh Doctor. The RTD-take on the Master was fun too. "Hello you!" IS actually quite creepy after a while...

- Red Dwarf X has been freaking excellent, with even its weakest and most derivative greatest hit episode (that's Entangled, btw) wiping the floor of several other series and I bet you can guess the ones I am referring to.

- Having completed the musical history of Blake's 7 Season D, I am now working on Season C. So, if you've ever wanted to see Moloch singing along to DAAS Kapital, Dayna playing a harp with Seal, Avon skipping along in the Crazy World of Arthur Brown then... what the hell is wrong with you? The last/next installment was enough for Chris Hale and his child bride to disown me for crying out loud! I wonder where they are now?

- Meh. Redfern Now was basically just The Street set in Australia. OK, it might be brain-shatteringly awesome drama but seriously, the format is not exactly novel. And is it the best thing ever? After only one episode? It's a freaking anthology series, dammit! The rest might be crap and, on past form, the only common factor will be a taxi driven by the Womp appearing in every episode.

- I wish spammers would leave Jared's blog alone. I mean, it's annoying to be informed via email that instead of some devastatingly witty deconstruction of The Angels Take Manhattan, it's some other autobot saying the blog is very nice. And on that note, I found Hex's depature (which came out the same week) vastly moving. I cannot think of another companion who got such a perfect finale scene, balancing pathos and comedy. Basically, imagine if Andrew Beeblebrox had perished in Earthshock instead of Adric and you'll get an idea of how dementedly awesome that twist is.

- How young can you get prostate cancer? I ask because I am terrified.

- Who the hell is Mad Larry Miles going on about in his latest post? Apparently he has a horrifying fear that the next Star Wars movie will be written by... well, he doesn't say. But who is he worried about? Moffat, Chibnall, even Gatiss aren't exactly in the running for the Jediverse, are they? It'd be like me panicking that sparacus is going to write Sherlock. What?!?



You need more? Get in line? Too many things grabbing my time!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blink and You'll Miss It.

Heh. I really should get back to Season E.







Saturday, October 6, 2012

Doctor Who: Angel of Departure

Hmmmmmm.

I cried more over Donna. She wasn't having her mind wiped every episode, after all.


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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Doctor Who: Square One

You know, if six years ago I had thought that Chris Chibnall would be a decent showrunner after Moffat slings his timey-wimey-hooky-wookie, I probably would have got my good friend and hashish addict to shoot me through the face with his flintlock pistol. Nowadays? Well, the thought of anyone instead of Gatiss has huge appeal, but Chibnall has been particularly fine this year - a year, one should remember, he's written more Doctor Who episodes than Moffat himself. And they've been, on the whole, very good. Above average, indeed.

And The Power of Three really does show up the Grand Moff - his last attempt to evoke the RTD era was an episode that Moff wishes he could retcon out of existence (The Beast Below - it just strikes that there were two eps that year with the initials TBB, maybe that's it). Chibnall meanwhile gives us glorious undiluted Welshman - UNIT in the tower of London, domestics, celebrity cameos, cynical alien concepts, running around hospitals, wormholes, zombies... even his laudable (though ultimately doomed) attempt to bring back Wilf in the form of Brian Pond! About the only thing missing is a doomed Prime Minister and mentions of Torchwood. There was even a Bad Wolf reference!

In truth, I'd say this could be the weakest of the season - the last bit on the spaceship has been hacked away, leaving us with questions like... what the hell were those dudes with the cubes in their mouths? What happened to the android girl? What happened to the cubes? Why were they taking patients? The annoying thing is we know, we JUST KNOW, that all the answers were in the Director's Cut... and probably would have been shown in Doctor Who Confidential if the world were rich enough to pay for it any more.

So.

Yeah.

Chibnall for the next showrunner!

But not Cumberbatch for the next Doctor. No. No, don't do that. No, no, no, no.

No.


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Friday, September 21, 2012

Doctor Who: A Town Called Malice

Hmmm. Not bad. Could have been better. Not sure how... but something didn't gell for me. Maybe it's just Westerns and Doctor Who don't mix as well as we'd like? I'm not particularly fond of The Gunfighters either, even though it's much better than its unfair reputation suggests. I guess I'll reserve judgement till I find out how heavily edited this episode was...


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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Doctor Who: Awesomeness On An EVEN MORE AWESOMENESS!!!

(The Cardiff Millennium Centre. A canary-yellow roadster hurtles through the sky and crashes on the roof. A large, hairy scotsman in a flanelette and mirrored sunglasses lumbers out of the driver's seat, cackling like a lunatic.)

Moffat: AHAAAAH! And welcome to Doctor Who, the show which is already being bit-torrented across the globe and making filthy internet pirates look longingly at iView! This week, as the countdown to the departure of the longest-serving companions since... um... what's canon again? Anyway, as the countdown continues it's up the mightiest of the Who Team to tackle the difficult second-album-syndrome and give a dose of pure Whovian fistworthiness and give the licence-fee-paying public PRECISELY WHAT THEY DESERVE!

(Moffat approaches the Who team which consists of Gareth Roberts - a mad-eyed thug in a security guard uniform laughing insanely - Mark Gatiss - a slow, stupid-looking wrestler with antlers - Chris Chibnall - an athletic figure in jogging gear and a strange mullet and Russell T Davies - a vending machine with RTD printed on it.)

Moffat: The premise for this episode, should you be fistworthy enough to accept it, is to do Dinosaurs... ON A SPACESHIP! We have dinosaur CGI that would make Spielberg strangely aroused and that weak spineless dog Larry Miles weeping onto his copy of At The Earth's Core! We also have a bunch of stuff from one of the numerous proposed Blake's 7 revivals, including Dayna, Tarrant, Scorpio and some comedy robots. Now... which one of you is willing to take on this challenge?

Gatiss: STEVE! STEVE! PICK ME!!!

Moffat: Right. Chibnall. You're up.

Chibnall: The Chibmiester in da house! You can totally rely on me, Steve. I know what went wrong last time.

Moffat: You better do, Chibnall. I had faith enough to give you Silurians and you made me look an idiot.

Chibnall: Aw, Steve, I did my best.

Moffat: Yeah. That's what you said to the last guy when you wrote about a sex gas monster that killed men by giving them orgasms.

Chibnall: ...I'll shut up, Steve.

Gatiss: STEVE! HONEST, STEVE, I'LL MAKE IT WORK!

Moffat: Gatiss, I had the spend the last two years undoing the damage you did in Victory of the Daleks. Now clear off, get yourself some Tizer or something, and maybe I'll let you do some stuff when Amy and Rory are gone.

Gatiss: BUT I'M GREAT AT DOING THEM, STEVE! HONEST!

Moffat: Gatiss. Two words - wooden Amy being a retard.

Gatiss: THAT'S FIVE WORDS, STEVE!

Moffat: And where was that precision and insight when I needed it?!

(Moffat kick-boxes Gatiss over the edge of the roof.)

Roberts: What about me, Steve?

Moffat: You keep working on getting another sequel to The Lodger.

Roberts: I can do OTHER things, Steve.

Moffat: But nothing else has ever earned you... MAN OF FIST! Now get to it.

Roberts: You can't just backtrack and create another UNIT era, Steve! You can't knock down knowledge, replace it with ignorance and call it strength! Feng Sheui, Steve! FENG SHEUI!!!

(Moffat glares at him.)

Roberts: Can I at least bring back the Chelonians this time?

(Moffat continues to glare. Roberts runs away. He turns to Chibnall.)

Moffat: Go my son, go and double the fist! Make us proud to be sci-fi fans! Don't do Torchwood all over again!

Chibnall: I won't let you down, Steve!

Moffat: You better not.

(Moffat cackles, kisses his thumb and then gives Chibnall the thumbs up. Explosion.)

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(Another explosion. Moffat leaps onto the bonnet of the roadster as Cardiff burns. Watching him are Roberts dressed as a giant turtle, Gatiss in a neckbrace, Chibnall in the Man of Fist vest, RTD vending machine, and a panda outfit with a sign around its neck saying HELEN RAYNOR.)

Moffat: Well, well, well, wasn't THAT a satisfying way to spend 45 minutes! We got social commentary, domesticated triceratops, vigilante justice, nuclear satire, sexual politics and also resolved one of the greatest historical mysteries as well as creating yet another off-the-top-of-our-head magnificent seven gang that whupped anything Captain Jack Harkness ever achieved. So let this be a lesson to you: anyone can do gritty social realism in the backstreets of Manchester with regional accents, but only weak-spineless dogs waste their time on anything that doesn't have DINOSAURS on a SPACESHIP! DON'T YOU EVER WATCH THIS SHOW AGAIN! GRRRNAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Doctor Who - Dalekmania!

DOCTOR WHO: ASYLUM OF THE DALEKS

Meh. It was all right. OK, it was better than all right and certainly in comparison to the previous Dalek episode it was awesomeness squared, but does it make up for the delays and shortages of Who? That Moffat's rabid antispoiler phobia means none of the newspapers could review the ep and thus Season 7/33 has garnered less media attention than anything post-2005? Seriously, bar a casting decision (wow, companion actress playing someone else - ain't seen THAT since Amy... and Martha... and Romana...) and some plot twists at the end of the episode... what were they so worried about?! Sheesh...

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8.5/10

Monday, September 3, 2012

I am Moffat!

Within the last 24 hours, sparacus has blogged that the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who continues a subplot he created for the near-impossible-to-find-even-more-impossible-to-read Deviant Seed. Now, personally, I would have kept quiet about this myself as sparacus has basically said that absolutely nothing else he has ever written is worthy of televisual exploration. It also shows he's slightly confused that he "started" an ongoing plotline that has been in existence ever since The Eleventh Hour. In plain sight.

But the fact is, alas, that Moff was inspired by the semi-illiterate drivel in the quarantine zone of Gallifrey Base, the web forum he has publically lambasted for the last four years and refuses to attend. It was a sheer fluke he encountered the camp-bordering-on-that-freak-from-Eat-the-Rich tale of the Doctor and the Master putting aside their battle to discuss antique pottery during the English civil war while a Chatham expy ate pies containing the severed genitals of Roundhead soldiers.

This fluke aside, the fact is that Moff is actually totally dependant on me for ideas for his new series. The facts are there people. The Doctor, Amy, Rory and River are clearly just Andrew, Eve, Dave and Nigel in a sci-fi context. The crack in the wall? Clearly based on the shattered bit of pavement a few streets away from where I live. He's continuing RTD's habit of turning to me when he needs advice, plots, dialogue suggestions and the like - after all, was Season Fnarg not inspired by Drop Dead Fred, my favorite film? Did I not suggest, months in advance, the split-reality-dream motif of Amy's Choice? And anyone who read The Enemy Within will certainly know I practically ghostwrote the Season 3 finale. I've been in contact with Who illumni like Rob Shearman, Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, as well as on first name terms with Katy Manning. That's bound to cause waves in the televisual community. I own the Auton trilogy on DVD! I have all the Stammers Howe and Walker books! I am the eminent whovianologist! ICH BIN FUCKING CONTENDER!!!!

Look at the video below. Is this a vision of Doctor Who inspired by sparacus, or by myself?

Who needs the Silent Majority when we all know we kill them on sight? 


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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blake's 7: Backlash (i)



[Space. Above the planet Langsuir is a scattered display of drifting space wrecks. The Phoenix swoops towards the planet, slowing to a crawl as it moves past the derelicts.]

[Phoenix flight deck. Gamren is at the controls. Lora, Avon and Vila are at their stations. Zanto is pacing, clearly more bothered than he wants to admit.]

Blake: Geostationary orbit will be achieved in eight minutes.

Zanto: Eight? Try and improve on that.

Blake: Sorry, Zanto, but the battle debris is proving much denser than anticipated.

[Another hulk drifts past on the main screen.]

Zanto: We’re going to be late.

Gamren: You’re the one that insisted we approach on this vector.

Zanto: I know. And given that Langsuir is twice the size of Earth, I would have thought the wreckage would have been spread far more thinly in orbit – it’s as though they fought the main battle here!

Gamren: How inconsiderate of them.

Vila: Less talking, more piloting, Gamren.

[Space. The Phoenix ducks around a seemingly-undamaged pursuit ship.]

[Phoenix flight deck.]

Lora: Er. Are we sure they’re all wrecks?

Vila: Must be. All the working ships would have been recalled down to the surface – trying to maintain a blockade around the planet’s a lost cause, Orac says.

Lora:  Orac says a lot of things.

Orac: Few of which are actually listened to by the occupants of this space craft! This planet was being suppressed by the Federation Pacification Police when the formula to the Pylene 50 antitoxin was released by the rebel alliance. Due to Langsuir’s climate and atmospheric content, much of the local vegetation and produce contain the primary chemical ingredients – the population therefore required only a small adjustment of their intake to become totally immune to the Federation pacification drugs. Approximately 30 per cent of the entire indigenous population were immunized overnight. With their drugs useless, the Federation had to rely on a small military force to engage the natives...

Avon: ...and the planet has been caught in a full-scale conflict ever since. Even the attempts to blockade the planet and trap the resisters on Langsuir have failed.

Vila: Which is why the Federation want to try out their brand new military computer programs for tactical warfare; their new defense network is to be tested here because even if it doesn’t work, they were going to lose control of Langsuir anyway. [to Avon] See? I can pay attention.

Avon: Pay attention to what?

Vila: [frowns] Not sure. Must have slipped my mind.

[Lora laughs at them, but sobers quickly.]

Lora: You sure about this, Zanto?

Zanto: Yeah, I know what I’m doing.

Avon: That must be a novel experience for you.

Zanto: This stratagem has worked before – it helped us reclaim Horizon from the Federation and even got us off Lubus right under their very noses. Thanks to Orac, I’ve got all the details required and I can infiltrate both the Magnetrix Terminal and the Kommisar’s Office in less than an hour.

Lora: It sounds very risky.

Zanto: Lora, the only other way to find out exactly what’s happening down there would be for Orac to tap the Federation computer systems – and those systems are shut down and being reprogrammed. When they get switched back on it will be too late for us to do anything about it, won’t it?

Lora: It doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Can’t one us go with you?

Avon: No. It is time our apprentice psychostrategist earned his status as a proper puppeteer.

Vila: And try saying that when you’re drunk.

Zanto: Oh, I have. I’ll head down on my own while the rest of you can head for the rendezvous with Rothon. Worst comes to the worst, I can always teleport back up here.

Gamren: As long as they don’t get your bracelet.

Zanto: Which is why, oh wondrous light of my life, I’m using this!

[He puts his booted foot up on the console and rolls up his trouser leg – tied around his ankle is a Scorpio teleport bracelet.]

Zanto: Assuming anyone down there is even aware of teleport bracelets, they’ll be more worried about the one on my wrist rather than my ankle. In fact, they probably won’t even look there.

Gamren: Knowing your luck, the entire security force will consist of foot fetishists.

Zanto: Just get us to the coordinates, Gamren. You’re no use to do anything else on this mission.

[Gamren looks at him outraged.]

Zanto: I’m sure by the time we’re finished down there, you’ll have thought up something witty to say.

Gamren: You been taking lessons from Avon in basic hostility?

Avon: I hold evening classes in the sub-hold. Blake – are we at the coordinates?

Blake: We’ll achieve them in another thirty-six seconds.

[Space. The Phoenix draws closer to the planet.]

[Phoenix flight deck.]

Avon: Well now, Zanto. Your big moment.

Gamren: You’re not taking a gun? You’re supposed to be fooling the Kommissar not committing suicide...

Zanto: A single gun isn’t going to do any good down there. It’ll just give them an excuse to shoot me. Besides, think of the psychological threat – a man who chooses to go without a gun is dangerous because it implies he doesn’t need a gun, a simple machine that might jam or malfunction...

Gamren: I ask again: are you actually trying to get yourself killed?

Zanto: Time will tell. Blake?

Blake: Coordinates achieved.

[Zanto crosses to the teleport.]

Lora: How late are we?

Blake: One minute eleven seconds.

Zanto: Could be worse... let’s just hope the patrols are still in that sector.

Vila: All right, Zanto, we’ll stay up here for the next four minutes – if things aren’t working by then, teleport straight back here anyway. Understood?

Zanto: Understood, sir. Ready and waiting.

Avon: Good luck.

Zanto: Oh, Avon. Luck’s for beginners.

[He casually smacks the activator on the side of the teleport bay and dematerializes.]

Vila: You know, if that boy’s ego gets any bigger you could start considering retirement, Avon.

Avon: And what a joyous day that will be. Blake, start the countdown. We move in four minutes.

Blake: Right.

[Museum. A small, dusty chamber that has clearly not been used in a while. Display cases show old-fashioned objects, cutlery, books, etc. Zanto cautiously emerges from behind an exotic-designed suit of armor and glances around.]

Zanto: Nice to see the Federation showing their usual attitude to culture. Which means there should be a regular patrol in this area. Unless they’re all at the art gallery. What’s more dangerous? Art or history? [shrugs] They’ll destroy both the first chance they get...

[Zanto heads around a corner, past an Egyptian-style sarcophagus and out through a doorway.]

[Concourse. It is a bright, sunny day. There are lots of stone walls and archways, and the signs of recent battles – burns on the walls, graffiti, some Federation logos have been smashed. There is no one around. Zanto stands in the shade of an archway, looking around impatiently. Three masked Federation troopers approach down the end of the concourse, a fourth driving an open-topped transporter. Zanto grins and casually walks into the street towards them.]

Zanto: Morning!

[The troopers aim their guns at him. Unfussed, Zanto stops and raises his hands.]

Trooper 1: What are you doing out of the residential compounds?

Zanto: Just visiting the local museums. Is that a crime?

Trooper 1: It is. Central City is under military law. Where are your identification papers?

Zanto: I don’t need identification papers. This is a free planet. The Federation and everyone working for it are just too stupid to realize that.

[One of the troopers swings his rifle, to club Zanto, but he steps out of the way.]

Zanto: So predictable! And so sloppy – my report is not going to be favorable, gentlemen.

Trooper 2: Report?

Zanto: You’ve barely followed official procedure for dealing with insurgents, been easily riled with the most basic of provocation, and you haven’t even asked if I’m alone. No wonder the galaxy’s in such a state. Take me to the Magnetrix Terminal at once. Your superior officer is about to get a detailed review of your many failings.

[The trooper in the transporter raises his own gun.]

Trooper 4: Maybe you had an accident before I arrived.

Zanto: Are you seriously threatening me, trooper? That suggests you don’t have the Federation’s greatest interests at heart – which suggests you might actually be a rebel.

[The other three troopers exchange worried looks.]

Zanto: It confirms, however, you’re stupid enough to think this entire situation is not being monitored. Open fire if you like, trooper. It’s all going onto micro-tape.

[The trooper doesn’t lower his gun.]

Trooper 3: Don’t be a fool, Kell.

Trooper 4: The Federation needs all the troopers it can get. They won’t execute us.

Zanto: [nods] Unless you prove too great a liability. Like shooting an internal investigator. On tape.

Trooper 2: He’s right!

[The second trooper grabs the gun from the fourth. Zanto pats his tunic.]

Zanto: And this is blast proof anyway. [coldly] As I said. Predictable. Now, are you going to do yourself a favor and get yourselves onto my good side by giving me a lift to the Terminal? Or are you going to let an unidentified intruder make his own way there?

[The troopers exchange looks and then lower their guns. Zanto smiles and climbs onto the transporter.]

Zanto: [to himself] Ah, the military mind. So much fun to play with.

[The transporter glides off.]

[Cityscape. The Magnetrix Terminal is a skyscraper looming over the rest of the city, resembling a cross between a vertical stack of plates and a DNA helix.]

[Main computer room. Technicians are checking glowing fibre-optic connections between freestanding banks of machinery. Chief technician Quince is supervising two technicians sliding a tray of circuitry into the workings of a computer and wiring it up. The planet’s Kommisar, a stern-faced skinny woman, and her hulking aide Taine, watch on, unimpressed.]

Quince: There’s no point complaining about the schedule, Kommisar.

Kommisar: There is, however, a point in complaining how far behind it you have fallen, Quince.

Quince: This has never been attempted before, sir. There is no precedent – and we are hardly working in the most ideal of circumstances, are we?

Kommisar: [rolls eyes] If we were, we wouldn’t need a defense network to operate, would we?

Quince: [nods sadly] We live in an imperfect universe.

Taine: You won’t live in it much longer, Quince. How long until all this is fully operational?

Quince: Another two days, perhaps.

Kommisar: Two days? We can’t possibly wait that long – the resistors are already infiltrating central city. If they attack now, we’d be hard-pressed to hold them off. In two days? They’ll be strong enough to seize total control of Langsuir altogether...

Quince: I am well aware of that, Kommisar.

Taine: You could have fooled us!

Quince: While the Movella Program may not be fully active for two days, the Magnetrix link to the Federation should be back online by tomorrow morning. Our isolation will end.

[A trooper enters and crosses to Taine. They talk in the background.]

Quince: Then you can call in all the troops you like.

Kommisar: Much good it will do us, Quince, considering half the planet is blockaded with wreckage from the space battles. Even the dead have their part to play.

Quince: Kommisar?

Kommisar: Old tactics – use the corpses of both sides as barricades and insulation. The resistors have used the same principle on the space wrecks above us.

Quince: [grimaces] How... distasteful.

Kommisar: But efficient. We let them have eight tenths of Langsuir, concentrating all our forces here while you set up these wretched war computers, but they’re still not content. They will have the independence they crave very soon, and I can’t see any way we can stop them.

Quince: With respect, Kommisar, you are a planetary diplomat, not a soldier.

Kommisar: And the few generals still alive agree with my assessment.

Quince: We shall see what Movella has to say before giving up Langsuir for good.

Kommisar: Oh? Will we? I don’t care for your tone, technician...

Quince: [snorts] What are you going to do about it? Adapt me?

Kommisar: Very amusing, Quince. Get on with your jobs, all of you. While you’re still useful, we can’t afford the luxury of taking you out and shooting you through your ugly faces!

[Taine crosses to her.]

Taine: Kommisar?

Kommisar: Yes, Taine, what is it?

Taine: A prisoner’s been taken, in the cultural sector. Was caught breaking the curfew and demanded to be taken here to meet you.

Kommisar: What? Why didn’t they just put a plasma charge through his spine?

Taine: Gave the impression he’s some high-ranking inspector.

Kommisar: “Gave the impression”? You mean this man hasn’t even claimed to be an inspector, the troopers brought him here on a hunch? I don’t believe I’m hearing this. I’ll see him in my office.

[The Kommisar and her aide head out into the corridor.]

Taine: You don’t think it could be a genuine inspection?

Kommisar: [rolls eyes] Oh yes, Taine. In the middle of an experiment that revolutionize Federation warfare, on a planet encircled with space debris and smothered in revolting natives, they’ve decided on a spot check. It’s an imposter, of course it is, probably from Raynard’s unit.

Taine: Then why even speak to him?

Kommisar: Because I am bored rigid, Taine. And grinding that liar’s bones to powder inside his flesh will not only prove diverting it will be the undoubted highlight of my tour here.

[Taine smiles and follows her to the lift.]

[Kommisar’s Office. A windowless beige chamber with fibre-optics wires linking the console desk to the hastily-arranged junction on the wall. A technician is checking it over. Zanto stands between two troopers, his manner insolent, arms folded.]

Zanto: Good morning! You must be in charge here – being the Kommisar and everything.

[The Kommisar nods. Taine backhands Zanto.]

Zanto: [wincing] I’m sure you do a lot of hard work here too...

Kommisar: Address me in such familiar terms again and I shall have your spinal column liquefied.

Zanto: You got this job for your people skills, didn’t you, Kommisar?

[Taine rams his pistol into Zanto’s throat.]

Zanto: Temper.

[He gently forces the gun away from his throat.]

Kommisar: Who are you?

Zanto: Didn’t you put my face through the pattern recognition computers? Oh no. They’re all offline at the moment. It’s like being in the Stone Age these days, isn’t it?

Kommisar: Why don’t you have any identity papers?

Zanto: I know who I am, Kommisar, I don’t need a written reminder.

Kommisar: If you think you can wander out of the residential compound during curfew without reprisals, your memory is definitely compromised. Tell me who you are.

Zanto: You can call me Tarrant, Kommisar. Dekka Tarrant.

Kommisar: Oh, how imaginative.

Zanto: We do exist, you know. [confidentially] There’s even talk of a D. Tarrant Convention in Lypterium. All of us from across the galaxy, with our amazingly-nay-even-suspiciously-common names...

Kommisar: You won’t be attending.

Zanto: Won’t I, Kommisar?

Taine: Unlikely – given your life expectancy is less than the next ten minutes.

Zanto: Why? Do you know something about my health I don’t?

Kommisar: I know how to end all your health problems for good.

Zanto: You’re wasted in this place, you really are.

Kommisar: And you’re not as stupid as you’re pretending to be.

Zanto: What gave it away?

Kommisar: You’re treating this like a game. An ordinary resister with that attitude would have died long ago. So you think you know something that can stop me turning your cranium inside out with this gun. Tell me what it is or we’ll both regret it.

Zanto: Both?

Kommisar: Yes. The cleaning bills for mopping up prisoners’ brains are... truly exorbitant.

Zanto: So don’t shoot me.

[The Kommisar draws her own gun and aims it at Zanto’s head.]

Kommisar: [furious] SO GIVE ME A REASON NOT TO!

[A long beat. Zanto is unimpressed.]

Zanto: All right, Kommisar, to spare you any more sudden unhealthy surges of adrenaline. I strongly implied to your troops that I’m a high-ranking internal investigator from Federation High Command – and I did that for a very obvious reason.

Taine: To stop them blowing your kneecaps away?

Zanto: [thoughtful] Two very obvious reasons. Come now, Kommisar. You really thought you’d be left in charge of project, the redefinition of military combat, without someone from Federation Security to keep an eye on you?

[The Kommisar glances anxiously at Taine. Zanto, of course, notices.]

Kommisar: I am a loyal Federation officer.

Zanto: It’s amazing how often you hear that. Especially under torture. [smiles] Please, Kommisar, relax. You’re not squeaky-clean and perfect. Welcome to the human race. There’s not a single member of the Federation who hasn’t – how should I put it? – prioritized their own self-interest.

Taine: That sounds like a confession to me, Kommisar.

Kommisar: It does indeed, Taine.

Zanto: The difference between us is that I can say with confidence my crimes aren’t going to be found out. Can either of you say the same?

Kommisar: Langsuir is in chaos. The proper channels and procedures can’t always be followed.

Zanto: Oh, this is slightly more than misfiling stationary, isn’t it, Kommisar?

[They start to look more confident.]

Taine: You don’t know, do you?

Kommisar: And if you die in ignorance...

Zanto: ...you will be joining me soon enough. Once that computer network links back to the Federation, the details of my mission here will be accessed, analyzed – and my suspicions of this entire outpost will be given over to the new military deterrent. I’ve more than enough to have you dubbed a threat. And if you don’t know what will happen to threats... then you’re definitely dying ignorant.

[The Kommisar curses and nods at Taine, who holsters his gun.]

Kommisar: Tell us what you know.

Zanto: It doesn’t sound any better coming from me, Kommisar. Maybe you should think about leaving in that little shuttle of yours while there’s still time.

Taine: [scandalized] What? How did you...

Zanto: [generously] Well, I didn’t know about it. It did seem very likely, though, that an independent woman such as yourself wouldn’t have some means of escape given this planet is on the knife edge of total anarchy. If the network doesn’t work, what would you do?

Kommisar: Stay here and die for the Federation.

Zanto: [impressed] Oh, such loyalty! That’s definitely going in my report. And, another thing, just before we go on, I dropped by one of the museums in the cultural sector...

[Taine looks very alarmed. Again, Zanto notices.]

Zanto: ...and it seems odd that they’re out of limits. Considering how crammed the residential compound is, you could easily have turned those excess buildings into spare accommodation...

Kommisar: Primitive intellectual expressionism like art and history are dangerous concepts.

Zanto: So destroy the exhibits, the buildings can still be used. But you didn’t. Why not? What’s in that sector you want to keep intact? And given these troopers weren’t expecting anyone to break curfew, let alone for me to be in a museum, what were they doing out there?

Taine: This is just guesswork.

Zanto: No. That is simple logic. You’re looting Langsuir Central City of its cultural treasures. Guesswork is me trying to work out just what’s so special that you’d risk staying on this hellhole for, right in the firing line and possibly ending up a target for both sides.

Kommisar: You want a cut, I suppose?

Zanto: Maybe. It all rather depends on whether it’s worth the risk. [frowns] Do you mind if I take a seat? I’ve been standing around for hours...

[The Kommisar nods. Zanto smiles and takes a chair, surreptitiously reaching down to pat the teleport bracelet hidden around his ankle.]

Zanto: Thank you. Much better. Well, Kommisar. What does Langsuir offer the discerning art thief?

[Phoenix flight deck. As before.]

Blake: We’re picking up a signal from Zanto’s communicator.

Gamren: What did I say? Begging for our help, is he?

Lora: He must want us to hear something. Blake, replay the signal.

[The conversation emerges from the communicators.]

Zanto: [vo] ...offer the discerning art thief?

Kommisar: [vo] Very little.

Gamren: [blinks] Well, that interrogation certainly sounds relaxed...

Kommisar: [vo] I have no interest in art per se.

Zanto: [vo] So why ransack all the galleries?

Kommisar: [vo] Do you know who Jan Rarvik was?

[Avon and Vila look up sharply and exchange looks.]

Zanto: [vo] I know the name.

Kommisar: [vo] The Rarvik Collection is here. On Langsuir.

Vila: [to Avon] This can’t be right. We’re never this lucky.

Avon: [nods] True, but there’s a first time for everything.

Gamren: [confused] Who’s Rarvik?

Avon: Quiet!

[Gamren glares at him.]

Kommisar: [vo] The transporter carrying them back to Earth was shot down in the war.

[Kommisar’s office.]

Kommisar: The paintings were recovered and the Langsuir Cultural Heritage Core, not realizing what they had, scattered them to art galleries across this planet. We have four of the portraits, collected from across the planet during the initial pacification phase. When the natives immunized themselves, all hell broke loose and the rest of the collection was hidden somewhere on the continent.

Zanto: [scoffs] And you think these righteous art-protectors hid them in museums?

Taine: If you want to hide a tree, put it in a forest.

Zanto: [nods] Clever. But even in these circumstances, you should have checked all the galleries and centres in Central City by now. And as you’re still here, you don’t have the entire collection.

Taine: We have four of them.

Zanto: Three to go, if I remember rightly. And Langsuir is very large place...

Kommisar: We have a pretty good idea where to look.

Zanto: Still haven’t found them, though, have you?

Kommisar: The natives tried to scatter the collection. Our evidence suggests two of them are in the city, while the final one has been secreted in a rebel stronghold out on the plateau.

Zanto: So you’re locating them by a process of elimination?

Kommisar: Exactly. There’s the possibility all three are at the stronghold. We dare not raid until we’re sure.

Zanto: Because the resistance are protecting it?

Taine: No, because the strike will reveal we have an agent in their ranks.

Zanto: [nods] Of course. Standard Pacification Police procedure – infiltrate the enemy ranks before the first shot is fired and then bring them down from within. Commissioner Sleer’s idea, isn’t it?

Taine: Before she went mad and started calling herself Servalan, yes.

Zanto: [cautious] You think she was lying?

Taine: It’s been months since that broadcast. She hasn’t done a thing. The word is she was totally delusional – probably got hit by pacification rays once too often.

Kommisar: She’s probably dead by now.

Zanto: Probably. Where is this “rebel stronghold” you mentioned?

Kommisar: It’s a small community village around some pre-atomic religious temple. It was a tourist destination before the war began. Now, I think we’ve told you enough.

Zanto: You really have. But don’t worry, you have my full support in this venture.

[Phoenix flight deck. Everyone is still listening.]

Zanto: [vo] But what do you intend to do once you have the entire collection? Sell it?

Taine: [vo] Something like that.

Kommisar: [vo] Assuming, of course, it isn’t worth more of us to keep it ourselves.

[Avon switches off the communicator.]

Avon: Orac, cross-check all the data we have on Langsuir. Identify the temple’s location and transmit the coordinates directly into the Blake computer.

Orac: [sighs] If I must.

Avon: Which you do. Blake, plot a course at best speed and check the terrain for a suitable and defendable landing site as close as possible to the coordinates.

Blake: Understood.

[Affronted, Gamren turns to Vila.]

Gamren: Aren’t you going say something?

Vila: [shrugs] Like what? Sounds like the best way to go about things if you ask me. [to Avon] You don’t want to risk using the teleport on the paintings then?

Avon: Do you?

Vila: No, but what if we can’t land close enough to this temple to physically cart them in?

Avon: We’ll worry about the details once we know what those details are.

Lora: [confused] I’m sorry, we’re trying to steal some paintings now?

Vila: You bet your life we are.

Gamren: How is that going to help anyone?

Avon: It could make us the richest individuals in this galaxy.

Lora: Aren’t we rich already? With all those crystals we got of that space station?

Avon: Not rich enough. Until one is rich enough to beyond the reach of the Federation, you’re poor. The only difference is what creature comforts are available in your imprisonment.

Lora: So, you’d be happy to live in a cave as long as you were free?

Avon: No. But with these artwork, at least I’d have something to decorate the cave with.

Gamren: What is so important about some crummy portraits anyway?

Vila: [incredulous] You’re joking, right?

Avon: [calm] You’ve never heard of Jan Rarvik?

Gamren: Of course I have. He was my father.

[A shocked pause.]

Lora: ...really?

Gamren: [rolls eyes] No, not really! So tell us who he was!

Vila: The youth of today. Doesn’t anyone take an interest in recreational larceny any more?

Orac: Coordinates established and laid in.

Blake: New course heading programmed.

Avon: We can discuss it on the way. Get us moving, Blake.

[Space. The Phoenix spins around and heads off through the debris and hulks.]

- to be continued...