The Harvest of Kairos Encounter GroupBy Dan
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SCENE: A comfortable, spacious office, with a wide
window looking out onto the blackness of space, a
blackness almost as dark and full of mystery as the
clothes of AVON, who is reclining on one of three
couches. As ever, or at least when not knocked
unconscious, he looks intent and alert. Regrettably,
he is intent on something resembling a granite
sculpture of a bath sponge, which he is holding in
both hands and submitting to such contemplation that
he might draw it.|
SERVALAN, on an adjoining couch, is studying Avon, as if he were the genetically modified crossbreed of her lover and her lunch. She is wearing a white off-the-shoulder number with a representation in gold wire filament of the entire battle of Star One holding it together. Just about. She occasionally essays breathing, then thinks better of it.
The last couch is occupied by TARRANT. He is wearing one of his Vegas-period Elvis outfits - all shiny white, a sort of metaphorical referent to his teeth. The ensemble is set off by a crimson sash, to which are stitched all his Boy Scout badges.
Centrally placed, in an opulent black leather swivel chair, our therapist, CARNELL (for it is he) clears his throat.
"Perhaps we should begin. In many ways, starting to share is the hardest thing of all. Of course, I wouldn't know. Nothing is difficult for a psychostrategist. Except finding somebody acute enough to share with. Which is, by my calculations, an impossibility, although I still respond to personal ads for some reason.
"But I digress. Avon, would you like to kick off?"
Avon's eyes do not flicker from the sponge for a second.
"I am looking at my rock. While I am looking at my rock, I do not indulge in illogical, irrelevant activities such as 'kicking off'. Not for you, Carnell. Not for anyone. I have every confidence that you will be able to steer this encounter group to a successful conclusion, just as the tedious regularity with which I have found myself rescuing Tarrant in no way alters my conviction that he is fit to do exactly what he wishes with the Liberator while I am busy looking at my rock. Up to and including a Kairopan heist despite the presence on the Liberator of phenomenal, absurd wealth.
"Normally, I would be impatient with such a proposal. Then, however, as now, I was looking. At. My. Rock. Tarrant, take over."
Tarrant is worrying at the seams of his trousers. For some reason, he can't seem to get them both straight at the same time. But why, why would anybody design trousers which physically could not be worn in such a way that they would look other than ridiculous? It would be madness, even in the context of the wilder costume ideas the System had spun off in its lighter moments.
Tarrant has been feeling like that a lot lately - a man in ill-fitting trousers. He's never sure if he's the alpha male or the sex symbol, a brilliant tactician or the team-leading strategist. He thinks he's in charge of the Liberator, but he should probably check with Avon. Avon's good with this sort of thing.
Anyway, firm, decisive action. That's what Tarrants do. That's what people called Del do. He has a double dose of decisive. Time to use it.
"If anyone's going to share their feelings here, it should be me. I've got the best chance of making it back alive. Avon, Carnell, Servalan - none of you have the skills to navigate a difficult emotional situation like this. No arguments!"
"Talk to the rock, Tarrant."
"Hmmm. I predicted another three seconds of bluster. Must be the trousers. Please, go on."
"Yes, and do hurry up. This clasp isn't getting any lighter."
"Well, I've always been in control of my destiny. As a Starfleet officer, and then as a pirate, I did what I wanted, when I wanted. It's been quite an adjustment, having Avon tell me to evade the latest federation attack, then make the tea.
"So, when he found this rock, I was delighted, at first. At last, a chance for me to take control!"
Carnell steeples his hands.
"I see. And you didn't find being considered less interesting company than a rock at all.....castrating?"
"Not until now. Anyway, however snide Avon may want to get, it was a brilliant plan - we may have huge piles of gold and other precious resources in the Liberator, but we can always do with some more. They brighten the place up.
But then, as soon as Jarvik came along - even before I knew he was there - suddenly I'm back at school and being bullied. My skin got all prickly and my brain stopped working -"
"Look at your rock, Avon. And I start making mistakes, and Avon just keeps rescuing me and rescuing me, but I'm making mistakes faster than he can sort them out and he's still basically only interested in that bloody rock and he's even more competent than I am when he's being weird and Jarvik was always better than me at flight school and it's not fair and I want my brother!"
"Hmmm. There, there, Tarrant. I'm sure you'll see him soon. Servalan, you look as if you'd like to contribute. Can you sympathise with Tarrant?"
"Carnell, a moment. Servalan, look at my rock. Do you see a Space Commander just a little bit more reptilian, merciless and beautiful than yourself?"
"I see a rock."
"Bugger. Back to the drawing board."
"If I may speak....thank you. My relationship with Jarvik....well, it all moved so fast. I'm not usually the kind to throw myself at people (Tarrant, Carnell and Avon exchange looks), but by the second date I was ready to split rulership of the Federation with him. I was practically picking out bedlinen....and that's only because he wasn't happy with the Liberator. For heaven's sake.
"It's just that.....he was so.....manly. I remember that time when he threw something and it broke a video screen. I've never met anyone who could break a video screen before. And he was so...confident. Cocky, even. Actually, I think he may have been psychotic. But I remember his first words. 'Woman....you are beautiful'. Part of me wanted to say 'Man....you are the patriarchy made flesh. Break me!'"
"Yes," mused Tarrant, "Always worked very well in bars, too. Well, on the more primitive worlds. The ones without spoken language, that kind of thing."
"Ah, Tarrant, Tarrant, Tarrant. You're not half the man Jarvik was."
"Why do people keep saying that?"
"I don't. He is a dead fool, you are a live one. I'd say that proves something about your relative merits. Although I am not entirely certain what. Look at my rock."
"You see," Servalan's voice is raised, now - she hates being upstaged, "sometimes I, too, Supreme Space Commander of the Terran Federation, hate being a woman in a man's world. I hate the drab clothes I have to wear to the office (more exchanges of looks). I hate the way that people see me only as a superior, not as a superior woman (more exchanges of looks). That I must behave like the machines I surround myself with, never flirt, never be cocquettish, never just enjoy my womanhood (it's a full-on three-way staring match, now". When Jarvik launched a non-stop assault on my gender, it was as if I was finally being seen as weak, contemptible, worthy of note only as a sexual object and just desperate to cede my hard-won position of responsibility to the first man in overalls who came along...at last, I was being seen as (the arms are outspread, apparently pointing out two diametrically opposite places of local interest) a woman!"
"And the sex?"
"No foreplay, thirty seconds of grunting, not a hint of concern for my pleasure, fell asleep right after. Very validating."
"Ahem. Well, it certainly seems as if Jarvik made everyone behave irrationally. Perhaps there's....perhaps....per....WILL YOU STOP PLAYING WITH THAT SODDING ROCK?"
Carnell, his book-learned cool folded, spindled and mutilated, grabs the sopron from Avon's hands. He knew there'd be days like this. He even knew when those days would be. But even he's not expecting it to squish like a moondisk omelette.
"This is a sponge, dipped in black paint."
"Yes. (Dramatic pause, big Avon grin). I have created......an artificial rock."
"Get out. Just get out. All of you, before I drop my strategical suffix and start with the killing. Just go."
___Not to be continued.....____
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