Mary Sue Meets the Language BarrierBy Marian Mendez
Page 1 of 1
(With gratitude to England's Finest Logic Problems
Magazine- which taught me more than logic, even if they did mislead me a
bit. Thanks for correcting me, Neil.)|
The tail of the comet Halle-Bopp spread as it neared Earth's sun. An infinitesimal particle of a supremely rare anti-matter Quarkoid escaped the tail, its peculiar Color, Charm, and Spin inexorably drawn toward a calmly rotating blue-green planet aswarm with semi-evolved primates. If the particle had possessed a particle of sense, it would undoubtedly have elected to continue the cruise.
But it was only a particle.
Something, some unique confluence of sub-atomic excitation, atmospheric impurities, and radiations, pulled the hapless particle, like iron filings to a magnet. It had a destiny to fulfill.
It beat its way through the Van Allen Belt, then the stratosphere. Down, down, down went the particle, past satellites, past fluffy white clouds, past sleek jet liners and flocks of honking geese. It was momentarily detoured by a tornado, but fought free and corrected its course.
North America. The United States.
Nearing its destination, it burned a trail of glory. A very tiny trail of glory, true, but if you could have seen it, you would have been impressed.
It arrived. It struck a cathode ray tube, which was currently in a state of some excitation (the TV was on), bounced out and was trapped for a millisecond or so in an electronic web of information (the computer was also on, and hooked to the internet), traveled around the world a few million times, picking up information as it went, and frantically fled back to its origin point on the web, struggling to escape the static electricity of the super-cooled liquid surface (glass). With a final supreme effort it shot out of the computer monitor, impinged on the slightly blue-tinted contact lens floating in the left eye of the computer's user, zipped through and on into a sludgy mass of pinkish-gray matter. Whereupon all the separate pieces of information it had acquired suddenly merged into a fantastic reality, destroying the absolutely unique and truly awe-inspiring particle which could have cured all the world's ills if it had been properly utilized.
The particle shrugged its non-existent shoulders and thought, "oh, well," as it fizzled out.
Mary Sue appeared on the flight deck of the Liberator. She looked around and blinked rather stupidly, looked up to make sure that she wasn't on a sound stage, pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming, and then happily accepted the miracle as her due. All those years of scrimping and sacrificing, hoping to save enough to attend a real held-in-Britain-Blake's Seven convention must have touched the heart of somebody really powerful. Maybe the witch-ghost of her ancestor who got burned at the stake in Salem, Massachusetts decided to grant her great-great-etc. granddaughter's dearest wish. Whatever the cause, she wasn't about to waste the opportunity of a lifetime.
"Avon?" she asked, knowing all Mary Sues get to meet Avon, rescue him, comfort him, give him mental therapy, a nice back rub and usually a whole lot of behind-the-scenes sex.
There was a very Avon-sounding snarl coming from under a console. She moved toward it, but Vila got in her way.
"Look, you're the fourth one this week. Why don't you just go on home, like a good girl? We're busy," Vila said, making shooing motions. He had a smudge of grease across his nose, his hair was mussed up, and he had dark circles around his eyes. He was a mess.
Mary Sue dodged around him and grabbed Avon's boots, pulling him out from under the console. Avon came out yelling, amid a shower of sparks. He had a smudge of grease across his nose, his hair was mussed up, and he had dark circles around his eyes. He was gorgeous. She flung herself at his ever -so-macho black leather boots. "I've loved you ever since PBS put Blake's Seven on right after Doctor Who. I stayed up til one every Sunday night, and failed my tenth-grade geometry test because I fell asleep, and I didn't even care!" she wailed, and clung, leech-like to his leg.
Avon scowled down at her. "Get that off my flight deck, Vila!" He pointed at Mary Sue.
"Sure, Avon," Vila said, agreeably, grabbing Mary Sue's nearest elbow, unclamping her hot little hands from Avon's leg with some difficulty . "How?"
"Airlock, teleport, sell her to the Amagons. I don't care what you do with her." Avon wiped his grimy hands off on his shrink-to-fit black leather Levi's and turned back to the console.
Mary Sue's lower lip trembled. It wasn't supposed to go this way. "You can't! I'm important. You need me!"
Avon looked at her. "No, I don't." Before Mary Sue could go on, he held up his hand and began ticking off points on his fingers, folding them down into his palm as he did so. "First, you don't know my future ..."
"We're in Season 18," Vila interrupted. "PRB. Post Raisin Bran," he explained, which didn't help much.
Avon gave Vila a mildly dirty look. "Second, I have gone to the best therapists and found that I am not insane, simply driven to distraction by people plotting against me. Third," he gave her a disdainful once over with his dark, soul-devouring eyes, "if I need sex, there are no end of reasonably-priced professionals in the quadrant- all of whom are far more attractive than you. Fourth, you are an untrained, technologically illiterate creature who does not even know how to operate a zero-gravity toilet. Fifth, and most important, you belong to that tribe of useless, daydreaming idiots who have made my life a misery!" His voice rose on the last point, his upraised fist shaking under her nose.
Mary Sue turned to Vila.
"Nope. You aren't the blindest bit of use to me, either." Vila began dragged her toward the nearest exit.
She reached out and clung to a flight deck seat. "Wait! Wait! I can give you anything you want!"
"Yeah, sure. I'll believe that when it snows in space," Vila muttered, as he peeled her fingers off the chair.
*Information.* Zen said, after getting their attention by making a abrupt clanking sound, which Mary Sue thought of as `bonking'. Fortunately, she didn't say this out loud, as Avon was not about to allow any such activity on his flight deck, not even by the resident computer. *There is an unexplained, possibly hazardous, phenomenon directly ahead.*
Avon, Vila and Mary Sue all looked at the viewscreen. Fat, white flakes were swirling, eddying in the interstellar winds and reducing visibility down to the end of Liberator's pointy nose.
"Anything?" Vila asked, as Avon leaped to order Zen to stop the ship before they collided with an inconveniently placed asteroid.
"Anything," Mary Sue promised. After all, this was her universe.
"We ought to give the girl a chance," Vila said. "Come on Avon, think of it. We could make a bundle."
Avon's eyes narrowed. His greed warred with common sense, and, as usual, won. "All right," he said, grudgingly, "but she keeps her hands to herself or I'll cosh her with a spanner." He looked back at the viewscreen. Snow was building up on the ship's extremities. "Turn off the snow."
Mary Sue tried, squinting up her brows and concentrating with all her might. The snow continued. "I guess I can only make things, not unmake them."
"Then we shall have to be very careful what we ask for," Avon said. Vila opened his mouth, and Avon glared. "I will do the asking."
Vila let go of Mary Sue, and sat down on the flight deck couch, sulking. "Sure, you get the ships, all the pretty girls, all the sexy stories, and what do I get?"
"Shut up, Vila," Avon said, eying Mary Sue as one would an unexpected package. It could contain either a nice present or a letter bomb. "We'll start with something small and harmless." He held out his hand. "An orange squash."
Mary Sue wiggled her nose. Well, it worked for Samantha.
"Are you trying to wind me up?" Avon dropped a large orange-colored vegetable to the deck. "Why did you give me a marrow?" He was so annoyed he didn't notice the extra-large clockwork key that suddenly protruded from between his shoulder blades. Then again, he was already wearing so much metal ornamentation that he set off every alarm in the place when he walked through space-port security. Vila grinned, eying the slowly revolving key. He'd always said Avon wasn't human.
"Marrow? That's an orange squash," Mary Sue said.
"No, it isn't," Vila said. He picked up the vegetable. "Maybe Gan can cook it up for our elevenses. Anything's better than food-tabs."
"A few Sultanas, then," Avon said. He jumped back as a trio of black-haired, voluptuous women dressed in strings of gold coins, sheer veils and not much else appeared. "Vila!"
"I didn't do anything!" Vila exclaimed. "You're the one asking for silly stuff like Humbugs, and Dolly Mixtures."
A flight of buzzing beetles flew past a tumbled group of dolls of all nationalities and sorts of dress.
"And what would you have asked for?" Avon said, glaring. The black-haired women cringed, and began sidling toward Vila.
"I'd have scooped the pools, that's what I'd have done!"
The entire ship heaved, as if something heavy had appeared on one side.
"What did you do now!" Avon yelled at Mary Sue, who was beginning to wish she'd never heard of Blake's Seven.
"Avon, Avon!" Dayna came running up to the flight deck, eyes glittering with excitement. "The most amazing thing just happened!"
"Don't tell me," Avon muttered.
"A pair of swimming baths just appeared out of nowhere in the restroom! Tarrant was having a kip in a recliner and almost came a cropper. Jenna and Cally debagged him, and they're giving him the Kiss of Life!" She glanced at Mary Sue, then turned back to Avon. "I know you're not much for water sports, but you could put on your gumboots and join us in the shallow end."
Avon glared at her, in no mood for frivolity. He took a step forward, chest out, hand raised, to emphasize his annoyance. Well, he started to take a step, only he fell flat on his face when his boots stuck to the deck.
"That must have hurt," Vila said, wincing in sympathy as he helped Avon pull his stocking feet out of his boots, leaving them standing upright, covered in wadded-up pink chewing-gum blobs.
"You're telling me," Avon muttered, hand gingerly touching his nose. He headed for the nearest loo to inspect the damage.
Dayna looked at the pink boots and the other newly materialized items around the room. She lifted her eyebrows at Vila and the exotic women. "Well, I can see you boys are busy," she said and left the flight deck, heading back toward the rest room.
Vila smirked, chuckled and patted either side of the couch beside himself. The three veiled women looked at each other, shrugged, and went to join him.
Avon returned, stalking toward Mary Sue. He paused a moment, noticing Vila entwined with the three women. The gold coins and most of the veils had vanished. He came very close to Mary Sue and glared down at her. "We seem to be experiencing some difficulty in communications. What is your native language?"
"English," Mary Sue said weakly.
Avon lifted an eyebrow. "That is what Vila and I have been speaking. Perhaps if we were to have Orac wipe your language skills, such as they are, and reinstruct you entirely, you would be of some use. It shouldn't take more than a a few months- provided you are more intelligent than you look."
Mary Sue looked at him in horror. "You mean I'd have to take high-school English all over again?"
Avon gave her a non-smile. "No."
Mary Sue relaxed. "Good. I hated it. I'd rather dig radioactive ditches, by hand, with Federation troopers all over the place."
Avon continued. "You'd start out at creche level. Return to the coal-face, as it were." He smirked.
"For God's sake, don't take him literally!" Vila shouted, remembering the filthy mine on Horizon.
A few dozen lumps of coal, sculpted into busts of various Blake's Seven characters, clunked down and rolled across the deck, which still had a slight downhill tilt along its horizontal axis.
"It's beginning to look like a boot fair in here," Vila complained, lifting his feet to let a Servalan-carved coal chunk roll past. "We'll need a bin or a skip pretty soon. Maybe even a removal van."
"One last chance," Avon growled, staring directly into Mary Sue's eyes. "Give me a courgette." He held out his hand, eyes locked with hers. There was a still, dramatic moment of silence, broken by a thin, trickling fluid noise. Avon looked down. Mary Sue looked down. Vila looked down. The three unveiled, coinless women looked down. Even the Servalan coal carving seemed to look down.
The cute, little, long-haired Welsh Corgi puppy finished piddling on Avon's foot, waggled its whole furry body and yapped at him.
Avon gave a high-pitched, blood-curdling screech as he stretched out his hands, hooked like claws, for Mary Sue's throat. The particle of anti-matter substance within her brain dissolved under the adrenaline surge of sheer terror. Mary Sue popped like a soap-bubble and was gone before he could touch her, presumably returned to her own universe.
"Should have tried an aubergine," Vila said, getting up from the couch. "C'mon, ladies, let's see if Cally can lend you some bathing suits." He looked at their figures more closely. "Maybe I should ask Dayna or Jenna." He grinned and led them off the flight deck.
Avon looked at the viewscreen. The snow was piling up into mountains. "Blast!" he yelled.
*Confirmed.* Zen replied, letting loose with the neutron blasters. Even in the silence of space, Avon imagined he heard the rumble of the resulting avalanche. He got up from his defensive crouch next to the pile of coal, and surveyed the view. The snow was gone.
He nodded. "That's better." He looked around the flight deck. The floor was covered with coal-dust and bits of torn veil, mingling with mashed over-ripe marrow, which the happily humming beetles were investigating. "Blake's turn to hoover," he said firmly, and returned to work under the console. "Laser probe," he ordered.
The puppy nuzzled in Avon's toolkit, picked out the probe and brought it to him in its mouth.
"Good boy," Avon said, taking the slightly damp tool, and absently patting the beast on the head. "Now, for some peace and quiet." He began whistling the Colonel Bogey March.
English to American translations
*Bonking- adult activity of the highly personal variety.
*Orange Squash- Orangeade.
*Wind someone up- ridicule or tease.
*Elevenses- morning tea break, taken at eleven o'clock.
*Sultanas- Golden raisins.
*Humbugs & Dolly Mixtures - types of candy.
*Scooped the pools- winning the full prize in the National Lottery.
*Came a cropper- had a disastrous mishap.
*Debag- remove someone else's trousers (usually as a practical joke).
*Gumboots- rubber boots.
*Creché- day care center.
*Return to the coal-face- go back to work, especially difficult work.
*Boot fair - garage sale.
*Bin- trash can.
*Removal van- moving van.
*Hoover- use a vacuum cleaner.
(Colonel Bogey March is in the movie Bridge on the River Kwai. You know it. Dum dum. Dum, dum dum dum dum dee.)
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