Meeting 10 (02/21/01)
This tenth meeting of the Aeryn Sun Interpretation Society and Widow's and Orphan's Emergency Beer Fund will now come to order.
I wish to remind the members of our motto here at the Society and Fund: The secret to success in life is sincerity. Once you learn how to fake that, everything else is easy.
Yes, some years back, UCSBdad got to exercise his talents in fiction writing by responding to Congressional inquiries on behalf of a large, shadowy government bureaucracy. I can't tell you its name, but their initials are VA. I had that very motto printed up and placed prominently in my funky little cubicle where my pointy haired boss could see it. It really put me in the right mood for saying things like, "Sure, we'll be happy to drop everything to evaluate the Senator's second cousin's service connected moral depravity. Of course, we don't have anything better to do." You may now understand why old UCSBdad does not have a fancy cubicle right next to the Oval Office. No, dimpled chads had nothing to do with it. Although Dad is quite proud of his... Well, not now, okay?
First, some old business. Remember, the last meeting way back in June? Yeah, me neither. However, I told you that if you were very nice to me, I'd further explain the poetry with which I ended the last meeting. Since I can't remember if you were nice to me, I'm foolishly giving you the benefit of the doubt. I am going to have to pay closer attention, though. I remember once, after a party in '72, I woke up four months later singing soprano in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And me a tenor, too. For those of you with poor motor skills who find yourself unable to find the minutes of the last meeting, we had:
The author is none other than Percy Bysshe Shelley. Those of you that have been taking notes, (I did tell you this would be on the final, didn't I?), will remember that the talented and charming Miss Virginia Hey posts as Percy Bysshe. I assume she's a big fan of Shelley and was hoping for a crate or two of Fosters Lager for the Fund. It must be some sort of an Australian tax problem with foreign charities. I mean how can you NOT send me a beer when I'm sitting here looking so appealing and dry? (Hint, hint.)
But doesn't that poem sound like part of the Uncharted Territories? I still think the place is probably a lot like the Roman Empire in the fifth century or so. Pockets of crumbling civilization fought over by barbarians and warlords, surrounded by areas full of, well, critters. Of course, the Uncharted Territories also resembles the apartment I had in college, too.
Now doesn't that remind you of Our Beloved Raven Haired Goddess of Love and Death? And her boyfriend, old whatsisname? The author is Rudyard Kipling, always a good one to quote for wars and drinking. Regrettably he had little to say about Raven Haired Sebacean Beauties in Leather, so he's little known today.
Now it's time for new business. Say hello to some new members, Larry the razor tooth vorlag and his brothers, Moe and Curly. Larry was a resident of the Uncharted Territories until he caught an episode of Farscape that made it through a convenient wormhole. He was instantly hooked and hopped the first bus from the UT to Earth. He was absolutely determined to go to Oz and work on Farscape. But, because there is a Brisbane, California and a Brisbane, Australia, Larry got off at the wrong stop. Lar says it's damned hard to read those signs at the speed of light. But, Larry and I met and became friends. Larry has now decided to finish up his general education requirements at a local junior college and then try to get into the UCLA film school. Larry has a problem, though. Vorlags, as you may have noticed, are quadrupeds. Larry, and all vorlags, have no opposable thumbs. This makes it very hard for poor Lar to take those standardized tests. The Vorlag-American Legal Defense Fund is trying to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please give generously. Anything you can spare will be accepted gleefully. Er, gratefully.
If you're having trouble telling which is Larry, he's the quadruped on the left. He's about five feet high at the shoulders and weighs about 1200 pounds. Although Lar says the camera adds two hundred pounds. Larry is covered in nice, warm brown fur, and as you would expect, has razor sharp teeth about a foot and a half long. You ought to see the orthodontist smile when Larry walks by. Under his Hawaiian shirt he has a Tee shirt that says, "There Is No Raven Haired Goddess But Her Claudianess."
Lar has been posting on the Sci Fi Channel's Bulletin Board and has appeared in a number of fanfics, including some of mine. But Larry is starting to move up in the world. He's gotten some work in student films and now has a featured role in an indie film. It's a re-make of Wayne Wang's "Porklips Now", the classic parody of "Apocalypse Now."
Um, Larry, that reminds me. The producer called to tell you that in the obligatory nude scene with the scantily clad coeds just before the mad slasher enters, you're the one doing the nude scene. And you're the mad slasher. Yeah, I know, it's degrading ethnic stereotyping. He said audiences weren't ready for a vorlag leading man.
Barkeep, another round for the vorlags. And play "The Ride of the Valkyries " on the jukebox, okay?
BTW, somewhere or another, Ben Browder compared Farscape's first two seasons to Joseph's Conrad's classic, "Heart of Darkness". Our Rocket Jockey said that the first season was the trip up the river, followed by the descent into madness in the second season. Since I didn't recall actually reading "Heart of Darkness", I bought a copy. The story itself is only about 120 pages long. A little story about a guy driving a river boat up the Congo River in the 1890s to meet the World Famous Mr. Kurz, who is setting all sorts of company records for the accumulation of ivory and other wealth. Kurz turns out to be a copy of Scorpius, on one of Scorpy's bad days. The book is written to cater to nineteenth century sensibilities, unlike anything currently which would have lots more splatter. But, heads on posts have never been my favorite décor. But I can see Mr. Browder's point. Marlowe, the narrator of Heart of Darkness goes from (presumably) civilization to madness and "The horror. The horror." in the heart of the Congo. But I do recommend you read it. Actually, I think the whole story is available on line someplace. It is nice to know that our Farscape actors read something other than their own press releases or maybe the latest ratings.
Good on ya, Mr. Browder. Get a beer on Dad at the bar. If the vorlags won't move out of the way, just rap them smartly over the nose with a rolled up newspaper, saying clearly, "Bad vorlag. I want a beer." And let me know if that works. If you're able to.
So, we've learned a thing or two about the Peacekeepers and Old Leather Butt since last we met. Scorpy started out life as a criminal before joining the Peacekeepers. Okay, maybe, just maybe, Natira took Scorpy in to be her little gigolo, her kept man, her paid paramour, her….…..Oh, never mind. Can you imagine anyone seeing Scorpy as stud material? Even Natira? And do you think Natira started out running a Home to Save Fallen Women? If she did, will she save me one? Old joke, I know.
But imagine Young Scorpy as a hoodlum straight out of Warner Brothers Central Casting in one of those 1930s gangster films. The Head Thug is up and coming gangster Jimmy Cagney, his assistant thugs are played by Barton McLane and Elisha Cook, Jr. with Richard Widmark as "Tommy Udo." And introducing Scorpy as the Least Thug. The part of the Commerce Planet shopkeeper is played by S. Z. "Cuddles" Sakall, with Pat O'Brien as Fightin' Father Feeney. The scene opens with Cagney walking into a little shop in the UT with his henchmen.
CAGNEY: (Smiling) "Nice place you got here, Pops. You'd like it to stay that way, right."Okay, so Scorpy is not the first to find that you can profitably combine crime with politics. Look at the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Probably the biggest grower of opium poppies in the world. It's interesting that Iran is probably doing as much as anyone in the world to oppose the Taliban, although from religious, political and strategic motives. But, hey, whatever gets you through the night.
Both Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosovic have found economic sanctions to be profitable. You just give the job of smuggling goods past the sanctions to your supporters and watch them get rich, and dependent on the continued survival of your regime. Then they use their ill-gotten gains to waste your political enemies, making your side stronger and richer.
The government of Myanmar, (Used to be Burma.) also exports opium as well as amphetamines, and weapons and all manner of other goods, including what are now referred to euphemistically as "sex workers." They have a little twist, however. They used to have problems with ethnic minority rebels in Burma. People like the Shan United Army, the Was, the Karens, and so on.
Here's how it worked. Say you have Khun Sa, an ethnic Chinese general in the Chinese Nationalist Army, driven out of China by the Chinese Communists into northern Burma in 1949. He transforms his troops into the Shan United Army, recruiting local tribesmen. To support himself, he sells opium. Eventually, all parties get tired of an endless civil war and the Shans sign a cease-fire with the Burmese government. The Shan United Army disbands, to be instantly replaced by a new local police force, charged with keeping the drug trade down, and with exactly the same people as the old rebel army. And it works! And how do we know this? Because the local police say, "There's no opium smuggling going on around here." And they're right. You can't call it smuggling.
The FARC, (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) have a similar operation with cocaine as do their right wing opponents, the "paramilitaries".
There are a few endless civil wars going on in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Angola that are largely financed by diamond smuggling by the rebels. Of course, the governments are no big improvement, but since they're not rebels, they don't have to smuggle. See what an advantage it is to be a government? No wonder all the crooks want to be one.
If you examine what has been called Africa's World War, in the Congo, and I really can't recommend you do look at it too closely, unless you have a strong stomach, a great deal of the matter seems to involve divvying up the spoils. Oh, that's just cynical old UCSBdad again. I'm sure the various leaders are, in fact, as pure as the driven slush.
Now note that most of what we have here is governments getting into crime as an alternative to providing good governance for which the populace will, with some help, part with their tax money. As good Americans we can doubtlessly think of some criminals who decided to get into the lucrative field of politics. I'll limit that remark to us Americans, since I'd hate to insult any Canadians, English, Irish, or Australians by knocking their very own political foibles. But, I could be talked into it. Did you here the one about the Blonde Canadian, the Blonde Englishwoman, the Blonde Irishwoman and the Blonde Australian in the bar? You have? Damn!
"What's the mating call of the Wild Blonde?"
"I'm soooo drunk."
"A blonde and a brunette are in third grade together. Who has the bigger boobs? The blonde, she's eighteen."
I know, I should be ashamed of myself. And I am. No, really.
But, back to criminals going into politics. Has UCSBdad dredged up yet another obscure organization to compare to the Peacekeepers? Have you been paying attention? Of course I have. How about Doung Van Duong, better known as Bach Ba, (Uncle Three) and the Binh Xuyen?
Hmmm. You know, just the name "Uncle Three" and "Binh Xuyen" cries out for a little 'shippy fanfic. Dad's eyes glaze over. No, no. He's just letting the creative juices flow.
Two Peacekeepers are dragged before the dreaded Uncle Three in his stronghold at Binh Xuyen. Decorated in barbaric splendor, the stronghold is thronged with the scum of the Uncharted Territories, whose tails wag in unison as they drink their margaritas. The massively muscled Uncle Three takes a sip from a cup made form the skull of a former enemy.
"So, Peacekeepers," snarls Uncle Three, "You thought you could sneak up on Uncle Three?"
John places himself between Uncle Three and the Gorgeous Raven Haired Aeryn Sun. "Look, we're not really Peacekeepers. We'll just be on our way, okay?"
Raucous laughter greets John's statement. "No, it's not okay, Peacekeeper. You stay here," snarls one of Uncle Three's savage minions.
Aeryn Sun pushes her way past John to confront Uncle Three. "Oh, and exactly what do you and your fuzzy friends think you're going to do?"
Uncle Three chortles evilly. "Put you two in a room and pump it full of the Gas of Passion. And then watch you two Peacekeepers engage in the basest lust for three solar days."
"Never!" Cries John. "I'll never let Aeryn be used in such a sordid exhibition."
Aeryn turns on him. "Shut up, Crichton. Um, I'm a lot more familiar with these situations than you."
John will not be silenced "You'll have to go through me to get to Aeryn, Bozo."
Aeryn rolls her eyes and pantak jabs John. She catches him neatly as he falls and throws him over her shoulder.
She stares at Uncle Three. "Three solar days?"
Uncle Three hands her some pizzas, submarine sandwiches and a six pack of Dos Equis. "If you have some vitamins, we could make it a weeken."
"It has been a long time." Aeryn thinks and then turns to Uncle Three. "Don't call us, we'll call you."
With that, she heads off stage, with John hanging limply over her shoulder.
As soon as she's out of sight, one of the fierce warriors approaches Uncle Three. "Uncle Dad, we don't have any Gas of Passion."
"That's Uncle Three, Larry. And I somehow doubt they'll notice. And remember, guys, no peeking. We're just doing a little favor to 'shippers everywhere."
Suddenly the three vorlags blush. "We still have our vorlag hearing, Uncle Three. My, I didn't know Aeryn had such a colorful vocabulary."
So, back to Uncle Three and the Binh Xuyen. Binh Xuyen is a little village in the Rung Sat area of what is now Vietnam and what was, in the 1920s and 30s, French Indochina. It's just outside of Saigon. (I know, Ho Chi Minh City. Old habits die hard.) Those with a nodding familiarity with South East Asia of a later time period may recall the Rung Sat Special Zone.
In the 1920s and 30s, there was a great deal of anti-colonial agitation in Asia. Gandhi was organizing the Indian National Congress to eventually push the British out of India. Chang Kai Shek was leading the Great Northern Expedition to bring warlord infested northern China under the sway of the Chinese Nationalist Party. And in the French colony of Indochina, the Communist Party of Indochina was being organized by Ho Chi Minh, and a strong Nationalist Party was being organized among the largely French educated local elites. Two politico-religious groups the Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao were organizing and the fine folks in Binh Xuyen were a loose collection of bandits and river pirates with a sprinkling of street gangs from Cholon, Saigon's Chinatown, thrown in.
By the late 30s good old Uncle Three had organized the criminal element in Binh Xuyen into one nice sized gang of, er, gangsters, I guess. In 1940, the Japanese, occupied French Indochina, the French being occupied by the Nazis at the time. The Japanese, smart boys, did not trust the French, but left them to run things as long as they followed orders. Now, Uncle Three has a brilliant idea. He offers the services of the Binh Xuyen, as they are now called, to the Japanese as enforcers. What's not to like? The Japanese get some local muscle with no embarrassing political beliefs to get in the way and the Binh Xuyen get a taste of REAL power.
By the end of 1945, the Japanese are defeated and the French are still getting sorted out back in Europe after four years of war and German occupation. By the time the French show up in Saigon in 1946, the Binh Xuyen are a major force in the Saigon area. The French think much like the Japanese before them. "Hey, some nice honest, hard working criminals. Who better to look after Saigon for us while we defeat the Communist Viet Minh? (The Viet Minh later became the Viet Cong.) The Binh Xuyen, in effect, became the Saigon Police. And you thought the LAPD has problems?
Interestingly, Saigon remained a safe haven from Viet Minh terrorist attacks from 1947 through the departure of the French in 1954. The Binh Xuyen used the money the made in drugs, gambling, and prostitution to fund a first class secret police. Only with the arrival on the scene of President Diem of the Republic of Vietnam, with US advisers, were the Binh Xuyen driven out of Saigon by the Vietnamese Army. Of course the police that replaced the Binh Xuyen were every bit as honest and capable as their predecessors.
So, there are some wonderful precedents for the mixing of criminality and politics.
We learned something else useful about Scorpy in "Liars, Guns and Money". Scorpy has his own bank account with Natira Savings and Loan. Now, it is possible that Scorpy is just keeping his Peacekeeper 401(k) account with Natira. Or maybe, like spymasters everywhere, he has some "black" operations he doesn't want associated with the Peacekeepers. I mean, if your hired assassin fails to kill off some Scarren bigwig, you don't want his corpse to be carrying a large check from the Peacekeeper Bank of Sebacea, right?
I should mention that at the Creation Con in Burbank last year, Wayne Pygram described Scorpy as being the SS, the old Nazi elite.
But, I suspect that when Scorpy talks about his money, he means his very own little nest egg. And from what we learned about Natira's little operation, Scorpy must have quite a little stash there. Not hard to figure. I bet there are an awful lot of people in the Uncharted Territories that would pay to avoid Scorpy.
I wouldn't be surprised if a sharp guy like our Scorpmiester couldn't think of some nice ways to make some dishonest currency to send off to his little safety deposit box.
And one other little thing that crossed good old Dad's bizarre little mind. What kind of a third rate bank is Natira running? You get your goods and you put it in a deposit box the size of a freight car and that's it? These people need some serious lessons in money laundering and infiltrating legitimate enterprises. Now, where did John leave Earth from? South Florida. And South Florida is famous for what? Cocaine trafficking and Bahamian off shore accounts? Yes! Why even if John Boy has done no more than watch an episode or two of "Miami Vice", he can be a real asset to Scorpy and Natira. Hmmm. Why do I suspect being an asset to Scorpy and Natira is a bad thing? Okay, no three-part story arc with an alligator named Elvis.
This feeds into my previous suspicions that the Peacekeepers are more like Third World Warlords than anything else. Consider the unlucky Captain Crais. He has a nice command carrier. This requires a crew that needs to be paid, fed, clothed and otherwise taken care of. Similarly, the ship needs fuel, weapons, spare parts, etc. So, you charge for escorting convoys or protecting planets from marauding pirates. Hell, he can charge planets for protection from Captain Crais. You end up with a nice piece of change. You launder the money, buy your spare parts from "friendly" supply officers and the black market. You pay your crew well and make sure they know that the money comes from Good Old Uncle Captain Three Crais.
Sure, Crais has the connections to keep his crew well fed and well paid and otherwise keep the whole scam running. And, the crew knows the boss has the connections. (And if Crais is smart, he makes sure he's the only one with access to any of his connections.) So, if poor Lt. Teeg gets her neck broken while all alone with the Good Captain, what's the crew going to do. Complain? To Crais? Bad idea. To Peacekeeper Command? Chances are that if Peacekeeper Command had any real power, Crais never would have gone renegade or killed off Lt. Teeg in the first place.
A little earlier, we mentioned the recent war in the Former Yugoslavia. Apparently, for a good part of the war, the Yugoslav Army was kept on a very tight rein. Poorly paid, poorly trained, poorly armed, under-strength and short of ammunition and fuel. This was because the Yugoslav PTB wasn't sure that it could trust the largely conscript based Army, (probably correctly). The bulk of the fighting was done by a very heavily armed police, who had all of the things the Army lacked. (Have you ever heard the term "police special forces"? Both Yugoslavia and Croatia had them.) And of course there were paramilitary militias, formed from volunteers, who presumably had their minds right. Ever hear of a guy called Arakan? No, he is not the planet formerly known as Dune. He was a paramilitary leader who later was the victim of an unsolved murder. Note: If the police murder you, it's likely to remain an unsolved murder.
So, has Dad found yet another possible model for the Peacekeepers? A politically trustworthy elite used for "the dirty work" and a mass of low quality infantry. The "Elite" would be well trained, paid, equipped and led. While the bulk of your Army would be only capable of holding their own against armies of even lesser ability. Think the Yugoslavs against he Bosnians here.
We have also learned that our Scorpius is a product of rape. His Scarren father raped his Sebacean mother. As a result, Scorpy hates Scarrens. But, is that all he hates? We know little about Scorpy, but presumably he wasn't raised in a happy Scarren home. So did Momma raise him?
Bartender, a little of The Hag on the jukebox, please.
The one and only rebel child,
But from what we know of Sebaceans, would even Scorpy's Mama love him? Even if she did, and that's a big if in Scorpius' case, how would the other Sebaceans have treated him when he eventually left Natira and entered the PK? We see that Lt. Braca, who owes his position to Scorpius, is contemptuous of Jothee, as a Sebacean-Luxan mix. And he's dumb enough or arrogant enough to say it when Scorpy's around. Everything we've heard indicates Scorpius would be considered an abomination by all right thinking Sebaceans. Hell, they have to be right once in a while. I have a lot of trouble ever seeing Scorpy as being happy with the Sebaceans. So, does Our Scorpy really hate both sides? Is he just using his position with the Peacekeepers to start a war that will destroy both sides of his family? It's something to keep in mind.
Speaking of Lt. Braca, do you ever wonder about him? I mean how can a guy who works for Scorpy screw up so much and not be terminated with extreme prejudice?
I think Lt. Braca's job in the Peacekeepers is to be the designated failure. Note his predecessor, the too tightly wrapped Lt. Teeg. In Old Black Magic, she does some very serious sniveling to Crais to convince him that her loyalty belongs to Crais and not to those funky old admirals back at the ranch. And for her trouble she gets her neck snapped at the end of the episode. Does this suggest that Peacekeeper Promotion Boards look more like one of Lucretia Borgia's dinner parties than we might think?
"Really, I hadn't noticed the Captain had stepped out for a smoke when I accidentally backed the Command Carrier over him, three times." Quoth Captain Teeg if things had gone differently. And this way Lt. Teeg can get rid of Crais and look good to higher management. (How does management get so high, anyway.)
SCENE: A Peacekeeper Court Martial. Lt. Teeg is testifying. Crais is rolling ball bearings in his hand.
LT. TEEG: (Tearfully.) "I told the captain we had to turn back, but he just wouldn't listen. Then he accused the officers of stealing his strawberries."
But, exit Lt. Teeg and enter the inept Lt. Braca. Aren't Crais and Scorpy both the type of happy sociopaths who think they can't fail? So, no matter how ineptly Lt. Braca fails to capture Crichton at the Royal Planet, Scorpy takes him back and forgives him.
After all, Braca's main job is to NOT be available to mount a coup d'etat against his captain. How else can you explain Braca still being, first Crais's, and then Scorpy's Numero Uno when he has relentlessly failed at everything he's been told to do?
Can you imagine how the other officers on the Command Carrier are going to react to the thought of Braca overthrowing the Dear Leader?
"Braca overthrow Scorpy? Didn't Braca get lost in his quarters once?"
"Braca couldn't pour piss out of his shoe if the instructions were written on the soles."
I do wonder what staff meetings were like for Crais after Lt. Teeg was found dead of a broken neck after being alone with Crais? Are you really going to want to go see the Old Man after that?
"I want all the Division Heads in for a Staff Meeting at 0800 hours." Barks Captain Crais.
"Sorry, Sir. They're all still in hiding from the last time you tried to hold a staff meeting. Except for Lt. Braca. You forgot to tell him last week's staff meeting was over. He's still sitting by your chair. On the floor."
"Braca? Damn. Cancel the Staff Meeting."
The repeat of "Nerve" recently got me thinking about Stark, now that we know he's a sort of a semi-recurring character.
Let's assume I wanted to build a wormhole. Don't laugh. The government has had Dad do sillier things. What would we need?
Oh, yes. The wormhole project. What would I need again? Yes, Larry. I see you waving your hand. Of course, I'd need three brave, courageous vorlags to protect me from UCSBmom when she found out about you-know-who in the very, very skimpy you-know-what.
Larry? Moe? Curly? Where did you guys go? Come back here, you fraidy vorlags. This is only a hypothetical question anyway.
Okay, it's a trick question. The answer that Dad is looking for is what you don't need. An aurora Chair. But, when first we meet Scorpius, who has presumably set up his little Gammack Base to build wormholes, he's talking to Commander Javio about increasing the efficiency of the Aurora Chair. Excuse me, Scorpy. But no matter how fast the Comfy Chair goes around, it won't make you a wormhole. What the frell do you need an Aurora Chair for if you want to build a wormhole, if you don't already have a handy human just full of wormhole knowledge?
And, having Our Rocket Jockey in the Comfy Chair, once Scorpius knows he is a veritable gold mine of wormhole knowledge, he wastes time giving Stark free rides to gain some sort of vague knowledge about something Stark knows.
Is it possible that Stark's knowledge is related to wormholes? Oh, sure, probably Stark is not carrying around a full copy of "Wormholes for Dummies" in his mind, but Scorpius might just think maybe Stark once knew the URL for wormholes.com. You know, he can't think Stark is wormhole central, but he might have heard that a Bannik slave somewhere had some info and he's trying out the only Bannick he has.
Remember, that in LGM, Scorpy was asking if the Bannik slaves he'd bought to get Jothee included a Bannik like Stark. (Can't think of what Stark's actual title was.) Why care about a guy who helps others to die? Unless Stark, or Banniks, or some Banniks, or maybe only one Bannik, knows something about wormholes?
I still think our little Starkers knows more that he's telling. We know he's not crazy, well, not really, really crazy. Dad has talked to some of our Elected Leaders who come off a lot like Starky. Of course, they do dress much better.
Ah, that brings us to our next point.
UCSBdad's favorite fashion victim on Farscape is no longer D'Argo. Sure, the Big Guy has been wearing the same maroon uniform for the entire series. Everyone else has gotten a new set of duds. D'Argo gets a Luxan War Surplus Poncho. We even saw Rygel in his BVDs. Rygel doing a striptease in a bank. Now that is a fashion statement.
But Stark! We get Homeless Guy Chic. We get Tin Hats. He gets his entire body dispersed and he still gets the same shabby set of clothes? Unless that's his skin we're seeing. So howzabout a different set of hats at least? A nice chrome one for festive occasions, maybe? He could wear it with the brim backwards? He's got nice baggy clothes, so maybe he can be a UT rap star. No black leather hats for Stark, though. That would be too gross.
We've talked about Scorpy, but what about our other major Peacekeeper pain in the eema? Yes. Bialar Crais. Is Crais now in touch with his feminine side? If he going all touchy-feely on us? According to Mr. Kemper, Crais is headed for some changes in Season Three. I hope this doesn't end up like World Championship Wrestling. You know, where, the Hulkster starts out as a good guy and then changes into the Evil Hulkster?
Next on UT Championship Wrestling, the Human Hulkster in a Scarren Cage Match with the Sebacean Slaughterer! Oh, John has Crais on the ropes. He's going for the Cultural Reference Slam. It looks like it's all over for Crais. But wait. OH NO! The Half Scarren Abomination distracts the referee and slams Poor John with a folding chair. The human is down. Scorpy pushes Crais over on top of John. The referee counts, ONE, TWO, THREE! It's all over! Crais wins. Let's go to Gorilla Monsoon who's standing by with the Sebacean Sweetie.
GM: What an amazing finish to tonight's bout. Did you ever expect this to happen, Aeryn?"I hope Mr. Kemper isn't planning too big of a change in Crais. I kind of liked him as a rogue free lance, cutting deals with arms merchants and hooking the crew of Moya into his projects. A kinder, gentler, more emotional Crais doesn't sound like as much fun. But, I have been wrong before.
Before we leave the Peacekeepers entirely, there is one more group that we might want to consider as being Peacekeeper-like. Actual UN Peacekeepers. As I mentioned, I was at Creation Con and got to ask His Kemperness a question about the PK. While poor Dad's mind was nearly completely erased by being smiled at by Claudia Black, I do have a few memories of the conversation with …….Whatshisname.
Mr. Kemper indicated that the elite of the Peacekeepers were the pilots. The Special Ops boys are a little below that, and the mass of infantry at the bottom. Now all through the period that Farscape was being planned, there was a war, or rather several wars, raging in the Former Yugoslavia. And UN Peacekeepers were deployed to, er, uhm, lets see, well, to try to do something useful?
At the top of the heap, prestige-wise were the NATO Air Forces. The combination of NATO air power and Croatian ground troops eventually ended the Bosnian War. Next were a few groups of first class foot soldiers. The French and the British, mostly. They were not the only professional troops on the ground, but they were the only ones in fairly large numbers. Both countries eventually deployed a reinforced brigade or so. Say 5000+ soldiers, with artillery, tanks, helicopters, air support, etc. The remainder of the UN Peacekeepers were a mixed lot. The Ukrainians were alleged to have sold their weapons and ammunition to the highest bidders. Given the situation on the ground in most of Bosnia, not only weapons, but food, medicines, fuel, all could be sold at a great profit, and were. If you're interested, you might like to read William Shawcross's "Deliver Us From Evil" about peacekeeping generally in the 1990s. A man named Tim Ripley, a British reporter, also wrote a good book about the military side of that war, " Operation Deliberate Force".
(Note that the, largely, Third World UN Peacekeepers sent to Sierra Leone last year succeeded mainly in getting themselves captured. Of course the Big Guys with highly trained infantry, lots of supporting arms, etc, don't want to get involved in Africa.)
But, back to the Balkans, there was a good deal of working at cross purposes, in addition to criminality and incompetence. The US politically supported the various peace plans advanced by the Europeans, but also provided arms to the Bosnian government, thereby keeping the war moving.
So, are the Farscape Peacekeepers more of a coalition, such as served in the Balkans? I have previously suggested that they are more like a feudal army, with each man loyal only to his immediate superior, and not to the group as a whole. Or perhaps a warlord type of military, where everyone is loyal only to the strongest. And the idea of just who is the strongest obviously changes on a daily basis.
Remember Alexander the Great? Well, no, he was just a little before Dad's time. But as he lay dying, he bequeathed his empire to "the strongest."
Perhaps there are dozens of "Peacekeeper Planets" each with an autonomous or even independent government, providing forces for the Peacekeepers as a whole. Some provide soldiers like Aeryn Sun, well trained, well equipped, well disciplined and well motivated. Some provide people like Crais, who is well trained and has a powerful ship in his command, but whose discipline and motivation are suspect. Lastly there is a group like Commander Javio. Do you remember him from "Nerve" and "Hidden Memory"? He was the guy who wanted to buy Chiana and be the first one off the planet when they thought the nuclear reactor was going to go up. Can you see him selling a few spare weapons to make a little pocket money? I can.
Will we see an episode entitled "Air Sebacea" about drug running PK spies, starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey, Jr.? No, I think the subject matter is a real no-no for Mr. Downey. Back in the days of his youth, though, Dad did know some real Air America types. You remember Air America? The only civilian airline in the world that hired bombardiers?
I see that the Sci Fi Bulletin Board is again getting questions on whether or not John and Aeryn are a couple. Yes they are and if you don't believe it, I'll have Larry the razor tooth vorlag adjust your attitude.
Sorry. Dad may have been a little short with you there. Anyway, as I've said several thousand times, John and Aeryn are far more entertaining as a couple, as Butch and Sundance, outthinking, outwitting, out-shooting and out-flying critters, Peacekeepers and bounty hunters, than as separate individuals. Yes, TPTB. They love each other. Admit it and let them say, "Okay, we love each other, but the Uncharted Territories is no place to be looking for a nice little home with a white picket fence near a good school for the kids. We'll just have to forget that and get back to kicking Leather Clad Psychopathic Butt for several more seasons." Then let them get on with being Butch and Sundance, with just the occasional resolved sexual tension when the 'shippers have been very good little 'shippers.
TPTB, remember the Hollywood producer in "The Godfather" who woke up with a horse's head in his bed? You could wake up with a vorlag's head in your bed. With the rest of the vorlag attached. I did mention what HUGE 'shippers the vorlags are, right?
Now, a few questions about Farscape trivia, Is Jack Crichton a Marine? We know from A Human Reaction that he's a colonel. He was shown with US silver eagle rank insignia and was called colonel. So, he was not a navy Captain. For that matter, it is unlikely he was a Coast Guard Captain. As far as I know, no Coasties have flown in space. This leaves the US Army, Air Force and Marines as all having colonels. Again, as far as I know, no Army aviator flew in space until well into the Space Shuttle era, and we do know Jack Crichton walked on the moon, which meant he flew in space in the early seventies at the latest. In AHR, Jack mentions flying home to Annapolis to see John on his birthday. Annapolis, Maryland is the home of the US Naval Academy, which produces officers for both the Navy and Marines. So, while it isn't impossible for an Air Force colonel to have decided to settle in Annapolis, the chances seem to be good that Jack Crichton is one of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children.
Conversely, has John always been a civilian? In the Premiere, Aeryn asks John for his unit. He replies that he's not military. Then he confuses us by saying at least not any military she's ever heard of. DUH! She hasn't heard of anything to do with Earth, John. In Die Me, Dichotomy, much is made of John's training in atmospheric flight, as opposed to Aeryn's training in combat in space. Not that John's impersonation of Tom Cruise impresses me. Ramming your opponent with your landing gear is far more likely to turn both the Prowler and the Module into a very large collection of spare parts, both mechanical and biological. I'd guess that John was a civilian scientist given flight training by IASA. If memory serves me correct, NASA does that for some of their civilian mission specialists to acclimatize them to flight.
Mainly I'd say it's John's repeated insistence that he's a scientist and his total lack of any killer instinct for a season or so that convinces me the boy is a life long feather merchant.
Lastly, let's consider Zhaan at Natira's vault. The eye patch. The helmet. The black suit with the silver belt. The attitude. Oh, yes. The Attitude! Could our Zhaan have been intended to look like an Oakland Raider fan? And Gigi in black leather and (sort of) silver skin? Didn't you expect them to butt heads and yell, "Just win, Baby"?
So, this is written at the end of February 2001. Aeryn is (temporarily) dead. John is laying around without the top of his skull. D'Argo is planning the Little House on the Prairie bit with Jothee and Chiana. Zhaan and Stark are about to become an item. Rygel's cab is honking it's horn. Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?
So, facing season three, I leave you with lines from that greatest of all Sebacean works of literature, Aeryn V:
"Rather proclaim it, Crichton, through my host,
And remember, be careful out there.