Meeting 11 (06/21/01)
This Eleventh Meeting of the Aeryn Sun Interpretation Society and Widow's and Orphan's Emergency Beer Fund will now come to order. The Members of the Society and Fund are reminded of our motto, courtesy of Dabee, "Carpe Cerevisi" which, for those deficient in Latin, means "Seize the beer."
I should take this opportunity to remind some of the Members, who shall remain nameless, that "seize the beer" should not be taken literally. We do not want to see Members chasing beer trucks down the street, catching them in their massive jaws and dragging them home, although the offer of a share was appreciated. I'm sure the Members concerned know who they are and will take this warning to heart.
Members of CBOOL, Claudia Black is Out of Our League, we have some music especially for those of us who realize that we are, indeed, truly not worthy of the Exquisite Miss Black. Our very own Uncharted Territories friends, those quadrupeds who boogie oogie with the best of them, our own razor tooth vorlag amigos are here tonight. Yes, the Furry Bottom Boys will be singing "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." Those of us who have heard the Furry Bottom Boys know that they sing from the true knowledge that....
A vorlag crying jag? Well, of course I understand how they feel. Who doesn't, upon realizing that Perfection is Forever Beyond One. Okay, scratch the Furry Bottom Boys. Er, not literally.
Well, shall we continue? Before we discuss that Peacekeepers and our Favorite Leather Clad Ex-Peacekeeper I would like to discuss the recent events of the show.
Zhaan? Requisite in pacem, Big Blue. Since the talented and charming Miss Hey has a new gig, "Area 23", coming up soon, I guess we canít be too sad. I know absolutely nothing about the circumstances of her departure from Farscape, so I wonít speculate.
However, some thoughts. I recently started buying the Farscape CDs and was amazed at how fun-loving and mischievous Zhaan was at the start of the series. I really felt that TPTB could have done more with Zhaan that they did. On the other hand, there may be a good reason why David Kemper lives in a mansion high above La La Land, is chauffeured to work in a limo with it's own pool and a live band, and has three secretaries named Bambi. While I, on the other hand, toil for the Gob'ment, ride on BART with the rest of the derelicts and, er, em, have a drop dead gorgeous wife named UCSBmom.
While it might be nice to have Zhaan back, I'm not sure itís that good an idea. I mean everybody gets killed off and then brought back to life? Death should be more than just another career move.
BUT, I have always thought that Virginia Hey would make a superb, kick ass Peacekeeper. Her size, (over six feet), blonde hair and just general appearance is perfect. After all, Miss Hey threatened me at Creation Con 2000. How was I to know that wasn't a lost and lonely beer that no one loved anymore? (Okay, that really didnít happen. But I will let you imagine what did happen.) But, imagine--
Captain Cruella de Zhaan enters the torture chamber of her Command Carrier.
Stark? Going to work out? Hard to tell about the boy. Not sure. Uncertainty abounds. There is a great disturbance in the Force. Oops. Wrong show. Craziness is hard to live with, from a lot of perspectives. Yeah, ask me about it. One thing, though. The new duds that Zhaan bought him? NO WAY! If there was ever a character who looked like he should be panhandling for spare change around Union Square, it's our boy Starkers.
Jool? Dad will now surprise you by coming down four square as fervently undecided. So far she has all the moxie of a limp dishrag. She's a wimp. A wimpess? A wimpette? A wimpatrix? Can't even kill herself. She does scream a lot! But, TPTB got us with Chiana. Yes, old Dad remembers much anti-Chiana agitation on the BB. Who would get rid of our little Whore with the Heart of Gold now? Not Dad. So, we'll just have to see. But we know so little about Dear Jool other than that she's a total wuss. Her dear departed cousin had about 47 advanced degrees as I recall, but in what? If Jool is the best-educated art historian on Moya, she's going to be dead weight. We'll just have to watch and wait and see how the FNG does.
Captain Bialar Crais as a sensitive guy, worrying about the ethical proprieties of bank robbery and murder? Let us hope that Our Boy Crais remains the lovable, sick, twisted, rogue we all love. Shoot first and ask questions next week, that's how I see Crais.
And now, is it time to talk about our FAVORITE television program? Well, no actually. We're going to discuss the recent book about our favorite television show, "House of Cards" by the Talented and Charming Keith R. A. DeCandido, a man who hasn't even bought me a beer for these kind words, but who still could. Just remember, Dad's principles are not for sale. Rental is an option, however. For those of you who havenít read the book, please go outside so that Larry the razor tooth vorlag can explain the error of your ways. BTW, Dad gives the book six beers. Yes, the coveted Golden Six Pack. The only thing that kept it from getting the Golden Six Pack with Pizza Clusters is a depressing lack of wet, passionate, sloppy nonstop sex between John and Aeryn. Hey, fifty pages would have been fine.
The plot involves Rygel losing Moya in a fixed card game on a gambling planet. The crew then has to do various things to earn Moya back. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Aeryn meets a PK tech from her past. Later, she explains to John. The following is one of those brief quotations for the purpose of a review which seem to be exempt from the copyright laws, right?
Aeryn took a deep breath. "A few cycles ago a Peacekeeper regiment rebelled against their commander. Actually, they rebelled against the Peacekeeper establishment altogether. The Fantir regiment had led several successful campaigns against the Scarren and were considered heroes. We were suspicious of them for a while, felt that they were becoming too powerful, but we didn't have any proof, and their status made it hard to accuse them of anything directly."
This is all that there really is in the story of the Fantir regiment. It just sets up Aeryn's conflict with a man on the planet who has spare parts Moya's crew needs. Two interesting things here, though. One, the only thing that Aeryn, or anyone else, seems to suspect these guys of is being too powerful. Not "They were so powerful that they started selling Prowlers on the black market". Not "So powerful that they refused orders". Not "So powerful that they double-parked in loading zones". No, all that Aeryn says is that they were "too powerful."
Secondly, who gets to investigate the overly powerful Fantir regiment? Aeryn Sun and the Pleisar regiment. Excuse me, but at what point have we ever seen Aeryn making like Columbo, or Sonny Crockett, or even McGarrett?
"Book 'em, Johno. Too Powerful One!" Cue the guitar music.
Now I assume that Mr. DeCandido does not spend his idle hours closely examining the relationship of Aeryn Sun and the Peacekeepers to the Universe in which we live. I'm sure all he wanted to do was to make a problem for John and Aeryn and the rest of the crew to solve. However, I did ask Mr. DeCandido a question at the online chat at the Sci Fi BB a while ago as to whether he had received any spoilers from TPTB about the Peacekeepers.
Moderator: <UCSBdad> to <Moderator>: We got a little more background on the Peacekeepers in House of Cards, the mutiny of an elite unit, etc. Any further info about the Peacekeepers you picked up?
Also, I point out that this book was reviewed at some point by TPTB and if the idea of a "heroic" Peacekeeper regiment mutinying was way out of line, I'm sure something would have been said.
"Keith? DK here. Drop the revolting Peacekeepers, Rygel as a center in the NBA and the fifty pages of wet, passionate, sloppy nonstop sex between John and Aeryn. Yeah, the rest is fine."
So why did the Fantir regiment mutiny? We donít know. Aeryn said, first, that they rebelled against their commander, but then corrects herself and says they rebelled against the Peacekeeper establishment. Yeah, power to the people! Off the pigs!
"What are you rebelling against, Johnny?"
I have absolutely got to work that line into a fanfic.
But why rebel? At a guess, this was an elite unit. They had been in the forefront of some campaigns against the Scarren. Sure, it could have been a regiment of disgruntled conscripts. After all, Crais was drafted at about age ten into the PK. Boy, some draft boards are really tough! But I suspect the Peacekeepers manage to weed out anyone who is seriously disaffected. Permanently.
So what possibilities can we come up with from Earth history? The French Army in Algeria? Possibly. For those who donít know that little bit of history, France conquered Algeria in the 1830s and something like a million French colonists ended up living there by the 1950s. Algeria was NOT a colony, but a legal part of "democratic" France. The native Algerians were kept from voting out the French by tactics that would have been familiar to contemporary counterparts in Mississippi. The Algerians rebelled. Big surprise, no mon ami?
In 1954, the French Army, just back from losing a war in French Indo China, which is now Vietnam, found themselves in another colonial war in Algeria.
The French Army consisted of a large number of French draftees who only wanted to get out of Algeria in one piece and the much smaller number of French professional soldiers, conveniently assembled into separate units of the paratroops, and of course, the Foreign Legion. The draftees mainly provided troops for static defensive purposes while the professionals went out and chased the guerrillas.
Interestingly, the French, for a lot of reasons that need not concern us here, were successful militarily. By the late 1950s the Algerian National Liberation Front, or in French, Front Liberation National, (FLN) guerillas were few and far between in Algeria. However, the French lost the war politically. Does that remind anyone of anything? The French voters got fed up with the high cost of the war, both in money and lives, and wanted out.
The elite regiments felt betrayed. They had suffered for years to defeat the FLN and had finally done so. Now the (expletive deleted) politicians wanted to abandon Algeria to a bunch of Commies just because the frelling voters are peeved? You bet. Well, they rebelled in 1961. Regrettably, from their perspective, they lacked the experience in overthrowing governments that comes with practice. They neglected to seize the French Air Force transport aircraft, which promptly flew away, leaving the paras unable to get to mainland France. The draftee portion of the army was singularly unenthusiastic about dying for French Algeria and shortly thereafter the rebellion collapsed. The French left in 1962 and the Algerians have run the place, more or less, ever since.
The French Army had rebelled previously in the twentieth century, during World War One. At the start of the war, the Germans over ran a large part of northern France. The French Army suffered millions of casualties in the next several years trying to boot them out. The French generals were very enthusiastic about sending in waves of infantrymen to attack dug in machine gunners and artillery, but not terribly successful. Eventually, in 1917, the French Army mutinied and refused to attack any more unless the generals had some better plan than seeing how many dead they could pile up. Luckily for the generals, they were saved by large numbers of Americans and tanks, not necessarily in that order.
I donít want to be accused of picking on the French, although I do, so I'll mention the Newburg Conspiracy. By 1783, the military side of the American Revolution was over and the Continental Army was quartered around Newburg, New York. Congress was making plans to disband the army and get on with the peace. However, the US was broke. Remember, in those days, our economy was largely subsistence agriculture, and a little international trade, which had been mostly suppressed by the British. The army, feeling that they were about to be disbanded without the back pay they were due was unhappy. The unhappiness led to a full-fledged conspiracy to head for Philadelphia, then the capitol, and get their back pay at gunpoint. It took an emotional speech by General George Washington and lots of promises by Congress to get everybody to put down their weapons and go home peacefully when the war was over. And, I'm proud to note, the veterans got nice, shiny promises of back payment that weren't worth the paper they were printed on.
So, it is possible that the Fantir regiment felt that their sacrifices had not been appreciated by the Peacekeeper hierarchy and they were prepared to take matters into their own hands.
There's another possibility. Let's look back at the Roman Empire. We've used Rome as an example in many areas. Another problem the Empire had was a lack of a good method of passing power from one Emperor to the next. The Emperorship usually stayed within the family. If the Emperor had a competent son, or managed to adopt a competent son, things worked. But, if you got a dud Emperor like Nero, the only solution was for the Roman generals to take sides and see who could kill off all the other would be Emperors.
The first Roman Emperor was Julius Caesar's nephew, Augustus. He was succeeded by various descendents of Julius Caesar until the line ran out of steam with Nero. In 68 and 69 AD the Empire had a total of seven people all declaring themselves to be Emperor and all having some part of the army to back them up. A brief civil war ensued and the eventual winner was one Titus Flavius Vespasianus, better known as Vespasian. He was the Roman commander in what is now Israel and besieged the Jewish fortress of Masada, an event that looms large in present day Israel. He was also was responsible for the Coliseum in Rome, which in those days was known as Vespasian's Coliseum, there being lots of other coliseums in the area. Vespasian was followed by his son Titus who was an excellent soldier and on the death of Titus by a second son Domitian, who was not an excellent soldier. Domitian had a nasty accident of the sort not entirely unfamiliar to dictatorships to this day and was succeeded on the day of his death by the Emperor Nerva. I'm sure it was just a coincidence that Nerva was in the market for a nice, new Emperorship that day. The Empire was then run by a succession of soldier-emperors until the death of Marcus Aurelius who left his son Commodus in charge. Yes! The bad Emperor in "Gladiator." For you "Gladiator" fans, Commodus ruled for a dozen years and was strangled in his bath by an athlete named Narcissus, not stabbed by Russell Crowe.
Now things started to go seriously wonky for the Romans. In the Second century AD there were twelve Roman Emperors, starting with Trajan in 98AD and ending with Septemius Severus who ruled until 211 AD. Two of those never managed to do more than run parts of the Empire until they were defeated and killed by the 'legitimate" Emperor. In the Third Century, there were some 88 Emperors. Of course, not all of these Emperors ruled over a united Empire. Many ruled briefly over parts of the Empire. There were, for instance, two British Emperors. One, Carausius is a good example of the "Emperors" of the later Empire. He was a soldier who was given command of a fleet and army based at what is now Boulogne, France and ordered to police up various pirates operating in the area. He was successful, but somehow not all of the loot he recovered made it back to the Imperial treasury. The Emperor in Rome, one Maximianus Herculius, ordered the boy home to account for himself. Carausius, figuring that his explanation of " Loot? What loot? I donít remember any loot." wouldnít work, took his fleet and army to Britain and declared himself Emperor. He never ruled over more than Britain, and maybe the area around modern Boulogne. Because the rest of the Empire was busy with other barbarian invasions, and other unpleasantness, he remained the "Emperor" of Britain for about six or seven years until the Emperor finally got around to him. As happened with unsuccessful Emperors, his own troops killed him off when it became obvious he was a lost cause.
This sort of thing went on to the end of the Empire. By 476 AD the Roman army consisted almost solely of feoderates, that is, barbarian tribesmen under their own tribal leaders supposedly working for the Emperor. Needless to say many such soldiers, not to mention their commanders were looking for a nice soft job on the beach with a nice jug of wine and a young lady. Hey, it's hard work being a barbarian. Wearing those itchy fur clothes, (sorry, Larry) trotting all over looting and pillaging. Most of the barbarians entering the Empire in the last century or so of its existence came not to overthrow the Empire, but to enjoy its benefits. And how better to enjoy yourself than to grab off a little portion of the Empire for yourself?
In September 476 AD, a "Roman" general of Germanic descent named Odovacer deposed Emperor Romulus Augustus and sent him into exile. Odovacer declared himself the King of Italy. Previous barbarians had occupied large parts of the Western Empire, the Visigoths in Spain and Gaul and the Vandals in Africa, and now Italy. The Western Roman Empire was gone.
So, is that the story of the Fantir regiment? An ambitious commander deciding to grab a few ex-Scarren planets for himself and his men? If the Peacekeepers are already starting to fragment and fray around the edges, it makes sense. It doesn't make sense if the Peacekeeper command has full control of the rest of their armies and fleets. Rebellion under those circumstances would obviously be fatal.
Still, it's a nice thought, though. Declare yourself Emperor of something. It worked for the Emperor Norton, but, of course, he was from San Francisco. Hmmm!
Okay, Rockne and DK, I'm now in charge. Emperor Dad of Oz. Hand over Claudia Black and no one gets hurt, see? Hey, I had to try.
We could go through a lot of other human history, but I donít think we'd get much farther in the rebelling soldiers category. Most either rebelled because they felt their sacrifices were unappreciated, or they decided they could get a better deal by grabbing their own piece of the pie.
Nest issue. Aeryn Sun, P.I? Ex-squeeze me, Aeryn and the kick-ass Pleisar regiment investigating a suspected mutiny? Well, maybe.
Okay, the Peacekeepers have Disrupters like Jenavia Chatto from "Look at the Princess." Can't you just see our little Jenavia boogying over to the Fantir regiment to get the, er, lay of the land, so to speak?
Or how about Scorpy? As I mentioned at the last meeting, Wayne Pygram referred to Scorpy as being part of the SS at Creation Con last year. I always assumed that Scorp-man wasn't really a scientist. Playing with the Aurora Chair all the time is a dead give away.
Anybody read Alexander Solzynetsin's "The First Circle"? It's about a group of political prisoners in the Soviet Gulag who get to work on various important projects because of their technical expertise. Since most of the traitors were only charged with treason to allay Joseph Stalin's paranoia, there was no reason not to trust them. So, if you were a highly qualified aeronautical engineer convicted of treason, you could end up in a reasonably comfortable prison designing aircraft, with the secret police watching and taking credit for whatever went right.
Solzynetsin had a nice joke about the political prisoners.
Prisoner #1: "How long is your sentence?"
I bet D'Argo, Zhaan or Rygel would like that one.
So, where were we before I interrupted myself? Oh, yes. Why not use some people whose line of work is torturing and assassinating and that sort of stuff? Well, if your little Peacekeeper empire is sort of shaky, you really donít know who to trust. A successful spy might be tempted top play both ends against the middle just in case the Fantir regiment really became all powerful. I mean Dear Jenavia is not dumb. And Scorpy? Would you trust Scorpy? Not our Dad, no sir. I'm still wondering why Scorpius is so gung-ho for the Peacekeepers as a means of revenge against the Scarrens. The Peacekeepers are certainly offended by his existence. Good old Lieutenant Braca canít help but whine about the increasing numbers of half-breeds around while waiting for Jothee to arrive from the slave ship. And, Scorpius is right there to over hear him. Okay, so Braca is no rocket scientist to mention that in front of you know who, but Peacekeepers are very concerned about the "purity" of their bloodlines.
BTW, does the thought that Braca's finding so many people who are part Sebacean and part something else are getting more numerous every day suggest anything to you about the Peacekeeper's beloved bloodlines?
Again, if your little Peacekeeper Empire is falling apart around you, you will probably have too few competent, lethal and intelligent Disrupters like Jenavia to send off to all your trouble spots, not to mention too few very lethal Scorpius's to solve your problems. Too FEW Scorpies? Now there is a problem you donít want.
Let's think a little more about the SS for a bit. Without oversimplifying too badly, Hitler wanted a group loyal to the Nazi Party and himself to balance the conventional military that was presumably loyal to the German state. The Waffen, or armed, SS was the Nazi party's army and ended up with thirty or so divisions at the height of their power. The SS security service was the Nazi party's very own secret police, the Gestapo technically being a part of the government rather than the party. This was pretty much over kill as the German Army remained absurdly loyal to Adolf Hitler for the entire war. Although, one Army based conspiracy did come close to killing Hitler with a bomb on July 20, 1944. Then again, how many dictators ever lost power by being too paranoid?
Consider the Soviet Union for another example. In the 1930s Joseph Stalin used the secret police to purge the Red Army who he feared was getting too powerful. In the 1950s, after Stalin's death, the military was used to suppress the secret police, who were now felt to be too powerful.
Yes, all good Peacekeepers must understand this; that political power grows from the barrel of a gun. But the Peacekeepers must always command the gun; the gun must never command the Peacekeepers. I bet Scorpy knows that one.
It may be that the investigation of one regiment by another was due to internal peacekeeper politics." No", says First Command, "we canít have Scorpius investigate, he's not trustworthy, and the Disrupters are too powerful as it is." Much head scratching, worrying and general viewing with alarm. Finally someone in the back, speaks up. "I know, let's use the Pleisar regiment to investigate the Fantirs." "Damn, I'm glad I thought of that", says the Admiral.
One last possibility. There was no investigation and so no need for quality investigators. All that Fantir was ever guilty of was being too powerful and they were going down. Anybody remember Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy? Back before that became a cottage industry? The Evil Galactic Empire can't attack the Foundation. Why? Because a competent general would be too great a threat to all the politicians in uniform that wield power in the declining Empire. And an incompetent general is no threat. In the book, General Bel Rios almost conquers the Foundation before he's hauled back home and shot. I assume he was too powerful.
Two minor notes. Mr. DeCandido referred to the contempt that commandos had for techs. We've discussed the stratification of Peacekeeper society in previous meetings. But keep that in mind when we get to "Different Destinations."
Lastly, the book describes one of the gangsters running the gambling world as wanting to bring in the Peacekeepers to help run things. Not for their people skills, I assume. Can you imagine the Peacekeepers running Las Vegas? Instead of Wayne Newton we'll have The Terminator threatening you until you put that last dollar in the slot machine. If he hadnít screwed the pooch would Bialar "Bugsy" Crais have been sent out to run the planet?
Okay, on to the rest of season three, which for our purposes is pretty much limited to a discussion of "Different Destinations."
Okay, I lied. Aeryn did mention, in "Season of Death" a little something about a battalion turning to silly putty because of, GASP, emotions! If the Peacekeepers are falling apart, wouldn't a collapse of their vaunted emotional control go right along with a collapse of discipline? Not to mention accounting for all those "mixed breeds" that Our Braca so loathes. What do you bet PK shore leave is starting to resemble Po City? If you need that explained to you, ask a sailor.
Okay, now we'll talk about "Different Destinations".
The first thing we have is the Peacekeepers as the good guys.
"Who were those masked men?" say the formerly oppressed peasants, or sodbusters, or nurses.
But it was entertaining to see Aeryn excited about her Peacekeeper heritage again. Aeryn will always be a soldier, I suppose, but to what purpose? Now, even if everyone on Moya finds their way home, (excluding one lost astronaut), Aeryn still has a job in holding off the various barbarian hordes seeking to exterminate the nice nursies of the Universe. Hmmm. With her black outfit, if she can get a mask and learn to cut a "Z" in people, she'll have a new gig.
Let's look at Sub-Officer Dacon. He's the frelling cook, (okay, and the communicator) but he's obviously considered a combatant by Officer Tarn, and then, once he was dead, by the Peacekeeper command. Why, he was considered a hero by the Peacekeepers. There was none of the division into classes or castes we see in the present of Farscape.
BTW, I'm not sure that I accept the idea that the techs are held in contempt by the Peacekeepers. They are definitely lower on the totem pole, but have we seen any contempt? Sure, Aeryn is very bitchy to Gilina when first they meet in "PK Tech Girl", but Gilina, at that point, would cheerfully turn Aeryn in and watch her get her brains fried and go into the Living Death. Aeryn doesnít seem to have any problems accepting Gilina by the time "Hidden Memory" rolls around. Of course, by then Aeryn has left a good bit of her PK ways behind.
Crais is contemptuous of Lt. Velorak in TWWW, but Crais is contemptuous of everyone.
Chiana got braced by a PK guard while trying to recover the tissue sample for Aeryn. But, it looked like she was trying to be a screw-off so the guard would knock her down, so she could grab the sample.
But, the good sub-officer Dacon is every bit a Peacekeeper at the time he meets Aeryn. I suspect there may be a considerable class difference between Techs and Commandos or PK pilots, much as there is between officers and enlisted people in the Earth militaries. Or, perhaps between the very small number of military pilots who go and fly in combat and the great mass of people who stay back at the base, or carrier, and do aircraft maintenance, or provide security, or keep pay records, or even cook.
I was interested that in Dacon's time, he wore the same uniform as the rest of the Peacekeepers, even down to the little officer's gorget or whatever he had around his neck. In Aeryn's time, Peacekeeper Commandos and pilots wear cool leather uniforms while the techs wear what look like old Air Force flight suits, or considering where they are, probably old RAAF flight suits. I've worn the damned things a time or two and it is impossible to look incredibly cool, even if you are a young, devilishly handsome UCSBdad. Okay, young.
But, you say, so what? TPTB have a budget and they went off and bought up some old flight suits to costume a large number of extras in something cheap. Maybe. Has anyone seen the DVD of "Lawrence of Arabia"? It comes with a documentary on the making of the movie. They mentioned that the costumers had Peter O'Toole's British Army uniforms intentionally tailored badly so that he always looked out of place and uncomfortable with the British Army back in Cairo, and so much more comfortable and relaxed in his Arab robes.
So, compare Alyssa-Jane Cook in a baggy green suit with Aeryn Sun in tight black leather. Those raven tresses, the endless blue eyes, the impossible smile, the swell of her magnificent.... Ahem. Yes, where was I?
Aeryn and Dacon are able communicate quite easily about military matters. Aeryn fits right in with a group of Peacekeepers who are several hundred cycles behind her time. Aeryn's pulse pistol is more advanced than Officer Tarn's weaponry, but they still carry pulse weapons. The Peacekeeper society that Aeryn was a part of is little different from Sub-Officer Dacon's society. How many soldiers from the year 2001 would have anything in common with a soldier from say 1701? I suspect that the Peacekeepers are a rather static society, and not only in terms of weaponry.
After all, we have PK techs, but have we seen any PK scientists? Even Lieutenant Velorak is referred to as a military tech. Did we ever see Scorpy working hard on building his own wormhole back at the Gammack Base? When Scorpius finally extracts the chip from John's brain, he brags to Lt. Braca that they can head back to a brand new Gammack Base that's ready to start acting on the wormhole information on the chip. Not back to a Gammack base where the PK's best and brightest are hard at work already on wormholeology.
The leader of the Venek Horde refers to the PK as the "Peacekeeper Militia." Militias are usually part time military forces, or occasionally, para-military or internal security troops.
Vichy France, the government in charge after France surrendered to the Germans in 1940 put together an internal security force of some 150,000 French fascists called the Milice. In 1940, the French, and a lot of other people, thought that the Germans were a cinch to win WWII. Vichy France cooperated with Nazi Germany and the Milice has been described as the brother of the German Gestapo.
The Soviet civil police, those charged with suppressing non-political crimes, were called the Militia. They had no particular internal security or paramilitary role. On the other hand, Soviet society was highly militarized to begin with.
In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the U.S. Militia, that is the military forces at the disposal of the States, rather than the Federal Government, were used to break strikes and suppress labor unrest. The Ludlow massacre is an example of this. A miners strike in Ludlow, Colorado in 1913-14 was suppressed by the Colorado Militia, company police and hired strikebreakers, who used machine guns on the miners. The Ludlow Massacre was one of the great events of the Progressive era. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about it, and John D. Rockefeller claimed that it was all the miners fault. The resulting twenty dead probably expressed no opinion.
While I wouldnít put strike breaking past the Peacekeepers, they donít seem to be the internal security kind of militia.
Americans best know of the militia from our Colonial days. When the British first set up their colonies in North America, they brought the militia system with them. Basically, every male was required to have a weapon and be prepared to fight. They fought first against the Native Americans and, later, added the French in Canada to their enemies.
In the early days that worked fairly well. People probably all kept a musket handy to blast the occasional deer for food and had some knowledge of fieldcraft. As the colonies got larger and more populous, you suddenly had some Boston merchant traipsing around the woods wondering, "How you load a musket again? First the bullet? No, no. First the gunpowder." Who is on first?
So, the militia was called out selectively. Those who would actually be dangerous to the enemy and not their own side went to war and the rest paid a tax to support the militia. By the time of the French and Indian War, (The Seven Years War to the rest of the world), Americans were being recruited into Provincial Regiments. That is, more or less full time military units recruited by their Province, what we now call States. At the end of the wars, Provincial regiments would be disbanded and re-recruited when the next war started.
Interestingly, the Jersey Blues, a Provincial regiment from New Jersey during the French and Indian War had a 20th Century counterpart. Until the post-Cold War reduction of the military, the New Jersey National Guard provided an armored division called, "The Jersey Blues."
Another example of militias metamorphosing from a part time force of citizenry into a full time professional military force are the Italian crossbowmen of the late middle ages and early Renaissance. Simplifying no more than I normally do, the heavily armored knights in feudal society were based in the country-side where they received land in return for military service. The city states of northern Italy were in the business of trade and manufacturing and lacked the rural hinterland to support an army of knights. So, the middle classes formed a militia to defend their cities against whoever was out there. If you're standing on a city wall, a crossbow is a good weapon to have. It isn't as hard to learn to shoot as a long bow and has good range. The rate of fire was a lot slower than a long bow, however.
As with American militias, the Italians got more professional as they had to go farther afield as their city states grew. The Republic of Venice, for instance had trading colonies all the way down the coast of what is now Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Albania, all the way to Cyprus. Once you got out behind the city walls, you needed a man to carry a VERY large shield for the crossbowman, called a pavise, so that the crossbowman would be protected while reloading his weapon. You don't want to stand around letting people try to ruin your day while trying to reload a crossbow. You hid behind something. You also needed a nice spearman handy in case anyone managed to get close to you. So, the armies got bigger and had to stay in service to garrison those lovely places like the Balkans.
In 1415, a contingent of Genoaese crossbowmen served in the army of France at Agincourt against Henry V. The crossbowmen are usually described as mercenaries, but Genoa had a very close alliance with France, so the term mercenaries probably only meant the Genoaese had to be paid in cash as opposed to the French chivalry who fought because it was their feudal obligation. Eventually, the Italian city states turned more and more to mercenaries, known as condotierre, or contractors, to provide their armies.
Another good example of militias turning into professional armies are the Greek hoplites of antiquity. The Greeks fought in a heavily armed formation known as a phalanx. The formation was between eight and sixteen people deep and as wide as you had troops for, with everybody pointing a very long spear at the enemy. Everybody needed a helmet, a shield, a long spear (called a pike or sarissa, in Greek), and a back up sword. A curraiss, (armor over the chest) and some greaves, (armor for the lower legs.) were good ideas, but not absolutely necessary unless you got to be in the front row of the phalanx.
This equipment was very expensive for the day, so only the wealthier members of society could afford to be hoplites. The wealthier members in the Greek city states of that era also were the ones with the vote. Interesting thought, making the Army and the voters one and the same. Ever wonder where Robert Heinlien got the idea of "Starship Troopers" from?
Anyway, when war became necessary, the hoplites would don their armor and head out foe the nearest patch of level ground to have a battle. The success of a phalanx depended on everybody standing shield to shield so that the enemy was presented with a solid wall of pikes and shields. Any kind of broken ground would lead to gaps in the formation that the enemy could attack.
Logistics was provided by a servant for each hoplite. Some member of the family who was too young or too old or too something to fight would carry a couple days worth of food, and a little wine. Oh yes, a little wine. About the time the food ran out, the voters would be having to get back to their city state since they had real lives to lead and couldn't be screwing around fighting all the time. So, early hoplite warfare was fairly quick. The economy of the Greek city states could not sustain really prolonged warfare.
The Spartans figured a way around that. They divided their society into a full time citizen army and a mass of slaves called helots. Now that sounds like our PKs. Hoplites and helots and Commandos and techs. They figured that if they worked the helots behinds off, they could afford to equip and supply a full time army. It worked. The Spartans, being full time soldiers were a lot better at manipulating a pike and a shield in battle, were better swordsmen when the enemy army started to flee and probably had a higher morale based on their training.
Eventually, the Greeks organized themselves into two sides, basically Athens and Sparta and fought it out in the Peloppenesian War. The Spartans won, but the net result was a bankrupt and much fought over Greece with a lot of unemployed soldiers and little else. Sparta, BTW, was so badly damaged in winning the war, that they soon were beaten by another city-state, Thebes. For a brief period of time, Greek hoplites were hiring themselves out as mercenaries all over the Mediterranean world. Alexander the Great soon put an end to that, but for a while a man with a good phalanx at his back could dream of becoming the King of Kings. (See Xenophon, "The March Up Country" for that one.)
The last little group are the Japanese ashigaru. Go back a thousand years, or so, in Japan and Samurai warfare was a ritualistic affair. The two armies would meet and one samurai would ride out and trash talk. He'd tell everyone how good he was and what a bunch of losers the other side was. Soon, someone on the other side would ride out and trash talk back. Then they'd fight and the loser would lose his head. Then the next guy would ride out. (Being nobles, samurai fought on horseback. Remember that cavalry exists to lend some dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.)
Eventually, at some point, a large rude melee would ensue. It was all about fighting nobly and honorably and if you lost the battle, you could console yourself with the idea that you got a lot of style points. Each army kept a mob of conscripted peasants around to do the heavy lifting and toting. At the end of the battle they could go looting and pillaging with the best of them, but weren't useful for much else. After all, they were the despised peasantry. Lesser races so to speak.
Then, firearms were introduced. Since being a samurai was all about being the best swordsman around, the peasantry got to be the musketeers, and pikemen. Add discipline, training and some good leaders and the peasant infantry was capable of blasting the noble samurai off the battlefield. To make a long story short, the Japanese solved this little problem by making the once despised peasant infantry into noble samurai. The lowest grade of noble samurai, but nobles none the less.
So, we have some possible Earth models for the Peacekeepers. Of those we talked about here, I think I like the hoplites, but TPTB have fooled me before.
Did I mention Agincourt earlier? Did you think Dad just happened to mention that battle without a reason? Donít answer that.
As it happens, the battle of Agincourt was immortalized in Shakespeare's Henry V. And, as it also happens, my good friend Larry, the razor tooth vorlag, is a member in good standing of the Royal Farscape Shakespeare Society. If you don't know Larry, visit the minutes of the last meeting. All will be made known to you.
As it happens, Lar has found a fragment of an ancient vorlag text that appears to have been written by Will Shakestail, the Bard of Vorlag. And, it appears to validate the long suspected link between Will Shakestail and William Shakespeare. In addition, there may have been other hands at work on that memorable "Romance of Aeryn V". The following translation has some stage directions not found in more commonly accepted canons of both Shakestail's and Shakespeare's works.
Here ends the fragment of text of the "Romance of Aeryn V".
Could John and Aeryn have traveled back in time to the age of Will Shakestail? Or, to the Earth of William Shakespeare or even Henry V? Perhaps further research by the vorlags and the Royal Farscape Shakespeare Society will find the answer. I mean John, Aeryn, Larry, Moe and a curly tailed vorlag? I wonder if there was a distinguished looking gentleman mixing margaritas for the masses at the St. Crispin's Day speech?
Amazingly, our meetings keep getting longer, but it is time to leave. Well, I suppose the bar might stay one for just one more round, or so. I will leave you with another bit of poetry that reminds me of John and Aeryn. I'll tell you about it the next time we meet.
The Life that I have
The Love that I have
A sleep I shall have
For the peace of my years
And remember, be careful out there.