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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Having an Episode: The Conscience of a King


I just love planet Q! There aren't many places like it: long purple sunsets, soft-pink rocks, all that natural beauty and a thriving cosmopolitan culture to boot! Q-city is amazing. There's a Starbuck's on every corner. Why they even have their own particular version of that historical TV reality series: "The Real Housewives of Q-city". I was so glad to know we were diverted there.

Tom and Martha: brilliant mind meets razor sharp cheekbones
The Enterprise was sent to check out Dr. Thomas Leighton's discovery of a new synthetic food that may put an end to famine as we know it! Coincidentally, Kirk and Leighton are old friends. Even more coincidental is the fact that Martha Leighton and I are old friends! What a coinky-dink! I know her from my younger days, before I went to Starfleet academy. Yes, Martha and I walked the runways of Paris together as fashion models. She was an old warhorse of the Paris runway when I arrived in the city, just a delicate pony. She was still a young beauty: The fashion world hung from her bone structure like a sequined evening gown on a silk padded wooden hanger. You could have cut apples with those cheek bones. Why they certainly sliced through the competition in their day! I'll never forget her advice to me the first day we met; she said "You have to be hungry to make it in this business." I was never sure if she was talking about ambition or starvation; both serve a model well.

On arrival Kirk insisted that I go to the theater with he and the Leightons. How could I refuse? We went to see Macbeth at the old Q-city Orpheum. Kirk seemed to think that this was somehow an Arcturian version of Macbeth. He kept going on about how interesting it was to have an Arcturian as Macbeth given their history and what not. I didn't say anything. You know how Kirk is, once he gets an idea in his head it just won't come out no matter how hard you shake him. I think he was just confused by the loose skin and deep bags under the actor's eyes. From a distance they do look kind of like the folds on an Arcturian. Kirk has never been very good at remembering or reading faces.

 (Above: I've added a picture of Karidian's Macbeth (left) and an actual Arcturian Macbeth (right) from the Montgomery Alabama Shakespeare Festival in 2256--actually this is a picture of Lady Macbeth, but you get the idea. They do look strikingly similar so Kirk's mistake is understandable.)

Lady Macbeth with a plumed water foul perched on her noggin
Well, then it turned out that Leighton had simply told a lie! He's not even working on synthetic food. He's working on edible plastic! (Which would have been easily verifiable if the higher ups at Space Central had just given it a little looky-loo.) Leighton brought us here, off our course, to see the Karidian Company perform Macbeth. At first I thought "Some people are crazy about the theater but this is ridiculous!" That wasn't it at all. Leighton believed that Anton Karidian, the founder of this troupe of actors, was actually Kodos the executioner! I wasn't so sure of that, but I did think the play was going to kill me--not so much from Karidian's own set gnawing. I was more distracted by Lady Macbeth's costume. She practically had a domesticated fowl roosting on her forehead! I kept thinking that thing was going to fly into the audience at any moment. Well, after the play I made my excuses and high-tailed it back to the ship as soon as I could. I didn't feel like listening to Kirk berate Leighton for the walk back to their home. Macbeth was enough drama for me for the evening!

Now here's what I know about Kodos: Tarsus IV was the sight of a federation terra-forming colony in phase 3 of planet transition (PT3). Everyone knows how dicey PT3 is, but Tarsus IV's situation was made critical when a mutated fungus destroyed the entire food supply. Help was sent for but would not, it was assumed, arrive in time to avert disaster. Governor Kodos decided to kill half of the 8000 colonists to save the others. I'm a little sketchy on how this was going to work and I believe history was too. There is a rumor that the colony had two primitive replicators that needed organic matter to create food from foodlessness and that Kodos wanted to recycle the dead into food cubes. Now, maybe history would have been a little lighter on Kodos had he asked for volunteers to off themselves, or held a food lottery where the winners got food and the losers became it. Instead he chose people based on his own desires to test his pet eugenics theories. He carefully divided the population into two groups under the guise of handing out rations. The first group of 4000 were brought into the ampitheater and slaughtered en mass! The remaining, on discovering his plan, revolted, and Kodos and his men barricaded themselves in the granary, which was sacked and burned to the ground just as help arrived one month earlier than expected. The charred remains of Kodos were found in the ash of the burnt granary. Of the 4000, only nine witnesses escaped.
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The Leighton's fashionable Q-city digs
Kirk was back on the ship not more than an hour after I arrived. He contacted me right away and insisted that I go to this little party the Leightons are having tonight. I tried to make an excuse; I said I was re-basket weaving my hair and that it would take all night but Kirk saw right through that. He knew I'd just done it the week before. I was caught in a lie and then felt obligated to go with him. Something was certainly bothering Kirk. He seemed lost deep in thought on the way to the party. I kept up the conversation and he'd throw in something every now and again. I suggested, in my capacity of cruise director of course, that we might transport a troupe of actors in exchange for performances in our tiny seldom-used ship's theater. I'm not sure he even heard me, but I was just trying to divert him more than anything.

The Leightons party was simply fabulous! Everyone had such fun. Oh, of course finding the hosts dead body kind of put a damper on the evening, but it is hard to throw a party without some glitches. Martha really knows how to entertain. Their house is of course a 23rd century minimalist retro-modern space-colonial ranch style. She served red food cubes, green food cubes, yellow food cubes and replicated cocktail wienies. With Tom's job they apparently have some pull: they had classic ritz crackers with canned cheese whiz swirled on the top and garnished with a green olive slice, an extravagance rarely seen this far from Earth.

We had drinks on the veranda in the purple glow of the sunset. Everyone associated with the local arts was there along with all the luminaries in from out of town for the Q-city Theater Festival. I was going in to powder my nose when I saw Kirk talking to a woman with stunning hair. It was piled on the top of her head like golden blond ribbon candy and cascaded down to flip out at the ends. Turns out it was our little Lady Macbeth. I hardly recognized her without a rooster perched upon her brow. I will say even out of costume she has a particular eye for fashion. (Is that how one can put it without being rude?) She was wearing a blue number, garishly garnished with blue silk flowers. It was less of a dress than a drape. In fact, it looked like the seamstress was called away just as she was cutting the skirt and returned without her scissors to finish the job. For all I know she was just sitting in her hotel room having tea and realized she was late for the party, stood up, wrapped the table cloth, centerpiece and all, around her silver shimmery tights and sped away. The sparkly tights were lovely, but I question her choice of sandals with them.

Kirk obviously took a fancy to this woman as they left together. That was when I realized she must be a follower of Sheikra. On the way out, she covered her head with an exquisite see-through head wrap, the kind the Sheikra's wear especially during Sheikradan. Not to be unkind, but she did look rather like a banshee hooker heading for the entertainment district.


Poor Kirk took off with our good lady Macbeth and didn't get a hundred yards out before they found Tom's lifeless body. Well, I of course took over at this point. Entertaining in the face of tragedy is an inborn, not a learned skill. Without anyone realizing what was going on, I made sure that everyone was supplied with to-go cups and the party moved without a pause to some nightclub downtown. Everyone thought it was planned and only a rare few of the guests noticed the wailing grief of the hostess as they made their way out. Poor Martha! She wanted to be left alone and so I left Kirk to deal with the authorities and made my way back to the ship.
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Our dear Lenore Karidian, Lady Macbeth sans the fowl, came on board to inquire after transport. Her hair was flawess. These theater folks are at least accompanied by make-up artists and coiffuriers with rare skill. Among their seamstress, their costume-makers, they also, obviously, have a furrier of immense talent as well. She was wearing a blue fur mini dress, with a neck-line to die for! The dress, the hair, both were fashion forward couture. Now, imagine an artist of ikibana carefully choosing a few rare botanicals of perfect color and twisting form. Let's say he then carefully sprays them with glue and tosses glitter upon them before adding a leopard print ribbon. What I'm getting at here is that Lenore is either in need of a stylist or she is in need of a stylist who isn't blind. She had her shimmery tights and the same shoes she wore to the party--sandals, yes, sandals. But that wasn't even the kicker. She had a taco shaped handbag that was lovely. But, the accessory she could have done without were the tan leather gloves. No one in their right mind would think of putting gloves with that outfit! Gloves? Was she off to cat-burgle some diamond from a museum or strangle some rival? I mean, really! Janice ran into her on the bridge and I thought I'd never hear the end of it. Actually, I think poor Janice is succumbing to space madness. I've not been letting my scissors out of my sight when she's in my chair in salonbay if you catch my drift.
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Seems that Kirk did hear my advice about bringing a theater troupe on board. As infuriating as Lenore's fashion sense is I'm excited to have them around. Kirk, it seems, is not in need of entertainment. He wants to get to the bottom of Leighton's suspicions about Karidian. Spock came in to Salonbay to see if I knew what was up with Kirk. He said he'd just seen the doctor and that Bones was not helpful at all. I told him what I knew. I told him about Leighton's suspicions and about Lenore's horrible fashion sense. I said, "Mr. Spock. You are a man of Logic, are you not? Well, Lenore's fashion sense is simply not logical." Mr. Spock would never say, but he trusts my intuition, which is something Vulcan's are particularly deficient in. He wanted more. I said "Lenore's fashion is not only misguided, there is something pathological about it." He, of course, raised one eyebrow, but said nothing. We chatted a little while longer. I swear he almost smiled when he found out that I hadn't heard the news about Sulu breaking things off with Riley. I think he heard it from the doctor. I'm not sure who likes gossip more, the doctor or Spock. Needless to say I was heartbroken at the news. They were such a cute couple.
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What a horrible week for Riley! Not only have he and Sulu broken up, but Riley was poisoned! No, not by Uhura's singing but by tetralubisol, a highly poisonous lubricant used on the ship. The doctor thought it must have been a mistake as tetralubisol and milk both look the same (and incidentally are stored in similar containers in the galley. NOTE: make suggestion to captain to store tetralubisol somewhere besides the fridge). I suppose there will be an investigation. At first I thought that Sulu and I would be the main suspects. After all, Sulu and Riley did have a nasty break up and, on the other hand, I'm the one who took Riley the milk and food cubes (they were left over from the party and since it ended with murder I just hated to see all that replicated food go to waste. I thought they might cheer Riley up). Rand certainly thinks Sulu did it and hasn't wasted a moment telling anyone who will listen to her theory. I got an earful myself. She's more broken up by their break up then they are and now she's about to ruin her friendship with Sulu. Anyhoo, I have in confidence from Spock that Riley and Kirk are the only two witness of the massacre on Tarsus IV and that if Karidian is Kodos then it would make sense for him to off them both. That lets both me and Sulu off the hook. I haven't met Karidian. He may indeed be Kodos. But it seems a little too obvious that he'd so blatantly try and kill Kirk and Riley.

If Riley being poisoned wasn't bad enough, someone set a phaser to overload and hid it in the captain's cabin. Kirk came on the com ordering an evacuation. I was in salonbay so we closed and sealed the doors and fastened everyone in with the contraband seat-belts that I had installed in the salon chairs. We locked our scissors in the drawers of our stations. Thank the gods we had a warning. Rand was in my chair getting a trim at the time and could have been killed or sheared bald without the advanced warning we got. Poor Rand, that child's nerves are fried. I have my suspicions that she's looking for a transfer. She's just so heartbroken over Riley and Sulu's breakup.  

Everyone was a little shaken up by the phaser overload but that didn't stop the buzz about the Karidian Company's production of Hamlet in our seldom used theater (Our theater only seats about 25. The stage is about three times larger than the house. The backstage area is only about two times larger than the house.) I was in the audience. I of course sat in the back so that my hair wouldn't block anyone's view. In my opinion they overplayed it a little for such a small house and for goodness sake, the noise from off stage! Hamlet's ghost! They could have raised the dead with all the confessing of crimes going on in the wings! As a matter of fact, they did raise the dead. Karidian shed his skin; Kodos emerged long buried from his grave; and Lenore shot her father in front of everyone. Yes child, she did. She was aiming for Kirk but Kodos threw himself between them with such a dramatic flourish! It was something to see. They did get a standing ovation from the crowd, and, might I add, the production was definitive proof that Shakespeare is much improved by adding phasers and actual murder, not to mention authentic insanity. It was the shortest, most thrilling play I've ever seen, but I do have a bit of a limited attention span. Um, what was I saying?

All in all, not much good came from this little episode. True, justice was brought to Kodos, but Loco Lenore left a string of bodies in her wake. I knew there was something sinister in her fashion sense. Fact: you can always tell a homicidal maniac by the accessories she chooses. Legends of the ghost of Karidian or Kodos have already begun to circulate among the crew and I'm sure will become a part of Enterprise's legacy. I guess amid all the loss we did gain that; every good old ship needs a ghost and we've got one that's not only a damn fine actor but also a mass murderer to boot!


Unfortunately, our little idea of bringing theater to the Enterprise was a bust. The actors were a little miffed at us breaking up their company, not to mention killing their founder. They were, as a result, a little unfriendly to the crew. Crew morale is at an all time low. The play was indeed the thing, the thing that pushed a jumpy crew right over the edge. Riley and Rand have both put in for transfers. I will miss them very much. If we didn't have a wedding coming up to lift everyone's spirits I don't know what we'd do. Mark my word, we desperately need to clock some shore leave hours soon, or we'll have a full blown mutiny on our hands!

They did get a standing ovation


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1 comment:

  1. I want to know who that blonde crewmember is to the far left with the short hair!

    ReplyDelete