Archive Page 2

21
Dec
09

Who’s Got Talent

Click  on the thumbnails for the full effect. Merry Christmas!

SAF 2009

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18
Dec
09

MEGARAN LEGAL – Epilogue

EPILOGUE

“Well, I feel we’ve all learned something,” said Denny, nestling back in his chair like he hadn’t a care in the world. He scanned the city nightscape from the comfort of his office balcony.

With its soaring Art Deco towers and intersecting streams of grav cars it had that Bladerunner quality shared by a surprising number of cities on a great many worlds – not because the movie demonstrated any prescience, but because when designing future cities everyone seemed bound to refer to it for inspiration.

“And what do you suppose is the moral of this story?” said Megara Three – or Alan, as he was just growing accustomed to calling himself – nestling in the adjacent armchair.

Denny emanated surprise. “Why, I should have thought that was obvious to a justice machine of your talents. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the gun is the real attention grabber.”

“You’re never going to relinquish that firearm, are you?” Denny was in many ways as predictable as post-Bladerunner science-fiction architecture.

“And aren’t you glad I kept it? A Cyberman waving a gun around? That could have gone on for ages, created all kinds of complications and then where would we be? The final act would have spilled over into the epilogue, that’s where. And nobody wants that.”

“No,” admitted Alan, “I don’t suppose they do.”

“However,” qualified Denny, discharging a puff of cigar smoke that he had transmatted inside himself some minutes ago, “if it makes you feel any better, I will stop packing when the bad guys stop packing.”

Alan didn’t believe that for a minute, but he decided it might be amusing to pursue the hypothetical. “But if the good guys are packing and the bad guys are packing then everyone’s packing and there’s more packing than FedEx and it’s all packing with nothing in the box.”

Denny bobbed higher in case there was a chance of catching the thought before it went over his head. “Huh?”

“We’re all too busy and anxious about protecting what’s ours when all we’re actually left with is the fear,” Alan explained. He could feel something weighing him down. Either his levitation circuits were faltering or he was managing to depress himself. “Fear and emptiness. And loneliness.”

“Ah,” hummed Denny knowingly. “So Six didn’t put out for you?”

“No,” conceded Alan. “She lost her case. I won mine. Inequality of that kind in a relationship is nearly always detrimental.”

“Next time, she wins, you lose,” advised Denny. “It’s okay when the inequality runs that way. You lose, you don’t lose out.”

Alan rotated in a carefully limited arc from side to side. Humans would have shaken their heads – they did possess some advantages. “Sometimes I think things were a whole lot simpler back when we were merely justice machines. It’s all this working in a private practice, mixing with humans. Humans complicate things.”

Maybe he should dispense with his newfound name of ‘Alan’ and go back to being just Three.

“You should try some.”

“What?” Dubiously, Alan eyed the glass of whisky that sat on the table between them. It was half-empty. Denny was always ingesting some new chemical. He was all about the hedonistic pleasures. “You’re suggesting I should swirl some of that foul concoction around my internal particle analyser?”

“No, no. Humans. You should try some humans.”

“Interfacing with humans, you mean?” Denny’s interspecies practices were infamous, but to be honest Alan had always thought it was an act he put on. For what purpose, he could never compute.

“Of course. What else are tactile fields for?” Denny gave off an abundance of smirk-like radiance. “You’ll never be the same once you’ve had human.”

“Nonsense. What could we possibly have in common?”

“Well, I thought that at first,” confessed Denny. “But it turns out, many of them share my views on firearms.”

Alan emitted a sigh. Denny was right. The sword didn’t stand a chance against that magnitude of firepower. What hope was there for the pen?

SAF 2009

15
Dec
09

MEGARAN LEGAL – Act Four

When Six floated discreetly into the courtroom, the Prosecutor was winding up his closing speech. Despite her glum feelings after the poor result from the parole hearing, she could at least commend herself on her excellent timing. The Prosecutor’s address would have contained a lot of extraneous detail, a lot of going over the key points of the case and nothing whatsoever that furthered the plot.

“And so, in summation,” intoned the Prosecutor grandly as he performed a very dull air show – back and forth – in front of the jury, “I cannot think of a defendant who has ever made both my job and yours easier. Deliberate, by all means, over your choice of sandwich at lunchtime, but the decision in this case has been made for you.”

Satisfied with his conclusion, he bobbed smugly to his chair, settling into a gentle hover beside the Cyber-plaintiff. Cyberleader Kring even managed to invest his expressionless face with a passable impression of victorious. At about the same time, Six had taken up her position at the back of the court, waiting to watch Megara Three in action. She knew he could pull some legal miracles out of the bag, but frankly, she had gone over the case notes herself and their client looked doomed.

Megara Three took his time levitating and approached the jury in the entirely unhurried fashion with which he approached everything except interfacing.

***

“Ladies, gentlemen and hermaphrodite hexapods of the jury, what is the prosecutor’s major malfunction? He appears to have issues. Issues that centre on the fact that the plaintiff is a non-organic life form.

“Like the Prosecutor, I’m a machine – do you hear me getting all wound up about it? No. And you won’t have heard the Prosecutor getting on his soap box before now. How many times have we heard of some wealthy Federation citizen utilising a Cyberman as a hat stand? A Cyber-head as a tea-pot or a chest unit toaster? Well the truth is it doesn’t grab much media time because it’s simply not a concern. Rights Organisations, the free press – not a squeak out of any of them. You can install Cybermen in your garden, equip them with fishing rods and little red gnome hats – nobody will offer any objections.

“Now the Prosecutor will argue that Cybermen used in this manner are defunct, non-operational – they have shuffled off this synthetic coil, kicked the bucket, they are ex-Cybermen. But consider the facts. Aren’t our homes and factories full of robots, put to work for no remuneration and rarely even our gratitude.

“But what did my client do? He salvaged numerous of these Cybermen from sites of their defeats – which, let’s face it, were numerous – and gave these selected individuals a golden opportunity in the world of professional sports. Major Galactic League Baseball. Rewards, fame, applause and the cheers of the crowds. And how many of them have complained? One.

“The one who – and I hesitate to bring this up for fear of salting a wound – happened to have been dropped from the team. Coincidence? Maybe. And maybe that’s where the mistreatment occurred. I dare say it’s a cruel blow to be excluded from sports. I wouldn’t know. I was never picked for a team. But I survived and if pushed I think I’d have the good grace to admit I wasn’t any good. My sporting prowess is confined to a few aerobatics.”

Megara Three paused to perform a few aerobatic manoeuvres, eliciting a few oohs and aahs from the jury. A cheap trick, but one he liked.

“But other more sporty types, well, I can imagine they might get upset. They might have an axe to grind. The plaintiff perhaps rates his swing more highly than my client, but really the evidence is in the batting averages. The plaintiff, to be blunt, simply wasn’t very good.

“But wait, Megara Three, I hear you say, aren’t you straying from the point. The point is that the plaintiff claims he didn’t especially want to be lifted from his situation and recruited into a baseball team. And even if his situation happened to be floating freely in space as a bit of debris recently repulsed from the Moon courtesy of a gravitronic device, we can’t assume he was happy to be salvaged. It’s an abuse of his rights as a sentient being to be made to play sports against his will.

“And consider, for a moment, what the Cybermen truly are. Many of you are still thinking that the Cybermen aren’t merely machines. They’re not just robots. They’re living, thinking beings with cybernetic parts. But these are the creatures who sought to absorb all of Earth’s energy and neglected to install a shut-off valve, resulting in their own destruction. These are the creatures who discovered they had a vulnerability to gold and instead of developing a defence against it, expended themselves in a decades long campaign to destroy Voga, completely overlooking the fact that more of the stuff was readily available from high street jewellers all across the galaxy. These are the creatures who, instead of venturing out to conquer selected parts of the universe, froze an army of themselves in a tomb only accessible by those who could solve puzzles of such complexity they have since been introduced into the curriculum for Ogron kindergartens. These are the creatures who quite frankly, for self-professed masters of logic, come up with the most illogical half-baked plans imaginable. Are those the actions of sentient creatures? I think not.

“No, what we are dealing with here is a machine. One of the stupidest machines in the known universe. And how many of us are routinely cruel to our machines? A thump here and there to get a reluctant computer working, hurling verbal abuse at the screen. Sexual abuse of washing machines, or so I’ve heard. I think, in fact, you can no more condemn my client for abusing a Cyberman’s rights than you could convict a man of assault for pushing around his vacuum cleaner.

“Something to consider while you’re choosing your sandwich.”

***

“Ladies and gentlemen – and hermaphrodite hexapods – of the jury,” said the High Justice gravely, “have you reached your verdict?”

“We have,” squeaked the Alpha Centauran somebody had elected as jury foreperson. The jury had been out for hours, but also Megara Three had it on good authority that the sandwich cart had been held up in the jury room for most of that time. So the odds were good that the main debate had centred on a tricky choice between cheese and pickle or a BLT.

The Alpha Centauran passed the bailiff the folded piece of paper and this the bailiff presented for the High Justice’s inspection. To his credit, the High Justice gave no reaction beyond a brief shimmer and that could mean anything from surprise to satisfaction to a faulty levitation circuit. The paper was duly handed back.

“Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?” he asked.

“We find the defendant,” shrilled the foreperson, milking the suspense for all it was worth, “not guilty on all counts.”

Gasps erupted around the courtroom, just audible under an exclamation from the defendant of, “Ha! In yer face, Kring!” The Jester, after signalling his happiness at the result with a brief hand signal directed towards the plaintiff, turned to thank his counsel with a handshake – soon realising that wasn’t going to work.

“No!” declared the somewhat disgruntled Cyberleader. “This is unacceptable. You will all be eliminated.”

He pulled a Cyberweapon and aimed it around the chamber, picking his first target. This provoked a few gasps, but because Kring hailed from a stage in the Cybermen’s development when Cyberweapons looked a lot like handheld lamps, a lot fewer gasps than had been prompted by the revelation of the verdict.

Suddenly, amidst the moderate consternation, a magnesium-bright beam flared out, lancing straight at Cyberleader Kring and blowing his head clean off. Megara Three did not have to conduct very extensive scans to discover who was situated at the other end of the beam.

“Denny,” remarked Megara Three. And he was all set to correct himself and say, “Megara One” in the same reproving tone, but when he played it through his central processors he realised it wouldn’t have nearly the same effect.

Which was when he was forced to conclude that maybe ‘Denny’ had a point about names after all.

To Be Continued…

12
Dec
09

MEGARAN LEGAL – Act Three

The Jester sat in the stand, not because he was feeling rebellious but simply because they had placed a chair there and it seemed only right to sit, the name of the ‘stand’ notwithstanding. He might have taken these thoughts further, but for the fact that he was still tinkering with the damaged Cyberman head he had brought with him to court for something to do. That and the fact that there was a glowing orb floating in front of him bothering him with all sorts of questions.

“I can’t help noticing,” said the Prosecutor, “that you are, even as we speak, tampering with the head of a member of the plaintiff’s race.”

“Hmm? Oh, aye. Different model though. I rescued this one off a freighter about to crash into prehistoric Earth.” He figured it best not to mention the irritating lad who had begged for a lift at the same time. The Jester wasn’t averse to picking up hitch-hikers per se, but their company had to at least make a ten second space-time hop bearable. He tapped the Cyber-head with his (non-sonic) screwdriver. “These guys change their appearance more than our lot.”

“Yes.” The Prosecutor made a throat-clearing sound, which was quite impressive considering his complete lack of throat. “Talking of ‘your lot’, are your people aware that you have been going around to various sites of thwarted Cyberman invasion plans and collecting members of the plaintiff’s race – of various models – and organising them into a baseball team?”

“Aye. The Mondas Mets. But to be honest, I don’t know if my lot are aware of it or not. We advertise the fixtures prominently, but they’re such an insular lot I don’t suppose they monitor the sports channels.”

“Your candour is – appreciated,” noted the Prosecutor, apparently never having encountered such an honest defendant before. “Is it not true that you are already wanted by your own people?”

“Objection! Move to strike!” piped up Megara Three. “My client’s past record has no bearing on this case.”

“Your Honour,” appealed the Prosecutor. “I am trying to establish that we are dealing with a reprehensible individual, utterly devoid of shame in his treatment of the plaintiff’s race.”

“Oh in that case, carry on,” said Megara Three.

“Eh?” said the Jester.

“I think,” said High Justice, tipping himself forward to glower down on the Jester, “that much has been established by the fact that he is working on a Cyberman right now.”

“Just a spot of repair work, Your Orbship.”

The Prosecutor positively glowed and emitted a contented buzz the likes of which the Jester hadn’t heard since he’d stumbled in on President Flavia just as she’d discovered a new and innovative use for the Mind Probe.

“I think,” said the Prosecutor, “the defence could use a similar ‘spot of repair work’.”

The Jester wondered if he should start worrying.

***

Parole hearings were ordinarily held at the Correction Fluid Facility, where in a complex process of transmutation, offenders were reduced to liquid and pumped into tanks of water that had been morally primed at a subatomic level. The hope was that the punishment would dilute their criminality, but it was surprising how many reverted once restored to their proper form and most Megara had been obliged to conclude that it was a temporary solution at best.

Megara Six’s case was different and the hearing was taking place in a special room in the main courthouse, where her client had been ‘beamed in’ by transmat from her current place of detention. She – the client – stood upright and expressionless in the transmat tube, awaiting the verdict from the trio of the Parole Board who were arrayed before Megara Six on the other side of a long table. The Board consisted of several Diplans and a Senior Justice, all of whom were by now intimately familiar with the case.

“This parole hearing is now in session,” declared the Senior Justice, already sounding tired. “Let’s try to keep proceedings short and to the point, please.”

Megara Six made a sniffy noise. So the Board were trying to railroad her. “If it pleases the tribunal, may I point out that my client’s liberty is at stake here. Is there any particular reason to hurry this decision?”

The members of the tribunal glanced at one another. “The fact is we’ve been beaming in the prisoner annually for ten years now. People are paying closer attention to the number of stones in the circle. In short, your client may be missed.”

Six looked to her client. No reaction from her, as ever, but that was natural. She was pertrified. A cruel and inhumane punishment, but Megara could be such hard-butts when it came to sentencing. Still, she wasn’t here to contest the original decision. Best not, in fact, as that would raise the matter of Cessair’s long list of crimes. And that, like breakfast on a rollercoaster ride, was something you just didn’t want coming up.

“Well, first of all,” she began, “since sentence was imposed, my client has been a model prisoner. She hasn’t once stepped out of line – ”

“Hard to do when you’ve been turned to stone,” the Senior Justice Megara scoffed openly. “I imagine that’s one of the reasons that sentence was imposed.”

Six glanced at her client a little nervously. It wasn’t going well. The tribunal was outwardly hostile. Cessair had that effect on all justice machines and a large number of people. Six herself wasn’t entirely comfortable pleading her case, but a client was a client. Cessair only gave gloomy looks whichever side of her you looked, and her disposition wasn’t improved in the slightest by her being so heavily encrusted with lichen.

“Further to her exemplary behaviour, I would add that my client feels a great deal of remorse for all her crimes and wishes nothing more than to make amends and reclaim her place as an upstanding pillar of society.”

Damn, she had meant to strike that line.

“And, ah, what evidence do you have of your client’s mental state?” prompted a Diplan gentleman.

Aha, this would clinch it. “I have the testimony of an expert witness who conducted tests on site. If I may?”

“By all means.”

Six transmitted the signal and a large screen activated to one side of the transmat tube. It revealed a shot of an old lady with wild white hair dancing around what was officially known as the Stone Circle Penitentiary, situated on 20th century Earth. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Devorah Shywind of te Fourth Quaniticle of Mirabilis Fantagora. Renowned Space-Witch and Diviner of the Ultraparanormal.”

“Excuse me?”

“I realise it’s a bit of a mouthful.”

“Is it important that she’s naked?”

“Um, I gather it does play a part in the communication process, yes.” Six called up her notes from her internal databank. “I believe she refers to her state of undress as being ‘skyclad’. The essential point here is that she has communed extensively with my client.”

“Telepathically?” ventured one of the Diplan females.

“Not as such. She uses a special instrument.”

“Ah. May we see this device?”

Six gave the nod a little reticently. If there was a weak point in her case it was here. Devorah dutifully held up a couple of bent copper rods. Six looked at them and winced. She remembered in preparing the witness how she thought that a pair of bent coppers was the worst thing to bring before a parole hearing. Ah well, no going back now.

“You seriously expect us to believe this woman can talk to Cessair of Diplos using these primitive tools?”

“As I understand it, there are, um, energy emissions – ” Six searched through her files for the data on all those paranormal studies she had retrieved for just this eventuality.

“Pah! This is nothing but hocus pocus religion!”

“It’s no substitute for a good blaster at your side, I’ll grant you, but – ” She knew she was on a slippery slope when she was throwing in Star Wars quotes.

“No. I’m sorry, Megara Six, but this is inadmissible. Your client will have to endure her sentence for another year. This tribunal is concluded.”

Six dipped dejectedly a few inches in the air. So dejectedly, she had slipped from metric into some obscure imperial system of measurement. As the members of the tribunal filed out, she turned worriedly to her client.

“I’m sorry. We did all we could.”

No reaction.

“We’ll have better luck next time,” she tried.

Nothing.

“Well, see you in a year then.”

Nada.

Damn it, if only she’d give her something. Anger, tears, anything would be better than this stone-faced silent treatment.

The transmat flared and Cessair was instantaneously transported back to her place in the Stone Circle. Her return would at least give Devorah something more to dance about.

Six decided there was nothing else to do but head over to the main courtroom to see if Megara Three’s case was faring any better.

[To Be Continued…]

09
Dec
09

MEGARAN LEGAL – Act Two

Act Two

“Cyberleader Kring, could you please explain to the court how you became involved with the defendant.” The Prosecutor hummed sternly and dipped in the direction of the Jester. The case had attracted a great deal of media attention, especially when people discovered Cybermen were involved, and the courtroom was buzzing. Not least because other Megara had joined the humans in the public gallery.

In spite of all the excitement, the Jester’s counsel, Megaras Three and One, hovered casually above their chairs next to their client, taking it all in their figurative stride. Doubly figurative since they weren’t moving and even if they were, striding would in no way be involved.

But the narrative had digressed and a question, or rather more of a request, had been put to the plaintiff currently seated in the witness stand.

Cyberleader Kring began to answer, “When I first encountered – ”

“Objection!” Megara One – or Denny as he was still insisting on being called – levitated quickly up from his chair. “He sounds like a Jew’s Harp. Badly played.”

His Honour, Megaran High Justice – known as HJ to those who wanted to be held in contempt – burned ferociously like a white dwarf gearing up to go supernova. “Megara One, what manner of objection is that?”

Denny performed a mini-bob, his impression of a shrug. “It’s not instrumental.”

High Justice rose to a loftier height and glowered. “You are overruled. And then some. If the witness will please continue – but, ah, speak up for the benefit of the jury.” The Megaran legal system did not require juries, but given the high profile of the case twelve humanoid volunteers had been coralled in for the task, their presence being considered preferable for dramatic purposes. They were almost as shiny as the Megarans, the people of Diplos going for fashions that looked like hand-me-downs from Terran glam rock bands, circa 1970AD. “Some of them may have trouble understanding your, ah, distinctive twang.”

Cyberleader Kring’s expression may have been fixed, with that letterbox mouth of his, but he did a great job of looking miffed. If he’d been blessed with the little tear-drop indentations at his eyes, he might have evoked more sympathy. He notched up the volume in his voice. “When I first encountered the individual known as the Jester, I was floating, disoriented in open space.”

“Objection, Your Honour!” Denny was up again, bouncing up and down like a lottery ball waiting to get picked. “Are we to accept the testimony of a witness who himself admits he was disoriented?”

“Your Honour,” appealed the Prosecutor immediately, “it is our intention to establish that the period of disorientation was purely temporary. Due, in fact, to the actions of another member of the defendant’s race, who thought that casting the plaintiff off into space would be a reasonable way of disposing of them. Also, there is no doubting the clarity of the plaintiff’s recollections. Memories are all stored as data and are a great deal more reliable than the vagaries of an organic brain.”

Murmurs of agreement passed around the Megara in the public gallery. While the humans and other humanoids present voiced quiet protestations.

High Justice was not to be swayed, least of all by humanoids. “Very well. You are overruled, Megara One. Again.”

“Objection! Computerised memories could have been photoshopped.”

“Overruled! On principle! One more outburst from you and I will hold you in contempt and your client will have to seek legal representation elsewhere.”

Denny settled back down, an aura of triumph surrounding him. The Jester frowned, wondering if perhaps the aura might have been misplaced and if he wouldn’t be better off seeking legal counsel elsewhere. He looked to Megara Three. “Er, Alan, how are we doing?”

“Please, don’t call me that. It’ll only encourage Den – Megara One.” Three drew closer to the Jester’s ear and dialled down his vocoder. “Trust me, it’s going splendidly though. This is just how things go. Megara One makes an ass of himself, then I sweep in with a majestic closing statement that saves the day.”

“Well, okay, if you say so.” The Jester dug in his ear, feeling that perhaps some wax had been vibrated loose. “Just one thing. When you cross-examine, could you do me a favour?”

The Jester leaned close and whispered his request.

Megara Three blinked. But consented. “I’ll do my best.” His was not to reason why. Anything to please the client, after all. And the practice still owed him for a damaged Cyberman.

***

“Any further questions?”

“Just the one, Your Honour,” said Megara Three and he floated nearer the witness stand to face Cyberleader Kring. “My client would like you to say, ‘Into the future, Cybertron.’

“Megara Three!” High Justice took a dim view. “Where are you going with this?”

“It’s a line from a track by a musical combo calling themselves the Black Eyed Peas, Your Honour. My client believes the plaintiff would do a grand job of it.”

“Megara Three! May I remind you this is a court of law, not a karaoke bar.”

“In that case, no further questions, Your Honour.”

“Good.” High Justice made an electronic bubbling noise that was the opposite of bubbly. “Now can we please proceed with the case? I’m still not sure we’ve clearly established what it is the defendant is supposed to have done. Prosecutor?”

“Prosecution calls the Jester to the stand.”

[To Be Continued…]

06
Dec
09

MEGARAN LEGAL – Title Sequence and Act One

Opening Titles

Megara Three bobs jauntily along the office corridor, aware that all optical sensors, organic and non- were on him. And rightly so.

Cut to –

Megara Six spins around behind her desk to flash a tantalising glimpse of her inner glow.

Cut to –

Crusty old Megara Four pulses sternly as he surveys the other Megara arrayed before him around the conference table.

Cut to –

Megara One blinks his surprise, a picture of innocence as he zips out from under the skirt of a legal secretary.

Cut to –

Megara Two buzzes out from an office doorway, a dotty and endearing lilt to her flight path as she scans the corridor.

(Wah wah wah wadawa wah wah.)

ACT ONE

A beam, magnesium bright, lanced across the conference room and blew the Cyberman’s head off. The man’s grin could be classed as collateral damage as that was wiped clean off his face. Thankfully it had nothing to do with the searing energy and much more to do with the smoking Cyberman’s head that rolled across the carpet and thunked into a table leg close to Megara Three’s chair.

“What the hell did ye do that for?” demanded the tartan-suited fellow. “He’s with me!”

Three sympathised, in so far as his coolly logical mind would allow, but for the moment he was more focused on directing the appropriate level of disapproval at Megara One. “There’s also the question,” he said, “of where ‘Denny’ here availed himself of the disruptor beam. I thought we’d had you disarmed.”

“I believe every sentient being has the right to bear firearms.” One appeared to realise that everyone was expecting something more from his explanation. “And the right to re-equip themselves behind everyone’s back as soon as the opportunity presents itself.”

“Well, we’ll just have to disarm you again, won’t we,” insisted Four, managing an effective glower by upping the intensity of his natural glare by several tens of factors.

“Nothing doing,” protested One. “You’ll have to pluck it out of my cold dead core.”

“That can be arranged.”

“Anyway, it was a Cyberman. I reacted on impulse. They’re known to be hostile to all other forms of life.”

Two heaped on the wry. “It’s questionable whether you’re a form of life.”

The man in tartan stepped up to the table. “And anyway, like I said, this one’s not hostile.” He stooped to pick up the head by its convenient handlebars. Behind him the decapitated Cyberman stood framed in the doorway, still upright and coughing up black smoke from his collar. (Three considered a comment about the office’s no-smoking policy, but deemed it unwise given that their betartaned client still looked a little upset.) “At least, he wasn’t,” the man added, glumly examining the Cyberman head in his hands. The fixed slit-mouth and round eyes with the little tear-drop indent actually combined to lend it a fairly miserable expression of its own. “Alas,” the fellow began with a sigh, “poor – ”

“Please don’t do that joke,” requested Three. “We’re very sorry for your loss. Of course the firm will reimburse you.”

“Reimburse? You’ve got to be kidding!” The man held out the head for everyone to see. “This is an Invasion era Cyberman. Mint condition, he was. Irreplaceable.” He glanced back at the charred and ragged neck of the still-standing body. “I guess I can effect some repairs. But he won’t fetch nearly as much on e-bay.”

“E-bay?” said Six, horrified. “Are you meaning to suggest you trade in sentient species?” She nodded to Three. “I can see now why you were dubious about defending this man.”

“No, no. I’m not saying I’ll sell him. Poor lad.” He patted his Cyberman’s crown. “But you know, if he’s no good to the team any more, I’d like to make sure he goes to a good home.”

“The team?” queried Six.

“Aye.” The fellow surveyed the room, taking in each of the bobbing glowing spheroids in turn. “Have you no gone over the facts of my case yet?”

“We were getting to that,” said Two, shooting a sidelong datastream at One. “Please, take a seat, Mr – ah?”

“Jester,” said the man. “The Jester. Pleased to make your acquaintances.” He smiled as he sat, depositing the Cyberman head in his lap – and then thinking better of it and placing it on the table in front of him. He winked at Six. “Will you be taking my case, lassie? I think I’d rather like hearing your siky tones pleading my innocence.”

“No, I’m afraid Megara Six will be busy with another case. A parole hearing.” Three did his best to bow towards the Jester. “I will be handling your case. Ably assisted by Megara One over there.”

One beamed. Not with the disruptor this time, but merely shining a tad brighter. “Can we at least drop the Megaras?” he suggested. “Excuse us, Jester, we were discussing the matter of names when you entered. Megara this and Megara that, it’s all a bit of a mouthful, wouldn’t you agree? And it’ll be hard to tell us all apart on the page.”

“Er, what page would that be?”

“The minutes,” said One like it was obvious. He winked at Claudia, the human secretary who had carried on tapping quietly away in the corner throughout. “You are taking the minutes, I take it, Claudia?”

“Trying to,” she said. “Except someone keeps buzzing me with their tactile projection field.”

“What I like to call my sphere of influence,” said One and he winked again.

“It always comes back to balls with you, doesn’t it,” observed Two with more wry on top of her earlier wry. “Now can we please get back to the matter in hand. Perhaps, Jester, you’d care to go over the key points of your case. What is it that you’re supposed to have done?”

[To Be Continued…]

03
Dec
09

MEGARAN LEGAL – Pre-Credits

[Warning: I apologise in advance. This ‘story’ is unlikely to make any sense to anyone but Doctor Who fans. Non-Who material from yours truly can be found at Tortenblog (fantasy) and 4dEvil (SF Comedy). As for this site, please don’t worry, this story will all be over in six parts.]

MEGARAN LEGAL

Pre-Credits Teaser

There was a buzz in the conference room. Several, in fact. This was nothing unusual for any room where a number of Megara were gathered – alien energy spheres were apt to emit some sound when hovering – but the first item on the morning’s agenda was cause for some excitement – and a fair amount of debate.

“I just don’t think we should take the case,” said Megara Three. “He’s a Time Lord.”

“Being a little racist, aren’t we?” remarked Megara One from the other end of the conference table. He hovered a short way above his chair, like all the Megara present, but was applying his tractor beam to push it gently back at what he liked to think of as a casual angle. He was fond of the human habit of leaning, but it wasn’t always easy to indicate posture when you were a spheroid. His political leanings, on the other (purely figurative) hand were notorious and it always amused him when his more liberal colleague, Three, sounded like he was taking a turn for the right.

“It’s not his race I’m concerned about. It’s the fact that he’s a renegade. He has a past record.”

“None of which will be admissible in court,” Megara Six pointed out in tones that couldn’t help being silky and sexy even when discussing business. Everyone knew it was down to a reprogrammed vocoder, but she wasn’t about to change her voice to suit them. Not when she could see the effect it had on the male staff and she was keen to retain that edge.

“It’s true,” agreed Megara Two, who had attempted similar adjustments to her vocoder, but her voice had come out a little gravelly. She didn’t mind: it still sounded quite sexy and fitted well with her seniority in the practice. It helped convey the wise air of a Megara who had been around the block a few times. And she had, that first day they had set up the practice and chosen their premises. Unaccustomed to human buildings, she had experienced some difficulty in locating the entrance. She had finally descended through a ventilation duct, only to be told that the doors at the base of the building and an elevator ride would serve as the conventional route to her office in future. She had – quite rightly – pointed out the redundancy of an elevator to a species that could freely levitate, but Megara Four had made it clear that they were now professionals in their own law firm and should act as such. Thus a little unnecessary luxury – like riding in an elevator – went with the territory. She had adjusted soon enough and now everyone, including Four, looked to her for guidance. “We can easily object to any attempt to bring it to bear,” she said.

Three was still not satisfied. “Yes, I realise that. But will our objections carry any weight when the Time Lords show up to bring him in?”

“Would they do that?” worried Four. “They have no jurisdiction here.”

“They’re Time Lords,” sighed Three. “They believe they have jurisdiction everywhere. Also, I’d hate to suggest such a thing, but they have no extradition treaty with Diplos, so if they do come after him it probably won’t be through official channels. I suppose it depends how badly they want the fellow.”

“Ah!” One chipped in keenly. “Then we hold them off with firepower. It’ll be like Rio Bravo, holed up in the town jail while the bad guys come to get the guy in our custody.”

“He’s not in our custody. He’d be our client.”

One wasn’t listening. “Or was it El Dorado? Which was the one with James Caan? I forget.”

“Well, movies aside,” said Four with heavily reinforced patience, “I think we should go ahead and take the case. We have, ahem, very little on our books at this time.” All the Megara present bobbed a shade lower. It couldn’t be denied: if they took this case, that would make two. It was early days and the success of their bold venture into private practice depended on their first big case. “And our client has been out enjoying the sights of Diplos for the past two days. If the Time Lords wanted him, they surely would have come for him by now.”

“Surely,” said Megara One, mulling it over. “That brings me to another matter.”

“Oh dear god,” said Four. “Not names again.”

“Well, it just so happens I think ‘Surely’ would suit Megara Two very well. Or ‘Shirley’. That’s even better. She sounds like a ‘Shirley’.”

“Does she really?” growled Four sceptically. “Personally I don’t see what’s wrong with our current designations. And I’m growing tired of you bringing this up in every meeting.”

“It’s on the agenda.”

“It’s always on the agenda,” said Six silkily. “You’re always putting it there.”

One inched suggestively forward over the table. “I haven’t made up my mind what to call you. How about we have a face to face and see what comes out? Or better yet, a face to – ”

“I’ll report you for sexual harassment,” she warned him.

“How can it be sexual? You’re an asexual justice machine.”

“I have a voice identifiably in the female range. That’s a different sex. Plus you know how good I am. I can make it stick.”

“If you’re going to talk dirty like that – ”

“Megara One – ” broke in Four. He’d heard quite enough.

“Call me – Denny.”

“I certainly won’t.”

“But when I repeat my designation over and over,” One protested, “I feel so foolish.”

“In that case I have a radical suggestion. Don’t do it.”

“But I have to convey the weight of my reputation somehow.”

“Then eat more doughnuts.”

One blinked, off and on once like a light bulb. “That’s not nice. Odo.”

“Excuse me?”

“You look like an ‘Odo’. Doesn’t he look like an ‘Odo’? What do you think, Alan?”

“Me?” Three was startled. He’d been busy thinking about the case and just how wonderfully identifiably female Megara Six’s voice was. He’d been picking up a lot of thoughts like that since working so closely with humans on a day-to-day basis. At first his precision-programmed legal mind had found it troubling. Right now he just found it – pleasant. “Me?” he repeated. “An ‘Alan’? Do you really think so?”

“Enough of this nonsense!” objected Four angrily. “Now can we please – !”

“Hallo! Sorry to interrupt,” said a new voice in an accent that each Megara’s internal database identified as ‘broad Scots’. “But have you lot decided to take my case or no?”

In the doorway was a shabby looking man in a shabbier-looking tartan suit and badly scuffed trainers. His unkempt brown hair was receding from his high forehead and heading for his shoulders. The bags under his eyes looked like they’d be good for carrying a fair quantity of duty-free, which went some way towards explaining the beer belly. His broad smile inflated his heavily stubbled cheeks and made his face look something like a grinning puffer fish.

Megara Three was set to castigate him for sticking his head in on their meeting, but stopped himself.

Just behind this unlikely figure stood a Cyberman.




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