3. Dear Diary
Starbase Gandalf, Starbase Gandalf on moon Gollum, this is Lieutenant Redshirt of the SS Undertaker, lasering in report of Marilyn, planet 1, fly-by recon.
I retracted bolo, as my trajectory took me through Marilyn’s Hair. Turbulence was moderate; afterwards a short burn got me back on course. Elvis eclipse lasted 0.8 kiloseconds. I counted 15 thunderstorms on Marilyn’s dark side. I saw a lightning bolt as long as Rosie is wide.
Weather on Marilyn’s midnight pole; temperature over 2000 degrees, winds gusting up to seventy k.p.s. Winds on terminator gusting up to escape velocity.
I sighted Madonna. The dwarf moon’s chaotic orbit is now polar.
No enemy activity detected.
# # #
The replicator has the potential to transform industry. Drawing upon either limited normal matter or near-infinite Dark Matter, it can replicate properly scanned and recorded supplies or personnel indefinitely.
As of this writing, the replicator machines themselves are bulky and massive, but the technology evolves rapidly. Perhaps one day they will be small enough for only two men with heavy machinery to transport. The technological implications of this are revolutionary.
The effects of the replicator on the socioeconomic structure have yet to be considered. Certainly the abolition of poverty is already happening, but the peace expected from such prosperity has yet to emerge.
Replication of human life is ethically problematic. Some decry it as an assault on human dignity, others praise its convenience in warfare.
To: Galactic Imperial Overlord Malvolio
From: Internal Security Advisor Mack Yavelli
Re: Princess Diary, entry CXXXVII
Princess Belladonna’s latest diary entry is enclosed.
# # #
OMG, is Daddy ever pee oh’d?! You think he was mad when those dirty rebels started replicating themselves? Or when that big space battle blew up in everybody’s faces? Or when the Henches wanted a pay raise and corpsicle-bred Ertson hemmed and hawed about making Crowley tell them to get back to work?
Well, dear Diary, that was nothing!!
When the latest attack was finally over, I left the panic room and headed to the throne room for debriefing, just like Daddy told me to. Then I heard a scuffle. I was in one of the secret passages, natch, and I figured, why not sneak a peek?
It was the side office, and there was Daddy, dragging Meeper out from under the big sturdy oak table where the little freak had hid. “Hasn’t a Galactic Overlord the right not to be killed while sitting on his own throne? In his own Ice Palace? On Level Thirteen?” he yelled. “And that damn rebel used a sword! A sword! What kind of nonsense is that?”
“Traditional spacer personal arms,” the creepy little computer sniveled. “Projectile weapons are unsafe aboard pressurized vessels.”
“I know that, you outer-crew spawn! I know about spacer traditions! My family has been inner-crew spacer for three-thousand-Rosie-years!” Daddy bellowed, poking Meeper’s scrawny chest four times at the three-thousand-Rosie-years. “But right now we’re not on board a pressurized vessel, we’re on board a planet! Planet Roseanne, lightly terraformed by my family to Lost Earth life-support standards! So we can use blasters, and I do!” he said, patting his.
“Meeper knows you do,” whined Meeper, eyeing the weapon.
“And that rebel – that thief – that Starfleet washout – that cargo-bred upstart Andover has the nerve to call himself New Spacer? And carry a sword?”
“And invade the Ice Palace?” Meeper added.
“And invade the Ice Palace! How dare he! We came over on the Methuselah! We commanded the Ship from Lost Earth, while Andover’s ancestors were sperm and eggs!”
“Well, master, he was destroyed.”
“Yes, he was; by my own blaster, even as he skewered me,” and Daddy smiled. He stroked the soul-patch on his chin. (He used to have a goatee, but he gave that up a couple of bodies ago when Andover grabbed it. That was when Daddy gave up the long fingernails too. They interfered with firing.) Then Daddy frowned. “But so what? He’ll just be back for more!”
Meeper said, “Meeper thinks – “
“You aren’t paid to think, computer, but to remember your orders!”
“What are Meeper’s orders, master?”
“Clean up and restock my Ice Palace! It’s a mess! Repair the damage, and get rid of all these disgusting corpses,” he said, kicking one that had been lying around all this time. Ewww!
Meeper said, “Meeper is just one servant, how can Meeper – “
Daddy barked, “Then just replicate my men! This, I Command! I’ll see to disciplining them, afterwards.”
Uh-oh, disciplining! And you know what that means, dear Diary! So I hotfooted it right over to the throne room like a good little girl for Daddy to find me there. Whenever he’s in that mood, then the only thing to do is lie low until somebody else gets it.
I got to the throne room, and Mommy was there, and so was Beau, so naturally I pestered him. “Watch out, little brother,” I told Beauregarde. “He’s in one of those moods again! And you know what that means!”
Beau blanched, then clenched his teeth and gritted (he’s so good at gritting!) “Shut up!”
“He’ll kill someone just to feel better! I wonder who it’ll be this time?” I pouted, then I smiled, tossed my hair and said, “Hey, maybe it’ll be you again!”
“Shut up, shut up!”
“Oh don’t worry, he’ll make a new copy of you! And then that new copy of you can tell us another one of your visions! You know, of your boyfriend?”
Beau shuddered, hung his head, and said, “Capone…”
I smiled. I win again. But I couldn’t resist adding, “Didn’t you say that he’s… icy cold?”
Then Mommy said, “Children, you will be silent.” We shut up, and in came Daddy, with freaky Meeper and creepy Yavelli in tow. Mommy started right in on him. “Malvolio,” she said, “just what is the meaning of all this?”
Daddy said, “The meaning, my Empress, is that the rebels have been utterly destroyed.”
“Again, my dear Dulgencia. And again and again, until it takes.”
“And until that far future day, what is to become of our Ice Palace?”
Daddy turned to Yavelli and said, “Report!”
Yavelli said, “The Henches have been replicated and are now making repairs. Igor Hench Numbers 13-Z, 23-Q, 69-J, 42-B, 17-N and 43-W will report here shortly.”
“And the rebellion?”
“The attacking units have been eradicated.” Yavelli paused, then said, “Which is not to say they will not return.”
Daddy frowned. “So they’ll replicate. Again.”
“Regrettably so, sire.”
“Even though we’ve been sweeping the villages for those replicator machines.”
Yavelli gulped, and said, “Despite all our efforts, replication persists in the populace.”
Meeper said, “It’s taken on a life of its own, master! Even the peasants have them!”
Daddy closed his eyes and said to himself, “One… two… three… four…”
Meeper said, “Meeper wonders, how can we control them?”
“… five… six… seven… eight…”
Meeper said, “There’s rebellion, master! And dissent! And inflation!”
“… nine… ten…”
Yavelli spoke up. “But worse than all of those threats, sire, is Andover.”
“Andover,” Daddy growled.
Yavelli plowed on, “He’ll be out there again, soon.”
Daddy muttered to himself, “I will not kill the messenger, I will not kill the messenger…”
Then Meeper said something stupid, and that was the last straw, wasn’t it, dear Diary?
Right afterwards Daddy smiled, and all the rest of us heaved a sigh. So it was Meeper this time. Better him than us!
And wouldn’t you know, that’s just when clever Yavelli begged his pardon, sire, to go fetch the Igor Henches. Daddy said yes, Yavelli made his escape out the door, and a moment later, in walked Igor Hench Numbers 13-Z, 23-Q, 69-J, 42-B, 17-N, and 43-W. They saw what was left of the little freak, and the blaster still in Daddy’s hand. They looked at each other, then saluted Daddy. “Reporting for duty, sir!” they said in that weird unison of theirs.
Daddy towered over the Henches (not hard to do, they all have such awful posture) and he said, "I have brought you all back from the dead, though frankly I don’t see why. I have watched videos of your recent clownish performance, and I have never seen a more miserable gang of nincompoops! You!” he said, pointing to 13-Z. “You took a coffee break and left the monster’s cage door open! You nitwit! And you!” he said, pointing to 23-Q. “You separated from 69-J, and why? Because you heard a pebble drop! So you left your partner behind, and got incinerated! You imbecile! And you!” he said, turning to point at 69-J. “Your partner disappears mysteriously, and you go to look for him without calling for backup! You moron! And you!” he said, spinning to point at 17-N. “What is the matter with you? Last year you were Minion of the Month! But now look at you! The enemy was right in front of you! You fired one hundred and thirty seven shots! And you missed! Have you no aim? And you!” he yelled, whirling around to point at 42-B. “They yelled, look-out-behind-you, and you fell for that old gag! You fell for it! You disgust me!” he screamed. “And then… there’s you.” Daddy said this quite calmly as he glared down at 43-W. “What was that charming little battle-cry you yelled? Ah yes; ‘blasters cannot stop us!’” Daddy clapped his hands, slowly, three times; clap, clap, clap! “Oh brilliant! How intimidating! Then you charged straight into certain death. You always yell that, before charging into certain death! Every time you yell that, you charge into certain death! So don’t yell that!”
Then Daddy reached into his robe. He took out a scanning crystal; held it in front of them, and squeezed. He said. “I have just scanned you. I can vaporize you now, and make new copies of you, updated to a few seconds ago. Do you understand?”
The Henches looked at what was left of Meeper, then nodded in unison.
“So I need not harangue you further about your boneheaded incompetence! I’m giving you another chance – yet again! – but I expect improvement in the future! And for your next assignment you must go and dispose of your own charred corpses!” Ewwwww, dear Diary! He said, “Thus you may witness the consequences of your stupidity! This, I Command!”
The Henches all marched out, and next thing you know, Daddy was firing up the replicator. ZWEENG, it went, and Meeper materialized. “Meep!” he yelped as usual. Well, Daddy said, “Play file, “ and it played, and guess who we see in the holo but that little freak Meeper whining, “But Meeper doesn’t understand, master. Andover is but one man. What can he do?” And Daddy says, “This,” and he pulls out a blaster. BLAM!
Daddy said, “End file,” and the file ended, and he said, “Now do you understand?”
“Yes, oh yes, oh yes Meeper understands, Meeper understaaands!”
Daddy said, “Dis-missed,” and Meeper left the room, very quickly. Then Daddy said to us, “I will now retire to my chambers and inscribe some hard-earned lessons into my death-book. I advise you all to do the same.” And he left.
So I went back to my room like a good little girl. I got out my private, confidential, double-triple-locked Book of Secrets – that’s you, dear Diary! – and I got to writing.
And that’s all for now, dear Diary! C U L8R!!
# # #
It is my opinion that your daughter, though impetuous and inquisitive, shows no sign of disloyalty. And let me state, for the record, that your treatment of Meeper is tough but fair.
Your humble and obedient servant,
P.S. As requested, here is updated Alpha Dossier.
# # #
Cliff Andover. Rebel leader-among-equals. Blonde, blue-eyed, cleft-chinned, swashbucking (literally; armed with a sword as are all spacemen). Was varsity star at Keane University. Self-styled “Hero of the Revolution”; death-defying, oft-reborn. Makes lots of lethal mistakes, once. Goes from house to house, Andover Slept Here, and pays with fresh replicators and data crystals. Calling card; the letter A, slashed with a sword. Cargo-bred. Replication cry: "Aw, fuck!"
Galactic Overlord Malvolio. Your Highness. Brown-eyed, black-haired. Wears Picu Macchu hat. Met Dulgencia at Miskatonic U. (‘Twas love-hate at first sight.) Preferred weapon is the blaster; it's effective and terrifying when set on Vaporize or Char. No longer has long fingernails or long robe, for security reasons. Inner-deck crew-bred. Replication cry: "Curses!"
Rosemarie Vassar. Rebel Leader’s consort. A redhead. Smart and manipulative; got Randy and Francis sent on a long mission together to get them in love with each other, and Randy out of her hair. One of the terraformers. Cargo-bred. Replication cry: "EEEEK!" Screen memory; Rosie, the no-nonsense Mother Goddess. She claims it was Rosie who told her to give Randy to Francis.
Empress Dulgencia. Hair color, blue-black. Green eyes. Devious and proud. Skilled at lying, manipulation, and emotion projection; she craves adoration and attention, and she has a commanding presence. Should consider a career in theater. Inner-deck crew-bred. Replication cry; "AH-ha-ha-ha-haaa!"
Goldie Digger. Was an Omega Psi Phi sorority buddy of Rosemarie Vassar and Francis Raven, at Keane University. Blonde. Fun-loving. Rumored to have met both Dr. Nechaev and Randy Underwood. Cargo-bred. Replication cry: "Omigawd!"
Francis Raven. Randy Underwood's tall brunette tomboy girlfriend. A merc: was a detective. Feisty, tough and clever. Smuggles weapons and replicators to her family and friends on anarchic Columbia. Cargo-bred. Replication cry; "Crap!"
Randy Underwood. The rebel leader’s top advisor. A redhead. The second smartest man orbiting Elvis. Went to Peabody Polytechnic. Nicknamed 'alley god' by the clientele at the Wizard's Bastard, for his street-fighting skills, and also for his goatish disposition. Lately, boyfriend of Francis Raven. Cargo-bred. Replication cry: "Oh shit!"
Hamilton Meeper. Your accountant. Literally, my liege, your computer. Has eidetic memory, lightning calculation, other endowments. Went to Cotter College. Short, thin, bald, stooped over. He always refers to himself as Meeper, never as I; his cracked ambition is to embezzle enough money to buy himself the first person singular. Outer-deck crew-bred; heavily gengineered. Replication cry; "Meep!"
Ertson the Patrobe. Runs the Crowley cult, now become death-cult. Went to Brooks Institute. Claims screen memories of Crowley. Corpsicle-bred. Replication cry; "By Crowley’s Cock!"
Dr. Tesla Nechaev. A genius, but unethical. The smartest man orbiting Elvis. Went to Peabody Polytechnic. A misanthropist, cynic and nihilist. Cargo/crew hybrid. Has Asperger’s Syndrome; is incapable of normal human social relations. Replication cry; "Drat!"
The Igor Henches. A hunchback army, all replicated from the same man. The original Hench went to Solomon State. Serial numbered; Igor Hench # 23-Q, and so on. Outer-deck crew-bred; heavily gengineered. Replication cries; somewhat varying. "Why me?"
Mack Yavelli. Your political advisor, my liege. Corpsicle-bred. Went to Brooks Institute. Replication cry: "Wha'd I do?"
Princess Belladonna. Daughter of you, my liege, and the Empress. A Miskatonic legacy: high-maintenance, has daddy issues. Brutally teases her brother. Desires independence but will settle for pampering. Inner-deck crew-bred. Replication cry: "Daddee!"
Prince Beauregarde. Son of you, my liege, and the Empress. A Miskatonic legacy. a pig, a prig, a thug and a twit. Can’t stand his sister. Inner-deck crew-bred. Replication cry: "Bugger!"
Captain John Claudius Kinndur, Starfleet Captain. Ship name; the S.S. Undertaker. Graduated cum laude at Starfleet Academy. The "star"fleet and "SS" are puffery, since there is no FTL. An experienced swordsman, and he doesn't flaunt it like that showboat Andover. Kinndurisms: “Be it so!”, “This may be the Undertaker’s most enterprising undertaking yet!” Claims to be crew-bred, in fact cargo-bred. Replication cry: "Dammit!"
First Mate Horatio Algernon Drudge. First Mate. Smart, mousy, has work ethic, plus also a trace of blowing his own horn. Starfleet graduate. Cargo-bred. Replication cry; "Uh-oh!"
Ensign Irving Nimrod Poindexter. A talented but annoying space cadet. Youngest Starfleet graduate yet. Cargo-bred. Replication cry; before a certain visit to Starbase Gandalf, "MOMMEE!" Afterwards, "GOLDEE!"
Lieutenant Ishmael Redshirt. Unreplicated. Cargo-bred. No known replication cry.