(As first performed live by Willamette Radio Workshop, May 20th, 2006)
JET PILOT (Advert)
SPENCE THE AIRLINE CAPTAIN (Advert)
TRISH THE TIME-SURFER GIRL
BURTON SOUND BYTE
SHOW ANNOUNCER: And now, strap on your mega impact trauma helmet, lock and load your neo-plasma rifle and get ready for zero-grav ballroom dancing its time for another episode of--
SFX: Rocket swoosh
SHOW ANNOUNCER: (reverb) BURTON SOUND BYTE! COSMOPOLITAN TO THE COSMOS!
MUSIC: Theme Music up and under
SHOW ANNOUNCER: Burton Sound Byte is brought to you by “Strat-O Wine”, the elixir of grape most preferred by experimental jet pilots and commercial airline captains the world over. “Strat-O Wine” by Turbine Vinyards, with real ram-jet crushed grapes.
JET PILOT: Howdy! Jess Hoffman here, test pilot for the new X-14 Thunderclap experimental jet-engined rocket plane. When I’m up there in the wild blue, breakin’ the sound barrier and settin’ new air-speed records, I need all my senses in tip-top condition and my nerves steady as a rock. That’s why before every death-laden mission I go on, I pop the cork on a couple of bottles of “Strat-O Wine” by Turbine Vinyards.
Yes, their secret combination of California concord grapes and unique ram-jet turbine engine crushing method make for a perfect glass of high octane grape fuel to get me through the action-packed day and past those long trembling nights. But don’t just take a hot-shot cockpit jockey’s word for it, ask Spence, my commercial airline captain pal.
SPENCE THE AIRLINE CAPTAIN: Thanks Jess. Folks, when I’m hopping city to city steering 120,000 pounds of silver bird through cloud after cloud after endless cloud, I ring the stewardess and she already knows what I’m asking for: a bottle of “Strat-O Wine” makes that eternal air time fly right by. So, no matter if its from Long Island to Lompoc, or from the Windy City to the Big Easy, you know your flight captain is flying high in the stratosphere when he’s flying high with “Strat-O Wine”.
SHOW ANNOUNCER: “Strat-O Wine” by Turbine Vinyards! And now we return you to:
SFX: Rocket swoosh
SHOW ANNOUNCER: BURTON SOUND BYTE, COSMOPOLITAN TO THE COSMOS! Join us now for episode eight: Privateering Problems.
Establishing MUSIC then
Suspended MUSIC sting into
Burton Sound Byte was skimming between systems with his crew aboard the Main Event Horizon, his quasar ion light star cruiser, recalling the mind-numbing beauty of the Reflecting Pool Twilight Park at the triple-silvery-mooned planet, Swoon III, known for its perpetual sunsets. He had spent precious shore-leave with a time-surfer girl who was/is/will be named Trish, gazing at her astral windswept hair and glowing solar-flare tan, when he had asked her, with great emotion, if she would be his new chief mechanic.
Softly, with a whispering fondness, she replied:
SFX: Wind blowing in background, splashing of water.
MUSIC: Smarmy romantic type Star Trek music
Like, thanks, Burty, I know how much that means to you, commitment-wise, but, um, I gotta, like, catch the next time-wave outta here, you know? Besides, like, I don't think, like, our time lines are /were/will be, you know, like, compatible and all. I mean, you're, you know, the Year of the Phase Tiger, and I'm like, the Year of the Sugar Cookie -- are you catching my wave?"
Yeah, he had caught her wave all right. Now there was/were/is nothing for Burton Sound Byte, adventurer, explorer, and seven-time Rononia System Jump Light-Speed Sprints Champion to do but jam his cruiser into hyper-overdrive and buzz the Crab Nebula to (like) get her the photon out of his system. The Opts Officer broke through Burton's self-absorption.
Er, Captain Burton? Rather large possibly hostile thingy off our starboard bow.
Very well, O'Donnell, scan for -- HELLO!
MUSIC: Sting of alarm, single note held through NARRATOR
Officer O'Donnell had demonstrated, once again, his gift for understatement, as a huge Supernova Class Imperial Battle-Stopper blotted out three quadrants of the surround screen; its name, "Star Zenith", emblazoned on the forward ports, loomed menacingly at them on the center panel.
Engines up, evasive...oh, nevermind, what's the point? All stop.
(SFX: Switches being thrown, Powering down of engines)
Ensign Murphy, scan me their combat capabilities.
They won't jam us, Mister. A ship like that wants us to know exactly how many times and again they can blast us into dust. Do it!
SFX: Weird scanning noises established, then fade under
Lieutenant O'Donnell, open communications. Let's find out who's piloting that Super Nova of a tub.
O’DONNELL: Aye, sir
SFX: Switch thrown
A face appeared on the forward screen that Burton would rather have faced in a reversed situation. As it was, he began calculating the odds of sudden amnesia striking its owner.
--The heavily uniformed figure said, pointedly not breaking out into a congenial smile. Apparently, no luck with the amnesia.
Greetings, Mega-Commodore Hrothgar. We're not on opposite sides of a Foomarian gaming table of chance, but it's been a long time.
Too long, and not long enough.
And how's that, my esteemed mega-sir?
Too long, for the debt is overdue, but not long enough for me to have forgotten you utterly. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't blast your existence out of the cosmos right now.
Think of the paperwork, Hrothgar! You can't run a tight ship when you're filling out all those electronic triplicates. Oh, you'll have to excuse me, the signal is breaking up, Commodore.
(whispered) Cut us off O’Donnell.
We'll try to re-establish contact when we can.
(whispered) O’Donnell! Now!
Don't you move, now Hrothgar!
(SFX: Switch thrown)
Communication beam cut, sir.
Are you into him for gambling, Captain?
No, Murphy, he owes me. It's a long story – (pause) All right, since we're all quite likely to buy it right here, at least I owe it to you to tell you why. He lost continually and habitually in gambling with me, despite my protestations that we stop. In the end, he owed me a huge sum and couldn't pay. He was about to sell me his commission for cash when I made a fatal mistake -- I forgave him the entire debt. Ever since, he has tried to either forget about me, or kill me -- alternately as the occasion arises.
You’re joking, right? We’re all gonna die because he doesn’t want anyone to know he has a gambling debt?
What can I say? He has a twisted sense of honor.
SFX: Beeping sound
Sir, that report you wanted on the Star Zenith’s combat capabilities?
Give me the worst, Ensign.
Hyper-accelerated quark battle drive, improved impentrashield with booster back-up, standard atom disrupter banks, repeater neo-energy howitzers, anti-matter ballistae, wolfdog long-range drone tracking rockets with retro warheads, proton pulse cannon, neutrino shield perforator and an electron ram.
O’DONNELL: (voice cracking)
Nonsense, Lieutenant. Ensign, power us up!
MUSIC: (Starts out low and intense, builds to majestic explosive climax by “Ramming speed” line)
I want everything we got in one burst of speed. O'Donnell, ready a boarding party, download these instructions.
(SFX: Many switches, beeps, whizzes and whirring sounds)
You intend to board a Supernova class Imperial Battle-Stopper?"
Would YOU expect it, lieutenant?
(SFX: Urgent beeps and alarms)
They're powering up their weapons, sir!
Ignore it, Ensign. If they wanted to blast us we'd be vaporized by now. They're only flexing their muscles to try to scare the dark matter out of us.
And doing a fractaling good job of it, too!
Belay that attitude, Murphy, or get off my bridge! Mr. O'Donnell, every shred of power we’ve got to the shields at the nose of our ship, we're going to ram her.
But sir, if we get hit by so much as kitchen jetsam on the unprotected part of the ship --"
-- Then we're space cookie crumbs, I know. That’s a chance we’ll have to take by the horns and kick in the crotch.
O’DONNELL: Aye that metaphor, sir --
(SFX: Many more excited alarms, warning beeps)
Um, captain? I'm reading red power spikes everywhere, sir. I don't think they’re bluffing anymore--"
Ramming speed, Mr. Murphy! Punch it!
MUSIC: Over-the-top heroic “Take Pork Chop Hill” kind of frenzy
(SFX: Engines blazing alive, multiple weapons sounds -- lasers, explosions, rockets etc. Sound of huge impact, sudden shouts from crew)
NARRATOR: (Over the top “Take Pork Chop Hill” climactic “Omigosh this is exciting” kind of Narration)
The Main Event Horizon cut underneath the wall of energized death that the Imperial Battle Stopper had unleashed toward it, plowed into the space behemoth amidships, and remained there hard and fast! The com screen came on again.
Well, captain Sound Byte, I see you have saved us the trouble of a tractor beam.
You never did understand why you lost at chutkpahw, did you, Commodore?"
What do you mean, Burton?
(SFX: Single beep)
Boarding party signals mission accomplished, sir.
MUSIC: Dramatic music: “Requiem for the Common Man” kind of thing.
Commodore Hrothgar of the Imperial Battleship Star Zenith, this is Captain Burton Sound Byte of the Main Event Horizon. Prepare to stand down, heave to, and surrender!
You must be space-crazy, Sound Byte.
I'm deadly seriously, Hrothgar! Even now my boarding party has disabled your ship.
A desperate bluff, captain, but you are mistaken. My readouts for offensive, defensive and maneuvering systems all show green.
But I have plundered your replicating systems, Hrothgar. Not the entire system, mind you, but as of now you have absolutely no means to produce coffee aboard ship, and you are two months away from any space dock, even at your hyper-omni-ultraspeed.
I expect you have a crew of at least 10,000 souls aboard, Mega-Commodore. A week without coffee? Two? Discipline will crumble, they'll be in a mutinous frenzy. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you'll be the first one to hang from the highest photonic yardarm. Think about it, Hrothgar.
MUSIC CASCADE: Signifying Ultimate Defeat, we can HEAR Hrothgar’s face imploding in despair
What are your demands, Burton.
This time, Commodore, I want your commission and your ship. You work for me, now.
Mr. O’Donnell, prepare to receive our guest Mr. Hrothgar aboard. Mr. Murphy, I’d like mine with double sugar and mega-extra cream, please.
MUSIC: Jaunty, whimsical tribbles kind of music.
MURPHY & O’DONNELL:
(General laughter on bridge)
MUSIC: Closing theme music up
SHOW ANNOUNCER: You’ve been listening to “Privateering Problems” Episode VIII of Burton Sound Byte, a creation of Unchained Productions, written by David Ian, and brought to you by “Strat-O Wine”, the real ram-jet vintage by Turbine Vinyards, the perfect long layover and delayed flight potable, available in-flight and at fine airport bars and duty free shops across the globe. Ask for it by name: “Strat-O Wine”.
Read more articles by David Ian or search for articles on the same topic or others.