The Clarion Call
A Viking Space Folly Without the Space
© 1998 by Ruth Nestvold
Thorne the Relentless was not a superstitious man, but he had been lured to the planet Clarion by a draw too powerful for practical considerations to override. The pillaging had been fine on the planet Prague, although the raping was less satisfactory -- he could never get over his aversion to insects. Rape may grow on you, but even a Viking has his limits. After a while the endless sand got boring, and the weather hadn't changed for a thousand years. One morning he had woken up and he'd known: Clarion. He and his intrepid Viking crew, the Space Folly Riders (or SF Riders for short), would take to the stars again and create a new world.
Aside from the incident with the militant lesbian fish-eating nuns, the journey had gone well, if somewhat lacking in dramatization and a bit heavy on the narration. Skipping the challenge of making a long spaceflight interesting as well as the complicated details about space travel, they landed on Clarion, which had an atmosphere completely compatible with that of the Earth and similar vegetation. Unfortunately, Thorne would once again be disappointed in the raping department -- Clarion was unpopulated, not even by insects with Eastern European names and a penchant for philosophy.
Thorne and his SF Riders landed in a scientifically unfeasible shuttle, leaving their spacecraft orbiting the planet manned only by plot holes.
"What do we do now?" Oblivious Spice asked.
"We have to establish the setting first," Baaaz-z said.
Tired was doing something futuristic at one of the shuttle consoles. "That was already established in the last paragraph," he said, checking his monitor.
"But much too superficially," Existential Spice threw in.
"We need to braise the steaks," Structured Spice added.
Ambiguous Spice checked the cargo hold. "But we don't have any cows," s/he said.
"We have llamas!" Perky piped up.
"I can make llama provencale," Gourmet suggested.
"Let's just get out of the shuttle, okay?" Surly suggested in his most surly voice.
They all piled out of the shuttle, Thorne leading the way intrepidly.
"Now what?" Bitter asked. "We can't make anything of this. There's no conflict."
"We need some obstacles," Local Spice said.
Leggy pursed her lips. "I want more clacking and sucking noises."
"I'd rather have a calzone," Punchy said.
"We need a Viking Hall!" Thorne thundered.
"That's not an obstacle," Loopy said. "Where do you want it?"
Thorne paced the clearing, his golden braids whipping in the wind. "Here!"
"Okay." Loopy set the morph machine down in the spot Thorne had indicated and fed it the proper code. Within minutes, the box had morphed to a futuristic Viking Hall, totally lacking in description. "Voila!"
"Well wouldn't you know. It's the Voila Effect," Surly drawled.
Loopy laughed. Loopy always laughed.
"We will name it the House of Woo-Woo-Whatzit," Nice pronounced.
She-who-can't-deal-with-this slid her glasses down the bridge of her nose and looked at the other SF Riders critically. "This isn't working for me. Nothing has gone wrong yet."
"We're going to need some complications soon," Existential agreed.
Suddenly, a spaceship swooped down out of the sky and landed next to their shuttle. The hatch opened slowly and a troop of terrifying creatures emerged, tall and blond and determined.
"We are Ostrians. We come from the stars and we need ice!" they bellowed in their guttural accents.
"Ooh, it's a reversal," Bitter said.
"No it's not," Structured said. "It's a completely unmotivated inciting incident." Then he grabbed her and kissed her while she flailed her arms helplessly. Punchy, Loopy, Surly, Perky and Local clapped and cheered.
"Now that was an unmotivated incident," Bitter complained.
"Is this appropriate?" Subtle asked. "I don't think so."
"Was machen diese merkwürdige Kreaturen?" one of the aliens said.
Perky looked at the intruders in dismay. "I don't understand this."
"What did they say? What did they say?" Oblivious asked.
"Just a minute," She-who-can't-deal-with-this said. "Let me get the Extraterrestrial Alien Translator Memory Element."
"The EATME doesn't work," Gourmet said. "But I can make escargot."
"We demand the use of your lounge!" the aliens bellowed.
"Never!" Thorne bellowed back.
"This calls for drastic measures," Baaaz-z said. "But I think we can fix it."
"I have a plan," Bitter said. "We'll use our Obscenity Generators on them!"
"I can do that," Oblivious said.
"I'm there," Surly agreed.
Ambiguous pulled on the lobe of his/her right ear. "I don't know about this. I'm joke challenged."
Tired had fallen asleep and missed most of the action, but when Leggy thrust an OG machine into his hands, he valiantly rose to the occasion. "What?"
"We have to fight the evil Ostrians," Leggy explained patiently.
"Strike a pose of dominance!" Thorne bellowed.
"Ooh," Subtle said. "Don't you love it when he does that?"
"I'm not into Alpha males," Loopy said.
Subtle raised her chin. "Who do you think you're fooling?"
Thorne lifted a well-muscled arm and waved a manuscript. "Fire!"
Nice trained her weapon on the nearest Ostrian. "Pornbots!"
The Ostrian grimaced and covered her ears.
The other SF Riders followed suit and a volley of obscenity struck the intruders, sending them cringing in loathing.
"Body cavity searches!"
"Cybersex, alien sex, telesex, hypersex!"
"What Vishnu can do with his arms!"
Punchy lowered his weapon. "No, Structured! All that does is throw blue sparks."
Structured scuffed his furry slippers on the ground. "Oh. Sorry. I forgot."
Tired was fully awake by this time and aimed his OGM at the leader of the group. "Dry Hugos!" it roared.
The huge blonde screeched in agony and ran for the ship, the rest of the Ostrians trailing behind her.
"We won, we won!" the SF riders congratulated each other.
"And we did it all without foreshadowing," Local pronounced.
"I wish it could have been more violent and gross, though," Leggy said regretfully.
Some intrepid SF riders relaxing after conquering Clarion.
From left: She-who-can't-deal-with-this, Leggy, Structured, Ambiguous, Bitter, Gourmet, Oblivious and Nice Spice.