Valhalla for Starters

A Play

By Robin Bright

After that, who knows?

Act 1

Scene 1

The Marine Commander pointed a gold beringed glove at some distant spot shining on the horizon of the chosen planet.

SMC: 'See that small box there?'

No need for anything beyond non-commital sounds.

MAP:  'Uh-huh'.

The man known to his friends as MAP thought to himself, which is why the audience can hear him thinking.

MAP`s Thought: `Friends.`

MAP looks at the object of everyone`s attention.

MAP: `This grunt doesn't know his ass from his elbow. It's a wonder he can lift his arm at all with those damn rings. What are they?`

MAP ponders for a moment or two.

`Oh yeah, I remember you. The thumb-ring was the one you got at initiation. When the Corps decided you 'belonged'. they made you do something even more disgustingly difficult than usual. What they did on the battlefield was part of the job - that didn't actually count for too much between them. They`d instigated their own scale of 'do or die' ethics. This grunt, so the report said, during the Colonisation and the attendant extermination of all native fauna on Rigel 12, he`d been required to mud wrestle what were quite common there, a hybrid yellow and mauve skinned Japanese variety of four meter high naked Madonna with meter wide horns, and with the promise of the maiden herself that he could eat her.

Scene 2

The wrestling sequence in which the beautiful Japanese hybrid Madonna mud wrestles with the grunt and successfully eats him on a barbecue.

Scene 3

The scene on the hillside with the grunt with the beringed glove still pointing off into the distance at the mysterious black box.

MAP: `And they gave him a twenty-four carat two-ounce ring for that, because it was his idea.`

MAP nods over at the beringed grunt SMC and smiles inwardly.

MAP: `With the Space Marines, it`s grin and not vomit, or at least not let the vomit out from between your clenched jaw and teeth.`

MAP`s inward smile became manifest on his outer side and, bile suppressed, he asked the question his host expected.

MAP: 'That's the Ark?'

SMC: 'Sure. I don't remember the full story. It began back on Earth sometime in pre-history.There was a bunch o' guys who had a little contact with Xtras, xou know?'

MAP: 'Uh-huh. Humankind wiped out what remained of the once powerful Ta'uk species over two-hundred years ago by detonating a sun near their home world - a pity really.`

Scene 4

The Ta`uk world is seen being destroyed by the detonating sun. The scenes are reminiscent of Britney Spears` single, `Till The World Ends`, from the album Femme Fatale (2011), with Ta`uks engaging in hedonistic activities while awaiting the detonation of their sun. The Ta`uks are a beautiful race of humanoids with what look like deely boppers worn by kids at parties on headbands, although the Ta`uk deely boppers don`t bop on wires, but are as a gift of nature growing out of the side of their heads above the ears.

Scene 5

Back on the hillside looking at the Ark.

MAP: `From what I'd heard the Ta'uk chicks had been interstellar between the sheets - no heads are better than one. Especially if it meant fucking a talking cunt.`

MAP laughs silently to himself.

MAP: `The nausea passes.`

Scene 6

The audience observes the Ta`uk chicks engaging in sex, while the Britney Spears` track `Till The World Ends` is heard with the lyric: `See the sunlight, we ain't stopping. Keep on dancing till the world ends. If you feel it let it happen. Keep on dancing till the world ends.` The scene is something akin to the love carving on the Hindu Khajuraho temples in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Chhatarpur district, southeast of New Delhi. Or the action amongst the people in Kylie Minogue`s `love pyramid` from the song, `All The Lovers` from the Aphrodite (2010) album: `If love is really good you just want more, even if it throws you to the fire, fire, fire, fire!` The Ta`uk chicks engaging in their love feast are still writhing and bucking as the sun detonates.

Scene 7

The hillside and the Ark off in the distance.

MAP: 'Extraterrestrialinfluence?'

SMC: 'Sure. The Extras left this box for some guy to use in a religious crusade. Simple instruction manual carved in symbols on the lid. The beta black Fellasha Jews had it for a while in some godforsaken Ethiopian pisshole.Then a few of the old boys bust in and grabbed it.'

Act 2

Scene 1

A woman is seen anointing Jesus` feet with perfumed oil.

Jesus: `Leave her alone.` (Mk: 14. 6)

Scene 2

Judas is seen taking money from the Pharisees.

Scene 3

The Roman guard at the scene of Jesus` crucifixion, Longinus, piercing Jesus` side with his spear: `Surely, this was the son of God.` (Matt: 27. 54)

Scene 4

A flying saucer appears above the scene and Jesus ascends to the ship on a transporter beam.

Scene 4

A richly ornated Ethiopian temple containing the Ark of the Covenant, a black box with living winged angels bowing with wings held towards each other. The black congregation are seated in prayer.

Scene 5

Paramilitary style invaders in black balaclavas burst in with machine gun fire and surround the box. The angels fly off. The paramilitaries chuckle gleefully and we see them struggling out of the richly ornate temple carrying the black box, which they deposit on a truck amongst other vehicles that then roar off with the marauders inside, or hanging onto the sides waving their machine guns and firing them into the air - uselessly.

Act 3

Scene 1

The Ark off in the distance and the hillside.

MAP: 'Uh-huh. Special air service. Punks, more like. The limey colonies had been settled by their 29th century equivalents.The bastards still thought they owned human space.`

MAP paused reflectively.

MAP: 'The Ark of the Covenant.'

SMC: 'Yup. So they say. All the guy had to do - Mo?'

MAP: 'Moses.'

SMC: 'Um. Well, all this guy Mo` had to do was hold a titanium rod toward the sun and keep it there.The box did the rest. The fucker's got everything. Laser cannon, plasma bolts. It's got a few things we can't figure out yet.'

MAP: 'And the use of it?'

SMC: 'Training.'

MAP: 'For what?'

SMC: 'Wait and see.'

Scene 2

As the sky began to grow light, MAP could make out what looked like a colony of ants heading out across the plain.

SMC: `These are men of the Dead Hand. The Emperor's new elite. Their role is to be one of suppression. Where they go fear goes with them. After they've gone, nothing moves. It'll take a quarter hour or so.'

The Marine Commander flashed a broken-toothed grimace.

SMC: 'You'll enjoy this.'

MAP: 'I doubt it. Tell me.What's the significance of the pinky ring?'

SMC: 'This?'

The SMC scrutinized his finger quizically.

SMC: 'It's an honour ring from the brothers.'

MAP: 'What did you do for it?'

SMC: 'Some say it was for thinking up the intiation of a grunt on Rigel 12 who had to mud wrestle a Japanese Madonna with meter wide horns, and eat her, but she ate him, as expected. I actually got mine for filming her barbecue. Tasty. Should've seen the fucker squirm. He was raw when she spit him. I had to stun him with a stazer and wear full body armor - except for here of course.'

The SMC indicated his groin.

MAP: 'No protection there, huh?'

SMC: 'Sure. Prophylactically speaking, I'm a great believer in safe sex.'

Scene 3

A flashback to the barbecue scene and the Japanese Madonna with the meter wide horns is having sex with the SMC while they eat a haunch of cooked Space Marine together. We can see the fixed camera tripods filming the scene emotionlessly while the pair giggle.

Scene 4

The SMC laconically.

MAP: 'Besides, we didn't want the fucker to breed now, did we?'

MAP indicates by a nod and a wink that the joke had been acceptably beyond the pale. Sound and movement made him turn his head to look back again at the flatlands.

SMC: 'Here, take the viewer.'

Scene 5

MAP takes hold of what seems at first glance a small square of mirrored plastic. Shapes scurry over it. He moves the thing around in the air before his eyes. As he does so large segments of the attacking forces become visible to him. He applies a slight pressure to the rim of the object and the screen affords a closer view of what he`s seeing.The warriors are already advancing - and falling. Somehow the box had sensed the intent of the hosts before it and has begun to react. What looks like bolts of lightning shiver through the air over the serried ranks of the Dead Hand.

MAP: 'Like a knife through butter.'

MAP muses.

MAP: 'Huh?'

SMC: `Old Earth phrase..'

Scene 6

The SMC stops, mouth drying in mid-sentence. The Dead Hand were being decimated clinically and mercilessly.

SMC: 'They underestimated the technology. Stupid cunts.'

The SMC is seen barking an order inaudibly into his wristset as the scene fades to the battlefield.

Act 4

Scene 1

Immediately what`s left of the combat group are bathed in a diffused green haze.The lightning from the Ark keeps on striking it for a while but to no effect. Eventually, the box shuts down – it`s waiting. The MC gives another order. The green haze became orange. A huge animal seems to rise from within what remains of the once mighty Dead Hand.

SMC: 'Bio-tank.'

The SMC is explaining.

SMC: `Expensive. One guy sits in it at a time. The machine uses his brain - picks it you might say - to direct its tactical programming. Fast burn out though. Fresh guy needed every thirty seconds. See?'

Scene 2

MAP peruses the viewer. The bio-tank rumbled forward leaving a trail of debris behind it like rabbit droppings. Only the green and crimson, the battle armor and the blood, gave an indication of what was being chewed up and spat out.

SMC: 'They're queueing up like kids before the principal.'

Scene 3

It was true. Men with faces that seemed already in the early stages of rigor mortis walked by the side of the monstrous vehicle as it trundled slowly in search of its fate. Every fifteen metres a man would enter a hatch in the side and another green and crimson turd would appear in the dust. At last the ponderous war machine was within range of its target. The plasma cannon spewed out its deadly rain - and the box did nothing. The rain of death increased in intensity - and the box glowed red. A fresh man every fifteen seconds, then ten, then five... The box went white and seemed to disintegrate in a silent cloud of silvery vapour.

SMC: 'Promises promises.'

The SMC groaned.

SMC: 'Where's God out of that machine? If that's the best God can do, then we're all gods in this outfit. Right MAP?'

MAP: 'Wait!'

Scene 4

The cloud of light seemed to be solidifying into some kind of weird form. A gigantic figure with...what?

MAP: 'My God, it's a rainbow!'

MAP breathed sharply inward.

Scene 5

The huge form shook its head and opened baby-blue eyes as if waking from a great and peaceful sleep. It shook its mane of reddish hair and the seven-coloured band of whatever-the-hell-it-was about its head shivered. It turned to see what had disturbed its rest, eyes seemingly filling with...

Scene 6

MAP: 'Love.'

SMC: 'Eh?'

MAP: 'Forget it.'

Scene 7

MAP stared intensely at the viewing screen.The figure raised its arm, and it seemed suddenly to contain something hard and bright and vaguely metallic yet living and pulsing, glowing fulsomely with terrible but beautiful energy - and pain. The arm rose and fell but once and the bio-tank was gone in a flash of fire.Then the figure was gone too - and the box waited once more.

SMC: 'Holy shit.'

The SMC growls and MAP drily observes.

MAP: 'I believe we've just been introduced to the Archangel Michael.'

Act 5

Scene 1

MAP and the SMC are relaxing in a room well apportioned with leather armchairs, although the black box can still be seen between the curtains of the single paned window. They`re reviewing what they`ve witnessed. IN the scenes that follow the viewer is expected to understand that time passes in the room as the occupants have taken up different positions without the camera observing them to move.

MAP: 'I wonder what's in the box? Anybody know?'

SMC: 'We'll find out for you sir. It's just a question of time.'

The SMC`s face grows redder and he starts to bluster.

SMC: 'Teething problems, you know how it is with new units sir?'

MAP: 'Yes, of course. But that would seem to be the end of this particular unit, wouldn't it Commander?'

The MC grins.

SMC: 'Not quite sir. Everyman in the regiment has a chip in his head, a memory chip. We aim to learn from our mistakes, you see? It'll take the tech squads a month or so to put the lads back together, but they'll soon be as good as new; and twice as ugly.'

Scene 2

Flashforward to the Psych-tec and Hard-tech labs where the Dead Hand are being resurrected by means of nano technology and rejuvenation techniques.

Scene 3

The box is seen through the window still sitting there on the plain unexpectantly.

MAP: 'The Dead Hand are to be a regiment of cyborgs?'

SMC: 'They will be now sir.'

MAP: 'They knew?'

SMC: 'Only the best for us sir. We're Special, you see? Like the old boys.'

MAP: 'Forgive me sergeant. I didn't mean to offend your sense of honour.'

SMC: 'No harm done, sir.'

Scene 4

The SMC glances at the scene of carnage through the window with a cold grey eye.

SMC: 'Don't worry sir.We'll crack it for you.'

MAP: 'Doesn't it bother you sergeant, to be dead already I mean?'

SMC: 'Oh, don't let it bother you sir. It doesn't bother us. We're Special, you know?'

Scene 5

The SMC's glance flicked ruminatively over the landscape.

SMC: 'Do you know what hubris means sir?'

MAP: 'Why yes, of course.It's the sin of pride, isn't it? The idea that men can fight and triumph against the gods - Greek mythology?'

SMC: 'I think so sir, yes - or God maybe?'

The SMC laughs.

'We're immortal, in a way sir. Gods if you will. But we don't like it sir. We don't like it one little bit.'

There was a note of anger in the SMC's voice.

'We want our humanity back, and a little bit more.'

Scene 6

The SMC glances at the small square of seemingly mirrored plastic, which is the viewer, and scrutinizes the still unexpectingnes of the box on the screen.

SMC: 'You know the motto of the Order sir?'

MAP: 'I think so,yes. Let me see if I can remember aright ... er, it's something like 'we all go down together and we all come up together.' Am I right?'

SMC: 'That's it sir. Everybody thinks it refers to our code sir.You know the rule. We never leave anybody behind.'

MAP: 'A fine tradition sergeant.'

SMC: 'Yes sir. We think so sir.'

MAP: 'But I don't quite see ...'

SMC: 'You know the legend of the angels who fought against the Lord, don't you sir?'

MAP: 'Why, yes. Certainly.'

The SMC's gaze became diamantine.

SMC: 'This time we win.'