In Pan Post 77 the Knights of Camelot are on the planet Uranus and have just been introduced by the fayrie Nerifan to his king, the Fayrie King, who has a zebra's head. The Fayrie King is interested by the humans and reveals to them that their people are ancient but dying out because of a state of impotence caused by the aether processing. Their lives are governed by the all-knowing hive computer named Monde. Nerifan leads some of the knights and Merlin the Younger to see the aether processors while the Fayrie King leads King Arthur, Prince Mordred, The Black Knight and Sir Bedivere to see Monde. They travel down the building, passing by the heads of the Fayrie King's ancestors - where they are ceremonially mounted upon the wall - to find Monde, of The Imperium, deep down below.
Space Camelot: Space Zebra
Characters: King Arthur | Queen Guinevere | Prince Mordred | Morganna le Fay | Merlin the Younger | Sir Kay | Sir Lancelot | Sir Bedivere | Sir Galahad | Sir Tristram | Sir Caelia | Sir Red Rose Knight | Sir Black Knight | Sir Faerie Knight | Andy | Admiral Ltexi | Gamma Pans | Nerifian | Fayrie King | Monde
Fayrie King: "What's wrong with you people?"
Prince Mordred: "What... kind of horse are you supposed to be?"
The Fayrie King looks a little irked. Or as irked as Mordred could tell from his equine features.
Fayrie King: "I'm a zebra-head."
The humans look dumbfounded.
Sir Bedivere: "A... zee-bat?"
King Arthur: "What kind of weird pronunciation is that, Sir Bedivere? It was clearly zeb. Zeb-rat!"
King Arthur: "What's an American?"
The king flinches and then blinks in wonder when he realises he has no idea what an 'American' is, it just seemed like the right thing to say at the time.
Sir Bedivere: "Likely some form of magic, Sire."
Prince Mordred: "Considering this place, it's probably a word for bad smell."
As if on cue a tremendous lurch in stench arises to offend their nostrils.
Sir Caelia: "Is someone brewing up a particularly nasty spell here!?"
Tears stain her cheeks as she gasps for breath. The Fayrie King himself is now wincing.
Fayrie King: "I can--"
Fayrie: "Assume you that is not one of us!"
Sir Kay: "I am a ninja... silent and extremely deadly!"
Sir Lancelot: "I hate ninjas!"
King Arthur: "Brother... are you trying to assassinate me!?"
Sir Lancelot: "I shall defend you from the ass!"
Nerifian: "Me!? What did I do!"
King Arthur: "An ass-assass-in?"
Nerifian: "Can you please stop saying ass? I prefer to be called donkey."
Prince Mordred: "Does this mean Sir Kay is an American?"
Sir Bedivere: "Or he just did an American..."
Sir Caelia: "Can we stop talking about Americans? It's revolting."
She whirls a finger towards Sir Kay.
Sir Caelia: "And don't drop any Americans on us. I couldn't tolerate another."
Sir Kay holds his hands up in surrender.
Sir Kay: "I shall keep my Americans to myself for now!"
King Arthur: "That wasn't a good start to our meeting, was it?"
Prince Mordred glances at his father, instantly wishing Queen Guinevere was here. Leaving Sir Kay and his Americans in charge would probably result in better relations with the Zeb-arr faced king than any word from Arthur's mouth.
Fayrie King: "Well, I suppose it was something of an ice-breaker."
King Arthur raises an eyebrow.
King Arthur: "I suppose one of Kay's Americans could break ice, sure. Not that there's any here."
Sir Caelia: "Please! Enough with the Americans!"
Mordred decides to interject and, hopefully, steer the conversation in a more riveting direction - lest Sir Caelia starts churning up the aether around them and performing some real Americans within everyone's brains. Mordred doesn't fancy becoming a drooling vegetable.
He glances at his father.
Maybe a drooling vegetable is what it means to be "British".
Prince Mordred: "So, ah, your majesty--"
King Arthur: "Yes?"
Prince Mordred: "Not you, father."
Fayrie King: "Yes, young prince?"
Prince Mordred: "Are you the ass king?"
Several knights snicker.
Prince Mordred: "I mean are you the king of the asses?"
More fervent snickering.
Fayrie King: "Of the ass-headed people, yes."
Even Sir Bedivere snorts at that.
Fayrie King: "And pretty much any equestrian-headed individual. We have lived on this planet for-- ah, a long time. We have, however, reached our twilight age."
His sombre tone sobers up the knights and several of them have the decency to look guilty for chuckling childishly.
Nerifan: "The king is referring to our state of impotence."
Unfortunately the knights start laughing again at that. Mordred scowls at them since he considered that to just be bullying.
Sir Caelia: "You mean-- all of you?"
Nerifan nods slowly while the king continues to look glum.
Nerifan: "We have a lifespan of a thousand years, on average, plenty of time for making babies, we thought."
King Arthur: "I'd say! I'd probably have at least seven-hundred babies in that amount of time!"
Prince Mordred: "While Sire Lancelot would have had two-thousand. Two-thousand bastards anyway."
Sir Galahad: "Oi! I'm not a *******!"
Prince Mordred: "I'd rather be a ******* of Lancelot than his acknowledge heir. That way I could pretend he isn't my father."
Sir Lancelot: "That attitude is going to find you few friends, princeling."
Prince Mordred: "Or at least find me friends that haven't got a few hundred STDs."
There's a pause.
Sir Lancelot: "And what is an STD?"
Everyone slowly shuffles away from Sir Lancelot uncomfortably.
King Arthur: "I think you were going to explain why you are all impotent, Nerifan."
Nerifan: "It's the aether industry. What made us prosperous has also doomed us. Through a few generations our numbers dwindled and nobody cared to ask. We are a fairly sedentary people. Unhurried as a general rule..."
Sir Tristram: "Weird for horse-people."
Nerifan: "I'm a donkey-head. When was the last time you saw donkeys galloping about?"
Sir Tristram: "I... suppose..."
Nerifan: "It's just how we've evolved. When you live a longer life, you generally become slower paced. Why hurry, you have a thousand years to go!"
Fayrie King: "Ah, it is not just that. We have also grown lazy! Our entire generation had come to rely on the constructs built by our fathers and forefathers. We stopped asking questions and just used what was available to us. Our primary computer, named Monde, essentially runs and, dare I say, governs the planet. I actually have to do very little."
King Arthur: "I can't decide whether that sounds great or dreadful. Being king and not have to do anything! But... kind of makes you seem pretty powerless..."
Fayrie King shrugs.
Fayrie King: "You wouldn't be wrong, human king. There's just nothing for me to do. No orders to give, no schemes to plot. Monde takes care of all our needs and most of our needs are maintained by our constructs."
Morganna le Fay rolls her eyes is boredom.
Morganna: "Look. As riveting as this story surely is not, it serves us nothing. These fayries have grown to rely too much on their constructs and now they've stopped trying to understand or innovate. So now they're paying the price for their complacency. Great. Time for us to leave this stinking planet."
King Arthur: "I thought you'd enjoy the opportunity to investigate the magic here?"
Morganna: "There's nothing to be gained from artificial processes."
Sir Caelia now rolls her eyes.
Sir Caelia: "You're so behind the times, Morganna."
Merlin: "I think it'd be fascinating to check out the constructs! If we could replicate even a fraction of their technology, think of the wonders we could achieve with harnessing aether!"
Sir Caelia: "See?"
Morganna: "Magic is an art, it's nature. It's not for disecting and bashing with rocks. You've always been so keen on debasing everything that magical arts stand for, Merlin."
Merlin: "I do not! Magic is a science! If understood properly, we could achieve great deeds! Improve lives--!"
Morganna: "I'm leaving."
She turns and stalks out of the room. Mordred watches after her worriedly. She's a strong woman but she takes her magic seriously and never liked the way Merlin treated it as 'process' instead of the overflow of sensations as Morganna does. Merlin seems to appear a little guilty but Sir Caelia nudges her shoulder in enthusiasm.
Sir Caelia: "You showed that old fuddy-duddy."
Merlin: "I thought you'd be more... like her if I'm honest, Caelia. With you being a faerie and all."
The short woman shrugs.
Sir Caelia: "I am by nature. I am magic. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate moving with the times! Besides, how much harm could it do?"
They both turn to look at Nerifan and the Fayrie King and remembered that they'd turned themselves impotent through magical technology.
Sir Caelia: "We just have to remember to be careful, right?"
Sir Lancelot: "What can we do to save your people, Fayrie King?"
The zebra-head grins a horse-toothed grin. Or zebra-toothed as the case may be.
Fayrie King: "I admire your spirit, good knight! Alas, what has been done cannot be undone. My generation will be the last of our kind. Another few hundred years and we'll have died out. All except our noble god."
Sir Lancelot: "Perhaps it is faith in this heathen god that has led to your peoples' fate?"
There's a sudden tense silence.
Sir Bedivere: "Maaaaaaaybe we shouldn't be so quick to try and convert everyone we come across, dear Sir Lancelot?"
Sir Lancelot: "Well, it's true! God may yet save them if they turn away from--"
Seeing the rage building up in the supposed descendent of the horse-god, Prince Mordred hops forward as energetically as he can muster. He slaps his hands together to draw attention away from the buffoon.
Prince Mordred: "Why don't you show us some of these constructs, your majesty!? I'm sure Merlin would love to study your, uh, processors?"
Sir Bedivere: "And I would very much like to see this Monde machine that governs your lives."
The Fayrie King rises from his seat. He suddenly looks much older as he hunches over and steps down slowly from his podium.
Fayrie King: "Very well! Nerifan can show you the processors, I shall introduce you to Monde as only a few have access to its mainframe."
Nerifan sweeps his arm and most of the crew follow after him, Merlin especially scuttling off happily. The Fayrie King begins his slow hobble and before he had taken more then ten steps, some of his followers grew too impatient and doubled back to go and follow Nerifan instead. Only Arthur, Mordred, Bedivere and The Black Knight remain to stroll after him. Mordred doesn't mind much, giving him the opportunity to look over the place without the incessant prattling of the idiot knights.
Upon the walls are mounted heads. Initially Mordred thought that they must be sculpted, but when he got close to one he chose to poke it. It is soft. He reels back.
Prince Mordred: "A-A-Are they real heads!?"
The Fayrie King glances back with a smile.
Fayrie King: "Of course! What did you expect!?"
Even Arthur, who likes to show off, can't approve of this particular showing off.
King Arthur: "Mounting the heads of your enemies like trophies?"
Fayrie King: "Nay!"
The humans glance at each other.
King Arthur: "Did you just neigh or did you say nay?"
The alien king glowers at them.
Fayrie King: "What kind of zebras neigh?"
Sir Bedivere: "We don't know what a zee-bat is, your majesty."
King Arthur: "Zeb-rat, Sir Bedivere."
Fayrie King just shakes his head and resumes his slow trek.
Fayrie King: "They are the heads of my kinsmen. They are mounted here in their honour, so we might gaze upon them and remember. Do you not do the same to your loved ones?"
The humans shake their heads in mutual horror.
Fayrie King: "Such barbarians... Sorry. I didn't mean to say that aloud..."
As he walks he points to a brown headed equine upon the wall.
Fayrie King: "This is my brother. A good and honourable fayrie if ever the was one."
Sir Bedivere: "Shouldn't he be black-and-white like yourself?"
Fayrie King: "We had different mothers. I am zebra, while he is a zony."
Sir Bedivere is furiously scribbly that word down in a little books he's whipped from his tabard.
Prince Mordred: "A what?"
Fayrie King: "Oh. You might think of him as a cross between a zebra and a pony."
King Arthur: "A pony!?"
Sir Bedivere: "This is all very fascinating. It's a wonder how two different... what shall I call them... sub-species? They can breed and create and entirely new kind of creature! Quite unusual."
King Arthur: "Pretty sure there's something unnatural about all this. I doubt God would be very impressed."
Fayrie King: "Your knight said something similar. What is this god's name?"
King Arthur: "Just God."
Fayrie King: "That seems very arrogant of him."
King Arthur: "Because he's the one true God."
Fayrie King: "Then he's also very selfish. My ancestral god is always happy to acknowledge other gods! There's many of them out there, you know?"
King Arthur: "Pretenders, I'm sure."
Prince Mordred: "I'm beginning to wonder..."
Sir Bedivere: "Perhaps these other gods are simply manifestations of God in other guises? And these aliens, simple as they are, attributed their own narrative upon Him?"
Fayrie King: "Did you just capitalise your 'H'?"
Sir Bedivere: "What?"
King Arthur: "He did."
Sir Bedievere: "I did? Speaking?"
Fayrie King: "Arrogant indeed..."
They pass through a tunnel that is actually a series of arches joined together and emerge upon a narrow spiral staircase leading downwards. Their progression becomes even slower as the king takes each and every step one at a time.
Black Knight: "I should have gone with the others... kill me now..."
Prince Mordred: "Why did you come this way?"
Black Knight: "To protect you!"
Black Knight: "And the king, of course."
Prince Mordred: "You think we'll need protecting from a zem-ban that can barely gets down a flight of stairs?"
Sir Bedivere: "Zee-bat, my prince."
King Arthur: "Tsk! Zeb-rat!"
Black Knight: "I wish we had brought our space helmets with us. It would keep out these toxic fumes."
Sir Bedivere: "They're not toxic, Sir Black Knight."
Black Knight: "My nose doesn't agree with you."
Sir Bedivere: "It's probably good for the humours."
Fayrie King: "Humours? I'm not sure a bad smell would be especially uplifting, if you ask me. Luckily I can't smell whatever you're talking about."
Sir Bedivere: "I don't mean humour as in comedy. I'm speaking about health."
Fayrie King glances back with a stupified look on his face -- which looks extra-stupified because his face is a zebra's.
Sir Bedivere: "There are four humours, your majesty, which dictate health. Blood, black bile, yellow bile and phelgm. Keeping these under control will determine a healthy life. All diseases are caused by an imbalance of these humours."
Fayrie King: "My, my. Such interesting ideas you humans have."
Sir Bedivere: "I am certain the processing of aether has likely caused your blood to thin and your phelgm to increase. I certainly feel my phelgm thickening the longer I'm here."
Black Knight: "I thought you said it'd be good for my humours?"
Sir Bedivere: "Sometimes we must be cruel to be kind."
Fayrie King: "Is that Shakespeare?"
Sir Bedivere: "No, I am Sir Bedivere. Is Sir Shakespeare one of your own knights, your majesty?"
Fayrie King: "No. Actually I have no idea who Shakespeare is. Your line just sounds very much like it was said by Shakespeare. Whoever he is."
Sir Bedivere: "Well... either way, sometimes we must imbalance our humours in order to keep them working normally. If we avoid all imbalance always, then they'll be terrible at rectifying themselves when we are truly sick!"
Black Knight: "I do wonder how you can be so smart, Sir Bedivere!"
Fayrie King: "I wonder, indeed..."
Mordred feels the king is restraining some comment and decides the zebra-headed man must be wise, indeed, to hold back. Perhaps he doesn't wish to be punted down the stairs. Wise indeed.
They reach the bottom and find a solid wall of blue in front of them. Mordred might have thought this a deadend if he didn't think the king is smarter than that.
King Arthur: "A deadend? Maybe you forgot which way to go?"
Mordred rolls his eyes.
The Fayrie King reaches out and, with the wave of his hand, the magical barrier becomes translucent. He then hobbles through it and the humans, with a little tredpidation, do likewise. Mordred looks back at the barrier as it forms up behind them. It isn't such a dissimilar barrier to those he had seen the Aes Sidhe cast on Earth, but they're usually not such a full colour. He supposes the king doesn't want people to come peeking into the room.
Right now it's in complete darkness save for an eerie green glow of two large spheres in the centre of the room.
Monde: "Greetings, non-fayrie organics."
The king, from the shadows, speaks;
Fayrie King: "This is Monde. A hivemind of The Imperium."