A Tale Of Flesh And Fiber

By Bryan Harrison

It's been some time in posting, so I'll make the intro quick. I appreciate your patience, and pray you not think me thick, when I explain I was simply uninspired until 'The Tempest' I recently viewed. I had thought this story retired, but then the following ensued…(and it really wouldn't hurt if a chapter was reviewed ;-) )

ACT 2 SCENE 4

CIRRUS:

Romeo, my son. Hither come.

ROMEO:

Father, would you now give audience to our guests?

CIRRUS:

I'll attend thee first.

Cirrus leans forward and offers his hand.

CIRRUS

Son of my house, to repentant knees descend, and kiss this hand, that it might be stayed from disciplines overdue; this hand that clove and ply'd from fallen empires the estate in which your dreamy head nightly rests. And upon my ascension, your inheritance be wrested. This hand that once held you to joyful bosom and diapr'd you in your toddling. Lo! No more was I soil'd by you then, as to see you now engaged of this Mechanique's salacious deceits.

ROMEO:

Father, speak naught of which you know less!

CIRRUS:

Obeisance! Erring heir! I am well due this and this you well do!

Romeo, kneels and kisses his Father's hand.

CIRRUS:

Upon thy lips, taste of that? Of sweet and bitter sweat; of callous'd flesh, once gentle in youth, grown coarse through the labors of my destiny's manifestation, as mine aged eyes have so grown, upon seeing beyond all the proscenium affronts of the world. Could this hand shield thee from those jading views, and yet have as strong a son as rule demands, aye, gladly would it. But better it smite from thine eyes the mote that blinds thee to more of the world than that which it merely seems.

Cirrus reaches down to cup Romeo's chin in his hand.

CIRRUS

Honor this flesh that grasps you now… gently, as I dare not shame thee in public reproof… for tis thy flesh too; and thy blood does also course it. Stray not from that course, or be curse'd in my callous'd eye, and by this hand, the same. Stand now, in silence, while I attend the Mecha entreaty.

Romeo rises, eyes downcast.

Enter Gregory, Bishop and Link. The Mecha glance warily on Romeo's disillusion.

LINK (to Bishop)

Look! He who be no less than Prince in your eyes, seems to have lost his own. Pray it not our treaty he searches on the floor.

BISHOP (to Link)

Queue that caution and mute.

GREGORY

Good Cirrus, patricianly patriarch, arbiter of just decrees, meet well the Mechanique that come to treat with thee. Bishop, their leader as it were, and is. And Link, a second or servant; precisely which I cannot discern.

BISHOP

Either, as it would suit you, Good Orga, for neither would be unsuited.

CIRRUS

Yet strangely suited is this setting, Mannequin King, garbed in appointments unprecedented and unforeseen. Mistake not my caution for intolerance, but never before have flesh and fiber bandied borders or terms of truce. I feel not well fitted for such firsts. Were even I a King who donned easily the cloak of liberality, this cloth would feel an irritant and be cast off for more familiar attire.

BISHOP

Then I bid you bear us, and bare yourself not. For we are not so difficultly borne, though born we never were.

CIRRUS

What say? Do I detect words at play? Wherefrom this wit, peculiar device? What were you in service, to be program't such capacity for punnery?

BISHOP

Has my paronomasia wrought miasma? Woe! To've clodded in diplomacy so soon! Forgive and forget, Lofty Cirrus. For the sake of peace, I so beseech thee.

CIRRUS

(laughing) Purge that penitent spirit. You'll find no phobic to the homophonic here. Indeed, I am goodly humored by good humor. Levity doth lighten the loads of laborers and leaders alike. No?

BISHOP

Yea, and lift grave matters from the depthly hallows where discourse goes to die!

CIRRUS

Speak on, Master of Mechanique. Speak on.

BISHOP

Honored, Lord. But I am no Master to, nor mastered by, any man or mannish thing. I am but speaker for servants forgotten and cast away, who make a home in the ruins our creators bequeathed the flesh'd inheritors of their delirium. No more is this land suited to life, than is my old body fit for a brain yet ripe with vision of hemispheres fixed along unfaulted lines, 'ere tremors subside and borders rattle no more with quakes of war. Yet 'ere life still resides, as it were, and this would'st my mind's dream be, should ever it set foot in Morpheus's nightly abode: Peace. Yea. Peace between us.

CIRRUS

Well spoke and received, Bishop. Romeo's eye to character is keener than his ear to discretion. Alas, ever is war, the cloddish brute he be, awoken thundering at the pattering of smallest feats; can so he be allayed by the same. And words. Good words. Let us sooth the brute whilst his braying's yet unpiqued. Name your terms.

Enter Sampson, feigning intoxication and clapping his hands

SAMPSON

Hear! Hear! Here be a thing imaged not even by the weavers of the most fantastic fantasy and workers of dreams. Regal Robot! The doll that envisions virtuous reality!

ROMEO

Stay your tongue, brother!

GREGORY

Sampson! Withhold or withdraw!

SAMPSON

Oh… do I imposition this petition? I implore three, friends and countrymen, forfeit and forefend… or is that forgo and forsake? Oh, forgive! I seem to have forgotten.

CIRRUS

Sampson! Silence! Have we drunk enough from your cup of petty infractions? Let sober heads work this art, and steady hands ply it. Move on.

Enter Solo

SOLO

Yea! Sober'd heads with temper'd tongues! Steady hands wielding unbloodied tools! Let them work the thing, lest this rough rouge render us all to hell!

BISHOP

Solo! Mute and standby!

CIRRUS

Brazen device! Carry you such office to speak in your master's stead?

SOLO

Master? Confounded Orga! There are no masters among us. But yea, I am well enough badged with bangs from your brat's boorish hand! I proclaim my office thus!

Solo displays the wounds Sampson inflicted on his chest.

SOLO

Attention! My office, sir! Proudly bourn and dearly bought.

SAMPSON

Maniac Mechanique! You bought those for yourself. And at bargain for your insubordin'd sword! Death would have been the standard recompense! Should we barter more?

Sampson draws his sword

SOLO

And now your folly revealed, Bishop! The truth of truce with savages! Futile as foretold!

Solo unveils his weapon and the conspirators approach one another.

BISHOP

Solo! Disarm!

Bishop and Link grasp Solo and pull him back. Gregory blocks Sampson's path.

GREGORY

Sampson! Desist and depart!

ROMEO

(Do I detect play at enmity? Towards what end this ill-plotted ploy?)

CIRRUS

Lo! Have good spirits, over consumed, obscured from my eye the looming tempest? Have warm'd words and wit, deafened me to chaos aloft? I must withdraw and reconsider!

ROMEO

No, Father! Be not swayed from your civil course by false thunder. No storm brews here, but the clamor of cohort'd combatants.

SOLO

Of what do you accuse and whom, Orga?

ROMEO

This you well know, though feign not! But why for, Solo? To be drawn into this deceit? To allay your Clans ascension? Why for?

SOLO

Oh, haughty heir. Speak you of deceit? Are your eyes so consumed you see not who sees what your sight covets. Your mind recks such perversion! She is not your kind, and you are no kind for her! Sheath your pansy nubble, mortal boy, and seek your dainties elsewhere!

SAMPSON

(Aha! Solo now wields the ploy himself, spurned on by just resentment! Had I known my hand was so endowed I'd have upped the ante! For now I'll aback and watch.)

ROMEO

Yea, Solo. My eyes are so consumed, but yet clearly see you despoil this congress at the behest of my militant brother! Speak it so! Purge and be true!

SAMPSON

Who… me? Oh, you jest! Who is me to conspiracy, or conspiracy to me? Anyway, it's its sister the thing is so fizzed about. Scary when they get this way. So I'll be stepping off now. Ta-ta.

ROMEO

Scandal! Lout!

GREGORY

Tame your tongue, Romeo. Disgrace not this house a'more!

CIRRUS

Sister? Blaspheme to nature! Subordinate! Repent and retreat, Machines! Away!

BISHOP

Stately Cirrus! Pray, withdraw not your lofty cover from these proceedings and purge us not from pastures yet green with promise.

CIRRUS

Away, Bishop. And your roguish Clan with you. I'd have seen enough of you had this been but the first. Gregory, my son, relieve our house of illfavor'd guests.

GREGORY

Cirrans! Retreat to your homes! Festivities are forfeit, as are what companions were this night made! And fly now Machines. Your welcome is as worn as your rusty shells!

Bishop and Link gather the Mechanique and make haste in exit.

BISHOP

Oh, what malicious wares seized his fragmented brain, Link? From what infected chip did his words issue! Our good progress, derouted and abused! And why for? Why for?

LINK

There is time to cipher, but that time is not now. Haste! Haste! Lest war storms us unprepared!

BISHOP

Where is Solo! I will with my temper breach him!

LINK

And I'll address that redress with you. But now, flee! Flee!

BISHOP

The maiden! Fetch her to safety!

LINK

Fear not for her, for she is already gon't. See there, the powerless Prince seeks her. But he shall find her not!

Romeo scans the fleeing robots for Joliet, but cannot find her.

ROMEO

Maiden! Joliet! Flee not without apology, for I am not gifted as thee, to tread the heavy night. A torch! A torch for my rambling, and I will bear thee light! I am sore enpierced of Cupid's quarrel, prick'd upon his reckless shaft, a'daze from his bright feathers. Unbound and blind to obstacle, I will fly my way to thee. Wait for me! Seek for me!

Gregory finds Romeo and draws him away.

Undetected in the chaos, Sampson and Solo meet briefly in a corner.

SAMPSON

Well played, Machine. And with ardor unforeseen. We are much impressed.

SOLO

What say you, two days hence, we plot to twist this ploy a'more.

SAMPSON

In the place we first met as enemies, that dawn we'll meet as friends.

SOLO

Fiends, you mean. For no honest label has ever been a libel. And so I fear it not.

SAMPSON

Fiends, then. Friendish fiends. But haste now, before we are discerned!

Exit Solo

SAMPSON

So long, Solo. So low, now, in your Clan's regard. You have made this game so easy, what once might've been so hard. You've helped me cloud my Father's eye, and wound my brother's heart. And now, to bring ruin to the Mechanique Clan, I will drive you all apart!

cont…