These are for Laura Mulvey, of course.


When she stumbles, awkward in the silks and manners her sisters graciously affect, Lionel catches her -- his lovely pawn, advancing rank by rank toward her apotheosis, ignorant of the game's subtleties. He woos her in clichés because he sees her thus: chess-piece, princess, callow maid.

Yet even before she raises her sword between the mob and its prey, her words have pierced his complacent illusions. Transfixed, he watches her harry her opponent, as radiant as the battle goddess who rode beside the first emperor, and knows her already a queen in a contest which suffers many ... but only one king.



Ah, breasts. Let other fellows praise a woman's lips or thighs; Oreldo's a boob man. They're so versatile. You can give them a nudge to convey intent or a friendly squeeze to express satisfaction; you can even wax lyrical about a lover's pillow upon which your weary head longs to rest and earn points for savoir-faire.

This predilection makes it easy to refrain from shopping in the company store, whose display models are pretty damn underdeveloped. He never dreams they have anything to reveal until the lieutenant sheds her skirt, trading modesty for maneuverability. Huh. Nice gams, LT. Too bad ...



In Oland's dreams, the lieutenant blazes like a signal rocket, burning through the cold blue mist that wraps him when he wades into the river of blood. During the duel, she shines like her own sword beneath the ballroom's fancy chandelier, lightning-quick and fierce. It's strange, then, that for the few seconds she sags fainting against his chest (before her sisters whisk her away), she reminds him of the fireflies he used to catch on warm summer nights in the park, and how they crept on tickling feet across his knuckles before lifting off, twinkling, into the friendly dark.