The Assault: A Revenger Mission Update

Justice-LeagueGood afternoon Revengers! We go now to the field where our league of crime-fighting superheroes is taking to the field to locate and destroy a very dangerous artifact. As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, our mission to investigate the Tyrene Code turned up some very interesting information. Following the clues left behind by the famed artist and superhero, we have found our way to a government facility where the source of his powers appears to have been kept.

Our infiltrators managed to get within spitting distance of the facility and take down its sentries, but things may be taking an unexpected turn. As such, I, your humble Captain, have ordered our second team – the strike force made up of Veiled Tsunami, Dark Angel, Freedom Fighter and myself – into the fray. The security is tight closer to the facility and we’ll need all our initial assets committed to take them out in time.

We go now to the location to see what’s happening. I hope everyone brought there A game because there’s no way we’re pulling this off with anything less…

*                    *                    *

The door slammed shut and Smackdown raised his rifle. His hands were like a frantic, noisy mess, everything he did rushed and producing loud, angry clacks.

“Are you sure about this, Captain?”

His fingers were like a blur, one hand slapping a magazine in the bottom on the gun while the other slid the front end open to place a grenade inside. He looked up with mild annoyance to reply.

“Look, you people were the one who said you didn’t trust my source. Now you wanna second guess my being paranoid? C’mon, we’re going in?”

Freedom raised her hand in mock surrender, though her fingers began to tighten on her sword. She used her best diplomatic tone too, just to let him know she wasn’t prepared to use it on him yet.

“No one is second-guessing you, Captain. This just seems sudden.”

“She’s right,” said Tsunami, crouching by the front end of the vehicle. “I get the feeling you know something we don’t. Or you’re just not telling us.”

Smackdown looked angrily at her next. Her eyes were invisible behind her darkened glasses and her face stony, but her tone spoke volumes. He looked to Panacea who was standing quietly next to her. Even she didn’t appear to be offering him the benefit of the doubt right now. Even her with her usually gentle demeanor.

Great, he thought. Surrounded by women, any one of whom could probably kick my ass, and I got to go and try to assert dominance over them!

“Look, I don’t know anything at this point,” he said coolly. “But I get the feeling we made it here too easily, and we’re finding our way to their front door like someone left’s it open. Feels wrong, that’s all I’m saying.”

Freedom looked to Tsunami. She wished she knew what had happened during his supposed meeting with that “Source” of his. Ever since that ended, he had been in a mood. She Tsunami was in the know, but not her. And the only other person she could ask was waiting behind, part of their team of last resort.

“So what’s our plan?” asked Panacea.

Smackdown took a deep breath and looked to their resident Goddess. Somehow, seeing her always did much to lift people’s moods. She suspected that was why he made it a habit of keeping her around. Calmer now, a plan began to form on his head and trickled out of his mouth.

“I want you two ladies,” he indicated Tsunami and Freedom, “to do a quick fly over. Get their attention and then swoop in, see if they’re stupid enough to start shooting. I’m thinking that will give Atrum and Pax enough time to teleport inside. Once they’re in, we start hitting the guards with everything we got. Depending on what the situation is inside, I think it’s fair to say the confusion will mess them up and make them that much easier to beat.”

“Captain?” Panacea said, an eyebrow raised inquisitively. “How are you to get in there? You planning on taking the car again?”

Smackdown smiled wryly. Yes, of everyone in their team, he was the only one not particularly gifted with the ability of flight. And he was the last person who needed to be reminded of that.

“I’m glad you asked,” he said, equally wryly. “You get to carry me, Panacea. We go in the second the ladies make their second pass and our boys with the means of teleporting pop up inside. And if we catch any flack, I fully expect you to heal me. That okay with you?”

Freedom cleared her throat and shuffled her feet. No one had ever seen her scowl or frown before, but Freedom suspected this was the closest she could manage. As the one to ask him about his apparent limitations, she had clearly volunteered – or grabbed the short straw, as it were.

“Sure thing, Captain. Whenever you’re ready.”

“Ladies, first,” Smackdown replied and looked in their direction. “Freedom, good to go?”

“Always, Captain,” she replied. Smackdown nodded and turned his attention to Tsunami.

“How about you, Hawa? You feel ready for this?”

Hawa stood up and looked to be scowling behind her eyewear. Though it was hard to tell with her. Her face always seemed to be poised on the edge of a frown, ready to spit flame at a moment’s notice.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” she asked.

“No reason,” said Smackdown, quickly. “It’s just that we may be on the verge of finding the artifact your father was working on. I know you must have some feelings about that.”

“None I care to share,” she said coolly. Smackdown eventually nodded and left it at that. Tsunami never really did like to talk about such things. He had thought that at this juncture, there might be something, but apparently there wasn’t.

“Alright then. You and Freedom are up. Give em a good show, cuz when you come back around, I expect those guards to emptying their clips at you.”

That elicited a smile. “They won’t see me coming, Captain…”

“But they’ll know we were here when it’s all over,” added Freedom, her shimmering sword now reflected in Tsunami’s glasses. Side by side, they looked like something out of a childhood dream, or a villain’s worst nightmare.

For a moment, Panacea and Smackdown simply stared at the pair and felt a strange chill. Panacea was not the type to deal in cryptic talk and reasoning, but the Captain was clearly drawing some grim encouragement from it. As dark as any of his people could be, at least he knew they could be counted on to deliver.

What’s more, he knew that they were right. By the end of the day, the poor bastards manning the fence lines would be very sorry they ever got stuck with guarding this particular facility. When the dust settled, anyone still conscious would be looking for a new line of work and hoping it had comprehensive medical coverage.

He almost felt sorry for them…

*                   *                    *

Styka’s haunches were beginning to cramp and her lower back was screaming out for relief. Not far away, she heard Erotica grunting quietly to herself, no doubt nursing the same aches from all the crouching and waiting. The grass continued to brush by their faces as they kept them poked just high enough to see the fence line before them. And in the distance, they could hear one of the men guarding it barking through a radio.

“Alpha team, report in, please… Alpha team, what’s your status, over? Alpha team!”

“We can’t just sit here…” Erotica whispered to her. Styka kept her eyes fixed on the nearest man and the weapon he had hanging in front of him. She wondered just how quickly he could get to it before she smashed the helmet he wore in with her boot. He would be an easy enough takedown, but there were plenty more within shooting distance who would see it.

And at this distance, any sudden movements would surely be noticed. She surmised that her and Erotica could take two, maybe even four down between them before they started firing wildly. Then, anything could happen…

“I’m waiting, but I’m getting nothing,” she said, reaching out again and again. Atrum wasn’t answering, nor Pax, and her attempts to reach farther were met with the same absence. It was like trying to make a call, only to find the lines were dead.

[Atrum, Pax, where are you? What’s the Captain saying to you?]

Nothing. No one reaching out with instructions, no indication or new orders. And they were hip deep in enemy agents with automatic weapons. Moving in any direction seem ill advised.

“Forget this, I’m going in,” said Erotica. Moving from a hunched stance to a crouch, she prepared to leap forth like a spring-loaded predator. Styka eyed the man she had in her sights and called out to her as loud as she dared.

“Casey, no…”

[Styka] the familiar voice in her head sounded. [Duck and cover!]

She had no time to send a reply before  a crack from overhead sent her reaching to her ears. Next to her, Erotica went from crouched and ready to practically hugging the ground. The thunderous roar from overhead seemed to have the same effect on everyone in the area, sending everyone down in a desperate search for cover.

“What the hell -?” she cried out. Over the sound of ringing in her ears, she could just barely make out the faint wisps of something cutting through the air overhead. Her dizzied eyes turned skyward and picked up the faint trails of two streams dancing back and forth through the clouds.

And then another sound, this one coming from within… [Styka? Can you hear me?]

“What the-?” she said aloud, before switching to her inner voice. [Atrum? Is that you?]

[Yes, Styka. Sorry about the short notice. Are you ready?]

[Ready for what?]

[For this!]

Again, there was no time to formulate a reply. All at once, the air changed around her, expanding outwards with a pop to admit a presence that hadn’t been there a second before. Just as quickly she felt hands closing around her. She got a glimpse of the face just in time to scold him.

“Pax? What’s going on?”

“We’re going in!” he yelled. He looked to his right, gave a thumbs up. Styka followed the direction of his site and saw Atrum negotiating an embrace with Erotica. Unlike her and Pax, they seemed to be having an easier time of it though.

“Ready?” he said, quite pointlessly.

“Fine. What’s one more shock?” she said, and took his hand. He grabbed hold of her shoulder with his other hand and closed his eyes. Styka did the same, knowing the experience she was about to go through was anything but comfortable.

Another pop, and then they were gone…

*                     *                    *

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to the latest Revenger mission! Despite all that’s happened so far, I promise you that things are just getting started…

The Infiltrators: A Revenger Mission Update!

super-soldier-in-reposeMorning Revengers! I hope everyone is well rested and alert, because today, we do what needs to be done and put an end to a conspiracy decades in the making. With Mike Tyrene dead and his code now cracked, a device which bestows superhuman ability is being sought out by shadowy forces. Even worase, there are shadowy forces who will stop at nothing to keep it to themselves. And so we go in…

As you all know, the mission consists of three phases. Phase one involves our advance team scouting out the approach to the building and taking down any sentries and security barriers. Phase two involves a breach and clear team hitting the storehouse itself and destroying the alien device housed within. Phase three involves the deployment of all our reserves should things get hairy or phase two fails.

Our advance team is already on the move, approaching the storehouse and assessing the defenders. Keep your ears attuned to the report now coming in from its members, Atrum Auditor, Erotica Girl, Pax and Styka. Keep your fingers crossed and hope they make it in without getting detected. Otherwise, this mission is over before it begins…

*                    *                    *

Even crouched, the ladies could feel the cool breeze rolling through the glen. The field leading up to their target was open and provided for very little cover, aside from the waist high grasses that ran up to the very outer wall surrounding it. No doubt, the field was once dotted with tall pines and maples, cut down long ago to give the defenders a clear view on potential intruders. At their feet, the dirt was soft and smelt of marshes. No doubt there were plenty of snakes and other nasty things crawling around in it.

Styka rose into a bent hunch to get a better look at the building in the near distance. With so much firepower and electronic barriers, they had little need to worry about people coming to stare and ask questions. If anyone even entered the outer premises, they would lose interest very quickly! Blaring klaxons and a dozen laser sights aimed at your face had a way of doing that to people…

Can you hear me? Styka messaged, sending her thoughts out to the one’s waiting several hundred meters away. Back where there was still forests for cover, several kilometers away from the main road, the intended recipient called back.

[Of course. We’re sitting tight. What do you see?]

[See for yourself.] Focusing all that her eyes and ears were reporting to her, she sent it all streaming back to the treeline, where Atrum and Pax were waiting and attuned to her thoughts. Within seconds, they were seeing all she was seeing. The open field, the tall mesh fence surrounding the main building, the men in black fatigues walking inside and outside of it. She was even able to bear down on them, using all the strength of her mind’s eye to hear what they were thinking, and see the weapons they had in their hands.

[Not very encouraging,] Atrum came back. [I can feel those men’s minds, not very soft and cuddly, are they?]

[Private military contractors, surely. I can see everything they have, right down to their utility belts. Is Smackdown in touch with you yet?]

[He’s in my right ear. Between him and you, I much prefer talking to you!]

Styka smiled. For several more seconds, she carried on this way with the two men. For Erotica Girl, it felt like an eternity. Huddled next to her, relying on her invisibility to keep her hidden from men prowling the field, she was not in the most patient of moods. Styka might know she was there by the mere presence she was casting in her mind. But Erotica, lacking the psychic means to link with her, had to trust that her friend had not wandered off. Silence was a killer under those circumstances.

“What’s the play?” she whispered. Styka was a moment in coming back.

“We’re just sizing up the defenders. I can sense six men prowling the field out here. They’re armed with MP5’s, automatics and unsuppressed. Three of them are close at hand and will have to go down.”

“Only three…” Erotica said, smiling a devilish smile. “They’re making this too easy.”

“We need to be careful. Anything too noisy and we’ll blow the whole op. I can sense where they are, but you can’t.”

“Just point me at mine,” Erotica insisted.

Styka took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. “Fine. Three o’clock is the closest one. I’ve got another one at ten. I’ll take him, you take the one to the left.”

“Meet you in the middle,” Erotica whispered, and slowly began to crawl her way forward. Styka did the same, and both began moving their way through the thick grass. Neither dared move faster than a snails pace, for fear that the movement would be seen from afar as something other than the wind dancing through it.

*                    *                    *

They waited as calmly as they could, all the while forced to feel every move and impact the girls were laying down. They could see the poor bastards as they walked unsuspectingly through the tall grass. One minute they were looking on, completely unaware of the silent, invisible person at their feet. The next minute, they were looking up at the sky, right before a boot or fist landed on them and turned their world to black.

And at the edge of their consciousness, cut off from that live psychic feed, Atrum and Pax maintained their private link with each other, discussing the plan one last time before its execution.

[As soon as they’re clear, we jump in and teleport into the building proper. The girls take down the last of the sentries, we disable the alarms before anyone can call for reinforcements.]

[I remember] replied Pax. [Seems inelegant compared to the last mission. What if we run afoul of additional security guards again?]

[In that case, be glad you can heal yourself. You won’t have to wait for someone else to remove the bullet for you.]

Pax chuckled internally. He had to remind himself sometimes that death was little more than a temporary inconvenience for him, and a genuine source of terror for others. He couldn’t imagine what it must be like, having to wait on others to undue the damage wrought by bullets, blunt objects or terrible falls. For that, he just had to wait and let nature take its course.

[How about this? Let me jump in ahead of you. Maybe I can distract anyone we run into long enough for you to get inside and cover my ass]

[Sounds like a plan] Atrum said at last. [Now hang on, I got the Captain buzzing me again]

Atrum placed his finger to his ear and broke off his link with Pax. Between the ladies in the field, their private conversation, and the audio bug in his ear, there was only so much he could do. One had to give so he could once again speak to the antsy commander waiting in the vehicle behind.

“Captain, Erotica and Styka are through the sentries guarding the field. They’ve spotted numerous guards posted behind the fence line though. We’re preparing to jump in. We’ll signal you once we’re inside.”

He let go the bug, hoping the Captain would take the hint. But of course, Smackdown wasn’t finished yet.

“Change of plans, I want my team to take to the air before you jump in. Once Tsunami, Angel and Panacea are up, that should distract whatever guards they got posted outside the base.”

Atrum noted the tone of his voice, placed his finger back to his ear.

“Sounds wise, Captain. Any reason for the change? You worried we can’t handle things?”

“No,” he said flatly. “Just that feeling I get, like we’re not seeing everything just yet.”

Atrum frowned. He had looked into their progress of their mission several times via his mind’s eye, found nothing out of the ordinary. Always, in situations like these, the outcomes could be blurry and grey, subject to all kinds of chaos and happenstance. But wherever there was something unmistakable, like a trap just waiting to close, he would see it. That kind of intent never failed to register.

“Alright, Captain. We’ll be moving as soon as you’re ready.”

“Standby,” Smackdown replied, and signed off.

Atrum released the bug again. He took a deep breath and tried to still the pounding in his chest.

[Everything alright?] Pax asked, reaching out to establish their link again.

[We’re going in. Captain’s about to launch a distraction.]

[Distraction?] Pax came back. [What kind?]

Atrum took another breath and began focusing inward, preparing to make the jump in. [Just wait for the sonic boom.]

Serenity, Best Lines!

And we come to the final installment at last. Given the sheer kick-ass nature of the show’s writing, it took me three whole posts to get all the best lines from the single season that the show produced. And it was not even a full season! But of course, honoring Whedon’s criminally under-appreciated sci-fi creation wouldn’t be complete with including the movie Serenity. Much like the show, it had all the elements of classic sci-fi, space westerns, and the touching themes of loss and the ties that bind. So here she is, the fourth and final installment! Shiny!

Serenity:
Quick recap: The crew of the Firefly are still flying, albiet by the seat of their pants. The Alliance continues to expand into the outer reaches of the system, making it that much harder to get freelance work, honest or otherwise. At the same time, the Reavers seem to be pushing inward, raiding systems closer and closer to the core. Meanwhile, an “Operative” is looking for River and will stop at nothing to find her. His appearance coincides with the crew’s realization that her condition goes far beyond anything they’ve seen before. In addition to being a “reader”, she is also programmed to kill and knows things about secret Alliance projects. Following a lead, the name “Miranda”, the crew uncovers a massive planet-wide conspiracy which could threaten to destroy the Alliance itself.

River: People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.
Teacher: River, we’re not trying to tell people what to think… only how [cut to lab where River is being experimented on]

[My favorite line of the movie, so chilling!]
Operative
: “Key members of Parliament”. Key. The minds behind every military, diplomatic and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic.
Dr. Mathias: Look… even if River Tam did by any chance read the minds of any of the visiting Parliment members here, whatever government secrets she may have read she may not even remember any them for they are all probaly buried under layers of psychosis.
Operative
: Secrets are not my concern. Keeping them is.

Mal: What was that?
Wash: Did you see that?
Mal: Was that the primary buffer panel?
Wash: Did seem to resem-
Mal: Did the primary buffer panel just fall off my gorram ship for no apparent reason?!

Wash: Yeah well, if she doesn’t give us some extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn through, this landing is gonna get pretty interesting.
Mal: Define interesting.
Wash: ‘Oh god oh god we’re all gonna die?’
Mal: [through the intercom] This is the captain. We have a…little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then…explode.

Mal: Come a day there won’t be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well may not be another. So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don’t push me, and I won’t push you. Dong le ma?

Mal: Doctor, I’m taking your sister under my protection here. If anything happens to her, anything at all, I swear to you, I will get very choked up. Honestly, there could be tears.

Jayne: Shiny! Let’s be bad guys.

Mal: You all wanna be looking very intently at your own belly buttons. I see a head start to rise, violence is going to ensue. Probably guessed we mean to be thieving here but what we’re after is not yours. So, let’s have no undue fussing.

Zoe: [to a security guard] You know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed. You can look it up later.

Mal: Listen up! We’re comin’ down to empty that vault.
Guard:
You have to give me your authorization password. [Jayne fires into the vault] Okay.

Mal: [negotiating with guard where to shoot him] The leg is good. It’ll bleed plenty and we avoid any necessary organs.
Guard:
I was thinking more of a graze?
Mal:
Well you don’t want to look like you just gave up.

Jayne: Gee, it sure would’ve been nice to have some GRENADES don’tcha think?!

Jayne: You shoot me if they take me! [sees Mal’s gun pointed at him] Well don’t shoot me first!

Simon: Oh ‘one simple job, she’ll be fine’!
Mal:
She is fine! ‘Cept for still bein’ crazy she’s the picture of health!

Zoe: Sir, I don’t disagree on any particular point. It’s just…in a time of war, we would’ve never left a man stranded.
Mal:
Maybe that’s why we lost.

Jayne: I’ll kill a man in a fair fight. Or if I think he’s gonna start a fair fight. Or if he bothers me. Or if there’s a woman. Or if I’m gettin’ paid. Mostly when I’m gettin’ paid.

Mal: Kaylee, this is a place of business. We can talk about Simon-
Kaylee: When he’s four worlds away? Or the Alliance gets ahold of him and River?
Mal: That ain’t my worry. I gotta finish this job, get us another one. Can’t do that carryin’ those two.
Kaylee: How can you be so cold?
Zoe: Cap’n didn’t make them fugitives.
Kaylee:
But he coulda made ’em family. ‘stead of keepin’ Simon from seein’ I was there. And I carried such a torch! And we coulda…goin’ on a year now and I ain’t had nothin’ twixt my nethers weren’t run on batteries!
Mal:
Oh God! I can’t know that!
Jayne:
I could stand to hear more.

Mal: Fanti. Mingo.
Mingo: He’s Mingo
Mal: He’s Fanti, you’re Mingo.
Mingo: How is it you always know?
Mal: Fanti’s prettier.

Fanty: Do you know that girl?
Mal: I really don’t.

Mal: I’ve staked my crew’s life on the theory that you’re a person, actual and whole, and if I’m wrong, you’d best shoot me now…
[River cocks the gun she is pointing at Mal] Or, we could talk some more.

Mal: What in the hell happened back there?
Wash:
Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a ninety-pound girl, ’cause I don’t think that’s ever gettin’ old.

Malcolm: You had a gorram time bomb living with us! Who we gonna find in there when she wakes up? The girl? Or the weapon?
Simon: I thought she was getting better.
Jayne: And I thought they was getting off. Didn’t we have an intricate plan on how they was gonna be not here any more?
Kaylee: We couldn’t leave them now.
Jayne: No, now that she’s a killer woman, we ought to be bringing her tea and dumplings.

Wash: Inara. Nice to see her again.
Zoe
: So… trap?
Mal
: Trap.
Zoe
: Are we going in?
Mal
: Oh, it ain’t but a few hours out.
Wash
: Yeah, but, remember the part where it’s a trap?
Kaylee
: But how can you be sure Inara don’t just wanna see you? Sometimes people have feelings. And I’m referring here to people.
Mal
: You all were watching, I take it?
Kaylee
: Yes.
Mal
: Did you see us fight?
Kaylee
: No.
Mal
: Trap.

Mal: Zoe, ship is yours. Remember: if anything happens to me, if you don’t hear from me within the hour, you take the ship — and you come and you rescue me.
Zoe: What? Risk my ship?

Mal: She is a mite unpredictable. Mood swings, of a sort.
Operative
: It’s worse than you know.
Mal
: It usually is.
Operative
: That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.
Mal
: The way I remember it, albatross was a ship’s good luck, ’til some idiot killed it. [to Inara] Yes, I’ve read a poem. Try not to faint

Operative: I already know you will not see reason.
Mal: The Alliance wanted to show me reason, they shouldn’t have sent an assassin.
Operative: I have a warship in deep orbit, Captain. We locked onto Serenity’s pulse beacon the moment you hit atmo. I can speak a word and send a missile to that exact location inside of three minutes.
Mal: You do that, you’d best make peace with your dear and fluffy lord.
Operative: [Mal tosses a mechanism, he catches it] Pulse beacon…

Operative: I want to resolve this like civilized men. I’m not threatening you. I’m unarmed.
Mal: Good. [shoots him]
Operative: [grabs Mal from behind] I am, however, wearing full body armor. I am not a moron!

Operative: You are fooling yourself, Captain. Nothing here is what it seems. You are not the plucky hero, the Alliance is not an evil empire, and this is not the grand arena.
Inara: And that’s not incense. [the “incense” explodes and knocks The Operative out]

Mal: Half of writing history is hiding the truth.

Jayne: Oh yeah, hidin’ up the Shepherd’s skirts, that’s a manful scheme.
Mal: You wanna run this ship?!
Jayne: Yes!
Mal: Well y-…you can’t!

Operative: I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?
Mal
: I don’t murder children.
Operative: I do. If I have to.
Mal: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?
Operative: It’s not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Mal: So me and mine gotta lay down and die… so you can live in your better world?
Operative: I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there… any more than there is for you. Malcolm… I’m a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

Mal: Ah, hell, Shepherd, I ain’t looking for help from on high. That’s a long wait for a train don’t come.
Book: Why when I talk about belief, why do you always assume I’m talking about God?

Book: [last words] I don’t care what you believe in, just believe in it.

Mal: This is how it is. Anybody doesn’t wanna fly with me any more, this is your port of harbor. There’s a lot of fine ways to die. I ain’t waiting for the Alliance to choose mine. [shoots Alliance soldier crawling from wreckage] I mean to confound these bungers. Take my shot at getting to Miranda. Maybe find something I can use to get clear of this. So I hear a word out of any of you that ain’t helping me out or taking your leave, I will shoot you down. Get to work!

Dr. Caron: These are just a few of the images we’ve recorded. And you can see, it wasn’t what we thought. There’s been no war here and no terraforming event. The environment is stable. It’s the Pax. The G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate that we added to the air processors. It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression. Well, it works. The people here stopped fighting. And then they stopped everything else. They stopped going to work, they stopped breeding, talking, eating. There’s 30 million people here, and they all just let themselves die.

Mal: This report is maybe twelve years old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there’s a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They’re gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people…better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.
Jayne
: Shepherd Book used to tell me, “If you can’t do somethin’ smart… do somethin’ right.”

Zoë: It’s a fair bet the Alliance knows about Mr. Universe. They’re gonna see this coming.
Mal: No. They’re not going to see this coming.

Wash: I’m a leaf on the wind…watch how I soar.
Mal: [smiling at battle around them] Chickens come home to roost!
Wash: [flying debris glances off ship’s hull] It’s okay… I-I’m a leaf on the wind!

Jayne: Cap’n’s right. Can’t be thinkin’ on revenge if we’re gonna get through this.
Zoe: Do you really think any of us are gonna get through this?
Jayne: Well I might!

Mr. Universe: [via his buffybot] Mal. Guy killed me, Mal. He killed me with a sword. How weird is that?

Simon: My one regret in all of this is never being with you.
Kaylee
: With me? You mean to say, as in… sex?
Simon
: I mean to say…
Kaylee
: [cocks her gun] Hell with this. I’m gonna live!

Operative: Do you know what your sin is Mal?
Mal: Ah Hell… I’m a fan of all seven. But right now… I’m gonna have to go with wrath.

Operative: Do you really believe that?
Mal: I do.
Operative: You willing to die for that belief?
Mal: I am. [shoots the Operative repeatedly] Course, that ain’t exactly Plan A.

[Deleted scene]
Operative: Serenity… you lost everything in that battle. Everything you had, everything you were. How did you go on?
Mal: If you’re still standing there when that engine starts, you never will figure it out.

Mal: You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do since you already know what I’m about to say.
River
: I do. But I like to hear you say it.
Mal
: Love. You can learn all the math in the ‘verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love. She’ll shake you off just as sure as the turn of the world. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down. Tells you she’s hurting before she keels. Makes her a home.

[last line]
Mal: What was that?

Final Thoughts (on an awesome series!):
Well that’s it I guess, show’s over… (Sniff, sniff) Excuse me for a moment! Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let me offer some final thoughts on this series that I didn’t think to mention before. One thing I am impressed with about the movie is how they really got into the mentality of the Alliance in greater detail. All throughout the original series, it was clear that they were motivated by a desire to expand and consolidate, and generally justified themselves with the whole “civilizing mission”, calling to mind the age of Imperialism and the American Frontier, “Manifest Destiny”, “White Man’s Burden” and all that crap!

But here, they got a little more in-depth. Calling to mind more recent phenomena like the goal of “spreading Democracy” and questions like “why would people not want to be like us?” And what was brilliant about the execution was the fact that the people who asked these questions and did these things really weren’t evil. At least, they didn’t think they were. Even The Operative, a self-confessed monster, wasn’t all bad. He truly and honestly believed that he was doing the right thing, that there would be a payoff for other people as a result of his murderous actions. And he accepted the fact that, come the day of a perfect society, he wouldn’t be allowed to live in it. In a way, he was kind of selfless. In a way…

And ultimately, Whedon and the cast captured the other side of the equation perfectly as well. Whereas the powers that be saw their mission as a civilizing one, a drive to create a utopia, they saw the horrors inherent in such a vision. As all fans of dystopian literature know, the whole premise is based on the idea that the drive to create the “perfect society” quickly gives way to a very imperfect one. For in the end, the drive for perfection is an illusion, and dreams can give way to nightmares very quickly!

Wow, deep stuff, and to be found in a space-western of all places. And with so many cheeky and fun lines to boot. Is it any wonder why people who love this show love it as much as they do? It’s a cult classic, man! And now it’s gone… (sniff!) I’m sorry, I thought I was all cried out! But can you blame me? This movie is emotional, and it’s big finish was a fitting sendoff to the show. Climactic, full of resolutions, but still with enough uncertainty to keep the viewers wondering if someday, there might be more to come…

Alas, seems like this show was destined to succumb to its own central theme. Much like the Browncoats, it was stamped out by an unfeeling, remorseless giant known as Fox. But alas, there’s still hope. If I get rich one day, I have said that I would purchase the rights to the show, recruit as much of the old cast as possible, and put it back on the air. Or, maybe just spring for a couple DVD movies, or a some sequels… Or maybe I’ll just buy the damn Fox Network, force them to re-air this show and many others they so foolishly cancelled. It could happen… Yeah, and monkeys could fly out of my ass! Ah well, until next time, keep on flying!

Firefly, Best Lines (part III)

Hello! Welcome to the third and final installment in the “Best Lines” series dedicated to the awesome show Firefly. It seems fitting that I put up the final installment in the show seeing as how my wife and I just finished (re)watching the entire series on Netflix last night. It’s times like this that make me sad that there isn’t a second, third, fourth season to pick up where it all left off. Sad and very, VERY angry! DAMN YOU FOX! Anyhoo, enjoy the list and stay tuned for a follow-up with the best lines from Serenity. Just need to (re)watch it too (man, Netflix is good to me!).

Trash:
Mal and crew are reunited with an old acquaintance – Saffron, or as she’s known now, Bridgitte – who gives them an offer they can’t refuse. Seems the first laser ever made is ripe for the picking, and the owner just happens to be her ex-husband (her first ex-husband!)

Monty: Damn you, Bridgitte! Damn you to Hades! You broke my heart in a million pieces! You made me love you, and then you… I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

Mal: This is my scrap of nowhere. You go on, find your own.
Saffron
: You can’t just leave me here on this lifeless piece-of-crap moon.
Mal
: I can.
Saffron
: I’ll die.
Mal
: Well, as a courtesy, you might start getting busy on that, ’cause all this chatter ain’t doin’ me any kindness.

Inara: Right, you’re a criminal mastermind! What was the last cargo we snuck past the Alliance to transport?
Mal
: That was a little dif—
Inara
: What was the cargo?
Mal
: They were dolls.
Inara
: They were little geisha dolls with big heads that wobbled!
Mal
: Hey! People love those!

Inara: Well, since I can’t seem to find work as Companion, I might as well become a petty thief like you!
Mal
: Petty?
nara
: I didn’t mean petty.
Mal
: What did you mean?
Inara
: Suo-SHEE?
Mal
:
…That’s Chinese for “petty”.

Mal: Saffron has a notion we can walk right in there, take the Lassiter right off his shelf.
Wash
: I’m confused.
Saffron
: You’re asking yourself if I’ve got the security codes, why don’t I go in, grab it for myself?
Wash
: No. Actually, I was wondering… WHAT’S SHE DOING ON THIS SHIP?

Zoe: But Inara ain’t wrong. She can’t be trusted.
Mal
: I ain’t asking you to trust her. I’ll be with her on the inside the whole time.
Saffron
: See there? All you gotta do to be a rich woman, hon, is… get over it.
Zoe
: Hmm. Okay. [punches Saffron] I’m in.

River: She’s a liar.
Jayne
: That don’t exactly set her apart from the rest of us. The plunder sounds fun enough.
River
: She’s a liar, and no good will come of her.
Jayne
: Well, as a rule, I say, girlfolk ain’t to be trusted.
River
: “Jayne” is a girl’s name.
Jayne
: Well, Jayne ain’t a girl! She starts in on that girl’s-name thing, I’ll show her good ‘n’ all, I got man parts!
Simon
: I’m… trying to think of a way for you to be cruder. I just… it’s not coming.

Saffron: Durran, this isn’t what it looks like.
Mal
: Unless… it looks like… we’re stealing your priceless Lassiter, ’cause… that’s what we’re doing. Don’t ask me about the gun, though, ’cause that’s new.
Durran
: Well, I appreciate your honesty. Not, you know, a lot, but..

Durran: How long have you been with him?
Mal
: Oh— pfft! We are not together.
Saffron
: He’s my husband.
Mal
: Well, who in the damn galaxy ain’t?!

Jayne: Is spine okay?
Simon
: How much did they offer you to sell out me and River on Ariel?
Jayne
: Das crazy talk.
Simon
: Then let’s talk crazy. How much?
Jayne
: [looks to the door] Anybody there? [River pokes her head in] Anybody else?

Simon: No matter what you do, or say or plot, no matter how you come down on us… I will never, ever harm you. You’re on this table, you’re safe. ‘Cause I’m your medic, and however little we may like or trust each other, we’re on the same crew. Got the same troubles, same enemies, and more than enough of both. Now, we could circle each other and growl, sleep with one eye open, but that thought wearies me. I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t know what you’re planning on doing, but I’m trusting you. I think you should do the same. ‘Cause I don’t see this working any other way.
River
: Also… I can kill you with my brain.

Mal: Yeah. That went well.
Inara
: You call this going well?
Mal
: We got the loot, didn’t we?
Inara
: Yes, but—
Mal
: Then I call this a win. What’s the problem?
Inara
: Shall I start with the part where you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, or the part where you have no clothes?

The Message:
The crew of the Serenity get a strange and unexpected package from an old friend: his body! Initially, it seems he’s dead, but in time they realize he’s alive and smuggling cloned organs to a buyer. Unfortunately, the organs are worth something to some other people, crooked Alliance personnel who’ll stop at nothing to find him.

Simon: Yep—it’s a cow fetus.
Kaylee
: Guess so. It does seem to have an awful lot of limbs.
Simon
: It’s mutated.
Kaylee
: But cow? How do you figure?
Simon
: It’s upside down.
Kaylee
: [looks sideways at it] Oh yeah. Cow.
Simon
: And I’m out twelve bits! I really know how to show a girl a… disgusting time.

Wash: Oh my god, it’s grotesque! Oh, and there’s something in a jar.
Zoe
: Scared her away again, did you?
Simon
: D— This may come as a shock, but I’m actually… not very good at talking to girls.
Zoe
: Why, is there someone you are good at talking to?
Wash
: [looking at the “alien”] Do not fear me! Ours is a peaceful race, and we must live in harmony.

Jayne: I got post?
Book
: Might we all want to step a few paces back before he opens that?
Jayne
: Ha ha! It’s from my mother.
Inara
: So, do aliens live among us?
Kaylee
: Yeah. One of them’s a doctor.

Jayne: [tries on the hat his mother made him] How’s it sit? Pretty cunning, don’t you think?
Kaylee
: I think it’s the sweetest hat ever.
Wash
: A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything.
Jayne
: Damn straight!

[Zoe and Mal open a coffin-sized box to find a body.]
Jayne
: What’d y’all order a dead guy for?

Zoe: First rule of battle, little one… don’t ever let them know where you are.
Mal
: WHOO-HOO! I’M RIGHT HERE! I’M RIGHT HERE! YOU WANT SOME O’ ME?! YEAH YOU DO! COME ON! COME ON! AAAAAH! Whoo-hoo!
Zoe
: ‘Course, there’re other schools of thought.

Mal: Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone’s carryin’ a bullet for you right now, doesn’t even know it. The trick is, die of old age before it finds you.

Tracey: [recording] You know, it’s funny. We went to the war never lookin’ to come back, but it’s… it’s the real world I couldn’t survive. You two carried me through that war. Now I need you to carry me just a little bit further… if you can. Tell my folks I wanted to do right by them, and that I’m at peace, and all. Uh… When you can’t run anymore, you crawl, and when you can’t do that, well… Yeah, you know the rest. Thanks, b-both of you. Oh, yeah, and, uh… make sure my eyes is closed, will ya?

Mal: Oh, the colonel was dead drunk. Three hours pissin’ on about the enlisted men. Uh, “they’re scum”, uh, “they’re not fighters”, and, uh… and then he passed right out—boom.
Zoe
: We couldn’t even move him. So, uh, Tracey just… snipped it right off his face.
Mal
: And you never seen a man more proud of his moustache than Colonel Obrin. I mean, in all my life, I will never love a woman the way this officer loved that lip ferret.
Zoe
: Big, walrus-y thing—all waxed up!
Inara
: Did he find out?
Mal
: Oh! Next mornin’, he wakes up, it’s gone, and he is furious! But he can’t just say, you know, “Someone stole my moustache!” So he, uh, calls together all the platoons…
Zoe
: We thought he was gonna shoot us!
Mal
: …and, uh… Oh, he’s eye-ballin’ all the men somethin’ fierce. Not a word. And he comes up to Tracey, and Tracey’s wearing the gorram thing on his face!
Zoe
: He’d glued it on!
Mal
: He’s starin’ the old man down wearing his own damn moustache!

[Tracey wakes up during his autopsy]
Jayne
: Spry for a dead fella!
Tracey
: Sarge?
Mal
: Yeah?
Tracey
: I think I’m naked.
Mal: You wanna explain to me exactly why you got yourself all corpsified and mailed to me?

Wash: I think they’re about done being stalled to— ahhhh… AHHHHHHH! Mal, your dead army buddy’s on the bridge.
Zoe
: He ain’t dead.
Wash
: …Oh…

Mal: Hear that quiet? Means the call’s already been made.
Tracey
: Well, that call… that call means you just murdered me.
Mal: No, son. You murdered yourself. I just carried the bullet a while.

Tracey: When you can’t run, you crawl. And when you can’t crawl, when you can’t do that…
Zoe
: …you find someone to carry you.

Heart of Gold:
An old friend of Inara’s, a madame who runs a brothel, kindly asks the crew of the Serenity for help. On a distant moon, the local Sheriff, a power-hungry and corrupt man, is hellbent on stealing his son from one of the local girls.

Inara: Hi.
Mal
: BWAH!
Inara
: Sorry! Didn’t mean to startle.
Mal
: You didn’t! I was just, uh… “BWAH!” That’s more like a… It’s a warrior like… Strikes fear into the… hearts of… You know, not altogether wise, sneaking up on a fellow when he’s handling his weapon.
Inara
: I’m sure I’ve heard that said. But… perhaps the dining area isn’t the place for this sort of thing.
Mal
: What do ya mean? It’s the only place with a table big enough.
Inara
: Of course. In that case, every well-bred petty crook knows that the small concealable weapons always go to the far left of the place setting.

Inara: It sounds like something this crew can handle. I can’t guarantee they’ll handle it particularly well, but…
Nandi
: If they got guns and brains at all.
Inara
: They’ve got guns

Jayne: Don’t much see the benefit in getting involved in strangers’ troubles without a up-front price negotiated.
Book
: These people need assistance. The benefit wouldn’t necessarily be for you.
Jayne
: That’s what I’m sayin’.
Zoe
: No one’s gonna force you to go, Jayne. As has been stated, this job is strictly speculative.
Jayne
: Good! Don’t know these folks, don’t much care to.
Mal
: They’re whores.
Jayne
: I’m in.

Inara: Nandi, this is Malcolm Reynolds.
Nandi
: I appreciate your coming.
Mal
: Well, any friend of Inara’s is a strictly businesslike relationship of mine.

Mal: I’ll introduce you to the rest later. They’re good folk.
Jayne
: Can I start getting sexed already?
Mal
: Well, that one’s kinda horrific.

Simon: Isn’t there a pregnant woman I’m to examine?
Wash
: You’d really lie with someone being paid for it?
Kaylee
: Well, it’s not like anyone else is lining up to, you know, examine me.
Jayne
: Whoop! My John Thomas is about to pop off and fly around the room, there’s so much tasty here. Ooh!
Wash
: Would be you get your most poetical about your pecker.

Kaylee: Everyone’s got somebody. Wash, tell me I’m pretty.
Wash
: Were I unwed, I would take you in a manly fashion.
Kaylee
: ‘Cause I’m pretty?
Wash
: ‘Cause you’re pretty.

Mal: Nothing worse than a monster who thinks he’s right with God.
Nandi: Captain Reynolds, it took me years to cut this piece of territory out of other men’s hands, to build this business up from nothing.
Mal
: Nandi…
Nandi
: It’s who I am, and it’s my home. I’m not going anywhere.
Mal
: Well, lady, I must say—you’re my kinda stupid.

Wash: Well, I’m not sure now is the best time to bring a tiny little helpless person into our lives.
Zoe
: That excuse is gettin’ a little worn, honey.
Wash
: It’s not an excuse, dear! It’s objective assessment. I can’t help that it stays relevant.
Zoe
: I don’t give a good gorram about relevant, Wash, or objective. And I ain’t so afraid of losing something that I ain’t gonna try to have it. You and I would make one beautiful baby. And I want to meet that child one day. Period.

Nandi: Truth is, I expected a whole lot more of you to be takin’ payment in our trade.
Mal
: Well, we’re an odd conglomeration. Got a preacher, a married fellah, and the doctor… well, he’d have to… relax for thirty seconds to get his play. That’d be more or less a miracle.

Mal: Miss Nandi, I have a confession to make.
Nandi
: Maybe I should get the Shepherd.
Mal
: Well, I ain’t sinned yet. And I’d feel a little more’n awkward if he were here when I did.

Nandi: Malcolm, I been waiting for you to kiss me since I showed you my guns.
Nandi
: You okay with this?
Mal
: I’m just waiting to see if I pass out. Long story.

Inara: So you took to bed with Nandi. I’m glad.
Mal
: Glad?
Inara
: Yes! She’s a dear friend, and probably in need of some comfort about now.
Mal
: So, you’re okay. Well, yeah. Why… why wouldn’t you be?
Inara
: I wouldn’t say I’m entirely okay. I’m a little appalled at her taste.

Jayne: [over radio] Whoa, now, girl, that is just plain dirty.
Mal
: Jayne, you aware your radio’s transmittin’? Cause I ain’t feelin’ particular girlish or dirty at the moment.

Petaline: Rance, this is Jonah. Jonah… say “hi” to your daddy. [Shoots Rance.] Say “goodbye” to your daddy, Jonah.

Objects in Space:
A bounty hunter boards the Serenity and takes the crew hostage. His arrival coincided with the crew’s realization that River might be a “reader” (i.e. a psychic) and her decision to leave the ship.

Kaylee: You couldn’t possibly!
Simon
: No, I wish I was lying, I just…You know, we’d all just made surgeon. That was it, we were the elite. The world was ours, you know?
Kaylee
: So you had to be naked?
Simon
: Naked. Yes. And, uh, on top of the statue of Hippocrates. Can’t you just picture me?
Kaylee
: What, naked? Oh, well, hmm, mmm…Let’s see, I’mma have to conjure up a…yeah, that’s, that’s gonna be difficult... So did the feds come?
Simon
: There were no feds. Until I started singing.
Kaylee
: Oh, no!
Simon
: This is not–
Kaylee
: What did you sing?
Simon
: This is not funny. This, this is a morality tale about the evils of sake.
Simon:
[in River’s head] I would be there right now.

Jayne: Not ever ever?
Book
: Some orders allow shepherds to marry, but I follow a narrower path.
Jayne
: But you still got the urge? They don’t…cut it off or nothin’?
Book
: No, I’m more or less intact. I just…direct my energy elsewhere.
Jayne
: You mean like masturbatin’?
Book
: I hope you’re not thinking of taking orders yourself?
Jayne
: Heheh, yeah, that’s be the day.
Jayne
: [in River’s head] I got stupid, the money was too good.
Book
: [in River’s head]I don’t give half a hump if you’re innocent or not. So where does that put you?

Mal: If I want a lot of medical jargon, I’ll talk to a doctor.
Simon
: You are talking to a doctor.

Wash: Little River gets more colorful by the moment. What’ll she do next?
Zoe
: Either blow us all up or rub soup in our hair. It’s a toss-up.
Wash
: I hope she does the soup thing, it’s always a hoot and we don’t all die from it.

Zoë: Where’s River at now?
Mal
: In her room, which I’m thinking we bolt from the outside from now on.
Wash
: That a little extreme, isn’t it?
Jayne
: Anyone remember her comin’ at me with a butcher’s knife?
Wash
: Wacky fun…
Jayne
: You wanna go, little man?
Wash
: Only if it’s someplace with candlelight.
Zoe
: Sir, I know she’s unpredictable. But I don’t think she’d harm anyone.
Jayne
: Butcher’s knife?!
Zoe
: Anyone we can’t spare.

Mal: Girl knows things. Things she shouldn’t. Things she couldn’t.
Jayne
: What, are you— are you sayin’ she’s a witch?
Wash
: Yes, Jayne. She’s a witch. She has had congress with the beast.
Jayne
: She’s in Congress?
Wash
: How did your brain even learn human speech? I’m just so curious.

Wash: Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction.
Zoe
: We live in a spaceship, dear.
Wash
: So?

Jayne: Well, I don’t like the idea of someone hearin’ what I’m thinkin’.
Inara: No one likes the idea of hearing what you’re thinking.

Simon: Are you Alliance?
Early
: Am I a lion?
Simon
: What?
Early
: I don’t think of myself as a lion. You might as well, though: I have a mighty roar.
Simon
: I said “Alliance”.
Early
: Oh, I thought—
Simon
: No, I was—
Early
: That’s weird.

Simon: I don’t think my last act in this verse is gonna be betraying my sister.
Early: You’re gonna help me. ‘Cause every second you’re with me is a chance to turn the tables, get the better of me. Maybe you’ll find your moment. Maybe I’ll slip. Or, you refuse to help me, I shoot your brain out, and I go upstairs and spend some time violating the little mechanic I got trussed up in the engine room. I take no pleasure in the thought, but she will die, weeping, if you cross me.
Simon: You’re out of your mind.
Early: That’s between me and my mind. Let’s start with these rooms.

Early: You ever been shot?
Simon: No.
Early: You oughta be shot. Or stabbed, lose a leg. To be a surgeon, you know? Know what kind of pain you’re dealing with. They make psychiatrists get psychoanalyzed before they can get certified, but they don’t make a surgeon get cut on. That seem right to you?

Early: Alright, that’s all the hide-and-seek I got time for. [shouting] I know you’re on this ship, little girl! Here’s how this goes: show yourself and finish this exchange, or your brother’s brains’ll be flyin’ every whichaway! [normal tone] You understand, I’m sort of on the clock here, it’s frustrating.
River
: [over Serenity’s intercom] You’re wrong, Early.
Early
: I’m not wrong, dumpling, I will shoot your brother dead if you don’t—
River
: Wrong about River. River’s not on the ship. They didn’t want her here. But she couldn’t make herself leave. So she melted. Melted away. They didn’t know she could do that. But she did.
Early
: Not sure I take your meaning there.
River
: I’m not on the ship. I’m in the ship. I am the ship.
Simon
: River—
River
: River’s gone.
Early
: Then who exactly are we talking to?
River
: Talking to Serenity. And Early? Serenity is very unhappy.

Early: Where’d she go?
Simon
: I can’t keep track of her when she’s not incorporeally possessing a spaceship; don’t look at me.

Early: I only hurt people ’cause they keep gettin’ in the way of me finding you. Tell her.
Simon
: What am I, your advocate?
Early
: You are, starting now.
Simon
: He’s really very… gentle, and fuzzy. We’re becoming fast friends.
Early
: You folks are all insane.
Simon: Well, my sister’s a ship. We had a complicated childhood.

Mal: There was a guy. He was very blurry. You gotta be careful. Ugh. How come there’s a guy on board and how come you’re all of a sudden the ship?
River/Serenity
: I know you have questions.
Mal
: That would be why I just asked them.
River/Serenity
: But there isn’t a lot of time, captain. I need you to trust me.
Mal
: Am I dreamin’?
River/Serenity
: We all are [Mal rolls his eyes] Don’t make faces!

Early: You know, with the exception of one deadly and unpredictable midget, this girl is the smallest cargo I’ve ever had to transport, yet by far the most troublesome. Does that seem right to you?
Simon
: What’d he do?
Early
: Who?
Simon
: The midget.
Early
: Arson. The little man loved fire.

Early: Well I’ll be a son of a whore. You’re not in my gorram mind. You’re on my gorram ship!

Inara: Any chance that shiong-mung duh kwong-run might survive?
Mal
: Air he had left, I’d say his chance’d be about one in… a very large number.

Early:[floating in space]Well, here I am.

And that’s our show! As I was beginning to expect, I’ll need a fourth post if I’m going to cover the gorram movie. Gorram, good word! Stay tuned for the final installment! It’ll be shiny! Fei-oo! Go-se! Ching-wah TSAO duh liou mahng!

AKIRA!

I’ll admit it, I don’t watch a lot of Anime. I know, that probably makes me a bad geek. But what can I say? You gotta be into that kind of thing and apparently, I’m not. But over the years, I’ve managed to find a few titles that I did like. Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D, and – best of all – Akira! Yes, not only was this the best piece of Anime I’ve ever seen, it managed to tell a story that still intrigues me years later. Not long ago, I watched it for what felt like the umpteenth time and found that it I still get wrapped up by its stunning visual effects, existential ideas, and its post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk theme. I tell ya, the animators spared no expense when it came to visuals, and the story-writing and direction was reminiscent of Kubrick in a lot of ways. Much of what is happening is shown, not told, and those watching it might therefore feel the need to see it more than once. But enough gushing, time to get to the review!

(Background—>)
The movie Akira was actually based on the Manga series of the same name by Katsuhiro Otomo, who was also brought in to direct the movie. The movie condensed the storyline of the six original Manga novels, but kept all of the major themes and plot elements. Much like the comic, the movie is set in Neo-Tokyo, a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future city where biker gangs rule the streets and an authoritarian government is hiding secrets about human experiments. It was well received by critics when it was first released in 1988 and has gone to become one of the top-rated animated movies of all time, and of course it attracted a cult following in the process. However, there were also some critics who panned it, claiming that it did a poor job of condensing six volumes of Manga into one two hour movie and cut corners in the process (fans of the Dune series can no doubt relate!) These critics tended to be in the minority though, with fans and critics alike hailing the end product for its visual style, its imaginings of a dark future, and its attention to detail. I, if it hasn’t been made clear already, am one of them!

(Content—>)
The movie opens on a silent, birds-eye view of Tokyo in 1988, right before it is vaporized by what looks like a nuclear attack. The entire city is engulfed in light and things white out. The scene then changes to an orbital view, where the white light fades and we see what look like thermal images of Tokyo harbor. The white turns to red, which turns to blue, and the outline of a new city, build on the ashes of the old, appears. And then, a close up on the massive crater that was Tokyo and the name in big red letters… AKIRA! What is awesome about this scene is that there is virtually no sound at the beginning. You hear what sounds like a strong wind, but that’s all until the title rolls and a caption tells us that the setting is Neo-Tokyo, 31 years after WWIII. When the sound rolls, its just a series of loud, metallic pangs that chill you to your bones! An effective opening, conveying a sense of apocalypticism and dread, punctuating the visuals and making it clear that more horror and fright are on the way!

We then move to the streets of Neo-Tokyo where we meet the main characters of Shotoro Kaneda, the leader of a Bosozoku biker gang, and his buds. They’re up to their usual thing, battling the Clowns (a rival gang) and making a big mess of the streets in the process. Meanwhile, student and civilian protests are taking place not far away and the riot police are out in full force trying to contain them, shooting them with tear gas canisters and beating them with truncheons. In between all this, a man who is clearly a member of some underground cell is running through the streets and trying to stay ahead of the police. With him is a small boy who he appears to be rescuing, and we can tell he’s no ordinary child because his skin is blue! The resistance man is then shot when they run into the riot police’s barricade, and the boy gives us a preview of some freaky powers when he screams and shatters all the windows in the area, sending everybody running. In the crowd, a young girl and an older man are watching, themselves members of this same underground, and become perplexed when they see the blue boy disappear.

We go back to Kaneda and his biker gang, who appear to have routed the Clowns and are now chasing them down. Tetsuo, the obvious runt of the litter, gets seperated as he tries to chase down too Clowns, and ends up running into the blue-skinned boy. A mere second before impact, the boy freaks out again and Tetsuo’s bike explodes, sending him into the pavement. Kaneda and the others show up just in time to see him wounded but not killed, and the blue boy as well who’s appearance shocks them. Military choppers and shadowy figures show up seconds later, with some big mustached Colonel and an older, blue-skinned person leading them. The boy is taken away, the elder one scolding him for trying to get into the outside world where they don’t belong. Tetsuo is taken as well, with Kaneda and the rest unable to help because they are at gunpoint and face down on the asphalt.

This sets off the three intertwining plot elements that make up the movie. One the one hand, we have Kaneda and his friends trying to find Tetsuo, all the while trying to survive in the hostile environment that is Neo-Tokyo. We have the resistance looking to get back into some government facility so they can free these blue-skinned kids – known as the Espers, clearly the subject of experiments and covert activities. And we have the Colonel, who’s running said facility, overseeing the experiments on these individuals, and trying to figure out what to do with Tetsuo. It becomes clear after just a few scenes that his exposure to this small child is changing him, in the psionic sense, and now they must figure out what to do about it. While he presents an interesting phenomena, a normal person changed through accidental exposure, there are hints that this chance encounter could bring disaster.

In between all this, we get numerous snapshots of what life is like in the post-apocalyptic city, and all of it is interesting and awesome. The police are overworked trying to control a population that is beginning to become unruly after the shock and horror of a nuclear holocaust and the push to rebuild. The public school system is clogged with orphans who’s parents died in the war and who have to turn to biker gangs and deviant behavior to express themselves. And behind it all, there is the shadowy government project being run by the Colonel, who is haunted by the visions the blue kids are showing him and a name which might be a person, a phenomena, or both… Akira! At one point, in a scene that is both expository and foreshadowing, we are shown an underground facility where a massive cryogenic unit sits and waits. As they inspect it, the Colonel is reminded of conversations he had with the resident scientist about the children could be the next phase in evolution, how it is frightening, and how he fears for the city. In any case, we see a name on the big cryogenic unit… AKIRA! Whoever or whatever this is, its clear that the blue kids are related, and that the war itself might have had something to do with it.

At about this time, Tetsuo manages to escape from the military facility. He finds his girlfriend, Kaori, steals Kaneda’s bike, and makes plans with her to get out of the city. Unfortunately, some Clowns find them and begin beating the crap out of them. Luckily, Kaneda and his buds were on their tale and manage to intervene, but clearly something’s wrong. In the course of taking his revenge on one of the Clowns, Tetsuo begins to lose it. When they try to stop him, he starts to lose it and says that someday he’ll show all of them (case of foreshadowing here). To make matters worse, he starts experiencing intense migraines and has apocalyptic visions. He sees the city crumbling, his body falling apart, and hears the name Akira ringing like a shrill bell in his mind. And, wouldn’t you know it, the military shows up again and hauls him away! It seems that whatever is happening to Tetsuo is beyond his control, and naturally, his friends are even more determined now to find him and figure out what’s going on.

Paralleling this, we get a scene where one of the government bureaucrats is meeting with the leader of the resistance. The two watch a public protest where a religious cult begins burning TV’s and other “decadent” possessions, calling forth the name of Akira as some sort of messianic prophet and saying that the time for atonement has come. The bureaucrat explains how this is a sign, how the city is saturated and begiinning to rot like “an overripe fruit”, and how Akira is the seed that will soon fall and grow into a new order (clever metaphor). We are still not sure who or what Akira is at this point, but its clear that whoever or whatever it is, everyone is looking to it for deliverance. The resistance and their bureaucratic ally want it to pave the way to the future, the government wants to keep it under wraps, and the people on the streets see it as the name of the messiah. Real cool! From all of this, we see that at all levels of society, the name Akira is a secretive, powerful, and dangerous thing.

Along the way, Kaneda finds out about the resistance and begins making common cause with them. This begins when he notices that a particular young woman named Kei, whom he is obviously infatuated with, has a way of showing up repeatedly wherever and whenever shit is going down. At first, he was just trying to nail her; but in time, he comes to realize that she is part of an underground cell that is looking to expose a government secret, the same one that Tetsuo is now part of. They agree that they can help each other, mainly because she and her friends can get inside the facility and she is sympathetic with Kaneda’s desire to save his friend. Eventually, they succeed, but their attempt at a rescue coincides with another, scarier development.

In the facility, Tetsuo is still changing, and the process is getting beyond all control. His psionic abilities are reaching dangerous proportions, and he wants answers! He has come to see that there are others like him (the Espers), which happens after a psychedelic episode where the children enter his room in the guises of childhood toys and transform them into nightmarish creatures that try to devour him. It’s not quite clear why they do this, perhaps they grew scared of him and wanted to put him in his place. It is clear to them from their visions of a catastrophic future that Tetsuo is a threat, so perhaps this was their way of telling him to behave. In any case, this scene is nothing short of art! At once nightmarish, hallucinogenic and psychedlic, it manages to intrigue, creep out and terrify, in that order. And, ironically but fittingly, it ends when Tetsuo accidentally cuts himself and the children are terrified by the site blood and flee. However, Tetsuo is now angry and abundantly aware that he is not alone. He sees in his mind’s eye where the Esper’s nursery is, and sets out to find it, them, and the answers he seeks.

In the process, a number of attendees and guards try to stop him, but he makes short work of them all. Yes, Tetsuo has come to understand that whatever is changing him has given him some freaky powers, including the power to kill with a simple thought. As he walks along the hallway, he kills numerous people in sick and ugly ways, a clear indication of his descent into madness and a preview of what’s to come. Once he reaches the blue kids’ nursery, they begin fighting it out with their crazy mind powers, and the effects used to illustrate this are not just cool, they’re crazy! One really gets the sense of the psychic and psychotic; music, effects and dialogue all coming together to intrigue and scare the viewer! In the course of all this, Tetsuo gleams a name from their minds. Seems their is another like them, someone who is even more powerful than the Espers and Tetsuo combined. Tetsuo wants to find this person, this… Akira! He even manages to get the location from their minds before they are interrupted.

That interruption comes in the form of Kaneda and Kei who have successfully broken in amidst the chaos. They have a brief rendezvous, but Kaneda’s attempts to get Tetsuo to leave with them fail. Seems Tetsuo thinks he’s beyond Kaneda’s help now, and that he’s in charge and ready to show him what’s what, as promised earlier. The Colonel and more men enter and attempt to stop Tetsuo, but he kills even more people, destroys the nursery, and flies from the facility (much to his own surprise). Seems his body is now flying him on autopilot and taking him out into the city to find the last known location of the fabled Akira. The Colonel and his troops are then forced to declare martial law, in part because of Tetsuo’s escape, but also because the government has decided that he is not fit to run the program anymore and try to arrest him. After a brief scene where some bureaucrats show up and a minor gunfight ensues, the Colonel orders his troops to arrest all members of the government and get their asses to where Tetsuo is heading! He means business now!

Meanwhile, Kaneda and Kei have been arrested and stuck in a cell. Here,Kei begins to explain exactly what they think Akira represents. In a word: evolution! Essentially, Kei says that the power that has driven single cell organisms and reptiles to evolve into spaceship-making, atom-splitting humans is still at work. Harnessed in the human genome is a ton of energy that is just waiting to manifest itself in the form of freaky powers, the kind that Tetsuo and the Espers now demonstrate. Kei begins to become distant as it is made clear that one of the Espers, the young girl, is speaking through her. She explains that in the past, this process went horribly wrong, but someday soon, it would become a reality and their kind would exist freely. Kaneda is totally lost, but that doesn’t matter for long. Kei snaps out of her dream-like puppet state and reveals that the door to their cell is now open. Seems the Espers are pulling strings to make sure the two of them get out.

With the help of voiceover, they even say that they plan on using the girl to stop Testuo. And they don’t make it far before they put that plan into action. After meeting up with Kai, another member of the biker gang, Kaneda is told that a rampaging Tetsuo killed one of other members. He’s pissed, but is made even more pissed when the Espers show up and make Kei come with her. She walks away (on water, no less), and leaves Kaneda fuming angrily over how helpless he feels. Caught between a friend who’s gone rogue and some freaky kids who are using his would-be girlfriend for their own purposes, all the while caught up in plot he can’t begin to understand, he decides to set out on his own to find Tetsuo and end him!

Speaking of which, we meet up with Tetsuo next and see that he’s been stalking the streets and killing anyone who gets in his way, all the while seeking the other secret facility where, as we saw earlier, Akira is housed. This is without a doubt one of the best parts of the movie, as the street people, seeing some psionic boy in a red cape (yep, he fashions himself a cape!) become convinced that Tetsuo is Akira and start following him like a messiah. They all die, naturally, as Tetsuo’s is forced to fight his way through soldiers and his powers cause untold amounts of collateral damage. When he finally reaches the facility, just outside the uncompleted Olympic Stadium (bit of a side story to that one), he runs into Kei again and they fight. Not so much “they”, more like the Espers fight Tetsuo through her, but of course he beats them/her and breaks into the facility anyway. As soon as he cracks open the cryogenic seals that hold Akira, the Colonel arrived outside the stadium and begins to fill him in via a megaphone.

We then get the big moment of truth: turns out the facility was holding the remains of a boy, a boy named Akira. He is what caused Tokyo’s annihilation in 1988, as he was an evolutionary curiosity that evolved beyond anyone’s control. After the explosion, which started WWIII since everyone thought Tokyo was under nuclear attack, his remains were sealed away for future study. That’s it, that’s all! No mind-blowing conspiracy, no earth-shattering answers, just a bunch of test tubes and tissue samples in formaldehyde. And as for the conspiracy, that was just the government trying to keep the truth of Akira under wraps so they could study it in the hopes of preventing the same thing from happening again. Hence why they’ve been holding the Espers in a sealed location, seems they were Akira’s fellow potentates who survived the obliteration.

Tetsuo is obviously phased and disappointed, but he’s quickly snapped out of it with the arrival of Kaneda. The two get into it as Kaneda tries to talk him down, but a fight quickly ensues with Kaneda employing a captured laser gun and Tetsuo using his freaky powers. The government jumps in and tries to kill Tetsuo with their orbital laser satellite, but this only manages to critically injure Tetsuo by blowing off his arm. The kid proves beyond their control again, and flies into orbit where he takes over the satellite and then crashes it. This, however, gives Kaneda, Kei, and Kai a chance to escape.

A lull follows as the Colonel and his forces lick their wounds, Tetsuo fashions a new arm out of random machine parts, and Kaneda, Kei, and Kai recharge the laser gun and keep each other company. Some time later, they all meet up inside the stadium, where Tetsuo has placed the remains of Akira on a sort of shrine and is sitting in the chair he has fashioned into a sort of throne. Symbolism! The Colonel urges Tetsuo to come home, but he refuses. He is once again losing control and its beginning to show in his body, which is sprouting amorphous blob-like appendages! He is also losing his mind, at once amused and in terrible pain over what’s happening all around him. The Espers show up and begin praying to the remains of Akira, hoping to get some kind of instruction or deliverance. Seems they too revere him since he was the first to undergo what they are experiencing now.

Tetsuo’s girlfriend Kaori is also drawn to the stadium, but she soon dies as Tetsuo’s loses all control over his body and it consumes her. Kaneda returns, shooting his laser and trying to bring Tetsuo down, but the attempts appear to be in vain. Even Tetsuo is being killed by his own abilities now and there doesn’t appear to be any way to stop it. And the scientists watching it all are stunned when the queer instruments they have that measure psionic abilities go off the charts and begin to show the “Akira pattern”. And then, in a blinding burst of revelation (destructive, apocalyptic, revelation!) Akira appears to the Espers! His white light, much as it did at the beginning, starts consuming the stadium and Tetsuo’s amorphous body. Kaneda is willing to risk his own life to pull Tetsuo from the expanding ball of light, but the Espers decide they will take Tetsuo with them and save Kaneda by sacrificing themselves. Essentially, they are going into the light, which means either death, transcendence, or a little of both. Kaneda, Kei, and everyone else, will be sent back in the process so they can live on.

However, Kaneda is still inside the light for a moment and experiences what can only be described as a taste of transcendence, or possibly the afterlife. It is a totally mind-blowing scene, biggest one of the movie, as he watches entire city blocks get mangled in the light, catches glimpses from their and Tetsuo’s life, and hears the Espers speaking to him about the meaning of it all. He gets a chance to say good-bye to his friend, who appears before him as a blinding ball of light, and sees moments of their lives together. He then wakes up next to Kei, safe and sound. Might sound cheesy, but trust me, its sad, meaningful, and above all, awesome to behold. All the more so because you’re not being told what’s happening, you gotta figure it out on your own. The vivid imagery and passing bits of explanation paint a picture, but you’re left pondering what it means.

Meanwhile, the city is once again in ruins, even though Kei, Kai and Kaneda survived. The Colonel has also survived, having found shelter in a nearby tunnel when the apocalyptic light show began. Clearly, they are the survivors of this new apocalypse, and it is to them that the responsibility to rebuild once more falls. The Espers end things by reiterating their final message, how things are changing, and though the world may not be ready, someday what they have will become a reality. “It has already begun…” they say at the end. By it, of course, they mean the next leap in human evolution, where we will evolve beyond flesh and blood bodies and become unrestrained forces of pure consciousness, with all kinds of freaky psionic abilities! Yes, the day will come when we shall all be… Akira!

(Synopsis—>)
Okay, I’m feeling mind-blown just recounting all this. Like I said before, this movie did things right, relying on a sort of show-don’t-tell philosophy, psychedelic and existential themes, and an attention to detail that is unsurpassed. From a technical standpoint, there was also the stunning visual effects and a great combination of music, sound and visuals to punctuate the plot and dialogue. But the thing I liked most was the depth and development shown by the plot and thematic elements of the story. For example, the clear religious themes: First off, there was the coming of the messiah and the End of Days. There was also the Garden of Eden or Deluge Myth that was present at the end. Lastly, there is the Fall. All of these were present at one time or another, the first being a recurring theme while the others became clear closer to the end. The fascinating and gritty use of them all was awesome, terrifying and hugely intriguing.

Then, of course, there was the plot. You’d think that with the archetypal and religious tones that were at work, you’d get some cliches or cardboard cut-out characters. But, interestingly enough, the characters were pretty damn realistic throughout. They are at once cynical, greedy, scared, brutal, and sympathetic, no one a crystal-clear good guy or bad guy. Whether it was the overwrought bureaucrats, the cautious and troubled Colonel, the street toughs who see each other as a family, the fallen Tetsuo or the romantic scientists, every character felt genuine and justifiable. Just like real people, everyone is motivated by their own combination of things, no one is perfect, and everyone just wants to do what they think is right. That, plus the fact that the story doesn’t end happily, but with some hope, was also very realistic. In the event that human beings actually began manifesting psionic powers, we can expect that the results would be frightening and probably disastrous. And in all likelihood, it would take a few disasters before humanity found a way to control it or live with it.

That being said, the movie could also be a bit daunting at times. Towards the end, the action sequences and dialogue did get a little drawn out and could even feel emotionally taxing. Like with a lot of movies of its kind, there were moments where I was just like “enough death and destruction! Get on with it, already!” But for the most part, this is effective in that it conveys the right feel and attitude. After all, death, destruction and the apocalypse are not neat and tidy things. They are painful, demoralizing and downright brutal! One would expect scenes or total destruction and terrible strife to be sad and terrible, so I can only say that Katsohiro’s direction was realistic in that respect and in keeping with the overall tone of the movie. Speaking of which, the movie also showed some very obvious insight into the mentality of destruction and holocaust. All throughout the movie, there is a sense of shock and horror at work, and it comes out in full force at the end. But unlike your average disaster movie, the destruction in Akira wasn’t some cheap attempt at action-porn, it was the real deal!

And you really get the sense that this speaks directly to a sense of cultural experience, Japan being a nation that has not only experienced earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes regularly in the course of its history, but is also the only country on the planet that has experienced the horrors of a nuclear attack. When one sees the blast at the beginning, the flashing, cooling orbital view, and then the big, black crater, one immediately thinks of Hiroshima, and not just the physical impact but the terrible psychological toll it took as well. All the scenes involving the orphaned kids, the apocalyptic dreams, the post-war reconstruction; you really feel like Katsohiro was relying on the real-life experiences of those who had been there.

Oh, and one final note: I’ve since seen two versions of the movie, the original VHS release that was available back in the 90’s, and a more recent version which was clearly dubbed in Japan. The Japanese dubbed one is actually more faithful to the original dialogue, but my advice would be to get the version that was dubbed by Hollywood studios. The translation was better, and the dialogue and voices more effective and less cheesy. Don’t know what it is about Japanese voice actors, but the men sound too gruff and the ladies too high-pitched! Also, in what I am assuming was the original Japanese script, the dialogue was also remarkably less subtle. If you can see both versions and compare for yourselves, you’ll see what I mean.

But other than that, this movie is an enduring classic for me. Its appeal is cultish, its style awesome, and its effects stunning even though they are over twenty years old by now. I look forward to the live-action American remake of this movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and set for release sometime in the next year, or possibly 2013. One has to wonder how they will spin things and if they plan on sticking to the grit and realism of the original. I sincerely hope so, otherwise I might have to give it a scathing review!

AKIRA
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Plot: 9/10
Direction: 10/10 (Yo!)

Total: 9/10