(Alphie writes about his state visit to Wolf 359)
I have had a nice time at Wolf 359. No seriously, a bit weird, no, quite a lot weird, but kinda nice.
Arrival: first cultural misunderstanding. All weapons to be surrendered. All? Yes. So my bodyguard Ned has to defend me with his bare hands. Right. Then I have to agree to being ‘tagged’. Now with my personal history [an insane computer once stuck a chip in my brain] I am not happy, but they assure me it’s harmless – and reversible – so I agree. And the cameras! I thought, as a former actor and present politician, that I was used to being photographed, but here it began to get on even my nerves. Surveillance everywhere, cameras, droids, monitors…guards, cops, spies… no privacy… after a few days I was ready to scream. The things I do for diplomacy and peace!
The dinner is mostly very tasty. I am told it’s a fine mixture of Wolfer foods, and it was nearly all good, I especially enjoyed Id Caribousaur Steak, Giant Barbecued Hell-Prawns from Barba, and Wolfer dry white wine. Not too sure about this hot drink they give me when I would have had jolt; they callit A172-T and told me it’s a delicacy. It tastes like megadon pee. [Don’t ask…]
I ask King Stabilo if that’s just his pen-name and he laughs! He tells me it is an old name meaning ‘one who brings stability’. He told me his courtiers call him ‘His Nibs’ behind his back! What a laugh! It may have been a fine line, but for me it was a highlight. He really seems like a ‘decent chap’.
The summit itself goes well; we seem to avoid being criticised too much for yet another AI-related catastrophe [Ultron] and I come over as genuinely anti-AI, which plays well with the Martians and Centaurans, two polities I wanted to impress today. I get a few snorts about ‘Alphie’s had a upgrade’ but maybe they just don’t get it when they see the effects of me trying to do my homework, for once, I never was any good in school but I can make up for it now, OK??
Second cultural misunderstanding with a Wolfer. I try to break the ice with this big, very snooty guard. I can’t do the accent, but it is just so goddam quaint, I love it when Wolfers talk!
ME: Hiya, big guy, what a shiny uniform. Who the hell are you working for?
GUARD: Your Excellency Mr President, I am a Night protector.
ME: Oh….so who does the Day protecting?
GUARD: Sir, I think you misunderstand…
ME: When’s the shift change? You wanna show me a good bar to get a beer and find some friendly chicks?
GUARD: No sir, I am a Night Protector. It takes a silent K.
ME: [thinking he gets it] Ah! A silent K!
[Alphie take out a thousand-credit chip and slips it to the Guard]
ME: Well, take this ‘K’, and as for silence… if you don’t mention it, I won’t!
GUARD: [outraged] SIR! WE DO NOT ACCEPT BRIBES!! [throws my chip to the deck]
It took the next twenty minutes to sort out that these guys, who are called no-bulls, and he certainly took no bull from me, are called KNIGHT Protectors, a ‘Knight’ being an old Wolfer title for a Professional Warrior or a Retired Judge or Diplomat, I never did figure out which.
A tour of Parley-ment. [It means a place for talking. Yeah, right. Yelling, grunting, squawking and getting drunk, more like.] I love it. It is full of more smartly-dressed no-bulls. They give me several metal pots of warm beer and I listen to incomprehensible shouted speeches, with constant jeering and barracking, it was noisier than a spaceball match. Then I hear demonstrators nearby shouting ‘Hey hey! Ho! Potato Must Go!’ for about two minutes, before the police shut them up I guess. DAFT? I never find out. But I love the way the Wolfers all say my name ‘Po-tay-to’ until I put ’em right, they are just so quaint! More warm beer. Then various drugs. The ‘Mother’ of All Parley-ments, they tell me. Yeah, man, a real Mother of a place, right on.
Next, an Arse Gallery [I think that’s what they called it]. Piles of rubbish, random flashing lights and occasional detonations. It was like a bus station on Kree. But in Ye Olde Gifte Shoppe I buy a solid gold jewel-encrusted Queen of England model which is quite gorgeous. On the way back to the Ambassador’s we drive along the most amazing clifftops, splendid scenery, but because of the switchback effect and the warm beer, I throw up. Sorry. I hope the Knight Protector can get the barf out of his uniform.
And back to the Ambassador’s Residence [known as ‘Castle Wolf-359-3D’ for some reason] a weird place with lots of empty corridors, big GFA flags and pictures of me everywhere]. My room The President enjoys a breather in the Residence’s groundsis very spartan – no windows, like a cell – but at least there are no cameras here, and I get a cold beer to go with the automatic pistol I am given to play with. As I walk around, opening doors at random and startling rats, I feel my health improving, almost as if I was walking over tiny magic first-aid kits.
Next day, ahhhhhhhhhh! The cultural misunderstanding that made the tri-vid news. Well. It’s a game of ‘cricket’ which I figure is game involving insect-racing, as I find in the Galactica that that is the meaning of the word. An insect, omnivorous, likes warm places etc. I don’t really know what to expect, but I am asked to turn up in my shuttle-craft at a place called Lords.or Lor’ds as I later discover its spelled. Pilot flies to the co-ords she has, from a klick up sees what looks to her to be a landing field prepared for us, markers 21metres apart, white-suited ground-crew in attendance, and an appreciative crowd waiting to cheer Alphie! In the pipe five by five. Boy, is the pilot reading this one wrong. We land right in the middle of the cricket-game!
Hearing a roar of what I think is approval, [!] I rush down the plank…to be faced with an gigantic irate guy, armoured in white, charging towards me waving a club! This guy is HUGE – I am not kidding, he must be 2m tall and the SAME wide, he is built like the proverbial brick bathroom. I discover later that he is the Barban opening batsman, who was on ’99 not out’ when we landed our 300-tonne shuttle on the wicket, somewhat denting the ‘bowler’s run-up’ and tentatively scorching the delicate turf with our six 50,000 kgf thrusters. Barban monster thinks I am a protestor from DAFT and is trying to kill me. Luckily, Ned, my bodyguard, interposes himself; and with some neat martial arts move floors the big Barban batstard in the nick of time. I did not know Ned knew kung-fu moves. Hmmmm. Still, he saves my porcuswinebacon this time. Case of beer for Mr Lameti.
Clearing up the confusion takes more than 20 minutes this time, but I apologise and offer up my pilot for public execution as an alternative spectacle to the abandoned match. This offer is politely refused. And I never do get to learn the rules of cricket, except that it involves large wooden clubs and white armour. Maybe it’s a martial arts melee game? If so, I would have backed the Barbans to win, they were all cubes of solid muscle, even the female spectators. . What the hell is their planet like??
The country pub is a wonderfully peaceful place after what the Wolfers called ‘all that kerfuffle at Lo’rd’s’. Just more warm beer with a gaggle of Wolfer worthies; and I play a game called ‘arrers’ and another called ‘shove the haypenny.’ I am so astonishingly inept at both that I fear I will be arrested for unWolfer behaviour; but luckily I spot a pool table and show that I did indeed misspend my youth by beating them all in turn and winning fifty credits. They also let me visit the only place I can remember from my visit to this planet as a young actor: Craphouse College at Oxfeed University – and they surprise me with an impromptu showing of ‘Edward King Space Marine Battles the Vampire Alien Co-Eds’  [ PG : mild fantasy horror graphic explicit sex mild fantasy battle violence bad language frequent strong] which I shot in Oxfeed; I enjoy the movie – I have never actually seen it before – and I reflect that while I am still as devilishly handsome as I was back in ’69, I am, in fact, now even sexier. Because I am now a very powerful billionaire. Call me a cynic.
The car factory is very swish, and the groundcars are fabulous. I buy one, called a Lancelot-970, for my collection. I am thrilled to learn that ‘Lancelot’ was a ‘Knight’, in fact according to the Grail Legend ‘the boldest and most expensive of the Knights’. How apt then that I should now own one. Arise, Sir Potato.
The Beach Barbie is enjoyable and convivial. Cold sea, warm beer, hot chicks. I drag myself away from a volleyball game to chat with Prime Minister Young about the perfectly bizarre command arrangements on board a Wolfer carrier. I comment that everyone on a GFAN carrier works for the Navy, and even then it is highly complex task to co-ordinate, command and control. How in hell, I ask innocently, do the Wolfers manage having all three services Navy [the crew] Aerospace Force [pac pilots] and Army [marines] on the same vessel? The PM said he was very glad I had asked that question. A nearby Admiral piped up that it was good for inter-service co-operation; the three forces spent so much time being forced to work together that any combined arms op came as second nature; which advantage offset the comparative complexity of command, which in any case, he said, tended to be less of a problem than might be supposed given that crew, pilots and marines rarely mixed under a single officer anyway except under Captain’s overall command.. I remain unconvinced but I will ask the GFAN what they reckon. What seems to be true is that the ‘Royal Marines’ are very good indeed and I asked the PM if he could spare a team of his trainers to send to the GFAN training facilities to pass on some of their undoubted expertise. And the RAF pacs do a splendid flypast, very impressive.
And so, back to Asteel, and time to spend some serious time on domestic politics – in both senses of the word. Perhaps I have lately been spending a bit too much time recently on foreign affairs?