Anathandra began her existance as Anathandra Space Pirate in an email between me, A. J. “‘Than” Marquess, and Megan “Zagthar” Grimm in the spring of 1997. She was selfish, vain, utterly brutal, and completely fascinating. I made many attempts to use her as a character as a result, but none of them worked until I recreated her for In Sanguine. This is one of the first attempts. It was written at about 3:00 a.m. one morning and never revised, so it is more than a little scattered and extremely influenced by The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Grammar and spelling are probably not present in this document. Sorry.
Anathandra Space Pirate has continued her very successful career on the web as the Public Relations Officer of The Space Port Consortium, although she bears only slight resemblance to The Baroness Lesenvlk.
Two of the wisest maxim’s in life are, “Never agree to play chess with Death,” and, “Never attend a party with Anne Dara.” Her college roommate, Gael Warren, had read the first maxim in a very old book, the title of which escaped her at exactly the time in which she was composing the second maxim. This was very likely because she was composing the second maxim while hanging by her finger tips from a twelve story balcony. Basically, book titles were the very last thing that she thought likely to run through her mind and later she admitted that she had expected her uppermost vertebra to do that job first.
She briefly wondered about her predicament in those few sections of her brain that were not already numb with fear. After a moment she determined that it must have something to do with the three people conversing about Zlagor Ale shipments in the Sagittarius Sector. This revelation came from both the fact that they were holding their conversation not three feet from her precarious hiding place and that one of them was standing on her finger tips. Gael bit her lip, breathlessly willing her fingers not to uncurl with the cold and the pain.
After a few moments, a large furry arm plucked her up by the collar of her jacket and held her effortlessly in mid air. Gael wanted to scream. In fact, she determined some time later, she did scream. Although it was sufficiently sharp, it’s volume did not pierce the loud music of the party that was actually going on inside the building. She thought nostalgically of that party and the great guy she had been dancing with not an hour ago. It was a pity that he was standing across from her with an odd looking knife pressed to Anne Dara’s throat and smiling menacingly. She remembered vaguely that his name was Tim. Just an hour ago, she had been happy to see him. She sighed and hung limply from her jacket.
Anne smiled back at Tim and did her best to look less than menaced by the curved blade he held to her throat. She was able to manage this not only through the cursed stubborn streak that she had inherited from her mother’s best friend’s estranged aunt Hattie but also because she was wearing her most casual dentwill jumpsuit. She knew she looked good in dentwill, especially when being attacked by the Galactic Overlord. In fact, it is completely impossible to look anything but cool and casual in dentwill, as dentwill is the registered trademark of a special fiber woven to appear cool and casual in the most stressful situations, such as being attacked by the Galactic Overlord.
At this point, it might be worth mentioning that while Gael was the conservative young college student whom she always claimed to be, Anne was something different. Specifically, Anne Ethan Dara, or Anathandra as she was known, was actually from a the fifth planet of a blue-white star located roughly in Orion’s belt. This planet was called, in the native tongue, Reginald, which is funny, because in the ancient tongue of Reginaldlings, the actual word means blue-green. There were two reasons for why this fact is particularly strange. First, the ancient Reginaldlings could never have known the planet itself was blue green because they had, for one thing, never seen it from space. Second, due to a complex combination of ambient light waves and a bizarre structure in the irises of all native Reginaldlings, they were completely incapable of seeing the color blue in any place within their own planetary system. The very fact that the Reginaldlings historically have had a word for something which they can in no way perceive has puzzled inter-galactic linguists for centuries.
Anathandra had grown up in this rather idyllic world, watching the spectacular white ocean and volunteering at the local mental hospital, where she spent many a happy hour helping ex-linguists create new words for something they called snow. While this sort of beginning was in no way indicative of her present occupation on the planet earth, it does, at least, explain her penchant for dark sun glasses (as the sky on earth is far too bright) and her tremendous monthly bill for hair coloring and tanning cream.
Anathandra was, presently, reaching behind her back. Her fingers curled around something which Gael saw that she was slowly extracting from her many zippered black leather jacket. Her eyes never wavered from Tim’s face as she drew the most horrible weapon known to alien.
Gael tensed where she was dangling, her eyes darting from Tim to the furry beast and back to Anne. She saw the weapon slide out of Anne’s pocket. It was terrible. It was awful. It was…a spatula. She paused. It was covered in white enamel with tiny blue flowers. She sagged dejectedly.
Gael might have trusted fate more had she known anything of the true nature of spatulas.
Tim’s stance wavered. His eyes grew wide. He backed against the railing of the balcony. “No need to point that at me,” he gave her a tight smile. He lowered his knife cautiously.
The ensuing conversation, which consisted largely of a series of hand gestures and facial expressions went something like this.
“!” said Anathandra.
“?” queried Tim, the Galactic Overlord.
“!!” she repeated, more firmly.
“–” flubbled the gnifgnif.
“‘!’” Tim relayed.
“*%@#,” screamed Gael.
“I meant that your gnifgnif should put my friend down on the balcony,” she amended, barely catching Gael’s jacket. She brandished the spatula before her with the flat of it pointed into the air and she made a quick slashing motion with her wrist. A semi-circle of darkness sagged open from the torn fabric of reality. She turned back toward the pair holding the spatula toward them malevolently even as she pushed Gael through the tear.
Tim gripped the railing, trying to hold himself steady against the sudden burst of warm wind. Anathandra made one more menacing lunge toward him with the terrifying kitchen implement before she climbed through herself. The moment that the spatula cleared the rip, it healed behind them.
Gael collapsed in a heap on something red. Red and flat. Actually, something red and slightly knobby which was pressing a pattern into her cheek. In a moment she saw the blurred outline of Anne Dara’s black boots. She closed her eyes. She felt that she had seen enough for the day, thank you.
“I’m terrible sorry about that. The Overlord is extremely fond of his Zlagor Ale and it seems that I delayed the last shipment. Of course, it was over five hundred years ago, but Tim holds a grudge better than anyone I’ve ever known.”
Gael gaped. “A spatula?”
“Subsonic Portable Algorithmic Transinductional Utilitarian Laser Array.” Anathandra explained patiently.
Gael looked dazed.
“Look, it rips wholes,” she explained.
“Holes?” Gael trembled.
“No, wholes, as in not halves. It’s impossible to rip a H-O-L-E because that kind of hole is just empty space, you see?”
Gael looked blank.
“Or you can flip your pancakes with it,” Anathandra shrugged. She clipped the spatula firmly to her belt.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll just stay here for a bit,” mumbled Gael from the floor.
Anathandra shrugged again, “Suit yourself, but Valerian will be through here any minute.”
“What’s a valerian?” she groaned.
“Not a valerian, Valerian. Valerian is my second in command. You’re on my ship.”
Gael scrambled to her feet, blinking in the strange bluish light. They were standing in a hallway. The ceiling curved slightly, so that rather than meeting the walls, it gave the impression of becoming them. Or it would have if Gael had been able to see the ceiling clearly. Instead, ceiling and wall were both lined with endless rows of gold colored pipes which descended fully to the floor and following the hallway, they curved off to the left. Gael opened her mouth and then closed it again.
Finally, she looked squarely at Anathandra, “Would I be sorry if I actually asked you?…”
“You are on the Pirate Ship Desmondine. I am Anathandra, it’s captain. I come from the planet Reginald, which you would refer to as (star name) Five because it is the fifth planet from (star name) in the belt of the constellation Orion.” She modulated her voice into soothing tones because she knew that otherwise Gael would begin to twitch.
“I brought you here because it would be kinder to kill you than to leave you with the Overlord.”
She grimaced, “Yes, Tim. So you see,” she went on, “it was a better choice out of the three available to take you along with me.”
Gael nodded sagely and continued to do so for several minutes, just to be certain that her head would not roll off her neck. She did this precisely up until the point where she passed out cold on the floor.
Anathandra paused only to adjust the silver clip which held her long silvery blond hair before she punched the com button built into her wrist. “Valerian,” she said in an infinitely sad, space weary voice, “send me a gnifgnif.”
Anathandra, it is worth noting, was the sole survivor of the ruling house of the planet Reginald. Her family was of an old distinguished race of beings, two thirds of whom possessed an certain intact chromosome. This chromosome granted the possessor some small amount of immortality, in that if he or she led a clean, decent life, he/she would never grow older than twenty-five and would never be ill. Anathandra had cause to know that this chromosome acted to heal some of the most grievous wounds, however as, during the invasion of the Overlord, the rest of the lucky two thirds had passed into aether with the less fortunate one third, she had decided long ago not to press her luck. Therefore, it is not surprising that she drew her spatula before entering the bridge. She wished that she had a scatter gun, because if she had, she would have gone in firing. A dead crew was always preferable to a mutiny.
“Valerian,” she exclaimed. “I thought I told you to meet me on deck eight. No matter,” she shook her head at the odious shade of green that the second was turning, “it’s good to see you, man. How long has it been, thirty years?”
Valerian blinked his nictating membranes thoughtfully. “You’re looking particularly human today.”
“Sol’s light will do that to you…would have eventually done it to me too if I hadn’t worked with the cosmetic industry to speed up the process. But you, you’re looking particularly reptiloid.”
“You know that I’m fully one quarter reptiloid. Dads never forgave mother that little indiscretion.”
“Well, you can help who your fathers are. The world is a changing place, Valerian. I realize that I can’t just leave you for thirty years and expect you to go about obeying orders as if I had never left, but full scale mutiny has gone out of fashion. I mean, you don’t just go around freely killing your way up the chain of command the way we did when we were kids. It’s bad for morale, or so says the amalgamated guild of psychologists.”
“I had heard that they were saying that,” Valerian replied slowly and deliberately. “I had them all shot yesterday. It should come over the vid sometime tomorrow.”
“Just shot? Valerian, you are getting soft. Time was you have flayed them alive with a neural whip and a pair of tweezers.” her dark eyes were trained solemnly on the ion blaster in Valerian’s hand.
“Times change. In honor of the old days, perhaps you would rather…”
“Rather what? The neural whip and tweezer?” she queried lightly, drumming the flat of the spatula on her leg.
Valerian fired the ion blaster and with a puff of white smoke he disintegrated before the eyes of the crew. Anathandra regarded them quietly as she stood in the doorway polishing a black mark off of the white flowered surface of her spatula.
“It’s amazing,” she paused, turning the enamel spatula over between her fingers, “what the Fantasy Plasma catalog will ship to earth.”
“Alwarek,” she called out firmly.
A large squid-like creature responded by slapping one wet tentacle against what appeared to be its forehead. It regarded her passively with two black beady eyes.
“How close are we to the nearest Space Port?” she asked quietly.
“If I perform a small course correction we will reach the Port at Pleiades Alpha in two sidereal days, captain.”
“Good, after you have done that, I have two or three small tasks for you to perform. First, I would like you to make Valerian’s cabin ready for our guest from Earth. I imagine that most of his belongings would make good reactor fuel, especially the torture devices. When you have done this, please send a gnifgnif to deck eight to bring back our visitor. She is unconscious at the moment, so I doubt she will be any trouble at all. Before you go, however, I would like you to shoot every member of the bridge crew, except yourself and, of course, me.” As she spoke, she backed up a pace into the hall and lowered the laser proof door shields in front of her.
A moment of dead silence filled the command deck, creeping slowly into every crevice. The tension broke with a series of deafening crashes and zinging blasts. Finally, the door slid open and the squid creature slimed his way out through a cloud of slightly greasy steam.
“Thank you, Alwarek. Report back to me when you have seen to our guest.” Alwarek’s cephalapoid brain was a bit less advanced than the average Earth octopus. Although he could learn by rote to use simple tools and although he could manage to obey vocal commands, he was unable to quickly adapt to new situations. In fact, simply changing his expression often seemed to the observer as slow as watching continental plates shift. A smarter man/woman/amoeba would have been afraid. Alwarek was somewhere between Asia and India in his train of thought, so he never noticed. “Oh, Alwarek, are my rooms still as I left them?”
“Exactly captain. I placed a stasis lock on your door the moment I was told that your shuttle crashed.”
“And my pets?”
“Galeb and Mizmireal? They were asleep in your room at the time.”
“That is a relief. If they had been wandering the ship, there is no telling what Valerian would have done with them, because he had no chance of controlling them. Thank you, Alwarek. For that, you may remain on board after the refit.”
Alwarek murmured his gratitude and sludged squidgily down the hallway.
Waving her hand in front of her face in a futile attempt to clear some of the air, Anathandra walked onto the bridge and settled into the captain’s chair. She sighed, “It’s good to be home.”