Buck & Jane
A Death in the Family
Decker & Hayes
Epic Echoes
The Great Muppet Debate
Guard Duty
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Stage Blood



Epic Echoes, Series 4
Episode 4 - Sacrificial Alter

By C. Henry Berman

Captain Momentary
Empress Petra

Narrator: For the headstrong Max Thornfield, leader of the intrepid Flashpack, there was never a restful moment. Only shortly after dealing with the threat presented by Corporal Contradiction and his Resuscitator of Death, Max had finally found himself mired in a situation he truly couldn't handle: a seemingly-endless communicator call with the head of marketing and merchandise from Flashpack Comics.

Max: Look, I just don't think an official Flashpack trench-coat would be in the real spirit of... No. No Flashpack cigarette-lighter either. I... Listen, Ralph., I'll talk to you later. What is it, Molly?

Molly: Well, I've been in my Mad Science Laboratory, and I've put together this idea for a portable lamp we could use traveling through dark places. We could market it as the Flash-Light, and...

Max: I think that idea's already...

Narrator: Just then, the familiar form that Max had known so well since childhood as Captain Eternity appeared suddenly in the air.

Max: Captain Eternity!

Captain Momentary: No; it's Captain Mom...

Narr: And with that, he was gone.

Molly: I can't say I think the name change is very flattering.

Max:: I think it's quite noble that he's decided to emphasise the importance of good parenting.

Captain Momentary: (fading back in) ..entary! I'm here from Alter... (fading out)

Max: Gone again. Hmm. This Captain Momentary is a lot more irritating to listen to than Captain Eternity.

Captain Momentary: (fading in) ...Earth, a parallel universe, to warn you of the dan...

Molly: I can see what you mean.

Capt Momentary: (fading in) ..ger posed to both our worlds by the Cos...(fading out)

Max: But he's been dead for years!

Molly: And even in life he was just a lovable father figure in a warmhearted TV series


Molly: I don't think Captain Momentary is coming back again.

Max: We'll have to find a way to get to this Alter Earth and find this mysterious Cos.

Molly: I'm sure we can manage it together, Max.

Max: Of course we can. Go get Jill, Drallus, and Sara. We'll see if that magic cat has a spell for parallel worlds.

Narrator: Of course the magic cat had a spell for parallel worlds.

Furtrace: Of course I have a spell for parallel worlds. It's just two spells for adjacent worlds in a row. It's pretty obvious if you actually think for a minute. (cat noises) Okay, turn around.

Narrator: The intrepid team soon found themselves, with the help of Furtrace's spell and Keane's transport belt, in an area that closely approximated the layout of New York's borough of Queens on their own version of Earth.

Max: I think our best bet is to make for the equivalent of where Captain Eternity lives in our version of Earth, and hope that's where Captain Momentary lives on Alter Earth. It's this way.

Drallus: He lives in Queens?

Max: He once heard that someone who lived forever would make the world's greatest Astorian.

Drallus: That's terrible.

Max: There are worse places to live. Now, let's be on our guard pack. We don't know who this Cos is, but the fate of two worlds may be in our hands. Let's prove that Julie didn't die in vain. Flashpack!

The Rest: Flashpack!

Max: This is the door. (fx: knocking. A door opening)

Tex: Captain Momentary's residence.

Max: Er, hi.

Slotter: We're the Flashpack.

Molly: From the... other... Earth.

Tex: Ah, you mean Direct Earth. This is Alter Earth.

Furtrace: I know that, mouse-brain. You're always right behind us, but we never notice you.

Molly: That's a little creepy.

Tex: Exactly. I'm Texas Dallas Texas Mornestar, but you can call me Tex. I'm the Taylor of the state of New Mexico.

Max: The Taylor?

Tex: Sure. It's like the governor. On Direct Earth you put the people in charge who are best at directing things; on Alter Earth the people who lead are the ones who alter the most. Anyway, come on in. The captain has been expecting you.

Jimmy: Are you going to let us know what exactly the threat is from this Evil Cos that Captain Momentary mentioned?

Tex: Evil Cos? Nothing, far as I know. He was hilarious on television, but an awful role model. I don't think we're worried about anybody but the Cosmic Realtor at the moment.

The Whole Flashpack: Aaaaah! I see!

Tex: You know of him?

The Whole Flashpack: No.

Tex: Oh. Well, he wants to take over the universe.

Jimmy: I never understood what would motivate someone to do that. What could you want to do with the whole universe once you own it, anyway?

Tex: He wants to sell it. That's why he's called the Cosmic Realtor.

Jimmy: Ah. I really should have guessed that.

Tex: Not to worry. Come on into the other room. Flashpack, meet Empress Petra, the place where Captain Momentary was standing a moment ago, and the assembled members of the Alter Earth Sale Opposition Action Committee.

Drallus: Catchy name.

Tex: Thanks.

Drallus: I was being sarcastic. Why not just call it the Contra-Band?

Tex: Hmm. Because I'm over twelve.

Drallus: I'm twenty-three!

Tex: My point. Oh, Mistress of all People and Supreme Seamstress, allow me to present the Flashpack.

Petra: You're honoured, I'm sure. In the absence of Captain Momen... Ah! There you are. Oh, there he goes again. In any case, allow me to explain the problem presented by the Cosmic Realtor. Selling our universe to the highest bidder places it on the free market. All the people of Alter Earth would become commodities, and, as you know, commodities on the free market can under no circumstances be controlled. It is essential that I maintain absolute control over my people.

Molly: So essentially you're asking us to help you dominate your own people and keep them in a state of slavery.

Petra: Exactly.

Max: I'm sorry, Your Excellency, but we can't be a party to the maintenance of a state of slavery on this or any other version of Earth.

Jimmy: Why not? I really don't see what the big deal is.

Max: Jimmy, what about that equality of all men that you keep mentioning – how the gods who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time?

Jimmy: I know. The hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them. I still don't see how that contradicts slavery. If objects can be property, why can't people?

Slotter: What about all your talk of universal love?

Jimmy: I could love property just as much as I could a free person.

Petra: I find your ideas fascinating, Kovacs, but this is a discussion for another time. The fact is that the Cosmic Realtor is a threat to all of us.

Keane: It's true, Max. If one world is sold then the inhabitants of all of them become instantly commodified. It would be like sacrificing free will to whoever controls the means of production, distribution, and exchange.

Max: You're right. Who does this Cosmic Realtor plan to sell Alter Earth to anyway?

Petra: Whoever rules Direct Earth, obviously.

Max: The Empress is right. I mean, Galloping Galaxies! Antediluvian and intolerable as we might find her political ideas, we have to admit that none of us want Alter Earth to be sold over to Direct Earth. It would imperil some of our dearest freedoms.

Molly: Not to mention that the transportation of an entire planet alone from one universe to another would put so much of a strain on the galactic power source that physical displacement would be impossible at the shift point, and both worlds would be destroyed!

Max: That too. Flashpack!

The Flashpack: Flashpack!

Narrator: While Jimmy engaged in a private closed-door session with the ravishing, anti-emancipationist Queen of Alter Earth and Furtrace discovered that Alter Earth catnip was even more mind-altering that what he was used to, the rest of the Flashpack had been forced to discuss action possibilities for hours with the frustratingly slow-working committee.

Drallus: No matter what you say, I refuse to believe that a real estate agent could put up much of a fight.

Slotter: Look, all we have to do is make the world seem like as unappealing a piece of real estate land as was ever sold. Talk about nearby railway tracks. The Cosmic Realtor will have to give up his plans to control it.

Captain Momentary: (fading in) ...have to do is definitely much easie... (fading out)

Tex: If I could speak to you kids alone for a few minutes...

Max: Sure.

(fx: footsteps)

Tex: Listen, guys. I know this isn't the way things are done around your parts, but I believe the reason our fellow delegates don't trust you is that you're totally unaltered.

Molly: We do come from a different dimension.

Tex: Still, I would personally recommend something fairly drastic if you want them even to begin to listen to what you have to say.

Slotter: S- such as what?

Tex: Well, a sex change is an old standby, and they're discounted at the moment. I'd be happy to make everyone's new clothes. I suppose you would...

Max: But, Tex, I already had a sex change during the intercession a few hours ago. Remember? Don't you think I'm glamorous?

Tex: Oh, of course. Sorry I didn't notice that, Max. I'll show the rest of you to the clinic down the street. It's totally reversible. In fact, the more times it’s reversed and the more alterations the better.

Max: You'd better go, guys. I'd be curious to see what some of you look like as the opposite sex. Besides, it's for the sake of saving the world.

Narrator: While Keane, Slotter, Molly, and Furtrace were leaving with Tex for the sex-change clinic, Jimmy Kovacs was lying tranquil and satisfied on the borrowed bed of Captain Momentary with Empress Petra of Alter Earth, who caressed him tenderly as she began to speak.

Petra: Won't your friends be missing you?

(fx: a kiss)

Jimmy: They'll still be mired in that boring debate.

Petra: If you don't think they'll need you, I can take you to see where I live, at Shea Stadium.

Jimmy: Shea Stadium? Isn't that where the New York Mets used to play?

Petra: No. The Mets? They play at Ashburn Palace.

(fx: a communicator beeping)

Petra: Petra, Empress of the World; hello? Oh, good. Perfect. I'll tell him. Goodbye. Jimmy, why don't you go find Tex and your friends at the sex change clinic and call me when you're through?

Jimmy: The WHAT-change clinic?

Petra: Sex-change. You're in Alter Earth. You don't think you're going to spend your whole visit without being altered a few times, do you?

Jimmy: You mean... people here...

Petra: Oh, yes. All the time. Of course, the rich can afford more of them, but as the richest person of the planet, that's not a problem for me. I THINK I started as Emperor Pyotr. That's what it says on the coins.

Jimmy: Oh, my god... ugh!

Narrator: Jimmy ran from the room to find his friends as the clinic, and arrived just as Slotter was emerging newly-changed from the operating theatre.

Jimmy: My God – are you actually doing it?

Man-Slotter: Yeah. Well, they said it was reversible.

Jimmy: Guys-- we don't have to subscribe ourselves to Alter Earth's social conventions in order to defeat the Cosmic Realtor.

Drallus: Oh, yeah, smarty pants? Do YOU have a plan?

Jimmy: Of course. The way to defeat a sale is to drive prices so low that it's not worth it anymore for the seller.

Drallus: How to propose to do that, exactly?

Furtrace: I DO have a spell for that, if you stupid people had bothered to ask! I just have to mass-produce worlds and flood the market.

Max: Plutonian Parakeets, Cat!

Furtrace: Where? Er, I mean: Cat-MAN!

Max: Whatever! Just do the spell and let us get out of here!

(extended cat noises)

Furtrace: Turn around.

Man-Slotter: You might have waited until I could get turned back into a woman again.

Furtrace: Oh. Sorry about that.

Drallus: Come on, Slotter-- why not try it for a while?

Captain Momentary: (fading in) ...ulations on your incredible feat. On behalf of Her Majesty I would like to present you with a rew... (fading out)

Max: Hmm. Oh, well.

Narrator: How long will Slotter stay a man? Why does Drallus want him to try it out for a while? Will Captain Momentary reappear momentarily with a reward? Will Jimmy get over the trauma of his recent encounter with the Empress? Find out some of this things in next week's episode: In Love and Hate.

Go to Episode 5