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The Rivals

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"Well, that was disappointing..." Cheedo sighed.

"What was? Didn't you have a good time?" 

"Oh, yes...it was a Happy New Year for sure."

"What then?"

"The play. Nobody had the faintest idea what we were going on about. I wasn't too sure, myself. And I think people were only laughing because the men were wearing dresses."

"That's theatre for you. Isn't it supposed to be like that?"

"I think...maybe...it's supposed to make sense. I think maybe people in 1775 actually got the jokes."

"It's just too old, then. Don't we have any new plays?"

"No, Giddy just had old books. She said people had lots of lots of old books because they were cheaper than new ones. Something about lapsed copyright."

"I wish she was here. She'd have got the jokes."

"I miss her."

"You should write a new play."

"It'd be too hard. To write something just out of my own head. I thought, though..."

"What?"

"Maybe we could change the play. So that it made more sense to people now."

"Maybe you could." Capable patted her sister on the shoulder and smiled. Cheedo was already wandering through the lines of the play in her head. She left her to it.

*

Cheedo was at a loss, though. Their scanty and treasured stock of literature from the end of the last century amounted to little more than science books and a few scraps of coloured pages stapled together. They were mainly pictures of people, but one page seemed to list the shows that were on television one day in 1985. She wished they had more information on what life was like just Before, not hundreds of years ago. She had an inkling that the audience would be more interested in the play if it showed more recent history. It wouldn't work if she set it in the present day. It was just too alien. People didn't act like that now. They wouldn't be able to relate to the characters.

So she would have to rely on the oral tradition...

Cheedo sought out the oldest of the Citizens, asked them about their lives Before, took notes. One day she overheard an interesting conversation between some of the People. This was way better, she thought, than the stuff people were actually telling her. So she listened, remembered names and descriptions, and made Sheridan's characters more real.

She listened to the singing box as she scribbled...

 

PROLOGUE

Back when rivers flowed with water instead of sand and people traded for gold-pressed latinum, the aquifer was a rich town. That town was called Wellspring, and those who could afford to would visit to drink the health-giving waters. It was reputed to cure sickness and give the drinker a long and happy life. But people mainly came to meet their friends, show off their wealth and to get paired. 

Thus, Wellspring prospered for twelve-month after twelve-month. But, as rumours were whispered that water was running out in the wide world, the leaders began to fear. They had no army, only men and women in bright uniforms and shiny buttons who caught thieves and fined the citizens for leaving their vehicles in the wrong place. 

The leaders of Wellspring were a class known as the Ferengi, who valued wealth above all else. Over generations, they sought to forge alliances with stronger neighbours on whom they could rely for protection when needed.  

The Klingazons were a force to be reckoned with.  Clans of warriors each led by a matriarch, they fought with fearsome bat’leth and were expert lasso handlers while riding out in battle.  

In the neighbouring region was a clan which, it just so happened, was running dangerously low on latinum.  

The Boss of that clan had a daughter. 

The recently-deceased Grand Nagus of the Ferengi had left a fine son.  

Pretty straightforward, surely… 

They didn’t bank on the young people having their own plans.  

Meanwhile, a craze sweeps the Wellspring, distracting Ferengis’ attention from profit and family duty. 

 

DRAMATIS PERSONAE 

KLINGAZONS 

  • Boss Anthoni Absolute (Althea)     Klingazon chief. Mother to Jak Absolute. Good natured disciplinarian. Plans to ally with the Ferengi, Wellspring’s wealthy elite. 
  • Jak Absolute (Cheedo)                   Eldest daughter of Boss Anthoni Absolute. Captain in the Klingazon army, has worked her way up through the ranks from an early age. In a secret relationship with Lyd Languish, a Ferengi, to whom she has passed herself off as Beverley, an impoverished soldier of fortune. 
  • LuckO'Trigger (Toast)                 A travelling mercenary from a Northern Klingazon clan. Plans to find a rich husband in Wellspring, and has her eye on Lyd Languish. 
  • Missis Fang (Phyllis)                      Servant to Jak Absolute. 
  • Tommy (Nan)                                 Boss Anthoni’s driver. 
  • Girl (Willy)                                      Servant

FERENGI 

  • Malaprop (Zal)                               Younger brother to the late Grand Nagus. Uncle and guardian to Lyd Languish. He hopes to make a strategic marital alliance with the Klingazons. 
  • Lyd Languish (Dek)                        Rebellious son of the late Grand Nagus, and nephew of Malaprop. In love with Beverley, a low-ranking Klingazon mercenary, and plans to elope with her against his uncle’s wishes. 
  • Jool Melville (Taggy)                      Cousin to Lyd Languish. His mother was a Ferengi who eloped with a Foodlander. Musician employed by Boss Anthoni to teach young Klingazons. Engaged to Faulkland, a Foodlander. 
  • Luke (Karl)                                     Servant to Lyd Languish.  

FOODLANDERS 

  • Faulkland (Capable)                       Sheep farmer. Close friend of Jak Absolute. Engaged to Jool Melville. Neighbour and friend of the late Mrs Melville.  
  • Dag Acres (Dag)                             Plant farmer adjoining the Klingazon territory. Hopes to marry Lyd Languish. 
  • Dolores (Dolores)                           Servant to Dag Acres.