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The Barkosigan Saga: Mirror Dog

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[Opening music rolls.  You will now have ‘what’s the story, Wishbone?’ stuck in your head for the next twenty minutes.]

[SCENE: DAVID’s room.  DAVID is lying in bed, wearing flannel pajamas, with a thermometer in his mouth; MRS. BARNES sits by his bedside.  JOE and SAM enter, with WISHBONE behind them.]

JOE:  Hey David – we brought the homework from yesterday.

SAM: Sorry you’re still sick . . .  

DAVID: I ah elly – [MRS. BARNES pulls the thermometer out] – don’t really feel that bad, but Mom says I should rest up another day before I get back to school. 

MRS. BARNES: Better safe than sorry, honey. 

JOE: A free day off school isn’t so bad.

SAM: I hope you don’t get too bored stuck in bed the whole time.

DAVID: Nah, I’m gonna finish working on my new invention.  You’ll see – I’ll have something great done by the time you guys get home. 

JOE: Well, hey – [JOE’S eyes light on Wishbone.]  Since you’re going to be home anyway, why don’t you keep Wishbone for the day?  He gets lonely at home by himself, and this way he can keep you company.  Like a nursedog!

WISHBONE: A nursedog?  How about something with a little more dash to it?  A dogtor, maybe? . . . well, maybe not.  Still, visiting the sick is a noble deed . . . [Striking a pose, paw to forehead]  All right!  I’ll do it!  David, you can count on me – uh-oh, here comes trouble!

[EMILY scurries in]

EMILY: Hey, Mom?  Mom, I need something for show-and-tell!

MRS. BARNES [distracted]: How about your Power Rangers?

EMILY: Power Rangers are so last year!  I need something much cooler. 

MRS. BARNES: Well, I’ll help you look in a minute, okay, honey?   David, is there anything you’re going to need during the day?  

EMILY [grumpy at David getting all the attention]: Whatever.  [While DAVID, JOE, SAM and MRS. BARNES talk in the background, the camera follows EMILY as she wanders around DAVID’s room.]

WISHBONE: Emily, I don’t think you’re supposed to take that . . . Emily?  [EMILY grabs a Significant-Looking Gadget from on top of a pile of papers and books it out of DAVID’s room, giggling to herself.  WISHBONE barks and skids after her.]  Intellectual property theft!  Stop in the name of the law, young lady! 

JOE: Wishbone!  Behave!

WISHBONE [slinking back sulkily]: I have got to send away for that dog-to-human translation course.   [He pads over to a pile of library books by DAVID’s bed.]  Ooh, the newest Miles Vorkosigan book!  This one must have just come out this year.  You know, Miles may be a dashing space admiral, but even he had sibling problems . . . .

[SCENE: Fades into a very low-budget spaceship – think Star Trek circa 1966.  MILES!WISHBONE sits at the center of a set of 90’s computers, wearing a Dendarii military jacket with prominent stars on the shoulders.   He spins around a couple of times before the camera turns down a corridor to explore the rest of the equally low-budget spaceship set, which mostly consists of a few banks of blinking lights and some cannibalized Atari consoles.]

WISHBONE VOICEOVER: The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold, is an ongoing science fiction series that began in 1986.  Science fiction novels take place in the future, and tend to feature developments of science such as space travel or other advanced technology as part of the plot.  The hero of the Vorkosigan books is a brilliant and handsome – if, all right, slightly short – genius who juggles two identities.  When he’s out in space, he’s Admiral Naismith, commander of a mercenary army – but when he’s on his home planet of Barrayar, he’s Miles Vorkosigan, a member of the royal family. . . . and as if that wasn’t enough, Miles has just found out that he’s a big brother!  Miles’ brother Mark wasn’t born the normal way, though.  He was cloned from Miles’ tissue, which means that he and Miles are almost identical.  And that can lead to problems . . .  

[As WISHBONE voiceovers, the camera goes out the ‘door’ of the spaceship out to a space cityscape that looks a lot like Cloud City.  MARK!WISHBONE, wearing a lot of padding under his Dendarii uniform to make him look chubbier and with a plastic blaster strapped to his collar, is standing in front of a lot of confused-looking MERCENARIES and CLONE CHILDREN.  The camera pulls back to reveal that he is arguing with MILES!WISHBONE, who also has a blaster strapped to his collar and is backed by ELLI QUINN, played by Elizabeth Gracen.   The Wishbone tech crew is very proud of their green screen work.]

MILES!WISHBONE: Mark!  You can’t just impersonate me and take my mercenaries without asking!  

MARK!WISHBONE: Well, you weren’t using them!  And I will inform you that my cause is very noble. 

WISHBONE VOICEOVER: Mark’s cause was noble.   He wanted to rescue other clone children from the secret labs where he had been created, and help them to find a normal life.  Unfortunately, things hadn’t gone exactly according to plan.  [Sound of running feet]

MILES!WISHBONE: It's very noble, but I think you've got a bigger bone than you can chew here.  The enemy is on their way and you could get these kids hurt!  

MARK!WISHBONE [striking a Miles-ish pose]: I can handle it.

MILES!WISHBONE [facepaw-ing]: No, you can’t!  You don’t have anywhere near as much experience being dashing and brilliant as I do.  Look, take my mercenaries and the clone children onto the ship and get them to safety.  My second-in-command, Elli Quinn, will help.  I’ll stay behind and figure out a plan.

[ELLI QUINN, looking disgusted, shepherds MARK!WISHBONE, the mercenaries, and the children back on the spaceship while MILES, blaster in mouth, prepares to face the enemy troops.  There is a lot of frantic barking and ‘blaster fire’ shooting across the green screen set before MILES gets ‘hit,’ in a flash of green sparkles, and slumps over.]

WISHBONE VOICEOVER [as the scene fades back into DAVID’S LIVING ROOM]: And then, Miles was seriously injured and taken prisoner . . . oh, it sounds like David’s awake.  Better go check on him!

[WISHBONE scampes into DAVID’s room, where DAVID is rummaging fretfully among piles of papers, gears and gadgets at the side of his bed.]

DAVID: Oh, hey, Wishbone . . .

WISHBONE: Don’t tell me you want me to fetch you something?  Humans and their exploitation of the hard-working dog.  Well, since you’re sick I guess it’s all right.  What am I looking for?

DAVID: I could’ve sworn I put it right here.  Guess I’m just going to have to go look for it.  [DAVID slowly pushes himself out of bed and starts making his wobbly way towards the other side of the room, WISHBONE barking around his feet.]

WISHBONE: Wait a minute, David, you’re supposed to be in bed getting better!  Listen, as your dogtor – all right, ditching that pun, but as a loyal dog, I’m telling you, you should get back in bed!   

[DAVID ignores Wishbone, shuffling around the room, picking up various half-built gadges and peering at them.]

DAVID: I don’t know what happened to it!  This was going to be my biggest invention ever, and I know I left it right here –

WISHBONE: Iiiii’m starting to get a bad feeling about this.

DAVID: I spent so long getting it to work – [DAVID sinks into a chair, rubbing his head.]  Maybe I just imagined building it?   Like a dream when I was sick or something? 

WISHBONE: Right here you left it, you say?  . . . David, you stay right there.  I’ll be back soon!

[WISHBONE takes off out the door at top speed, leaving DAVID staring after him.]

DAVID: Wishbone?  Wishbone!  Hey, wait, come back here!  Joe’s gonna kill me if you get lost –

[DAVID’S voice trails off – the camera is following WISHBONE as he pushes open the front door and runs away down the street - and then cuts to black; it is time for the COMMERCIAL BREAK.  Fisher-Price features prominently.  The scene cuts back in on EMILY’S KINDERGARTEN, as Wishbone skulks his way through the corridors to EMILY’s classroom.  By the magic of narrative convenience, he has arrived just as EMILY is up at the front describing her show-and-tell.]

EMILY:  My show-and-tell today is an invention that I made . . .

WISHBONE: Hah!  I knew it!

EMILY:  What it’s gonna do is, um – [EMILY squints at the device, turns it upside down and turns it back around, clearly baffled.]  It’s, um, a secret.  In case someone, uh, steals my invention. 

WISHBONE: Listen up, Emily – that’s your guilty conscience talking!   

EMILY: But it’s got gears and electricity and all that stuff.  And I know it’s going to work because my brother’s an inventing-stuff genius and – I mean, because I planned it out and all!  So yeah.

WISHBONE: All right, Emily, you stay here and finish your school day, then come straight home and bring David back his invention – and don’t play around with it!  [WISHBONE scurries back out of the classroom and towards the street]  I have to get straight back and tell David what happened before he starts doubting himself.  When you’ve been sick or had a serious shock, it can be hard to remember what your real accomplishments are, as Miles found out when he woke up on Jackson’s Whole . . .

[Scene fades into a white hospital room, where MILES!WISHBONE, bandages prominently wrapped around his middle, lies stretched out on a gurney.]

MILES!WISHBONE [wakes up with a start]: Where am I!  Am I a prisoner?  How can I escape!  Wait . . . more to the point, who am I? 

[Enter ROWAN DURONA, played by a pre-Ally McBeal Lucy Liu.]

ROWAN: How are you feeling, Mr. Naismith?

MILES!WISHBONE: Naismith?  My name is Naismith?  Funny . . . I don’t feel like a Naismith.

ROWAN: Well, either you’re Admiral Naismith – the dashing and brilliant, if unexpectedly short, leader of a mercenary army –or you’re his clone, who hasn’t really done much of anything.  We’re still trying to figure that out.  We were hoping you could tell us once you woke up, but you’ve been seriously injured, so it may take a while for your memory to come back. 

MILES!WISHBONE: Either way, it’s nice of you to take care of me without knowing who I am. 

ROWAN: To be honest, it’s not as nice as you think.

WISHBONE VOICEOVER: You see, Miles’ doctor Rowan Durona was a member of a secret medical group working for an evil scientific corporation.  The Durona Group wanted to be free to pursue their own research, but first they had to get off the planet . . . and if Miles turned out to be somebody important, they thought they might be able to trade him for their freedom.  [Background montage of ROWAN assisting MILES, helping him to walk around the room, laughing at his jokes while he strikes smug poses, etc.]  However, as Rowan started to get to know Miles better, she also began to realize that they were starting to fall in love – even though neither of them knew who Miles was.  Meanwhile, Mark wasn’t having an easy time of it either.  For the first time, he had to go home to meet his parents – knowing that his older brother, and the only son they’d met, was missing.  And it was his fault!

[SCENE: MARK!WISHBONE, in his padded jacket, stands in a fancy-looking room full of gilded furniture.  CORDELIA VORKOSIGAN, played by Diana Mulduar, and ARAL VORKOSIGAN, played by Gordon Pinsent, are at the front of the room, standing side by side and looking generally kind and stately.)

MARK!WISHBONE [hanging his head and whining]: All we know is that Miles was badly hurt on Jackson’s Whole . . . we don’t know what happened to him after that, but it’s all my fault. 

ARAL: Of course we’re worried, but Miles has a long history of pulling off dashing and brilliant last-minute saves.  Based on the trends, he has good odds of coming out of this perfectly fine.

CORDELIA: Mark, I know you were something of a surprise to us, but you’re part of our family too – please don’t forget that.  And we’re sure you’re capable of being just as dashing and brilliant as your brother is.

MARK!WISHBONE: You really think so?

CORDELIA: I know it. 

MARK!WISHBONE [instantly energetic]: Then get me a spaceship!   I’m going back to rescue my big brother!

[SCENE: Fades back to DAVID’s room, where he sits in his bed looking ill and worried.  MRS. BARNES is back by his bedside as WISHBONE runs into the room.]

DAVID: Wishbone, you’re back!

WISHBONE: Sorry to cause a panic, but sometimes a dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do. 

MRS. BARNES: Well, that’s one worry solved, but - you're still looking for that thing you thought you built, David?  I know you’ve done some pretty incredible work in the past, but this does sound a little . . .

DAVID: I really thought I did!  I put the framework together yesterday and put it right there.

MRS. BARNES: David, you’ve been pretty sick, you know that  . . .

[Footsteps from below]

EMILY’S VOICE: Mom, I’m home!

MRS. BARNES: I’m in your brother’s room, honey!

WISHBONE: Aha!  Now the truth will come out!

[EMILY enters, carrying a large backpack.]

EMILY: Why's everyone up here?

DAVID: I lost something . . . well, it’s nothing, Emily, don’t worry about it.

MRS. BARNES: David, I think maybe you should stop looking and start concentrating on getting better. 

WISHBONE [bouncing around EMILY]: Now’s your chance to make things right!   Go on, Emily, now!

[There’s a long dramatic pause, while DAVID looks dejected, EMILY looks guilty, and WISHBONE barks a lot.]

EMILY: Mom . . . could you get me some water?

MRS. BARNES: Sure, honey.  You can tell your brother all about your day at kindergarten.  [She exits the scene]

EMILY:  David . . . don’t get mad, but . . . I took your invention.

DAVID: You what?

EMILY: I took it to show-and-tell.  It looked really cool and I never make anything that’s that cool so . . .

DAVID: Emily, that’s not a toy!  You could have really damaged it, or done something dangerous!  Did you do anything with it?

EMILY: No, I couldn’t make it work.  I’m sorry.  . . . are you mad at me?

DAVID [after a pause]: No – I guess I’m not.  I mean, you did bring it back.  Just – don’t do it again, okay?

EMILY: Mom doesn’t think you really made it, does she?  [DAVID shakes his head]  I’ll tell her to come back in here and you can show her it’s real! 

[DAVID laughs]

DAVID: Sure, go get Mom.  I'll put on the finishing touches.

[EMILY runs out of the room]

WISHBONE: They say imitation is the best kind of flattery.  I guess when you get down to it, Emily wanting to be more like David isn’t a terrible thing.  But it’s also good for siblings to be themselves, as Mark found out when he went to rescue Miles . . . and got caught!

[SCENE fades into a grim, dungeon-looking place, where BARON RYOVAL, played by Walter Koenig, froths in the general direction of MARK!WISHBONE, still wearing his padded uniform jacket and with balls-and-chains draped artistically around his paws.]

BARON RYOVAL: You’ve been imprisoned here for a week, and you still won’t tell me where your clone-brother is!  I’m honestly getting sick of it.  That hyperactive little admiral would have gone crazy by now!

MARK!WISHBONE: Aha!  Little do you know that, due to being raised as a scientific clone experiment, I’ve developed great coping mechanisms for imprisonment!  I’m also extremely talented at . . . escape!   [MARK!WISHBONE leaps in the air, knocking around his ball-and-chain into BARON RYOVAL’s head and causing the evil baron to fall over unconscious.]

MARK!WISHBONE: And now, to -

[MILES!WISHBONE appears at the door, wearing his un-padded jacket over his bandaged middle and accompanied by ELLI QUINN and ROWAN DURONA.  He looks slightly more in-focus than MARK!WISHBONE - low-budget green screen can only do so much.]

MILES!WISHBONE: Begone, evildoers!  I'm here to rescue my brother!

MARK!WISHBONE: Your brother has rescued himself!  Miles?  I was going to rescue you!

MILES!WISHBONE: Well, your brother has also rescued himself! 

ELLI QUINN and ROWAN DURONA [aiming a synchronized look at Miles]: With some help!

MILES!WISHBONE: Of course!  You see, as discovered in previous books, all my brilliance and dash wouldn’t mean very much if I didn’t have friends with different skills to help me – and I would have been in a lot of trouble if you hadn’t defeated the evil Baron, since he would have never stopped hunting me for that price on my head.

ROWAN DURONA: Also, our boss is so grateful that you defeated evil Baron Ryoval that he’s going to let us leave the planet.

MARK!WISHBONE: So . . . everything turned out all right?  You’re free to go?

MILES!WISHBONE: We’re both free to go!  After all, we are a family. 

ELLI QUINN: Your mother’s even offered to get family therapy to help you overcome your rivalry issues.

MARK!WISHBONE: Come on, Mark.  Let’s go home.

[EVERYONE hugs, with ROWAN and ELLI on the outside to hide the fact that the show’s special effects budget doesn’t cover the ability to have one dog hugging himself.  Scene fades out on the hug, and in on WISHBONE lying on top of the book.]

WISHBONE: What a great story . . . and I’m sure the adventures will continue even further when the next book in the series comes out!  But no time to dally - seems I was so engrossed in the story, I almost forgot to go see David demonstrate his invention!  Guess that’s what happens when you get caught up in a good book.

[WISHBONE scampers up the stairs, almost bumping into SAM and JOE.]

JOE: Hey, Wishbone!  Did you have a good day with David?

WISHBONE: Oh, well, you know, a secret mission here, a stolen invention there . . . all fairly par for the course for a dashing and brilliant young dog like myself.

SAM: Come on, we’ll miss David's demonstration.

[The camera follows WISHBONE, SAM and JOE into DAVID’s room, where MRS. BARNES and EMILY are already sitting to watch.  MRS. BARNES looks indulgent, EMILY excited.]

DAVID: Wishbone!  Just who I was hoping for.  Okay, Wishbone, you stand right there . . .

JOE: So what exactly does this invention do, David?

DAVID: You’ll see!  All right, now I press this lever, and – ta-da!

[A flash of green light, and the smoke machine goes wild.  Everyone starts coughing; in the middle of all the coughs there is some loud and enthusiastic barking.  The smoke eventually clears, to reveal . . . two WISHBONES!]

JOE: Wishbone . . .?  No, Wishbones?!

WISHBONE: Words fail me!  . . . I have to admit, though, I am pretty gorgeous.  And it could be useful to have a stunt double. 

DAVID [proud]: It’s a cloning machine!  I got the idea from a book I was reading about clones, and I thought, well, why not?

EMILY: David, you’re awesome!

[As the rest of the group stares at DAVID in shock and some dismay, the CLOSING TITLE PAGE flies up and over the scene, which then fades into the WISHBONE Production Studio tech office.]

WISHBONE VOICEOVER: Cloning technology doesn’t really exist yet – and there’s still only one Wishbone.  However, through the magic of green screen technology –

[The WISHBONE VOICEOVER starts to explain the special effects that the production studio is still extremely proud of.  Most viewers will switch off the show here, in a probably-futile attempt to prevent the theme song from being stuck in their head the rest of the day.]