Monday, 21 January 2013
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! #15
Alfred Bester – Psi-cop and high-level telepath. A man who spends his time cruising around the galaxy hunting down rogue telepaths (affectionately known as blips,) and - regardless of the cost - bringing them into the warm and loving embrace of the Psi-corp whether they like it or not. Do not confuse Bester with the early 20thcentury sci-fi author of the same name, Bester’s cloak and dagger shenanigans can be found in the TV series Babylon 5.
Scorpius – he may look like a World War Two zombie at a Wipe Clean Deviance Shenanza, but he's actually a bloke in deep with the shadowy and nefarious research arm of a heartless, galaxy-spanning military machine called the Peacekeepers. They dabble in everything from invasive memory extraction to wormhole transport. His sinister and villainous escapades can be seen in Farscape.
Both of these chaps are unburdened by trivial concerns like “morals” or “ethics”.
Sure, both of these chaps might occasionally carry a gun, but it’s hardly top of the list of things they’d use.
There’s no way of sugar coating it:
Bester can read your shitting mind.
He can project images and sounds directly into your brain; he can make you forget and remember things differently; given enough time he can turn you into an unsuspecting puppet and generally whisk your mind up like a serial masturbator's debut omelette.
Occupying the high and dizzying heights of a P12 (the highest psi rating achievable by an unaltered human) Bester’s psychic shenanigans are almost without peer: if he can so much as see you, you're probably doomed. If he’s in hyperspace he could probably doom you right up from a hundred thousand miles away.
Possessing a surprising strength for his apparently frail looking frame, Scorpius can quite literally pick you up and throw you straight across the room like you’re nothing more than a rag-doll made of meat and gristle. While not quite as flush with telepathic wizardry as Bester, Scorpius has the ability to sense the fluctuations in each races unique “energy signature,” allowing him to tell if someone is lying, harbouring black treason or considering being a twat in the not too distant future.
Bester wins. Raw strength isn’t even in the same league as the ability to turn a brain into nasal seepage from high orbit.
As a high-ranking psi-cop for the Psi-Corp, Bester has the entirety of his organisation behind him; from the covert and tenacious bloodhound hunters, a literal force of thought police, squadrons of highly trained telepathic fighter pilots, a small fleet of clandestine ships and the Corp’s training and re-education facilities. In addition to this the Psi-Corp have allies throughout the Earth Alliance government ready to pull strings and perform favours.
If push comes to shove and the chips are down Old Scorpy just needs to pick up his space-telephone and convince his “friends” to come and weigh in with their opinions. The friends in this case are the ships of the Peacekeeper Navy and their opinions are generally citied with guns. It is unwise to get on the wrong side of an organisation whose members are trained from birth to be emotionless killing machines.
Scorpius wins. The Peacekeepers have resources that would make the Psi-Corp higher-ups go weak at the bladder. With that many ships, a casual disregard for basic human rights and a willingness to subjugate entire planets, Scorpy wins hands down.
Like a lot of sinister types, Bester’s pain and sadness is more sad and painful than your pain and sadness. He’s trapped in a loveless, eugenically approved marriage - serving the Psi-Corp because telepaths have no choice - but always trying to do what’s right for the Corp, telepaths and humans in general. He struts his stuff in badass leather gloves and generally makes Machiavelli look like Ned Stark.
Bester’s not afraid to get his gloved hands so dirty that he may as well be doing backstroke in a sea of congealing entrails. He’s willing to do whatever must be done to achieve his goals; civilian casualties and collateral damage are irrelevant and unimportant. Bester’ll gladly destroy a man's entire life for the preservation of the Corp and is totally up for the casual genocide of non-telepaths (in his own words: “They’re just mundanes”).
Scorpius is a hideous genetic crossbred of two species, part heat loving lizard, part heat-loathing mammal, a product of a sinister science experiment (of which he is the only survivor) whose underlying ethics remain slightly bowel loosening. His unusual genetic heritage means his body produces fantastically large amounts of heat. This will quite easily send him utterly mad and kill him. To solve this problem Scorpy had a special cooling system made for him, a cooling system which spirals directly into his goddamn brain. Are you hardcore? You are? Well, I have news.
Scorpius is more hardcore than you.
Scorpius is beyond hardcore. Sadly his special cooling suit makes him look like a total gimp. His deliriously happy childhood largely revolved around conditioning to resist torture, pain, and losing at pass the parcel. Subsequently he is as hard as nails and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals and fulfil his own agenda (which basically revolves around revenge and a bit of casual genocide). To add to his bad-arsery he’s a twisted half-breed-mutant feared and respected within an organisation obsessed with racial and genetic purity.
Both of these guys have hearts about as black as the grave. They both plot, scheme and have wheels within wheels - terrifying spiky death wheels, dipped in iodine. They’ll stop at nothing to get what they want, be it through clandestine cloak and dagger tomfoolery or doing a big 'splosion in your face. Stacked to the nines with tragedy, resources and determination they’re both basically Space-Batman. Or 'Spatman'. But they're right shits. So 'Scatman'.
Skibadabadabo. It is too close to call (Although Bester has the better dress sense).
As with most fights the winner of this brawl would depend largely upon the circumstances involved, but for arguments sake let’s assume that both of these leather-clad hate machines know the other is gunning for them.
We meet our combatants on a neutral dusty plain (postpocalyptica New Geneva, to be precise, an orbiting platform designed precisely for this sort of situation).
The Peacekeeper fleet comes tearing into Martian orbit and begins its bombardment of the Psi-Corp fleet. No sooner has this daring and overwhelming attack begun when Bester’s carefully placed sleeper agents activate.
Peacekeeper ships turn on each other. The entire fleet is decimated in seconds, but not in time to save Psi-Corp. Reactors are breached, both fleets turning into fireballs that happen to spell out 'I'M MAD ME' when viewed from any and every direction.
While all this is going on our two combatants are monologue the bejeezus out of each other, before Scorpius casually breaks Bester’s arm, picks him up by the throat and launches him into the air. Bester lands with an ankle-shattering crunch, so Scorpius mocks Bester weak and frail human form.
Despite his obvious agony Bester retorts with a pithy comment about the power of his mind before launching a telepathic assault on Scorpius.
Unfortunately for Bester this activates the neural chip Scorpius had sneakily arranged to have planted in his opponent's brain.
To an observer it looks like nothing has happened, but inside Bester's mind he’s battling with a version of Scorpius’ personality which has now taken up residence in his brain.
Now, if this was on the telly you could probably squeeze a good two episodes' worth of back and forth evil repartee. There’d be confessions of mutually admiration for each other’s skills, then a bit where they get really chummy but then have to go back to FIGHTING because VIOLENCE IS MINT.
The Scorpius in Bester’s brain would try and distort his perception of reality and send him mad (“A regrettable course of action, but I can’t let you get in my way” Scorpius would say. Yes he would). At least, it would if Bester hadn't been trained almost from birth to distinguish fantasy from reality.
Bester simply waltzes through Scorpius’ elaborately constructed realm of madness as if it was nothing, brushing it off like a man brushing his mother's ashes from his shell-suit.
Freed from the shackles of Scorpius’ neural chip Bester unleashes the full force of his telepathic powers. His mind overwhelmed, Scorpius pulls his gun from his holster and slowly raises it to his head. With the barrel pressed firmly against his temple he shouts “Don’t do this, I can help you!”
From his throne of his own broken limbs, Bester looks up and replies:
“No, you can’t. You’re just a mundane.”
The dusty air fills with flecks of leather, chunks of electronics and globs of brain matter.
There is a soft gurgling noise, like a groundskeeper has just turned on a particularly troublesome fountain mechanism.
Bester sighs, and devotes the majority of his brainpower to locating any expert in reconstructive surgery within a square lightyear from here.