Shakespir Edition, License Notes
Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favourite authorised retailer. Thank you for your support.
Copyright S.Jennison-Smith © 2014
Also by the same Author:
(The Theran Chronicles)
The Sun Thief
The Victoria Conspiracy
Attack on Thera
The Tawa (short story)
Sid and Arthur’s Steampunk Adventure (crossover)
(The Arth Series)
The Crying Pennant
The Sitting Duck
Up and Away
Ground Hog War
The Detective One
Romancing the Drone
A DaVinci Co-Ed
The Time Backwater: The Time War
Factory of Androids
War in the Precincts
(The Books of Kendra)
The Lies we Teach Our Kids
The East Anglian Bombardiers and Grenadiers
The colonel sat at his desk facing the door. A fire crackled in the grate and pictures of his loved ones adorned the mantelpiece. He was writing a report to be sent to head office but was thinking about a reprimand he had to give to one of the men under his command.
There came a knock at the door and he replied to it, “Enter!”
As the door opened his colour sergeant shouted, “Left, right, left, right!”
The boots of the private rang out in unison to the sergeant’s staccato of commands.
Marching in then stopping on command the soldier saluted his officer.
“Private Plattington reporting for reprimand Sir,” explained the NCO from beyond the doorway.
“Thank you Sergeant,” replied the colonel.
The door was then closed to give the colonel and private privacy.
Colonel Pendragon carried looking at his report, leaving Plattington to stand there still at attention. “Is that enough attention Plattington?”
“Maybe if you had paid greater attention to me before you would not be standing to attention in front of me now.” he pushed the report away from himself and looked with a withering gaze at the private.
The private looked to the ground in shame.
“I wanted to give you your first stripe.”
“The whip Sir?”
“No man, your corporal’s stripe. You could have led your own platoon. It could have been called ‘Plattington’s Platoon’, which would have been quite funny.” He thought quite quietly to himself, “If we had a platypus mascot then we could house it with him and it would be called Plattington’s Platoon Platypus.”
“It’s no good saying sorry now, you’ve done the deed.” Colonel Pendragon mused for a little while, “What was it again that I’m supposed to be punishing you for?” He leant over the desk to look at his notes.
“Annoying chatter Sir,” replied Plattington.
“Annoying chatter? I get that all the time off the colour sergeant.” Tapping his billy stick on the table he tried to remember, “Who made that stupid rule up?”
“You Sir, it’s not in the TEABAG manual.”
“Oh, well. It seems a bit silly now doesn’t it. I must have been particularly annoyed at somebody chattering.”
“It was Chatteris Sir, he chatters all the time.”
“So who reported you then?”
“Chatteris Sir, he said he couldn’t get a word in edgeways.”
“How ironic, Chatteris reporting you for chattering annoyingly.” As he walked to one side of the desk he made a decision, “It’s not a bad enough offence to lose a stripe over. I’m still going to promote you to bombardier, which is also what a corporal is called in the artillery. Er, and you have to look after the new regimental mascot, a platypus…” Pendragon threw a stripe across the table.
Plattington grabbed it, smiled and saluted.
“Dismissed,” also smiled the colonel as he tapped his forehead in acknowledgement. “Scubbins!” he then bellowed.
The colour sergeant entered and stood to attention, “Sir.”
“I’ve promoted Plattington and given him a platypus.”
“So that’ll be Peter Plattington’s Platoon platypus then?”
“He’s called Peter is he?”
“Yes Sir, it’s better than being called Pat. Pat Plattington’s…” he began.
“That’s all Colour Sergeant.”
Scubbins smiled, clicked his heels and turned to leave.
Looking out of the window the colonel thought about his story so far. He was a clone, another clone, of King Arthur. Produced at the Tulox clone factory on Reema V. “What did that make now?” he whispered and then began to add them up on his fingers. There was good old battle chieftain Arthur, the original. Then there was the Arthur of the Arth series (he was a clone of him.) Art came next, from the Sci Fi dimension. (Sci Fi sounds a bit like Hi Fi, I suppose it’s supposed to.) Arthur 2 before he disappeared. Evil Arthur from the anti-matter/alternate universe. Then there was himself – another clone of Arth Arthur. And lastly there was him!
He picked up a cup that he hadn’t noticed before to take a drink. As he lifted it up to his lips a pair of eyes appeared on it and blinked at him. “Aargh!” he exclaimed as he threw it away.
It didn’t smash but globbed to the floor and slowly turned into, himself!
“Why do you always do that?” he asked, of the shapechanger.
“All the better to see you with,” retorted the cup/colonel/thing.
“What do you want Ruhtra?”
“Nothing, I thought I’d introduce myself to the readers.”
“Think of another reason, we can’t break the 4th wall so soon.”
“Erm,” thought Ruhtra, “special mission?”
“The one where we have to retrieve secret technology.”
“How do you know about that?”
“Ways and means old chap, ways and means. You know it really is disconcerting conversing with you. You look and sound so much like me.”
“In the mirror?”
“Yeas… in the mirror. It’s really because you’re a copy of the evil Arthur from the anti-matter/alternate universe aren’t you?”
“We both know that already?”
“Yes but the read…” he stopped himself, “let’s discuss some ideas about this special mission then.”
“What, so you can explain them to the others and get to look good?”
“I am the ranking officer.”
“I outrank you, I was commissioned on the 24th of July 1884.”
“So was I.”
“But I said it first.”
“Doesn’t count, anyway you’re lying, just like you always do. You’re supposed to be a liaison between Zathan and Her Majesty’s Britannic forces on Thera.”
“On my own world I’m an emperor.”
“No, you’re part of an emperor.”
“Part of an emperor is more important than a full colonel.”
“Just get on with the discussion or I’ll zap you,” Arthur drew out his stun pistol and turned it to shock then threatened the wayward shapechanger with it.
“All right, all right,” he said as he held up his hands, “Let’s begin. There is a code book kept in the tower of Tarrelo, the capital of the Andacian Empire. This code book unlocks an ancient Hoo secret to unlimited power. So far the Andacians have not been able to decode it, but, now their empire is overrun with Gites, clones and Hoo spies, they might get their hands on it. They will have an easier time decoding it for it is coded in one of the Hoo’s ancient tongues.”
“What, you mean they used one of their chopped off tongues to write in? Savages!”
“No, I did not mean that. I know you’re really not that stupid so don’t interrupt me again.” Ruhtra turned to the map on the wall that had just conveniently appeared there. “We will fly in via airship, pretending to be traders. Hover over the tower, shimmy down ropes and get in…” he looked at Arthur who seemed to want to speak, “go on?”
“But couldn’t you do the whole mission on your own, being a shapechanger and all?”
“They may have anti shapechanger technology, so I need to take you lot with me in case they have.”
Arthur smiled, he felt useful again, “Carry on.”
“Once we’re inside we need to make our way down to the deepest dungeon and break in through the bars, retrieve the code book, then make our escape?”
“What do we make our ‘S’ cape out of? Is it for Superman?”
“I do believe humans are stupid.”
Completely randomly Arthur asked, “You’re one of the shapechangers who was part of Zattaz aren’t you?”
“So a bit of you is evil then?”
“Just a little bit.”
“Can’t you chop it off, you know, the evil bit?”
“It would be like you chopping your head off, it wouldn’t affect your intelligence but you wouldn’t look so nice.”
“Hrumph!” hrumphed Arthur, “I think I’ve heard enough now to explain it to the others. Er, you can go for a cup of tea now.”
“You know I don’t drink tea.”
“Well a cup of whatever it is then, dismiss.”
In a surly manner Ruhtra exited by the drain.
“Scubbins!” cried the colonel as he pretended to shuffle some papers on the desk.
The colour sergeant entered the room and stood straight, “Yes Sir!”
“Gather the men will you, I need to brief them.”
“You want me to gather them up in their briefs?”
“No man, tell them to come into my office so that I can explain the mission to them.”
As Scubbins left he smiled, it was his way of getting back at his pompous commander.
So now we are introduced to the rest of the team. Imagine if you will a film where the main actors step forth to introduce themselves.
First we have Colour Sergeant Sidney Scubbins. A very short man, some might even say a dwarf, with a beard. He shouted his staccato of commands out.
Secondly Sergeant Gunby appeared in the doorway, looked at the camera, and stopped for just a second before taking his place in front of the colonel. Now Gunby was a giant of a man, 7’ tall in his stockinged feet. (9’ tall if you believe the front cover!)
Following him was Sergeant Tresham, a Southern gentleman of the United States, well, a clone of him anyway. He too stopped for a while and then smiled before taking his place next to Gunby.
Thirdly came Corporal Plattington, showing off his new stripe to the audience before standing next to Tresham.
Nextly (if that is a word) chattered Chatteris all the way over to Plattington.
A metal man, well two, had difficulties navigating through the door. Those were Robo Sid and Robo Arthur, and when they both got through the door at last they got in to a clinch for the camera, before also taking their places before Pendragon.
Lastly slithered Ruhtra in the form of an Arthur headed snake. He slithered onto the colonel’s desk and slurped himself into an empty fruit bowl so that he could have a rest while we listened to Pendragon’s explanation of the mission.
Beginning to pace with his hands behind his back Pendragon readied himself to talk. “Now men, The East Anglian Bombardiers and Grenadiers, (Special Operations Section) has just received a new important mission.”
“By shapechanger,” inferred Ruhtra from his bowl.
Arthur ignored him.
“Which Arthur?” asked Robo Arthur.
Colonel Arthur Pendragon ignored him.
“Oh,” ohed Robo Arthur as he again shut up and listened.
Pendragon continued, “There is a secret thingamyjig…”
“Codebook,” prompted Ruhtra.
“Codebook in the er, Tower of er,…”
“That’s it, Tarrelo. Don’t tell me any more Ruhtra, I’ll try to remember it. Now…er, we have to fly the airship over the Tower and shimmy down. Erm, then we need we need to bring it back here. Oh, I forgot, the code has something to do with a great Hoo power and we can’t let them get their hands on it.”
“So concise and precise in his explanation isn’t he,” murmured Robo Sid to Robo Arthur, “just like you, who also bumbles like an absent minded professor.”
(Well this seems to bring an end to this section, so…)
The Talent. The TEABAG’s airship. It makes you think it’s a cross between the names of the Tawa and the General Gallant, which it is. I had to make it slightly larger than the Tawa or the Gallant because of the extra crew members, or else Gunby would be sleeping with his feet out of the window, (and if he was in his stockinged feet they would freeze!)
So it’s there, on the tarmac. Well it’s not tarmac, but another tar and stone compound quite similar. It was close to their main base building, protected by its own electric shield.
The first on board was Private Chatteris who was the second pilot. The first pilot was second aboard. It was Tresham. The sergeant was going to allow Chatteris to take the helm until we got to the good stuff (what’s a helmet doing aboard anyway?)
The others filed aboard and Pendragon, in all his bossiness, was dishing out meaningless orders like a waiter with order soup.
Second pilot Chatteris pulled some switches and drew the steering wheel back. The Talent started to rise, they were underway.
Now this is where we get to the slow down part where we try to develop the characters a bit more, so you grow to love them and will watch all of the TV series because of it. Today’s character development is… Plattington!
Now Plattington hasn’t been in any of the other tales before so we have to work on his back story. He was a captured human slave from the London of earth in 1880. Rescued by tea pirates he managed to make his way to Tyreen. There he became part of the Tyreen air navy and when the British finally came through the IWTD in force he decided to join up with them instead. He also has a cat called Felix. The cat is aboard. There, that is it.
“Felix,” called Corporal Plattington, he also made kissy noises with his lips.
This annoyed Pendragon who made his displeasure known to Scubbins, “Can’t we get him that platypus sooner? It’s really annoying me, him doing those kissy noises.”
Sid was drinking a cup of tea in the central ship area where there was a nice largish table.
“What kind of relationship do you have with the Author?” asked Sid.
“Well not too good really. When I found out you and I had only been created to fill in for the real Sid and Arthur from The Crying Pennant, well, that’s it really. I don’t speak to him because of it.”
“Excuse me!!” interrupted Plattington, “this bit is supposed to be about me and my character development.”
“So tell us about yourself then, but not the stuff the Author wrote about you seven paragraphs ago,” ordered Arthur.
“Well er, I was born in Kensington, London.”
“That’s posh,” remarked Sid.
“St. Mary Abbott’s, that’s all, I was only there for two weeks, the maternity section.”
“So things soon tumbled into ignominy with you then,” presumed Arthur, “ended up in Whitechapel I presume?”
“No, Shoreditch actually, my old dad was a Hansom cabbie.”
“Handsome chappie?” misheard Sid.
“Why thank you,” thought it a compliment Plattington. “I look like my father, I’m told.”
“You’re old?” again pretended to mishear Sid.
“Not as old as you I’m told. Over 300 aren’t you? You don’t look a day over 250.”
Sid grinned and accepted the compliment, but then realised, “Well actually, the real Sid is supposed to be over 350. I’m only six months old.”
“Ooer, yes, you’re a clone of the REAL Sid aren’t you?”
Looking a little dourer, Colour Sergeant Scubbins rued, “Six months old and I don’t look a day over 250. Hah, that’s not a compliment at all. I have a good mind to stick you on jankers.”
“Now now Sid,” admonished the colonel, “that would be a tad unfair don’t you think?”
“Have we done enough of this silly character development yet?” wondered Sid, “can’t we just get on with a bit of action?”
I suppose they could be attacked by tea pirates – that would give me a good cliffhanger for the end of the chapter.
So, suddenly, as though I had just thought of it, the Talent rocked from side to side.
“So, the Author’s been listening to rock music has he?” thought Arthur.
“Tea pirates!” shouted Chatteris from the bridge.
“TEABAGs to action!” shouted the colonel as the three of them, who were in the mid-belly of the airship, started to ascend the ladder to get into action.
“Now is the winter of our disco tent,” cried the Richard the III steam powered android as he goaded his tea pirate crew to swing across the chasm between both airships to board the Talent.
“What!” grumbled Arthur, “a Richard III android from the Sanctum steampunk museum leading an army of metal men tea pirates.”
“Yup,” yupped Sid, “sounds like the Author wants to make it into a computer game of some kind. Us lot against metal men instead of Zulus.”
“Do you think it’ll work?”
“I don’t know, ask him.”
But Arthur did not want to ask me anything. So instead he shouted some orders at his men, “Repel boarders, batten down the hatches, fire in the hold…”
“Do you have to use clichés so flippantly?” queried the short colour sergeant who was really a dwarf, well, a dwarf clone anyway.
“GUNBY,” shouted the colonel as he chided the half giant into action.
Having no time to hip his Hotchkiss cannon Gunby picked up a fallen mast and started to use it like a baseball/rounders bat to swat the metal men away like giant flies.
“Let me have a couple of ‘em,” said Sid as he tried to get into the action.
The Talent started to sway from side to side as first a metal man landed on the deck then Both Gunby and Sid ran to get him. Chatteris found it quite difficult to keep her upright, “Can’t you just shoot them before they get aboard? I’m having trouble keeping her steady.” But as he said this the Talent turned onto its side and the whole crew and the two metal men who were still aboard grabbed onto railings and anything else that was attached to the ship.
A couple more metal men leapt onto the sideways airship which pulled it upright again however they were unable to keep their balance and fell into the sea.
“How many of these things are there?” cried Arthur as he tried to shoot them with his electric pistol, but to no avail.
“I am determined to prove a villain…” quoted the kingly android.
“I never understood that quote,” mumbled Arthur as he re-loaded the pin chamber, “especially out of context. Does he mean I’m the villain or he is?”
“Well you obviously,” said Sid as his blaster rifle melted a hole in the head of another metal man.
“Harrumph!” harrumphed Arthur as he shot another metal man in the back of the neck. The wires there frazzled and it fell inert.
“Come ye unvalued jewels, let us take flight, they are too hard for us,” ordered Richard III.
The two metal men that were harrying Plattington and Tresham looked back at their master then leapt back onto the enemy ship.
“Whew!” whewed Sid, “I thought we were goners there,” the dwarf rested his rifle on the deck of the airship to take stock of things.
“I bet we’ll see them again before this adventure is written,” rued the colonel.
“That’s six metal men, one broken rail and a cut over Tresham’s eye.”
“What are you doing?”
“Taking stock like the Author said.”
Arthur shook his head then put his hand up to his eyes to see the departing enemy airship more clearly.
“I bet that’ll make a good level in the computer game,” said Sid as he came nearer.
“Yeas, I can see it now, hoards of metal men leaping upon the deck and us nine fighting them off.”
“Yes, you, me, Robo Sid and Arthur, Tresham, Gunby, Plattington, Chatteris and…” he looked for Ruhtra, “where’s that sainted shapechanger?”
“Here,” screed Ruhtra as he stopped taking the form of a seagull.
“You [_are _]supposed to be part of this team you know, not a raving coward.”
“I wasn’t a raven, I was a seagull actually. I just thought you had it all in hand,” said the shapechanger as he morphed into his Arthurish form.
Scubbins moaned, “It is confusing having two of you to contend with. Can’t you wear a Baldrick or something Arthur.”
“You mean a small lifelike model of Tony Robinson in Blackadder?”
“No, I mean… Yes, go on then, a small lifelike model of Tony Robinson sounds funnier.” He thought for a second, “I think the Tony Robinson from the fourth series would be more apt.”
“But that one’s from the future, surely Baldrick from Blackadder III would be better?”
“Are they really discussing this?” Tresham asked Gunby quietly as the half giant tended to his friend’s eye.
“They’re not as good as the real Sid and Arthur are they?” Gunby said quietly, so he would not upset the colonel or colour sergeant.
(Now the normal Sid and Arthur would either hear my thoughts or read what I was writing, but these two seemed oblivious to my ways.)
“Well, I suppose I’ll have to order Chatteris to get under way,” thought Arthur. He waddled up to the bridge.
“What are you waddling for Colonel?” asked Plattington, who was trying to detach a metal man’s arm from the railing around the airship.
“Er, I’m not waddling, I’m careening,” Arthur tried to straighten his gait but still seemed to waddle.
“He’s suffering from cognitive dissonance,” observed Tresham.
“?” ?ed Gunby.
“He’s lying to himself, he’s waddling like a drunken emperor penguin on a tossing ship with an egg between its legs.”
“That’s a lot of waddling, maybe his trousers are coming down – you know a bit like Bert in Mary Poppins.”
“His belt was damaged when that metal man grabbed it.”
“I didn’t see that?”
“Well I didn’t really, but I just had the urge to say it, like the Author had just thought of it to fill in a plot hole.”
“Ahh!” ahhed Gunby.
They both nodded in agreement.
They were underway again and getting closer to their objective. On the outskirts of Tarrelo they were greeted with the view of millions of house and streetlights twinkling away.
“It’s a good job it’s not foggy,” thought Chatteris to Plattington, “it would be difficult to navigate in the dark [_and _]in the fog.”
As if somebody had heard him and thought it might be a good twist, a pea souper fell.
“What was that?” inquired Sid, “it sounded like a bowl of pea soup falling somewhere.”
“No, I don’t think so Sid,” imparted Robo Sid, “I think the Author was describing the appearance of the sudden fog that has just manifested.”
“I don’t have to check the manifest now do I? I only did a stock taking check a few paragraphs back.”
“You don’t really seem to have this 4th wall listening to the Author thing down to pat yet do you? Not like the real Sid.”
“No, I suppose I don’t. Do you think it’s because I’m a clone?”
“You should’ve been a clown instead, you might have been funnier.”
Robo Arthur came up to them, “How are they going to get there in this pea souper?”
“Compass and landmarks?” suggested Robo Sid.
“I wonder which landmarks I can see?” wondered the sergeant as he tried to look out over the railings.
(So now I have to describe an alien city, in the dark, in the fog. Well at least a bit of it.)
Plattington also looked over the edge of the airship and saw a … gargoyle! “Yaargh!” he exclaimed, then shouted to Chatteris, “We’re too close, er, to a church of some kind.”
Robo Arthur commented as the airship came to a stop, “They don’t have churches in Andacia, only underground ones.”
“You mean to say we’re underground?”
The good metal man looked at the corporal, “I will give you a little leeway with that one, seeing as we are supposed to be developing your character’s back story.”
“So what is it then if it’s not a church?”
“Mansion house, factory, who knows?”
“The Author,” inputted Robo Sid.
“Well you ask him then.”
So Robo Sid asked me, “Where are we Author?”
“The Lord Mayor’s mansion,” I replied, then left them to get on with it.
“Told you,” told Robo Sid.
“We can’t really fly in this fog,” thought Plattington, “we might have to go straight up above the clouds.”
“How are we going to see anything then?” wondered Robo Sid, “We’ll just see clouds.”
“We could do what the aircrew do to airfields when it’s foggy,” began to suggest Robo Arthur, “fill pipes up with hot fuel and make the fog rise.”
“With you talking all that hot air it should have risen long ago,” quipped his robo friend.
“In this smog things would only be made worse by hot air,” the king of the robo men folded his arms to show his displeasure.
Then Colonel Pendragon came back, “Right, it’s been decided. Seeing as we can’t see our hands before our faces…”
“I can,” beamed Colour Sergeant Sid as he held his hand before his face.
“It’s a saying Colour Sergeant, meaning it’s too difficult to navigate through the city at night in a thick fog/smog.”
He turned back to address the others on the deck, “So it’s been decided we’ll to a quick reccie in the mansion below. It seems to be the Lord Mayor’s mansion.”
“It is,” agreed Robo Sid quietly.
“Who agreed to do a reccie?” asked Robo Arthur.
“Well, me actually,” explained Arthur, pointing to himself.
“Were you talking to yourself, or Ruhtra, or something? You know, to agree with yourself?”
“Never mind about that now, Chatteris is going to take us down very slowly to land on a lower roof. Then we’ll go in by some windows.”
So Chatteris chittered a little while he set the Talent down on a flattish portion of the roof.
“Why do we want to look round the Mayor’s mansion again?” asked Sid.
“Again?” queried Arthur, “we haven’t looked round it once yet.”
“I didn’t mean again, I meant again, again.”
“A bit like Tattoo on Fantasy Island?”
“That’s an antiquated reference isn’t it?”
“Seeing as we’re in 1885, then no, it’s a futurist reference.”
“If you say so. But tell me, really, why are we doing a reccie on the Mayor’s mansion?”
“I think the Author thought it might break the tension.”
“Erm, I don’t know. Let’s just do it until the fog lifts?” So Arthur led the way, as a good battle chieftain would. The others followed behind in a kind of bemused bumbling state. Bumbling up to an open window they all looked in and saw a passageway with doors leading off it. “It seems to be a passageway with doors leading off of it,” noted the colonel.
“Very observant,” said Sid, “what else can you see by just using your eyes?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“Well anyone can look at something and tell me what it is.”
“I don’t get your point?”
“You looked in the window and told us it was a passageway with doors leading off of it.”
Sid shook his head, “Never mind, let’s just send the shapechanger in first. He can pretend to be anything, so if he encounters someone then he can turn into a vase or something.”
“It’s me who gives the orders.”
“Well give ‘em then!”
“Er,” Arthur scanned the area for Ruhtra, “Ruhtra dear chep…”
Ruhtra, looking like Arthur, looked nonchalantly [_at _]Arthur, “Wassap?”
“Can you slink in ahead of us and make sure there’s no one around?”
“I spose so,” the shape changer made himself into a liquid and poured through a small hole in the lattice window and puddled on the floor. He then slimed down the whole length of the passageway and finally took his Arthurish shape at the other end. He waved them to come in.
Arthur pushed the window open and climbed in first. Sid and the others followed, well, all except Robo Sid and Robo Arthur, they were too bulky to get through the window.
“You two will have to guard the airship. Call us back if you get into trouble.”
Robo Arthur looked at Robo Sid and tried to express a little hurt, but nodded and complied.
Ruhtra glanced back at them all then slimed under the end door.
“Where’s he going now?” Arthur asked rhetorically.
“Do you want to know,” asked Sid, “or are you just asking rhetorically?”
“Do you know?”
“Well of course it was rhetorical. As if I was asking you. If I needed to know I could look at the Author’s notes.”
“He hasn’t made that bit up yet.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve already looked, there’s no notes. It’s all in his head.”
“He sounds like the lecturer from Perception or that fellow from A Beautiful Mind.”
“So we don’t know what’s behind the doors then?”
“Well on that scrap of paper the Author wrote on at Waitrose it’s either a) each room leads to a different dimension. A bit like a Devidian door in The Next Generation.”
“But that leads to different planets not dimensions.”
“Yeah, anyway the next idea was b) different famous rooms as described in Victorian fiction. The sitting room of 221b Baker Street, the lab at Frankenstein Castle etc.”
“Right, what else?”
“Well, each room could lead to a different place on this planet, sort of a transportation portal.”
“So… has he decided any of this yet of is he just running it by us first?”
“Probably running by us.”
“No, I meant he’s literally running by us.”
“I don’t know, I just thought I’d say it in case it was funny.”
They both looked at each other with raised eyebrows, a bit like I did when I imagined them in this situation.
“So are we going to look behind the first door then or the one Ruhtra slimed underneath?” asked Colour Sergeant Sid.
“I don’t know, I don’t think the Author’s going to let us look, I think he wants us to end on a cliffhanger.”
“Like the ones talked about in The Dead Robots Society podcasts?”
“That’s right, ‘I open the door and…’”
Sid opened the door, there was a brick wall behind it, “Thought so,” he thought, “we’re not at the word count for chapter two yet. I bet there’s a brick wall behind each door until we get to the one Ruhtra slimed under.”
“Well let’s try that one next,” nodded Gunby who had just managed to get his huge frame through the window.
They all started to walk towards the last door on the left. But they seemed to get no nearer.
“I can’t seem to even reach the next door on the left,” groaned Pendragon who was leading the party.
Plattington stood still, gently went backwards and bumped against the wall, “we’re on a treadmill,” he called as he realised what was happening.
They all started to run as fast as they could but the treadmill increased speed as they did.
“This is completely useless,” puffed Arthur.
Unshouldering his energy weapon Gunby shot at the floor. A large hole appeared in it. This made the situation worse because they were now running towards the dangerous, uncovered and still working gears.
Arthur stopped but the others behind bumped into him. He nearly fell into the gears. Sid pulled him back. “That was close,” whewed the colonel.
As the treadmill had snapped the still attached end wound its way around and mangled into the gears. There was a whining and a clanking then the gears grated to a stop.
“Just in time,” panted Arthur, still holding onto Sid’s arm.
“Now we need to pick our way over those gearing mechanisms,” said the sergeant.
So they did, it took them a long time to all get through the garden of smashed gears, too long to describe so near the end of this chapter.
When they finally got to the end Arthur opened the door to find…
Arthur turned the handle and pushed open the door. (I know I’ve repeated myself but hey, it’s a new chapter.) There was a small bathroom and a bath filled with bubbles. Sitting in it, with bubbles on his head, was Ruhtra, “Ow do.”
“What are you doing?” exasperated Arthur.
“Having a bath?” replied the shapechanger, who also had a bubble beard and moustache.
“Is this where we’re supposed to do the bath puns now?” asked Sid.
“Well, I suppose so,” grumped the colonel.
“But no toilet humour,” warned Tresham.
Sid looked at them, “No toilette humour either.”
“Bubbles!” bubbled Plattington.
“Are we each doing some kind of pun?” wondered Pendragon.
“As long as I get the best punch line,” warned Sid.
“I thought you had been genetically altered not to expect the best punch line?”
“My selfishness and giant ego overcame that. I can easily get a better punch line than you shower anyway.”
This stunned Arthur when he realised Sid had made quite a good and relevant bathroom pun, “Er?”
Sid was on a roll, a toilet roll. “You’re looking hot and flushed,” he said to Ruhtra. A bottle of shampoo nearly fell on the shapechanger’s head and he caught it just before it did, “That was a close shave.”
“You’re a fool ah!” splashed Ruhtra who was getting quite angry at so many people looking at him in the bath.
“Did you mean to do an anagram of loofah there?”
“Are we going to get going?” asked Arthur.
“Pass me a towel,” said Ruhtra. He also switched off the tap. Sid looked round for a towel.
Then Robo Arthur shouted down to them from the window at the end of the passageway, “The fog is clearing!
Sid looked a bit quizzical, he turned the tap back on.
“What are you doing?” grumped Arthur.
“Just wait,” replied the dwarf.
Then, again, Robo Arthur called, “It’s started drawing in again.”
So Sid turned the tap off a second time.
“I don’t believe it!” shouted Robo Arthur, “it’s going again.”
“Thought so,” thought Sid, “the steam from the bath is causing the fog.”
“That’s a bit surreal isn’t it?” mused Arthur.
“What do you expect with the Author?” replied the colour sergeant.
They waited for Ruhtra, who turned himself into a tube and shimmied the towel from top to tail. He then turned back into his Arthurian form, “shall we go?”
They all went.
Once they had all got back aboard the Talent again Plattington asked Sid, “So what was that interlude for?”
“I’m guessing, based on the Author’s notes on the back of that envelope, that the Lord Mayor is part of a nefarious conspiracy against the people of Tarrelo.”
“You know it is a pity,” mused the corporal as he sat upon a box of ammunition, “Andacia was supposed to be our ally against the giants. Now they’ve been infiltrated by the giantish kingdoms…”
“Sorry,” interrupted Sid, “is this one of those moments when we look into your back story as part of your character development?”
“I think it must be, seeing as I don’t know what I was going to say next.”
“Now they’ve been infiltrated by the giantish kingdoms they are like a) A pin prick in a teabag. b) a fruit from the useless tree, or, c) making bungee cords out of steel wire.”
“None of those analogies really work.”
“But they are quite funny though. Could you do better? Seeing as you didn’t know what you were going to say next.”
“I suppose thinking that they’re funny depends on what kind of sense of humour you have.”
“Just make up a humorous analogy, before I make you swab the deck.”
“Like punch mixed with red.”
“Breaking the metaphysical barrier there I see. Unless of course you mean Mr Punch, mixed with Raymond Reddington from The Blacklist.”
“Is that funny?”
“It will be when I punch you, you turn red then I swab the floor with you.”
“You can’t do that, that’s bullying.”
“But I can threaten it.”
The colonel butted in as he walked back from the bridge, “Now now Sid, try to go a little easy on him will you, we’re supposed to be fleshing out his character development not scaring him into the metaphysical.”
Just then [or something quite similar] the airship turned sharply to the left making them all lean to the right to try to keep from falling off.
Arthur shouted, “What’s happening Chatteris?”
“We’ve deviated from the plot Colonel, it’s creating havoc with the gyroscope.”
“Deviated from the plot,” blustered Arthur, “how can that affect the gyroscope?”
“I don’t know Sir,” shouted back the helmsman as he struggled with the wheel, “it just seemed to come to my mind as an explanation.”
“A bit like how the Author writes most of the time,” Sid nudged Plattington.
“Sorry,” usurped Plattington, “are you my friend again now?”
Sid drew back a little, “I’m, er, still your friend? [Seeing as we only met at the beginning of this story.]”
And now, to get back on track, the Tower of Tarrelo loomed ahead of them in the distance. As Chatteris headed towards it he commented to Plattington, “It’s a good job there hasn’t been a power cut. The street lights are leading me straight to the Tower.”
Just then [though I shouldn’t really do it] there was a power cut.
“Why did you have to mention a power cut,” mentioned Chatteris, “now look, the Author’s created one just at the wrong time.”
“Only joking,” said I as the street lights started to flicker back on.
“It must have been a brown out,” said Plattington.
“Well that’s better than a brown bear.”
“What’s a brown bear got to do with a power cut?”
“Everything if it fell onto the power lines and shorted everything out.”
“How is a brown bear going to get high enough, in a city, to fall on some power lines and bring them down?”
“Well, if the Author thought of it, there could be a menagerie in the Tower and brown bears could be one of the exhibits. One of them could have escaped, climbed up on something really high then did a belly flop onto the power lines.”
“So, a random zoo bear, escapes, knows how to do a belly flop and falls judiciously onto some nearby power lines?”
“He could be a genetically enhanced bear, who knows how to swim, use a lock pick and is wise enough not to be killed by landing on power lines, so he was probably wearing rubber boots as well.”
“I thought he’d belly flopped onto the power lines?”
“Well the boots would be completely useless.”
“Oh, well he could have belly flopped onto it then as he bounced back up he could have landed on the lines, in his boots, and tightrope-walked along it.”
“With an umbrella for balance?”
“Yes, of course, and then, to top it all off, he managed to get to the end before the lines collapsed.”
“So he got to the end.”
“He got away with it and got out then?”
“So it was a brown out.”
They were lucky, there were no lights pointing in their direction, no guards looking that particular way, no steam powered barrage balloons, no automatic defence robots. It was as though there was a helper of some kind aiding them in their mission [me!] So Chatteris guided the Talent over the tower and turned the engines off.
“Ropes?” enquired Arthur of Tresham.
“I think they’re in the hold.”
“Well hurry up and get them man, we need to get shimmying as soon as possible.”
Tresham turned, a little miffed, “It should be the lower orders doing this, not a sergeant!”
“Too many chiefs,” murmured Gunby as Tresham passed him. He also followed his friend to help.
Ruhtra peeped over the bow of the airship to make sure they were still safe and unnoticed. He spotted an Andacian guard blowing into his gloves and stamping his feet to try to keep away the cold. Not wanting to wait he turned himself into a rope, attached himself to a rail and flopped himself over the side, planning then to slurp to the ground.
Arthur spotted the rope and used it to shimmy to the ground. This caused Ruhtra some discomfort and so he grew a mouth, right near Arthur’s head, and screamed out in pain. The colonel grabbed his own ears and nearly fell off of the rope.
“What the blazes,” cried Arthur.
Plattington saw what was happening and also saw the frozen guard begin to look up into their direction [no, not a guard from the film Frozen, I knew you would think that!]
The guard (not from Frozen) lifted up his rifle and aimed it at the colonel.
Looking about the deck Plattington saw a pole, picked it up and threw it at the guard’s rifle to spoil his aim.
With a spoiled aim the guard could do nothing else but raise the alarm. The alarm had fallen down and needed raising.
To stop the alarm being raised Arthur jumped from the rope and fell on it from above.
“At last,” sighed Ruhtra, “fat lump.” He slurped to the floor just as Arthur was bashing the guard over the head with the now bent alarm.
“Why did you scream in my ear like that?” asked Pendragon, “I think I’m now deaf in one ear.”
“Better to be deaf than suffer death,” philosophised the shapechanger.
There was now another problem though, the guard’s colleague had heard a noise and come to see what all the commotion was. Thinking quickly Ruhtra turned into the first guard and stopped his colleague from coming closer.
“What’s all the racket Dinkins?” asked the real guard.
“I bashed me toe on the wall,” replied Ruhtra.
“But you said something like ‘We’re under att… argh.”
“Yes, we’re under a dark sky tonight was what I was going to say.”
“Well why did you have to shout it out, I thought we was under attack or something?”
“It’s because it’s very cold, it affected my pharynx,”
“You are an odd chap Dinkins, carry on and no more shouting. I was trying to get some sleep near the fire before you started playing the fool,” he turned and went whence he had where before wandered from.
Ruhtra followed him with his eyes.
“Eeew!” exclaimed Arthur, “do you have to follow him with your eyes like that?” He was perturbed because Ruhtra’s eyes had physically left his head and were bouncing down the steps after the guard.
The shapechanger did a small whistle and the eyes bounded back to him like two puppies who had just been called to eat their dinner. They slurped back into Ruhtra’s face.
Arthur was squinting and looking at his double sideways to try to lessen the shock. Now if it was to lesson the shock then it would have something to do with being taught in school about the dangers of electricity. He whisper-shouted to Ruhtra, “Is he back in his den?”
“It’s about ten o’clock so he’s back in his den at ten then.”
The colonel looked above, back at the ship, to see Sid, Gunby and the others all sliding down the ropes towards his position, “At last,” he quipped, “now I don’t have to listen to your prattling banter.”
Now Arthur realised that he should either be giving orders from the front or leading them somewhere so he said, “Right, let’s be off,” and set off in the direction of the guard room.
“Er, excuse me your Colonelness,” whined Ruhtra, “but do we want to be captured so early on in the operation?”
“Um, Operation,” blustered Arthur, “that’s a game for kids isn’t it?”
Sid looked at him disparagingly, “The Author never increased your intelligence when he got you cloned on Reema V did he? If we walk through the guardroom we’ll be captured. We need to go another way.”
“Oh,” replied Arthur, quite curtly, “I suppose I’d better ask for ideas then, seeing as I don’t know what to do next.”
“He might have had your humility improved though. I think we should pick the lock on the door at the end of the wall and go down to the next floor.”
“Right,” said Arthur as he looked around at the others, “any more ideas?”
“I can get in easily, as a flea, or a fly or even a friendly dog,” explained Ruhtra.
Chatteris hovered over to them in the Talent (he had been left aboard to guard it). “Why don’t you all get back aboard and I’ll drop you off in the courtyard instead?” he shouted down.
“Why didn’t we do that in the first place?” asked Arthur.
Sid interjected, “You ordered us all out of the airship as soon as we got over the walls!”
“Ahh, so I did,” he thought a little, “will that plan work though, won’t they see us?”
“I could turn into a cloud,” suggested Ruhtra.
“Can you do that?” asked Arthur.
“Well, I haven’t tried it before but I have heard stories of the grand mystic masters on Zathan doing it.”
“Shouldn’t you see if you can do it before we begin? You know, practice a little first?”
Shapechanging the shapechanger tried to turn himself in to a cloud but only managed a wisp of smoke.
“You mist,” punned Sid.
“No I didn’t!”
“Mist as in the cloud formation not missed as in the point.”
“Oo, I’ll try again,” he puffed up his cheeks and closed his eyes then, poof!
The dwarfish small man looked around, “Where’s he gone?”
A fine mist started to gather around the airship until it turned into a cloud.
“By flubble, he’s done it,” remarked Arthur. He turned round, “Quick then everyone, shimmy back up the ropes.”
So they all shimmied back up.
The Talent now hovered down into the courtyard. The Ruhtra cloud was so big that one of the enemy guards it covered thought it was fast falling fog and so went in for a quick fag.
“Thanks Ruhtra old boy,” thanked the colonel, “you’ve done a good job.”
But Ruhtra said nothing in return
“Maybe he’s misting?” suggested Tresham as he started to disembark.
Arthur thought about the comment then, after all but Chatteris had got off, he ordered the helmsman to hide the airship in some nearby trees and, “…join us at the earliest opportunity.” He then led his men, and others, into the main body of the Tower, through the door the missing guard had left open.
Deep, deep into the underbelly they did not go for we have only just started this chapter. No, what they did do, first, was come upon the guard smoking a fag, (though not of course the Eton schoolboy kind.)
Arthur looked for Ruhtra to get them out of this situation but he was still misting. He decided to use his stun pistol instead. One fine shot and the fagged guard lay motionless on the floor. Looking at Sid he thought he would explain why he was taking this non-lethal approach, “Well, they are officially supposed to be our allies against the giants.”
“Do you mean the football team?” asked the sergeant.
“We are not supposed to use futuristic cultural references, stop it!”
Arthur bit his tongue at Sid’s obvious insubordination. He looked at Plattington, “Drag his body away somewhere and hide it will you, there’s a good man.”
The corporal complied and hid the sleeping guard in a cupboard, though he had a little bother with the body and had to stand him up. When he closed the door he trapped the guard’s foot in it the first time.
The Colonel shook his head then spoke to Scubbins, “Now if you were a real dwarf instead of a small human then you could see in the dark down that long passage to help us out.”
“Or I could just switch the light on,” he said as he flicked the light switch on.
“Oh,” ohed Arthur, “you can take point then.”
“But you’re the leader, you lead.”
“I am much too important to go ahead into the unknown.”
“So you think.”
They heard a noise. Tresham commented on it first, “What kind of creature makes that kind of noise?”
“It could be ahead of us,” worried the colonel.
But Sid looked behind, “Or behind us.” he strode over to the cupboard and opened the door. The guard’s arm fell out, he was snoring loudly.
“Can’t you shut him up Biggs?” asked their glorious leader.
“Biggs?” queried Sid as he flipped the guard’s limp arm back in, “I think you’re getting confused, he’s not in this book.”
“Can’t you put some sticky tape over his nose?”
“I thought you said you wanted this to be a non-lethal mission? If I do that he might suffocate.”
“Well can’t you put him back outside so that anyone who sees him thinks he fell asleep on guard duty?”
Sid then ordered Plattington, “Put him outside Corporal, and make it look like he fell asleep on guard duty.”
Picking up the slumped body Plattington complied. As he got to the doorway he saw both Chatteris and Ruhtra coming towards him.
“Here at last, right you two, help me pose the body as though he’s just fallen asleep on guard duty.” He plonked the body near the outside of the door.
“That’s beneath me,” snooted Ruhtra who walked through the doorway to the others, but Chatteris began to help.
“What do you think,” asked the private, “seated on a box, head resting on hand, fag ash sprinkled on the box?”
“Very artistic Chatteris, I’ll leave you in charge of the tableaux, catch us up when you’ve finished.”
So we continue to follow Plattington and leave Chatteris chattering and chattering in the cold as he set up the tableaux.
When he got back to the others they weren’t there. “How can I get back to the others if they aren’t there,” he whispered to himself. But he did see Ruhtra ahead and ran to catch him up. “So where are the others then?” he asked.
“Can’t you smell them?”
“My sense of smell is not as highly attuned as yours.”
“I suppose that’s how you can live with your own smell, or you’d have to chop your nose off.”
“To spite your face?”
“What a stupid saying, almost as stupid as a teardrop learning to fly in a rainstorm.”
Plattington did not understand the Zathanian but before he got too confused they saw the others serving at tables.
“What are you doing?” asked the shapechanger.
“We were waiting,” punned Sid.
Arthur finished sipping his cup of tea and wiped his lips with a napkin, “Nice tea break that Robo Sid.”
“I didn’t know I had the parameters for such a thing, the Author must have had it programmed into me especially for this scene.” The metal man bowed slightly with a white towel over his arm in the place of a waiter’s cloth.
The others all helped to pack up the camping equipment. They stored it back in the cupboard they had found it in.
“Fortunate that,” commented Plattington at they heard Chatteris talking to himself behind them.
“Let’s be off to the next stupid encounter,” said Sid, as grumpy as ever (well, for the six months of his short clone life so far.) ‘
Looking at him the colonel reminded him, “It’s I that give the orders.” He turned to the others and said, “Let’s be off to the next stupid encounter.” He marched forward and, because his snooty nose was so far in the air he tripped over a sleeping policeman and went flying, (in a small aeroplane kept inside for such jokes as this.)
“A sleeping policeman?” queried Sid, “not the dwarf policeman from Goblin Space Marines?”
“Get me down from here,” wittered Arthur who had crashed the small aeroplane into a Christmas tree.
“I suppose the Author had to mention Christmas somewhere..” Robo Sid said to Robo Arthur.
“…as he is putting this whole shortish story on his blog as a Christmas present for the readers,” finished Sid, the clone.
Robo Sid looked at Sid and shook his finger, “That was my punch line.”
“I don’t actually have a funny character union card, but I still demand the funniest punch lines!”
[So what is the next encounter? Maybe a friend turns up to help them, but who? Hang on a minute, there’s the dwarf policeman for a start.]
Bloin, the dwarf policeman, woke up, after he had been tripped over by Arthur. Then he had to wait while Arthur flew around and crashed into the tree, and also while Sid got his puns in. He put his hands on his hips, “‘Ello, ello, ello, what do we ‘ave ‘ere then?”
Arthur was just preparing to order the men to follow him again into an unknown area when he met Bloin’s gaze. “Um, are you the dwarf policeman from Hunting for Squink?”
“Well done, the Author mistakenly described me as from Goblin Space Marines earlier. I think I’ve been put here to help you.”
“Well you haven’t done a good job so far, it was you I tripped over to go flying into that Christmas tree.”
“Do you want my help or not?”
The colonel looked at Sid while he answered Bloin, “As long as you don’t gang up with your dwarf brethren against me.”
“I didn’t think this Sid was a full dwarf? I thought he had some extra DNA put in him to make him slightly taller?”
This riled Sid a bit, “Are you making aspersions about my heritage?” he started to square up to Bloin.
Gunby got between them, “Come on you two, we need to be friends while we’re in this situation.”
Both dwarves looked up at the half giant and relented.
“So how are you going to help us?” Arthur asked.
“I know where the code book actually is, I visited that section of the castle when I was on a school trip years ago.”
“I thought you came from the Fantasy dimension like us?”
“As I said it was a school trip, an Interdimensional school trip.”
“I reckon the Author’s just made this bit up because he saw his friend at Monk’s Cross today,” Sid said quite quietly to Plattington.
The colonel deferred to the obvious favour shown by the Author to the dwarf policeman. “Righto, lead the way then, but make sure we circumnavigate all impassable barriers and dangerous situations.”
“That’s going to make it a little boring for the readers isn’t it?” stomped Sid.
“Well,” thought Arthur a little more as he spoke to Bloin, “you could make sure we encounter funny things and not dangerous ones.”
“You mean replace action with humour? I don’t know about that, the rising and falling of action then humour then introspection keeps the readers gripped.”
“With the way the Author writes I should think [_that _]would keep the readers griped,” joked Sid, at my expense.
“Well we need to return to the courtyard then, this section leads to the Killer Kastle.”
“…?” said Plattington.
“Bless you,” replied Bloin.
“What a waste of time this section has been,” grumped Arthur.
“Well not really,” reasoned Sid, “we’ve had the bit with the guard snoring, and you crashing into the Christmas tree with the mini aeroplane.”
“I’m not convinced,” nonplussed Arthur as he followed Bloin and the others back out.
Once they had returned to the courtyard Bloin then led them to a side door. There was a sign on the wall next to the door that said ‘The easy route to the code book missing out violent encounters.’
When Sid saw it he mumbled, “The Author must have set this bit up.” He looked at Robo Sid, “You know, when we first started this adventure I thought it was really going to be sensible.”
“What are you talking to me for Mr ‘I still want the funniest punch line’,” replied the robot version of his clone self.
“Are you sore at that?”
“Wouldn’t you be? I am the AI version of you.”
“OK then, I’ll let you have a few then.”
They passed beneath the arch and started down some steps towards a door at the bottom.
When they got there Arthur tried the door, it was locked, “It’s locked,” he told the others, “Can anyone pick locks?”
“No,” replied Plattington, “but I have a book on how to do it, I was going to learn how to do it for this adventure but time caught up with me.”
“Give it here,” demanded Arthur as he held out his hand.
The corporal gave him the tome and Arthur tried flicking through it to get the gist.
“We need some picks.”
“Here you are,” sniffed Sid as he offered his palm to the colonel.
“I keep it up my nose.”
Arthur shook his head, “Picks for picking locks, not nose pickings!”
From his pocket Plattington retrieved a small leather bag, “Here.”
Arthur laid it on the floor and looked through it, “Did you actually try to pick any locks before we came?”
“The one to the medicine cupboard, but I failed,” replied Plattington.
“You weren’t trying to get to the alcohol were you? Like Hook in the film Zulu?”
“No, it was the closest lock I could find.”
“Oh, well you have a go first then while I carry on reading about it.”
Sid moseyed over, “I suppose now would be a good time for some lock picking puns.”
“Oh, go on then,” mumbled Arthur as he flicked through the book a second time.
“Aren’t you going to pick me up on it?”
“Pick, pick a lock.”
“Oh, very good. Can you do all the puns, it’s just I’m trying to read.”
“I could pick someone else to do it. Robo Arthur for instance, or Ruhtra?”
“Uhh, go on then,” then Arthur pursed his lips to the side and held the book upside down.
Sid decided to go to Robo Arthur, but he was in deep punning mode with Robo Sid already, and he didn’t want to compete with that, so he turned to Ruhtra who was looking at his watch.
“Is that watch real or is it part of you?” asked Sid.
“It’s part of me, why?” as he said this the watch slurped back into him.
The dwarf looked a little bemused, “Arthur said I can pun with you.”
“I have a little difficulty with puns, different culture and all that.”
“You just be the straight man then.”
“Can I be the straight man while glooping down the steps?”
“Then I’ll be a fluid straight man.” He wobbled around a bit to try to make it funnier.
“Just pretend to be Arthur.”
“With all his pomposity?”
Sid had to bite his tongue, for he knew that Ruhtra was twice as pompous as Arthur was. “Yes,” he hissed slightly.
“Well go on then, pun away.”
“Your face when I pull this face?” (He pulled a funny face.)
“I’m supposed to have the punch line!”
“Well I’ll have to ask you the questions then, where’s the script?”
“There isn’t one, only an old tablet box that the Author scribbled on.”
“Well show me that then.” When Sid had showed him he asked, “Actor who played ‘King’ Kong in Dr Strangelove?”
“The thing he used on his guitar?”
“Something that I had dropped on the floor I have…?”
“Something the REAL Sid used to bash people over the head with?”
Sid was getting angrier, “A pick axe handle. Now if you don’t give me a better lead in you’ll be in a pick, a PICK-LE!”
“I say old chap, I’m only doing what you asked. Different culture and all that.”
“Here, I’ll write one down for you. You ask it, I’ll punch line it.” Sid wrote something on my old tablet box.
Ruhtra read it to understand it before he began to give the delivery. “What do you call a man who chooses time pieces for customers at Tescos?”
“A clock picker?” Then Sid began to laugh really loud because he thought his own joke was so funny.
Ruhtra looked down at the piece of old card, “What do I do with this now he asked?”
[I took it back, they shouldn’t have had it anyway.]
So now we go back to Arthur and Plattington who were having no luck at trying to pick the lock on the old wooden door. As Ruhtra came up to them he asked, “Do you want me to slime in through the keyhole and have a look around?”
“I thought you said they might have anti-shapechanging technology at the beginning of this story?”
“Well they might do, but at least I can get you through this door.”
Arthur pursed his lips and shook his head slightly, “Go on then.”
So Ruhtra slimed under the door. They heard sounds from beyond then Ruhtra opened the door, “You wouldn’t have got in anyway,” he explained to them, “there was a bar on the other side, it wasn’t even locked with the key.”
Tutting Arthur looked forward into the dark then spoke to me, “We’re not going to leave the cliffhanger on going through another door opening are we?” asked Arthur as I left the cliffhanger on going through another door opening.
“This is where I’ll leave you,” said Gloin, “I’m not equipped for a steampunk battle.”
“What do you know that I don’t know?” asked Arthur.
“Well thanks for your help Gloin. Maybe I’ll see you back at the fantasy dimension sometime.”
The dwarf policeman waved as he started back up the steps.
As Ruhtra looked into the passageway beyond he noted, “There’s an electric barrier, so they were prepared for a shape changer.”
“They might have just been prepared for thieves,” commented Sid.
“Or that.” He sat down on a nearby chair.
“What are you doing?” exclaimed Arthur.
“I’m useless until you get rid of the electric shield, so I’ll wait here.”
“Lazy slob,” insulted Sid.
“Or lazy blob,” said Robo Sid, “especially when he’s in his fruit bowl.”
Sid kind of opened his mouth but nothing came out.
“Never mind trying to outdo Robo Sid with the quips,” urged the colonel, “we need the electric shield down. It’ll kill us as well as Ruhtra.”
“As long as the switch was no further away than the length of my arm then I could switch it off without it harming me,” offered Robo Arthur.
“Can either of you two see where the switch is through the electric shield?” Arthur asked the Robos.
“Another couple of letters and you could have asked the rooibos,” tweeted Sid.
“Get it together Sid,” ordered Arthur, “stop talking about South African tea and do something useful.”
“Get the others to throw a defensive perimeter around us.”
“There’s one exit, the door. We need one man guarding that.”
“Look I don’t know, just make yourself useful.”
So Sid ordered Chatteris to guard the door while Robo Sid and Arthur looked for the switch in the room beyond.
“It’s there,” spotted Robo Arthur of the electric switch.
“Are you sure it’s not just the light switch?” asked Robo Sid.
“Either way we cannot reach it with our short arms.”
“They’re not that short,” grumped Robo Sid as he waved his not too short arms around, and hit Gunby on the Foreign Service Helmet.
Gunby looked angry, “If you need that arm ripping off, just let me know!”
Robo Sid stood up to his full height, as Gunby did.
“Have you found it yet?” asked Arthur of Robo Sid, to stop the posturing.
Robo Sid backed down from his encounter with the half giant, “Yes,” he told the colonel, “but it’s too far away for our arms.”
“How are we going to switch it off.” fretted Arthur while pulling his beard a little.
“We could break the 4th wall?” suggested Sid.
“We could go around the cameramen, bypass the special effects creating the electric shield and switch it off.”
Arthur looked really perturbed, “What?” he babbled again. “No, no, no, let’s try for a more sensible suggestion first.”
“But funny?” queried Sid.
“Well of course funny, you fool.”
“So you know you’re a fool?”
“I thought you did too?”
“Just say the funny suggestion that will work without breaking the 4th wall too much.”
“Can I break it a little?”
“Lift up the skirting board and make the mouse hole big enough to get through.”
“Doesn’t the mouse hole also have the shield going through it?”
“No it’s shielded if you look,” said Sid while he held up the skirting board a little, “the mice can get straight through.”
“Well then,” interrupted Ruhtra as he stepped towards them and made himself into a mouse, “let me oblige.” (Though the last bit was a squeak because he was so small.)
As Ruhtra went through the mouse hole Sid jibed at him, “Make sure Mr and Mrs mouse don’t get you,” he smirked.
As soon as he had got to the other side he turned himself back into the copy of Arthur and strode towards the electric switch to switch it off. He then turned to the others and smiled, “If I had known it was going to be that easy I wouldn’t have needed you lot at all.”
After the initial kerfuffle of Arthur staring out Ruhtra a bit they all noticed, in the centre of the room, on a podium, the code book.
“Don’t say this is going to be like the Indiana Jones type thing?” moaned Sid.
Arthur looked at him, “You mean the snakes on a plane?”
“Noooo, the filling a bag with sand and replacing the golden idol with it.”
Looking around Arthur commented, “I don’t see any holes in the walls where the poison darts could shoot out?”
Ruhtra just grabbed the code book.
Arthur screamed a, “No,” but nothing occurred to the shapechanger.
As he looked at it Ruhtra commented, “It’s all gobbledegook to me.”
“The goblin from the old White Dwarf magazines?” asked Robo Sid.
But nobody else cared to try to outpun him.
“Outrun?” said my spell checker before I changed it back to outpun.
“Give it here,” demanded Arthur of Ruhtra. When the shapechanger had complied the colonel flicked through it, it was empty. He looked up, “There’s nothing in it, it’s empty!”
Sid knocked Ruhtra on the shoulder, “Go on, give it to him.”
Sneering at Sid the Zathanian complied.
Arthur was now holding two code books, “What’s this then?”
“A joke?” weaselled Ruhtra, as one of the code books gradually started to slurp back into his body.
The shaking of Arthur’s head showed his contempt, but as he looked at this code book at least he saw there was something written in it.
“Who reads Hoo?”
“I read a bit,” said Gunby, “my Ma, well, the real Gunby’s mother taught him/me and I sort of have a little of it still ingrained in me.”
“Can you read it?”
“Let’s see,” he scanned the first page, “it’s a recipe for bread.”
“What!” went ballistic Arthur, “we’ve been on this hair-brained mission, nearly got killed by tea pirates and Andacians all for a bread recipe?”
“Well it is in code,” explained Tresham, who was defending his friend, “So maybe you have to skip some of the letters or words, based on a number or group of numbers.”
“A skip code?”
“I know a skip code,” smiled Sid. “I saw a man eat biscuits,
He ate them off the floor,
He covered them in Kerosene,
And sucked them off the floor,
His name was Ooh Aaah Flibbity,
Gibbet Gingivitis Tom,
Scumble Doody Flooby Doo,
And his middle name was John.”
“That’s not a skip code,” derided Arthur, “it’s a skipping rhyme.”
“But wouldn’t it be funny,” he thought, “if that was the cryptographic key?”
Arthur gave the book to Gunby, “Try it.”
Gunby was nonplussed because he didn’t understand what his commanding officer was talking about.
Seeing the half giant’s confusion Arthur tried to explain, “What you need to do is say the rhyme, in Hoo, and see if the metre or words match up with the words of the recipe.”
“I don’t understand what you mean, and I don’t know the rhyme off by heart. Do you expect me to be a code breaker within a couple of minutes or something?”
Sid interrupted, “He could compliment the Author, like the real Sid and Arthur do, to be able to break it?”
This was not to Arthur’s taste so he decided, “No, we’ll try to break it ourselves, and nobody tries to sneakily compliment the Author, that’s an order!” He looked at Gunby, “Read us the recipe.”
Beginning to read the half giant began, “A flub and a flue of flour…”
“Arthur interrupted, “A flub and a flue?”
“About a cup and ¾. Then it goes on to say a tang of water… which is around 7-8 oz of water.”
“Good,” he then spoke to Plattington, “You write this down.”
“In flubs and flues or in cups and ounces?” asked the corporal/bombardier.
Sid mimicked him quietly, “In clubs and queues, where the big man bounces.”
“Both!” wanted Arthur.
“Well Gunby’ll have to go a bit slower then,” asked Plattington.
The colonel nodded at Gunby to slow down.
“And read it again so’s I can get it down.”
Gunby looked at Plattington, then the code book. “A… flub… and… flue… of… flour…” He glanced down at Plattington to see him writing it down in his notepad.
[How can we get through this without being too boring but also funny?]
Sid heard my thought and spoke to me, “I could do a funny routine and by the time it’s finished they could be finished.”
“But it should really be linked to the bread recipe etc.”
“I can do a few code puns.”
“Or you could have a daydream sequence, that’s also a bit surreal.”
“What kind of dream sequence?”
“On a river?”
“So, do I have a wife, like the real Sid?”
“What difference does that make to the dream?”
“Well, I could be boating with my wife on the river.”
“No, you don’t have a wife.”
“I could meet my wife, on the river bank.”
“Do you have anyone in mind?”
“Well no, not really, I’ve only been around for 6 months, and I think I’ve only seen one woman in that time?”
“Who was that?”
“The blue receptionist in the Tulox cloning factory?”
“You mean she was sad?”
“No, you know, she had blue skin.”
“So would you like a blue skinned wife then?”
“Would that mean we had light blue babies then?”
“Light blue hairy babies probably.”
“That would be a nightmare.”
“Well a nightmare is still a type of dream.”
“So am I really going to get a blue wife then?”
“No, just day dream it for now, and we’ll sort you out a wife after the adventure.”
“The real one doesn’t have to be blue does she?”
“Of course not.”
“Good, if it’s possible I’d like a green one, like the Orion animal women on Star Trek the Original series.”
“I thought you said you’d only seen one woman?”
“One real one.”
“Oh, well go on then, get daydreaming.”
So Sid fell into a deep daydream, if there is such a thing, where he was snoozing in the arms of a green dwarf woman…
“She doesn’t have a beard does she?” he inquired, part way through the daydream.
“Erm, I’ll say no. We’ll pretend that green dwarf women don’t have beards, a bit like American Indian men.”
“Good,” daydream snoozed Sid, “I don’t like women who shave, even though I’ve only met one before.”
Anyway, back to the description, they canoodled in a canoe like two Canucks playing Cadoo.
“What is your name my love?” he asked his daydreamed date.
“Arthur,” she said.
Which shocked him out of his daydream. He had actually fallen asleep and was grabbing Arthur around the waist and really asked the colonel, “What is your name my love?” he quickly separated himself from Arthur.
“Daydreaming Colour Sergeant?” asked his commanding officer.
“Yes Sir, about my new green wife.”
“Green you say? What, green like Green Eggs and Ham or green like the Jolly Green Giant.”
“No, like She Hulk.”
“Oh, I see. Because of your slobbishness you can make the tea, help us all think you see.”
To recap. So, Sid is no longer daydreaming, but making the tea. Gunby should be going through the code book with Plattington. Chatteris is guarding the door. Tresham is guarding the other door (the new one that is now available because the electric shield is down.) Arthur starts looking at the other things in the room. Robo Sid, Robo Arthur and Ruhtra are having a game of paper, scissors, rock, lizard, Spock to see who will wind Arthur up next.
“This looks like a Modigliani,” mused Arthur as he looked at a painting that was also stored in the same room as the code book.
Ruhtra won the game and so he took the form of a statue, the Venus de Milo.
“Do you believe that,” asked the colonel as he saw the statue, “they have a copy of the Venus de Milo.” He looked away for a second to see if anyone was listening to him. Ruhtra made a funny face at him, Robo Sid and Robo Arthur saw this and began to do their robotic giggles. Arthur looked back at the statue, everything seemed normal.
Sid could see what was happening also and decided to join in. “Why would they have a copy of the Venus de Milo? Surely it’s the real one and the one on earth is the fake.”
So Arthur peered deeply into the statue’s eyes.
Ruhtra couldn’t keep the ruse up and spat a goggle of Zathanian fluids into Arthur’s wide open eye.
“Yaargh!” screamed Arthur and flew into a rage while everyone else guffawed with laughter.
From the doorway Chatteris laughed but from the corner of his eye he saw a shadow.
He looked up to the top of the steps to see two guards there looking down at the open door. Hiding in the doorway he looked at the others who were still laughing, he started waving at them to be quiet. It was impossible, so he started to hiss loudly. Robo Sid came over, “Are you a snake or something?”
“Someone’s coming,” he said anxiously.
As per the real Sid, Robo Sid was up for a fight, so he stepped out and met one of the guards as he was getting near the bottom of the steps.
“What are you?” asked the guard, quite confused at a metal man coming towards him.
“A metal man with Sid the dwarf’s AI in its brain.”
“Uh?” uhed the guard just before Robo Sid shocked him into unconsciousness with a stun attachment to one of his fingers that I just made up.
“I didn’t know I had that,” said Robo Sid as he looked at his finger, “I was going to bash him one.”
The other guard started to run for help. Holding up his arm Robo Sid looked as though he was going to shoot something from his other hand, but nothing happened. “I thought you were going to help me out with something there Author.”
Chatteris warned the others, who had just about finished laughing.
“What?” shouted Arthur, “quick let’s be off.”
“B..but,” butted Sid, “the kettle hasn’t boiled yet!”
“Never mind that now Colour Sergeant, we must get back to the airship in case we get captured.” He started through the door towards Robo Sid who was starting to ascend the steps.
The last up the steps was Robo Arthur who was guarding the rear. Chatteris was running as fast as he could across the courtyard to the airship. The others were too far behind. Just far enough so that they could be surrounded by a force that was far too big to have been assembled so soon.
“Oh no,” exclaimed Arthur, “it looks like we’re going to have a big battle scene for the next chapter!”
Sixty. That is the number of guards that surrounded Arthur and his main party in the courtyard of the Tower of Tarrelo. Ruhtra slurped away, into a drain. Initially there was a stand off as the captain of the guard called for them to, “Lay down your arms and surrender.”
Gunby looked at Arthur to see what they were going to do. He held on tightly to his hipped Hotchkiss cannon, finger on the trigger.
“Have you got an itchy trigger finger?” Tresham asked him.
“No, I’ve been using that cream,” he replied.
Robo Sid and Robo Arthur detached their arms and let them fall on the floor.
“Fools,” derided Sid when he saw what they were doing.
Seeing that it was probably useless Arthur ordered, “Right men, surrender.”
“Sorry, do you want us to surrender?” asked the captain of the guard.
This stunned Arthur, “Er, why yes!”
Then the king of Andacia turned up, “Now then, what is happening here?”
The captain bowed deferentially to the king, “Your highness, I did not know you were visiting the Tower.”
“Snap visit my man, just testing your security arrangements. These are my men pretending to be British soldiers.”
“But your highness, they have been in the strong room.”
“Yes I know, it wasn’t very strong, was it.”
The captain looked very confused, “Um…”
The king snapped at him again, “Well come on, we must be off, I have a country to invade.”
The captain moved aside, allowing Arthur and the others to pass. The king led them back towards the airship.
Robo Sid and Robo Arthur didn’t know what to do, they couldn’t pick up their arms because, well, they didn’t have any arms. They looked desperately at each other.
Two of the nearest guards picked up the arms.
“Here, plug it in here,” gestured Robo Sid with his head pointing towards his right shoulder socket.
A guard plugged an arm in.
“You’ve plugged the left arm in, give me another left arm.”
“Now hang on there,” moaned Robo Arthur, “that’ll be one of my left arms.”
“I know, we’ll sort it out later, on the ship. Unless I have at least one right arm…”
“They’re both left arms.”
“I need one correctly plugged in arm, the right/left one doesn’t connect properly, so it’s useless, a bit like you most of the time.”
Robo Arthur bounced up and down a little in frustration, “Just plug me a right arm into my right arm socket,” he told the guard who was trying to help him, “then I can hit him with something.”
The other guard complied, put a right arm on Robo Arthur and handed him the other one. Robo Arthur then proceeded to chase Robo Sid, passing Arthur and even the king, brandishing the other right arm.
Now things would have gone quite well for them all except that I decided that the king (of course you knew it was Ruhtra didn’t you?) walked through a quite randomly placed electric field. As you also know, electric fields destabilise the shapechanging ability of shapechangers. Ruhtra tried to hold himself together, as somebody might do just before they think they can stop themselves from vomiting. He started to go a luminous green, his head got bigger, he clenched his lips together, then flubbled into a green gelatinous ooze on the floor.
“The king is dead,” cried the captain of the guard when he saw what happened.
“What do we do now?” thought Arthur.
“What do we _]do now?” chimed the captain of the guard (almost, with the slight inflection on the [_we.)
(I suppose Arthur and the others could get on the Talent and escape, that would be quick. Except that I haven’t done enough words or the thing that I was planning to. How to get them there though?)
One of the guards, who was a bit detectiveish, put his finger in the goo that both was and is Ruhtra, “This is not the king!”
(No that won’t work, that starts a big battle with 60 guards that they just shouldn’t be able to win.)
They need to get rid of the guards, then get found out, then encounter the [I know what and you will soon when I start writing about it] but how? Do I have my Christmas mince pie and cuppa while I think about it?
Still no ideas.) So…Ruhtra managed to slime out of the electric field and coagulated himself into a green ball. It took him a few moments but he managed to form himself into a rabbit and scampered off beneath the tree where the Talent was parked.
Plattington saw the rabbit, and because we’re supposed to be fleshing out his back story, he had a little rabbit when he was a kid and…
Now Sid didn’t want the readers to have to suffer from inane babble about bunnies and butterflies so, because he was quite close to a pile of hay bales, he nodded to the others. Arthur milled around a bit, waiting for inspiration.
Nonchalantly Gunby picked up a couple of bales and positioned them to the left. The others moved the other bales until they had made the redoubt (well, not really, but they used the term in Zulu and so I wanted to.)
“What’s this?” asked the captain of the guard, who was milling around with Arthur until the bale defences were complete.
“What?” whatted Arthur as both sides rallied to each other. In the middle of them both he looked every which way but where he was supposed to.
“Get over to the redoubt,” called Sid.
“La Redoute?” queried the colonel.
“I did not mean get over to the French fashion shop that does not exist yet, I meant GET OVER HERE!” screamed Sid as he brandished his plasma rifle and gestured to the colonel.
“Brandishing and gesturing eh?” commented Robo Sid, “next you’ll be basting and garnishing with all the celebrity chefs on TV, in the future of course.”
Sergeant Sid decided to let his robo counterpart get away with that one, seeing as it wasn’t very good, then readied himself to catch Arthur who was diving over the hay bales as a hail of bullets heralded battle.
“That gave me the heebie jeebies,” shivered Arthur.
“What, the diving over the hay bales?” asked Plattington as he shot two enemy guards with one round.
“No,” replied the colonel, “all those Hs and Bs in the Author’s description.”
The battle was underway. An order was given by the captain of the guard to fix bayonets. His second in charge said, “But they’re not broken, and we don’t have any tools anyway.”
“Are you second in charge?”
“Of course Sir, why?”
“Well I want you to charge second in charge. CHARGE!” he ordered the men, of whom only some had fixed bayonets.
His men bounded after him, well ten of them anyway, the ones who could hear among all the din that was being made. The captain made it to the hay bales but was driven off, in a sports car I think. This made the other attackers think twice, once when they looked at each other for moral support and the other when one of them saw the captain riding around in a completely unrealistic sports car.
The Hotchkiss cannon blazed into action under Gunby’s direction killing a few but making the others run to cover.
Seeing that they were outgunned, and after he had got out of the sports car, the captain ordered that the men retreat to the walls.
When Arthur and his men saw that they were scampering away they began to cheer.
“That was easy,” Tresham nodded to the corporal/bombardier.
But that would have been too easy.
Making his way up to the control centre the captain then spoke through a Tannoy type system (obviously Tannoy wasn’t around yet so what am I going to say? Well, maybe I could have used public address system. The trouble is though that if I had used the initials P.A. you might have thought he was talking into a personal assistant!)
“Can I get on with the announcement now Author?” he queried me.
I let him.
“All G.T.G. personnel get into position.”
His second in charge spoke back to him through the same system, “Donkins is dead, Tupple is badly wounded.”
“Get others to take their positions.”
“But the others are not as well trained as Donkins and Tupple?”
“We’ll have to make do.”
“But we might have a limp and a loose left hand?”
“I don’t care if we walk like an Egyptian as long as we kill the interlopers.”
From the hay bales Arthur and the others had just about calmed down. “Righto, back to the airship,” he ordered. But first, ominously, they heard a giant creaking from the top of the Tower.
“Wassat?” lingoed Sid.
It was the top of the Tower. It began to writhe and shudder and creak and cronk. It also began to move, upwards, on giant metal legs. It was a huge steam driven Transformbot (so as not to get done by the trademark police.) When it had stood to its full height of 60 feet it swayed slightly then jumped off the top. It landed and shook the whole courtyard, some of Arthur’s men even fell over because of the shock wave.
“How are we going to defeat that?” wondered Sid, “[_Especially _]without the Author’s help.”
Gunby turned his Hotchkiss cannon onto the thing’s legs and blasted away, but the Transformbot’s armour plating was too thick.
The captain of the guard ordered his left arm to, “Swipe at them.”
The reply was, “Did you say wipe them Captain, because I can’t see a cloth big enough to do that anywhere near the left arm,”
“Swipe man, swipe!” gurgled the captain at he made the Transformbot shake its head from side to side.
“The armour is too thick, even for the Hotchkiss cannon,” warned the half giant.
“Has it got a bundle of wires at the back of its neck, like a metal man?” asked the colonel.
“I can’t see, it has its back towards us,” replied Robo Sid.
“Make it turn around then, so we can see.”
“And how are we supposed to do that?”
“Make it chase you.”
“You’re expendable, or at least re-buildable, we aren’t.”
As best he could Robo Sid tried to pull a disgruntled face, but with what he had to work with it looked more like a serious face. He turned towards the walking tower and yelled at the head, “Your mother was a latrine,” then he started to run through its legs.
The giant tower wobbled a little from side to side and could not stop Robo Sid from escaping that way. “Did that metal man just say my mother was a latrine?” he asked somebody but somebody wasn’t there to listen to him. He gave commands to the rest of the body, “Legs turn around, give chase to that metal man.”
Now, as already has been mentioned, the fellow controlling the left leg wasn’t as experienced as the man he had to replace. He had to spin the foot around to go left, but he went right instead. The guard controlling the right leg then moved his leg and foot correctly, straight into the left foot.
“Oh no,” realised the captain, but too late, “I’m just like a rabbit with myxomatosis.”
Now I wondered how I could fit that into the way Ruhtra turned into a rabbit earlier but I couldn’t warren it.
The giant walking tower began to fall backwards towards Arthur and those with him.
“We’re going to be squashed!” whined Sid as he and the others tried to high tail it over the hay bales. He also shouted to Arthur as he ran beneath an arch, “There were no bundles at the back of its neck. Are you happy now?”
“No, not really, but I’ll have to have a heart to heart with you when we finish this adventure.”
Crashing down on top of the hay bales served to break the G.T.Gs fall. The crew were protected from harm by their surroundings. “Get to standing position,” the tower commander ordered the arms and legs.
Now if I wanted a laugh, I could make the GTG get up by doing a bit of a breakdance, I could also talk about my attempts at trying to spin on my back in the early 80s… But I won’t, instead the GTG (I’ve forgotten what GTG means? Something Tower Giant, I’ll have to try to remember the first word later) sat up, put one hand on the floor, bent its knees then started to force itself onto its feet.
“We need to try to keep it on the floor,” suggested Gunby to Robo Sid and Robo Arthur who were the only three who could possibly take it on physically, “while it’s still crouching,”
The Robos both ran to the arm that was doing the pushing and together they tried to pull it back. Gunby also joined in and for a short while they managed, between them, to prevent it from pushing itself onto its feet.
Ruhtra sat on a barrel and began to polish his nails on the collar of his jacket and look at them.
“Look at him,” said Sid to Arthur, “sitting on a barrel, I wish he was sitting on the barrel of a gun!”
To no avail, (or to know a veil?) the Robos and Gunby couldn’t hold back the incredible strength of the Guard Tower Giant (remembered!) It stood to its full height and swiped, with its right hand, the three of them away. The Robos and Gunby went smashing through a well-built fence.
“Is it my turn yet?” asked Ruhtra as he looked at Arthur.
“You mean you can help?” he thought for a second, “Of course you can, you can turn yourself into another Tower Giant and beat it up!” said Arthur rubbing hands together in glee at his idea.
“I don’t have enough Zathanian fluids in me to do that, I could get to the size but I’d be like a blimp, full of air, ready to be punctured.”
“Well what are you going to do then?”
“I think I’ll go for a fly,” he then turned into a small bird and hopped off of the barrel into flight.
Up, up the little bird flew and landed on the shoulder of the Tower giant. He/it then proceeded to preen him/itself. The Tower giant turned to where Arthur and the others were hiding. The right hand took a firing position and began to click. Sid got very nervous, “I think it’s going to shoot us!”
Arthur looked up at Ruhtra, “What’s he doing, he’s preening himself!”
“You don’t think he’s waiting ‘til the last second do you?”
“You know, I think he is.”
“What happens if he fails?”
“Let’s run then,” he turned his head slightly and ordered the rest, “RUN!”
“Tur tut,” tutted the little bird, “don’t they trust me?” Ruhtra flew into the ear hole of the giant and turned into a slithering snake. He plopped onto the floor and heard the captain saying, “On my mark fire…”
“Cancel that order,” said the shapechanger in the voice of the captain as he also formed into the guard’s leader.
“I say,” said the captain, “who are you?”
“You,” replied Ruhtra as he made his fist very large and bopped the captain on the chin, knocking him out.
“Captain, Captain,” the right hand controller called through the comms system.
“Power down Right Hand Controller. I’ve received new orders. We need to help them instead. Are you fat by the way?”
“I could call you the fat controller.”
“Never mind, just put your hand out near the tree so they can climb up into their airship.”
The Right Hand Controller paused for a bit, then replied with, “Yes Sir.”
I do not want to use the word so, (and now?) And now we have come to the end, almost. Arthur and the others escaped with the Hoo codebook without being squashed or dismembered. They did however meet Richard III again and his tea pirates but they soon saw them off.
When they got back to base each of them went to see the doctor (I’ve only just realised I need a doctor character to re-enact TEABAG battles with the In Her Majesty’s Name miniatures system.) His name? Well I want it Victorian, so, Doctor Googly. I did consider Dr Google but I couldn’t find out on Google if it was a surname, it also gives me chance to make a few cricket jokes if I need to.
“Enter,” commanded Dr Googly from his surgery desk.
It was Plattington, after all we were supposed to be developing his backstory. He nodded as he entered.
“Sit down please Bombardier.”
Plattington sat down quite gingerly.
“What’s wrong Plattington, where were you injured?”
“In the battle with the Tower giant.”
“And where is that euphemism on your body?”
The corporal winked at the doctor to show him his bruised eye.
Peering through his spectacles Googly commented, “Is that all man.” He threw a tube of cream over the desk, “Here, this’ll help bring the bruising out. How did you do it?”
“It was on the tea break Sir, while I was drinking tea.”
“Try taking the spoon out of the cup in future. Next.”