The End of the Affair

Dark Flo SThrowing the van door open, Dark Flo sprang onto the street, dressed in full oyster-grey Ninja kit and armed with an 18inch feather duster crowned with pheasant plumage. She took off after a small cluster of Les Chats Souterrains that looked as if it might rally.

“And what exactly does she intend to do with that?” queried Slasher McGoogs.

“Don’t ask. The last man to face the feather duster of Dark Flo spent the next eight weeks in a full body cast and still has to suck his sustenance through a straw,” muttered Boz.

Above the retreating Chats the menacing, angular dazzle camouflaged, Merovingian Flying Frisbee had doubled back and was moving slowly and systematically towards the partisans, waiting for them to come within range of its death-ray. Then it met the full, reverberating force of the ‘Wall of Din’©. It tottered, dropped suddenly, partially recovered in time to avoid hitting the ground and withdrew, spinning erratically. It also started to glow – an unhealthy, bilious glow – as its magneto-shield overheated and the stricken craft wobbled away towards the doom-haunted cleft of Winnat’s Pass. A writhing bundle of Kittens of Chaos fell out of the Vicecream van, the trumpeters and a lone soprano saxophonist now playing an unbridled Marseillaise whilst the remainder threw their sombreros into the air, jeering, mooning and making rude paw gestures after the retreating UFO.

As Cross Street began to calm, and the action moved into the distance, Snowdrop returned; the horses were lathered up and panting, the machine gun overheated and out of ammunition, Ginsbergbear and Phoebles babbling in adrenaline fuelled over-excitement. Aunty Stella, in matching honey-beige pith helmet, snake boots and safari suit, climbed down from the cab of the Vicecream van. She pushed her Halcyon Mk49 goggles up above the rim of her topee and met the charging rush of squealing cats and dodo. There were relieved hugs and enthusiastic welcomes all round, then she explained to the group that Googleberry had gone missing again. Before she had become really worried however she had received a text message from him saying that he was visiting relatives at Chatsworth Hall and to come up, urgently, with the Vicecream van, the Kittens, Consuella and Dark Flo, all would be required and much would be revealed.

“Who’s running the shop?” enquired a fiscally worried Boz.

“Doo not deesturb yoorselv Meester Bozzz,” chipped in Consuella Starcluster, “Sam assurrres us hee ees ayble to hold thee forrrt forrr ay day orrr two.”

“…We were met, en route, by the Zapatistas,” continued Aunty Stella, “and so here we all are.”

“That’ll be ginger beer and lemon meringue all round then. Job well done,” exclaimed Phoebles, fresh from the fray. “Is there a litter tray out the back? I may have got a bit over excited.”

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Star Stone Trilogy Book One: Yii Chapter Eight (cont.)

‘Sarah,’ said Aunt Caroline, ‘you know the Rector and I will be going away.  I’ve heard back from your mother, and she would like you to go out to India.  We shall arrange a companion and tutor to travel with you and look after you out there.’

Sarah was surprised, taken aback.

‘Will they remember me?’ she asked. ‘It’s so long since they’ve seen me.’

‘Of course they will.  You’ll have a wonderful time, and it will be a great experience travelling out to India.’

Sarah had very mixed feelings.  On the one hand she hardly knew her parents, and she was having such a marvellous time at Sherborne College.  On the other hand, she did miss having parents like other young people, and felt that perhaps she ought to get to know them again.

However, it was back to studying with the Rector most days which she enjoyed tremendously; and that went from strength to strength.  Uncle Alexander was very pleased with her work over the vacation, and she was able to forge ahead with Greek writers, with starting Hebrew, and soon making a start on theology.  This proved more interesting than she expected, especially when she was able to converse with the College Visitor, the Bishop of Sherborne.

As the college had been founded by a Bishop of Sherborne, Walter de Montival, early in the fourteenth century, the current Bishop was expected to visit from time to time and preach in the chapel.  After chapel and before dinner, he met Sarah at the Rector’s Lodging.  When he discovered she was studying with the Rector, he was immediately interested.

‘Latin, Greek, Hebrew and theology!’ He was surprised. ‘So what have you learnt in theology that has interested you?’ he asked.

‘Well,’ said Sarah, ‘it is all interesting. But Uncle Alexander – I mean the Rector – preaches more about God’s love, and about life and joy.  So his theology is based more on the Greek writers, and especially Irenaeus. They talk more of the goodness of creation, so we start from a different point, our good creation in the image of God.  Of course, there are no Greek manuscripts of Irenaeus so we have to read him in Latin.’

‘You read Irenaeus in the Latin!’ said the Bishop. ‘That is advanced.’

‘I had a head start,’ said Sarah, ‘and the Rector is such a good teacher and I do enjoy learning.’

‘Well, it’s good to find someone so enthusiastic,’ said the Bishop. ‘We must talk more of this, perhaps after breakfast tomorrow.’

At that point it was time for him to go to dinner with the Rector, and Sarah was able to sit down to a quiet supper with Aunt Caroline.

Rose Cottage Tea Rooms

SPZ Charge SAs the fearful five skidded out onto the High Street a cloud of paragliders rose above Mam Tor and swept towards the fleeing heroes.

“It is Le Régiment Étranger de Chats Parachutists, known colloquially as The Flying Eyebrows; a nick-name deriving from the appearance of the curved, hollow fabric wing of each chute above the eye-like dot of le chat de combat,” explained Boz, hurriedly. “They side with the Dark Forces, so we might have a bit of a problem.”Flying Eyebrows Mono

With our heroes weaving once more between the gathered goths, the paras swooped down onto the town, landing on their feet running, jettisoning their parachutes and firing their PPSh-41s from the hip. The carnival crowd scattered with a depressed mumble, a few shrieks or screams, the odd groan and thud, to take shelter, for the most part, in the cellars of local hostelries. The crunch of the shock troops’ hobnail boots, rattle of their blazing submachine guns and zip zipping of randomly scattering 7.62mm Tokarev rounds was withering the resolve of cats and dodo and terrifying the normally resolute bear.

“Don’t let me die dressed like this!” cried Slasher, momentarily shedding his customary cool.

“Amen to that.” sympathised Ferdinand.

With lead and splinters ricocheting all around them the fleeing gang dove into the Rose Cottage Tea Rooms.

“I hear they do an excellent lemon meringue pie,” cried Phoebles excitedly.

They were just putting in an order with a nippy waitress in very short black dress, black stockings, lacy white apron and starched doily perched and pinned to the top of her head when the teashop windows were stoved-in by a thunderous barrage of sound.   An intense pressure wave was shattering plate glass along the length of Cross Street.   Outside, the massed Dark Agents of the Merovingian Lizard Kings stopped their advance, clutching at their ears, then fell back and soon were in full retreat.

Down the road from the neighbouring village of Hope, at full throttle, hurtled the legendary Vicecream van, black and menacing.   Its jingle system had been upgraded and a bank of Marshall 350-watt vacuum tube amplifiers was feeding The Kittens of Chaos Mariachi Band’s insanely abandoned live rendition of La Cucaracha into an array of horn woofers and tweeters flanked by twin Megadeath Bass Boomer Geo-Frackers. Consuella was riding the roof, unplugged on tambourine and Dark Flo squatted behind the driver, wringing every last decibel out of the sound desk. The vehicle squealed to a halt half way down the shop lined, unglassed high street and the Snake Pass Zapatistas charged past, guiding their mounts with their knees, firing off short bursts from their AK47s or accompanying the Kittens of Chaos’ in La Cucaracha on their guitars and singing till their lungs ached. Riders and chargers alike had their ears plugged with cotton wool, twists of Bronco toilet paper, or solidified and manipulated dairy products.

“Hurrah!”

Boz was choked with disbelieving emotion as he stared through the café’s wrecked window frame. The gang rushed back outside and Snowdrop’s Techanka drew up alongside Phoebles.

“Jump up!” she signed, over the earth-pounding music.   And he swung aboard to man the Maschinengewehr 08, heavy machine gun, its 250-round fabric belt of 7.9mm ammunition snaking wildly. He, in turn, collared a passing teddy, yanked him into the landau and yelled, “Feed me, Ginsberbear!”

Tac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac-atac!

Flight

Suddenly the vast space was echoing to Klaxon alarms, the walls flashing in reflected crimson light.

“Up There!” someone had shouted above the general ruckus and, with the first bullets ripping and pinging about them, the boys abandoned their rucksacks and scurried after Ginsbergbear as he disappeared back down the ventilation duct. They were scuttling awkwardly in the confined space, but the bumping and scraping behind them told of their pursuit by Chats Souterrains far more comfortable in the claustrophobic darkness. After an eternity of blind shoving, shouting, scrabbling they fell, sweating and wheezing, into the main tunnel and continued their mad dash without any attempt at concealment. As they ran there were distant shouts and explosions behind them. Then they became aware of a throbbing whine rapidly growing in volume.

“Take cover!” shouted Boz, and they pressed against the dark walls as a flying saucer, the very craft they had seen on its railway truck, whooshed past. It veered towards the tunnel wall and directed a static discharge ionising the air ahead, the electromagnetic crackling mingling with a booming sound beam howl, like an amateur brass band attempting a Charles Ives composition. The wall dissolved into tatters akin to a moth eaten lace curtain and the gaping maw of the Devil’s Arse appeared ahead. Boz and Slasher broke cover, the others following close on their heels, and rushed through the shimmering gap before the rock wall could reform and the overlapping universes part company once more. The saucer, silhouetted against the sky, zoomed out and up, scattering jackdaws, its mission unknown and its crew’s attention far from the fleeing group that followed in its wake. Slasher broke his step momentarily to fire his Mauser, once, into the blackness behind them. The shot echoed around the cavern like a fusillade; the others flinched, but the relentless pounding of their commando-booted pursuers did not falter. They fled past the ropewalk and workers hovels out into the winding back alleys of Castleton – ducking, weaving, bouncing off walls in their wild flight.

 

 Flight of the Sore Afraid

Out of the Devil’s Arse we blundered

Into the street where Emos chundered

Scattering Goths

And Punks who wondered

“What the f…”

We did not make reply

Theirs was not to wonder why

Theirs was but to duck or die

Les Chats’ Sten guns thundered

Bullets to the left of us

Bullets to the right of us

Bullets from behind us

Buzzed and whined

Blasted with shot and shell

Swiftly we ran… ah well

Out of that mouth of Hell

Nought could our terror quell

I wish we could catch a bus

We must be mad as bats

Taking on the pallid Chats

Rounds ripping through our hats

Gasping teddy wheezing cats

Tottering Dodo

Legs all spent

Relentlessly pursued by Paras

Tough old vets of Mons and Arras

Battle hardened bold as brass

Armed to the teeth they’ll kick our ass

Our future looks like diddly squats

A miracle’s our only chance

A cavalry with sword and lance

On mighty steeds that rear and prance

Slasher chucks t’ward me a glance

“Is that Plan B?”

“There’s no Plan B”

Grovelling upon all fours

Hammering on shuttered doors

Mourning for our last lost cause

Doomed Amigos of El Boz

Is this really our last dance?

 By-line: Ginsbergbear,

Ms Goldilocks’ Convalescent Home for Bears,

Clamp House,

Chelmondiston.

Star Stone Trilogy, Book One: Yii Chapter Eight (cont.)

. Sarah, with help from Desmond, got the boat into the water, and the crew into the boat. Her heart in her mouth, she took the cox’s seat – quite different from the space and stability of the pair at Kingham. They pushed off, and she tentatively gave the orders, trying to growl her voice low: ‘Come forward. Are you ready? Paddle!’
Suddenly the rear of the cox’s seat hit her back with considerable force, and the boat took off with frightening speed. Before she knew where she was they seemed to have arrived at the head of the river.
‘Easy all,’ muttered Desmond. So she called out: ‘Easy all!’ And to her relief they did, and the boat slowed down, gliding with the blades off the water, and she remembered from Kingham to call: ‘Drop!’ and the crew dropped their blades onto the water.
With Desmond’s help she got the boat turned and they set off downstream. Now she began to get the feel of the boat and, thrilled with the speed of the boat and the power of the eight oarsmen, she learnt to anticipate moves, for things happened amazingly quickly. Soon, she mastered the steering with confidence, getting a real sense of what was happening; she seemed to have an instinctive flair for the way the boat ran and how to steer it. She was then able to turn the boat at the bottom of the river, and get to the top of the stretch in one go. She was really enjoying the experience.
The outing was considered by all to have been ‘not half bad’, which of course meant it was excellent. Desmond gave her tea in his rooms, and said that he wished she could be the proper cox of the eight. Sarah was tremendously thrilled, and Aunt Caroline wondered what had made her even more bubbly than usual.
There was one cloud on the horizon: Professor Stanford was going to be away on sabbatical leave at the end of the Trinity (summer) term, and Aunt Caroline would be going with him to Greece.

Foo Factory

Merovingian Foo FighterDown below, mass tangles of wiring hung between flickering screens and bays of valves, beam tetrodes glowing violet or lime-green. Rainbow lights pulsed along ionized gasses in glass tubes and flasks. Heavy-duty High Tension cables hung from ceramic insulators and harsh strip lighting dangled precariously from chains and improvised scaffolding. High on one wall a huge screen showed:

Project Deadline

[] [] / [] [] / [] [] [] []

Don’t let the Mayans down

“We can’t use the water pistols with all this electricity about – remove your magazines and pass them to Ferdy,” ordered Boz.

They could make out several assembly lines trundling inwards towards the centre of the cavern floor. One carried copper tanks like oversize water heaters.

“Vril accumulators,” pronounced Slasher sagely.

Another line was doing pipe cots, with robot arms sewing canvas covers and welding joints. Yet another bore printed circuit boards, technical bits and electronic pieces, between robots that soldered and snipped, towards half-finished, splayed-bell shaped craft, like bizarre giant hub caps, their shell plates being welded, riveted and spray-painted by beavering robots on the outside, whilst metal mechanics rushed in and out with the fittings as they arrived on the lines. One completed Reichsflugscheiben sat on a flatbed, narrow-gauge railway truck receiving the finishing touches to its paint job. A Chat Souterrain in a silver radiation suit and fish-bowl helmet was stencilling alien symbols around the hull.

µƒß ç¬ø∂^øñ +      

“Looks a bit like Sanskrit to me,” said Phoebles, to everyone else’s surprise.

The pals grouped and squatted in a circle to discuss a plan of action while an apparently uninterested Ginsbergbear opened a nearby junction box that had caught his attention, marked as it was with the inscription ‘DON’T!’ on the door in large, red letters. Once inside he snipped through some of the wiring, mostly blue wires, and a fat bunch of filaments that had all been taped together. He unscrewed a connector block and began swapping connections, yellow wires for green wires; brown wires for the pretty little striped ones. Finally he took two red wires and shorted them together with a crack and a spark. Down below some of the banks of valves flickered and went out. Some of the valves began to glow brighter and brighter. Then they all began to strobe neurotically. The robots lost control, mechanical arms waved and jerked, welding arms lanced and riveting arms sewed. The humming and crackling of barely harnessed alternating current soared orgasmically. White lab-coated overseer Chats looked uncertain, worried, panicked. Bolts of lightening began to arc over the insulators and a maniacally frenzied laser arm sliced a ruby pencil of lethal light through a dangling power cable. The severed conduit swung down till its exposed core shorted against one of the bays, sprayed sparks above the growing pandemonium.

“RUN!” cried Ginsbergbear as he rushed past his comrades, and a small explosion shook the stalactites.