Dark Flo

grytviken_web1“Kommänder, an aircraft has been spotted flying over the base.”

“Stand the anti-aircraft crews to, but don’t do anything to attract attention. It’s probably just the Yanks doing some stunt to get in the Guinness Book of Records again.”

At last, thought Bamse, this must be Larry’s response to my call for help.

The day after sending out his radio message, not being one to waste time waiting, he had climbed onto the plateau above and behind the whaling station and had marked out a landing area with a large yellow X in the snow. For good measure he had drawn a prominent yellow arrow pointing to the cross and written ‘Over here’ in joined up writing. Each day he had revisited the spot and refreshed the markings. And now help was at hand. The Norwegian sea dog made his way through the back alleys, out of the camp and up to the landing site.

Beryl flew the Loening in a wide circle round the New Swabian whaling station, satisfying herself that they had reached the correct destination. She could see the coleyfishtrawler Lord Ancaster in the harbour below. Then she commenced a straight run directly over the harbour, trailing Red-White-and-Blue smoke. Throwing the bi-plane into a series of loops and tight turns she sky-wrote Hi Folks across the heavens.

“Might as well be obvious. They’re bound to have seen us,” Beryl called down to Flo who, was kneeling over the Elsan.

The Loening turned south, heading towards the pole until Beryl was reasonably sure their audience would have lost interest. Then she climbed to ten thousand feet and turned back towards the coast. In the cabin Dark Flo had changed into her new Class A1 16TOG ninja outfit. It was dyed Mountbatten Pink – a Greyish-mauve all but invisible to simian optical sensors. Over it she pulled on an X-Bird 3 wingsuit of mottled blues. Her minimalist katana, devoid of decoration, and her Fukiya blow pipe were across her back, daisho and feather duster tucked in her waistband, and she carried a haversack filled with assorted Shuriken throwing stars, darts for the blowpipe, her war fan, and Happo eggs filled with Metsubushi blinding powder.

“Ready to go, Flo?”

“All set.   Keep her steady.”

Flo clambered out onto the wing, there was a loud crack as her wing suit stretched out in the slipstream, and without a word of farewell, she was gone. As the Loening continued northwards Flo swooped over the polar terrain, a tiny blue dart invisible from below. Her speed sucked the breath out of her and an icy wind pressed her goggles into her face. Looping above the barren land she took stock of her surroundings, spotted a line of despondent emperor penguins trudging inland and then noted a group of men – sailors, judging by their visorless caps – a few miles from the whaling station, proceeding in an open, skirmish formation. Back tracking, Flo identified Bamse’s fresh yellow X and dove towards the landing area, deploying her chute at the last possible moment and ploughing into the snow with a thud. She quickly wound in the parachute, unzipped her wing suit and buried the ensemble.   For good measure she kicked clean snow over the landing markers. When she looked up Bamse was strolling across the snowfield towards her. Being a dog, he could just make her out despite the camouflage pink. Canine rods and cones differ significantly from those of monkey descendants and are less likely to be confused by weird colours.

“Let’s get under cover and out of the cold. I’ve built a bit of an igloo back there amongst the drifts. It’s fairly cosy.” He had also brought a thermos of builders’ tea and some pickled cabbage sandwiches.

The igloo was compact, inconspicuous, beautifully crafted, a handy bolthole and sufficiently warm for Flo to feel the need to remove much of her ninja kit. While they drank their tea, Bamse launched into his report.

“We got the shore detail away before we were captured so I don’t think anyone knows they are here. The Lord Ancaster’s down in the harbour, but a bloody big sub took Harold and the crew off somewhere. This whaling station is just an outpost – from what I’ve gleaned in my time here the main operation’s elsewhere.   And they all think it’s something special”

“I believe I saw your Russians down the coast,” said Flo, “I wonder if the New Swabians have a submarine base over that way. We need to locate the rest of the crew and find out what’s going on. Whatever it is it sounds every bit as big as Larry reckons.

“Don’t suppose we could manage the trawler on our own so it looks like we’re on foot for now. Best save the sandwiches in case we need them later. Let’s go and explore.”

Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercia

This is not part of the story. And we appear to have started something of a trend – The People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove has its own flag and passport, and Manchester has applied to join an independent Scotland. Now read on:

The Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercia

On St George’s Day 2015, whilst the nation was temporarily without a government, Phoebles, the one and only Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercian, announced his intention to declare The Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercia independent of the United Kingdom in general and the Westminster Parliament in particular.

The Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercia occupies an approximately one half of a millihectare corner of The Snug in Ye Olde Dolphin Inne, Derby.

 aaa

The official flag of the Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercia.

History

aaaaIn July of 918 AD, some decades after the crushing of The Great Heathen Army (Mycel Heathen Here) and the liberation of Derby from the tyranny of the Dane Law by the housecarls of Lady Æthelflæda, the Snug of Ye Olde Dolphin Inne (At that time the Eallniew Delfin Inn) was granted autonomy by Ælfwynn who had succeeded Æthelflæda as Lady of the Mercians (Myrcna Hlæfdige) a month earlier, on the occasion of her mother’s demise. The exact events leading to this grant are not known and the relevant paperwork has subsequently been mislaid.

aaaaaIn 1745, following the rout of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Highland Army, which had been billeted in The Dolphin, at the Battle of Swarkstone Bridge, a little way south of Derby, a grateful king George II wrote a letter of thanks to the landlord in which it is certain that the monarch ratified the independent status of The Snug. If only the current whereabouts of this historic document were known.

In the mid to late 1960s there was a small number of drug fuelled attempts to establish a Free State within the confines of The Dolphin Inn. These invariably came to naught, primarily due to restrictions imposed by the draconian licensing laws of the time.

Then, on the 23rd of April 2015 The Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercia became a reality. The future is in our hands.

 Titular Head of State

aaaaaaBoz (dec.)

 

 

 

 Economy

The Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercia has a tab at the bar and is currently running a fiscal deficit.

Population

aaaaaaaPhoebles

 

 

 

Citizenship

Visiting immigrants are welcomed personally by the landlord of The Olde Dolphin Inne and Temporary Citizenship is freely granted to anyone willing to buy a round.

Future

The ultimate aim of The Autonomous Anarcho-Surrealist Utopia of Micromercia is to break out geographically from the confines of Ye Olde Dolphin Inne and form a loose federation with the historic Mercian capitals of Repton and Tamworth and environs there of. Together we will revive the traditional brewing industry in Burton, nationalise Rolls Royce and the railways and restore the Derby Navigation in order to establish a maritime link with the mighty trading ports on the banks of Humber and Mersey. It is our intention that the NHS will once more have proper matrons and nurse’s uniforms and that veterinary services will be encompassed within a fully funded welfare state.

Berwick-under-Siege

Two steam tugs assisted the ABC Destroyer of Worlds through the lock gates and into the river Humber. She lumbered out past Spurn Point to face the North Sea swell, rolling, pitching and yawing at an agonising snails pace towards the northern horizon.   Waves broke over the bows and washed past the cockpit windows. Windscreen wipers strained to keep the pilot’s view clear of spume, and failed. Many of the Kittens fell untypically silent, whilst others puked noisily into buckets, bowls or flower vases.

“Will this typhoon never end?” barfed Trixie de Montparnasse to the Tovarishch-Matros who was valiantly swabbing down the slippery and malodorous cabin.

“I fear little one, that we are experiencing unusually calm weather. If our good luck continues we shall reach our destination before the winter storms set in.”

“Aaaaugh!” she replied, clutching her zinc pail to her bosom like a slumbering lover.

For two weeks they wallowed up the east coast. Seagulls stood in a line along the roof ofIMG_0749 the fuselage watching puffins paddle past and a family of grey seals basked on the starboard winglet. Barnacles colonised the underside of the hull. Then, one fine, crisp dawn they found themselves in the Tweed estuary, beneath the towering ramparts of the Berwick upon Tweed city walls. They could discern no flag of surrender at the signal mast so with a call to arms, silent efficiency from the Kronstadt crew and excited pandemonium on the part of the Kittens of Chaos, the bombardment began.

Throughout the day the barrage was merciless; as night fell it became spectacular. Tracer streamed across the night sky from the 23mm water-cooled AZP-23 cannons. A gaunt pyrotechnical officer, with wire rimmed glasses and fewer fingers than normal, on loan from the Snake Pass Zapatistas, had joined before departure with boxes of Liuyang Thunder Dragon Fireworks Co Ltd Chinese fireworks, obtained at cut price in Hamleys’ summer sale. He skillfully mixed crossettes and mines, fish, Catherine wheels and Bengal Fire with the fruit and veg.

“Ooooooooooooh!”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

The Kittens of Chaos, emphatically banned from the powder room, were lined up on the Destroyer of Worlds’ winglets to witness the assault. But the pirate citadel did not fall.

On the second day a small inflatable with a Comrade-Starshina and two of the less irresponsible Kittens was dispatched to the shore to procure mercenaries. There was no let up in the assault on Berwick. To the joy of the Kittens of Chaos, Kronstadt sailors, stripped to the waist and drenched in sweat, toiled at the ropes.

“Two, six, heave! …Load! …Fire! …Two, six, heave!”

The shore detail was seen to return after several hours.

“There are no ninjas for hire. Not kamikaze ones. Not even in the pubs, after we’d bought them several pints, and us doing our wiggly dance. What are we going to do? That mob in Berwick is very resilient.”

“Hwell, they arrre corrrsairrrs and buccaneerrrs, dearrr.” Consuella had been giving the matter much of her attention, “We cannot affoord a long siege. We’ve burrrnt theirrr boats, but ourrr ammo ees getting low and prrretty soon they weell come up weeth a plan to counterrr attack.

“Petticoats off girrrls. We weell fashion them into parrrachutes. Hyou arrre all going eentoo action.”

Fluffybum pulled back the bolt on her StG 44 assault rifle, “Lock and load!”

“No dearrr.   Hyou weell be exerrrcising yoor uniquely individual skeells to underrrmine barrrbarrrians unused to such subtlety, frrreebooterrrs amongst whom turrrning down the sound on MOTD and shouting Brace yerself! ees rrreegarded as forrreplay.”

And so it was that the Kittens of Chaos, dressed as for a Tarts and Vicars party without any vicars, though there were plenty of nuns in suspenders and fishnets, were packed in pairs into the missile tubes and projected over the walls to parachute into an unsuspecting Berwick.

“Niiiiinjaaaaaah!”

“Geroneeeemoooooooh!”

Next morning the gates of the historic burgh opened and a sheepish group of spiritually broken and severely hung-over councillors emerged to surrender.

Destroyer of Worlds

Destroyer of WorldsUnder Consuella’s guidance the Kittens of Chaos assumed responsibility for reconstruction of the second hand Lun Class ekranoplan that they had seen in the docks. Refurbishing the eight Kuznetsov NK-87 turbojet engines proved way beyond the enthusiastic amateurs’ abilities, so they were removed by a particularly diminutive Kitten in possession of a welder’s mask and thermal lance. A local marine engineering firm was engaged to install the largest Bolinder single cylinder hot-bulb diesel to be found on eBay. Eight foot of twelve inch bore exhaust pipe protruded from the top of the fuselage, topped with a hinged cap that flicked up and clacked every time the piston expelled exhaust gasses. It blew blue-grey smoke rings with a reverberating Donk-Donk-Donk.

Rectangular holes had been cut (by the same enthusiastic Kitten) into the winglets in order to accommodate independently geared paddle wheels enclosed within ornate paddle boxes that had been put together during several of the Kittens’ Rehabilitation Carpentry Classes. The interior had been done out in Boudoir Red plush with a variety of chaise-longues and bean bags, a row of performance poles ranged down the middle of the cabin. Externally, in an attempt to avoid inevitable disharmony, each Kitten had been given a section of the vessel to paint. The result was a riotous mishmash of hues and styles, from painstakingly intricate art nouveau swirls to Jackson Pollock drips and sploshes. n unflattering portrait of an enraged Cthulhu decorated the nose of the plane and Consuella Starcluster had managed to get the colours of her venerated Spanish Republic striped onto the tail. Any possibility that the strange craft could achieve the velocity necessary for ground-effect flight was beyond expectation. She had become a somewhat unwieldy boat.

Armed with four ZU-23-2 “Sergey” 23mm twin-barrelled anti-aircraft autocannon, she was well defended, but without missiles the six fixed-elevation SS-N-22 Sunburn missile launchers, whilst looking impressive, were redundant. Not wanting to waste them, or give the Kitten with the thermal lance an excuse for more destruction, Consuella had them transformed into cannons of the type familiar to fans of Rossa “Zazel” Richter, The Human Cannonball. Powerful springs required teams of Kronstadt sailors with block and tackle to tension them and they would be able to project Durex water bombs, potatoes, grape shot made from real grapes, or even Kamikaze ninjas should any be found, high above the defensive walls of towns like Berwick.

“Is the paint dry yet? Can we go now? ‘Cos we is ready.”

Consuella looked down at a tiny fur ball under a tricorn hat, festooned with bandoleers of assorted ammunition and dwarfed by a Spas combat shotgun. Behind her ranged her compatriots in an imaginative variety of leather outfits (mostly highly inappropriate), harem costumes, saucy nurses and super heroes. She could see at least two Xenas, three Tank Girls and a Bo Peep. Their arsenal was infinitely varied and terrifyingly lethal.

Donk… Donk… Donk-Donk-Donk-Donk.

“Well, eet does sound as eef the Krronstadt sailorrs have herr rready foorr thee off. Come along, girrls. Get yourrselves aboarrd.”

There followed an unruly rush accompanied by much squealing.

“Señora Starcluster, can we give it a name – a proper name like Buenaventura’s Revenge?”

“Destroyer of Worlds!” squeaked the tricorn hat.

“I theenk that weell suit admirrrably, Fifi-Belle; thee Autonomous Battle Crrraft Destroyer of Worlds eet ees. Now, let’s get going. A lust foorrr carrrnage stirrrs weetheen my brrreast.”

Andromeda Geräte

NeuwschwabenlandAt the top of the escalator the group emerged into a spacious concourse. Half-moon skylights, pierced through the sea-green ceiling high above, cast shafts of daylight into the scene below, the polished Carrera floor shone like water, the walls glowed with warm beige marble cladding. A mahogany cased clock dominated the far end of the hall and dwarfed figures scurried purposefully wherever the Yorkshiremen looked. Just ahead a sulky line of king penguins shuffled past, heads down and shoulders hunched.   Intermittently each in turn would squawk a mumbled complaint. Nearby stood a group of self absorbed men in tall orange hats, with faces of wrinkled, walnut leather; their saffron robes all but hidden by too large, wrap around yak-skin coats, secured at the waist by string.

“Lizard men?” enquired Harold Entwhistle of his host.

“None of us will ever meet the Merovingian Lizard Kings, my friend. That is not their way. These men of the Himalayas are envoys.

“Let me show you to your quarters, and on the way I will point out the officers’ mess.   I will meet you back there in…   Shall we say one hour?”

The officers’ mess was done out with a great deal of chrome and had the feel of an outsized American diner. Harold, Easter and Albert were sat at a cramped Formica table and by the time they were joined by Kapitänleutnant Felix Graf von Luckner had given a food order to a well-rounded fraulein in a short blue gingham dress and dinky, matching forage cap. Albert removed his tea cosy, stuffed it in a pocket and ran his fingers through his greasy hair. The waitress appeared with three All Day Breakfasts.

“Good, you have ordered. I will have an Americano, two shots of expresso, not too much water… and a small piece of your excellent schwarzwälder kirschtorte, if I may, my dear.”

Easter scowled at his surroundings, “All seems very clean – for a secret Nazi UFO base. Where’s the Storm Troopers.”

Felix sighed, “To business then. First I must explain to you our situation, we will postpone the small talk, pleasant as that would be, till later.The 1939 Expedition

“There were never many Nazis here; our original expedition was, after all, a scientific survey. Those first comers were not intending to become colonists. There were not many women on the original expedition either but somehow, three generations later, we are still here. Our ancestors established a small base on this spot, claimed the land for the Greater Germany, began surveying the area and then made a discovery that changed everything. You had better come with me and I will show you… The secret you have come to uncover… The reason you can never leave.”

“Never… What?” Albert shot to his feet, banging his knees on the table, which was, fortunately, securely bolted to the floor.

Easter joined in with, “Now look here, captain…”

“Please. Just come with me. We can discuss your future circumstances later.”

The Yorkshire trio were still protesting vehemently as they crossed the concourse to one of a number of departure gates. Four of the mysterious, saffron clad orientals formed up silently behind them. A discoloured sign in a Gebrochene Schrift black letter typeface indicated AG Gate23 and below it an attendant, inspecting von Luckner’s pass, nodded them through. They entered a tube-like chamber lined with benches and settled down together whilst the mute envoys sat nearby, yet pointedly apart from the sailors. The doors slid shut with a whoosh, there was a sharp Plop, a hiss and a sensation of rapid acceleration.

“We are travelling in a pneumatic tube subway. First proposed, I believe, by your excellent Herr Brunel, though it has taken German vorsprung durch technik to make it work.”

“Not Isambard, for once, George Medhurst, a Kentishman,” muttered Bert Fleck, “but I bet he half inched the idea off a Yorkshireman.”

The travellers were contemplating the engineer’s observation as their transport stopped with an uncomfortable suddenness and the doors slid open. Otto stood back to let the Himalayan envoy disembark first, then he and the trawlermen followed along a gently downward sloping ice tunnel. At its end the oldest and shortest emissary, with the tallest hat, approached a small glowing tablet, placed his right palm upon it and a door swung open. The four monk-like beings entered first, followed reluctantly by Easter and Albert Fleck. Harold and the Kapitänleutnant brought up the rear. They found themselves inside a bare reception area. The curved outer walls were comprised of an alloy that Harold could not identify. There was no corrosion or decay, though there were signs of wear and an impression of great age. The inner bulkheads and floors were transparent and, disconcertingly, they could see down through several floors beneath their feet. In the room below were parked two foo fighters under plastic sheeting.

“Schoonfryder,” whispered von Luckner, “but there are many different types of what you would call UFO in neighbouring bays.”

“Great,” said Albert, who was pressed against the only wall that looked solid and was very deliberately not looking down.

The diminutive monk turned to address the company, “Discovering this the great grandfather of young Felix was. Lying here undisturbed for many millennia it had been. Under the ice. A secret it was, and must remain. The Andromeda Machine. Within a UFO mother ship you are.”