The stage was cleared and the Massed Mariachi, taking up position at the microphones, began to play La Cucaracha with the Kittens of Chaos doing a daring can-can in the background. Barely into the second chorus the music tailed off, black clouds covered the sun and the sky darkened. A large group of heavily armed Chats Suterrains materialised onto the stage all in white leather coats, purple-glassed goggles and pith helmets. They brushed the band aside whilst the Kittens of Chaos seethed. Outnumbered and outgunned they sat heavily on Kiki la Berserker before she could start a scrap. Her boggle-eyes fired imaginary thunderbolts and her spittle ate corrosively into the smoking floorboards. Several sturdy Chats dragged two heavy campaign chests to the front of the stage and opened one of them out to reveal a Tesla coil on a copper coloured pylon. A polished metal cage was bolted in place around it and heavily insulated high tension cables were run out to the second crate. Le Chat-in-charge threw a large knife switch and the contents of the box set up a wild humming that ascended in pitch until it achieved a nerve-shattering whine. Lightning crackled outwards from the Tesla coil and an eerie green ionised mist began to spread from around the arcing electro-magnetic discharge. Slowly an image formed within the billowing cloud. It was a holographic figure, convincingly life like except for being green, transparent and a bit wobbly. It was bipedal, bulky and scaly. An angular reptilian head hissed and flicked out its tongue and Phoebles felt he could discern something a bit tentacley around the upper lip. Piercing, bilious eyes with narrowly slit-pupils seemed to grow and grow until they were all that the onlookers were aware of. They appeared to glare disconcertingly into the soul of each individual in the audience.
“MEDLING EARTHLINGS. WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE. WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. AND WE KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN GO TO SCHOOL. WE WILL REMEMBER!”
Pause… then a dramatic crack as the coil discharged and the plasma cloud dispersed. Les chats packed up their equipment and departed without a word.
“Bugger me!” exclaimed Dark Flo.
Everyone seemed to be looking around at once, some scared, some bemused. A search for Les Chats Souterrains was rapidly organised, Polly Karpova flew her Red Rata in low-level sorties over the fair ground, but no trace of their presence could be discovered. Slowly the skies cleared and daylight returned; for the moment the prophetic threat was put to one side and the Mariachi struck up once more.
Much later the gang were having a romantically lantern-lit picnic supper spread out on a luscious vintage tangerine/red, Chiadma goats wool rug that Beryl had picked up in an Essaouiran souk. Scrumpled napkins and greasy paper plates of discarded chicken wings and sandwich crusts littered the carpet and surrounding grass.
“Did we actually fix anything?” asked Phoebles.
“Doubt it.” Googleberry looked up from his bowl of pyrotechnical bread-and-butter pudding, with custard. “It looked a bit working class, so I stuck a sparkler in it,” he explained as he reclined, sucking noisily between mouthfuls on an Iznik porcelain hubble-bubble pipe.
“And the Lizard Thing’s threat?”
“Oh, probably just the prelude to another adventure.”
Boz watched a white plume moth carelessly spiralling in towards the guttering, spluttering Tilly lamp that illuminated their repast, and he sighed.