The Leconauts and the Age of Legends
You have landed at the place where you can experience the continuing chronicles of the Loudhailer Electric Company mothership and crew. Starring Leconauts Captain Lou Loudhailer, Sonic Architect Parsons, Ricardo the Astral Bard and Bombardier Walker. Written by Loudhailer Electric Company’s Sonic Architect and keeper of the sacred flangector, this is Season 19 of the adventurous antics of the Leconauts traversing the galaxy and encountering a myriad of marvellous musical lifeforms and dastardly villains as they venture forth to perform at the galaxy’s Temples of Song.
Season 19 Episode 1
ANYBODY ELSE OUT THERE IN LOCKDOWN STASIS? ANYBODY BEEN …THINKING? WE HAVE, AND WE THINK SOMETHING STRANGE IS GOING ON. SO IT’S TIME FOR MORE ADVENTURES OF THE LECONAUTS. BROUGHT TO YOU FROM A DIFFERENT TIME ZONE IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE SPHERES……..!
Captain Lou and her crew, the Astral Bard, the Sonic Architect and the Bombardier, were in stasis deep in the bowels of their starcruiser, the Leco. They had been in a state of suspended animation for a period of three septalogs, as indeed had the rest of the Renegade Alliance, at the command of Admiral Bunting, head of the Renegade Fleet. An unknown and deadly enemy, operating at micro level and therefore difficult to engage, had swept through the quadrant, devouring all in its path. The unprecedented step of putting the entire fleet into stasis had been a difficult decision but, in the Admiral’s opinion, the only way to ensure the survival of his primary force.
The wily Admiral had taken another step which the crews of the various starcruisers were unaware of. He had programmed the medidroids to add an extra ingredient to the chemical cocktail which was pumped into the crews as they lay in their stasis pods. This was a recently-synthesised compound called Lucid Suspension Draught, untested and still subject to the Edict of Sandoz. He had then fed instructions into each crew member’s cerebral cortex connection matrix. This was something of an experiment, but the Admiral felt the circumstances warranted the risk, even though there could be unforeseen outcomes. Ah well, he was used to living on the edge and if ever a situation called for unprecedented measures, this was it.
He was already seeing unusual brain activity on his Vistascreen, which was simultaneously monitoring each member of the fleet. Furthermore, interconnections were being made, leading the admiral to the inescapable conclusion that somehow the crews the starcruisers under his command were actually communicating, despite being in a state of almost complete suspended animation. He found himself wishing that he could somehow see into their minds, to be able to divine what they were experiencing; but then, no, it was probably better to not think too much along those lines …
THE PARALLEL WORLD OF THE LECONAUTS IS GETTING SWIRLY. SEASON NINETEEN EPISODE TWO, READ ON SPACE BUDDIES
Captain Lou was puzzled; her existence seemed narrow, confined. And why were her surroundings comprised entirely of green and purple patterns? A feeling of panic arose; this was not life as she knew it….She was afraid to look down in case what she saw was not her familiar corporeal form (a ridiculous thought?).
Gradually she became aware of her crewmates: first the Astral Bard, mischief in his – eye? No, just mischief; then the Sonic Architect, playful, and the Bombardier, sardonic. She realised that what she had identified as her fellow Leconauts were simply disturbances in the all-encompassing geometric swirls. What she perceived as the Astral Bard was in fact a vibration within the whorls of green and purple. Similarly, the Sonic Architect and the Bombardier were represented by slightly different vibrations, the one faster and lighter, the other deeper and heavier. Somehow the fact that she could regard these visual anomalies as her crew didn’t seem unusual. But then something did strike her as being singularly odd. The areas of disturbance were also regarding her, and with something unmistakable – intelligence.
The shape which she now accepted as the Bard suddenly and momentarily became more solid and an energy pulse emanated from it (him?) and travelled toward her. When it made contact with her she felt her entire being tingle. Waves of sensation pulsed through her form and then subsided. Then another wave rolled toward her. This time, the tingling was accompanied by a single word; ‘hello’.
Admiral Bunting sat in front of his Vistascreen inside his hermetically-sealed cabin in Svalbard. He pulled the envirosuit tightly around his neck and shoulders. He was smiling. The lines of code which were travelling up and down his screen were changing. ‘The Leconauts’ he thought. Naturally, they would be first. They were on the move. He chuckled. Not movement in the accepted sense, of course. No, this was something different. He looked at the lines of code more closely and then said out loud ‘the Astral Plane………
IN THEIR ALTERNATIVE NON LOCKDOWN WORLD THE THE LECONAUTS ARE WAKING UP TO FIND STRANGENESS IN THE AIR. FIND OUT MORE S19:E3, IN WHICH THINGS BEGIN TO TAKE SHAPE…...
Captain Lou felt excitement; the first since she couldn’t remember when. She responded to the Astral Bard’s greeting with one of her own; the single word ‘hey’. Except she didn’t verbalise it in the way she would normally. She saw the wave emanate from the region of her mouth and twist through the green and purple stripes which comprised everything. It reached the shape she knew to be the Astral Bard and coursed across the surface of his form. A dialogue sprung up between them and after a while she became able to discern a familiar shape from within the bi-coloured stripes. First an arm, then a tantalising glimpse of face, then a foot. She sent another thought; ‘turn around, slowly’. She watched as the new wave hit the Bard and he complied. As he turned his form became more solid. ‘Stop!’ cried the Captain, and the Bard froze. His form was now complete and fully visible. ‘Now turn slowly’ she commanded. The Bard did as he was instructed and in a few quantabits he stood revealed. Captain Lou smiled, delighted to see the familiar form of the Astral Bard, mischief in his eye. ‘Now you’ he said. ‘Turn slowly’. The Captain complied. She felt a pull in the pit of her stomach and then a sensation akin to water trickling over her whole body, like in an aquafall. ‘There you are’ said the Bard, affectionately. She risked a look down at herself and was mightily relieved to see her familiar form, clad in her Renegade Alliance tunic.
‘What’s happened?’ asked the Captain, suddenly feeling panicky. Immediately she saw her arm begin to disappear. ‘It’s ok’ said the Bard, reassuringly. ‘Take a deep breath.’ Captain Lou did as he suggested and immediately saw her limb restored to solidity. ‘That’s better’ said the Bard. ‘Now, let’s imagine that we’re on the bridge of the Leco’ he continued. ‘Start from the Vistascreen and turn left, slowly now!’ Captain Lou followed his instruction, noting that beside her he was doing the same thing. ‘Open your eyes’ he said. She did, and was relieved to see the familiar surroundings of the bridge of her starcruiser. She sat in her chair and felt the comforting solidity of its cushioned surface.
‘Sonic Architect’ she called, then ‘Bombardier! Please present yourselves for duty!’ Two patches of air began to twist and contort, the eerie patterns imprinting themselves on the prosaic and familiar bridge. And then, there they were, her two remaining crew members made actual. ‘Wow’ said the Sonic Architect. ‘That was some trip!’ ‘Where are we?’ asked the Bombardier, and immediately answered his own question. ‘Don’t tell me! We’re on the outskirts of Bodie in 1849!’ The Astral Bard smiled. ‘Not quite’ he replied. ‘I believe our bodies are in stasis on board the Leco, but our essences are on what we might call the Astral Plane. But I’m not quite sure why……’
THE ADVENTURES OF THE LECONAUTS THE AGE OF LEGENDS. S19:E4 A NEW ADVERSARY IS IDENTIFIED, I WONDER WHO OR WHAT IT MAY BE?
Admiral Bunting regarded the lines of code proceeding up and down his Vistascreen. He rubbed his hands. The Leconauts may not know it, but they were about to embark upon what would become their greatest and most celebrated adventure, and the best part of it was that they wouldn’t have to move so much as a muscle….
Captain Lou addressed her crew; ‘we have undoubtedly been given a mission, but as yet I’m not sure what it actually is. All I know is that we have been….activated in such a way that leaves me in no doubt that we have a task to perform. And the survival of our species depends upon it.’ The Bombardier looked at his shoes, smiled and simultaneously shook his head. The Sonic Architect looked across momentarily and then directed his gaze at the Captain. ‘Do we have any idea of the nature of our mission? Should we question the nature of our orders? What do they want from us? Where does it begin, and where does it end?’
Captain Lou turned to the Vistascreen; ‘the languages are coded’ she said. ‘I’m unfamiliar with the key. Astral Bard, could you find a way into this conundrum?’ The Bard studied the screen closely, his brow furrowed. ‘Give me a sextaset’ he said.
Sometime later the three Leconauts presented themselves on the bridge. The Astral Bard was hunched in front of the Vistascreen, eyes narrowed. Suddenly he jumped up and exclaimed ‘Yes!’ He turned to face his crewmates, mischief in his eyes. ‘The threat we are facing’ he began, ‘is ancient and deadly. It comes from the Age of Legends, and was created by mad scientists in secret laboratories.’ Stunned silence greeted this pronouncement. ‘In the days when nations still existed and were ruled by megalomaniac dictators, each would do what it could to try and gain supremacy over the rest. Some of the most shameful episodes in the history of our kind took place in these days, and this is the result of one of them!’ No-one spoke; the Bard was on a roll and the pause was merely for dramatic effect. Comment was not invited. He continued. ‘Its origins are shrouded in myth but it gradually became accepted that this particular contagion was created by a character known as the Orangeman who loosed it upon the world to discredit and weaken his rivals. But it got out of hand and quickly began to overwhelm the Orangeman and his own people.’
‘But this “it”; what is it?’ asked the Captain, with not a little exasperation. The Astral Bard smiled, mischief in his eyes. ‘First generation nanobots.’ Stunned silence greeted this weighty pronouncement. ‘And do they have a name?’ asked the Sonic Architect. ‘Oh yes’ replied the Astral Bard, ‘the White Crows, or to give them their scientific designation, Corvid 19!’
THE ADVENTURES OF THE LECONAUTS EPISODE E19:S5, AND THE FULL HORROR IS FAST BECOMING APPARENT……!
The Astral Bard was warming to his subject. ‘Yes, White Crows – as we know, white has long been the colour associated with extreme evil, and these little devils certainly were. The scientific name comes from the old family name of Corvidae, which includes crows.’ ‘Ok’ said the Bombardier, ‘but what about the 19?’ The Astral Bard smiled broadly. He had obviously been anticipating this question and was building himself up to giving the answer. ‘It’s about letters of the alphabet’ he said, weightily. ‘1 equals “A” and 9 equals “I”, the first and ninth letters of the alphabet. ‘”A” and “I”’ muttered the Bombardier. ‘What does that mean?’ The Astral Bard paused for dramatic effect, to the extent that the Captain suddenly demanded ‘well?!!’ The Bard’s smile faded. ‘It means Artificial Intelligence. The Corvid 19s were created specifically to spread death and devastation. History records them as the first weapon of mass destruction with artificial intelligence.’
‘This Orangeman; he was one twisted dude’ opined the Bombardier. ‘He certainly was’ continued the Astral Bard. ‘He had been a hero to his people but after this they hunted him down and he died in a tunnel, cowering like a dog.’ ‘So how come these Corvids have reappeared?’ asked the Captain. ‘A good question’ replied the Bard. They were created for the Orangeman by a company called Goo-gol, but then a shadowy organisation called the Seabrook Corporation got hold of them. Recently, a sunspot hit a storage facility on the planet Cathay, and it is believed some Corvid 19 which was in deep cryogenic suspension was thawed and escaped.’
The Bombardier smiled. ‘So let me get this straight’ he began. ‘We are up against an enemy which exists on the micro level, created by a madman in the Age of Legends, stored on a distant planet for a few quitons, then released by a freak sunstorm. We can’t see it but it can see us. Oh, and on top of that we aren’t actually inhabiting our bodies at present.’ He looked at his shoes again. He smiled and shook his head.
‘There is another thing’ said the Bard, tentatively. The Bombardier looked up again. ‘You know, I figured that there may be!’ he said. The Captain smiled, suddenly enthused. A lightbulb had clearly just been switched on in her head. ‘Yes!’ she exclaimed. ‘As Corvid 19 has artificial intelligence it will also exist on the Astral Plane!’ The Bard nodded vigorously. ‘And we can change our shape and size whilst we are on the Astral Plane!’ ‘With practise, yes!’ interjected the Sonic Architect. ‘So we can engage the enemy!’ continued the Captain. ‘Quite so’ answered the Bard. ‘And if we can engage them, we can defeat them……!’
IT’S TIME FOR SEASON NINETEEN EPISODE SIX! IN WHICH THE ASTRAL PLANE SEES MORE SPACE RENEGADES COMING TOGETHER!
Admiral Bunting studied the lines of code which were travelling both up and down his Vistascreen. He could see that other crews from the Renegade Alliance’s First Fleet were now ‘awakening’ into what must surely be an uncertain alternate reality upon the Astral Plane. He prayed to Jimi that they would overcome the trauma of their changed states and find each other in the face of the common enemy……
On the bridge of the Leco the Astral Bard was basking in the stunned silence which had been brought about by his pronouncements. He judged it was time to speak again. ‘We need to embark on a fantastic voyage’ he began. ‘I believe we can use the collective power of our astral intellects to take the fight to the enemy on its own terms, in a NanoLeco!’
‘Astral intellects!’ retorted the Bombardier. ‘That’s like AI; nineteen!’ ‘Yes!’ cried the Captain. ‘We can be Leco19!’
With that the Vistascreen crackled into life and the head of Sir Cavan of the Dale appeared. ‘I don’t know why or how, but me ’n’ the boys done found ourselves on some kind o’ dawgone Tilt-a-Whirl! Everythin’ green ‘n’ purple, movin’ around like a deflatin’ parachute, then re-flatin’ agin! Heck, I ain’t even sure if’n I’m really awake!’
‘Relax, Cavan’ said Captain Lou. ‘It’s quite straightforward; we are on the Astral Plane!’
‘Whut in tarnation – ah figured it’d be some kind o’ hocus pocus gobbledygook! How come we pitched up here, if’n y’all don’t mind me axin’?’
At that point the screen divided into dexter and sinister and the face of Lord Ron of the Hale appeared. He expressed similar sentiments to those of Sir Cavan, but not in language anywhere near as colourful. Then the screen divided again, this time from top to bottom and the faces of Dino of Jackson D’Ville and Young Sid appeared. ‘Here’s a pretty pass’ crooned Dino. ‘We seem to have entered limboland!’ As everyone began to speak at once, the Astral Bard called for calm and then explained all he had found, and the mission he judged they should embark upon. Again, as he finished speaking a stunned silence fell. Then the Transference Spot began to glow and a familiar form stepped forward from the mist of an ocean spray. The Leconauts all spoke as one; ‘Shaman Hood of the Hawk…….!’
THE ADVENTURES OF THE LECONAUTS AND FRIENDS S19:E7
‘Greetings!’ said the Shaman. ‘Good to see you, Shaman Hood!’ replied Captain Lou. ‘How did you know where to find us?’ ‘Many dodecamoons of astral travel gives one a sense of serendipity’ he replied, enigmatically. ‘I closed my eyes and pictured the bridge of the Leco and when I opened them again; well, here I am!’
‘There’s no time to waste!’ said the Astral Bard. ‘We need to figure out……’ The Shaman raised his hand, produced his famed earthenware jug and took a long draught of its contents. ‘That’s better!’ he said. ‘Thirsty work, this astral travel!’ He sat himself between Captain Lou and the Sonic Architect. ‘The enemy is an ancient and malevolent one’ he continued. ‘But it can be defeated. We will have to engage it on its own terms.’ ‘At micro level’ said the Sonic Architect. ‘Quite so!’ replied the Shaman. The Bombardier frowned. ‘How are we going to do that, exactly?’ he asked. The Shaman smiled. He rose and beckoned the Leconauts to do the same. They complied. He indicated positions and they stood in the form of a five-pointed star. The Shaman rummaged in a bag which he carried over his shoulder and brought out his hand with its fist clenched. He made a throwing motion into the centre of the group and a mist of multi-coloured powder spread between them, creating the shape of a star within a circle on the floor. The outlines began to glow in a rainbow of psychedelic shades. The glow turned to a low rhythmic pulsation and a structure began to rise, enveloping them all in a protective shield. Suddenly, they noticed that the bridge of the Leco was becoming bigger and bigger, until it was no longer recognisable but simply appeared to be an endless towering structure which moved further and further away in all directions. ‘Now’ said the Shaman, ‘we need weaponry. Imagine the finest flangector or thunder machine you could ever wish for. Spare no expense; consider all the features you could desire.’ They all closed their eyes and did as they were bid. ‘Open your eyes!’ Collective gasps of wonderment were heard all around the group as they beheld their newly-imagined equipment.
On board the Lucky Strike Sir Cavan of the Dale, Ramrod Richmond, Sophie of the Rose and First Fiddler Dexter had undergone a similar experience with Sir Richard of Harries, who had mysteriously materialised in their midst around the same time that Shaman Hood had done so on the Leco. ‘Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!’ exclaimed Sir Cavan. ‘I ain’t never seen flangectors like it! Ah figure we gon’ show them thar Corvids jest who’s bawss in this here galaxy!’
Meanwhile, on board the Italian Vogue Dino of Jackson D’Ville, Zachary of the Odorou and Sarah the Kohl Queen were similarly enthusing over newly-imagined hardware. ‘My my’ crooned Dino, ‘one can scarce contain oneself! Look at the aurum-plated hardware! ‘And that oral magnificator is simply breathtaking! I’ve never seen finer, even in the forges of Akustische und Kino-Geräte Gesellschaft!’
And on the Eye of the Snake Lord Ron, Count Callum, Young Lord Nic and big Baron Ben were in transports of delight over their gleaming hardware. Lord Ron smiled enigmatically; ‘so the White Crows want to fight, do they? They’ll rue the day they entered this quadrant!
Admiral Bunting stood up and walked over to his window. Huge coloured sheets of light danced across the sky as distant stars twinkled. ‘Paradise’ he muttered. Except it wasn’t really paradise at all. The unseen invader was out there, silent and deadly. He couldn’t take his eye off the ball now. He returned to his Vistascreen and sat down………
HERE WE GO WITH SEASON NINETEEN EPISODE EIGHT! IN WHICH THE GATHERING OF THE CLANS IS BROUGHT ABOUT!
Young Syd streaked across the blood red sky, his hair pinned back in the slipstream. He was getting the hang of astral travel. The Sonic Architect had instructed the entire rebel fleet in its intricacies. Young Syd recalled how the Sonic Architect had described how to hover by simply flexing his Third Eye, a hitherto unknown ‘muscle’ situated just behind the forehead. He remembered the unmatched feeling of rising from the ground unaided, using only the power of his own mind. The Sonic Architect had then described how to control the rate of ascent and descent by relaxing or increasing pressure on the muscle, and then turning dexter and sinister by extending one or other of his arms. Finally, he recalled the sheer exhilaration of kicking his feet backwards, becoming horizontal and then accelerating off into the wide blue yonder! He smiled as he remembered the Astral Bard had kicked back too hard and turned several somersaults before he came to rest! Apparently the Sonic Architect had learned how to travel in this way during a boyhood dream and was then pleasantly surprised to find that it worked as well on the astral plane as it did in the dream world.
Young Syd was looking for a particular place in which the Rebel Alliance could rendezvous in order to launch their attack on Corvid 19, the White Crows. Admiral Bunting had graphically described the place to the extent that Young Syd knew he could find it simply by closing his eyes and imagining himself there, but this was much more fun. And then he saw it; Nova Zembla, an uninhabited island in the far north of Terra Gaia. Quite why the Admiral had such a fascination with the cold northern wastelands of this insignificant planet, Young Syd couldn’t imagine.
He descended and landed expertly on the crisp, cold surface. Yes, this was it. Just a short distance away he saw the Ice Palace which the Admiral had described so clearly. Perfect…..
The Leconauts strapped on their gleaming new equipment, an array of flangectors and a shining thunder machine. The Astral Bard looked across at the Bombardier and was pleasantly shocked to see a broad smile across his usually sardonic visage!
Then a strange thing happened. An alarm sounded in each of the Leconauts’ heads, like a device from the Age of Legends called a Klaxon. All four looked up simultaneously to see Young Syd hovering on high. ‘Follow me’ he said. Captain Lou was struck by the fact that his voice sounded like it was inside her head, even though he was a distance of several gardens away.
As one they rose into the sky and streaked northwards in formation with Young Syd in front. The Sonic Architect found himself thinking out loud; ‘…and so it begins…’
IT’S TIME FOR EPISODE NINE OF SEASON NINETEEN! IN WHICH THE SONIC ARCHITECT IMPARTS VITAL INFORMATION!
Young Syd stood in the centre of the Ice Palace on Nova Zembla with the finest of the Renegade Alliance arrayed around him. He spoke; ‘Admiral Bunting sends his compliments. He is sorry to not be here himself to address you, but asks me to assure you that his absence is for the best of reasons.’ The Bombardier snorted and Young Syd looked across pointedly, momentarily losing his rhythm. ‘I’d like to ask the Sonic Architect to step forward. He has something he wants to say to you all.’ The Sonic Architect strode to the centre of the concourse and stood alongside Young Syd. ‘I trust you are all enjoying life on the astral plane? It does, however, come with a not insignificant risk.’ The Bombardier snorted again and the Sonic Architect looked across to see him looking down at his shoes and shaking his head. The Sonic Architect continued; ‘you may or may not have noticed but a very thin silver cord is currently connected to the top of your head. If you look to the person next to you, you may be able to discern it. It will catch the light at certain angles, especially in a location such as this, filled as it is with the reflections from a myriad of crystalline surfaces.’ Everyone suddenly became extremely interested in their neighbour and before long heads were being angled and turned to best advantage. Presently several small gasps indicated that the silver cords were indeed visible. The Sonic Architect continued; ‘the silver cord is connected to your corporeal form and should it become severed, then you will not be able to return to your body. In the coming conflict the enemy will know this and will try to exploit it. The silver cord is incredibly strong but it can be cut. Of course, the enemy will have the same – vulnerability – and targeting the cord rather than their – astral manifestation – will produce the best results.’
Silence fell as the Sonic Architect finished speaking. Lord Ron broke it by voicing what no doubt several people were thinking; ‘so when do we get to go and kick some Corvid butt?’ Captain Lou stepped forward. ‘I have some more intelligence from Admiral Bunting. He has discovered that the Corvid 19 has – evolved – since it was released from Cathay. He has detected signs of a mind hive. We believe that if we can locate the mind hive and sever its silver cord the battle will be won. But it will take the combined firepower of all our flangectors and thunder machines to do so.’ The assembled renegades looked around at each other, Sir Cavan of the Dale exclaimed ‘rabbitin’!’, then Dino of Jackson D’Ville spoke; ‘well, I suggest we make a start. The sooner we can get back to our starcruisers the better. I have a Grand Cru on ice and some superb canapés which are simply begging to be devoured!’
HERE WE GO WITH SEASON NINETEEN EPISODE TEN! IN WHICH THE RENEGADES GET SERIOUS! LET’S GO TO WORK….!
The Sonic Architect looked across at Dino of Jackson D’Ville. ‘Canapés!’ he thought to himself. ‘Tasty ones too, I’ll be bound!’ With that a sudden sound drew everyone’s attention skyward and a strange shape appeared, silhouetted against the weak northern sun. Captain Lou felt a sudden panic; could this be something to do with the Galactic Council? Had they realised that the entire renegade alliance had taken to the astral plane? But no; as the shape drew nearer she realised it was Shaman Hood of the Hawk, astride his astral spacehog. She noted it had undergone some modifications since she last saw it in the physical world. The handlebars were now the horns of a large animal, such as a yak or buffalo and its fuel tank had been fashioned from the skull of a similar creature. She then realised that the Shaman was carrying a passenger – who could it be? The spacehog touched down and the Shaman dismounted to reveal none other than Sir Richard of Harries!
‘Greetings!’ cried the Shaman. ‘All hail Shaman Hood of the Hawk and Sir Richard of Harries!’ replied Young Syd. The Shaman and Sir Richard walked across and positioned themselves either side of Admiral Bunting’s First Lieutenant. The Shaman spoke, his voice magically magnified within the confines of the Ice Palace. ‘It is time’ he began. ‘I can tell you that we have a daunting task ahead of us, but not an impossible one. Sir Richard and I have some good news!’ He turned to his companion who continued thus; ‘The corners of the galaxy we two have now explored, from fair Europa’s nimbus where silver rainfall poured, to distant Yuggoth on the rim where demon sultans bayed, back here to Nova Zembla where capricious sunbeams played, and for the sake of everything we long to keep alive, we now know of the whereabouts of the Corvid 19 hive!’ Stunned silence greeted this poetic utterance. Then the Shaman spoke once more; ‘to Arcturus we must journey. There the Corvid Mind Hive has established its base and it is there where we must strike. The silver cord from the mind hive is thicker than the mightiest Douglas fir in the Park of the Yellow Stone, and to sever it will take not only our combined flangector power but also our ingenuity and perseverance. We will rest for a sextaset, then we must begin!’ To underline the point he produced his fabled earthenware jug and took a long draught. He then passed it to Sir Richard, who did likewise. The jug then travelled round the entire gathering of the clans, each individual drinking deep before passing it sinister, but the jug seemed to be still completely full of psyder when it was eventually returned to the Shaman.
The Captains of the starcruisers assembled in the middle of the Ice Palace with Young Syd, Shaman Hood and Sir Richard. The rest of the crews sat around in informal groups, chatting and telling tales. A casual observer would never have guessed that this group of people were about to embark on a quest fraught with danger, the outcome of which would determine whether or not the human race would survive…..
The Bombardier looked up at the Sonic Architect and the Astral Bard, his eyes shining brightly. ‘Another foray into the unknown’ he said, without his usual sardonic tone. ‘I don’t know why, but I think we are going to be ok. And I’m glad to have you two and the Captain by my side.’ His two crewmates smiled. The Astral Bard was just about to reply when the magically amplified voice of Shaman Hood boomed through the Ice Palace. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time…….’
THE BATTLE BEGINS…..!
The renegade fleet’s finest were arrayed behind the vanguard of Shaman Hood of the Hawk flanked by Young Syd and Sir Richard of Harries. They had taken to the skies from the Ice Palace on Nova Zembla and were hurtling through space towards the distant star Arcturus. They needed no life support systems as they were on the astral plane and flying by the power of their Third Eyes. Shaman Hood was sitting astride his astral spacehog, even though there was actually no need. He simply relished the feel of the monstrous machine between his thighs.
‘Onward’ he cried, ‘for Jimi, Gaia and Saint George son of Harri!’ The renegades sped past stars, asteroids, satellites, moons and space dust. Eventually a brighter star became visible. ‘There it is!’ cried Sir Richard, ‘Arcturus, by the cowl of Saint Petulia!’ As they drew closer it became obvious that something was amiss with the star. It appeared milky, fuzzy, it’s brilliance diminished. Closer still and the reason became obvious. The surface was entirely covered with Corvid 19, possibly to a depth of several parks. It pulsated malevolently and the Sonic Architect tried to repress a shudder, not entirely successfully. From the apogee of the star a silver cord snaked into space, twisting and writhing like a gigantic serpent.
The renegade band drew to a halt and looked upon the scene below; ‘a regular vision of hell’ thought the Astral Bard. Dino of Jackson D’Ville, Lord Ron, Sir Cavan of the Dale and Captain Lou all moved forwards and arrayed themselves immediately behind Shaman Hood, Sir Richard and Young Syd. Just then, the Sonic Architect sensed movement behind just as Shaman Hood looked over his shoulder and smiled. ‘Baron Brock!’ he exclaimed. Captain Lou recognised the rangy space bandit who had turned up with his crew in Bodie in another adventure which now seemed to be several lifetimes ago. Here he was again with his unearthly human crew. ‘I figured you may need some help!’ he said, smiling enigmatically. ‘You are welcome’ replied the Shaman.
The Shaman turned to face the renegades and addressed them using his magically enhanced voice. ‘It is time we left this world today, and time to send this foe back to the sulphurous pits from whence it came! You know the drill; we have rehearsed this moment to perfection. We could do it in our sleep. Onward, and may the flaming sceptre of Jimi go with you!
The four renegade crews lined up and at the sounding of a horn of aurum held to the lips of Shaman Hood they peeled off and descended in turn, creating a double helix of winged avengers, spiralling ever closer to the seething surface of the blighted star below……….
HERE WE GO WITH SEASON NINETEEN EPISODE TWELVE! IN WHICH OUR HEROES COME FACE TO FACE WITH THE ENEMY…….!
Admiral Bunting sat in front of his Vistascreen, focusing all his attention on the lines of code which were travelling ever faster in front of his eyes. He could see that the renegade alliance was on the move and that everything was going according to plan. He looked out of the window again, taking in the magical vista of pulsating red and green light. ‘Hold your nerve’ he thought, wiping an imaginary bead of sweat from his brow. ‘Not long now…….’
The Sonic Architect and Captain Lou were in the vanguard streaking down toward the Corvid 19 mind hive. The Astral Bard and Bombardier Walker were close behind them on a contra-rotating path. ‘Flangectors on transfigure!’ commanded the Captain. Sheets of flame shot from their astral arsenal, those of the Astral Bard and Bombardier twining around those of the Captain and Sonic Architect. As they descended their streams were pulled inwards by the centrifugal force and the gravity of the star below. The Captain was reminded of the maypole she had danced around in her childhood in the village of Midsomer Magna. Behind them came Sir Cavan of the Dale with Sophie of the Rose, Ramrod Richmond and First Fiddler Dexter. ‘Holy moly!’ exclaimed Sir Cavan. ‘Duelling banjos at the ready! Sure got a purty mouth, don’t it!! Give ‘em hell!’ Lord Ron followed, with Young Lord Nic, Count Callum and Big Bad Ben. ‘Sixty cycles! Triple harmonised flangectors! Subsonic emanation! Now!’ Finally, Dino of Jackson D’Ville, Sarah the Kohl Queen and Zachary of the Odorou plunged starwards; ‘Steady as she goes’ crooned Dino. ‘Remember, style over substance! We kill, but we kill with verve and panache!’
The criss-crossing contra-rotating pulsations of deadly flangector fire, subsonic transmissions and thunder machine flurries wreaked havoc as the strands tightened around the silver cord from the mind hive. A pulse of psychic energy shot out from the stricken globe. A massive wave of negativity hit all the members of the renegade alliance’s assault. They wavered, suddenly overcome by profound sorrow and guilt, with a side order of perfect pain. ‘Do not waver!’ came the admonition from Shaman Hood. ‘It is a subterfuge! This is our enemy! It gives no quarter! Don’t be fooled!’ With that the surface of the star began to writhe in a most unwholesome fashion and individual Corvids began to fly upward towards the renegades. ‘Incoming!’ yelled Sir Richard. ‘Second units, defensive!’ cried Young Syd. Each team turned part of its firepower onto the new threat. As the Corvids approached the Astral Bard noted that they were simply disembodied heads but their faces were all the same. Orange, with white patches around their porcine eyes, mouths set in a hideous rictus. Worst of all, noted the Bard, they all had the same improbable and ridiculous hairstyle, just like the leader of a band of spacechanters from the Age of Legends of which the Sonic Architect was particularly fond; A Flock of Seagulls………
S19:E13 IN WHICH THE RENEGADES PILE ON THE PRESSURE!
The Leconauts reached the bottom of their descent and wheeled skyward, maintaining their spiral formation around the Corvid 19 mind hive and keeping up the relentless flangector assault. The Bombardier was producing furious flurries of thunder machine bursts and the Astral Bard turned to his crewmate to acknowledge his efforts. However, he quickly divined that the Bombardier was in trouble; the Corvid 19s had made a beeline for him and for a quantabit the Bard thought his crewmate had grown a beard. With horror he realised that the Corvids had infested the Bombardier’s face and were trying to enter his body via his mouth. The Bard alerted Captain Lou and the Sonic Architect and they all moderated the intensity of their flangector fire and targeted the loathsome infestation. Individual Corvids were dislodged and ‘popped’ with a disquieting sound which was accompanied by a highly unpleasant smell of a rather personal nature. ‘Ugh’ thought the Astral Bard, ‘essence of trump!’
With his face clear of the noisome creatures the Bombardier and the other Leconauts continued to spiral upwards, wrapping their flangector beams, newly returned to maximum intensity, around the mind hive’s silver cord. They passed the crew of the Italian Vogue who were still on the way down and the Sonic Architect was convinced he heard Dino of Jackson D’Ville humming to himself an old spacechant from the Age of Legends called ‘How Much is That Doggie in the Window’ …..
Suddenly, Shaman Hood of the Hawk was alongside them on his spacehog, now magically extended to accommodate not only Sir Richard of Harries but also Young Syd! Captain Lou saw that the eye sockets of the yak skull, which was serving as a fuel tank, were glowing a fiery scarlet. ‘We’re Angels of Death’ cried the Shaman. ‘We’re Angels of light!’ countered Young Syd. The Shaman produced his ancient horn and lifted it to his lips! ‘The Wizard Blows his Horn!’ cried Sir Richard.
The Sonic Architect looked down to see a spectacular vision; the silver cord from the Corvid mind hive was almost completely encased by the flangector streams emanating from the teams of space renegades. Another pass should be enough. Corvids were randomly flying among the space renegades in a vain attempt to divert them from their purpose, but they were making no impact. The reason for this became clear as the Sonic Architect looked up to see Baron Brock and his Space Bandits picking off individual White Crows with their deadly accurate flangector fire.
‘Another sortie!’ cried Captain Lou, and the four Leconauts plunged starward once again, maintaining their spiral flight path and all the while raking their flangector fire around the twisting silver cord. As they reached the surface of the star they could see that the Corvid infestation was drastically reduced. Shaman Hood was alongside again and his magically-amplified voice rang out again; ‘outward bound! Keep hold of the beams!’
Each renegade team flew out from the silver cord whilst maintaining their flangector beams. It was as if they were tightening their grip on the silver cord, strangling the life force from it. Again, a feeling of sorrow and guilt began to overtake the space renegades, who momentarily relaxed the tension on their beams. Immediately Shaman Hood was there, crying ‘No quarter! Do not panic! Think only of yourself! Don’t become a flesh fondue!’ The renegades instantly snapped back to consciousness, as if awakening from a hypnotic reverie and re-tightened their implacable grip on the beams…….
IT’S CHRONICLES TIME! HERE WE GO WITH SEASON NINETEEN EPISODE FOURTEEN! WILL THE CONFLICT EVER END?
Captain Lou could scarce believe her eyes; she had seen many incredible things since joining the Galactic Fleet all those dodecamoons ago but this rivalled even the sight of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. The serpent-like silver cord emanating from the star below was writhing and flailing like an angry anaconda whilst being constrained and constricted by the combined flangector beams and thunder machine pulsations which the members of the renegade alliance had produced. The fiery cords were struggling to keep the thrashing emanation under control and every so often a mini sunspot would burst from the beams sending sparks coruscating off into the aether. All the while individual Corvids were peeling off and attacking the renegades; most were being picked off by Baron Brock and his space bandits, but every now and then one would get through and attach itself to a human host. A substance called bleach was then magically produced by the astral spacesuit the renegades were all wearing. This compound was deadly to the Corvids and soon they were ‘popping’ into the now-familiar unpleasant gaseous remnant.
Shaman Hood circled the silver cord on his spacehog, shouting exhortations of encouragement. He knew that this was the critical phase of the operation and it was imperative to keep up the pressure on the Corvid mind hive. Captain Lou caught sight of Sir Richard of Harries who looked to be intoning a catechism to himself. His eyes were closed and his hands clasped together. Suddenly there was an ear-splitting thunderclap and then a huge chariot of fire appeared, pulled by six winged black stallions. As it streaked down toward the surface of the star the Sonic Architect recognised the figure standing in the chariot holding the reins of fire; Saint Petulia of Clarksdale! She had answered the psychic summons of her trusted champion, Sir Richard. As she neared the end of her descent twin sheets of flame issued from her eyes and swept the surface of the star. Huge numbers of Corvids were immediately incinerated and vast clouds of noisome charred dust billowed upwards. At the same time, the silver cord seemed to shrink in girth and the renegades were able to pull their beams tighter as a result. ‘Press home the advantage!’ shouted the Shaman with his magically amplified voice. Victory is within our grasp!
Saint Petulia’s chariot then began its ascent and as she reached the zenith Baron Brock threw an object towards her, which she caught in her right hand. As she began to descend again Captain Lou could see that the object was a huge black broadsword covered with strange runic symbols carved deep into its blade. ‘The Bringer of Storms!’ thought the Captain. The Chariot was headed for the thinnest part of the silver cord where the beams were binding it most tightly. Captain Lou realised what was about to happen; Saint Petulia was going to sever the silver cord of the Corvid 19 mind hive with the Bringer of Storms! The magically-amplified voice of Shaman Hood rang loud and clear through the aether; ‘Prepare to release the beams on my order! One….two….three…………’
IT’S TIME FOR SEASON NINETEEN EPISODE FIFTEEN! IN WHICH AN ENDING OF SORTS IS REACHED! BUT IS IT AN ENDING, OR A BEGINNING……..?
The assembled renegades acted as one and simultaneously released the flangector beams with which they had constricted the silver cord from the Corvid 19 mind hive. A huge wave of relief swept through them, but it was short-lived. Saint Petulia of Clarksdale, standing in her blazing chariot like an avenging angel, smote the silver cord at its thinnest point, just as it began to expand outwards. The force of the blow combined with the outward motion of the cord had the effect of hastening its severance, as if it was eager to meet the deadly blade. All at once the remaining Corvids simply fell away, popping as they faded with the unwholesome aroma of trump.
It was as if a cloud had been lifted; as if the gloom of a winter’s evening had been replaced by the radiant glow of a spring dawn. All the members of the renegade alliance found themselves applauding the venerable saint who had dealt the death blow to the enemy. ‘Bravo’ cried Dino of Jackson D’Ville; ‘Rabbitin’’ cried Sir Cavan of the Dale; ‘Glory be’ cried Lord Ron of the Hale; ‘Totally ace!’ cried Captain Lou.
Sir Richard stood beside Saint Petulia and smiled beatifically at the assembled throng. Shaman Hood and Young Syd flew to his side. Saint Petulia spoke; ‘we have won a famous victory’ she said, modestly, ‘but this was a battle, not a war! We have removed the immediate threat, but the Corvid19 is an ingenious foe. It will not have concentrated itself in any one location. There will be other mind hives, possibly upon other planes of existence. The White Crows are an ancient and deadly enemy and cannot be vanquished so easily. They contain the DNA of their evil creator, the Orangeman, who, when he acted in the Age of Legends, attempted to convince humanity that the origin of the threat was in a place called Cathay. I can tell you that the Corvids were created in the laboratories of the Orangeman, and released by his agents into the atmosphere in Cathay, to make it look as if that was their origin. The Orangeman was, as you know, hunted down by his own people and died in a tunnel cowering like a dog! But the damage had already been done. He had already created the nemesis of the human race. There is only one way to win this war!’ She paused.
‘Tell us how to win the war, Saint Petulia’ cried the assembled renegades.
I know that some of you have mastered the art of travelling through time!’ she cried.
That’ll be us, then’ said the Bombardier sardonically.
‘You must travel back through time and eliminate the Orangeman before he invents the Corvid19s!’
Stunned silence greeted this proclamation. Dino of Jackson D’Ville was the first to break it. ‘Well, that’s me off, then’ he crooned. ‘I have a date with a Grand Cru and some of Messrs Fortnum and Mason’s finest canapés!’ He and his crew turned in mid-air and left.
Sir Cavan of the Dale was next to speak. ‘Ah sure would like to join y’all on this here turkey shoot, but the fact is I got a mess o’ grits and some chittlins on a low heat on board the Lucky Strike. We’d better git!’ And the Wipsters were gone.
Lord Ron surveyed the scene. ‘Time travel is your department, Captain’ he said. ‘The crew of the Eye of the Snake are at your disposal.’ ‘Thank you, Ron’ answered Captain Lou. ‘But Saint Petulia is right. It’s down to us.’ Young Syd stepped forward and spoke; ‘as a seasoned time traveller, courtesy of you, of course, I request your permission to tag along!’ ‘Permission granted’ said Captain Lou. ‘Shaman Hood smiled; ‘all is as it should be’ he said. Return to your starcruiser and may the next phase begin…………’
To be continued!
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Written by Loudhailer Electric Company’s Sonic Architect and keeper of the sacred flangector, Jeff Parsons