Season 24: Episode 1
YOWSAH! IT’S TIME FOR THE RETURN OF THOSE INTREPID LECONAUTS! HERE THEY COME TO SAVE THE DAY! HERE’S EPISODE ONE OF SEASON TWENTY-FOUR IN WHICH OUR HEROES ARE ENJOYING SOME R ’N’ R!
Captain Lou was feeling pensive; her period of shore leave was coming to an end. She and the Astral Bard had spent an idyllic septalog in their medieval castle up in the frozen northlands of Terra Gaia. She had almost forgotten that she was the commander of a Firebird Class starcruiser in the fleet of the Renegade Alliance and was enjoying the simple life of a countess, with nothing more taxing to do with her time than overseeing the production of the year’s mead vintage, supervising the harvesting of crops, arbitrating in land and matrimonial disputes between a range of minor nobles, making judgements in cases of petty crime among the peasantry, and declaring the festivities open upon the feast of Samhain. She had never had so much time on her hands! “Compared to helming a starcruiser” she mused, “this is a doddle! It’s almost like being on holiday!”
That thought, coming unbidden as it did, seemed to break an unseen spell, as almost at once a streak of purple fire shot into the air, exploded into gold and silver stars, ascended briefly, then coalesced into a holographic representation of the head of Admiral Bunting, the commander of the Renegade Alliance’s spacefleet.
“All hail Captain Lou!”, boomed the wily spacedog’s virtual voice. “All hail Admiral Bunting!”, answered the Captain. “How are things in Svalbard?!”
“Unfortunately I have had to cut my shore leave short, as I’m afraid you will have to do, too! “What seems to be the problem?” asked the Astral Bard, mischief playing in his eyes. “We are rather enjoying ourselves with nothing better to do than look after our villeins. And then you come along with the undoubted intention of spoiling things!” Captain Lou dug him in the ribs.
“What is the nature of this – eventuality – which has resulted in you curtailing your pleasures?” asked the Captain, in a more conciliatory tone. The Admiral’s huge, fiery head took on a stern countenance. “I’m afraid a temporal anomaly has resulted in the escape of a band of Post-Impressionists………..”
The Sonic Architect and Bombardier Burnby were relaxing in the cosy confines of The Menagerie, a hostelry in the backstreets of Kardomah City. They had just launched several spacechants into the aether and were now having to deal with the attentions of a multitude of adoring Terra Gaians. The Bombardier turned to the Sonic Architect and spoke conspiratorially into his ear. “These Pleasure Clones are refusing to take no for an answer; I think it’s time to make our excuses and leave!” The Sonic Architect nodded in agreement and rose to his feet. “Don’t worry!” he said reassuringly, to the crowd of clones who had begun to look concerned. “We are just going downstairs to replenish our flagons with spacejuice. We’ll be right back!” Luckily, sometime earlier the Bombardier had had the foresight to move their flangectors and thunder machine to the lower floor. They descended the stairs, followed by howls of protestation, retrieved their equipment and made a hasty withdrawal.
“Phew”, exclaimed the Sonic Architect. “That was easier than I thought it was going to be!” “Let’s not count our chickens until we’ve reached the safety of the Lecopod”, cautioned the Bombardier. They rounded a corner and proceeded into the avenue in which they’d parked their craft. Suddenly, the Bombardier stopped in his tracks and held out his arm in a signal of warning. “What is it?”, whispered the Sonic Architect. “There’s someone in the shadows just beyond the Lecopod!”, he replied. They both drew their side-instruments and crept stealthily forward. Just as they were about to issue a challenge to the virtually invisible figure a familiar voice rang out. “I hope you do better than that next time! When it may really count! A herd of Venusian Crackbeasts would have been less conspicuous!” With that a figure stepped out of the shadows and into the dim light; “Shaman Hood of the Hawk!”
The Shaman smiled. “Been enjoying yourselves?”, he enquired, slyly. “Well, you know – a small libation – marshmallows and meringues – all fairly innocuous.”
The Shaman nodded and smiled more broadly. “I have a message from Admiral Bunting. All shore leave is cancelled. You are required to report back to Spacedock immediately!”
“What’s the problem?” asked the Sonic Architect. “Has the Admiral upset the Burghers of Kardomah City again?” “I’m afraid it’s more serious than that”, replied the Shaman, his smile fading somewhat. “There is a gang of Post-Impressionists on the loose………!”
LAWKS A MERCY! IT’S TIME FOR EPISODE TWO OF SEASON TWENTY-FOUR OF THE ADVENTURES OF THE LECONAUTS! IN WHICH OUR HEROES WELCOME SOME NEWCOMERS!
“Post-Impressionists? How in Jimi’s name did that happen?”, asked Captain Lou. “We aren’t certain”, replied the Admiral, his head filling the Vistascreen on the bridge of the Leco, “but what we do know is that it happened because of a temporal anomaly. As to the cause, we are still analysing scanner results. But in the first place, we need to locate the intruders and return them to their own time before they can do any real and lasting damage.”
“How bad can it be?” asked the Astral Bard. “Aren’t they just a bunch of guys who paint funny pictures?” “I’m afraid it’s rather more serious than that”, replied the Admiral. “They may have started off in the way you describe, but they came to represent an existential threat which at the time was largely suppressed by the authorities. They were working in tandem with – darker forces – in an effort to subvert the very nature of light itself, and thereby, the continued existence of our race.”
Silence met this portentous statement; after a short time the Sonic Architect spoke. “Is this why their work was removed from all the major Galleries of Artifice?” “Precisely!”, answered the Admiral. “They were very close to opening a portal to Outside, which could have resulted in the return of the Great Old Ones, thereby unleashing the Lords of Chaos and the end of the world as we know it!”
“So why have they reappeared now, and what can we do to frustrate their purpose?” asked the Bombardier. “Firstly”, replied the Admiral, “we need to locate them, then return them to their rightful place in the space/time continuum.” “How are we going to do that?” asked the Captain, barely able to conceal her exasperation.
“A good question”, answered Admiral Bunting. “I think we are going to need some – specialist assistance!” “You mean from outside the Alliance?”, asked the Bard, somewhat incredulously. “Can’t Shaman Hood of the Hawk do one of his psyder rituals and banish them into the fourth dimension?” “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that!”, said the Admiral, a note of testiness appearing in his voice. He continued. “Yes, I do mean from outside the Alliance. I’ve identified a troop of spacechanters from Thamesville and asked them to relocate. They have some expertise in such matters.”
Thamesville; the ancient capital of Jaggerland, the small but belligerent country in the northlands of Terra Gaia, which, since the Age of Legends, had fallen into ruins and been abandoned for the more hospitable environs of Eboracum City which had long served as the principal metropolis of Jaggerland.
The Astral Bard bristled; he wasn’t sure he liked the sound of outsiders being brought in to do a job which would usually have fallen to the Leconauts. “Do we really need…”, he began, but the Admiral cut him off short; “Yes, we do really need”, he replied, and may I remind you that I am still in command of the forces of the Renegade Alliance?!”
“Of course, Admiral. No offence intended”, offered the Bard. “None taken”, replied the Admiral, although the steely glint in his eyes suggested otherwise. “Please rendezvous with me at Spacedock in two sextasets. I want you to be present to form a welcoming party!” With that, the Vistascreen crackled and the Admiral’s head disappeared, to be replaced by a moving image of seahorses, which swayed gently across the breadth of the screen.
Two sextasets later the Leconauts, together with Admiral Bunting, Shaman Hood of the Hawk and Young Syd were standing on the apron of landing strip #1 deep in the bowels of the Spacedock. The Admiral was pacing up and down impatiently. “Any sextagrain now”, he muttered.
Then, the unmistakeable sound of an approaching starcruiser filled the air. The structure of the surrounding landing strip began to shake and a cloud of gaseous emanations filled the space. Then, a huge shape emerged; it looked like a massive dwelling from the Age of Legends, and resembled a starcruiser in absolutely no respect. It was painted in a strange, vivid colour. It came to rest on the apron in front of the assembled renegades. A door opened and a figure emerged. The Admiral stepped forward. “All hail the Yellow House!” intoned the Admiral. The figure stepped forward and extended his hand in the time-honoured Terra Gaian way. “All hail Admiral Bunting! I am Captain Peter…….”
HOT DIGGETY! IT’S TIME FOR EPISODE THREE OF SEASON TWENTY-FOUR OF THE LECO CHRONICLES! IN WHICH THE LECONAUTS BEGIN TO FIND OUT JUST HOW BIG A CHALLENGE THEY ARE FACING!
“Welcome, Captain Peter, and our thanks for agreeing to assist us in our endeavours!” pronounced the Admiral. It seemed to the Bombardier that the doughty space renegade had somehow managed to make himself bigger by about three clothes sizes. He smiled and leaned closer to the Sonic Architect. “He’s really turning on the charm, isn’t he? What’s so special about these guys?!” “I don’t know”, replied the Sonic Architect, “but I suspect that we are about to find out.”
As the two Leconauts had been conducting this somewhat covert conversation two more figures had emerged from the Yellow House. The Sonic Architect couldn’t help but notice that they had adopted battle formation behind their captain, and were systematically scanning their new surroundings for any signs of ambush. “Hmmm, interesting”, muttered the Sonic Architect. “Interesting, how?” retorted the Bombardier. “Probably nothing”, replied the Sonic Architect. “Except perhaps the natural cautiousness which Sutherlings always show in their dealings with Northmen.” The Bombardier smiled; “Sutherlings, how quaint!”
Meanwhile, the Astral Bard and Captain Lou were following the time-honoured protocols which governed such meetings. With a deft arm movement, the Admiral motioned that the newcomers should follow him into the Reception Rooms immediately beyond Landing Strip#1. The three crew members of the Yellow House moved cautiously forward. They were clearly on high alert. Young Syd and Shaman Hood of the Hawk brought up the rear. Once inside, the Admiral threw a switch which precipitated the closing of the heavy steel door between the functional, militaristic Landing Strip, and the stately, more comfortable surroundings of the Reception Room. One of the Yellow House crew spun on his heels and drew a strange flangector-like device. Everyone froze and for a moment the Sonic Architect was sure that Shaman Hood was about to intervene. The tension subsided, and everyone relaxed. Admiral Bunting made the introductions and Captain Peter responded by introducing his companions as First Fiddler Pete and Guitarchitect Desmond. Shaman Hood motioned everyone to be seated. Once ensconced in the luxurious leather armchairs the mood lifted. The Admiral took up a large bottle from a walnut table and was about to speak when Shaman Hood stepped forward, his hand concealed in the voluminous folds of his mantle. “Allow me” he said, and withdrew his hand. The newcomers bristled momentarily, but then relaxed at the sight of the fabled earthenware jug.
Captain Peter smiled; “Aah, the Amphora of Antioch!” he exclaimed. “Its fame has even reached us poor Sutherlings in the wastelands of the South!” “Will you?”, proffered the Shaman. “We will indeed”, replied Captain Peter. Shaman Hood proceeded to fill goblets for each member of the assembled company. The Sonic Architect marvelled anew at how much psyder was contained within the tiny vessel. After filling eight goblets the jug was still discharging its contents at full bore.
“To the success of our enterprise!” proclaimed the Admiral, and lifted his goblet. “Success!”, repeated everyone else, and all raised the goblets to their lips and drank. The Sonic Architect felt sure that the two other crewmen of the Yellow House had only imbibed a tiny amount of the Shaman’s psyder.
“Now, to business!”, cried the Admiral. “Pray, Captain Peter”, tell us what you know of the Post-Impressionists. Captain Peter began to speak, his voice a warm baritone which cast a spell upon the listeners. Gradually, a tale unfolded.
“They were originally based in the Land of the Franks and drew people from far-off places, like moths to their flame. But it was not until after the Age of Legends that the full extent of their activity became known. They had stumbled upon cosmic secrets, unimaginable gulfs of time and space, and began to try to unlock these secrets with their work.”
“Weren’t they what used to be called ‘painters’?”, asked the Astral Bard. “Oh yes”, replied Captain Peter. “But they were much more than that. They established a network which stretched not only around this world, but also beyond it. They became galactic assassins for hire, all in the service of their over-arching aim; to allow the Great Old Ones to escape from the shackles placed upon them by the Elder Gods and reclaim their dominion over Terra Gaia.”
The company sat in silence, pondering the enormity of what they were hearing. The possibility that these people may have been able to travel across space and time to wreak havoc in the here and now was too terrible to contemplate. What could be done?
The Sonic Architect spoke; “Tell me, Captain Peter; have you had first-hand confirmation that these people are actually among us?” Captain Peter looked the Sonic Architect squarely in the eye. “I have seen their leader”, he said. “He is a brush-wielder and an assassin. He has some excellent dance moves, too!” The Astral Bard was about to ask the Bombardier what “dance moves” were, but the Sonic Architect had spoken again.
“What is his name?”, he asked. Captain Peter paused, then replied; “His name is Vincent Vega Van Gogh………..”
AY CARAMBA! IT’S TIME FOR EPISODE FOUR OF SEASON TWENTY-FOUR OF THE LECO CHRONICLES! IN WHICH OUR HEROES FIND THEMSELVES OUT-MANOUVERED!
Vincent Vega Van Gogh; the Leconauts sat in silence whilst the import of this name sunk into their collective consciousness. A person who had travelled across time and space for a purpose as yet unknown. And he wasn’t alone; who else was with him? What kind of power could they wield? And what was the aim of their quest? As if crystallising all these thoughts, Shaman Hood of the Hawk spoke; “I think we can safely assume that they haven’t come to say ‘all hail’ and ask us how we fare! We must assume that there is malevolence in their intentions. They were known as assassins, so I think we should work on the premise that they are here to bring about an end to someone’s life.”
“This is terrible!”, said Captain Lou. “To think that there are mysterious forces bent on our destruction; that they have reached out across the gulfs of space and time and are touching our lives in such a way.”
“We are no strangers to peril or threat”, answered the Bard, “but this somehow seems more personal than our previous adventures. Something I can’t quite put my finger on.” Captain Peter spoke; “Indeed, they are possessed of a subtle nature. There is depth of meaning in all they do. I fear it will not be long before their purpose becomes apparent.”
“So what do we do in the meantime?” asked the Sonic Architect. “Sit and wait for them to pay us a visit?” “Let’s take the battle to them!”, exclaimed the Bombardier. “I’ve been looking for a chance to try out my newly-upgraded thunder machine! I doubt they can withstand the power of my paraflamdiddle-diddle!” The Bard quizzically raised an eyebrow; “I think it would be best to leave your paraflamdiddle-diddle out of it!” Captain Lou elbowed him in the ribs.
Captain Peter spoke again, his mellifluous baritone leaving words hanging in the air like delicious drops of choco-treat. “Before we decided to journey to the Northlands, we had some dealings with an agent of the Galactic Council. He rode into our hamlet upon a pale horse, and did point his bony finger our way. He uttered one word, and one word only.” The company waited with baited breath. As the suspense reached breaking point the Bombardier exclaimed “Well?!!”
“Sunflowers”, answered Captain Peter. “Sunflowers?!”, scoffed the Bombardier. “What in Jimi’s name is that supposed to mean. “Alas, I know not”, replied Captain Peter. “And with that, he turned his horse and rode away.” “A curse”, said the Bard, flatly. All eyes turned to him. “It was as if he was pronouncing a curse. To mark you, in some way.”
Captain Lou’s mind was racing; the Galactic Council. There had long been a price on the heads of the Leconauts, and all the other members of the Renegade Alliance, including Admiral Bunting and their extended community of spacechanters, witches, warlocks, thanes, druids, heavy metal kids and tree-sprites. All courtesy of the Galactic Council. She realised that the renegades had become complacent; that it had only been a matter of time before they would have to face their nemesis once again.
“We must proceed with caution”, she said. “To hell with caution!”, cried the Bombardier, but Captain Lou held up her hand, palm outward, producing an immediate calming effect. “As I was saying, we need to proceed with caution. The Galactic Council would dearly love to find us, and we have allowed our guard to drop. We must…..”, but she got no further. A curious aroma filled the air and a phosphorescent nimbus enveloped the Admiral. A look of terror appeared in his eyes and then…..he was gone. The Vistascreen crackled into life and a head appeared. A full face, with dark eyes, framed by lank locks of black hair, and a bandage over one ear. The head spoke; “I am Vincent Vega Van Gogh. I hold your Admiral captive. If you want to see him again you must follow my instructions, to the letter……”
The screen went blank. “Jimi-damn!” exclaimed the Bombardier and threw his thunder sticks to the floor. A curious “popping” sound filled the air and all later swore that they had felt the same thing; that time had momentarily stood still. As everyone shook their heads and attempted to regain equilibrium, Young Syd pointed to the spot from which the Admiral had disappeared. “Look!”, he cried, pointing to the objects which had not been there only a few quantabits earlier.
It was a pair of large yellow blooms. “Sunflowers!”, said Captain Peter…………..
GADZOOKS! HERE WE GO WITH MORE ADVENTURES OF THE LECONAUTS IN SEASON TWENTY-FOUR EPISODE FIVE! IN WHICH A GAUNTLET IS THROWN DOWN BY A HOLOGRAM!
“Sunflowers!”, exclaimed the Bombardier. “But…..what…..who…..how…..why….?!!”
“Helianthus”, said the Astral Bard, quite calmly, under the circumstances. “Healy what?!” blurted the Bombardier, clearly reaching the limits of his patience. “The flower of the sun”, answered the Bard, “or Helios in the time before the Age of Legends. It was adopted as a totem by the Post-Impressionists. It is obviously a symbol of their involvement.” “How do you know all this stuff?!” asked the Bombardier, barely able to suppress his latent frustration. Captain Lou smiled at the thought of the Astral Bard ensconced in the Room of Manuscripts, deep within the bowels of the Leco, poring over ancient scripts in the extensive collection of Thought Transferences, or Teetees, which the starcruiser possessed. It was one of his favourite pastimes.
“I make it my business to know”, answered the Bard, still exuding a palpable aura of calm, despite the protestations of his more excitable crewmate. “One never knows when an understanding of the arcane may come in handy.”
“Indeed”, interjected Shaman Hood of the Hawk, stepping forward so as to place himself equidistantly between the Bard and the Bombardier. “So how does this help us to understand what may have befallen Admiral Bunting?”, he asked. “Are there any temples dedicated to the ancient cult of the sun?”, asked Captain Lou. “Do such places still exist?” Further conjecture was rendered secondary, however, as a holographic figure suddenly appeared on the Transference Spot. It was not Vincent Vega Van Gogh, but a male figure of medium height, sporting a moustache and a head of curly brown hair. “Ah am Go-ganne”, he said, in a strange accent. “Zere is no cause pour alarm. Ah mean you no ‘arm! Listen carefully to what ah ‘ave to say, as ah will say ziss urnly wernce! You must-eh select zee champignon, for to represent you in ze contest for ze lahfe of ze Admiral, n’est pas?! Zat is, eef you want to see ‘im again with ‘is ‘ead still attached to ‘is shouldairs!”
The Bombardier lunged forward, growling under his breath. Captain Lou held out her arm and whispered, “He’s a hologram!” “Even so”, replied the Bombardier. “I’d like to see how he likes the feel of a Hickory “B” where the sun don’t shine!”
But the hologram continued to speak, seemingly unconcerned at the potential threat of the Bombardier’s undoubted intent. “Ze contest will be wurne of ze terpsichory! Ze champignon which you select will face mah Ghenerale in ze challenge! ‘E is ze greatest exponent of ze terpsichory in ze Four Quadrants! ‘E will jiggy-jig you under ze table!” And then, the Transference Spot began to glow and he was gone, leaving only the aroma of garlic……….
The company fell silent again; this was becoming a tiresome regularity. Captain Peter was the first to speak. “Terpsichory? What does this mean?” “It comes from the time before the Age of Legends”, answered the Bard, again remaining infuriatingly calm in the face of the rising tension which everyone except him seemed to be feeling. “It is the name of one of the Muses; ancient goddesses who were believed to be the sources of higher knowledge. Terpsichore was the goddess of dance.” “How do you know all this stuff?!”, muttered the Bombardier. “A dance contest?!”, said Captain Peter. “I have never heard of such a thing. I fear neither I nor my crew will be of much help in such a situation. I care not for the sound of jiggy-jig under the table!” “A figure of speech”, replied the Bard. “It means that he is confident that he can easily beat our champion.”
The Sonic Architect suddenly became aware that several pairs of eyes were looking intently at him. “What?!”, he cried. Then he realised that they were all smiling, and that he had rarely seen such a level of mischief upon the visage of the Astral Bard.
“Well”, said Captain Lou, “if it’s a dance contest he wants, then it’s a dance contest he’ll get……!!”
WELL, I’LL BE GOSH-DARNED! IT’S ALREADY TIME FOR EPISODE SIX OF SEASON TWENTY-FOUR OF THE LECO CHRONICLES! IN WHICH UNSEEN FORCES INTERVENE! NO CHANGE THERE, THEN………!
Admiral Bunting opened his eyes and immediately took stock of his surroundings. “Well”, he thought to himself, “that was a new experience!” He had felt the invading force taking control of his body, seen the looks of shock and surprise on the faces of his companions, and then found himself hurtling down a dark tunnel before losing consciousness. He was now sitting on a low, hard wooden bench in a dank, dark stone-walled chamber. There was no light other than an eerie, dim phosphorescence which seemed to seep from the very walls themselves. He was alone. He looked up and all around to ensure that there were no surveillance devices. Satisfied, he moved his left hand carefully up to his right shoulder, found the spot, and pressed………..
………. Young Syd felt something akin to an electric shock in the back of his head. He was about to cry out but found that he had been robbed of the power of speech. Curiously, he felt no panic or alarm. Streams of binary code began to process across the screen of his mind’s eye. Data began to build up in blocks deep within his cerebral cortex. He understood………..
In the Reception Room of Landing Strip#1, deep in the bowels of the Spacedock, the Leconauts and the Yellow Housemates were discussing their next moves with Shaman Hood. “No way”, said the Sonic Architect. “Come on, no need to hide your light under a bushel”, said Captain Lou. “When it comes to terpsichory there’s no-one to touch you in the whole of known space! This Vincent fellow may think he’s good, but he’s obviously never seen you in action!” “I can’t help thinking that there’s more to it!”, replied the Sonic Architect. “I mean to say, who, in their right mind, pins the outcome of an audacious kidnapping on the result of a dance contest?!”
“Clearly, we are dealing with the owner of a deranged and disturbed mind”, answered Shaman Hood of the Hawk. “We cannot apply the normal rules of engagement in this situation. These people are not operating on anything like our own wavelength.” “True enough, but I’m still not convinced”, replied the Sonic Architect, sensing that the outcome of the conversation was a foregone conclusion. “If that is what Mr Vega Van Gogh wants, then who are we to deprive him?”, said the Bombardier. “He doesn’t know what he’s letting himself in for. And if the result is the safe return of the Admiral, then so be it!”
“OK”, said the Sonic Architect, resignedly, “I’ll do it!” “Excellent!”, said Captain Lou. “Now, I think our best course of action is to return to our starcruisers and prepare for the next communication from our adversaries!” “Sound thinking”, said Captain Peter. “I have some knowledge of the locations in which the Post-Impressionists may have secreted themselves. We will use our scanners to try and pinpoint them!” “Good plan!”, replied Captain Lou. “Now, Young Syd…..”. As she turned to where the canny renegade had been standing mere quantabits ago, the words froze on her lips. He was not there. “Did anyone see…..”; “He was there literally moments ago!” replied the Bard. “Oh no”, sighed the Sonic Architect, “they haven’t taken him too, have they……..?”
Young Syd was flying through space, protected by an envirobubble, and heading northward. The data playing across the screen in his mind’s eye was leading him to a familiar destination, but as to why, he had no idea. As he neared his journey’s end a magical sight filled his eyes; the Aurora Borealis, in all its wondrous glory of rainbow hues, pulsing and shifting in myriad patterns of fantastical light. It was a sight which he knew he would never tire of seeing. A refrain sprang to life, unbidden, to accompany the sublime vista; “See-e-e Emily Play……..”
As if being controlled by some automatic pilot, he began to descend, and there it was below him; Svalbard, the location of Admiral Bunting’s secret personal retreat. He was pleased to see the familiar landscape hurtling toward him, but then felt a pang as he realised the Admiral would not be there in his log cabin. He landed on the front porch and felt the release of the unseen force which had guided his journey. As his own senses became fully restored he realised that there was a light on inside, and shadows were dancing, as those which were cast by an open fire…..
Cautiously, he approached the door and tentatively pushed it…….to be greeted by the familiar voice of Admiral Bunting!
“Aah, there you are! What kept you……?!”
HOITY-TOITY! HERE WE GO WITH EPISODE SEVEN OF SEASON TWENTY-FOUR OF THE LECO CHRONICLES! IN WHICH THE THREADS BEGIN TO ENTWINE…….!
“But…..what…..who…..how…..why….?!!” Young Syd could not hide his surprise in finding the Admiral reclining in a padded armchair, his favourite tartan blanket draped across his legs and a large colourful cocktail, complete with umbrella, clasped in his hand, looking for all the world as if he were on holiday.
“Surely you don’t expect that a senior officer of the Renegade Alliance would allow himself to be made a monkey of?! I’d never live it down!”
“How did you escape from – them – whoever?!”, asked Young Syd, clearly still stunned at finding the doughty spacedog under such circumstances. “Temporal displacement implant”, answered the Admiral, patting his shoulder appreciatively. “I recently had it upgraded – it left a hologram of me in the cell and summoned you – they probably don’t even realise that I’ve escaped!”
“But who….how…?!”, “oh, for Jimi’s sake, don’t start all that again!”, said the Admiral, testily. “The fact is that I’m here, not there, and now that you’re also here we can plan our next move!”
“And what exactly is our next move?!”, asked Young Syd, tentatively. He wasn’t completely sure that he wanted to hear the answer.
“Well”, said the Admiral, leaning forward conspiratorially, “you’ll like this……….”
…..Captain Peter sat at the helm of his starcruiser, the Yellow House. To his left and right his crew, First Fiddler Pete and Guitarchitect Desmond were studiously monitoring banks of data displayed on Vistascreens. The Captain was thinking to himself. Since leaving Thamesville and arriving in the Northlands he and his crew had enjoyed a pleasant, if uneventful, sojourn, launching their spacechants into the aether and getting to know the denizens of Kardomah City. Suddenly, with the invitation of Admiral Bunting, their lives had been turned upside down. There was even talk of the Galactic Council, and Captain Peter certainly didn’t want to become involved with them again in a hurry. He shuddered involuntarily.
“Fix!”, cried First Fiddler Pete. Captain Peter and Guitarchitect Desmond leaned over to study Pete’s screen. There it was. “So that’s where they are! Get me Captain Lou…….. !”
Captain Lou sat at the helm of the Leco, Shaman Hood and her crewmates arrayed around her. They were intently watching the Vistascreen which was currently showing images of a younger Sonic Architect giving a spirited display of terpsichory. “Ah, yes, I remember it well!”, he said. “I’m not sure that Commander Scott was entirely approving of that activity!”, said the Captain. “Can you still do that?”, asked the Bard. “Do you still want to do that?!”, added the Bombardier. “Yes, I can!”, replied the Sonic Architect, and what’s more I’ll do what is necessary to ensure the safe return of the Admiral. “You’ll need to go into training”, said Captain Lou. I think your fondness for Ambrosia and Spacenectar may prevent you from giving of your best…..!”
With that the Vistascreen crackled and the head of Captain Peter replaced the wild gyrations of the Sonic Architect. “All hail the Leconauts!” said Captain Peter. “All hail the Yellow Housemates!”, replied Captain Lou. “We have located the Post-Impressionists!” announced the Sutherling. “Excellent work!”, said Captain Lou……..
“……I see!”, said Young Syd. “That will really put the fangbeast among the tribbles!” “I thought so!”, answered the Admiral. “But let’s keep it to ourselves…..!” Young Syd nodded conspiratorially. “What are you two up to?”, came a familiar voice. The Admiral and Young Syd turned in its direction and spoke simultaneously; “Shaman Hood of the Hawk!” The wily Shaman moved forward, closing the door behind him. “But…..what…..who…..how…..why….?!!”, said Young Syd…….
“……The Post-Impressionists are currently located at a……..”, but Captain Peter got no further. The screen crackled and his visage was replaced by that of Go-ganne, Vincent Vega Van Gogh’s henchman. His face wore a disdainful sneer. He spoke; “Ah see zat we meet again!” He chuckled imperiously. “Ah ‘ope zat you ‘ave chosen ze champignon to be ‘umiliated bah mah Ghenerale?!”
“We have indeed!”, answered Captain Lou. The steely glint in her eye seemed to take the wind out of Go-ganne’s sails, and his mien lost some of its confident hauteur. “’Oo is ‘e?”, he asked. The Sonic Architect stepped forward. “You are correct, there will be humiliation”, he proclaimed, “but the one feeling it will be your Ghenerale!” “Huh!”, scoffed Go-ganne. “Ah sink zat soon you will laugh on ze ozzer sahde of your face!”, he exclaimed. But the Sonic Architect noted that he didn’t seem quite as self-assured as he had done a few quantabits ago.
“We will send ze shuttle to your piffling tugboat! Eet will bring you to ze rendezvous, n’est pas?!” “And where exactly might that be?!” asked Captain Lou.
“Why, eet will be at ze ‘eadquarters of mah Ghenerale, ze Jackrabbit Slim’s……….!”
BY JINGO, IT’S TIME FOR EPISODE EIGHT OF SEASON TWENTY-FOUR OF THE LECO CHRONICLES! CAN THE LECONAUTS PULL OFF THEIT MOST AUDACIOUS VICTORY YET? WHAT DO YOU THINK…….?!
“…..at a place called Jackrabbit….” “Slim’s, yes, we have just been informed by Go-ganne. He hijacked the Vistascreen as we were talking earlier.” Captain Lou felt a little mean stealing some of Captain Peter’s thunder, but his response put those thoughts firmly out of her mind. “Earlier? When earlier?”, he asked, with a degree of puzzlement, Captain Lou thought. “Several sextagrains ago. You were talking, just about to tell me the whereabouts of the Post-Impressionists and Go-ganne butted in. I’ve been talking to him for, oh, around ten sextagrains.” “But that’s impossible! I have experienced no break in our conversation! I began telling you of my information about ten quantabits ago!” This was a concern; clearly, Captain Peter had not experienced the passage of time in the same way as Captain Lou. Someone was playing around with the space/time continuum. A thought suddenly occurred to her. She turned around and said “Shaman Hood…”, expecting to find the wily adventurer standing behind her, but he was nowhere to be seen. “Did you see….? Oh, never mind…….!”
……Shaman Hood of the Hawk, Admiral Bunting and Young Syd were sitting around the fire in the Admiral’s log cabin in Svalbard. A casual observer would have seen three old friends enjoying a relaxing time in convivial surroundings, and would have no idea that they were actually making plans which would affect the entire threads of time and space.
“Now, let me get this straight”, said Young Syd. “The dance contest is an ambush, and the Post-Impressionists are going to let star-spawn through an Opening from Outside?!” “Exactly!”, answered the Admiral. I was able to intercept some traffic whilst I was confined in that cellar; another handy feature of my Temporal Displacement Implant. They weren’t exactly taking care with their security.” “So are we going to allow the contest to take place?!”, asked Young Syd, incredulously. “Oh yes”, answered the Shaman. “I don’t think the Sonic Architect would ever forgive us if we didn’t……..!”
Vincent Vega Van Gogh, Go-ganne and three other figures were sitting in a convertible car from the Age of Legends in their headquarters, Jack Rabbit Slim’s. “More vino, Go-ganne”, drawled Vincent. His lieutenant poured a dark red liquid into several crystal goblets. “What say you, Sure-rat? Are we to be remembered as the ones who brought the Renegade Alliance to its knees? The ones who watched them beg for mercy as the Galactic Council herded them like cattle into a Transmogrification Box?!” “Ah care not what ‘appens to zem!”, replied Sure-rat. “Ah agree vizz Say-zanne, zey are not worth ze consideration of such as we! When ze Great Old Ones return we will be exalted above all ozzers!” “Yes”, replied Vincent, laconically. “But first, I want to beat the Sonic Architect in the dance contest!” “But ma Ghenerale, surely you do not intend to go through with ziss charade?!”, said Go-ganne incredulously. “Oh yes!”, replied Vincent; “I will have that trophy! And then, we unleash hell…….!”
……Captain Peter contemplated the events which had led to this moment; he could see a path clearly laid out, from Thamesville to Kardomah City, but he needed to see beyond. He closed his eyes and projected his mind forward. It was something he had been able to do since he was a small boy. His crew sat either side of him as he travelled the Astral Plane, seeking, searching. His eyes opened and he sat up with a start. “Set a course! Reverse temporal thrusters! Twelve quantabits and six degrees of separation…….!”
……The Sonic Architect was ready. His initial sense of doubt had been replaced by an ambitious confidence. He could do this. He would win the dance contest and the Admiral would be returned. Except he knew it wouldn’t quite play out like that. How could it? There was something more – something they had missed. But it was too late to change anything. They would have to proceed as planned.
The Vistascreen crackled into life, and the head of Go-ganne appeared. “So, we French fellows are wizz you again! Prepare to meet your doom! Ze shuttle awaits!”
The four Leconauts stood on the Transference Spot and emerged in the docking area deep in the bowels of the Leco. The Post Impressionist’s shuttle stood ready. They entered and the craft began to move. This was it. No turning back. They were on their way to Jackrabbit Slim’s………
WELL, I’LL GO TO THE FOOT OF OUR STAIRS! IT’S SEASON FINALE TIME! WILL THE SONIC ARCHITECT SAVE THE DAY WITH HIS TERPSICHOREAN ENDEAVOURS?! READ ON………!
All four Leconauts sat in the shuttle which the Post-Impressionists had sent to ferry them to Jackrabbit Slim’s. Captain Lou noted that the craft’s Vistascreen was blank, indicating that their hosts were keen to keep the location of their hideout a secret.
The Sonic Architect sat with his eyes closed; he was going through dance moves in his head, determined to give a good account of himself. The Astral Bard was thinking of his armchair in the Room of Manuscripts; the place where he felt most safe and secure. Bombardier Burnby was running attack protocols; he was sure that there would be combat, and he wanted to be ready for any eventuality.
Finally, the shuttle came to a halt and the doors opened. And there was Vincent Vega Van Gogh, smiling enigmatically, the blood-stained bandage around his head looking incongruous against his black suit and white shirt and tie. “Welcome to Jackrabbit Slim’s”, he announced urbanely and beckoned them in with an elegant flourish of his arm.
Once inside Captain Lou stopped in her tracks. It seemed that the entire Renegade Alliance was there; The Yellow Housemates; Lord Ron of the Hale and the Eyes of the Snake; Sir Cavan of the Dale and the crew of the Lucky Strike and many more, all seated in convertible cars from the Age of Legends. Noting the look of surprise on Captain Lou’s face Vincent Vega Van Gogh spoke; “I thought it would be appropriate to have an audience for our little – soiree. And as you may feel disadvantaged by being on our home turf I felt having your – friends here would help to redress the balance.” Captain Lou felt that this was an eminently acceptable explanation. Somewhere deep in the back of her mind she felt that her head was swimming………..
As well as the crews of the Renegade Alliance’s finest starcruisers there were several Post-Impressionists sitting in cars on the edge of the dance floor. Captain Lou noted Go-ganne, sneering disdainfully, and several other louche-looking fellows. She shuddered inwardly.
Go-ganne stood up purposefully and, giving the Leconauts barely enough time to be seated, announced “Let ze contest begin!” A spacechant was launched into the aether by unknown means – there were no spacechanters to be seen. This was a gross infringement of protocol, but Captain Lou decided to let it go.
Vincent Vega Van Gogh and the Sonic Architect stepped onto the dance floor and began to circle one another, like two wary lions. Captain Lou noted that the Sonic Architect had taken her advice and cut down on the Ambrosia and Spacenectar. He was in peak condition…..
Then, the two competitors began their dance. Vincent started with an understated shuffle but the Sonic Architect was immediately whirling like a demented dervish. “Oh no”, thought the Bombardier, “he’s peaking too early! He’ll never be able to keep that up!” He noted, however, that Vincent Vega Van Gogh looked perturbed; he had clearly not been expecting to come up against an adversary of this quality. He upped his shuffle into a leisurely frug. “He’s certainly a cool customer!”, thought Captain Lou. “He’s waiting for the Sonic Architect to tire so he can move in for the kill!”
But the Sonic Architect showed no signs of waning. In fact, he became more and more animated as the contest progressed. It became apparent that he had out-manoeuvred his opponent in every way, but Captain Lou was not prepared for what came next. Vincent Vega Van Gogh simply stopped dancing and hung his head. “I concede!” he exclaimed. “Non!”, cried Go-ganne, leaping to his feet and bearing his teeth in a feral snarl. “You cannot!” But the Bombardier was already on the dance floor, holding the Sonic Architect’s arm aloft in the time-honoured gesture which signified a claim to victory. The assembled renegades were on their feet, clapping and cheering. The Post-Impressionists all moved toward the Bombardier and Sonic Architect with, Captain Lou realised, deadly intent. Captain Peter leapt to his feet and screamed “It’s a trap!” At once the renegades adopted battle formation. But then, several things happened almost simultaneously. Admiral Bunting, Young Syd and Shaman Hood of the Hawk all materialised in the middle of the dance floor, between the two Leconauts and the advancing Post-Impressionists. Captain Lou saw the Admiral’s hand go up to his neck in a curious gesture. Then, at the back of the room a mass of twinkling stars announced the arrival of yet another party. From the swirling effulgence a figure emerged; he was wearing a Gannex raincoat and bowler hat and carried a clipboard. “I know him!” exclaimed Captain Lou. The figure spoke; “I am Bland Formulaic of the Galactic Council’s Special Hyperspace Investigations Team! You are all under arrest!” Several more bowler-hatted figures appeared behind him.
Captain Lou could not believe her eyes or ears. This was a disaster. The entire Renegade Alliance in the same place and trapped like rats by the Galactic Council. “Round them up!” ordered the unremarkable official. His agents stepped forward. Bombardier Burnby was about to launch a paraflam-diddle-diddle but the Captain caught his arm just in time. A realisation had just dawned upon her. None of the newcomers had so much as looked at any of the renegades. It was as if all they could see were the Post-Impressionists! She looked across at Admiral Bunting who smiled and nodded! But Go-ganne wasn’t about to go quietly. He began chanting in a toneless dirge and the rest of the Post-Impressionists joined in. Captain Lou fancied she heard the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin, monotonous whine of accursed flutes.
The walls of Jackrabbit Slim’s seemed to implode and suddenly the space was filled with the impossible shapes of noxious star-spawn; mad, gibbering, slavering, ravening entities which lurked forever on the Outside of our existence, waiting for some poor misguided soul to let them in…….
But then Admiral Bunting, Shaman Hood and Young Syd began an incantation of their own; it went something like “B-boom, chi-chi, b-boom, chi-chi” then Shaman Hood began quacking like a duck and Young Syd began to intone “doy-doy, doy-doy”. The rest of the assembled renegades joined in. Suddenly, the star-spawn, the agents of the Galactic Council and the Post-Impressionists all began to move backwards, like an old film which had been reversed and speeded up. They were sucked into a vortex which centred in the middle of the dance floor, into which they all simply disappeared, like shipwrecked mariners. Go-ganne and Bland Formulaic were the last to go, each with their hands around the other’s throat, their faces frozen into grim rictuses.
And then it was over. The remaining renegades stood in awestruck silence for a quantabit, then all began to cheer! “How the hell did you do that?”, asked the Bombardier. “It was simple, really!”, answered the Admiral, patting his neck. “A Temporal Displacement Implant, plus a little extra something from Young Syd and the Shaman. Worked quite well, I thought!” “That’s an understatement!” said Captain Lou. “I thought we were done for when I saw Bland Formulaic!” “Yes, he was a surprise, wasn’t he?! I think Go-ganne had been planning this all along. He figured to get you out of the way by informing the Galactic Council of your whereabouts. Backfired somewhat, didn’t it?” “It certainly did!”, replied the Captain. “How come?!” “Well, I was not only able to cloak you and the other renegades but also to project your likenesses onto the Post-Impressionists. So Bland Formulaic couldn’t see your real selves, but thought that the Post-Impressionists were actually you!”
A groan came from the floor behind them; they all turned to see Vincent Vega Van Gogh sitting up with his hand on the back of his head and a dazed look in his eyes. “What happened?!” he asked. “It’s a long story!” answered the Admiral. “Come on!”, and with that he offered his arm to the stupefied Post-Impressionist.
“To the Spaceport!” cried the Admiral. “Let us celebrate this decisive victory by imbibing many flagons of spacejuice and launching our spacechants into the aether………!”
THANKS TO ALL WHO BEAMED INTO THE SPACEPORT OF O’RILEY LAST NIGHT! GOODNIGHT VINCENT AND LOUDHAILER ELECTRIC CO REALLY ENJOYED LAUNCHING THEIR SPACECHANTS INTO THE AETHER! AND NOW, IN TIME-HONOURED TRADITION, HERE’S THE POSTSCRIPT TO SEASON TWENTY-FOUR OF THE LECO CHRONICLES!
And so it came to pass that the Leconauts, The Yellow Housemates and sundry renegades did converge upon the Temple of Song at Admiral Bunting’s Spaceport.
The Yellow Housemates did launch their spacechants into the aether and the assembled throng saw that it was good. The Leconauts followed suit, but the Sonic Architect did not engage in any acts of terpsichory. When asked “why not?” by the Bombardier he replied “I’m still waiting for my trophy from the contest at Jackrabbit Slim’s!” First fiddler Dexter did jump ship from the Lucky Strike to weave enchanting melodies with the Sonic Architect!
Shaman Hood did proffer his fabled earthenware jug, and all who supped from it were seized by a feeling of reverie and didst spend the rest of the evening grinning from ear to ear.
At one point in the proceedings Captain Lou approached the Admiral and said “One thing is bothering me! When I was talking with Captain Peter via the Vistascreen and Go-ganne interrupted, time seemed to stand still for Captain Peter, but not for us. Do you have any idea why such a thing may have happened?” The Admiral grinned sheepishly; “Yes, I think I can explain that! I was demonstrating my Temporal Displacement Implant to the Shaman and Young Syd. I may have got carried away and shunted the Yellow House slightly backwards. But I brought them back to stasis later!” “I see” answered the Captain. “Funny”, thought the Admiral, “how someone can convey so much disapproval with two small words!”
The Bombardier sidled up to the Astral Bard and whispered conspiratorially, “One thing is bothering me! How can we trust this Vincent fellow? Wasn’t he the leader of the Post-Impressionists?” The Bard regarded the Bombardier quizzically. “He was under mind-control”, he replied. “Go-ganne was the evil genius behind it all. He even cut off Vincent’s ear to, ahem, ‘persuade’ Vincent to do as he asked.” “Really?! That’s terrible!” “Indeed”, agreed the Bard. And his chromographs were awful!”
As the evening drew to a close, Vincent Vega Van Gogh began to visibly flag. The stresses and strains of recent events were catching up with him. “What do you plan to do?” asked Captain Peter. “I think I will return to my own time, from whence I was plucked by that evil Go-ganne. I will take up my painting again – I have much inspiration to draw upon! Young Syd has offered to accompany me on the journey. But now, I fear I must remove myself from this most pleasurable gathering and retire for the night. He bowed gracefully, turned and left, as the entire assembly called after him “Goodnight, Vincent!”
Discover more Adventures of the Leconauts here:: https://loudhailer.net/the-leco-chronicles
Written by Loudhailer Electric Company’s Sonic Architect and keeper of the sacred flangector, Jeff Parsons