The continuing adventures of the Leconauts
Leco and a tale of two Alices
We’ll start this season with an unlikely sentence from the review of Withstock festival:
“Loudhailer Electric company did an amazing mind blowing prog rock fantastically arranged truly wondrous version of CHRISTOPHER ROBIN AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE” (Withstock organiser, Richard Harries).
So, what’s the story?
THE ADVENTURES OF THE LECONAUTS SEASON 10 BEGINS! Our sonorous sci fi scribe sets the scene for the next instalment in the continuing chronicles of LECo:
THE LOUDHAILER ELECTRIC COMPANY MOTHERSHIP CREW ARE ON A MISSION TO SAVE THE UNIVERSE WITH THE HELP OF SAINT PETULIA OF CLARKSDALE…
The Leco sped through the Morpheus Nebula, past vast clouds of primal gases in which stars and planets were being born. The crew were enjoying the galactic lightshow from the comfort of the observation deck.
Captain Lou spoke; ‘this is exactly why I joined the Galactic Fleet! What a shame it all went wrong! Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way!’
‘If it wasn’t for the Galactic Council breaking away from the Pan-Galactic-Union then I guess we wouldn’t be here now!’ said the Astral Bard.
‘Indeed’ said the Sonic Architect. ‘And if the President of the PGU had carried out his threat to flangect the Galactic Council into spacedust then nobody would be here!’
‘Yes’ said Bombardier Walker. ‘I guess we should be thankful they just blew raspberries and shouted “ner-ner-ne-ner-ner” at each other for a couple of dodecamoons! We could easily have been flangector fodder!’
The Leconauts fell silent. The Astral Bard looked around at his crewmates. There was mischief in his eye.
The Vistascreen crackled into life. An unfamiliar face appeared.
‘All hail the Leconauts! I am Sir Richard of Harries, the Bard of the Withering Sea! A doom has fallen upon the Plains of Older Ness. I have journeyed from the Drifting Field to the Scarred Burrow searching out spacechants and I need your help to locate a chanteuse from the Time of Legends!’
‘Surely, a chanteuse from the Time of Legends would not still live?!’ exclaimed the Astral Bard. ‘How is such a mission possible?!’
Sir Richard smiled a wily smile. ‘I have heard that not only are you space travellers, but time travellers also!’ He sat back, looking pleased with himself.
‘Time Travel is dangerous’ said Captain Lou, ‘and not to be undertaken lightly. Who is this chanteuse and why is she so important?’
Sir Richard joined his hands in supplication and fell to his knees. He cast his eyes down. ‘She is Saint Petulia of Clarksdale, most venerated of the AngloFrancos.’
‘I see’ said Captain Lou. ‘And why is she so…important?’
Sir Richard appeared to consider for a moment before deciding to speak.
‘Her spacechants contain coded messages predicting the end of the universe. But they also contain the information which can prevent this. And I have decoded them. I know how to save the universe, but to do so, I need a starcruiser, and a crew who are not afraid to put themselves in the way of certain peril….’
The Leconauts were gathered in the Room of Manuscripts, deep in the bowels of the Leco. They were searching for information from the Time of Legends pertaining to Saint Petulia of Clarksdale. Captain Lou wanted to be better informed before agreeing to place her ship, her crew and herself at the services of Sir Richard of Harries.
‘Here’s something!’ exclaimed the Astral Bard, who was holding a large Teetee in his hands. ‘Saint Petulia was once a renegade!’
‘Really?’ said Captain Lou. ‘Tell us more!’
‘She went downtown and had to sleep in a subway! She tried to colour the world when everything was grey. And she tried to overthrow the monarchy by changing the guard at Buckingham Palace!’
‘Whoa, just hold on!’ said the Bombardier. Are you still speaking Spaceish? I hardly understood a word of that!’
‘Sorry’ said the Astral Bard. He was apt to forget that not all his crewmates were as well-versed in the history of the Time of Legends as he was.
‘Downtown was the poorer part of a city in the Time of Legends. I think it means she was more at home with the ordinary people than the elite. And a subway is a tunnel under a road in which the underclass sometimes had to live. She’s telling people they don’t have to sleep there! Again, it shows she was in touch with the regular folk.’
‘OK’ said the Bombardier, ‘but what is monarchy’.
The Astral Bard smiled; there was mischief in his eye. ‘You won’t believe this, but in the Time of Legends the people were ruled by a single family.’
He paused, clearly savouring the silence this seemingly ridiculous statement had produced.
‘It’s true’ he continued. ‘We weren’t always ruled by the mega corporations, like Goopplezon. We used to be ruled, well, our ancestors, by a family!’
Another moment of silence, then all three of his crewmates burst out laughing. ‘You nearly had us there!’ laughed the Bombardier.
The laughter died as each of the other three realised there was no longer any hint of mischief in the Astral Bard’s eye.
‘You mean the people accepted rule by a – single family?!’ exclaimed the Sonic Architect incredulously.
‘Not only accepted it, but embraced it!’ said the Astral Bard. ‘And from what I’ve found, I think Saint Petulia was a leading figure in the movement to bring about change! Think about it – changing the guard at a palace!’
‘What’s a palace?’ asked the Bombardier.
‘A huge dwelling that the ruling family lived in – about a hundred times bigger than the houses their subjects lived in.’ replied the Astral Bard.
‘Imagine that’ exclaimed the Sonic Architect, ‘living in a palace as big as that!’
‘Not just one’ said the Astral Bard, ‘they had several!’
‘But, how did the people accept it?!’ asked the increasingly-exasperated Sonic Architect.
‘There did come a point when the corporations were powerful enough to overthrow the monarchy. So the people swapped one set of leaders for another!’ said the Astral Bard. ‘And Saint Petulia was always a champion of the people – she said the other man’s grass is always greener – a coded challenge to the power of privilege!’
‘Right’ said Captain Lou. ‘That settles it – we will help Sir Richard of Harries to find Saint Petulia of Clarksdale!’
‘Set course for the Withering Sea’ said Captain Lou.
‘Aye aye Cap’n’ replied the Astral Bard. ‘Er, which planet is the Withering Sea to be found upon?’
The smallest of pauses; ‘Terra Gaia’ replied Captain Lou.
Terra Gaia; that small and insignificant world which seemed to exert such a pull upon the Leco and her crew.
The Astral Bard waved his hand over the input console in a series of deft gestures and the computers whirred into life. Two septalogs later and the Leco was in orbit over the Plains of Older Ness. The Leconauts entered the Lecopod and prepared to travelate down to the surface. The Withering Sea lay below them, glinting in the sunlight.
‘Sir Richard is famed for his hospitality’ said Captain Lou. ‘We must be careful with the spacejuice until we’ve evaluated all the environmental parameters.’
A hexabit later and the Lecopod touched down. A sumptuous edifice stood before them decorated in a blaze of clashing psychedelic colours. ‘Right up my street’ thought the Sonic Architect. With that a set of double entry portals swung open and a figure dressed in a suit which matched to the finest detail the décor on the building walked out to greet them.
‘All hail the Leconauts! Welcome to the Withering Sea! And my thanks for agreeing to help me in my quest!’
‘All hail Sir Richard of Harries!’ answered Captain Lou. ‘We are pleased to make your acquaintance.’
‘Please, come inside and allow me to offer you some spacejuice.’ Captain Lou and Ricardo the Astral Bard exchanged glances, then all five of them went inside. None of the Leconauts was prepared for the sight which met their eyes. The interior of Sir Richard’s palatial domicile was covered with images of Saint Petulia of Clarksdale. Holographic representations of her occupied vantage points in every room, and all were launching spacechants into the aether. Upon the ceilings giant projections of Saint Petulia in spacevisuals were being played out.
Sir Richard offered the Leconauts seats and then a hospitality droid entered the room and poured five tall glasses of dark red spacejuice. The droid navigated the room and handed each person a glass, bowing as it did so.
‘Tell me, Sir Richard’ said Captain Lou, after each of the company had saluted the other, chinked glasses and drank, where, or perhaps when, do you think we can find Saint Petulia?’
‘Well, that is interesting’ said the colourful cavalier. ‘Since I first spoke to you I have made a singular discovery!’ He paused for dramatic effect. The Leconauts all leaned forward without realising they were doing so.
Sir Richard continued; ‘I can find no record of death for Saint Petulia. It is my belief that at some point before the end of the Time of Legends she foresaw the coming doom and had herself placed into cryogenic suspension! Unfortunately I don’t know where, and the code which I need to unlock the mystery is contained within an ancient spacechant which did not survive intact. With your ability to move back in time I think we can locate this spacechant and bring it forward, enabling me – er, us – to unlock the code!’
‘But how can we bring a spacechant forward once it’s been launched into the aether?’ asked the Bombardier.
‘Because’ replied Sir Richard, ‘in the Time of Legends spacechants were not only launched into the aether; they were also captured on small discs, so they could be listened to again!’ Stunned silence greeted this pronouncement. ‘And I know of a place at which these discs could be procured.’ He paused again for dramatic effect. ‘At the sign of Sir Sidney of the Scarred Burrow, in Kardomah City………’
The Leconauts had returned to the Leco and were busy constructing the Edifice of Song in the Studio of the Fair View deep in the bowels of the Starcruiser. Sir Richard had asked if he could come with them but Captain Lou had said it was too risky to take five people back in time due to the increased danger of causing a Temporal Anomaly. He had protested a little but then accepted that the reason was a sound one.
The Leconauts took their positions and upon the arcane command of ‘onetwothreefour’ from the Sonic Architect they began to launch their spacechant into the aether. The Astral Bard began to intone the runic spell; ‘I’m a time traveller, and I will break your heart…….’ A familiar pull in the pit of the stomach and a sudden lurch left then right. A moment of darkness and fuzzy disconnection, and then – wham! Suddenly they were on the streets of Kardomah City in the Time of Legends.
Captain Lou had briefed her crew to remind them of the unusual behaviour and customs they would encounter, just as they had done on their previous visit to this time. ‘Remember Udder’s Field?’ the Captain had said. ‘We must blend in with the population.’
‘The smell!’ thought Bombardier Walker. ‘They are still burning fossil fuel. My eyes are on fire!’
Then, just in front of them, there it was – the emporium of Sir Sydney of the Scarred Burrow, rendered in the language of the time as ‘Sidney Scarborough’. The window was full of small objects carrying pictures of what looked like bards and chanteuses, and other, more abstract and outlandish designs. One caught the Sonic Architect’s eye – it bore the legend ‘In Search of Space – Hawkwind’.
Once inside Captain Lou realised that the shopkeepers were looking at them askance, as was a solitary customer. ‘All hail Sir Sidney of the Scarred Burrow!’ said the Astral Bard. ‘I’m sorry?!’ said the shopkeeper, looking somewhat baffled. Captain Lou elbowed the Astral Bard in the ribs.
‘I am Lou Loudhailer’ said Captain Lou and held out her hand in the Terra Gaian way. ‘Er, Varenka’ said the shopkeeper. ‘Pleased to meet you, I’m sure!’
The customer turned around and regarded the Leconauts. ‘Hi, I’m Syd’ he said. ‘You don’t look like you’re from round here!’ A moment of panic – had they been rumbled?! But then Captain Lou spoke. ‘You are Syd – Sir Sidney of the Scarred Burrow?’
‘No, just Syd’ smiled the customer. ‘But I may as well be that Sid for all the time and money I spend in here!’ Varenka laughed.
‘Money?’ said the Astral Bard. ‘Spacecoin’ whispered Captain Lou.
‘Can I help you?’ asked Varenka.
‘We seek a spacechant’ said the Astral Bard. Captain Lou elbowed him in the ribs again and he doubled over, wheezing. ‘We seek a record’ said Captain Lou, remembering the parlance Sir Richard had instructed her to use. ‘It is called Petula ’71!’
‘Aah’ said Varenka, ‘Petula Clark!’
‘No, Saint Petulia of Clarksdale’ said the Astral Bard. Captain Lou elbowed him in the ribs again. Once more he doubled over, wheezing. ‘Yes, Petula Clark’ said Captain Lou with surprising equanimity. The customer called Syd glanced over and then sniggered to himself.
‘This is what you want’ he said, proffering a square flat object made of a paper-based material. ‘Pink Floyd’s “Meddle”. Just released. Superb stuff!’
‘Thank you’ said Captain Lou. ‘We’ll take that too!’ The youngster smiled. ‘You won’t be sorry’, he said. Captain Lou caught a glimpse of mischief in the youth’s eye. Meanwhile the Sonic Architect had opened the intricate cover of the artefact he had seen in the window, having been beguiled by the design featuring stars and the reference to space. He had found a document inside which seemed to be the log of a starcruiser called the Hawkwind! ‘We’ll take this too!’ he said, barely able to contain his excitement.
‘And here’s your Petula Clark LP’ said Varenka. ‘Will that be all?’ Captain Lou felt a triumphant thrill as the face of Saint Petulia of Clarksdale smiled enigmatically from the image captured on the cover of the disc…………
The Leconauts left the emporium of Sir Sidney of the Scarred Burrow and began to make their way back to the piece of waste ground which they’d identified earlier as a suitable place to make good the return to their own time. Captain Lou had the unsettling feeling that they were being followed, and once or twice looked back swiftly only to see a blur of movement disappear behind a wall or fence. Her brain began to work overtime. What if Marshall Fender Gibson or Bland Formulaic had followed them? – but no, that was a ridiculous idea!
They reached the waste ground, near a metal bridge over a river, and stood in a diamond configuration. Just then someone appeared from behind a bush; it was Syd, the youth from the emporium of Sir Sidney.
‘Take me with you’ he said. ‘Please.’ For a moment Captain Lou considered doing just that. There was something about this youth with a wildness in his eye…
‘We can’t’ she finally said. ‘I’m sorry, but it would be dangerous, not only for you, but for, well, everybody.’
‘You’re from the future, aren’t you?!’ he said, with a degree of certainty which brooked no denial.
‘I, we…it was good to meet you, Syd. Be careful!’
With that Syd turned on his heels and ran.
The Astral Bard began intoning the ancient spacechant which would take them back to their own time…….
Back on the bridge of the Leco, the four space renegades relaxed at last. They surveyed the artefacts which they had brought back…Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, and Petula Clark! Hard to believe that this innocuous object held the key to saving the universe!
Just then the Vistascreen crackled into life and a sinister hooded figure appeared.
‘I am Lord Benjamin of Louisville’ it barked, ‘and you have something which belongs to me. I demand that you return it now!’
‘What exactly do you think we have of yours?’ asked Captain Lou.
‘Don’t play games with me’ barked the evil-looking apparition. ‘You have a copy of Petula’71 – and all copies belong to me! It was released on my label and I have scoured the universe to retrieve every last one! I demand that you beam it onto my Starcruiser, the Marble Arch, immediately!’ He clicked his fingers behind his shoulder, as if issuing some secret command. Then the Vistascreen crackled and the face of Sir Richard of Harries appeared.
‘Don’t listen to him! Get out of there NOW!’ he cried.
‘Full thunder!’ ordered Captain Lou. The Bombardier engaged the Sablestar and the Leco pulsed into nova drive.
‘Shields!’ cried Captain Lou. ‘Flangectors to the rear! Extreme modulation!’ A mighty salvo of deadly arpeggios streaked from the rear battery, devastating everything in its path. The Vistascreen crackled again and revealed the hooded figure of Lord Benjamin of Louisville bent double, shaking its fists and screaming ‘Nooooooooooo…….!’
‘That was close!’ said Captain Lou, demonstrating her talent for understatement. ‘Thank Jimi that Sir Richard was able to disrupt Lord Benjamin’s comms.’
‘We owe him a debt of thanks, for sure’ said the Bombardier.
The Leco was streaking through the Nebula of Grey and Pink in a wide arc to return once again to Terra Gaia. A quintasept later and the familiar blue planet appeared in the Vistascreen.
‘Open communications with Sir Richard’ said Captain Lou. Almost immediately the face of the cheery Bard appeared. ‘Our thanks, Sir Richard’ said Captain Lou. ‘Oh, don’t thank me’ he replied. ‘I was merely passing on a message!’
‘From whom?’ asked Captain Lou, suddenly intrigued.
‘Sir Richard looked to his left, then right, as if checking that he was not being eavesdropped upon. ‘Shaman Hood of the Hawk’ he whispered, conspiratorially.
Shaman Hood of the Hawk; there was a name to conjure with. ‘You mean he really exists?!’ asked Captain Lou, incredulously. ‘Oh yes’ answered Sir Richard. ‘He certainly does. But what alerted him to your existence, I am at a loss to understand!’
Captain Lou’s mind whirled. A semi-mythical figure was suddenly interested in the exploits of her and her crew? What kind of omen was this?
‘And what’s more’ continued Sir Richard, ‘he wants to meet you!’
‘We’ll be with you in a septalog’ said Captain Lou.
Sometime later the four Leconauts sat in the Relaxation Zone, examining the artefacts they had brought forward in time and conjecturing on the intentions of Shaman Hood. One thing kept returning to the forefront of the Sonic Architect’s mind; the name of the Spacetribe whose record he had acquired; Hawkwind. And Shaman Hood of the Hawk – surely too much of a coincidence. But evidently none of his crewmates had made the connection.
Presently, they stood once more outside the distinctive domicile of Sir Richard of Harries, the Bard of the Withering Sea. Again, he came out to welcome them.
‘Come in, come in!’ he cried, and then, less conspicuously he asked ‘you have the artefact?!’
‘We do’ said Captain Lou. They entered.
An imposing figure sat upon an ancient machine rather like the one Lord Ron of the Hale had used when the Eye of the Snake and the Leconauts had attacked the Studio of the Fountain. This one, however, was altogether more – serious. It looked like a steel animal sitting on its haunches, waiting to pounce. And Shaman Hood looked like its master. Upon his head he wore what appeared to be an archaic war bonnet, and he was shrouded in a cape of many colours which seemed to reflect dazzling beams of light as it moved. His fingers each bore ornate silver rings. But the Sonic Architect saw none of this as his eyes were focussed on a garment the Shaman was wearing underneath the cape. The design and lettering were identical to the cover of the record he had brought forward in time – Hawkwind – In Search of Space…….
Sir Richard of Harries positioned himself inbetween the Leconauts and the Shaman and made the introductions.
‘Shaman Hood of the Hawk – the Leconauts: Captain Lou, Bombardier Walker, Ricardo the Astral Bard and the Sonic Architect.’ Shaman Hood smiled. ‘Pleased to meet you’ he said in a voice which made Captain Lou think of firewater and honey in equal measure.
‘It is indeed an honour to meet someone whose very existence is shrouded in….mystery’ said Captain Lou. The Shaman smiled again. ‘That’s just the way I like it! The Galactic Council don’t bother me if they don’t even know I exist!’
‘You have taken an interest in our activities?’ said Captain Lou. It was more a question than a statement.
‘Indeed I have’ answered the space wizard. He looked directly at the Sonic Architect. ‘You have, I believe, seen this before?’ He pointed to the design on his garment. ‘Quite so’ replied the Sonic Architect. With that he produced the artefact he had purchased in the emporium of Sir Sidney of the Scarred Burrow.
‘It contains the log?’ asked the Shaman.
‘It does’ came the reply. A small gesture from the Shaman indicated he wanted the Sonic Architect to open the artefact and produce the document from within. The Sonic Architect complied. ‘How did you know….?’ He began to ask. ‘The moment you reappeared in the here and now with this artefact, my orgone accumulator began to glow’ replied the Shaman, as if that should be a clear enough explanation.
‘And you have Petula ’71?’ asked Sir Richard.
‘We do’ replied Captain Lou. She produced it from behind her back. The two wily greybeards smiled at each other.
‘You have done well’ said Shaman Hood. ‘We will now be able to unlock the Portals of Magnu’. ‘You shouldn’t do that!’ exclaimed Sir Richard. After a tiny silence they both laughed uproariously. What was going on?!
‘Sorry’ said the Shaman. ‘Private joke!’
But the Sonic Architect understood. “You Shouldn’t Do That” was the title of a spacechant contained on the artefact he was holding in his hands! He looked up and his eyes met those of the Shaman. A moment of understanding passed between them.
‘The codes we seek’ began Sir Richard, ‘are contained within the artefacts. Please extract the records from within.’ Captain Lou gently eased the inner bag from the sleeve of Petula ’71 and the Sonic Architect did the same for In Search Of Space. The inner bag contained a shiny black circular disc, with a label and a hole through the middle. Data was clearly etched into the surface of the disks.
‘Hold them up to the light’ said Sir Richard. The Leconauts complied. ‘Do you see the codes?’ At first the Sonic Architect could see nothing but then, as he slowly angled the disc towards the sun, he saw a series of numbers etched into the record near the centre after the section containing the programme data had finished. ‘Yes!’ he said. ‘I see them!’
‘Oh yes!’ said Captain Lou. ‘Me too!’
‘Come’ said Sir Richard. ‘It’s time.’
‘Time to….?’ Asked Captain Lou.
‘To unlock the Portals of Magnu’ said the Shaman.
They proceeded out through the front of Sir Richard’s ostentatious dwelling. Shaman Hood of the Hawk rode in front on his metal steed. Shortly, they rounded a corner to see a tall pointed structure which looked for all the world like a space rocket from the Time of Legends, ready to be launched.
‘A rocket!’ said the Bombardier.
‘Not exactly’ said Sir Richard. ‘It’s a lighthouse……..’
The lighthouse loomed large in front of them; an ancient stone structure with a glass turret atop. They stopped at a portal at ground level, a huge wooden door. Sir Richard pulled a large and very ancient looking key from a pocket in his dayglo suit and inserted it into the lock. Captain Lou had the curious feeling that the gnarly old door enjoyed the experience of the key being inserted. Sir Richard turned the key and the door seemed to shudder, then swung open. They entered and Sir Richard shut the door quickly.
None of the Leconauts were prepared for the sight which met their eyes. They appeared to be on the bridge of a Starcruiser!
‘I am the Keeper of the Keys’ said Sir Richard. ‘And I’ said Shaman Hood‘am the Shaman of the Ship!’
‘Produce the artefacts!’ commanded Sir Richard. Captain Lou and the Sonic Architect proffered the two shiny black discs. ‘Enter the codes!’ intoned Sir Richard, loftily. The Astral Bard double checked the edges of each disc then entered the two sets of numbers into the plasma interface.
The Shaman proceeded to a control panel which consisted of a set of chromium bars strikingly similar to the ones on his metal steed. He rotated the left hand control and the Leconauts felt a mighty power source thrum into life. The Shaman closed his eyes and intoned ‘Down a corridor of flame!’ The lighthouse/starcruiser began to move and a Vistascreen crackled into life. ‘The Golden Void!’ said Sir Richard.
At last Captain Lou regained the power of speech. ‘What’s happening?!’ she asked.
‘I have waited long for this moment!’ said Sir Richard. ‘The codes you have brought back have enabled us to activate the PXR-5! Shaman Hood is a Trans-Dimensional Man and we are now entering another dimension; a dimension in which Saint Petulia is held in cryogenic suspension. And we are about to reanimate her!
The Vistascreen showed that they were indeed travelling through a seemingly endless golden corridor of coruscating tongues of flame. Eventually they came to rest. The Vistascreen had become blank. Sir Richard opened the door. They were at the edge of a vast golden lake. A small island could be seen in the distance. ‘We must row to the island’ said Sir Richard. Amazingly, a small boat was moored a short distance away. The Leconauts and Sir Richard embarked and the Astral Bard and Sonic Architect began to row. Shaman Hood stayed on the shore, his eyes closed, his fingers gesturing in strange patterns and sequences, an unknown language pronouncing incantations. The Sonic Architect realised that the sounds he was hearing were words written in the Hawkwind Log!
As the island drew near Captain Lou began to discern a still form lying prone and covered in a golden robe. At last they drew to the water’s edge and climbed out of the boat. ‘Behold’ said Sir Richard. ‘Saint Petulia of Clarksdale!’
Captain Lou and the Bombardier picked up the still small form and laid it gently in the boat. Then, the Astral Bard and Sonic Architect began to row back to the lighthouse. As they drew near they saw that Shaman Hood was still voicing the obscure incantations.
As they reached the shore there was a huge clap of thunder and everything flashed into blinding white light. As their eyes began to see again they beheld a huge horse with a Golden Mane. Shaman Hood opened his eyes. ‘Magnu’ he said. ‘We need your help once again!’
The huge horse whinnied, shook its head and then trotted over to the Shaman. It lowered its head and the Shaman stroked its neck. Then the horse reared and blinding shafts of light streamed from its flanks, bathing Saint Petulia in rich golden effulgence. Another clap of thunder and a blinding flash.
This time when their sight returned they beheld St Petulia sitting upright on Magnu, her feet in stirrups and her hands holding his golden reins.
‘Welcome back!’ said Sir Richard, fighting to hold back tears of joy.
‘Aah, my champion!’ said Saint Petulia. She turned to regard the assembled company. ‘You have done well’ she said. ‘But we have work to do!’ She gently nudged Magnu’s flanks with her feet and the giant horse set off at a gallop away from the lake and towards the Golden Void.
‘Follow me!’ she cried……..
Saint Petulia galloped away on Magnu with her cry of ‘Follow me’ echoing in the ears of the Leconauts and their companions. Sir Richard broke the silence. ‘Well, you heard the lady – come on!’ He began to run after Saint Petulia and the others followed. Captain Lou realised that she was running faster than she had ever done before, in great long loping strides which made her feel that her legs were suddenly three times as long as usual. She looked around to see that everyone else was experiencing similar incredible effects, all but Shaman Hood of the Hawk who was levitating and gliding along without seeming to be expending any effort whatsoever!
For what seemed like an age the party ran and ran, behind Saint Petulia who encouraged them every now and then with cries of ‘to me, to me!’ and ‘not far now!’ Eventually the Golden Void began to change form and familiar objects started to appear in the dazzling auric sea.
Then, on the horizon far in the distance was the lighthouse-which-wasn’t-a-lighthouse. Saint Petulia spurred Magnu on to even greater speed and the Leconauts had to redouble their efforts to keep up.
Eventually they appeared at the wooden portal and Sir Richard once again inserted the huge metal key.
He held the door open and Saint Petulia dismounted from Magnu, petted the great steed and whispered ‘thank you, old friend. You have served me well!’ The huge horse whinnied and brushed Saint Petulia’s neck with its massive head. Then it reared up and rushed off into the distance.
Saint Petulia turned to the Leconauts. ‘Will you help me to transfigure the universe?’ she asked.
‘It would be an honour’ said Captain Lou.
She turned to Shaman Hood of the Hawk. ‘Thank you’ she said. ‘You were the only one who could conjure Magnu, and without him our mission would not have succeeded. We are in your debt.’ ‘You are welcome, ma’am’ said the Shaman.
Then she turned to Sir Richard. ‘Aah, my champion’ she said, and cupped his cheek in her hand. ‘You have kept faith with me since the Time of Legends, and all for the best of motives. We thank you from the bottom of our heart.’
‘It has been my pleasure’ replied the Bard of the Withering Sea.
‘And now it is time’ said Saint Petulia. She bade the Leconauts follow her to the top of the lighthouse where an incredible sight met their eyes. Arrayed around the huge beacon which dominated the space was their own Edifice of Song!
‘We will sing together’ said Saint Petulia. ‘Sing?’ whispered the Astral Bard to the Bombardier. ‘Launch a spacechant into the aether’ explained the Bombardier.
The Leconauts took their positions and Saint Petulia gave the archaic command ‘onetwothreefour!’ As if by magic the Leconauts began to launch Saint Petulia’s ‘The World Song’ into the aether. Then Saint Petulia began to sing. At the sound of her voice the mighty beacon activated and filled the space with an effulgence just like the one in the Golden Void.
The Leconauts looked out and saw that the light was spreading from the lighthouse and bathing everything in its path in that sublime golden glow. As the spacechant continued the light grew stronger and took on the aspect of a living thing, reaching out and enveloping everything in its warm radiance. At the climax of the spacechant Saint Petulia blew a kiss at Sir Richard. A golden butterfly landed on his cheek and he became a pillar of living light. With that Saint Petulia transfigured into a dazzling ball of pulsing energy which seemed to shoot outwards in every direction, covering the entire planet, before blasting out from Terra Gaia to envelop all the neighbouring planets, then radiating from them until eventually the entire universe became one pulsing golden sea of hope and love.
And so it came to pass that the universe was rid of evil thoughts and deeds and in celebration Sir Richard of Harries decided to hold a Festival of Spacechants by the Withering Sea. All the spacetribes who agreed to appear would perform one of Saint Petulia’s spacechants in her honour. Even Dino of Jacksonville was persuaded to join in.
The Leconauts sat by the Withering Sea with Sir Richard and Shaman Hood of the Hawk. ‘One thing is bothering me’ said the Sonic Architect. ‘When we travelled back in time to find Petula ’71, we didn’t know we needed In Search of Space too! What if we had come back without it?’ ‘But you didn’t, did you?’ replied the Shaman. ‘Some magic only works if it is unbidden’ said Sir Richard. ‘That’s precisely why it’s magic!’ said the Shaman. This seemed to satisfy the Sonic Architect.
‘Spacejuice all round!’ proclaimed the eccentric Bard. ‘I’ll pass if you don’t mind’ said the Shaman. ‘But I will have some of this!’ He produced a large earthenware jug with a cork stopper. ‘What on earth is that?’ asked Sir Richard, incredulously.
‘Psyder’ replied the Shaman. ‘Care to try some?’ ‘No thank you’ declared Sir Richard. ‘I’ll stick with the spacejuice.’ The Shaman proffered his jug to the Leconauts. ‘I’ll give it a go’ said the Sonic Architect. He held out a glass and the Shaman poured a small libation. ‘Careful’ he said. ‘It sneaks up on you!’
The Sonic Architect took a sip. At once, paisley Catherine wheels began to spin in his head. In fact, his head remained stationary and everything else began to spin.
‘Wow’ he said, softly. ‘That’s good! Where’s my flangector?!’
As the day progressed the Withering Sea shimmered to the sounds of many spacechants, and the spirit of Saint Petulia of Clarksdale once again took flight as the various thanes, witches and spacetribes declaimed her timeless message to the universe……..
TO BE CONTINUED….
Discover More: https://loudhailer.net/the-leco-chronicles/
By Loudhailer Electric Company’s Sonic Architect and keeper of the sacred flangector, Jeff Parsons