The Heights of Well-E
Bombardier Walker was the first to open an eye; ‘so, where to next?’, he asked of no-one in particular. The answer came simultaneously from three throats; ‘the Heights of Well-E’.
The Heights of Well-E.
That meant dealing with a bunch of space renegades who flew under the banner of the Hawk; they were well-known as master manipulators of orgonic flux generators. The Leco’s flangectors would need to be at prime peak to generate the necessary levels of Insanium needed to neutralise the orgonic flux storm that was bound to be unleashed by the gnarly renegades.‘Aah well’ sighed Sonic Architect Jeff; ‘no rest for the wicked…………………’!
The training mission was going well; the LECo crew were a tightly-knit unit and had seen action in all quadrants of the exogalaxy. There wasn’t much which could phase them. So it was a surprise to hear Captain Lou’s voice, telepathically transmitted throughout the ship, urgently utter the single word ‘incoming’.
Jeff tensed and immediately initiated the flangector arming procedure. A moment to think; ‘who would attack us out here’? He couldn’t come up with an answer.
Then a sonic wave of immense magnitude roiled over the entire ship. People and objects were suddenly afloat as the gravitational systems shook, shut down, and then re-calibrated themselves as they were supposed to.
The crew of the LECo silently awaited the next wave, but none came. Instead, a hologram appeared in the centre of the bridge deck; a gnarled and ancient wizard with a huge shock of grey hair appeared from behind a huge bank of protosynths and began intoning in a strange and archaic language.
There was only one force in the universe which could produce such effects; Psi Power.
‘Hell, we aren’t being attacked’ chuckled Captain Lou. It’s just the Lords of the Hawk saying “hello”!’
Sonic Architect Parsons entered the Room of Manuscripts deep in the bowels of the Starcruiser LECo. He needed to look up some information on an obscure flangector configuration he was planning to use on the LECo’s next mission. Sure, he could have used the ship’s Thought Interface and simply had the relevant information delivered straight to his cerebral cortex, but he liked the solitude and atmosphere of this little-used space.
As he walked past the shelves of Thought Transcriptions his eye was caught by the spine of a volume he’d not previously been aware of. The Teetee seemed to call to him; a ridiculous idea, of course. Thought Transcriptions weren’t sentient…….were they? He lifted the volume down from the shelf. It seemed to thrum in his hand, as if pleased to feel the human contact. Another ridiculous thought.
The symbol embossed on the cover was strange, yet familiar. For all the world, the cross motif resembled two flangector interface units against a background of a flangector implementation control module! Jeff allowed the Teetee to fall open, almost as if by its own volition. He began to read…..
‘Leo, Earl of Fender and Duke of Clarence was a wizard who could send voices and music across the ether. One of his earliest acts of wizardry was the Casting of the Tele which caused much wonderment in the Town of Fuller.
Even this was eclipsed when he and another wizard, Freddie of Tavares, Casted into the Stratosphere to the delight of the assembled multitude. The Man of the Bass did step out of the firmament, forming a melodious alliance with the casting of the Stratosphere and all was well.
Sometime later, Two Showmen appeared and mightily did they roar. This roar was heard by Sir Richard of the Dale, even though he was communing with the spirits of the surf at the time. Sir Richard of the Dale journeyed unto the sacred Spring of Reverb and saw a vision of the Two Showmen casting the Stratosphere in the waters of the Spring of Reverb.
Thus the Trinity was formed and did radiate its mighty triple-throated song into the wild blue yonder.’
‘That’s it’, realised Jeff. ‘The birth of the flangector!’
The LECo wheeled across the Scorpion Nebula, a place which most Starcruisers avoided. Captain Lou sat at the helm, her face betraying no trace of anything other than serene calm. Jeff looked around at his other crew mates; Ricardo the Astral Bard was absorbed by the phonemic interface upon his lap. As if sensing Jeff’s gaze, he looked up, mischief twinkling in his eye.
Bombardier Rich sat behind his Thunder Machine, poised and ready to unleash mayhem should it be required.
Jeff’s hands both rested on the interface panels of the Starcruiser’s main flangector; they were ready for anything.
Ships had been lost in the Scorpion Nebula before, so quite what they were doing here at all was a bit of a mystery. Jeff’s eye scanned across to the stardate display; of course, it was the ancient festival of Samhain, celebrated by humankind for over ninety quitons. They weren’t looking for the living; they were seeking the dead.
Captain Lou’s fingers tapped out a musical rhythm on her command module interface. Jeff couldn’t tell what she was doing, her fingers were a blur. Suddenly the ship banked hard to starboard, the Black Star powerplant shifting into overdrive. Even Ricardo the Astral Bard looked interested.
‘Soon, real soon’ whispered Captain Lou. Three things happened simultaneously; the Black Star warped into overdrive two, causing the ship to lurch dramatically; Bombardier Walker loosed off an almighty salvo of thunder, which was caught in the phase shift created by the spiralling streams of Samphire which the overdrive had generated; and the flangector interface began to send signals even though Jeff was doing nothing.
Suddenly, Ricardo levitated out of his seat, the glint of mischief replaced by a look which told of eons of universal pilgrimage. A voice, but not his own, issued from his mouth; ‘Anger, he smiles, towering in shiny metallic purple armour…..’
Captain Lou smiled; ‘Hello Jimi…………..’
The LECo headed to the Catesby Quadrant, its course computed by the Sensibots and powered by the newly-installed Sablestar drive. Things were going smoothly.
Captain Lou had decided her crew could do with a little R ‘n’ R. They’d been busy over the last few septalogs. The Catesby Quadrant was known throughout the galaxy as the place where spectacular displays of the wonders of nature could be seen.
The ship sped through the Catherine Wheel Nebula, past the exostar Guido, which put on a fiery display of sunspots every twelvemonth. Captain Lou put the ship into orbit around Guido, using thought transference to the Sensibots, then settled back to watch the show.
Guido was in full flower; the multicoloured fireballs spun and sped from its surface, producing kaleidoscopic rainbows of colour. The crew sat in wondrous silence.
Bombardier Walker was the first to move; ‘I think I’ll just go and check for spaceweed’ said the Thunder Conjurer. ‘I hear it can be particularly troublesome out here’.
‘Ok, but be careful’ said Captain Lou. ‘I’m not sure if the tractor beam would work with all this unusual solar activity’. ‘Don’t worry, I won’t go too far out’ said the Bombardier, the slightest suggestion of a smile playing around his lips.
Captain Lou settled back into her chair as the airlock ‘whooshed’ behind her.
The crew watched as the Bombardier floated into view, his spacenet held at arms’ length in front of him. Just as Guido shot a lurid green glob of burning gas into the void a large skein of spaceweed drifted into the back of the Bombardier’s net. He grinned. He then began to spin in front of the observation pane as the spaceweed was drawn deeper into the capacious net.
‘Wow’ said Ricardo the Astral Bard. ‘He’s got about three metatons of the stuff in there.
Bombardier Walker was spinning ever faster when Guido propelled a golden shower of sparkling incandescence straight at him. It was as if the star had somehow divined his presence and decided to engulf him in its grip.
As the sparks hit, the spaceweed combusted, producing a psychedelic display of three dimensional coloured mini asteroids which formed a coruscating sphere around the Bombardier. The crew watched, enraptured, until simultaneously realising their crewmate was at the centre of this effulgent spectacle.
As suddenly as it had begun the display was over and Bombardier Walker was left spinning in front of them, engulfed in a cloud of thick green smoke. The other three crew members all stood up; ‘Hold on – he’s ok’, said Captain Lou.
Sure enough, the cloud of smoke seemed to magically disappear, Bombardier Walker came to rest, gathered himself and floated back to the airlock.
All eyes were turned to the door as the familiar ‘whoosh’ announced his return.
He stepped through the portal, a definite smile upon his lips and a twinkle in his eye.
Ricardo and Captain Lou looked at each other and grinned.
‘Your eyebrows are singed’ said Sonic Engineer Parsons.
To be continued…
By Loudhailer Electric Company’s Sonic Architect and keeper of the sacred flangector, Jeff Parsons
Loudhailer Electric Company photo gallery, photos by Sydpix and Mike Hood as captioned