Qwerty Dancing: The Curse Of NaNoWriMo

Are You Prepared To Stand Up And Fight The Battle Between Write And Wrong? 

The first sentence of every novel should be: ‘Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human'” – Michael Ondaatje. 

Since the last ‘Scribe Post, Brad has committed murder.

What, again?! 

Well, yes.

No matter how you look at it, that particular devious miscreant had it coming. 

Does the fact that he was NOT human lessen the shock…? 

Truly, as writers, we are Lords Of Our Own Creation(s). 

We have conjured fantastic worlds before dinner, despatched heroes on fabulous quests before teatime, even created and – oh yes – killed off the most groovy – or garish – character(s) during the midnight hour.

Forgive me for the prolooooonged absence, but this hapless cake-scoffing fool though it would be a blastha! – to shut himself away within his Sanctum Sanctorum, participate in the whole NaNoWriMo thing, and, mayhap, attempt to rectify the minimal progress made on MY OWN NOVEL recently.

By Jove, what a discombobulation!

Unbeknownst to me, the whole horrendous cavalcade dwindled into something more infuriating than the lousiest Transformers movie, AND got tougher than any holiday camp…

Barely got out of November with life – and sanity – intact.

As that other writer named Brad said: “we should be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” 

Aha!

That would explain why my snidely-regarded intuitive brain seems smashed to pieces and my legendary ripped bod feels absolutely shattered. 

So, released this Post (still took too many days to get back to this Bradform!) to reassure you that Brad is STILL HERE, but – by Aquaman’s quindent! – only just…

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are” – W. Somerset Maugham. 

Just two Summers ago, the itch to write novel struck me. But which one? 

TWO choices lay before me.

Should it be that futuristic noir thriller concerning bounty hunters? Or should it be that historical mystery tour inspired by the local medieval studies recently preoccupying my working hours?

In an ingenious twist – as deft as some of the greatest plotlines in SF history – an easy solution presented itself = combine BOTH into one unprecedented framework. Thus, The Monastikon Chronicles emerged. Brother Brad hunts the unearthly wraiths, who infiltrated 12th century English society in human guise. To read how this concept came to be, see here; to follow how chapters of my novel are developing, see here:

The first week of NaNoWriMo began encouragingly enough – filling in some narrative gaps; fleshing out some peripheral characters promoted to more vital roles; as well as finally dealing with one mischievous monk (not the first, but will he be the last…?) who turned out to be something completely different… 

So far, so groovy.

The third week, however, was spent wondering where in blazes did the second week whizz off to at such an incredible rate. Bah…

And the last week of November?

My main concern focussed on trying not to pass out at my desk…

Actually, by this stage it had got to the point where not a single coherent sentence could be formed, let alone any powerful passages of pulsating prose be produced – so what bare modicum of creative faculties remained were plied instead into sketching until December mercifully rolled into view…

But nevertheless, to experiment with language. 

Twist and turn the imagination. Then slip and slide it in other directions. 

Conjure the most bizarre characters and let them perform the most unexpected actions.

Traverse the plot in totally, radically, unforeseen directions. 

Let the material run RAMPANT. It is, after all, MY novel!

To plunge headlong into all the above opportunities? 

How could one NOT resist? 

Such strenuous mental endeavours exercised (exorcised…?) at a daily rate? For one month?

Yikes, not the piece of cake one thought it would be.

Anyway, same time, next year, then?!

“I should flamin’ coco!” as Billy Shakespeare ‘isself was wont to say… 

“Practice any art, no matter how well or badly, not to get money or fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow” – Kurt Vonnegut.  

Yay, another completed (and legibleBradscribe Post – after too many weeks, it doesn’t seem possible, does it? 

Hark!

We can just about hear someone clapping nervously in Row Z… 

WHO CARES if this blog is doomed NEVER to receive more than 200 Followers? 

NEVER MIND, Brad knew from the startFOUR YEARS ago(!) – that he was never going to be No.1, or considered among the “best,” or most popular bloggers out there, but even so…

The novel has stalled in the same way that the blog posts have slowed: will ANY readers show up to read my stuff…?

Having made no progress with several rudimentary Posts this past fortnight – could not even compile that Post entitled: No Justice For Brad! (discussing why the Justice League movie would not even get a cinema visit, let alone a Bradscribe Review!) – plus, the immutable low and discouraging state of my Stats, it got to the point: should Bradscribe be discontinued?

No need to make this “crisis” into a drama – these low spirits should be attributed to low energy, nothing more. 

Ultimately, in what has proved to be a physically and mentally trying eighteen months for yours truly, these past few weeks turned out to be a most welcome break – a chance to recharge.

Now is the time to rebound!

Brad may not make a difference, but he’ll certainly make a scene. Or three. 

Just keep on pressing Publish, and if HARDLY ANYBODY wants to read, then so be it… 

But surely, writing an unread piece of work is far preferable than never to have toiled and troubled to produce one at all…right?

WRITE!

 

For all of you who may have struggled with NaNoWriMo last month – or those of you who have wrestled with writer’s block – this, my friends, is our Anthem: 

“You want the reader to remember. You want her to be changed. Or better still, to want to change…

“Never forget that a story begins long before you start it and ends long after you end it. Allow your reader to walk out from your last line and into her own imagination. Find some last-line grace. This is the true gift of writing…

“Your last line is the first line for everybody else” – Colum McCann. 

 

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“You May Dispense With The Pleasantries, Commander”: THIS IS IT! BRAD CONFRONTS ZAN DOKA!!

Duel Of The Cakes…

 

This is the Final Episode in the Firm And Shapely Trilogy if you want to catch-up, here are Episode I & Episode II

Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenceless. Take your weapon! Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete…” – Emperor Palpatine. 

 

BLAZES!

We CAN’T wait any longer! Get ON with it, already!

 

“Command Ztation, zeez eez ZT 3-2-wurn. Code Clearence Blue,” announced the Zandokan pilot as the Zoulzukker approached the Imperial Ztodgeztonker.  

“Ve’re ztarteenk our apprurch. Deactivate ze zecurity jhield!”

A Command Ztation officer watched their approach: “Infirm Lord Zegreatme zat Commandair Zubizmaar hez errift.”

In the Imperial Foyer, the Dark Lord strode towards a turbo-lift, anxiously awaiting its occupants. The doors slid aside and two guards exited, followed by the leader of the Kriegzlide Killzquad and his prisoner, who gazed at Zegreatme with complete calm.

“Zeez eez a Rebel zat zurrendaired to uz. Although he deniez eet, Ay believe zhere may be murr uv zem, end Ay requezt pairmizzun to conduct a furthair zearch uv ze area… He vuz armed… urnly weev zeez.”

The Commander extended his hand, revealing the egg-whisk that the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger had “borrowed” from the canteen on Wotsit IV; Brad chortled heartily.

“Gourd verk, Commandair. Leaf uz. Conduct yer zairch end breenk heez combpanionz to me.”

“Yez, may Lord.”

Zmutti Zubizmaar and the guards withdrew. The rotten antagonist and the groovy protagonist stood alone in the oddly tranquil beauty of the place… until Zegreatme growled and flung the whisk aside.

“Ze Emprah hez been expecteenk yo,” the Dark Lord muttered as they walked back into the flagship.

“I know, me Lord.”

“Zo, yo hef accepted ze truth zat – hey! – Ay EM Ze Beeg Cheeez-” 

“I’ve accepted the truth that you are a big-“

“ENNUV!” They halted abruptly. “DEMN YO, FERTLITTAIR! VHERE’Z MAY VUKKEEN’ ZAMZUNG?”  

“Jeez, Zeggy-baby, haven’tcha got over that yet?! Anyways, it seems ages since we last locked antlers, sotaspeak. Ya know what? I missed ya, Zeg yeah yeah, I’ve actually missed ya, you stormin’ biochemech tosspot, you! Funny thing is… I reckon that… yeah, you kinda missed me too, coochie-coo…”  

The Dark Lord bristled: “UFF…! DURN’T MEK ME DEZTROY YO…”

“Nah-ah, I know ya missed me-”

ZYLENZ! AY VEEL NUT LEEZZEN…”

“…That is why ya couldn’t destroy me. That’s why ya won’t bring me ta yer Emp’ror now-“

“GAH! YO AIR A DEEKWAD, AZ ZE EMPRAH HEZ FURZEEN…”

“Search yer feelin’s, tosspot-”

“YO DURN’T KNUR ZE PAH UV ZE EMPAH!”

“I feel the conflict wiv- Jeez! That ‘eadache yer givin’ me dahn’ ‘arf split! Let go o’ yer Caps Lock, already! Fer goodness sake, flamin’ Nora…”

“Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?” – Han Solo. 

Just as they rounded a corner, Brad hurled himself into the Dark Lord, sending him clattering and swearing inanely into the wall opposite.

As mad as a bicycle, the reluctant infiltrator dashed off with a gaggle of guards in hot, clanking pursuit. To one side, a door slid up; instinct compelled him to hurl his ripped bod through. He found himself in a sizeable hall – penetrating blackness prevented him from sussing out how large. 

A transparent screen – several metres high – met his startled gaze on the port side. Countless glittering stars dazzled his retinas as he gawped into the infinite vastness of space…

“BEHULD!! Ze ultimet pah in ze uneevuzz! End eet eez… ULL MAIN…” 

The abrupt, booming voice reverberated malevolently. Your hero slowly turned, and there, in an opulent throne sat the most imposing figure Brad had ever encountered. It was bedecked in brilliant purple biochemech armour, and wrapped in the most extravagant crimson cloak. No head could be seen. That despicable voice emanated from within an oversized, conical silver-plated helmet as worn by the Varlok warlords of olde. 

“ENTAH, Bred Fertlittair! Ay hef been expecteenk yo…”

“Oh, blazes… That voice… That cloak…! Ya gotta be-”

“Prezizely, Commandair! EMPRAH ZAN DOKA: RULAIR UV ZE UNEEVUZZ!

“Az lung az Ay vield ze PAH COZMEEC, Ay em ULL PAHFUL! Lurng hef Ay ewetted zeez day! Ay vonted to meet ze wun end urnly Kekchairmair… Beefur heez eeneviteble extairmeenation, heh heh heh… Prepare to meet thy DOME, Urfmairn!!”

“Who talks first? You talk first? I talk first…?” – Poe Dameron.

“Wherevair Ay look, ze Rebel bandz air zcattered end demurelized acrozz ze ztarz…

“Eet ezz urnly a mattair uv tem beefur yer peeteeful leetle bend air crujt, end may gallant furzez march to ze vinal veectory!”

“Pfah, YOU… are the one ‘oo’s doomed, Zan – we may be few, we may be poor, but the Rebellion’ll be the end o’ ya – of that, ya can be sure!”

“Ha! Nut even yer louzy poetry ken harm me!” Emperor Zan Doka sneered.

“Yer gravely mistaken, Chief… Ya really think that yer despicable ideology o’ hate will prevail…? ‘Ere, check it aht: as long as dudes like me stand oop ta the likes uvya-“

“Laike yo?! Heh, yer NUTHEENK, Bred! Juzt a homelezz zupairmudel weev a blaztair!”

“Huh, an’ you are a-” 

“ENNUV! AIR, Lurd Zegreatme! Ve vood be honaired eef yo cood jurroin uz…!”

Brad sensed a gargantuan fella lumber in to stand beside him.

“Eet eez UNWAZ to queztion ze Rulair Uv Ze Uneevuzz, Urfmairn…” Zegreatme grumbled.

“Oh yeah? I’d like to see how far ya get wivaht him strainin’ on yer leash, Zeg-“

“Urgh yeah? Ay’ll ZTRAIN YO unteel yo tell me VOT yo deed wiv may VUKKEEN’ ZAMZUNG, Bred!” 

“Ya know what?! I shoulda shoved it in yer Imperial Cake’ole! Blimey, it’s bloomin’ big enough! Then ya’ll be sure NEVAH ta lose it!”

“Yo knur vot?! Ay’m gonna LOOZ EET een a meenut, Urfzcurm! BAY SHOVEEN’ YO OAT ZE VUKKEEN’ AIRLOCK!!”

“Huh, try it, coochie-coo. Just try…”  

“ZVIVEL ME ZYDWEZ!!” the Emperor roared. “Vood yo juzt LEEZEN to ze pair uv yaz?! JEEZ! Yo two verr MEDD fer each uzzair! How ken ve rezturr peaz end belendz to ze Uneevuzz wiv yo DEEPWEETZ conztently beeckaireeng, heh? HEH?! JEEZ!!” 

“Fergeev me, may Mazter…”

“NUR! Ay zwear! Yo two veel be ze deff uv me! Ay ken juzt enveezage ze pair uv yaz teemeeng urp end ovairthroweeng me!” 

Brad’s cute eyes lit up. 

“‘Ey!! Tha’s a thought…” he whispered, nudging the Dark Lord playfully in the ribs. “Whaddya say, Zeggy-baby?! Why dahn’ we team oop an’ take dahn this-“

“NUR! ‘OW DARE YO, URFMAIRN! AY VEEL NEVAIR TURRRN EGENZT MAY MAZTER, FOOL!!”

“We can DO this! Come ON…! Aow ya picked one ‘elluva time ta turn yella, fella…” 

“ZYLENZ! YO DARE CALL ZE DAKK LURD UV ZAN DOKA A COWARD?! VUKKIT, BRED, WUN MURR WYZAZZ LINE FROM YO EN’ AY VEEL HEET YO ZO VUKKEEN’ ‘ARD, YO’LL BE VLYEENK!!”

“WOO…! You EAT CAKE wiv that mouth?!” 

“JEEZ, zhere yo two gur… EGEN!” wailed the exasperated Zan Doka. “Dyzan demmit! Deedn’t ze pair uv yaz hear me ze virzt tem?! ‘OO eez Emprah eround ‘ere? HELLUR…?! ‘Oneztly! Zeez beekkereeng eez geeveenk me en ‘eadache!” 

“YOU got a split’er?!” Brad cried in dismay. “‘Ow’d ya think I feel?! ‘Ad nuthin’ but grief given ta me by the pair uv yers ever since I wuz brough’ ‘ere!”

Brad’s cute eyes lit up again. 

“It- say! We do ‘ave some’t in common! ‘Ey!! Tha’s a thought… Whaddya say, Big-Wig? Why dahn’ we team oop an’ take dahn ol’ lanky Lordy Fog’orn ‘ere? Like, I’m easy, either way, man…”

“ENNUV!” th Emperor roared once more. “Yo TRY oor patienze ULL TOO QUEEKLY, Fertlittair! Yo VEEL be zentenzed to deff!”

“Come again?”

“DEFF!!”

Yer overconfidence is yer weakness,” exclaimed Brad.

The Emperor spun round and spat: Yer zoftzpotz fer peenball macheeenz end kek eez yerz…”

Zegreatme nudged Brad mockingly in the ribs and whispered: “Eet eez purrntlezz to rezeezt… DEEKWAD…”

“Power is the only freedom that I seek. Absolute power is absolute freedom” – Omega. 

“Lord Zeg, leave uz,” Emperor Zan Doka exclaimed.

“Ez yo weesh, may Mazter…”

The Dark Lord bowed ostentatiously, but snarled at Brad before departing: “Zee yo latair, deekwad…”

“Yeah, already missin’ ya, Dork Lard…” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger drawled as he watched his arch-nemesis depart.

“Nice. Gotta hand it to ya, Chief; tha’s one well-trained poodle ya got there. Foul-mouf’ed, lousy tempah per’aps, but still, nice…”

Brad froze, staring at a delectable object on a stand beside the Emperor’s throne. 

“Yo vont zeez…” The Emperor snarled, turning to regard a slice of chocolate cake with abject scorn. “Durn’t yo…?”

“That’s… that’s a slice o’ me fave! You can sense that…?”

“Zenze it?! Ay ken hear yer ztomach rumblin’ frurm ‘ere, Urfmairn!”

“An’ ‘oo’s fault is that, Chief…? Blazes… ya enforce blockades; annex ‘ole planets; subjugate – even xterminate – entire species! All the while, thousands… oh Dyzan, millions… are starvin’! They despair! They ‘oller! They curse ya! An’ wotcha doin’, all the while…? ‘Oldin’ fancy dress parades? Openin’ new Imperial space stations…? Playin’ golf…?!”

“Nur, Ay rule!” 

“Nah, YOU SUCK!! Ya really think that I’m jus’ gonna lounge arahn’ an’ let ya torment the galaxy wiv yer… yer-“

All of a sudden, your hero felt a tingling sensation in his mind as the Emperor held aloft his long, spell-casting talons.

“Yezzz, yo VONT TO TEK ZE PLAZ BAY MAY ZIDE… Yo VONT to eet ze kek, Bred… EEET… ZE… KEK…”

“Uh… yeah, man… I wanna eet ze… ‘ang on…!” Brad shook his head, holding the tasty-looking wodge in his gloved hand, sniffing it. 

“Uff… poisoned!” he roared and hurled it angrily at the Emperor. “Think ya can fool the Cakecharmer ‘imself wiv dodgy bakes, eh?!”

The Emperor struck back: “Eef yo veel nut be turned, yo veel be-!”

“‘OLD! ‘Ang abaht, Zan – I got a bet’er idea… …” 

“Put down your weapons! No one, but no one, dies in the palace without a command from the Emperor” – Klytus.

“GAH! VUKK!!” the Emperor roared as he burst out of his own throne room into the main corridor, throwing frustrated Imperial arms in the air. “VERDS FAIEEL ME!!”

Zegreatme and the Praetorian Guards sprang to attention.

“Zat Urfmairn… eez ‘ard verk, iz’e nut, may Mazter?”

“Ya ken zay ZAT eggen, Zeg! VUKK, ‘e’z zumzeenk elze… Een ULL MAY DAYZ, Ay hef NEHVAIR beefur met ‘ee’z laike…” Emperor Zan Doka grumbled.

“Vot eez thy biddeeng, may Mazter?”

Uff… vukk knowz… Vot muzt wun do agenzt ze PAIRFECT combeenation uv pecz, abz en’ bunz… GAH! Vot KEN wun DO against zuch a… ZUCH A- GAH…!”

“Do nut fret, Mazter,”

“Nur worries… Lord Zegreatme! Zhere eez zumzeenk trubbleen’ me… Pat yer head…”

“May Mazter…? Ay do NUT undairztand…”

“Do nut look zo zairprized, Lurdy – Pat yer head… Know, rub ze tummy at ze zame tem-“

“But VHY, Mazter…?!”

“GAH! VUKK! DO NUT QUEZTION YER EMPRAH! HOW MENNY TEMZ MUZT AY TELL YO NERKZ, HEH?! HEH, jeez…”

“Fergeev me, Mazter; ez yo veesh, May Mazter…”

“HA!! Yo KEN do eet! Ay knew eet; I KNEW IT! Ha…! That’s one thing I can’t abide about you extremistsyer ALL shout, an’ NAH clout. Jus’ a sad bunch o’ blind, obedient automatons. ‘Oo NEVAH question authority; ya CAN’T even exhibit yer own initiative! YOU are the lot who will meet thy DOME! DONUTS… the lot o’ ya…”

“May Mazter, vot…?!”

“Nutheenk yo ken get ta greepz weev, Zeg… Oh! Wun murr theeng… Remove the blockades from Gondabek, Otthon IV and Burgonya. Oh! And – while you’re at it – withdraw the garrisons from Oberon and Shazbot…! And Tufluk! ‘Tiz yer Emprah’s weel! EDVENZ EET! KNOW…!

“Ze Urfwomairn! She’z urn ze Detention Levil – Ay VONT to zee hair! Tek ME to ‘AIR, zumbuddy!!”

One Shokk Trooper stepped confidently forwards: “Shee eez held een Cell wurn-wurn-3-8. Let me ezcurt yo, Yer Highness!”

“Gourd… GOURD! A faine example uv Eemperial deezcipline, zeez boy! Lead URN, Troopair…! Mek ware, MEK WARE! Rulair uz ze Freeken’ Uneevuzz, comeen’ thro…”

And with that, they marched away down the corridor.

Rounding a corner, away from any Imperial bods, the Emperor noticed a couple of curiosities: clearly, this individual seemed too short to be a Shokk Trooper; and a most-recent blast point could clearly be seen on his right pec…

He stopped the Trooper in his tracks, and exclaimed: “Zhere eez zumzeenk… very femeeliair aboat zet voice… Yo zed “Yer Highnessss…” 

The Ruler of the Universe looked up and down the corridor, ensuring that they were indeed alone. Then he reached over, and – clasping the shocked Trooper‘s shoulder and jigging it a lil – began to speak in a more groovy voice:

“It… IS you, innit… Bagel…? Thank Dyzan, I thought ya wuz a goner! SO GOOD ta see ya again, kid… …”

“Go and seek out Baltar. Tell him I am displeased. Tell him I offer a choice: deliver the Battlestar… or deliver his head” – Cylon Imperious Leader. 

“Blimey, Commander! Ya jus’ gotta tell me ‘ow ya got ‘old o’ th Emperor’s cloak!” Bagel enthused as the two Rebels marched towards the Detention Level. 

“Aww, this is an awesome piece o’ snazzy clobber, innit? Nah worries, kid! Ya see, it wuz like this: we-“

“HALT! Ze pair uv yo!” shouted the armed, female Zandokan sentry as they rounded the next corner. She scowled at the Emperor, aiming her blaster ominously…

“We-heh-hell! This is TOO GOOD to be true… I’m not standin’ for the likes a’ you… Your Slyness… HEY! What are you starin’ at me like THAT for…?! I’m gonna-!” 

“WETT!” cried the young Trooper. “Durn’t yo knur who yo air deeeleenk wiv ‘ere?!”

“Why should I give a fudge…?”

Abruptly, the “Emperor” flung off his helmet. “‘Cos I dragged me firm an’ shapely buns across the Imperial Lightnin’ Field ta getcha, LEX!”

“What-?! BRAD?! But how…?” his Second Officer cried as she flung off her helmet.

“Ya bally well know I’ve always got a plan as ‘ot as me pants…! But what the blazes are ya doin’ in that get-up-?”

“Uff, look who’s blabbin’…”

“Ya’ll never get quali’y screen toime masqueradin’ as a ‘Trooper, lov…” 

“Yeah? Well, I didnt plan to just hang around in a cell actin’ out that tired ol’ damsel-in-distress cliché-!”

“Yeah? Well, I didnt plan ta sit arahn’ on me firm an’ shapely buns jus’ worryin’ abahtcha!” 

“Well, cheers for your concern, Commander…” She turned to the Trooper and gleered: “And I suppose, right here, we have, none other than…?”

The Trooper flung off his helmet. “Bagel Looney, atcha service, ma’am!”

“Ugh! Put that helmet back ON! I risked my neck all for… this?! Really – too short for a Shokk Trooper?”

Aow, bloomin’ ‘eck, don’t you start…!”

It- say! Where’d you get THIS?!” Lexi gasped, fondling the rich sheen of Brad’s new crimson velvet wrap. 

“Who’dya think? ‘E’s th only one ya can get it from…”

“Yes, but HOW DID YOU get hold of th Emperor’s cloak?!”

“Aww, this is an awesome piece o’ snazzy clobber, innit? Nah worries, lov! Ya see, it wuz like this: we-“

“DEMN YO, FERTLITTAIR!! YO TRIED TO FOOL ZEGREATME?!”

“Uh oh…”

The Imperial tannoy crackled and whined up and down the corridor; Brad’s headache throbbed even more, as his arch-nemesis bellowed maniacally.  

“BY ZE PAH UV ZE EMPAH, YO VEEL PAY FER ZEEZ OATREJ!!”

“Gawd…! Lays it on a bit thick, doesn’t he?!” Lexi gasped.

“Uff, tell me abaht it…” Brad groaned. “This gaff reeks o’ faschismus, dunnit?! An’ I’ve ‘ad this pair a’ barmy biochemech barnpots screamin’ in me lug’oles all mornin’… Come on, amigos, let’s gerrahtav’ere!” 

They raced away; six legs encased in biochemech armour – it made such an awful racket… 

“‘ERE! VHEREZEVUKK YO GO?! AY VEEL NUT LET Y’ULL EZKEP!!”

“‘Ow we gonna get aht?!” worried Bagel, as they reached the overcrowded Imperial Flight Deck. “We can’t jus’ nab a new crate under these nerks’ noses-“

“Aww, no worries, Bagel! YES, WE CAN! Wiv me badass cloak an’ flawless Zandokan accent, we’re gonna nab the ‘Ead ‘Ombre’s own crate: the Zentinel.”

“Huh, you sure your buns can get that far weighed down in all that armour?” Lexi frowned sceptically. “Whatever you do, don’t trip over your cloak… Your Highness…”

“Heh, sweet… Ta fer th tip, Officer! Okey dokey, those bozos bet’er bewareRuler O’ Th Frickin’ Universe, comin’ through-“

Just as Brad jumped out to expose himself, Lexi tugged him back and sprinted stealthily across the concourse.

Bagel gawped as – silently, shockingly – she made mincemeat of the ground crew: “Who is she…?! She’s… beautiful…”

“Wakey, frickin’ wakey, oor kid!” Brad swiped the lovestruck lad gently over the head. “Yes… YES! She’s opened the ‘atch! C’mon, Boy Blunder, we’re movin’ in!”

Through volleys of laser-fire, the dynamic duo bungled aboard just as the hatch began to close – at least, the youngest fella made it onto th bridge…

“This bucket o’ bolts is never gonna g- Brad?!” Lexi yelled. “What the blazes are you doing back there?!”

“‘Arf a tick, lov,” he shouted. “I got me cloak stuck in the door…” 

“…I’ve never before met your like. You’re a hero, don’t you see that…? You really prefer death to a kingdom? I’m disappointed. I’d much rather see you on my side, than scattered into… atoms… but, as you wish…” – Emperor Ming The Merciless.  

“PUNCH IT, LEX!” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger (eventually) wailed, and the colossal ion engines of the Imperial Zentinel shuddered and howled into life. Within seconds, the tired – but triumphant – trio found themselves zooming away from the Imperial flagship. And… YES! As expected, whenever Zan Doka’s vessel blasts off, the Imperial Lightning Field is automatically deactivatedHUZZAH!

On-board, Brad flopped into the co-pilot’s seat next to Lexi.

“Whoopee-doo, we did it…! Hey, whaddya think: Bagel in the Company-“

“No, NO!!” the Officer swung round and fumed. “No WAY is that weasel becoming one of us! Goldarn it, Brad! You’re STILL smarting over losing Mitch. I know; heck, we all are… he was… irreplaceable. This reckless little…! He’s NEVER going to make the grade. You saw yourself how reckless he is… Teach him not to endanger the rest of the Militia, if you want to, but NOT on the Calista! Not near us!”

“Uh-huh – not near YOU ya mean…”

“You GOTCHA, Commander…” 

“Received… an’ un’erstood…”

Brad sauntered off to salivate over the gleaming Imperial Coffee-Maker while Bagel fiddled with the Imperial Zuperduper Ztereozoundzyztem, loading some blisteringly dark and grungy drum n’ bass. Brad peered in and a big dopey grin spread across his handsome chops: “Excellente! Those are the same kicks-as-a-mule beats I listened ta when I wuz your age, kid!” 

“Gawd, are you boys gonna be headbanging all the way back to base?”

“Sure, Lex!” Bagel chirped. “Why the ‘eck not?! Wanna dance… babe…?”

“Uff, just a finger-lickin’ minute, here…” Lexi bristled, rising menacingly out of the pilot’s seat. “Just who do you think YOU are calling ‘babe’, Bumfluff…?!” 

Of course, the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger had to wade in and settle the dispute: “Now then! Now now! What’s goin’ on ‘ere, now? Then…? Let’s NOT end this adventure wiv anuvva foight, puh-lease! Be cool!

“Lex! Chill, lov.

“Bagel! Manners, puppy…”

Before settling back for the long journey home, your hero relayed a quick message to the Ztodgeztonker:

“ATTENTION, dipwits!

Uh, situation normal groovy.

If ya still want yer Tosspot-In-Chief, I left ‘im on the Garbage Level; the dinner is in the cat; an’ – ah yeah! – I left a Sonic Disruptor in the [CONNECTION LOST]

Thanks fer ‘avin’ me! LOL 

CHEERS! 

Deke Wad 😉

X

“You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought…”Princess Leia Organa.

BRAD FARTLIGHTER WILL RETURN

 

The Merchant Of Menace: Rebel Without A Code Clearance

Twin Suns, Ray Guns And Puerile Puns About Brad’s Buns…

 

This is Episode II in the Firm And Shapely Trilogy you can find Episode I ‘ere:

“What chance do we have? The question is “what choice.” Run, hide, plead for mercy, scatter your forces. You give way to an enemy this evil with this much power and you condemn the galaxy to an eternity of submission. The time to fight is now!” – Jyn Erso.  

 

Well, that escalated quickly!

Despite fighting off Tenko Tash’vaa’s monologues as well as his goons,

Brad and Lexi remain holed up inside the villain’s headquarters on Wotsit IV in the Midlanoware System. 

Time is running out, and there is little hope of ever finding that reckless young spy: Bagel Looney…

But now, across the street, out of the clouds with a deafening drone

descends the most feared and infamous cruiser in the entire Imperial fleet: 

the Zoulzukker!

Kriegzlide Killzquad have arrived… 

 

“Getcha lousy biochemech mitts offa me!” Lexi protested as two giant Killzquad gooms seized her and began dragging her out.

Another two grappled with her companion.

“NAH!! Leave ‘er alone!” yelled the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger. “She’s gonna beat the stuffin’ outta yas!” 

“Hush urp, Urfmairn!” grumbled Zoltan Zovran – the Kriegzlide psychonaut too deranged even for a regular Shokk Trooper division to manage. The ruffian suddenly raised his Particle Accelerator Lance and jabbed it into the back of the Battleforce Commander’s head.

The squad, and their hostages, emerged onto the hot, crowded street. As half of those milling about – or just hanging around, wasting their Imperial time – consisted of the occupying Zandokan garrison, so Zubizmaar’s lunatics could avoid the hassle of gawping bystanders for a change.

As delirium seeped over him, Brad’s groggy eyes could just about discern a lone, armed Shokk Trooper emerge from the bustling throng and approach the group. With some urgency.

“A chenge uv ordairs, yo lot!” it barked. “Ze Emprah hez infairmed ze Wotzeet Proveencial Offizer zat zeez preeznair be brurt to ze Zentient Towair, een ze Men Zquare, fer ferzair eentairrogation!” 

And with that, he forcefully snatched the Earthling. The Killzquad stared uneasily among themselves.

Commander Zmutti Zubizmaar looked the most disbelieving. 

“Hmm… Zoundz laike a lurda covfefe to me, Troopair…” he snarked. “Ve vere zent ‘ere pairzonally by ze Emprah! OUR uddairz come STRET frurm ZAN DOKA IZZELF! Shur me YER uddairz, Troopair!”

“Directeev: Zero-seex-zero-ett – yo ken doneludd eet frum ze men Empeerial Moaneetor…” 

As they started to depart, Zubizmaar signalled them to halt: “Troopair! Vot eez yer urpairateenk numbair?”

“ZX2187…” 

He raised his blaster at them as they trudged away, crying out: “Two-wun-ett-zeven! Ze Urfzcurm ztayz weev uz! BREENK HEEM BECK ur-” 

“Ur whut?!” ZX2187 barked, not stopping, not looking back… “Yo vood shoot en Empeerial Troopair een ze beck…?!”

“‘Twood NUT be ze firzt tem, fool… Geev our preeznair beck, KNOW!” 

“C-come urn, Earthman, murve!” the Trooper muttered nervously as he nudged your hero in the back.

As this unlikely pair wandered off down the street, the Killzquad watched in bewilderment. 

“Vell, ZEEZ wuz NUT een ze zcripp…” Commander Zmutti Zubizmaar stood akimbo, shaking his repulsive head: “Yo ‘ombrez! Tek ze gell ta ze sheep – Zoreen! Follair zem! Ve durn’t dare lewz NEIZAIR uv zeez deepweetz!”  

Zoreen Zeegazeeg – a ruthless spy/assassin in his own right – stepped forth.

“‘Tweel be may genueen pleazure, zah!” 

And before anyone could cue some suitably dramatic music, he had vanished into the crowd…

Strangely, Trooper ZX2187 looked anxious, glancing every which way before nudging Brad into a narrow alley.

Your hero frowned in confusion: “…’Ere, ‘ang abaht… yer goin’ the wrong way…” 

“No, we’re not! In ‘ere, quick!”

At that moment, they barged into an empty hovel halfway down one side. Brad spun round to watch the Trooper remove his helmet and reveal not a green-skinned Imperial grunt, but:  

“Bless me blueberry muffins! BAGEL!”

“Shoosh, Commander! Ya wanna let everybody know where we are…?!”

“The longer we’re here, the less luck we’re gonna have…” – Han Solo.

“Too short for a Shokk Trooper?” Brad Fartlighter muttered cynically, massaging his sore bonce.

“Huh? Shucks, man, done pret’y well up until now…”

“‘Ave ya really, kid? Jeez, wanna know the reason why I didn’ pounce on ya jus’ now? Ya said: “Earthman,” instead o’ “Urfmairn”…!”

“Did I…?! Fudge… ‘Sfunny, there may ‘ave been some slip-ups earlier; it’s gettin’ well dodgy – I reckon some o’ the Shokk Troopers’ve kinda sussed me aht… Ya gotta ship? I’m itchin’ ta get offa this rock!” 

“Not so fast, Lil Itch – we ain’t goin’ nowhere jus’ yet! Those Kriegzlide goons ‘ave snatched me Second Officer – ya’d bet’er polish yer accent ‘cos we’re gonna break inta the Zoulzukker an’ get ‘er th blazes aht before they can get ta the muvvaship!”

“‘Er?! Yer Second Officer’s a woman?!”

“Whoa, a gold star fer keepin’ oop, Bright Eyes! She came all this way ta getcha back – an’ now both of us ‘ave ta get ‘er back!”

“You came ‘ere ta get me an’ all?”

“Nah, I came ta keep me eye on ‘er-“

“Well, you’re doin’ a fine an’ dandy job o’ THAT!” 

“An’ whose fault wuz that then, fella?! Cos o’ you, dipwit, I’m further from Lexi than I’d like! I’m gonna need me own Shokk Trooper’s togs ta pull this ruse orf – we’ll ‘ave ta coax one of ’em in ‘ere…!”

“Easy peasy, Commander be back in a jiffy…”

“BAGEL…?!”

And with that, the reckless Rebel wandered off up to the main street; just two minutes later, in burst a suitably perplexed Shokk Trooper. 

Brad waved and chirped: “‘Iya, amigo! ‘Ow ya doin’? Got any Doritos on ya…?”

The next minute, Bagel wandered in to see Brad standing over the fallen felon, extracting its armour. 

“I shudder ta think, kid: what did ya say ta this nerk?”

“Simple: ‘If ya wanna catch the Wanted cake-lovin’ Brad Fartlightercome wi’ me’…!”

“You…!” Brad gasped, then chortled: “You’re a crafty lil nerk, Bagel, I’ll givya tha’… sheesh!” 

Suddenly, he grabbed said crafty lil nerk by the collar, and retorted: “JEEZ, kid! Ya’ve REALLY dropped me buns in the fire NOW! Outta ORL’A goons ya coulda brought in ‘ere, ya HADTA pick aht ol’ Zeeg? One of the most demented bunnies I’ve EVAH run inta! DAHN’T need this – ya KNOW I’ve ALREADY got an ‘eadache…”

“SOZ, Commander, but- but ‘ow wuz I supposed ta know…?!”

The Commander loosened his grip, and replied gently: “Yeah… ‘ow… were ya supposed ta know… Too late, we’re in deep, now – ‘elp me wiv these boots, will ya? (This is the part abaht bein’ an ‘ero I detest the most: takin’ other fellas’ clobber orf). C’mon, kid, we’ve got an appointment wiv da Killzquad ta keep!”

While Brad nonchalantly scanned up and down the street, counting Imperial sentries, working out their next plan of action, Bagel stared in such a befuddled state at the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger.

“Are we really doing this?!” whispered Bagel.

“We’re gonna do this!” whispered Brad. 

“Congratulations. You are being rescued. Please do not resist” – K-2SO. 

“How’d ya end up ‘ere, Bagel?!”

“Bah! Got shot dahn by a Zkorpion – thought it best ta infiltrate the Shokk ranks – tha’s ‘ow I’ve managed ta stay undetected fer so long-“

“Too darn roight ya were undetected, ya dozy donut! We all thought we’d lost ya altagevvah…!”

“Soz, Commanderme transmit-piece got busted when I bailed outta me crate. An’ I aven’t ‘ad the opp ta fangle a way ta send any signal back ta the Resistance. Reckoned I oughtta… take on the Empire all by meself-“

“An’ worsen the situation fer th rest ovuz?! If – IF – I can getcha back ta base in one piece, the General’s probly gonna rip ya ta shreds ‘imself anyway!” 

“What, Rajendra…?! ‘E wouldn’t! Get ‘is first name: “Ajaan”: tha’s the Yanduri word for ‘teacher.’ From what I’ve ‘eard, ‘e’s a mild-mannered… placid fella… … in’e…?”

Brad clasped the lad’s shoulder and jigged it a lil.

“Lissen oop: so ya got away wivvit… but sheesh, man! That wuz more reckless than anythin’ I got upta when I wuz yer age! An’ tha’s sayin’ some’t…! Be cool, Bagel – when we get back… when I meet Raj, I’ll tell ‘im tha’-“

“You DAHN’T know ‘im eivver?! What chance do I ‘ave?!”

“Shoosh, Bagel. COOLIO. Nah mat’er ‘ow it turns aht, I’ll  stick up fer ya. Trust me…”

“Cheers, Commander… but ‘ow the blazes are we gonna bust inta the Kriegzlide crate an’ get yer Officer back, Mr. ‘Ligh’er, if ya please? An’… an’ what if they take off before we can reach ’em?!” 

“Na worries, kid! That Zkorpion I nabbed in order ta get ‘ere – wipe me cake crumbs offa the passenger seat an’ we’ll be jus’ fine an’ dandy.” 

“Yeah, but…! But wha’ abaht the Clearance Code?! ‘Ow can we gain our own access to the muvvaship wivaht one?! ‘Ow – where – are we gonna get THAT?!”

“Uff, cobblers ta the Code, kid! Seems like the only reason why these Imperial dipwits ‘ave rules is so that Brad can break ’em… We’ll find a way – I always do… …”

“Well, somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage, fly-boy!” – Princess Leia Organa.

“…Ya ougtta know the most important thing I’ve picked up while ‘angin’ aht dahn ‘ere – but I dunno ‘ow ta break it to ya,” Bagel huffed indignantly as they marched back into the main street, their Imperial togs gleaming in the intense rays of the twin suns. “…The Empire ‘ave upgraded their biochemech armour, so ‘elp us. Notice ‘ow these new bods wear slightly darker suits… ligh’er, but thicker… Pret’y soon, blasters are gonna ‘ave little to NAH effect on ’em…”

“Blazes…” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger muttered, dreading how all this cosmic gubbins was escalating. “…An’ it’s only Imperial blasters that we can find ta arm the Resistance. Tha’s some’t else we’ll ‘ave ta deal wiv- Gah, dash it all!”

The vicinity of the Zoulzukker positively crawled with Shokk Troopers as they peered round the cornerBagel threw his hands in the air with despair:

“Whoa! We’re in a tight spot-“

“Oh really? You’re tight?! Shame ol’ Zeegazeeg wuz a wimpy sprat ‘is armour ain’ ‘arf pressin’ me buns! An’- OOF! Me pecs are posi’ively ‘EAVIN’ in this blasted breastplate!”

“Aow, quit whinin’, Commander. It- say! Guess that physique’s why the girls back at base keep talkin’ abou’cha…”

“Do they? Groovy…”

“Everybod’ don’ call ya a groovy galactic ‘ero fer nuthin’, eh…? D’ya work aht?”

“Nah. No need, kid. Got bit’en by a radioactive chipmunk…”

“Did ya…?!”

“Course, bleedin’ o’ course I work aht! Whatcha think?! Fer goodness sake, flamin’ Nora… Don’t wanna be mistaken fer a donut like Zeeg in these dark times-“

“Yeah yeah…” the younger fella drawled sarcastically.

Brad leaned across and rapped his knuckles against Bagel’s helmet: “No, seriously: be STRONG: that means MENTAL, as well as physical, fella! So, if ya got some’t inside there, WORK IT! Blimey, if ya’d used yer wits before an’ ‘ADN’T carried aht that dumbass raid on the Ztodgeztonker, we WOULDN’T be in this mess NOW…!” 

Suddenly, a typically rasping Zandokan voice from across the street blared out:

“ZHERE ZEY AIR! Shoot ze zhirt wun, but ze ‘unky wun eez NUT to be ‘armed!”

Shokk Troopers dashed in from all sides, blasters blazing.

“‘Ere, tha’s bang OUT’A order! Frickin’ charmin’, THAT is!” the short one protested, blasting back, but the hunky one grabbed his reckless companion and dragged him away from the action. 

“Quit whinin’, Bagel! Ya see… ya SEE?! These tosspots are seriously dischuffed at what YOU did…”

After a few frantic yards of scarpering as fast as their biochemech-clad legs could carry them, the spy scowled at your hero: “‘Ere… ‘old on! I wuz only copyin’ what YOU did… Commander‘Ow is it tha’ YOU get ac’olades, an’ I just get grief?!” 

“‘Cos I’m a PERFESSIONAL idiot! Cut the chat’er, kid – we got’a split!” 

And these blast points, too accurate for Sand People. Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise…” – Ben Kenobi.

“AHA! Ze Burrito end Bagel!” Zoltan Zovran cried as he crept up behind the two leads, wielding THAT particularly nasty Particle Accelerator Lance. “Ze two murzt repreehenzible Oomanz in ze galaxy een may clutchez!” 

“Now now, nerk!” Brad waved a steady hand at the Kriegzlide madman, and protested: “Ya already bopped me over th ‘ead wiv that bloomin’ thing – ta do it twice would be careless…”

“Votzamattair, Urfmairn, expect mercy…? Kriegzlide Killzquad durn’t knur ze meaning uv ze verd…  heh heh heh!” he snarled, aiming his weapon right at Brad.

“‘Old on jus’ a finger-lickin’ minute, ‘ere! I’m the ‘ero – ya can’t bamp me orf, not like that!” 

“Uv courze…! Egen, Bred, yo air ebzolutely raight. Ze Emprah weejez to zee yo…”

Zoltan gradually swung the weapon at Bagel

“‘EE eez ze eccurzed ZPY! ‘Ee’ll do!”

Out of a piercingly-loud, deadly flash, Bagel yelped and fell limp into the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger’s arms.

“Ah, Jeez…! Stay wiv me, kid… …”

As your forlorn hero collapsed to the ground, clutching the lad in his trembling arms, a brood of Zandokan guards ran over to encircle him. Without warning, they proceeded to pummel the poor dude viciously with their lances and rifles.

“WETT! DOLTZ! Zat eez ze gret Zan Doka’z prize! ‘E muzt NUT – Ay reppit: NUT – be ‘armed! BECK URF!”  

Commander Zmutti Zubizmaar strode nonchalantly in, and – seeing Zoltan posing triumphantly, and the prize captive hunched dejectedly on the ground – couldn’t resist wandering over to have a quick gloat. He squatted, and squeezed the crestfallen Earthman’s throat.

“Heh heh,  wunce murr, yo aire BEATEN, “galacteec heeeruh”! Aah… Bred, Bred, Bred….”

Having stared too long at the still-crackling blast point on the young Rebel’s right pec, the Cakecharmer looked up with teary eyes, shaking the Kriegzlide Commander’s hand away, and defiantly muttered:

“I’m the one in da middle, ya drunken ‘obo!” 

“HA…! Zteel curzed wiv zat eenfairnal “Oomarn zpeeret.” Zad…” 

“Whut aboat zeez wun…?” Zoltan chirped, prodding Bagel’s still body with his boot.

“Nur, leaf eet – zeez planet payz foolz ta remurve feelth frurm ze ztreetz… Ve hef ze wun ve need – yez… Bred, ve hef yo exactly vhere yo jhood be: URN YER KNEEEZ! Broken, helplezz, hopelezz…  UZELEZZ…! Bred ta ze burne – NUR MURR! Vot duzzeet feeeel laike to be a LEWZAH, tweetfez…?”

“They say it’s difficult at first, but I’m sure a big, Imperial jackass like you will soon get the ‘ang of it-“

“Uff…” the Commander grumbled, and shot back onto his feet. “Yo ‘ombrez! Poot zeez comedien aburd ze Zoulzukker… 

“Ve VEEL tek heem ZTRET TA ZE EMPRAH KNOW!!… …” 

 

Luke Skywalker: “I’m endangering the mission, I shouldn’t have come…”

 

Handle With Flair: Play it Again, Lexi!

Girl Power! With A Flash Of Fartlighter…

“Out here, everything hurts. You wanna get through this? Do as I say” – Imperator Furiosa.

Buff Encounter!

Before the dreaded Zandokan Empire can release an Official Gloat to announce the Upgrade of the formidable flagship: The Imperial Ztodgeztonker, Bagel Looney – that reckless spy of The Resistancehas managed to infiltrate and sabotage its primary weapon systems. During his escape, he has gone “missing” on Wotsit IV, in the Midlanoware System. 

Emperor Zan Doka himself has dispatched his deadly Kriegzlide Killzquad to Wotsit to terminate the infiltrator. 

In a daring counter-move – not content to hang around and play pinball machines with the rest of Brad Company – Second Officer: Lexi Waldorf has snuck away in her own dubiously-acquired Zandokan scout-ship (Codename: The Femme Fatale). 

Before anyone can say: “It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first,” she has been cornered and disarmed in one warehouse on Wotsit, by the shifty Randy Flapjack and his gang – Blimey Charley! This looks like the end, already!

May Dyzan have mercy upon those poor miscreants… 

 

“You won’t be the first lunk’ead I’ve KO’ed, Randy, an’ th way your cohorts are eyin’ me up, you sure won’t be the last!” Lexi yelled, her patience well and truly spent.

“Hey, Lex, take five, doll! Why don’t we-“

“No, we DON’T, Flapjack… Huh, you really expect to walk outta here after callin’ me “doll,” fella?” she scowled bitterly, running a nervous hand through her smokey hair. 

“You’d better watch it, darlin’! It’s about ta get a whole lotta ugly-“

“Uff… “darling”… … Who ya tryin’ ta kid?! It’s already too darned unsightly! Never been confronted by such a sorry bunch of lameass dipwits this side o’ Beta Lugosi before… sheesh!” Lexi replied sternly, despite the hoodlums creeping ominously closer.

“Before we get started, fellas, lemme play this – you remember Brad? That Hero of the Battleforce? As groovy as fudge, but as thick as a plank; he gave me this killa tune – it’s better to break bozos like you by…”

“Doin’ the “tough chick” act, eh? Huh, that’ll be the day!” 

“Well, boychick, that day has come, so whatever you got, now’s the time to…

BRING IT ON!” 

“Look, man. I only need to know one thing: where they are” – Private Vasquez. 

Nursing a slight cut on her forearm, Lexi doubled back into the bathroom. As she entered an incongruously spick-and-span wash area, a certain Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger nonchalantly strolled out from one of the shower cubicles, frantically drying his blond tresses. With a hand towel.

“Commander…?! What the blazes are YOU doing here?!” she cried incredulously.  

“Hey! ‘Iya, Lex, ‘ow ya doin’?” he chirped, standing at a sink. “I saw ya shoot off – craved some adventure, so thought I’d tagalong after ya, like-”  

“No, what are you doing HERE? This is the Ladies’ Room, fer cryin’ out loud!” she protested, trying not to be distracted by the Battleforce Commander’s buff profile. 

“Aha…! That explains why it’s so… CLEAN in ‘ere. And the taps work. Jeez, it’s jus’ the same ‘ere as back on Revlon – the Mens’ room is locked there an’ all! This is bang out’a order – ya dahn’ wan’ me smellin’ like a moofmilkah ‘board the Calista now, do ya?!”  

“You can say THAT again, Brad. So… you’re more of a traditional galactic hero: you much prefer to drip-dry?” 

“Eh…?”

“Look here: Xtra Large Bath Towels are in the cabinet under the sink-“

“Blimey! They’ve got towels… provided?! Tha’s swell… Ya got soap an’ all! I really DIG it ‘ere; this place is a revelation! Ah yeah, I’m usin’ the Ladies facili’ies from now on-“

“Whoa, NOT in the buff you’re not!” 

“Hey, if ya were in any other Company, as token female YOU would ‘ave ta do the nude scene, so I-“

“Nah-AH! DON’T. TURN Around, Mister! Keep yer nuggets where I CAN’T see ’em, fella!” 

“Ha ha! As ya wish-” 

“Grudammit, Commander! This was supposed to be MY mission; will people be talking about my ingenuity, tenacity, badassery? My vivacity even?! NO, they’ll only be concentrating on YOUR firm and shapely buns – bah!!”

“Firm and shapely, eh…? Groovy. Note ta self: switch ta smug-mode,” Brad’s big dopey grin faded instantly. “Soz, Lex… seriously though, I wuz worried about Bagel; he may be completely orf ‘is nut, but ‘e’s a special lil bunny – would ‘ate ta lose ‘im…”

“Yeah, this IS the Sector where our sensors lost trace of him… Hey, look, I’m sorry too – you actually pulled yourself away from your blasted pinball machines to watch over me… okay, you ponsed off to take a shower, but I really appreciate that you’re helpin’ me here, now…”

“No probs – ‘ey, I’ve checked aht the guard ‘ouse, mess quarters, and the… (ahem) bar, but there’s nah sign o’ oor kid anywheres… I’m gonna ‘ave a butcher’s in the… erm, canteen. We’ll meet back ‘ere within the ‘our…! Besta’ luck, Lex. You be extra careful out there, ya dig? Oh, an’ if ya run inta that lil nerk: Frothy Fassblender, giv’im me best regards,” he winked.

“Gotcha – you be careful too, Brad; this place is crawling with that Zandokan garrison. I’ll check out the Admin. Office – see if they’ve arrested him, and – and fer goodness SAKE, Commander! Put some pants ON! That’s an ORDER! Away with your “weapon,” I mean you no harm…”

“I see you’ve managed to get your shirt off…” – Sir Alexander Dane. 

No sooner had Brad‘s Second Officer broken into the Admin. Office, a couple of cronies crept in behind her.

“Well well well, if it isn’t Waffle Falafel and Frothy Fassblender: the original tosspots! How ya doin’, fellas?” 

“Now lissen ‘ere, girly, it’s lucky that jackass Commander o’ yers ain’t here, otherwise I’d… Just what are you looking for, exactly?” Frothy snapped brusquely.

“Don’t try to act “tough” with me, Frothy – it just doesn’t suit you… No, seriously, I’ve got urgent business with Tenko Tash’vaa-

“Oh yeah?! Ha ha! Ya really think Tash’vaa himself is gonna see YOU-?!” Frothy ‘fessed in disbelief.

“Ya gotta be-!”

“Kidding…? An’ I’ll tell you another thing: the Cakecharmer himself IS here on Wotsit, so you’d better-“

“WHA-?!” Waffle wailed in disbelief. “Fart’s here?! You’ve seen ‘im?!”

“Oof, just about ALL of him, in fact. He-“

“Where?!” yelled Frothy. “Bring ‘im ‘ere! Then we can deal wiv the pair of ya together!”

“Nah-ah! First things first, fella – Brad wanted me to pass on a message…” Lexi stuck her index finger in the air. “Are you listening carefully? Only gonna pass this once.”

“Yeah, you bet! Give it to me, sugar!” 

“As you wish, dickwad…” she snarled, and promptly rammed that finger straight into his bronchus.

As his torso creased down, his nose “collided” with her rapidly ascending knee. The woeful henchman instantly flung back, slamming onto the desk spine-first.

Waffle waited and worried, but Fassblender didn’t flinch or fumble. 

“Hey, Waffle, don’t just gawp there – come here and I’ll make sure you two can spend the night in the hospital together-“

“Ah, jeez, NO! Please, no! Why don’t I just tell you what you want to know?!”

“Ha! NOW yer talkin’…”

“Why don’t you put her in charge?!” – Private Hudson.

“AND just WHERE do you think you’re going?!” the mighty Tenko Tash’vaa – the Vichyguerran extremist-turned-Imperial-stooge, a seven-foot beast, dressed in full battle-armour – hollered as he reared his ugly green head into the fray, regarding Lexi’s presence with dismay. 

“So, just where IS that Battleforce jackass? I show up to talk down to him but what does he do instead? He sends… uff, a woman…”   

“Weh-heh-hell…! We’ve only just met and already this rotten chauv’s given me a grudge ta bear…” Lexi growled uptightly. “Huh, what’s your PROBLEM, eh, Toadface?”

The alien chauvinist just yawned.

“Normally, I’d just be hangin’ out at some mall, upgrading my wardrobe, but since your nasty Zandokan chums came on the scene, I’ve had to resort to this… rough business-“

“Enough chat! I will get my underlings to sort you out…”

“No need – Flapjack an’ his bum-chums are all inhalin’ dust on your warehouse floor… Huh, what IS it with you super-villains? How do you expect to rule the galaxy if you can’t get any half-decent henchmen?! You want a fight, I’ll grudgingly oblige…”

“Charming to the last, but you won’t last long – I’m too big-“

“No worries, Lofty, you just provide more places to hit, that’s all…” 

As she wisecracked, out of the corner of her eye she became aware of yet another henchman trudging into the room.

“Actually, girly,” Tenko snarled, “I am getting tired of you and your… attitude-!”

“‘Ey, man,” this latest arrival drawled. “Tha’s nah way ta talk ta a lady…”

“At last!” Lexi cried with relief. “One of your nerks shows some RESPECT… Where you come from, fella? Who- WHOA! BRAD! Didn’t recognise you with yer kit ON…” 

Barely Lukewarm – Tenko’s dodgy right-hand “man” – gasped, rapidly wagging his finger between the two heroes: “Are you… two…?!?!” 

“I dunno…” Lexi glanced casually at the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger. “Are we… …?”

“I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but from now on you’ll do as I tell you, okay?” – Princess Leia Organa.

“SIR!” cried Waldo Phlegmthrower, one of the other loons, lurking at the back of the room. “Incoming Message on the Imperial channel!”

“Stand aside, you nauseating lovebirds! Waldo: ensure that I can send a clear message to the Empire!” Tash’vaa stormed impatiently, as he strode maniacally over to a control console.

Thus – on the main portal – opened the holographic image of a bloated, scarred and pockmarked mess of a face leering at everybody present. The hoodlums shuddered; Lexi grimaced; but Brad carried on gobbling a hefty wodge of ginger cake, totally nonplussed. 

And so appeared the grotesque visage of none other than Zmutti Zubizmaar – thoroughly repugnant Commander of the Kriegzlide Killzquad.

“Greeteenkz, Comrade Tenko! Vot nooz- Vell, vell, VELL! Vot on Votzeet doh ve hef ‘ERE?!” he hollered hysterically. “Ve come fer ze accurzed zpy, but faind – eenztead – ze leg end ‘eemzelf: ze Kekchairmair!! Veh-heh-hell… vot a turnip fer ze bookz! ‘Ow ya doin’, Bred? Remembair may nem…?” 

“Umm… gimme a min- AH! Dick Move, I presume?”

“Grrr… NURRR! Durn’t yo remembair our ultaircation on Alpha Indi II?!” 

“Yeah yeah, do I ‘ell! Jeez… Ya ambush me Company, ya cripple me ship, AN’ ya ‘ave the NERVE ta confiscate me cake, fer goodness sake, flamin’ Nora…! Even if ya exile me to the ends o’ the cosmos, ya really think I can forget an ubernerk loike YOU, eh, Zubi? NOT gonna say it’s groovy ta see ya ‘gain… ‘cos it ain’t… What’s yer game this time, tosspot…?” 

“(Heh heh, we cool – Ay’ll let zat wun pazz…) Hef yo found ze eenfeeltraitair yet, Urfleenk?”

“Nah… we ‘aven’t; would ya Adam-an’-Eve it – we ‘aven’t…”

“Ya knur… I belieeeve yo, Bred. Nur worries, fool; ez zoon ez may Killzquad tek command uv dat Zector, ve VEEL find heem. Y’knur, our gret flagjheep got vukkt wunce beefur-“

“I should know – I wuz there!”

“Hmmmm…” The Killzquad Commander stared, long, hard and contemptuously at the Battleforce Commander before spitting:

“Tash’vaa! Yo veel huld ze Urfleenkz urnteel Ay erriv – eez dat urndairztood? Hef nur feeeear! May Killzquad veel deeeeal wiv ze zaboteur-zcurm… ull een good tem!

“ETA: fifteen Eempeerial meenuts!

“OVAIR END OAT!!” 

Carter Burke: “Ripley, I… You know, I expected more from you. I thought you’d be smarter than this!”

Ellen Ripley: “I’m happy to disappoint you…” 

“So… Brad: great “hero,” hmm…? I think not – you still haven’t found your very own spy…” Tenko Tash’vaa continued. “Take away your pecs and wisecracks and what are you…? NOTHING! Your “reputation”… heh, is vastly overrated. I will-” 

“Hey, man,” Lexi interjected. “That’s no way to talk to a groovy galactic hero…!”

“Aww, bless yer heart, Lex,” Brad whispered. “This plank really appreciates it-”

Lexi spun round: “Aow, scheisse… You HEARD that?! Soz, Commander…”  

“No worries, lov… Ya really think me buns are THAT shapely…?” 

“Basta cosi!!” yelled Tenko, waving an impatient hand. “GAH! You’re BOTH insufferable! Alright, you men – dispose of the Terrans!” 

More henchmen lunged towards the two heroes. Brad, gnashing his rotten teeth, lunged forward to shield Lexi.

“‘Ere, get back, lov! This time, lemme deal wiv these nerks for ya…”

“Aww, lookin’ after yer Second Officer? That’s sweet, but I started this mess, fella – besides, ah hell… I’ve seen the way you brawl, Brad – best fer both of us if YOU get back…” 

“Okey-dokey then, suit yerself, Officer, ha ha!” he chortled. “Aww, y’know, this reminds me o’ the time we ‘ad ta foight our way orf Esthymon IV – evadin’ the pirates at that spaceport; pickin’ oop some snazzy supplies from the Imperial ware’ouse; ‘avin’ a scrumptious fudge sundae… each! AND ya STILL seized the chance to beat up some guards before we skedaddled! Ah, ‘appy times… Ya sure know ‘ow ta show a plank a good time…” 

Lexi rolled her eyes to the ceiling: “Okay, OKAY! I said I’m sorry ’bout that! Jeez, Commander, you’re not gonna let this lie, are ya?”

“No worries, Lex! “As groovy as fudge”: hey hey hey! Tha’s jus’ fine an’ dandy, that! ‘Ang abaht… Yer not thinkin’ o’ chargin’ in WIVAHT playin’ some’t… are ya?! Not like you at all…”  

She scanned the mob, fiddled with her ‘Player, did a quick count and sighed: “Aow, jeez…! Don’t these lunk’eads ever learn…?!”

“Course not – ya know ‘enchmen ain’t paid ta use their noddle. Anyway, ya’d better get badassin’ – we got fifteenBlimey Charley!TWELVE minutes now, until Zubi an’ ‘is goons get ‘ere! Look lively, lov-“

“Shoosh, Commander! Ah…! Can’t get ta work without playin’ this one,” Lexi beamed heartily.

Brad’s cute blue eyes lit up at her choice: “Ha! I jus’ KNEW ya were gonna plump fer yer signature track…”

“Of course!she insisted. “After all, every gal’s gotta have a theme tune… right?”

 

 “Whoever wrote this episode should die!” – Gwen DeMarco. 

 

“Mind Your Head, Sleepy Chicken”: Mishaps With Creativity In The Age Of Outrage

The Daze In The “Life” Of A Flustered Writer 

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The Ancient One – “Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all. ”

Dr. Stephen Strange – “Which is?”

The Ancient One – “It’s not about you.”

“We don’t care. We don’t really care,” retorted the script editor (whose name shall remain undisclosed to protect MY innocence). “The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean, 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter.”

This – one of umpteen rejections foisted upon me over the years – just confirms what has been niggling my noddle lately. Such a rebuke – stern but to be expected – is, essentially, cancelling out my worth as a wordsmith. On a major motion picture. 

The prospect of movies limping along with next to no script does not exactly come as a great shock to me. My intentions of making it in the movie industry appear to be growing thinner by the day. Sure, it’s a classic case of not what you know, but who you know. Believe me, rejections here, ignorance there, and my resilience well and truly wrung – Brad would prefer not to mingle with such types…

Anyway…

Apologies for not publishing a Post sooner. But you would not believe the ridiculous setbacks encountered on my travails! While my concentration gets lost amidst the daily hustle and bustle of 21st century strife, too many people around me are losing their tempers all too easily – upon offering to help, their only rebuke comes in the disagreeable form of “Get lost.” Or (coarse) words to that effect…

Why, oh why, so much unrestrained hostility? Don’t tell me: this is the Age Of Outrage. 

My problems are probably ten times worst than theirs, but you don’t see me blowing my stack. However, considering what your correspondent Has Had To Go Through This Past Two Weeks it’s a mystery he hasn’t blown it several times already! Thankfully – between you and me – years in a Southeast Asian temple Being At One with my Inner Cha-Cha, closely supervised by a half-human half-pangolin guru have mentally prepared me for my nonchalant return to what they laughably call Western “Civilization.”

Apart from the obligatory technical glitches, trying to carry out research in the Public Library: someone has lost/misplaced a required book; then, someone else broke wind in the Self-Help Section forcing the whole bally building to be evacuated… 

At my former Alma Mater, my luck fares no better; due to the heightened security around the City, my status as Alumnus does nothing to persuade the bouncers @ Reception. Handsome? By jove, always! But “suspicious”? Do me a favour…  

In other news: my novel has stalled, primarily after studying the latest book survey revealing that two-thirds of novel readers are women. Set in a 12th century abbey, the most horrifying aspect of this medieval sci-fi adventure is the head-scratching realization that it has NO female characters! This needs to be readdressed, of course, but after a disconcerting fall in the Stats from this site, this makes me seriously ponder: will anyone want my novel…? Perhaps the answer lies in converting it into a graphic novel – but then again, my artwork (normally quite therapeutic) has not gone as snazzy as hoped…

The case continues…

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“For, in their savage ignorance, they feel only hatred for any among them who may seem… different! They long for peace, yet gird for war! They search for love, yet harbour hate!” – The Silver Surfer. 

“By living life for itself, don’t you see? Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being,” remarked the nameless Martian, last custodian of his long-vanished civilization. 

Following the sickening terrorism act a few months ago in Manchester (where my degree was gained!), and again as the appalling news from Virginia broke over this past weekend, this beautiful sequence of dialogue (from The Martian Chronicles 1979 TV adaptation, written by Richard Matheson) returned to my fevered mind.

All too easily, these sage Martian words are simply ignored. Hate, regrettably, has become far too common and rampant. Rather than wallow in the throes of despair, these atrocities invigorate me to produce a unique brand of positive, entertaining and thoroughly wholesome fare at a more exponential rate.

Out of the multifarious dark and evil acts committed around this Pale Blue Dot, projects of ever-increasing worth and vitality have prevailed. Consider this impressive history: disillusioned by the collapse of the short-lived New Republic in 17th century England, James Milton wrote Paradise Lost; disturbed by the horrors he experienced at the Western Front, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien fought off the nightmares by “escaping” to Middle-Earth and creating an epic fantasy saga called The Lord Of The Rings. 

In turn, yours truly has had to stem an incessant surge in personal, social and economic problems by summoning the last vestiges of his resilience to produce evermore entertaining reams of writing (that you will enjoy here shortly!). 

With nine out of ten of my applications, enquiries and job pitches “lost” or ignored, this blogging platform remains the only means by which anyone and everyone Can See What Brad Can Do…

Keep Calm and Carry On Writing…

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees” – T.H. White.  

“You don’t want [readers] to read your story, you want them to feel your story.”

This writers’ tip has held particular resonance these past few months. Having vowed to pay more attention to my levels of description, injecting all the right feels into my fiction no longer pose any problems. Considering what we have had to endure over the past eighteen difficult months, my work can now exude a heavier, more personal, more loaded edge. 

Whenever a piece of my fiction fails, (and too many pieces have floundered by the wayside recently) one quote from Confucius instantly comes to mind: Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

To me, if my “path of creation” is hindered, an alternative route is taken… but my physical and mental batteries are now so depleted that finding the energy and enthusiasm to concoct something as ridiculously easy-peasy as a comics review devolved into an unnecessary struggle. But do not fret, my friends! 

It’s official: Brad is on the rebound!

HUZZAH!!

And: TOP tip for this month?!: “Write rubbish!”

Bingo, fella, whaddya think this writer has been doin’?! ‘Tis the only skill @ th mo at which he excels… bah!

Seriously though: the key is to settle into the right room as well as the right frame of mind. You’ll be delighted to learn that a number of intriguing new projects have emerged on my Dashboard! Granted, the first few drafts looked messy and confused – understandable, bearing in mind what woes and worries hung heavy on my mind – but, as all exterior tensions faded (meditation, plus mocha and blueberry muffins, usually help) and my senses gradually immersed into blissful concentration, my compositions evolved into something more groovy and coherent. 

And as this ramblin’ ram-packed Post comes to a merciful close – don’t want to rant, but let me say just this: 

Cultures shape values, and those values shape history; therefore, our values shape our future. However, repugnant values have brought on these antipathetic and violent times; they have been allowed to fester by the very same factions of ignorance directly responsible for denying me my vocational and socio-economic progress.  

Politicians talk loud, but never say anything positive or progressive to help me. 

Instead, the rise of negative hypernationalist movements (regrettably a global outbreak) MUST be counteracted by RATIONAL thinkers and campaigners willing to offer a progressive values-based world vision – a different path based on UNITY across racial, gender, ethnic, and religious lines… 

Now you know: this past fortnight, Brad has been too busy freedom-fighting to blog…

Quite frankly, this evening, my head feels like an ex-Communications Director is locked inside it, yelling expletives…

Still, this migraine is worth the effort. 

In this life, it is ALWAYS PREFERABLE to create than hate…

“…Live as well as possible, expect no more. Destroy nothing, humble nothing, look for fault in nothing, leave unsullied and untouched all that is beautiful.

“Hold that which lives in all reverence, for life is given by the Sovereign Of Our Universe, given to be savoured, to be luxuriated in, to be… respected…” – The Martian.

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius. 

 

 

The Knack Of Scant Prose: Studying The Formula Of First Prize Short Stories

Can Brad Really Win That Short Story Competition After All These Years?! 

“Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves” – Ray Bradbury.

“Writing science fiction,” wrote Ray Bradbury, “is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.”

Winning a short story competition – one of the goals that has always eluded me – cannot, therefore, be impossible.

Having entered various short story competitions, mainly the sci-fi and horror categories – my hopes and expectations were set at exceptionally stratospheric levels, until realizing that my name never even reached the extensive Runners-Up Lists… And so, my tender years – and even more brittle confidence – finally dissuaded me from tackling short story competitions.

However, recentlyBrad Burrito Fartlighter: a decidedly English galactic hero, has shot to blogosphere fame in his very own “Fartlighter Bradventures.” Come on! Where else could you find the awesome – and hopefully hilarious – escapades of a very English spacefaring rogue who digs Mexican grub and cake?! One forthcoming instalment has been set aside – for professional consultation – so studying the art (and history) of the short story has taken up my time this past week. 

The short story originated in the medium that furnished a market for it: magazines. Common belief holds that the first exponent of this format was Edgar Allan Poe. The majority of the short fiction he produced appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger from 1835 onwards. He is regarded as perfecting the art of striking the keynote – by grabbing attention immediately with a sharp opening paragraph, or even just a sharp opening sentence.

At the moment, it looks like my ideas are flowing more reliably than my typing. Once a really groovy story starts to rock, my dexterity begins to roll. All over the place… 

While frantically pummelling the keyboard – apart from getting the ‘e’ and ‘r,’ and ‘a’ and ‘s’ mixed up, my fingers now hit ‘v’ instead of ‘b,’ and bice bersa…

“A first line should open up your rib cage. It should reach in and twist your heart backward. It should suggest that the world will never be the same again” – Colum McCann.  

How – and wheredoes the effective short story begin?

“Start as close to the end as possible,” remarked Kurt Vonnegut, when he included a list of essential tips on How To Write A Short Story in the Introduction to his 1999 collection of magazine stories: Bagombo Snuff Box. He also remarked that: “Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.”

Within a certain (limited) word count, how much characterisation can you realistically inject into a “short” story? Fortunately, Fartlighter is gifted with his own band of lovable rogues: “Brad Company” – doing their nabbing-from-the-greedy-to-give-to-the-needy bit across the galaxy; therefore the diversity on display means that a rich and variable range of potential plotlines lie in wait. 

Besides breaking up the text with images and quotes, a standard Bradventure can amount to 2,600 words. Naturally, the more fun you have with creative writing, you will/can (easily) produce greater quantity. The Christmas Special turned out to be such a blast that at over 5,000 words and still TWO pivotal scenes yet to be typed, a major editing job had to be applied. Thus, my inner Poe was invoked: with less words, comes greater impact.

Sharper – and more economical – than a novel, the short story has to be vividly defined. 

Allow no wandering, no superfluous material – heck, prepare to hack without mercy. 

“A short story is not only smaller… not only simpler and more compact, it is single with a more intense concentration. It should work out a single idea; make a single point; close with a single ‘punch’; convey a single effect” – Geoffrey Ashe.   

Unbelievably, what vexes editors and judges the most involves receiving far too many submissions that offer just a situation, NOT a story!

To set my goals straight, these are the Five Components Of A Story that take pride of place in my notes, and what any short story writer should adhere to!

  • A story reveals something about the human condition, or makes a statement about what it means to be human; 
  • A story tests personal character, over and over, to reveal deeper character;
  • A story has subplots that are dramatic and thematic reflections of the journey of the protagonist;
  • A story ends in a different emotional space than where it began;
  • A story is driven by a strong moral component motivating the protagonist through the middle of the story, resulting in dramatically interconnected scene writing;

Perhaps some modern movie-makers should also study this list? 

Although the story may not have anything to say about the human condition, at least the reader should be able to derive some fun, be engaged, (be shocked?) and – above all – be entertained. 

To create a successful story – the One that sets judges’ pulses racing and jaws droppinga writer MUST convey their OWN ideas and style, to the point of remaking language; let the inexecutable unfold!

At least with my Bradventures, my imagination dares to be adventurous! It’s about time those judges experienced what my writing has become! 

Is it not…? 

“The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor,” Vonnegut continued. “She broke practically every one of my rules… Great writers tend to do that.”

Hmm, in order to get ahead, Brad has to break the rules? 

Ha! So what else is new…?! 

“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water… 

“Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of…” –  Kurt Vonnegut.

Wish me luck! 

 

The White Lion And The Dessert Rats

Up The Creek, Down In The Desert… 

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“The Sand People are easily startled, but they’ll be back, and in greater numbers…” – Obi Wan Kenobi.

 

Missing In Awesomeness!

Following an unexpected Imperial entanglement, the Calista Blockhead was forced to make an emergency landing on Bitumen IV in the Itaintalfotmum System. Although Brad Company managed to escape from a Zandokan ambush, Mitch Quintana was mortally wounded, and Brad Fartlighter was captured.

In the meantime, a dangerous new band of Tahntah rebel fighters has emerged in the Djinn Wastelands, led by the notorious chieftain:

Darb Dak’ar Dinari – known to his Followers as

The White Lion.

Their raids on Zandokan stations are increasing in deadly frequency, complicating any chances of rescuing your hero!

Yet from amidst the mysterious sandscape, an encouraging distress signal has been picked up. The Calista is now speeding over the Dune Sea into hostile tribal territory, and the Company are on their perilous way to bring back their Brad

 

“Okey dokey, fellas! We’re comin’ up on the Tahntah camp!” Chief Engineer Harris Wrench announced enthusiastically.

“Settin’ her down… now!” cried Helmsman Gaz Murphy. 

“Watchit, you lot! Ya bedder be on yer guard,” the Chief yelled, lowering the hatch and bounding out onto the velvety golden sand before he had properly activated his respirator.

“‘Ey, ‘Arris?!” Second Officer Lexi Waldorf yelled, racing out after him, the rest of the Company tagging cautiously behind.

“Don’t get sooo excited! Wait up, willya?!”  

“These Tahntahs are mean beggars; top desert figh’ers – tough as crud! They’re renahned fer takin’ nah pris’ners. They all go arahn’ swathed in yajhmakhs: tribal gear coverin’ ’em from head ta foot. These savages are crackshots wiv their looong tahndiggi rifles. An’ they all speak some’t indecipherable called Bit’i – not a frickin’ word a’ English, which is-“

“A real frickin’ drag, is it not, Earthman?” the Tahntah scout growled as it abruptly sprang out of the sand right in front of the startled Chief.

“Uff, frickin’ tourist… Shoutin’ yer lousy head off loud enough to betray our position to the Zandokans. Wanna know how “crack” I can be with this, sunshine?!”

All Harris could do was freeze… and stare with dread down the looong barrel of a tahndiggi rifle. 

In an instant, its buddies had emerged from the ground all around the terrified Company to gesture impudently at them.

“Hey, loudmouth Earthman! We take you all back to our camp; Darb Dak’ar Dinari is… expecting you! And then we show you ignorant lot how frickin’ “savage” we can really get, heh heh heh…”

“Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it…” – Sherif Ali.

Deep within the Tahntah base, in a subterranean tribal assembly room, a mob of Tahntah warriors had gathered to gloat at the hapless outsiders. The fearsome fighter: Tahntah Khasabah stepped onto a raised platform and proudly announced the arrival of Darb Dak’ar Dinari.

In an instant, the tension – and noise – dissipated; the crowd parted and a tall and imposing figure, bedecked in a dark, hooded cloak swathed around his sandswept yajhmakh, strode menacingly forth. Darb Dak’ar Dinari stopped to flick back his hood, and he gleered at Bad Company with sinister eyes as black as night.

“Ay caramba!” Nacho gulped.

“Keep back, Lex!” Gaz whispered. “I gotta feelin’ this moofmilker’s gonna chew all the scenery…”

Raising his right gloved hand to salute his guests, the mighty Darb spoke in a terrifying guttural drawl:

“Tahn diggi! Tihn diggi diggi tah bishkah!”

“An’ a-diggi diggi to ya too, fella,” Harris sighed despondently.  “Soz, but we dahn’t un’erstand yer lingo…”

“Nuh fret!” Darb announced heartily. “Aycan speaky yer lingy…”

“Cor, blimey – tha’s a swell piece a’ luck… Er, yer ‘oldin’ our Commander. We came ta geddim back, like; any chance we could see ‘im, umm… Mister Dinari, sir… please?”

“Ha ha, no hold…! He free man! Heere on Bi-tu-mee-een…!”

“Well, where is ‘e, like?!”

The great tribal leader switched off a Voice Modulator under his chin. From thenceforth, his speech lilted… in a more familiar dahn-ta-Earth tone:

“Ha ha ha! ‘Oo loves ya, baby?!”

Lexi stepped forward, gawping in disbelief. “Aow, fer cryin’ out loud!” she beamed.

The others just turned to stare at her.

“I just KNEW it…! Hey, guys: WHAT’S DARB SPELT BACKWARDS…?!”

Undisciplined… unpunctual… untidy. Several languages. Knowledge of music… knowledge of literature… knowledge of… knowledge of… You’re an interesting man, there’s no doubt about it!” – General Allenby. 

“Good on ya, Lex! Groovy. Thought ya might suss me aht before these nerks, ha ha!” Brad cried as he revealed his ridiculously good looks.

Nacho ran towards his Commander, giving him a big hug.

“Oh, tu madre loco!” he blubbed.

“Ha! Yeah, guess yer right, Nach… Good ta see ya ‘gain too, fella!”

Barb Degoya watched with a big dopey grin across his Rontavahrian chops.

“You never cease to amaze me, my Commander…!”

“Cheers, Barby!”

Gaz shook his awestruck head.

“Trust you, Brad, to act out your Loz o’ frickin’ Araby fantasies…! You’re one helluva crazy Brit, but I’ll always folla ya!”

“Heh, cheers, Gaz. Didn’ wanna disappointcha!”

“How have you survived here, all this time?”

“Easy peasy, fella. These Tahntah bunnies are such swell, ‘ospitable peeps; their kebabs are among the finest in the galaxy; they make the most scrumptious dessert: tahndiggibaklava – aww, ya jus’ gotta try it! – an’ luckily enough, I ‘ad the Desert Eagle e.p. in me Zune ta pump me oop for all those raids, but… ah, me Comp’ny – I missed y’all, so I nabbed an Imperial Com’unica’or for ya to come an’ get me!”

Lexi chipped in: “An’ you topped up yer tan as well, I see…”

“Ooh, it’s lovely, in’it? I got- ‘EY! Cheeky gal…”

Brad glanced at his Chief Engineer. “Ain’tcha gonna join in wiv da wisecracks, fella…?”

“Bleedin’ ‘ell…!” Harris muttered. “The ‘White Lion’…?”

“Ah, oho! Well, y’see… they love me porcelain complexion round ‘ere, y’know! An’ dahn’ ferget me lustrous blond mane! Ha ha, blimey Charley! Jus’ listen to ya: ‘Ooh, Mister Dinari, sir’, heh heh heh – shoulda seen da look on yer mug!”

“Aow, leave it aht, Brad… Uff, shoulda known…”

 “Yeah, fella… ya shoulda!”

At that mo, Harris’ blood curdled; that scout wandered over… and extended his hand. 

“Accept, please, my apologies for the…”act” … ‘Arris, is it not? Brad neglect to tell me how… sensitive you is…”

“Ha ha ha! Are ya?!” The Commander wrapped a reassuring arm around his Chief’s shoulder. “Nah worries – meet me new mucka: Tahntah Bosskhah.  ‘E may look as fright’nin’ as fudge, but ‘e’s really a mild-mannered  gent, like meself! ‘Ey, dahn’t be so easily startled, fella!”

“Yes, ‘Arris, chill out… man. Have some tahndiggibaklava…”

“Ah yeah! Ha ha! Amen, bruvva!”

“Give thanks to God that when he made you a fool, he gave you a fool’s face” – Auda Abu Tayi. 

Suddenly, a teenage Tahntah fighter leapt into the chamber, squawking something in Bitti. At once, the older tribesmen grabbed their tahndiggi rifles and began to disperse; Brad Company looked at each other uncomfortably.

“What the fudge is goin’ down now, Commander?” Gaz frowned.

“Sounds like we gotta Zandokan contingent ‘eadin’ our way…” Brad moaned, loading his rifle. “Confound it! Looks like the baklava’ll ‘ave ta wait…”

“Brad?! You’re not thinking…” 

“It’ll be okay, Lex – just one more time-“

“WHOA! Reverse thrust, Mister! We risked EVERYTHING ta get you back! We’ve been through too much to… aah, fegeddit. C’mon, ‘Arris, leave the lunk’ead ta linger here with his cosplay and tahn-frickin’-‘klava! GAH!”

And with that, Lexi stormed out, with the Chief sauntering sheepishly behind.

Tahntah Bosskhah had stood behind them, watching all the while, arms folded and head shaking.

“Oof! Doth my eyes deceive me? Can this be true? Looks like the Lion… just got tamed…”

“Aow, shush you…” Brad blushed.

The desert warrior wrapped a reassuring arm around the Commander’s shoulder.

“Do not be so easily startled, fella…! Wonderful girl… I… do not know. What you think? You think a Furie and a fella like me-“

“No! Oh me giddy aunt, no! She’ll make mincemeat outta ya… fella…”

“So be… never argue with the White Lion…! In that case… I long, instead, to see a real lion – you portray them as such fine, noble creatures…” 

“No such luck, amigo…” Brad sniffed. “They’ve been hunted ta the brink o’ extinction…”

Tahntah Bosskhah shifted uneasily.

“Tahntahtheos, no…! I know now why you were so eager to flee Earth. Truly, therein lie the real savages…”

“Do you think I’m just anybody do you? …The best of them won’t come for money – they’ll come for me!” – T.E. Lawrence

Tahntah Bosskhah surveyed the uncompromising Kazvini Plain with his “acquired”  Imperial ocular device.

“Has been an honour to fight by your side, Inglish… So, are we to ride and raid – one last time, or does the need to avenge your fallen comrade take precedence? I think we both know that Kismet will sweep you away along the latter path…”

“We both know that I dahn’ wish ta leave, but it’s uncanny – after ages thwarting the Empire countless times, the most onerous challenge I must confront involves… executing a coward…”

Tahntahtheos be with you in what perils lie ahead…”

“Cheers… Need all the strength: physical – and mental – that I can muster…”

“…You, my friend, the White Lion – what a privilege to state even that – have made… such a strong impression in such a short time! A redoubtable warrior; a formidable philosopher; a mighty eater; surely no other Earthling could cross the Anvil Of The Twin Suns unscathed? Tell me, is there anything you cannot do, Inglish?!”

“I can NEVER give up hope that, one day, the Empire will fall…”

Sherif Ali: “Have you no fear, English?”

T.E. Lawrence: “My fear is my concern.” 

Harris had taken Lexi out onto an alcove cut high into the Tahntah‘s great mountain fortress to let her simmer down. Tahntah guard wandered out to watch over them; but they all ended up watching the brigade – to an accompaniment of darbuka drums beating furiously – gallop away across the Djinn Wastes…

The Dak’ar Dinari actually stopped to turn and wave to them. Lexi reluctantly waved back. 

“Yeah, ‘bye ‘bye, lunk’ead; if you’re not back by midnight, we’re takin’ orf withoutcha… Do you think he will make it back…? In time…? ‘Arris…!!”

He flashed a wide, dopey grin stretching from one side of the galaxy to the other. 

“Well, fe fi fo frickin’ fum, fella!” he chortled. “I smell the blood o’ me Commander!” and turned to the guard, who lowered his rifle and stared back in shock.

“Jeez, Chief! How’dya know it wuz me?!”

“Ha, I ain’ gonna fall fer the same trick twice! Y’shoulda known that!”

“Yeah, fella… I shoulda!” Brad retorted, unwrapping his yajhmakh. 

“Huh, I shoulda guessed…” Lexi added, with a grin – albeit a wry one – finally returning to her lips. “Actually, I shoulda looked closer no other bunny in this tribe has so many tahndiggibaklava crumbs on ‘is yajhmakh. Lookachu! Messy pup… Okay, so who was the guy wavin’ at me?”

“Tahntah Bosskhah – I reckon you are ‘is Desert Rose-“

“Weh-heh-hell, nuts ta THAT! When? Can. We leave?!”

“As soon as yer ready!” Brad laughed. “Oh well, the new Dak’ar Dinari doesn’ get the girl, but ‘e should manage – gave ‘im me Zune! ‘E loves that Desert Eagle e.p.‘Onestly, ya jus’ couldn’ ride into battle wivaht it. Lookee ‘ere – the only bunny on this rock wiv a music player – if that doesn’t consolidate ‘is leadership, nothin’ will. Okey dokey, notify the others – we’re ‘eadin’ back to the Block’ead.” 

They were just about to move out, when Brad drew them into his arms.

“I know who the traitor is,” he whispered softly. “I’ve been ‘ere long enough ta work it aht.”

“Excellente!” Lexi snarled. “Poor Mitch. I’ve been itchin’ fer payback… ever since he…”

“I know ya have, lov, but this is some’t I ‘ave ta do… considerin’ who it… is…” 

She prepared to argue her case for a bigger role in this Bradventure, until she noticed REAL TEARS welling up in the hero’s eyes; she gave him a big hug before they all turned to leave.

Tahntah Khasabah appeared in the doorway.

“I’ll meetcha aboard in ‘alf a tick, guys – there are some farewell wishes I must pass on…”

“‘Tis true, then? You must leave now?” Tahntah Khasabah spoke (in Bitti). Alas, your glorious chapter in our story comes to a bittersweet end; we should have held a banquet in your honour.”

“We can have that…” Brad replied (in faultless Bitti). “…’Pon my return!”

“Ah! Then you are coming back?!”

“Of course! I could not stay away from all those savoury and sweet delights for too long…” 

“Ha! Praise Tahntahtheos for delivering thee – the ravenous White Lion – unto us!”  

“A thousand thanks for bestowing upon me the honour of leading your warriors into battle…”

“You are most welcome, Inglish. Besides, I needed to repay you for helping me defeat that band of Gondobek brigands, back in the day…”

“You already did when you rescued me from that Zandokan division. It was… Gondobek…? Ha, I had forgotten about them!”

“Glory! I thank Tahntahtheos that the White Lion is on our side…! Now the mantle of my tribe falls to Tahntah Bosskhah – he becomes the rightful Dak’ar Dinari… Once upon a time, I would have ached to join the brigade riding off this evening, but now… I just ache… I grow weary of battle.”

“What will you do now…?”

“I wish to retire, far below, and meditate beside our subterranean glacial pools. I yearn to write poetry, but the Zandokans deem me “savage” and decree that I cannot…”

“No! ‘Tis your life; your love… Do anything YOU want to do…”

“Absolutely! We both know that I will, Inglish. From now on, I will fight only to uphold every right, and strive to ensure that my people survive…”

“I very much look forward to reading your poetry… Follow your heart and smite the trolls.”

“Perhaps… Perhaps I should compose The Saga Of The White Lion; celebrate for evermore how our lives were blessed by such a remarkable man from beyond the stars… Who bewitched us all with his striking blue eyes…”

“Bless your heart, Tahntah Khasabah. You are a remarkable woman…”

Dune_Concept_Art_Illustration_m01-848x400

“I think you are another of these desert-loving English…” – Prince Feisal.

Damnation and blast, Brad!” cried Major Spoiler, more than dismayed to see the Battleforce Commander-turned-desert fighter appear before him on the vid-conf screen.

“How are you still alive?!”

“Yay, the bees-knees ta see ya too, Major Crotchstain,” Brad drawled, now ensconced back on the Calista as it zoomed up and away from the Tahntah camp. 

“And what the blazes is it with all that ridiculous tribal get-up?! Amateur theatricals?!”

“Yeah, some’t like that…”

“A nest of savages cannot protect you forever… fool. I will finish what Baumer was unable to do!”

“Sooo… ya wan’ ta terminate me? …With extreme prejudice, am I right?”

“Right!”

“WRONG! I may be as stoopid as I look, Major, but dahn’t think fer one frickin’ minute that I’m gonna fall fer yer dodgy schemin’…!”

Suddenly, Brad leered right into the screen, hollering through gnashed teeth.

“JEEZ! I KNEW IT WUZ YOU!! The set-up…? The ambush? YOU arranged it all, didn’tcha, fella…? DIDN’TCHA?! I’ll track ya dahn, trai’or!”

He held a clenched fist up against the monitor.

“Then I’m gonna download THIS into yer cake’ole, ya treach’rous moofmilkAH!

And with that, transmission abruptly fizzled out.

The Militia officer swivelled round to view the Zandokan delegation seated behind him. A familiar Dark Lord sat at the top of the table…

And did not look at all chuffed.

“Vell done, Mehjair. Yo rilly hed heem urn ze rurpz zhaire…”

“Patience, my Lord. I can assure you that my men shall… take care of Fartlighter-“

“WHAA-?! Yo try to fool Zegreatme?! Ay hef ZEEN yer men! GAH! Vukk me zydwaz… Ze murzt YUZELEZZ burnch urv vukkweetz Ay evair did zee!! Nurt a zeengle brenzell betweeen zem!” 

“But, my Lord-!”

“Uff, zpare me yer vukkin’ covfefe, Urfmairn! Nur mattair! Ay deed nurt come ull zeez way juzt to keek zand een zee Bettleferce Commandair’s fazz…! Yer worriez aire ovair, MehjairBay Ze Pah Eenvezted Een Mee Bay Ze Empah, Ay hef dezpetched ze grettezt bounteee hurntairz een ze gelexy to deeel weev heem!

“Ze Kekchairmair vill peez uz erf… NUR MURR! Heh heh heh…”

 

CONCLUDES HERE

“Me, your Highness? On the whole, I wish I’d stayed in Tunbridge Wells…” – Mr. Dryden.