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…”

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“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. 

 

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The Quesadillas Crisis!: Brad To The Bone In The Raid On Revlon

A Fistful Of Lollipops… 

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“Ok, let me see if I’ve got this straight. In order to be grounded, I’ve got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I’m not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying” – Capt. John Yossarian. 

“Well, bless my blueberry muffins, what’s going on?!”

Crisis!

Revlon – one of the last remaining Federation Planets to resist being assimilated into the mighty bad Zandokan Empire – has called on the Galactic Defence Militia to bolster its defences. But with Zandokan Zkorpion Zquadrons wreaking havoc on what’s left of the Federated supply lines, vital munitions [AND FOOD!] can’t get through.

Secretly, Brad Company have flown in to help out, but Major Baumer – Revlon’s notorious Commander-in-Chief – has found out and is preparing to arrest that irreverant cake-scoffer: Brad Fartlighter, who – on the other hand – has encountered a far more pressing problem in the canteen…

“Whaddya mean, ya don’t ‘ave any quesadillas left?!” 

“I mean we’ve completely run outta Mex grub, Commander…” Sandy the Grubserver moaned.

“Jeez, that’s a bummer, man!” Brad huffed.

“No, that’s Baumer – Major Ritegard Baumer – he’s the Head Honcho you need to take this up with around here

“Wha-?! NO quesadillas, an’ THAT jackass in charge?! BLAZES! This war’s becomin’ even more intolerable…” Brad grumbled.

Suddenly, Harris Wrench – his Chief Engineer – staggered disconsolately through the door.

“Whoa, fella – you’re dischuffed about the quesadillas situation as well?” Brad sniffed.

“Nah, worse than that, mate… Y’know the squadron they sent ta intercept those incomin’ Zandokan figh’ers? Control just confirmed: they’ve bin wiped aht… ALL a’ them…

“An’ this base is on alert fer imminent attack…!”

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“What the hell were you thinking?” – Master Sergeant Farell. 

“I’m tellin’ ya, fellas, ’twas a scandal on a grand scale,” Brad grumbled to Harris and Barb Degoya: their huge Rontavahrian handyman as they strolled across the Main Precinct.

“Once upon a time, ya could get a bag a’ ‘pops an’ be guaranteed ta get those lovely red ones: the Strawb’ Supremes, but since Zan Doka shuffled onta the scene, ya can ‘ardly get ’em! Instead, “they” just put in these lousy orange ones that nahbody likes, ev’ry bloomin’ time  – gah! Bloody Zandokans…”

“Don’t you fret, Commander,” Barb consoled in his deep baritone drawl. “Oi’m quite partial to the orange ones meself. Oi can help you wiv dem if you loike.”

“Uff, typical – asleep fer the danger, awake fer the cake as per frickin’ usual,” Brad muttered, but with a wry smile so as not to upset his gargantuan alien buddy.

“Cake?! No cake here, Commander. It’s bad enough trying to get any quesadillas around this base…”

“Ya can say THAT again, fella…”

Suddenly, the three amigos froze in horror.

“LANDO’S TEETH!” Brad hollered. “They’re ‘ERE already!”

On the horizon, darting about like dark gnats, but soaring ever nearer: twenty Zandokan Zkorpions – supersleek and as deadly as fudge – infested the mauve sky. The trio raced towards the hangar, just reaching shelter as the initial Imperial laserfire began strafing the Precinct.

“We gotta get up there!” Brad shouted boldly. “Come wiv me, Barb… Let’s BOTH grab a fighter an’ sock it to ’em! Whaddaya say, big fella? Ain’tcha gonna risk it fer a biscuit?” 

“Mmm, Oi loike biscuits…”

“Yay! Attaboy – c’mon Barby, let’s go party…!”

Barb heaved the hangar doors open; they both rushed in.

“What the blazes-?!” the Commander cried, mortified to learn that NO fighters remained. “This is nuts; there’s gotta be-”

And then he perceived the familiar sight of a standard BrtFtr-X2 fighter lurking in the shadows over at the far wall: “-ONE!” 

As he dashed over, Barb cried: “Don’t bovva, Brad! It’s probly a dud! Don’t-!”

But the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger didn’t listen. With one effortless bound, he jumped up into the cockpit; he’d already got the fighter moving before closing the canopy. While the Zkorpion-driven carnage raged outside, Brad charged the BrtFtr’s boosters and catapulted it skywards.

“Groovy, baby…” he mouthed gleefully.

“…’Ey, m’man, I’m in the Control Tower – I’ll be lookin’ out for ya,” Gaz drawled into Brad’s ear-piece. “Besta’ luck, Commander…”

“Cheers, fella… Right, let’s see what we can see- aow, donner und blitzen!” Brad cursed as he fumbled with the onboard Stereo soundsystem. 

“Where ist der Holzplatten?! Ya know I can’t engage in a dogfight wivaht it… AHA, ausgezeichnet!!

“There’s the bunny…”

“This is it, fellas – locked on Intercept Course. Dozen raiders @ 2:10 – three of ’em peelin’ off in me direction. Gonna engage. Lasers locked on…”

Like countless times before, Brad opened up the Attack-Scanner but in that mo, the weirdest sensation came over him; flashbacks reeled across his feverish mind – Jeez, what a time to get Aviation Sickness!

Panic and confusion swept through the Control Tower. 

“BRAD!” Harris cried. “Ya switched off yer targetin’ computer! What’s wrong?”

“Huh, did I? Ulp, Blimey Charley! Musta flicked the wrong switch…”

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“Never let me catch you doing a victory roll over my airfield again. Understood?” – Squadron Leader Colin Harvey. 

Okey dokey, fellas, this is where the fun begins!”

The first Zkorpion fighter veered into Brad’s sights; he opened up his laser console to click the raider into smithereens.

Brad clicked. And clicked again. Nuthin’ happened!

His cannons would NOT fire.  

“Whut in the name a’ Edrio Two-Tubes is goin’ on?!” he barked, but then chilled out. “Never mind… Y’know me – I got some tricks up me sleeve! ‘Ow about the Affleck-Hartnett Manoeuvre?”

“Ah nah, mate – ya wouldn’t!” Harris – who had raced up to the Tower to observe his Commander’s progress – cried in dismay. “…Would ya?!”

“Sure, why not? Works ev’ry time…”

Brad sent the BrtFtr into a wide arc – making sure that a gaggle a’ Zkorpions were latched onto his tail – and hurtled straight twards other incoming fighters.

As he veered stunningly close to them, Nacho squealed: “YEEE! El grande testicolos! Commandante, DON’T!”

He did.

The collision culminated in a colossal fireball that billowed across the sky.

“Yo, works EV’RY time…”

But still too many gnats hounded the hero.

In mid-swoop, the BrtFtr shunted violently, Brad rocked in his seat; his cake sprawled into smithereens across the console.

“AOW, bloomin’ ‘ECK!”

“Brad! Ya’ve bin hit!” Harris yelled out.

“Madre de Dios! BAIL OUT!” Nacho screamed.

“Aow, cobblers…” Brad muttered, jamming the controls aside.

The fighter banked sharply to starboard and slammed into the nearest Zkorpion raider; two fireballs erupted instantaneously. The onlookers in the Control Tower gasped in silent disbelief.

“BRAD!” Lexi yelled…

“Oh, let’s just wing it, shall we, Mrs. Bell?” – James Bond. 

Gaz beamed a wide grin, as he scanned his console: “Be cool, y’all – he hit Eject just before impact…”

“Phew! Jammy beggar…” Harris sighed. “So where the ‘eck is ‘e nah…?!”

One Imperial raider cruised past the point of the collision. The pilot failed to detect a small device being attached to his sidescreen; a short burst, and the canopy slid open. The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger lunged in: “‘Ere… gerrahtavit!”

He yanked the startled occupant out; as the Zandokan hurtled groundwards, his Wilhelm scream gradually muted in the mauve air…

Brad hurriedly clambered in, closing the canopy and relevelled the craft’s wild and wavering course.

“Hiya, fellas!” he chirped. “I’m back-! ‘Ey, ‘Arris! Jeez, man, ya gotta take a butcher’s inside this ‘un! Blimey, when the Emperor said ‘e wuz gonna increase ‘is Offence Budget a gazillionfold, ‘e wuzn’t gassin’! Whoa, this is one helluva cool crate…

Excitedly, the Ace opened up the throttle: “Let’s see ‘ow fast this baby can g-WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAA-HA-HA-HA-HEYYYYYY!!”

Beware! Brad in a top-a’-the-range Imperial Fighter = the crafty ol’ Terran found himself in his element. Swiftly, and surely, he ducked, dipped, dived and dodged through the aerial battlezone, picking off each raider with lethal – if a tad cocky – precision. Within minutes, the once-formidable Zquadron had been depleted to only three fighters; two of those lost their nerve and fled back across the wastelands…

Your hero’s final laser-salvo of the day turned out to be his weakest – with one wing merely scraped, the last fighter glided gently into the city outskirts.

“‘Ey, Gaz, this ‘un’s goin’ daan in the vicini’y o’ the Ponda Baba Charm School; despatch a Fuzzwagon ta pick ‘im up, will ya? See ya on the graand.

“Cheers! Brad, out…”

“You’re over-revving…” – Mrs. Bell.

A group of Benjhazi refugee boys had been playing Pookball outside; obviously, they’d scattered when the Zkorpions attacked, but one bright-eyed lad: Trey-Va Zinc – who harboured dreams of joining General Rajendra’s Free Fighters Rebellion when he grew up – had stayed to gawp at the unfolding dogfight; Trey-Va thought he recognised the maverick style of that lone fighter ace…

Watching the spluttering craft limp to the edge of the airfield, he sprinted over. In one effortless bound, the pilot leapt out of the cockpit onto the ground. Before the fighter had slid to a halt. Both now-setting suns glinted behind the hunky figure, casting him in a snazzy silhouette; but the boy realised that it was HIM. When he popped another ‘pop in his gob, there was no doubt.  

“THAT’S how ya save the galaxy, kid…”

Boyoboy, I KNEW it!” the lil fuschia-skinned alien chirped. “It’s YOU, innit?!”

“Betcha Pookball trainers, kid! It’s me, awright…”

“The Cakecharmer! I recognised ya from yer Military Fuzz mugshots!”

“Ha, didya now? Clever fella, Trevva! ‘Ere, ‘elp yerself…” Brad enthused, offering his bag of candy; Trey-Va eagerly delved in.

“Cor! It’sa real ‘onour ta meetcha, Mr. Fart! I’ve got all yer- HEY! Haven’tcha got any red ones?!”

Altaira Morbius: “Where have you been? I’ve beamed and beamed.” 

Robby The Robot: “Sorry, miss. I was giving myself an oil-job.” 

Harris moseyed on over to Brad and Zinc, guffawing hysterically.

“HA! ‘Ere comes the ‘Ero of the ‘Our! Yet again, ‘e expects cheerin’ masses ta come aht an’ celebrate ‘im, but whut is there? Ha ha ha! Just  – heh heh! – some lil Benjhazi boy, ha ha ha!”

“Uff, laugh it up, fuzzball – I didn’ see YOU in- uh-oh…”

“BRAD!! Brad Burrito Fartlighter! STOP right there, smartass…!” Major Baumer boomed as he marched across the airfield to berate the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger. “YOU… have tried my patience for the VERY LAST TIME… Just what the blazes do you think you’re doing, idiot?!”

“Er, savin’ the city from Imperial attack y’know, the sorta objective anyone would-”

“Stow it! You acted without orders – you could have put the whole base in danger-!”

“‘Ey, Dumbo! Flap yer ears an’ ventilate yer brains! Yer whole base WUZ in danger! That’s why I-“

“Stole a fighter, which you subsequently destroyed! You attacked without getting proper authoriz-”

“Well, technically, I did NUT attack – couldn’t! The figh’er’s bloomin’ laser-toobs were EMPTY!”

“Hmm… DAMMIT anyway! That was a really expensive piece of hardware you wreckedyou’re-!”

Jeez, man, ‘twuz a wreck awrightI’m lucky I got orf the graand in that obsolete hunk a’ junk-” 

“YOU, Mr. Flash, are the obsolete hunk. Just had a vid-conf with Major Spoiler, and you know what he said to me?”

“Don’t break wind in the elevator?”

“What?! NO! Goddammit! Why does everything have to be one big joke to you?! No, he said you’re for it now! And I concur! We’re going to put you on a charge… and- and for goodness sake, DO your jacket up, man! This is NOT the time or place for flashing your abs…”

“Heh, wha’ever ya say, Bummer-“

“DAMN you, Brad! For the umpteenth time, it’s Baumer! BAU-mer!!”

“Gezund’eit, baby…”

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“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room” – President Merkin Muffley. 

“DAMN your eyes, Brad…” Baumer boomed, as both men marched across to the Major’s office. “NOBODY’S impressed with what you just pulled! You’re finished-“

At that moment, Brad Company and assorted members of the gound crew hangin’ around outside the hangar let out a huge, resounding cheer; Brad acknowledged them by pumping a triumphant fist in the air.

All of a sudden, Taz De Maria – one of the new, young rookies – raced across the airfield to meet the beaming hero.

“We all think it’s like really cool what you just did, Commander, so I like got you this…” she cried, handing over a foil-wrapped package.

Brad gleefully opened it to reveal a whoppin’ great piece of nutty chocolate fudge cake.

“Aww, bless yer ‘eart, Taz…” the hero spoke softly, fondling his prize with the utmost care.

“You like deserve it, Brad,” she continued. “An’ it was like, really great how you- WHOA! Nice abs…”

She gave him a quick, nervous hug before rejoining the crowd; Brad turned back, in smug-mode, to the enraged Commander-in-Chief:

“NAHBODY, huh…?”

“Hmm, well…” the Major growled furiously, clearing his throat. “This doesn’t change the fact that you are, quite simply… the most unreliable, recalcitrant waste of space I have ever had the misfortune to manage… You are an utter disgrace to the Militia! And our Resistance! There is nothing remotely heroic in your brash idiocy! Heck, you wouldn’t know Discipline if it slapped you across the kisser! I will make sure that you are stripped of your rank, thrown out of the service and shipped back to that godawful English estate from which you crawled out! Also, I will see to it personally, Commander, that there will be no one to stop us from deleting your miserable little blog! You’re finished, Fartlighter – you’re NOTHING! The bums ALWAYS lose!

“You got that, Brad…? [AHEM!] Brad…?”

“Huh… whassat…? Did ya say some’t, fella? Only I’ve jus’ bin tryin’ ta get these nut’y-crumbs outta me beard…”

The officer face-palmed in despair.

“Ugh! Just take your accursed Company an’ get the hell off my base… Do I make myself clear?”

“Crystal, baby… Jeez, any gaff that does NOT serve quesadillas deserves to be reprimanded in my book-”

“You are NOT qualified to have your own book, Fartlighter,” Baumer sighed. “But I’ll gladly throw mine at you ANY DAY…!”

Brad stepped forward, defiantly licking chocolate cream off his luscious lips.

“Ya know some’t, Bummer? I always thought of ya as a cold, unfeelin’ twitface, but… yer really a rootin’-tootin’ emotional bundle a’ fun…

“Ain’tcha, coochie-coo…?”

And with that, the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger trudged nonchalantly back to the Calista.

The Major just stood there, speechless, but seething… 

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“How many times have I told you nerks? Never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in a combat area!” – Darth Vader. 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: A Bradscribe Review

State Your Elation For The Record:

This Rogue Is The One To Rave About!

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“The first thing that you have to do is get over the fact that you’re doing a scene with Darth Vader. That took me a little while, because I’m a first-generation fanboy” – Ben Mendelsohn.

One of the many disappointments with Star wars Episode III is that it denied our chance to see how the Rebel spies stole the Death Star plans.

For TOO LONG has yours truly revelled in the intrigue induced by the legendary scrawl:

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…and wondered how that premise would… (eventually?) make such a great movie…

And here it is! It only took three and a half decades for delivery.

Like the seemingly impossible mission for which this ragtag band a’ rebels volunteer, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story defies the odds to present such a welcome addition to the galaxy’s greatest saga.

Well! Where do we begin?!

A big fist-pump to this band of lovable rogues. They represent a superior Suicide Squad: more thrilling and thankfully less puerile. We do end up caring about their fate, which seemed to be the ultimate challenge here.

Quite frankly, Felicity Jones is a revelation as Jyn, galactic tearaway and daughter of Galen Erso, the reluctant creator of the Empire’s new superweapon. Admittedly, Jones looks an unlikely action star, but she pulls it off with aplomb. 

By far the best of the main bunch are Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yenstill can’t believe he fits so well in this galaxy!) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) – the fighters from Jedha. 

Love the relationship between Cassian and Kaytoo, although this charming lil plot device was crying out for further attention and development. Considering what an obvious win the reprogrammed Imperial droid turned out to be, he deserved greater opportunities to scene-steal. (If they couldn’t grant him more lines, at least give him that blaster!). 

Still reckon that Diego Luna makes a way cooler Star Wars name than Cassian Andor…

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“That’s right, I’m playing the male lead! I didn’t really think that would be such a big deal…” – Felicity Jones.

The main problem with SF these days is that sfx have reached such stupendous levels, other elements such as plot and character development sometimes tend to fail in comparison. But Rogue One overrides that problem – all elements fuse reasonably well to produce something that is undeniably enjoyable. 

Here, the effects are suitably grandiose and awe-inspiring, from the graceful flights of the supersleek spacecraft(s) to the simply stunning vistas of Jedha and Mauritiuis – (sorry!) Scarif.

What about the aliens? 

Sorely underused – a personal gripe. For my Rough Guidequite tactfully, details relating to Pao and Bishan were dropped. Naturally assuming that they might not receive too much screen-time, they didn’t even get a word in – not even an indecipherable one! Between them!

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“I’d have loved to have taken a Stormtrooper outfit but we weren’t meant to take anything. I got away with a couple of small things but I can’t tell you what” – Mads Mikkelsen. 

Of the Imperial personnel, Ben Mendelsohn is particularly impressive as Director Orson Krennic. 

It was wonderful to see that well-known (well-despised?) officer from A New Hope make a dramatic reappearance. Was expecting to burst into tears upon catching sight of this beloved actor, but, just when you think how sophisticated CGI has become – let’s face it – he doesn’t look natural! No real presence = no credible menace. Moreover, they did not get the voice right!

But what about Vader?!

Surely, this film could never have worked without everyone’s fave Sith Lord. The build-up to his long-waited “return” is tense; his first scene (shared with Krennic) presents him in typically moody and magnificent mode.

His second scene?

Deep breath: WHOA! He REALLY gets busy – showing a Dark Side darker than anyone had ever expected! This is REVENGE of the Sith right here! 

Aren’t we so grateful that James Earl Jones could lend his esteemed vocal talents to Star Wars once more!

Sadly, however, the rest of the Imperial Officers are just anonymous. 

Is it possible to have a Star wars movie without a John Williams score? Some fans may argue that Rogue One does not feel right, precisely because of that vital exclusion. The music here is rousing enough, especially the mystic twang played when the proceedings reach Jedha.

As these rogues are rougher, the action more gritty, the dogfights more spectacular, for me, Rogue One is bigger and better than The Force Awakens.

There have been a few five-star reviews appearing in the last two days. Obviously, those critics have enjoyed the exhilarating ride that uberfan Gareth Edwards (the force is strong with him!) has concocted here, but, to be fair, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story falls short of the brilliant standard of The Empire Strikes Back – a veritable 5* package if ever there was one. 

The power of what we are dealing with here may be immeasurable to some, but this first-generation fanboy is pleased (relieved!) to bestow upon it a solid:

4-out-of-5

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“For my 30th birthday, we visited the Skywalker home in Tunisia. I stood at the same spot where Luke watched the sunset. My girlfriend said: “For your 40th birthday, you won’t be able to top this!” For my 40th birthday, I was directing Rogue One…” – Gareth Edwards. 

Attack Of The Jones: The Rough Guide To Rogue One

NOT On Any Mercy Mission This Time…

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“Where are those transmissions you intercepted? What have you done with those plans? …If this is a consular ship, where is the Ambassador?” – Darth Vader. 

Just like you, this blogger can’t wait any longer.

Ever since that very first scrawl from 1977 which read:

“…rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet” 

yours truly often wondered how that premise would make such a tense and dramatic movie.

Now, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – directed by Star Wars superfan Gareth Edwards – finally brings that mission to the big screen. With the release just two days ago of the official Trailer #2, this is a good time to shunt this Preview Prequel Post – having languished on my Dashboard for about goodness knows how many months to the forefront. 

Here are a few selected items to look out for when all is revealed in two months time: 

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“My character… he’s a scientist. [Galen Erso] at one point invented something so beautiful, so fantastic, that it might change the universe” – Mads Mikkelsen.   

As the (original) Death Star provides the pivotal element to the plot, so the key character is Galen Erso – played by the ever-multi-talented Mads Mikkelsen. 

Galen’s energy-focused research has attracted the interest of Orson Krennic who, many years before, had saved the scientist and his family from Separatist kidnappers.

Deep in Krennic’s debt, Galen works on a new project for him, unaware that he is embroiled in the ultra top secret Death Star program. 

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“She’s unique. She’s different from particularly Rey in that we already know who Jyn is… It’s finding out more what her purpose and her drive is” – Felicity Jones.

Galen’s daughter: Jyn Erso must lead the seemingly-impossible mission. 

It’s a pleasantly surprising piece of casting. Fresh from her Oscar-nominated role in The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones looks a most unlikely action/heist movie star. This is a good time to catch as her career deservedly makes the jump to lightspeed. 

Here, the rebel must become a Rebel

…with an awesome cause.

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“A major weapons test is imminent” – Mon Mothma.

Leader of the Rebel Alliance: Mon Mothma dispatches Jyn and her ragtag bunch. 

Accompanying her will be Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) described as an Imperial pilot “cos it pays well”; Diego Luna appears as Rebel captain Cassian Andor – let’s face it: this actor’s name sounds even more Star Warsthan his character’s name!; and Saw Gerrara (Forest Whitaker), first introduced in the Clone Wars animated series.

“I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it” – Chirrut Imwe.

George Lucas (hallowed be thy name) always said that the two peasants in Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress (1958) inspired the saga’s beloved droids: C3Po and R2-D2. So Rogue One comes full circle and introduces two characters played by Asian actors.

The blind monk: Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen, seated) is “a staunch believer in the Force and a fierce warrior.” He and “former assassin turned Rebel operative”: Baze Malbus (Jiang wen, standing) look like they could provide some of the movie’s coolest action sequences.

Both hail from the planet of Jedha:

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“You, my friend, are all that’s left of their religion” – Grand Moff Tarkin. 

This planet is highly significant as the spiritual home of the Jedi Order. More importantly, it contains the largest quantity of Kyber crystals in the galaxy – the most vital component in the making of lightsaberes…

But is also the key element in powering the lethal superlaser of the Death Star. 

How Jedha becomes the forefront of the action in this story should make for an enthralling spectacle.

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Yeah! AT-ATs on the beach!

This tantalizing clip from the first trailer (on the planet Scarif) gave me the first assurance that this Star Wars story will turn out to be really gobsmackingly good. 

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Where would this galaxy be without its aliens?

Star Wars would not be the same without its coterie of weird and wonderful xenos, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story faithfully honours this tradition.

Can’t wait to see this fella (above).

Bishan is a tail-gunner on a Rebel U-Wing Fighter – my hunch is that we’re not going to see as much of him here as we’d like.

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“Kaytoo can say insulting things very casually if he thinks they’re true” – Alan Tudyk.

And where there are aliens, the droids are never far behind. 

For this mission, the Rebels have captured a seven foot Imperial security droid: K-2SO – “an enforcer and guard, hence the size and demeanor,” now reprogrammed to act as a sidekick to Rebel captain Cassian Andor.

This surly ‘bot is voiced and motion-captured by Alan Tudyk. He and Cassian: “have been together for a while, a couple years,” he continued. “He loves Cassian, because he freed him. It’s also more paternal in that [Cassian] took away the bonds of his programming.”

Well, that’s just swell!

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“[Director Krennic] is a different kind of Imperial villain. He is an Australian kind. We do villainy very well… He’s perhaps a little sexier than some of them…” – Ben Mendelsohn. 

Ben Mendelsohn plays Orson Krennic – the Head of Death Star security – the most visible Imperial representative we have seen thus far.

He looks set to become “a fearsome and intriguing addition to the considerable roster of Imperial bad guys.”

In addition, he’s likely to be in charge of these guys: the Imperial Deathtroopers:

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So, Krennic is Head of Security + the Rebel mission succeeds in stealing the Death Star plans = that’s at least one Sith choke-hold to expect (look forward to?!)

And there’s only ONE Sith Lord we wanna see do that…

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“Darth Vader! Only you could be so bold” – Princess Leia. 

And fortunately only James Earl Jones just had to commit to this movie.

What bemused me the most about the online gossip circulating this past year was the question as to whether everyone’s favourite SF villain would feature at all! Surely, there was NEVER ANY DOUBT that Vader is integral to this story?!

Here, apparently, he will be BADDER THAN EVER. Actually, it had been reported that one scene – in which Vader attacked the Rebels – turned out to be so intense, Disney ordered it to be toned down…(!)

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“I watched A New Hope every day growing up, until my Betamax tape was completely worn out, and if you’d told me that one day I’d get to direct this film, I would never have believed you” – Gareth Edwards. 

Personally, am particularly looking forward to catching the above scene.

Having waited on that platform numerous times, this correspondent can reliably inform you that it is Canary Wharf station on the London Underground. Hey City Sightseers! It’s on the Jubilee Line (the grey one).

One night last year, as soon as the last train had gone at Midnight, the crew had to get in pretty sharpish, and, as Edwards explained: “We had to set-dress the whole thing… we shot all the scenes and then had to be out by 4am. They opened the doors and all these guys in suits came in.”

Naturally, having to resist the urge to yell: “We just shot Star Wars!” proved quite considerable.

One time, standing on that platform (not long ago), it occurred to me that the station’s recent refurbishment resembled the interior of a space station…

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It’s vital to remember that this movie: “takes place just before A New Hope and leads up to the 10 minutes before that classic film begins.”

All in all, this is shaping up to be the Star Wars Prequel we’ve been looking for. 

“Anything less than extraordinary won’t do.”

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens (at last!) on December 16