“I Wouldn’t Say No To A Tuna Melt”: What Can We Expect From Avengers: Endgame?!

Eyes Up. Stay Sharp.

 

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN POTENTIAL SPOILERS

“The world has changed, and none of us can go back. All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best that we can do is to start over” – Peggy Carter. 

“This is the Asgardian refugee vessel Statesman. We are under assault! I repeat, we are under assault. The engines are dead, life support failing. Requesting aid from any vessel within range. We are 22 jump points out of Asgard. Our crew is made up of Asgardian families. We have very few soldiers here. This is not a warcraft. I repeat, this is not a warcraft!” 

Accompanied by such a moody score from Alan Silvestri, wow, methinks, this IS already turning out to be a masterpiece. And we haven’t even got past the MARVEL STUD10S logo yet(!)

After 59 viewings of this movie, it’s still unbelievable as to how all narrative threads of Avengers: Infinity War link up so effectively. 

So it was MARVELous news to learn that Avengers: Endgame will once again be written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and directed by those groovy fellas: the Russo Brothers – arguably the ideal creative team for such a Mad Titan-sized project.  

Naturally, the chances of the Russo Brothers revealing ANY plot-point is – as you would expect – as unlikely as Brad having any chance of ever managing to lift Mjolnir.

That’s fine. Chris Evans summed it up perfectly: “Marvel really wants to make sure that their stuff is the way movies used to be,” he said, when interviewed on the Infinity War set. “It used to be that the first you heard of a movie was the trailer. You know what I mean…? It was all discovery and mystery and reveals. That was the fun of movies for me, at least as a kid. So I think Marvel does a good job of prioritising that.”

Such was the almost-insane level of security, Chris was one of the few members of the gargantuan cast to receive a COMPLETE script. Printouts of each day’s dialogue had to be shredded straight after use; fake scenes were even written just to bamboozle potential party-poopers; and when it came to the Big Twist (i.e. half of the cast being written out) those closing moments were NEVER written anyway.

The production team had to go break it, verbally, to that unlucky 50%, that the big purple guy had WON…

“You could not live with your own failure, and where did that bring you? Back to me” – Thanos. 

“Chin there, done that…” 

Rocket Raccoon: “This is Thanos we’re talking aboutHe’s the toughest there is.”

Thor: “Well, he’s never fought me.”

Rocket Raccoon: “Yeah, he has.”

Thor: “He’s never fought me twice.”

“It was very flattering,” Anthony Russo explained, reacting to news that the once-in-a-generation stunning climax to Infinity War has been described as the 21st century’s equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back’s cliffhanger. “We were diehard fans of Empire Strikes Back. It’s our favourite Star Wars movie.”

You see?! TOLD YOU they were groovy fellas 😉

Empire’s iconic twist had a profound effect on them – especially the moment in which Lord Vader lops Luke’s hand off. In every MCU instalment, at least one character is guaranteed to lose a hand; a macabre bunch of Marvel fans have tried to predict who will be the next unfortunate victim of this grisly regularity in Endgame. 

“Agan, one of the great licences that you have with serialised storytelling in cinema is that you can take the narrative to places that an individual, standalone film can’t,” Anthony Russo continued. “That’s one thing we always committed to in Infinity War: telling a story that was not going to go to a conventional place, and it was going to go to a difficult place. And trusting that the audience was ready for that kind of experience with those characters.” 

Speaking of taking the narrative to other places, as a quantum weirdness buff, the prospect of the remaining Avengers utilizing quantum gubbins to somehow undo the Snaptastrophe could not make me squeal with delight any louder. 

Watch this multidimensional space…

“Even if there’s a small chance. We owe this, to everyone who’s not in this room, to try” – Natasha Romanoff.

“It’s not about how much we lost. It’s about how much we have left. We’re the Avengers. We gotta finish this. You trust me?” – Tony Stark.

“The fact that they could break these two stories and make them as different as they are – to me, in the history of all the writing I’ve ever seen, it’s the single greatest story-breaking achievement,” Robert Downey Jr. remarked on the Infinity War set.

There is something about the original Iron Man movie that has been bugging me forever. And it wsn’t until a recent rewatch that it suddenly struck me – as decisive as any of Shellhead’s repulsor rayblasts.

Consider the very first glimpse we get of Tony. No, it’s not a view of Tony’s mug, but a close-up of his hand holding a drink glass.

Look at the way he’s holding it. Photoshop the glass out and it looks like he is… ready to snap his fingers…

The oldest Easter Egg in the MCU and nobody noticed. Maybe it’s Stark’s destiny to wield the gauntlet in the Last Roundand snap Thanos out of existence…? 

But hey! 

Don’t listen to me.

Tried to predict the contents of Peter’s Awesome Mixtape Vol.2 and only got 1.5 out of 14 right. Perhaps that is the reason why most of my Followers have now drifted away… (Better not brood over this or Brad will start to look as miserable as Thor in the Endgame trailer – oh Lord (of Thunder), hope he gets a chance to shine in this movie. Still reckon that he and Rocket should get their own groovy movie together. “Cool? Cool.” “So cool!”).

No matter how adamantly the writers and directors stipulate that these are two very separate films, Infinity War and Endgame were conceived and written concurrently, with the story framework set out during the last quarter of 2015, and the scripts developed during the first five months of 2016. 

“Without being able to reveal anything about Endgame,” Markus explains, “They’re very different movies structurally and tonally.” 

One has mainly stayed away from the ever-trundling rumour-mill, but it would be amazing to see the likes of the Ancient One, or Hela – and Loki, of course! 😉 – make dramatic returns to the MCU.

One amusing story in paticular caught my attention: In the last few weeks, a growing number of fans have been speculating – all over again – that the golden boy himself: Adam Warlock will be The One to save Tony and Nebula! With uncertainty surrounding the prospects of a Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3, stories of Adam’s cinematic debut being pushed discretely forward naturally gained pace. As integral to the Infinity saga (in the comics) as Thanos he may be, even this fanboy readily accepts that no matter how groovy this prospect sounds, Adam’s appearance in this movie remains, alas, highly unlikely. 

Even with the characters-who-survived-the-Snap, chances for the already-dense 181-minute running time being staggered further by any new faces popping up also seem remote.

Or are they…? 

Peter Quill: “The Avengers?”

Thor: “The Earth’s mightiest heroes.”

Mantis: “Like Kevin Bacon?”

Thor: “He may be on the team. I don’t know, I haven’t been there in a while.”

“There will be great stakes for the characters,” Joe Russo warns.

There will be consequences, both brothers have advised.

Whilst it his been said that Infinity War was the brawn, Endgame will be the brains.

Oh, and the heart. A heckuva lotta heart.

If you thought last year’s epic brought on more emotional intensity than you thought mentally and physically possible, expect this year’s jawdropper to crank up the feels even further. So make sure to bring lots an’ lotsa tissues…

God, it seems like a thousand years ago since that playboy-billionaire-philanthropist-quip-dispenser fought his way out of that cave…

The most persistent speculation concerning Endgame plot-points involves Steve Rogers making the ultimate sacrifice. Indeed, Chris Evans’ emotional last-day-on-set tweet implied his departure from the franchise here.

But does it have to mean the death of Steve?  

The trailer indicated that these two valiant characters will, at last, reconcile after the almost-calamitous fallout from Civil War; personally, that would be one of my top moments to expect.

And it will come just in time. 

My instincts regrettably inform me that we will have to bid, instead, a heartrending farewell to Tony Stark. 

Throwing in my ten-satangs-worth – ’tis, after all, MY blog, by Jove! – during the inevitably edge-of-yer-seat finale, it looks like Steve is a goner, but Tony will step in – at the last minute – and pay the ultimate price. Wracked by post-Snap torment, this demise in particular sends Steve over the edge, and makes him secretly commandeer the time-bending technology (that everybody saus will feature prominently in this movie) so he can “escape” back to the ’40s.

And get to have that date – and a life! – with Peggy. A less morbid, more tender, denouement to the Cap’s story-arc – still going to play havoc on everybody’s tear-ducts though! 

That is how this ol’ sentimental boobie would have written it…

Let’s hope we can still expect some mirthful moments amidst these seemingly morose proceedings. Heck, if we can hear rib-ticklers as classic as: “Dude, you’re embarrassing me in front of the wizards” then it should be mighty fine and dandy! Expect Markus and McFeely to supply an engrossing narrative and deft dialogue; expect the Russo Brothers at the helm to tighten the pace and proceedings by smacking our gobs (and not numbing our bums).

But most of all, dear friends: 

expect the unexpected from this Endgame(-changer). 

Allfather, let the Marvel Magic flow through us one last time…

ASSEMBLE all these elements in the right, awesome order and Brad will certainly be ONE VERY HAPPY BUNNY!!

“The rabbit is correct and clearly the smartest among you” – Thor.

 

“I know I said no more surprises, but I was really hoping to pull off one last one…” – Tony Stark.

 

The Queen Of Madeira: The Spy Who Loved Me Cake

A dot.com Rom Com About A Hip Hop Chip Shop

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“It’s all so boring here, Margo – there’s nothing but playboys and tennis pros. If only I could find a real man” – Playgirl.

 

Topsy-Turvy Lvey-Dvey

Rumours are rife around the Rebellion that 

Queen Cherisasara of Madeira, in the Whoopeedoo System, is an Imperial spy.

Having just narrowly escaped the Ruckus in Star-Field Zigma 12,

Brad Burrito Fartlighter, the Rebellion’s most fecklessfearless man-of-action, 

has opted to investigate the matter, especially as

that pleasure planet is renowned throughout the galaxy for its

delectable sweet fancies.

So whilst waiting for the ravishing ruler to show up,

your hero is entertaining the pretty Princess Gamelan at the Royal Court…

 

“Y’see, lov. it wuz like this,” Brad gesticulated. “I just manoeuvred straight down this trench and skimmed the surface to this point. The target area was only two meters wide. It was a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port… but enough of this technical gubbins! ‘Ow ya bin doin’, Gammy?”

“Awesome as always, Mr. B, but enough about me – I take it the shaft was ray-shielded, so you had to use proton torpedoes?”

“You’re tellin’ me! It- say! You’re wasted at this royal court, lov. Ya could-“

At that moment, the heavy gilded double-doors of the Throne Room flung open, and in marched an official magisterial entourage.

“BEHOLT!” cried a whining and insubordinate voice. “Mek ware fer Hair Illuztriouz Majezty: Queen Cherizazara!”

The princess bolted straight to her feet; Brad stayed sprawled across his glitzy beanbag.

An elegant and deliriously beautiful verdant-skinned young woman swayed majestically across the gleaming marble floor. A trio of Diluvian dwarf-girls carried the extensive chiffon train of her elaborate silk costume.

“Remove the harlot from my sight, immediately!” she snapped, but with such a rich and mellifluous voice. “Leave us, Chamberlain!”

“Vhot?! Year Majezty! Leaf yo ELLURN wiv ze alien?!”

The Queen of Madeira shot one disdainful glance at your hero and snarled: “This… Earthling… should not give me any… trouble… Now, Chamberlain, be GONE!”

But Year Majezty, Ay muzt protezt-!”

“I’m the QUEEN! TRY ME!”

“But yo muzt moof-!”

“I DON’T MOVE when you want me to move! And I don’t groove when you tell me to groove! ‘Cos I’m the QUEEN! And I always will be! Now… pathetic. Little… man. Get OUT, before I throw you out…!”

The Queen gnashed her teeth, observing venomously as her officials, the princess and servant-girls all scurried out; the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger watched in fascination.

“Impressive. Most impressive…” he muttered, clambering to his feet.

The emerald enchantress rotated impatiently on her formidable stilettos and marched menacingly towards your calm and collected hero; her lustrous, but intimidatng, hazel eyes seared into his cute blues. 

“SO…!” the Queen of Madeira snarled. “What’s your story? It had better be good or I’ll-I’ll… …!”

Unexpectedly, she fell silent, looking around anxiously to check if her minions had all gone.

“Oh, what the heck, they have all gone, haven’t they…? Good. Come here, baby…

In that instant, all her rage dissipated, and she hurled her lithe figure into the Earthman’s arms.

“Hiya, Hotshot! How you doing?!”

“Sound as a pound, lov.”

“Ha ha, HA, that’s my Brad!”

She stepped back, taking in a thorough butcher’s at him, then shook his hunky torso playfully.

“Whoo, lookachu!!”

“Uh-huh, look at me…”

“Gawd, yer even MORE ridiculously good-lookin’ than ever! How do ya do it, baby?!”

“‘Ow much time ya got, Yer Maj…?”

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“Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that I dance like I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs?” – Maya Angelou.

The Queen of Madeira led Brad to her Royal Lounge, a sumptuous chamber strewn with even larger glitzy beanbags; intricate mosaics decorated the floor while sumptuous murals adorned the ceiling; an open, ornate balcony overlooked the main foyer. She guided him over to a large, opulent couch-for-two; she reclined, slowly and sensuously, enticing him to repose beside her. 

“Tell me, Brad, what… …” she exclaimed softly, then tugged at his jacket to catch his attention. “Hello, handsome… are you receiving me, over… …?!” 

He could not speak (yet), otherwise entranced by the winsome smile radiating from her glistening fuchsia lips, the billowing violet, candy floss “hair” and the divine caress of her intoxicating vanilla perfume. 

“Ah, Cherry, I’ve missed you…” he eventually sighed, savouring the velvety mattress beneath him.

“As always, I am transfixed by the exquisite lustre in yer eyes, 

A glow that shines like the sunrise. 

When first we met, me heart flew high, 

On gleaming wings through a cloudless sky.  

You ta me are ev’rythin’, 

The sweetest song that I can sing…” 

“Whoo, really…? Say, Hotshot, all that cake has certainly given you a sweet mouth, hasn’t it…?!” she sniggered bashfully.

“Okay… There is a very special man, 

Who came from far, far away. 

He visits me but only once in a crimson moon, 

But not a day later can he stay. 

Our song of love is pure and fair 

All hurt the music can repair. 

How cute and extraordinary this dude from “Earth,”

All those fleeting moments when he excites my heart, I love a lifetime’s worth.”

“Nice… but then again, ya can’t beat a good slice o’ Madeira Cake. Or three…”

“Thank you! So tell me, Brad, were you and… that lil cupcakeexchanging equally heartfelt lines when I came in? You know she’s bad news in cheap make-up…”

“What, Gammy? Aww, she’s a good girl, causin’ no-“

“No trouble? Uff, she’s a constant pain – always poking her snooty lil nose in my affairs. She’s untrustworthy – she’ll betray us both one day…” 

“By Holdo’s Beard! Tha’s nah way ta talk abaht yer own sister! Look, she only requested some cake recipes, an’ I obliged, like…”

A lengthy disbelieving pause, until the Queen of Madeira slapped her mouth to stifle shrieks of laughter. 

“Oh, YOU! That’s the lamest fib I’ve ever heard. Ha! For once, your wicked way with words FAILS you, Brad. That’s the most-” 

“‘Onest statement. She fancied some’t other than Madeira Cake fer a change…” 

Cherry leant forward, placing the flexed fingers of her right, bejewelled hand to the side of his head, then darted back in astonishment. 

“By the crystal foxes of Crait…” she gasped. “You’re… telling the truth…?!” 

“I got no reason ta lie ta you, Cherry… an’ you KNOW that, too… Speaking of truth…” 

“Yes, yes, I picked it up in the mind-meld as well – it dominates your thoughts. Rajendra and your rebel-buddies all believe that I’m an Imperial spy… Those… rumours have gotten out of control… They’re sooo… ridiculous…!” She skimmed his luscious lips with one of her extended, extensively-painted fingernails. “…An’ you KNOW that!”

“Yyyyyeah, I guess so…”

“You KNOW so! Look, every time you’re here, Brad, it’s such a thrill… Just how long have you been fighting with the Rebellion? Are you closer now to defeating the Empire than you were… Dyzan knows how many years ago…?! Walk away from it all, baby…”

“Come again, lov…?!” 

“Leave the war behindStay here, in my palace, and we can enjoy the myriad delights of Madeira together…

Can you stay…?

Can you be mine…?

Can you… be… my love forever more… …?”

“Yes, I can be… but part o’ me is always gonna be itchin’ ta get aht an’ thwart the Empire as much as poss… Aww, ‘eck... I’ll STAY! Oh yes, Cherry. A thousand times, yes, I’ll be YOURS. Throughaht the galaxy there’s NAHbody:

as beautiful,

as dazzlin’,

as intelligent,

as charmin’-“

“As groovy…?!”

“Not ‘arf, lov! Yeah, there’s nahbody as groovy as you… Fer you, Yer Maj, I can be anythin’ you wan’ me to be… Anythin’, lov… … as long as it’s not an Admiral wiv pink ‘air… …” 

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“It’s my secret pleasure moon. I have a little palace there built just for two” – Princess Aura. 

“There’s something I’ve simply got to tell you, baby…” the Queen announced.

“Mmm, okey-dokey, lov – I’m all ears-“

A sensor on her bracelet bleeped manically. “Oh, fudge!” she cursed.

“Oh, I’ve ‘eard that many times before…”

“What? No, not that. Please excuse me, Brad, I’ve got to take this call… Um, I’ll see that my royal chefs prepare you the finest spicy meal – the way you like it!” 

“Ooh, goody gumdrops! Bless yer heart, Cherry…”

“Ha ha! Thought you’d dig that! Won’t be a minute, baby…” 

She swanned over to her office chamber and activated her vid-conf system; a familiar Dark Lord appeared onscreen, beaming devilishly.

“Hello, preetty! ‘Tiz done?”

“Yes, yes, Zeg, the Earthling is here with me…”

“Goot! Ay shell dizpetch may fainezt deeveejun uv Shokk Troopairz to appreehent heem! Heh heh… Yo hef done well, Yair Majezty!”

“No, not at all… Now you listen here, Lord Tosspot: I only agreed to this rotten plan to prevent you from foisting one of your blasted garrisons on my territory! But to betray this hero? Nuh-uh, I’m not going to comply any more-“

“A footile murve. HA, yo kennot deny eet: Madeira belurngz to Zan Doka! End ze Urfzcurm eez main! Main, Ay tell yo, main main MAIN!”

“NEVER… We will never see that-“

“Urv course… Ay ken mek eet eeziair fer yo – jurrrrroin weev me! End togezzair ve shell rule ze galaxy ez huzzbend end WAIFE!”

“I’ll never join you! Demented little Zandokan cu-“

“ZYLENZ! Knur yer plazz, woman!”

“Uff, I know it all too well, Crotchstain. Always – ALWAYS! – parsecs ahead of the likes of you. Doing EVERYTHING in my POWER to deny you and your despicable Imperial hordes whatever you crave! For the pride of my people. And then some…”

“Heh, yo try ta fool Zegreatme?! Yo VEEL be main, darleenk! Dyzan decreez eet! Ve vill BREEEED weev yo, end our Empeerial prurgeny-“

Ugh, hush up, NO! By the crimson moon, a thousand times no!! I’d rather kiss a skunk-“

“Hmm, zpeakeenk urv zkurnkz… vot do yo zee in zat Urfmairn?! Hee’z recklezz! Pennilezz! Hopelezz! AY em Zegreatme, Dark Lord uv Zan Doka! Ve ken leef een ENNY WUN urv may DOZAIN palazzez! VOT do yo ZEE een a BURM like ZAT?!”

“That’s something a chauvinist like you will NEVER understand…”  

“Grrr, but vhy HEEM? Vhy, vhy?! Tell me VHY!”

“Can you keep a secret?”

YEZ!”

“Good boy. Over and out.”

Princess Leia: “You make it so difficult sometimes.”

Han Solo: “I do, I really do. You could be a little nicer, though. Come on, admit it. Sometimes you think I’m alright.”

Princess Leia: “Occasionally, maybe… when you aren’t acting like a scoundrel.”

Han Solo: “Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that…”

“Confound it,” the Queen growled as she returned to her special guest. “CONFOUND it!” 

“Whassup? Run ahtta salad?”

“What? Oh… no, it’s- Like I said, I’ve really got something to tell you, baby…”

“‘Ey, wotcha frettin’ abaht…? Y’know, Yer Maj, I’ve never seen ya lose yer cool-

“Yeah, yeah, baby, but please listen-“

Suddenly, the double-doors downstairs swung violently open.

“I got THAT awright!” 

“No! It’s- aow, HELL – it’s too late… …”

Brad peered over the balcony and yelped as a division of Shokk Troopers burst in: “‘ULK IN AN ‘OT TUB! Zandokans!! ‘Ow the blazes did THEY get in ‘ere?!” 

“THAT is what I’ve… been trying to tell you… Forgive me, Brad, I-I… granted them permission to come here… to capture you…”

“Cherry, no… Say it ain’t so…” his lip quivered as he drew his blaster.

The Queen of Madeira could not bear to gaze into his crestfallen face. “Please, Commander, try to understand – with the Empire vying to wrest my sovereignty away from me on one side, and my beleaguered council trying to retain social order on the other, I had to… play along…”

“Aow… maybe yer… playin’ along wiv me now…” Brad sulked, desperately trying to quash a wodge of mistrust swelling in his heart. “This ‘ole charade wuz a TRAP… an’ – jeez – fer once I fell fer it..?! Not me, not now! No way, no ‘ow!”

“Oh no, my sweet! I would NEVER- You must NOT think like tha- WATCH OUT!” 

The Troopers hurtled into view, and the queen grabbed your hero, and away they fled down the marble-floored corridor. They could hear these one-dimensional extras clanking right after them in hot pursuit.

Along the way, Cherry activated an emergency panel in the wall and, brandishing a phase-plasma rifle, fired warning shots at the approaching Imperial troopers, who – upon running into range – immediately ducked for cover:

“Do you think you can trust me, now, handsome…?!”

“‘Whoo, outta sight. Long Live The Queen ‘Ere, ‘ang on…” Brad protested, gawping in amazement. “Tha’s not in the script…! “I’m the ‘ero! ‘Ow come yer gun’s bigger than mine?!”

“That’s life, honeybunch…”

“Ha! Funny girl- ‘Ey, this auto-door! In ‘ere, quick!” 

“No, Brad, that’s my-!” 

He burst into a small, but refined room, where dozens of ornate, shimmering garments bedecked glittering racks along both walls.

“Dear Barbara… Gedda loada’ the fancy clobber in ‘ere…”

“-My walk-in-wardrobe, sir.”

“Groovy. We can disguise ourselves as a coupla’ Jawas an’ split while the Shokkers are still scopin’…”

“Bra-ha-had, no-ho-ho! Funny boy!” the queen cried hysterically, trying to stifle a fit of royal giggles. She frantically closed and locked the auto-door behind them, hoping that any Zandokans hadn’t heard her outburst.

They gazed at each other amorously in the half-light, listening to their biochemech pursuers lurking stealthily just outside… 

“We ought to be “in danger”…” she whispered ever so demurely. “But- but why oh why do I… feel so… absolutely safe with you…?”

“‘Cos I’m the ‘ero?” he muttered ever so charmingly. “‘Cos I’m the one ‘oo – despite gettin’ constantly shot at – nevah gets ‘it…? Stay outta sight, lov…”

He gently prised the rifle from the Queen’s clutches and reached for the auto-door, intending to charge out blasting. “Bring ’em on, I’d prefer a straight fight ta all this sn-“

Suddenly, behind him, Cherry pressed against his back, wrapping her arms around his abs, holding him against her pounding chest.

“No, hotshot…” she insisted, almost breathlessly. “I’m NOT going to let you go… a-again. So many… MANY times I’ve let you fly off and do your… “hero-thing” all over the galaxy, but not… not this time, baby. Come on, let’s escape… together, far beyond these Troopers… the Empire… And everything…”

“Aww, Cherry, where could we go? Where CAN we go…? I’m a Wanted man in 12 systems, me!”

“Uh-huh, but nobody wants you more than the Queen of Madeira…” 

She began to fondle Brad’s hand.

“Stop that,” he requested.

Stop what?” she replied.

Stop that. Me mitts are dir’y.”

My hands are dirty too. What are you afraid of… …?”

Maude Lebowski: “Lord. You can imagine where it goes from here.”

The Dude: “He fixes the cable?”

Maude Lebowski: “Don’t be fatuous, Jeffrey.”

“In ‘ere… wiv you…” Brad exclaimed softly, “There’s no uvva place in the galaxy I’d rather be right now…” 

“Nice. How long have we been locked in this hug, baby…?”

“Dunno, lov. But definitely not as long as I’d like…”

“Aww, bless your heart, Brad. I thought we could get out of here now, but I can still hear them creeping around outside.”

“Nah, tha’s me stomach…” 

“Oh no! You still haven’t had that meal I promised you! So sorry, babe-” 

“No worries, Cherry. We’ve… ‘ad a busy day… It‘s been… dramatic-” 

“It’s been… unforgettable… I think we… especially youyou dashing thing, have waited long enough…” the Queen of Madeira panted tenderly in his ear, stepping back to unfasten her dress…

“…Strippin’ yer togs orf at a time like this?! Can ya do that?!”

“Try me, baby. I can do anything – ‘cos I’m the Queen!”

“An’ always will be…”

At that very moment, Brad squinted, and flung his hand up over his face as a piercing white light engulfed him. All Cherry could do was stand there, and watch, aghast and agitated, as all Brad could do was abruptly vanish amidst a portal of pulsating particles… …

 

“B-Baby… … …?”

 

 

When his sight had readjusted, your hero found himself standing on the teleporter of his own crate: the Calista Blockhead. His Second Officer: Lexi Wahldorf stood at the console, arms folded in a highly agitated manner…

“An’ jus’ what the blazes am I doin’ back ‘ere so soon?!” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger growled incredulously.

“I- WE, had to get you away from the spy, pronto!” Lexi roared.

“Look, fer the umpteenth time, The Queen of Madeira AIN’T a spy!” 

“No, not the queen – the princess…” 

“Oh, come orf it! Gammy’s not in league wiv da Zandokans…”

“Course not, she’s OUR spy. General Rajendra himself requested that she report any shady shenanigans at the Madeiran Royal Court; several Imperial agents have infiltrated the queen’s staff already-“

“Blimey! Now that explains ‘er exceptionally avid interest in me adventures in Star-Field Zigma 12-“

“GAWD, you-! You make it SO difficult sometimes.”

“I do, I really- eh?! ‘Oo me? Nevah!” 

“Shoosh, Commander! YOU “great hero,” uff! – were interfering with her mission! You couldn’t stop pestering her-”

“I Wuzn’t!”

“Wuz so! You w-“

“Wuz. NOT. “Interferin’.” Lex. She only requested some cake recipes, an’ I obliged, like…” 

Lexi shook her head in appalled disbelief. “That’s the lamest fib I’ve ever heard… Ha! That’s the most-” 

“Look, Lex, ‘Er Majesty can verify that! She even put ‘er ‘and on my-“

“BRA-AD, be extra careful what you spout in front of your Second Officer, Commander!”

Hmm… an’ you be extra careful wotcha doin’ wiv yer Commander, Officer! You send me back right this instant, an’-“

“And just WHY did you pay a visit to Her Majesty, the Queen of Madeira…?”

“I’ll ‘ave ya know that I wuz… operatin’ as close advisor to ‘Er Maj-“

“Oho, TOO close, Commander. Your smug chops are splattered with HER blamed lipstick!!” 

“Ooh, Blimey Charley, are they really…?! Anyways, why did ya ‘ave ta get me aht then, jus’ as I wuz abaht ta-“

“I KNOW what you were about to do, Commander! That’s why I got you out then…”

“Yeah, but why, Lex? Why? Tell me WHY?!”

She stared intensely at him until her lips trembled:

“Do you not know… …?”

 

Prince Vultan: “That must be one hell of a planet you men come from!”

Flash Gordon: “Not too bad…”

 

“He Was A Navigator On A Spice Freighter”: My Father’s Top 10 Movie Moments

I Am Groovy, Like My Father Before Me! 

I am Auda abu Tayi! Does Auda serve?  Does Auda abu Tayi serve? I carry 23 great wounds, all got in battle. 75 men have I killed with my own hands in battle. I scatter, I burn my enemies’ tents! I take away their flocks and herds. The Turks pay me a golden treasure, yet I am poor! Because I am A RIVER TO MY PEOPLE!!” – Auda abu Tayi.

Hard to believe that my father – former globe-trotting RAF sergeant and Jedi Knight – passed away on this day 10 years ago.  

Considering how difficult it has been trying to concentrate on writing anything else this week, this Post seemed like an ideal celebration to compile. 

Having had absolutely no paternal guidance himself, he sometimes found it difficult to be Dad – “I’m just making it up as I go along, man” 🙂 Whatever problems or disagreements we had, it would only take one of us to suggest: “Let’s watch a movie” and everything would revert to being as right as rain again.

He really digged a smart script – he constantly criticised my short stories, complaining about the drab dialogue, constantly advising me to listen –always listen – to the way people talked. Thus, he picked up some iconic one-liners along the way, many of which are included here. 

He appreciated some really fine performances, most notably: Eli Wallach (as Tuco) in The Good, The Bad And the Ugly (1967); Robert Lacey (as Toht) in Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981); and Robert De Niro in practically everything he did! But mainly the Godfather Part II (1974), Midnight Run (1988) and Heat (1995).

Possibly the most impressive performance he ever watched came from Anthony Quinn as Arabian tribal chief: Auda abu Tayi in Lawrence Of Arabia (1962). To us, that will stand forever as the Greatest Movie Ever Made – Quinn alone could easily have filled this Top 10 list (but of those few good clips, none of them stay online for long)

Today, you could have been treated to: the Top 10 Planes That Dad Loved To Fly. However, guessing that you probably wouldn’t recognise most of them anyway (for those of you taking notes, No.1 happened to be the de Havilland DH 98 Mosquito 😉 ) instead, this list will just have to suffice.

 

 

10. “Don’t sweat it!”

Southern Comfort (1981)

Paris Texas (1984) was one of those great Americana movies we enjoyed together, mainly because of that haunting soundtrack by Ry Cooder. 

My father had been THAT CLOSE to getting a job Stateside, but after that fell through, he “disappeared,” trying to travel as much overland as possible. So when we found Ry Cooder attached to the soundtrack of this thriller set in the Louisana bayou, we thot we’d give it a go.

Mostly, a mean, moody and magnificent work, but the last ten minutes was a revelation. For the next few months, my quest for Cajun LPs stretched far and wide…

Allons dancé!

Cajun Trapper: “I ain’t gonna kill y’all if I don’t gotta… you got a bayou over dere… take it… stay to the west side… you’re gonna find a road about a mile up dere.”

Hardin: “Do you mind tellin’ us what the Hell this is all about?”

Cajun Trapper: “It real simple… we live back in here… dis is our home, and nobody don’t fuck with us…  Now, if I was you all, I’d quit askin’ questions and haul ass… ’cause my buddies… dey not nice like me.”

Hardin: “Are we supposed to say thanks?”

Cajun Trapper: “You not supposed to say nuttin’… soldier.”

 

9. “War changes men’s natures…” 

Breaker Morant (1979)

An anti-war war movie set during the Boer War (1899-1902) based on a true story. 

Dad stayed up well after his bedtime, completely absorbed in this courtroom drama (and he detested courtroom dramas!) that featured one of the most notorious cases of military injustice.

And at breakfast the next morning, he couldn’t help but go on and on about it. Would have bunked off school that morning, just to listen to his enthusiasm all the way until lunchtime, if Mum hadn’t told me to skedaddle. 

We regarded this as the greatest Australian movie ever made. Yes, that’s right, we thought it’s even better than Mad Max!

Strewth!

It really ain’t the place nor time to reel off rhyming diction,

But yet we’ll write a final rhyme while awaiting crucifixion.

For we bequeath a parting tip of sound advice for such men

Who come in transport ships to polish off the Dutchmen.

If you encounter any Boers, you really must not loot ’em,

And if you wish to leave these shores, for pity’s sake, don’t shoot ’em.

Let’s toss a bumper down our throat before we pass to Heaven,

And toast a trim-set petticoat we leave behind in Devon” – Lt. Harry Morant.  

 

8. Litmus Configuration 

Midnight Run (1988)

A cool, entertaining and highly recommended buddy comedy – how many times did this grace our VCR?! It got to the stage where we could hurl whole sections of dialogue at each other, and still never get tired of watching the actual movie. 

The amazing – yet under-rated – Charles Grodin only had to walk through the door into this scene and Dad was already in stitches. 

1:24 always cracked him up even more: 

“YOU GUYS ARE THE DUMBEST BOUNTY HUNTERS I’VE EVER SEEN! YOU COULDN’T EVEN DELIVER A BOTTLE OF MILK!” – Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas. 

 

 

7. “Wake up, time to die!” 

Blade Runner (1982) 

My father loved to read Philip K Dick’s novels, so couldn’t wait to watch the TV premiere of Blade Runner. 

So much has been written about its influential visual futurism, but it was one of the replicants: not the obvious choice: Roy Batty, but Leon, played by the crazy-eyed Brion James who Dad paid particular attention to. His role as the one-armed Cajun trapper in Southern Comfort was the other reason why we watched that movie!

Always dig that mo @ 0:35 – when Dekard draws his gun and Leon immediately bats it away.

As Dad so eloquently put it: “Way too cool, man!”

Leon: “What do you mean, I’m not helping?”

Holden: “I mean: you’re not helping! Why is that, Leon?”

 

 

6. La Golondrina 

The Wild Bunch (1969) 

Yeah, this is the typical “Dad Movie” alright.

Expect nothing less than one long gore-fest cram-packed with incredibly stylised bloody action sequences in Sam Peckinpah’s infamous masterpiece: The Wild Bunch.

And yet its most peaceful moment, when the bunch are riding off to certain death, that really struck a chord with Dad. He instantly fell in love with La Golondrina (The Swallow); it’s a Mexican tune written in the 19th century.

Had to take note of its time on our tape whenever he often requested just “THAT MOMENT from The Wild Bunch.”

“Very smart. That’s very smart for you damn gringos…”

Dutch Engstrom: “They’ll be waitin’ for us.”

Pike Bishop: “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

 

5. The Imperial March

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 

You may already know how this blogger was blessed to have gawped at the original Star Wars trilogy in the cinemas on their respective original releases.

Even more exuberant to have a father who – for the next three decades – never failed to admit how glad he was to have taken me (and several excitable chums from school on numerous occasions!) and share the joy to be had from that galaxy far far away. 

(For the record, his fav “character” – you’d never guess! – turned out to be Salacious B. Crumb – HA!)

So many thrilling individual moments to choose from… 

He loved that now-legendary shot of Luke gazing into the twin suns and EVERY SINGLE TIME it came on, he’d whistle along to the Tatooine Theme, but the Imperial March provoked a more striking action: EVERY SINGLE TIME we reached 1:27, Dad would start slamming his heel into the floor in time to the Imperial beat. Hannibal (our tabby cat) could sense that particular disturbance in the Force comin’ – honestly, he never fled THAT FAST in sheer terror from any other movie…

“You found something?” 😉

Darth Vader: “The Rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of lightspeed too close to the system.”

General Veers: “He… he felt surprise was wiser…”

Darth Vader: “He is as clumsy as he is stupid! General… prepare your troops for a surface attack.”

General Veers: “Yes, my Lord.”

 

 

4. The Smoker

For A Few Dollars More (1965) 

Arguably, the coolest western ever made. 

Dad taped this for me during my last year at junior school; he’d enjoyed watching this in an open-air screening in Yemen back in ’68. Gian Maria Volonte as El Indio, was one of Dad’s fav villains. Which of his scenes to select?

But then memories of how Dad laughed every time Klaus Kinski appeared, especially here @ 0:10.

This scene is probably the most TENSE confrontation in movie history.

Saw a lot of my father in Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee van Cleef): true gentleman; expert marksman; absolute BADASS!

Wild, The Hunchback: “Well well, if it isn’t the smoker. Well… Remember me, amigo? ‘Course you do. El Paso.”

Col. Douglas Mortimer: “It’s a small world.”

Wild, The Hunchback: “Yes, and very, very bad. Now come on, you light another match.”

Col. Douglas Mortimer: “I generally smoke just after I eat. Why don’t you come back in about ten minutes?”

Wild, The Hunchback: “Ten minutes you’ll be smoking in hell. GET UP!”

 

3. “When you cast it in, what did you see?”

Excalibur (1981)

Not only were we entranced by this stupendous and spellbinding retelling of the legend of King Arthur, but we were gobsmacked by the music of Richard Wagner. Siegfied’s Funeral March, especially, had quite an inspirational and spiritual hold over both of us. 

With its almost ethereal imagery, and powerful performances, this was John Boorman’s masterpiece.

Studying ancient British history – and the legends/mythology stemming from these isles – became our joint mission; and Excalibur brought the two of us even closer together.

Now you know why this movie is played in Brad Manor every year on the fifth night of the second month…  

Uther: “The sword. You promised me the sword!”

Merlin: “And you shall have it; but to heal, not to hack. Tomorrow, a truce; we meet at the river.”

Uther: “Talk. Talk is for lovers, Merlin. I need the sword to be king!”

 

 

2. “Bet you were thinking: now why don’t he write?” 

Dances With Wolves (1990)

Aow, it really is getting more emotional now…

My father’s final trip to the cinema came in January 1991. Dances With Wolves satisfied his fascination for American Civil War history, and marked the directorial debut of Kevin Costner, whose The Untouchables (1987) we had enjoyed immensely.

Dad always remarked out loud at the superb training of Two Socks. Except for our last viewing together @ Christmas 2008 – it would mark the final viewing session we shared together, but by that time, he was too weak to keep awake through most of it…

Oh, THAT music: 

“There’s a wolf who seems intent on the goings-on here. It does not seem inclined to be a nuisance however, and aside from Cisco has been my only company. He’s appeared each afternoon for the past two days. He has two milky-white paws. If he comes calling tomorrow, I will name him Two Socks” – John Dunbar.  

 

 

1. Bad To The Bone 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 

His favourite movie star.

His favorite rock song.

So when these two most formidable entities in the universe collided in our living room back in ’91, it became one of those life-affirming moments. Heck, with Arnie’s shot-gun twirl, the big rig carnage on the LA freeway and many more energetic sequences, will never forget how Dad kept jumping out of his armchair.

The Original Brad To The Bone 🙂

As that other “great old man” once said: “he was the best pilot in the galaxy and a good friend.”

He always told me: NEVER GIVE UP, and yet he gave up a career in the RAF to become a full-time Dad. 

In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.

“No, no, no, no. You gotta listen to the way people talk. You don’t say “affirmative,” or some shit like that. You say “no problemo.” And if someone comes on to you with an attitude you say “eat me.” And if you want to shine them on it’s “hasta la vista, baby” 

Gordon Bradford (4 December 1925 – 6 February 2009). 

 

The Company Of Robots: My Devotion To Droids

Look, Sir, Droids

Lt. Charley Pizer: “V.I.N.CENT, were you programmed to bug me?” 

V.I.N.CENT: “No, sir, to educate you.” 

Lt. Charley Pizer: “When I volunteered for this mission, I never thought I’d be playing straight man to a tin can.” 

“I don’t mean to sound superior,” remarks V.I.N.CENT, cool and quote-dispensing droid of the USS Palomino, “but I hate the company of robots.”

No worries – when infant Brad first gawped at The Black Hole in 1979 there was no doubt in his tiny mind that he could easily dig the company of robots.

First, and foremost, hovered V.I.N.CENT (“Vital Information Necessary Centralized”), whose laser-precision, drills and other assorted attachments, and mellifluous voice (provided brilliantly by Roddy McDowell) granted his place as my very first favourite movie star. He was wonderfully accompanied by Old B.O.B. (“BiO-sanitation Battalion”), a battered early-model robot similar to V.I.N.CENT (voiced equally suitably by Slim Pickens, no less!).

The antagonist came in the mute, but mighty, imposing, crimson form of Maximillian; thus, a nail-biting David vs. Goliath duel looked inevitable. An army of sentry-robots guarded the USS Cygnus and more than satisfied our yearning for laser-battles as we could barely contain our excitement for the imminent Star Wars 2…

Also that year, British comics grabbed my attention – and pocket money. One of these homegrown titles featured a cosmic hero – white and fair-haired, obviously – who patrolled the spacelanes with a robot sidekick. Genius!

Unfortunately, my memory banks should have been reprogrammed a lot sooner as the names of this pair, the story-title, even the comic in which it appeared every week escaped me. And has proceeded to bug me on-and-off for the last 39 years…

Can vaguely recall one panel presenting this pair racing along in a landspeeder. All British comic interiors back then had no colour, but every so often, the first page of a story would be cyan-tinted, such was the case with this particular episode. This stylistic factor emanated from one company: D.C. Thomson – so ’twas with them that my search would concentrate. When commencing my foray into Bronze Age comic collecting two years ago, one of my objectives involved trying to rediscover the identity of this very first favourite comic character.

Whilst revising my notes (reprogramming my output?), you can sit back and enjoy this classic magic moment from the distant past when Star wars and Disney exrsted as two very separate entities – aah, get that music! get those ultracool sound effects! but mostly – WAHEY!! – somebody get those droids!: 

“Your crack unit, outwitted and outfought by some Earth robot, and that antique from Storage!” – Dr. Hans Reinhardt.

Fortunately, my copy of Starblazer #21: Robot Rebellion – a cherished pocket-book – is still in pretty good nick.

During the school year of 1984, you didn’t need to buy 2000AD – somebody else brought every weekly Prog into class! So, the wacky wonders of Robo-Hunter and ABC (Atomic, Bacterial and Chemical) Warriors could still be enjoyed without denting our meagre coffers. The title of coolest droid ever to be activated must go to the ABC Warriors’ Joe Pineapples. Leather jacket and thongs look DAFT on any male carbon-based lifeform, but Joe somehow made it work.

All these mechanised marvels inspired me to delve into robo-history.

The term: “robot” was coined by Czech novelist/playwright: Karel Capek in his play: R.U.R. (1921) – a satire in which artificial men are gradually made more competent, until they harness the will to rebel and replace mankind.

The author most synonymous with robots has to be Isaac Asimov, whose series of robo-tales extends through three collections: I, Robot (1950), The Rest of The Robots (1964), and The Bicentennial Man (1977) – all based on the premise that robots are equipped with an unbreakable code of inbuilt ethics: the three laws of robotics. Primarily, Asimov sought to combat the “Frankenstein Syndrome,” whereby people sometimes exhibit a neurotic fear that their creations will destroy them. He attempted to allay such anxieties, and in so doing, called into question the philosophical basis for our attitudes to machines.

One SF author to take this stance further was Philip K. Dick. As one of the few members of my generation to have read “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” before watching Blade Runner, the whole issue of not so much how artificial beings look human, but can/do they act human had a most profound effect on my perspectives towards human – and non-human – behaviour.   

“A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law” – Isaac Asimov. 

Having made the case for droids programmed to speak, so the next two awesome candidates for inclusion here, weren’t. 

Once you’ve seen “her” you can’t forget “Maria” from Fritz Lang’s ground-breaking Metropolis.

For 1926, the sleek and sophisticated style of “her look” was truly staggering.

It still is. 

Soon after its grand opening during the ’80s, my mother took me to MOMI (Museum Of the Moving Image, in London) – there, in a special case, stood the actual life-size metal suit used in that German silent movie.

Must have stood there for AGES, honoured to be gawping at such a complex design; 1926?! Incredible!

“Gort! Deglet ovrosco!” – Klaatu.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) remains one of my most beloved SF masterpieces.

The charismatic – though enigmatic – Klaatu arrives on Earth (in Washington, USA, of course) to present a dire warning to the human race, but it’s his travelling companion – “that big iron fella” – an eight foot robot named Gort who stole the show. Instead of using a frightening voice, Bernard Herrmann’s eerie score helped enhance the fear factor quite considerably.

In his closing address, when Klaatu explained that Gort acted as a policeman, “patrolling the galaxies, protecting the planets,” his place in my Hall of Fame was assured. 

Obviously, sprawled across the living room floor, watching avidly back in the day, it’s a shame Klaatu couldn’t drum into me the name of this elusive blond space hero with the same intensity he instructed all us seven-year-olds that in order to prevent Gort from destroying the Earth, we must go to Gort. We must say these words:

Klaatu.

Barada.

Nikto.

“I thought it was a bit too quiet in this place, Boots. Here come the guard-dogs and I don’t like the look of their teeth” – Rory Pricer.   

“Robots, and they look like military versions too.”

“Something sinister was afoot without doubt. It was bad enough that alien ships had trespassed in Federation space, but these looked too like the representatives of a sophisticated and alien civilization for Boots’ liking…”

At this phint, allow me to mention one of my fav droids featured in one of the very first SF books to grave my shelves (and still standing beside my desk, nestled behind the smaller – but no less significant – Science Fiction Source Book 

The Space Warriors by Stewart Cowley, telling the galactic exploits of Commander “Boots” Walker and Rory Pricer as they battle the evil Phantor Gorth and his droid army. Apart from the menacing warbots (illustrated above by the legendary Eddie Jones), there was an amazing yellow sentry-robot (who cannot be found anywhere on Google Images or Pinterest) and the delightful domaestic robot who was so ecstatic to see Boots come home again he almost blew a fuse…

Droids can also offer unlikely moments of comic relief.

Take Woody Allen’s zany (and only) SF offering: Sleeper (1973), for instance. Trying to acclimatize to 22nd century life, Miles Monroe is given a robot dog called Max: “Is he house-trained or will he be leaving batteries all around the place?” Who could forget Reagan The Gaybot (“Here’s your silly hypervac suit!”) or the Jewish Tailor Robots (“What’re we gonna do with all this velvet?!”)?

And then there is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, written by the late, great Douglas Adams (we shared the same birthday!) which featured Marvin The Paranoid Android.

He was hilarious in the TV series; one feared the worse when it received recent Hollywood treatment, but, with a HUGE sigh of relief, the Hitchhiker’s movie turned out to be pleasantly entertaining, especially with Sam Rockwell, Mos Def and Martin Freeman onboard. And of course, the late, great Alan Rickman provided the voice of Marvin: 

Chewbacca: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh!”

C-3PO: “He made a fair move. Screaming about it can’t help you.”

Han Solo: “Let him have it. It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.”

C-3PO: “But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid.”

Han Solo: “That’s ’cause droids don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.”

Chewbacca: “Grrf.”

C-3PO: “I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the Wookiee win.”

(Been waiting patiently for the most suitable Post to insert this all-time classic exchange!) 🙂

 

Inevitably, we reach Star Wars. 

There are more droids to be found in this galaxy far far away than you can shake a lightsaber at. The original trilogy helped bolster my devotion to droids even further.

Apart from the iconic duo of C3PO and R2D2, take a look at The Empire Strikes Back (1980): especially 2-1B, the medical droid that tends to Luke Skywalker in the bacta tank after that nasty Wampa attack on Hoth, and the one responsible for replacing Luke’s hand in time for this episode’s finale.

My one gripe towards arguably the saga’s greatest instalment, is that FORTY SECONDS did NO JUSTICE to that awesome assembly of badass bounty hunters. Not enough time to see IG-88 (blink and you’ll miss the moment when he actually TURNS HIS HEAD). Unlike other droid action figures, Iggy not only came with a blaster, but an extended assault rifle! Curiously enough, the insectoid 4-LOM is actually defined as a protocol droid – blimey, who knew?! 

More comic relief in Return Of The Jedi (1983)8D8 assigns R2D2 to waiter-duty aboard Jabba The Hutt’s sail-barge, but please, have mercy on the little, upended droid, screaming with a Munchkins voice, getting his soles branded while EVERYBODY in the cinema LAUGHS at him! And Wookieepedia can’t even tell me his name. Poor lil fella…

And yes, you guessed it, one of the joys of Rogue One (2016) came in the sure, yet surly, ex-Imperial form of K-2SO, who just like the best droids, instantly captured our attention – and hearts? – with a unique “personality.” In addition, “he” followed the old SF tradition of letting the droid steal the best lines… 

A unique, seldom praised, factor about that original smash hit of 1977 is how, to begin with, the events are experienced solely through the two droids. Although never a big fan of C3PO, perhaps his finest moment in the whole saga came on Tatooine, arguing with “that malfunctioning little twerp.” There followed another great joy: those pesky Jawas, roaming the Midlanowhere Plains inside their ginormous clanking Sandcrawler with its diverse collection of droids, including the Death Star Droid: 5D6-RA7 (see above) – always liked its slick design, and unnerving vocalizations; the Power Droid (nothing more than a cute box on stumpy legs, its unremarkable and weaponless action figure has since become so rare, it is now THE most valuable one out there!); and spare a thot for that R5 unit (even if it did have a bad motivator).

And to think these adventures transpire before we even get to meet that blond kid from the moisture farm… 

K-2SO: “I’m surprised you’re so concerned with my safety.”

Jyn Erso: “I’m not. I’m just worried they might miss you… and hit me.”

K-2SO: “Doesn’t sound so bad to me…”

Speaking of blond galactic heroes, it is heartening to be able to end this Post (yes, even this insufferable dirge has to be deactivated at some point! 😉 ) with some promising news.

Just a few months ago, following an extraordinary incident of Baggins-like philosophy, yours truly finally managed to find what he was looking for. By looking for something completely different instead!

Naturally, this year’s birthday triggered a tremendous nostalgia-rush. Among my recollections happened to be a short-lived “boys’ paper” produced in 1983 (by D.C. Thomson) named Spike. It covered the full gamut of boys’ stories: football, war, espionage and school gangs, but the SF entry: Starhawk Against The Powerbeast (not surprisingly, my best of the bunch) rang a few bells…

It featured a fair-haired cosmic hero. With a robot sidekick.

AHA!! 

My search is finally OVER. 

Should have known he’d be called Star-something; just consider the number of Starlords to have passed through the comics industry on both sides of The Pond – why, even the obscure precursor to 2000AD was entitled: Starlord! And, the original combo of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy boasted a member known as Starhawk! 

Yes, checking the D.C. Thomson database, the Starhawk of Spike 1983 did make a previous appearance in 1979. 

The comic? The Crunch!

Jeez, how could it be possible to forget such a groovy title?! Especially when it sported such a formidable masthead?

Scant info told me that the sidekick was merely called “Droid.”

That’s it? Just “Droid”?!

Nothing facetious like Cecil? Or Humphrey? Or anything remotely badass like Joe Pineapples? Or Marvin…? 

Still, as long as it’s NOT a meaningless stream of numbers and letters…

Anyway, a recent Bronze Age expedition into the heart of London returned with some encouraging findings. Only one awemonger (to my knowledge) stocks British comics, and much to my surprise – and sheer delight – when it came to The Crunch, substantial copies were indeed in stock. Came away with two ishs #35 (dated 15 September 1979, see below; tried to upload the first page, but, apologies, being produced on rather cheap “newsprint” paper, it does not copy satisfactorily) presenting Starhawk‘s debut; while #40 (dated 20 October 1979) featuring on its back page the aptly-titled: Gallery Of Heroes, and that week’s subject?

YES!

It IS (please pardon the pun) the droid that Brad‘s been looking for!!

Amazed to learn that Droid came equipped with such a cool array of gadgets: his “eyes” were actually highly sophisticated radar sensors; a medipak, computer, scanners and vidcams installed in his chest; an Impulse Unit was attached to his right hip; a repair kit fitted to his left thigh; a communicator built into his wrist; and – get this! – lasers AND “space blasters” loaded in EACH arm!

The text added:

“But Droid has another more important function. He can pilot the Space Raider – Starhawk’s battlecraft – by remote control… He can also aim and fire the ship’s weapons. So Droid is the perfect side-kick for Starhawk…”

Oh, so much more than a mere “side-kick” as finally getting to perusing this forgotten nugget in British comics history would reveal…

Of course, as we all know, by the 26th century, the Terran Empire is in serious decline:

“…survival once again depended on the swiftness of man’s gun. Chaos reigned in solar systems that had reverted to barbarism (hence the men wearing pleated mini-skirts…?), but one man stood for law and order. His name, Sol Rynn, known as… 

STARHAWK

Interestingly, ultimately, this Sol cuts quite a drab figure, nothing more than a typical, one-dimensional blond galactic hero. Ironically, his only merit is that his co-pilot is a robot! Droid, on the other hand, comes across as cool, clever and regularly cracks wry remarks pertaining to the human condition. Even his tendency to address his mundane “master” as “Mister Rynn” is classy in itself. 

Thus, the revelation struck me: 

‘Twas NOT this ordinary protagonist, but his extraordinary partner, who had captured my imagination all those years ago!

Perhaps the traditional low-key status of robots in SF, plus his dull, inconsequential name, had prevented him from making a more significant impact on my sensors. But now – it’s been too long – he (not it, he) is back in my life, and in my collection. And he’s here to STAY.

As Asimov professed, there is no reason why intelligent machines should not be considered good people. 

Thus, rather than the happenstance of flesh and blood, through the capacities of wit, moral behaviour and rational thought can a being rightfully claim recognition as human.

To that end, then, rather than rediscovering my very first favourite comic character, this feels more like reuniting with my oldest friend. 

Starhawk: “A successful mission, Droid. Luckily I didn’t fall for the old drugged food routine. You see, my mechanical friend, they made us too welcome, and that’s downright suspicious!”

Droid: “Trying to analyse human thought processes causes severe strain on my logic circuits, Mister Rynn. Course laid for Cygnus Alpha…”

 

“The Purfuit Of Happineff”: Happy 4th Of July To All My American Friends!

Hip Hip Hooray! Let’s Hear It For The US Of A!

“You can’t do this to me, I’m an American!” – Marion Ravenwood. 

Howdy!

For this Post, considering how the majority of you live Stateside, thought it best to write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.

As far as one can remember, America always had something bigger and better to offer. British television: yes, all three channels, just two if you include the broadcasters’ strike (one of many in various sectors to cripple the UK during the late-’70s) languished in the doldrums. Even Doctor Who – that longest-running bastion of SF TV, its already-miniscule fx budget hindered even further by a technicians’ strike at the BBC!  – could not compete against the flashier, more expensive likes of Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, or The Muppet Show, The Incredible Hulk, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak(!) (et al, etc. etc.) for that matter. Who (else) did we have? Metal frickin’ Mickey, that’s who – who?? Exactly!! 

Compared to the subsequent decade, The British Film Industry offered larger, more expensive than usual, but ultimately unattractive movies, but nothing like those two gargantuan smashes of 1977 and 1980 respectively (you know what they were!) that sent cinema queues trailing down the street. And then around the corner. 

So finger-lickin’ good: American comics, American toys – heck, even American words – dominated our school playground. Yay, our precious post-punk platters led the way in the pop parade, but let’s face it, our own Claire Grogan was cute, but Debbie Harry was gorgeous.

Still, my father actually spent some time in the US during the ’60s, and was that close to getting a really great job in aviation – so, for that brief time (28 years ago) Brad found himself the centre of attention for once! Until one of the other kids announced that his Dad actually was American, and the throng gravitated to his side of the bike shed, eager to catch a glimpse of the bigger and better delights he could reveal from his Starsky & Hutch satchel. 

Gah!

Anyway, one of the various quality products that my father brought back with him – and enriched my childhood – included a classic Stan Freberg long-player (in Stereo!) 

It’s in, it’s very in! 😉

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” – Benjamin Franklin.

Now, onto American music.

Generally, my music tastes gravitate towards the Blues, Soul and Jazz – all the phenomenal African-American essentials. 

Which is my favorite American band, you ask?

Gee, that’s a toughie. 

The Doors immediately excite the senses, but what gets me every time has to be Creedence Clearwater Revival. Ever since Bad Moon Rising caught my attention in An American Werewolf In London, they have held a very special place in my heart. And my record collection!

During the Vietnam War, thousands of American servicemen were stationed @ U Tapao, Nong Kok and other bases in Thailand. Countless bars – playing music of that era, including Creedence, sprang up all over the place. Most of these guys left long ago, but, most of the bars – still playing music of that era, including Creedence – remain. 

This was always my go-to tune on Karaoke Night:

“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on Earth enjoy!” – Thomas Jefferson.

Just thought it would he groovy to fill this gap to ask:

How will you be celebrating today? Where will you go? What will you eat? How many fireworks are required? 

Is it the same every year? 

Will be thrilled to read your Comments! 🙂

Chon Wang: “The English are not very friendly.”

Roy O’Bannon: “They’re just sore losers.”

Chon Wang: “What did they lose?”

Roy O’Bannon: “A little thing called the American Revolution, Chon… They came over with about a million men. We had a bunch of farmers with pitchforks and beat ’em like a drum.”

Politics! Hoo-boy…

The political systems in both the US & UK these days are as mad as a bicycle. And then some. 

Today, your fest may not have the right zest, or your grub may lack the necessary relish, whilst grudgingly knowing that such a deplorable doofus is running your country (into the ground), but your Brit correspondent here would like to assure you that my thoughts are with you during these very trying times. 

You will NOT see Brad meddling in politics – by Jove, no!

Why, the very word itself is detestable: consisting of “poli” which means “more than one” – yours truly is an old-fashioned type o’ fella: can only handle one lousy inconvenience at a time. While “tics” are bloodsucking parasites. 

You see? Not my scene.

At all…

Couldn’t proceed without this BBC comedy gem from 1980, the year in which current affairs analysts on both sides of The Pond could not envisage a ’50s B-movie star in the White House. 

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! How times have changed…

“When I was a kid, my Mum said: ‘Work hard, you can become President!’ because I grew up in a Disney film. That was back when we believed that Presidents were righteous and honorable… Here’s the kicker: according to the odds, there is 40% chance that, as President, somebody is going to try to assassinate you, but there is a 100% chance of character-assassination…” – Rich Hall. 

Fact: Brad did not travel overseas until his early-20s. 

As my inaugural trip outta Blighty, guess the only one desirable destination that sprung to mind.

Yep! That’s right: during May 1996 – one of the highlights of this boy’s life – Brad spent a fortnight on YOUR side of The Pond. Manhattan, to be exact – sight-seeing (searching for those crucial movie locations, mainly). There was no need to fret over how to wrangle a cab to get me to the IYH (International Youth Hostel) – sitting next to me on the flight was a British businessman who kindly offered to give me a lift Uptown. And, as a regular visitor, he gave a few tips on how to get by.

Can vividly recollect waking up on my first morning in another country.

The temperature was scorching; the city noise every bit as cacophonous as my craziest dreams had imagined; and as my feet hit the NY street for that very first giddily-exciting time, which song on my Sony Walkman marked my wild-eyed an’ gawping-gob entrance into Pretzel Central?

Well, goldarn it! It had to be this: 

“See me walkin’ down Fifth Avenue, walkin’ cane here at my side. Take it everywhere I walk, I’m an Englishman in New York” – Sting.

As a member of The British Museum Society, the Manhattan Metropolitan Museum of Art was top-of-my-list and – gee whiz! – it did not disappoint! A whole afternoon was spent mooching around its impressive galleries. Then emerged into the relentless sun to get a hot dog an’ a bag o’ donuts from the multitude of street stalls crowding the pavement – sorry! – sidewalk. 

After visiting the Statue of Liberty, made my groovy way up Downtown to Uncle Huckle-Buckle’s Chuckle Hutch (try sayin’ that after a few Buds!) to sit down and listen to the stand-ups; can’t forget my ears popping in the express elevator to the top of the Empire State Building; and other wondrous sights and sensations too numerous to drone on about here(!)

Out and about in NYC, chances are that you will see some very famous people. One day, taking a route recommended by my Tourist Map, a classy African-American lady marched straight past me – yes! None other than Diana Ross!! Ruminating over which was her best: either Baby Love or Chain Reaction, walked around a corner and almost collided into John Lennon’s widow!! (Don’t forget: you heard it here first). A few months earlier, we had recorded Jackie Mason Live In London – a programme that my father always requested to watch and never failed to reduce him to tears of laughter. So, imagine papa’s envy when listening to my incredible story of hanging around in the doorway of the Waldorf Astoria, standing next to the comedian himself, listening to the joke that reduced two NYPD officers to tears of laughter. 

And upon returning to the hostel every evening, a special, extra-large, local delicacy awaited all tourists on the front desk. Absolutely scrumptious! What on Earth was it?!

Somebody replied:

“We call it ‘pizza’…”

After ten days of intense adventures, no wonder there was no energy left; nevertheless, my last four days turned out to be equally life-changing; just around the corner(!) two important discoveries were made in that “New World”: the Barnes & Noble Superstore (ended up buying two books for myself and two books for Dad); and even more crucially:

TACO BELL!!

Thus, thenceforth, Brad‘s undying love for Mexican food flourished.

Obviously, if and when another Stateside visit occurs, special detours will have to be taken so that, finally, WE CAN MEET and you can regale me with tales of YOUR bigger and better way of life!

Who better to round this Post off than with The Boss himself?!

What better way to sign off than by saying:

Have A Nice Day! 🙂

“Day of glory! Welcome day!
Freedom’s banners greet thy ray;
See! how cheerfully they play
      With thy morning breeze,
On the rocks where pilgrims kneel’d,
On the heights where squadrons wheel’d,
When a tyrant’s thunder peal’d,
      O’er the trembling seas…
O let freemen be our sons;
And let future Washingtons
Rise, to lead their valiant ones,
      Till there’s war no more.”
~John Pierpont (1785–1866), “Independence”

 

 

“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 White Lion And The Dessert Rats

Up The Creek, Down In The Desert… 

cribbins-with-peter-selle-009

“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.