The Merchant Of Menace: Rebel Without A Code Clearance

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

 

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

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

 

Well, that escalated quickly!

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

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

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

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

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

the Zoulzukker!

Kriegzlide Killzquad have arrived… 

 

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

Another two grappled with her companion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commander Zmutti Zubizmaar looked the most disbelieving. 

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

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

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

“ZX2187…” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“‘Tweel be may genueen pleazure, zah!” 

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

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

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

“No, we’re not! In ‘ere, quick!”

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

“Bless me blueberry muffins! BAGEL!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You came ‘ere ta get me an’ all?”

“Nah, I came ta keep me eye on ‘er-“

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

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

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

“BAGEL…?!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How’d ya end up ‘ere, Bagel?!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Whoa! We’re in a tight spot-“

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

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

“Do they? Groovy…”

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

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

“Did ya…?!”

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

“Yeah yeah…” the younger fella drawled sarcastically.

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

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

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

Shokk Troopers dashed in from all sides, blasters blazing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zoltan gradually swung the weapon at Bagel

“‘EE eez ze eccurzed ZPY! ‘Ee’ll do!”

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

“Ah, Jeez…! Stay wiv me, kid… …”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Handle With Flair: Play it Again, Lexi!

Girl Power! With A Flash Of Fartlighter…

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

Buff Encounter!

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

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

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

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

May Dyzan have mercy upon those poor miscreants… 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRING IT ON!” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Eh…?”

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

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

“Whoa, NOT in the buff you’re not!” 

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

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

“Ha ha! As ya wish-” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ya gotta be-!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ha! NOW yer talkin’…”

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

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

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

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

The alien chauvinist just yawned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I should know – I wuz there!”

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

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

“ETA: fifteen Eempeerial meenuts!

“OVAIR END OAT!!” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How – and wheredoes the effective short story begin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it not…? 

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

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

Ha! So what else is new…?! 

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

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

Wish me luck! 

 

Zombie Sharks, A Crummy Mummy And Marky “Mark” Wahlberg: AVAST! BradRant Ahoy!!

Summer Madness?

Armed With His Trusty Trident Of Poseidon, Brad Takes Out The Trash So You Don’t Have To!

Henry Turner: “I saw her ankles.”

Captain Jack Sparrow: “You would’ve seen a lot more if you kept your cakehole shut.” 

Aharrr, me ‘earties! 

Well, buckle me swash! ‘Ere we go again! Only, let’s go anywhere but the cinema.

What’s with all these crap movies?! Suddenly, movie website Rotten Tomatoes is riddled with too many teens and twentysomethings. Before you can say: “A one-legged man with 18-pound balls? No wonder he walks funny!” Brad has waded in to investigate why there is more bilge on the big screen than ever before… 

Back in the day, you could rent out videos of the most dire, cheesy B-flicks AND still be merrily entertained.

Now, “standards” have definitely floundered: more obscene amounts of cash stuffed in, while artistic integrity no longer holds great value… 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge comes away as the “Best” Of The Worst (29%!). This barnacle-ridden franchise (originally based on a theme park ride, don’t forget!) has well and truly run aground. Even its most fanatical supporters would have to admit that Johnny Depp’s slurred-and-sloshed routine should have walked the plank long before now, and those zombie sharks are a sure sign that all the good ideas sunk without trace ages ago. Arrr…? Ol’ Stragglybeard here is NOT parting with any o’ his pieces o’ eight for this! 

You realise how useless a flop is when it is unable to provide Bradscribe with sufficient quotes! Jeez – really struggled to find suitable lines from any of the wretched assortment collected here, ultimately resorting to a few nuggets from this Pirates sequel, and – shiver me frickin’ timbers (ahem) “other comedy classics.”

At some point in this Post, we will have to deal with the Worst of the Worst. 

So, on that note, here, theoretically, is where a still from the latest noisy, changeable-‘bots crudfest: Transformers: The Last Shite should go:

Jack Kipper: “We just had a leak in the hold.” 

Scurvy Joe: “Did you? Well next time do it over the side, arrr!”

King Arthur: “The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to be your King.” 

Dennis: “Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system o’ government… You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ‘cos some watery tart threw a sword at you.” 

You see?! 

The Transformers franchise – based on a range of toys fer cakes’ sake! – is so dire, it’s utterly pointless bothering to illustrate it with stills. No, we (patience permitting) shall leave the least till last!

Instead, with a keen fondness for all-things-Arthurian, a blockbuster based on this quintessentially-English literary tradition should have piqued my interest, but one has grown accustomed to the deflatingly inadequate (and disrespectful) fare that Hollywood can manufacture… 

In King Arfur: Leg End Of The Bored, Blimey Charlie Humdrum – ho hum, wouldya Adam-an’-Eve it? Another Brad-clone! – steps into Guy Ritchie’s right ol’ Cockney knees-up retelling of the Arfur gubbins with ‘is Roight Noble Geezers o’ the Rahnd Table. Cor blimey, guv’nor!

On paper, this should have been as sound as a pound – perhaps using a Cool Britannia soundtrack (including The Who, The Stranglers, Adam & The Ants, The Damned, Ian Dury And The Blockheads, Eddie & The Hot Rods et al)?; employing a certain ridiculously good-looking blogger 😉 to write some witty banter, eh? eh?!   

Nah… 

Arfur turned out to be as substandard and disagreeable (28%!) as those dodgy donuts me stomach wuz subjected to at the end of the pier last Friday noight. For this shoddy shambles swiftly degeneratesinconceivably, inexplicably – into an insipid medieval pile-up of CG-battle scenes, CG-monsters, CG-pachyderms and- stone the bloody crows! CG-pachyderms?! ‘E’s orf ‘is nut! Do me a favAH! etc. etc.

Should’ve deployed the zombie sharks, mate…

What a loada cobblers…

Baz Hogan: “Storm’s dying down.”

Nova Clarke: “How can you tell?”

Baz Hogan: “Not as many sharks flying around.”

“Does Mummy ever ask about me?” – Captain Jack Sparrow.

Next, we trundle out The Mummy (Flamin’ Nora! She’s in a right old state, arf arf!)

But really…

It’s a shockingly turgid (15%) harbinger of Universal’s new Monster Franchise. It’s quite simple really: if the laughably-termed: “makers” couldn’t be bothered to assemble such rudimentary elements as plot, script or characterisation, one could not be arsed to collect any relevant images. As Confucius used to say: “If you’re uncertain, Steve Martin…”

Count the number of people who remarked: ooh, but it’s got Thomas “Fop Gun” Wannahobbler IV in it – how baaad could it possibly be?!

Worse than you can possibly imagine, apparently. 

From what your correspondent has been able to ascertain from assorted reviews, it looks like a monster movie, but doesn’t try to be scary; it’s too mechanical to be an action movie; too clunky to fit in that diminutive plane-magnet’s film-file; and too abysmal to sit through. Still, at least this leading nerk is less irritating than Marky “Mark” Wahlberg… 

Which brings us neatly – if reluctantly – to the latest Transformers scrap-metal pile. 

Ordinarily, this cannot, by any analytical process, be called a “movie”; it should, therefore, only be treated as a 200-minute trailer, with its constant, mind-numbing inconsequential moving parts and volume cranked up to eleventystoopid. By now, you get the queasy impression that Auteur Of Awfulness: Michael Bay is revelling in the prospect of far too many dense juves ready to throw away good money down this bad dunny – this “movie” epitomises everything that is deplorable with the modern movie “industry”

“Completely insane” seems to be the “kindest” remark made about this trash. There is. Ab. Sol. Ute. Ly. NO! Reason for me to waste Review time or space on it. And yet…

Leading thesp: Sir Odin Hopkins appears in this…! Obviously, he required a new loft conversion. And by Jiminy, boyo, he was bally well going to get it, eh what?! Is there any other plausible way to explain this ridiculous case of (mis)casting?! 

Unfortunately, for me, there is no abomination more unsettling in movies these days than that Marky “Mark” WahlbergOtherwise decent movies have deteriorated once he became involved with them; only someone like him could have replaced Shit Lebeef on this fetid franchise. Usually as cool and laidback as the next dude me, but put this tosspot in the same room as Brad and – by Jove! – THE CAKES WILL HURL…

Woebetide the younglings who actually believe that Transformers is bonafide science fiction!

Arrr, set the zombie sharks on ’em, says Oi…! 

China is set – very soon – to become the largest cinema market in the world. As long as a western movie does NOT feature ghosts, homosexuals or Tibet, it can get a widespread release there. Primarily, Chinese audiences crave – above all else – BIG mindless spectacle, so unanimously-derided trash like The Mummy and Transformers will always be welcomed with open wallets… So why STOP making them?  

Dear Friends, there is nothng more wretched than the truth…

To conclude then, this fistful of flops proves that a fate worse than Depp is unbelievably, unnecessarily possible – not to mention economically viable. And it’s never going to end…

However, you do realise that Brad – bedecked in his “crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side” T-shirt – will keep venturing forth to look for those elusive so-bad-they’re-good flicks… 

Who knows WHAT he will get up to?

“I don’t care what he gets up to, as long as he doesn’t do it in the street and frighten the camels!”

Oh dear…

 

“Pardon My French!”: It’s Tremors!!

Nothing Like Taking Regular Trips Back To Perfection!

Earl Bassett: “I ask ya: is this a job for an intelligent man?” 

Valentine McKee: “Well, show me one and I’ll ask him.”

“I can’t believe we said no to free beer!” 

Brad can’t believe that it’s 27 years to the day since Tremors – one of the most enjoyable monster movies of recent times – appeared in cinemas. So, how about a retro-review? 

This is a prime example of a movie that sunk without trace at the box office, yet became a smash hit on the video rental circuit and is now regarded as a cult classic – still holding up with a respectable 85% on Rotten Tomatoes!

It’s not important that the origins of the (prehistoric?) crypto-beasties here – giant worm-like creatures nicknamed: “graboids” – are never explained, this captivating tribute to 1950s low-budget desert-based sci-fi-thrillers such as Them! and It Came From Outer Space boasts a stellar, better-than-expected script that works wonders in developing such entertaining central characters – who must be (two bums-with-hearts-of-gold) Val and Earl.

“We deny everything!”

Fred Ward is Earl Bassett, while Valentine McKee is played by Kevin Bacon – oh yes! Kevin Bacon!

No one handles garbage better than they do!

And they always determine which one is going to do something by playing rock-paper-scissors… 

A clever mix of action and humour, and along with its catchy old-timey harmonica score, Tremors alwaysno matter how many times you watch it! – offers a real feelgood movie experience. 

“We decided to leave town just one damn day too late!”

“Broke into the wrong goddamn rec room, didn’t ya, you bastard?!” – Burt Gummer. 

The “City” of Perfection is, literally, stuck in the middle of nowhere, consisting of three buildings and the odd shack or “mobile” home; population: 14. With the phones out and exit-road blocked, naturally, the sense of isolation accentuates the fear factor. The unprecedented action that ensues centres around Walter Chang’s Market. 

Interstingly, the monsyers – or “motherhumpers” as they are referred to – take their time before they get to hog the cameras. Gradually, in good ol’ monster-movie tradition, the tension builds; something sizeable and sinister lurks under the ground… Somehow, seismographs become scary(!) the boys are shocked to discover a nasty snake-like thing attached to the back of their truck.

“Goddayamn! What the HELL are those things?!”

Then the “snakes” attack their horses…

When the creatures are revealed to their full extent, for the rest of the movie the fx team utilize an impressive array of animatronics, puppets and miniatures. 

The appearance of Rhonda LeBeck (Finn Carter) the “new seismology student” moves proceedings in a charming direction, especially for Val who’s been expecting his Dream Girl to just turn up there out of the blue! Of course, on the very day they decide to drive out of Perfection for good, Val and Earl start to uncover all kinds of crazy shit: that damned ol’ boozehound Edgar stuck high up on a pylon; slaughtered sheep; and a whole station wagon – with both its headlights and radio left on! – buried boot-first in the sand…

Makes a drastic change from their usual humdrum baloney-an’-beans lifestyle! 

They even get a chance to do a spot of pole-vaulting with Rhonda! Groovy… 

Among the unlucky fourteen, there happens to be doomsday prepper couple: Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) and his wife: Heather (Reba McEntire) with their own extensive range of rifles, sub-machine guns and flare pistols(!), ready to blast away at whatever bursts out of the ground…

“Yeah, but where do they come from?!”

Quite clearly, the cast had fun making this; fortunately – in one of those rare cases – the enjoyment is easily passed on to the viewer. 

“You didn’t get penetration even with the elephant gun?” – Heather Gummer. 

Tremors also holds a rather more personal distinction:

Honestly, yours truly does NOT NEED his own copy, for he can – and has, on numerous occasions – watched this movie in Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Ely (the Cambridgeshire cathedral city famous for its eels – how cool is that?!)… as well as Palembang. 

Whatever mood/situation you find yourself in, whatever country you find yourself in, nothing can put your mind at ease quite like Tremors – one of the most universally-broadcasted Universal Pictures ever!

Almost ten years ago, having flown into Palembang, a city on Sumatra – Indonesia’s largest island – to present my research paper into that region’s “lost” pre-Islamic civilization at an Archaeological Conference, everything seemed quite daunting. As you can imagine: a lone, golden-haired stranger landing in the most remote – and rain-lashed – part of the Third Rock From The Sun; hoped the (non-English-speaking) cab driver knew the location of the (right) hotel; had received no confirmation that the moderators had received my power-point presentation as requested; and, ugh, too many more concerns to divulge here! 

However, that first evening – while the monsoon raged on into the night – all my worries dissolved as soon as a delicious dish of nasi lemak was delivered straight up to my plush, air-conditioned room from the in-house “ristorant,” and – oh yes! you guessed it! – it was really comforting to find Val and Earl saving Perfection once again (on Channel 38).

HUZZAH!

Valentine McKee: “Hey, check this out! I found the ass end…!”

Earl Bassett: Man! That’s one big mother...”  

 

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. 

 

Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them: Vol. 2

More Manic Music Monday!

“There are two types of beings in the universe: those who dance, and those who do not” – Drax.

Welcome back, hotsteppers!

The beats continue on Bradscribe.

Seeing as cool stuff tagged as Vol. 2 are the in-thing @ the mo (and the first edition of this innovative Post turned out to be a party that none of you wanted to leave) here we are with Fantastic Beats Vol. 2!

Now its over to my lovely assistant to activate the sooperdoopersoundsystem:

“On my planet, we have a legend about people like you. It’s called Footloose. And in it, a great hero, named Kevin Bacon, teaches an entire city full of people with sticks up their butts that, dancing, well, is the greatest thing there is” – Peter Quill.

We start with Freax aka Sascha Fox.

Another of the acts pumping through me headphones whilst living in more tropical climes a few years ago. These platters would invariably get me into the necessary creative frame of mind. Among several enjoyable floor-fillers, one could not stop playing Pum Gun Trax.

Just recently, a second version of such Trax has come to my attention. And it is more mental than the first! Presented with the choice of Vol. 1 or Vol. 2, well, be trendy and plump for Pump Vol. 2!

“I am Groot? I am Groot? I am Groot” – Baby Groot.

“NO! That is the button that will kill everyone! Try again!” – Rocket Raccoon.

Next up is Robert Gorl – once one-half of the 70s electro outfit: DAF (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft) – this synth-disco rebel branched out on his experimental own during the 80s and 90s.

For me, the highlight of his lo-fi output came with The Right Side Of Reason collaboration with Karl O’Connor (aka Regis – featured in my first Fantastic Beats compilation) and the Sexdrops – oof! goodness! – LP in 1998.

Is this really the same Robert Gorl who recorded Darling Don’t Leave Me with Annie Lennox?!

Back then, this is what the future sounded like:

“THE MELODY IS PLEASANT” – Gamora.

It’s amazing to hear what some techno producers can do with other people’s compositions. It just happens that the next two stunners selected for your headphone-pleasure are remixes.

Tell you what: it’s not all doof-doof-doof! around here ya know!

Polar Inertia delve into deeper, more intriguing soundscapes, and here they formulate a more sophisticated sonic gem.

While concentrating on my more cosmic fiction, this is one of the pieces guaranteed to generate the required far-out feel.

Especially late at night; pulls me in every time…

“What are you doing?” – Ronan The Accuser.  

What we have next on today’s show is an old fave, greatly enhanced with a new version.

Luke Slater is one of the UK’s most significant Techno producers. Remember back in ’99 getting my mind blown by his Freek Funk album (on the John Peel Show – where else?).

One of his numerous side projects is Planetary Assault Systems. A group of leading producers were invited to take a PAS track and give it their own unique remix treatment. The following is by far the outstanding track on The Light Years Reworks: the subsequent compilation album.

Don’t know who Lucy is, but – whoa! – he’s got such an infectious groove going on here:

“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” – Yondu Udonta.

Last – but by no means least – the next great video happened to be a nifty lil number only discovered during this past week. Honestly, there is such an invigorating and feelgood vibe to this groove.

(Be careful: this vid – the only one available where you’re not staring @ the record label for six minutes – contains flashing images).

The track itself begins @ 0:25:

“You need my what?” – One Legged Prisoner.

In case you were wondering how Brad has managed to hone his own brand of distinctive awesomes on this site, it’s by being moved – and motivated – by stuff like this.

Music is – and can be – a major beneficial accompaniment to such a gruelling activity as creative writing. Music technology has progressed so remarkably. Beyond the machines though, what matters ultimately is the music.

Only in the last twenty years have digitised sounds exuded a higher form of quality and finesse.

And made this funny bunny wanna dance even more…

Roll on Vol. 3…