Strange Wanderings

A Steampunk Role Play

It begins with a Reply by Mara Fantoccini
It was afternoon tea. Mara was sitting in a corner of the lounge reading.
‘There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination….’

“This is interesting” she thought to herself, “maybe this is where we are, in the fifth dimension.”

She shook her head, “No, I guess not” closed the book which she had found amongst the scattered dreaded dead bread.
Finishing her tea, she rose and returned to checking the ships stores, thinking to herself we may have to start rationing food and water. She made a mental note ‘pass out extra orange juice, we don’t want anyone getting scurvy, and when Luke recovers inquire if he had ‘salvaged’ any Vitamin C at the Target Store.’

It was quiet in the store-room and she felt she could finally relax. She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, it felt good -no running and hiding, no drama, just quiet. She smiled and started singing quietly to herself “Up up and away, in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon….”
She noticed a large steel box sitting on a bottom shelf. It had ‘WARNING’ printed on the lid.
“Should I open it?” she mused. “It does say warning” but her curiosity was too strong.
She gingerly opened the lid.

The QBR web comic 1 (640x480)

Inside the box were cylindrical shaped compartments. Most were empty but in three of them were strange rods of luminous ore. There was a note with instructions….high energy emission properties….regulate and refine the matter/antimatter reactions needed to maintain warp fields…
As Mara read, she began to panic. She needed to contact Maddie.

She walks over to the intercom system and opens communications to the engineering bay.
“Maddie, you better get down here stat!”

Maddie arrived, she assessed the situation rushed over to the intercom and hailed Forlath.
“Captain” she exclaimed (in an inexplicable Scottish brogue), “we need more dilithium crystals!”

QBR Air Ship

Reply by Forlath Grey
(BOOK TWO – STRANGE WANDERINGS, there, you got your title, happy now Ezra?)

“Wait, okay, explain this to me again” Forlath said to Chief Engineer Madelaine Phillips-Carter and Logistics Officer Mara Fantoccini “we’re kinda flying a Victorian age airship but we’re powered by antimatter?” Chief Maddie was plainly exasperated and Forlath noticed Mara turn her head and roll her eyes. They had been trying to explain the propulsion systems onboard the Queen Bran’s Revenge to the Captain for the last 40 minutes.

“Right, okay, never mind” Forlath said diplomatically “we’ll forget about that for a moment. So what you’re saying is we need more of these crystal thingies, yes?” Maddie and Mara both nodded in exaggerated unison. “Well, where do we find them,” Forlath queried “presumably we can’t just pull up to the corner shop and ask for a case of crystals… Um, can we?” Forlath asked hopefully “no, of course not. I didn’t think so.”

After another forty minutes of lecturing on the properties of Dilithium (the crystals not the gas) from his operations officers, Forlath entered the command gondola of the airship. He flipped on the intercom switch and announced “attention all crew, this is the Captain speaking, we will be making a stop at the next promising geological formation. Command crew, prepare for planet side exploration, spelunking will most likely be involved. Sergeant Steward, assign a marine detachment as escort, knowing our luck causalities are expected. All crew; please ensure foreshadowing, character development, flashbacks and plot twists are conducted before disembarking the airship. Captain out.” Forlath gave the bridge crew their orders and went to go find his wellies…

The QBR web comic 2 (640x480)

Reply by Mara Fantoccini yesterday
“Sir, may I suggest wearing our yellow uniforms and all none essential personnel wear red for this mission?” Mara proposed. “I will leave it at your discretion sir” as she saluted, turned on her heel and went to suit up.

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter
As Maddie began to pack for the away-mission, her mind wandered. Ok… she thought to herself …we know that we are no longer on earth…but, if we aren’t on earth, then WHERE exactly are we? And WHEN are we, for that matter, too?! Madelaine’s family had had a long history with wibly-wobly-timey-wimey stuff; interdimensional travels, dream-questing and the like; Maddie herself being quite the experienced aetheral traveler. She was well aware of the dangers that existed in the outer dimensions. Dangers that made sentient zombie bread products seem like a cakewalk, pun fully intended. She recalled a story her uncle Randolph used to tell her as child. Little Maddie would sit on his knee and listen, wrapt with terror…but also fascination:
Outside the ordered universe is that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes…
“Better pack quite a few bottles of gin” she mumbled to herself “If this is truly what it’s like out there , god knows I’m going to need them.” Maddie took a swig from one of the bottles before tucking it away, took her protein pills and put her helmet on, and with that, headed for the bridge.

Reply by Casey Leonidas Steward
Casey stood in the threshold of the loading bay, He finished addressing his troops, with one of his famous Pep talks. And just before He can say “You’re all gonna DIE”!, He collapses and falls into a deep coma.

Reply by Casey Leonidas Steward
Mysteriously .

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey
The landing party gathered on the hangar deck for their deployment briefing. Sergeant Steward was just finishing addressing the Royal Marine detachment when mid-sentence the sergeant gasped, keeled over and collapsed to the floor. “Oh for the love of…,” Forlath put his hand to his face “can just once something go right on this ship?” Lady Patch quickly knelt down and checked Casey’s vitals. “He’s still breathing,” She said as she pulled back one of his eyelids and shined a small flashlight in his eye “we better get him down to sickbay.” “Seems like a heck of a lot of effort on the good sergeant’s part just to get out of a bit of work” Forlath sighed. Lady Patch glared at the Captain (as much as she was able) and directed a couple of the enlisted men to take either end. “Lady Elizabeth, does he appear to be in any immediate danger?” Forlath asked. “No, but…” Lady Patch started. “Then he’ll just have to trust to the expert training of your staff. This mission takes precedence.” Forlath replied. Lady Patch looked torn but nodded curtly and returned to the landing party. “I’m going to pay for that one later” thought the Captain to himself. “Right, standard side arms everyone. Load up.”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday
Ezra Yesterday, re-hydrated mummy, recent hero of the Battle of the Dumplings and current XO of the Queen Brans Revenge, sat in his stateroom and pondered recent events. …So much had happened since civilization had been blasted to bread crumbs by the evil Dough menace that it was hard to keep it all straight.
Actually, come to think of it, he didn’t really need to try and keep it straight, as all the posts in this thread were still available to read, like 233 ridiculous single servings of drivel left out in the sun to rot. Ezra was at a loss to understand why, but he assumed it was because no one in authority had wised up to the sheer magnitude of space being wasted here.
Putting aside these musings, he downed another gallon of Gatorade ™, then lay back on his bed and prepared to take a nice, long nap….Which is precisely when the overhead speaker crackled to life and the Captain began to speak. Ezra rolled his eyes, settled more comfortably into the bed and pulled his bowler down over his eyes, only half listening to the announcement as he attempted to rest…
“attention all crew, …………….. Captain speaking…………………………….planet side exploration, spelunking …………………………….. Sergeant Steward is involved with marines, ……………………….. improbable escort service, ………… lucky… causalities are expected.”
At this, Ezra sat bolt upright and began to listen more intently…so basically, he began to listen.

“All crew; please ensure foreshadowing, character development, flashbacks and plot twists are conducted before disembarking the airship. Captain out.”

“Great, an away mission already.” he thought. As he sat up in bed and pulled his boots back on, he began to mutter in a sing-song imitation of the captain’s voice:

“Planet side exploration!… Casualties likely!! … Abandon plot, all ye who enter here!”

He stood, set his bowler firmly on his head and walked to the door, pausing momentarily at the mirror to straighten his bowtie.

Then, with a last sneer of, “There, you got your title, happy now Ezra?” for the intercom tube over his shoulder in the reflection, he turned and strode out the door.

In the hall he turned briskly to the left and took 3 confident and purposeful steps… then hesitated, turned around and headed in the correct direction [or so he hoped] for the command deck.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey
“Ah, XO, nice of you to join us” Forlath quipped as Ezra came into the transport just minutes before they ‘battened down the hatches’. The landing party strapped themselves into their seats as the transport ship was slowly and methodically hoisted off the Hangar Deck floor by a sequence of winches and pulleys till it hung by a series of chains and tubes to a steel arm that was then hydraulically extended out an open hangar door to hang dangling, thousands of feet above the landscape below.

Ladies and gentlemen, in Cmdr. Luke’s absence the transport will be piloted by Chief Warrant Officer Roteshemd and the Royal Marine detachment in Casey’s absence will be led by Corporal Chemisesrouges. Glad to have you both aboard gentlemen. The pilot nodded at the Captain’s introduction and gave the command to release the tubes linking the transport’s communications and electronic systems to the airship. The tubes popped one after another *perchut, perchut*. The pilot moved his hand to the drop release switch… “Is that a new red shirt you’re wearing XO? Quite fetching” Forlath observed. The pilot hit the release switch and the landing party experienced the sensation of their stomachs rising up to their mouths as the transport suddenly plummeted in a freefall towards the ground far below…

Reply by Ezra Yesterday 19 hours ago
Actually, Captain, this shirt was in the closet in my room, the directions say it changes color the further the wearer is from their room… Look at that, its gone all blue. Amazing!

Reply by Lady Elizabeth Patch 8 hours ago
Whilst the ground became increasingly…closer. Somehow Lady Patch found the time to admire Era’s new shirt…pondering what color would come next…was it a hyper color shirt? Did it have pockets? Could she get one in a size lamp…was lamp a size? Could she fit the lamp size shirt? Would they make one in time…before they hit the ground???

Hanging onto the walls…(still in free fall…yes, as this is one of those never ending plummeting to the ground scenes…) Lady Patch makes her way to where most the group is doing a fine job keeping themselves composed as we plummet to the earth. As long as you count screaming like a little girl…sorry to out you Mr. Forlath… simply could not be helped… Yes…LP had a plan…would it work? Probably not. But it was a plan just the same….as she could have those you know…and just this once she really hoped said plan would work…
…..making her way to the place where they kept the big red button….not that one….the other one….the slightly less ominous one without the sign that reads “do not push”…no not that one….finally making her way to the button, LP pushed the button and pulled the microphone closer….You see it was the intercom button….

“Attention…Attention please….I fear should we hit the ground we may experience a few unpleasant consequences…right…(long uncomfortable pause….someplace somewhere a guy yells…”just get on with it will you?!”)…on the count of three we jump….ready? ….1….2……………3! Jump!”
At that very moment LP shouted 3, this was the very moment the ship would have feel completely to the ground…however now seeing as they all jumped…not only did they land softly back on their feet when they came down….but they did JUMP start the ship….

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 2 hours ago
Captain Forlath Grey, the pilot Chief Warrant Officer Roteshemd and the rest of the landing party were gathered in a concerned huddle around Lady Elizabeth Patch when she finally came back to consciousness. Her eye lids fluttered, she looked up into the concerned faces of the rest of the crew and croaked “what happened?” The pilot spoke up, “my apologies Lady Patch, perhaps I should have briefed you all a bit more in detail on the operation of this type of transport. The transport vessel is dropped off the side of the airship into a freefall to allow it to distance itself enough from the airship so that when it does fire its rockets it doesn’t cause any undue turbulence to the main ship. You had slipped your seat restraints so unfortunately when I started the descent rockets you ah, hit the floor pretty hard.”

“How are you feeling Lady Elizabeth,” the Captain asked “can you stand?” Lady Patch was helped to her feet, she had taken a rather nasty knock to the head but she assured everyone as long as it was just her head she was fine. “Right, you heard the lady,” the Captain bellowed “tea break’s over! Let’s go find some of these, um, crystal thingies.” Forlath approached his Operations officers Madelaine Phillips-Carter and Mara Fantoccini “So how exactly do we find these things,” Forlath asked “and what, will they just be laying around on the ground?”

“Simple, Captain, I’ve modified a standard Geiger counter’s ability to detect beta particles” Mara answered holding up a Geiger counter. “Dilithium has a similar ability to ionize as your typical radiation. So we will use that aspect of its makeup to locate it. And as for extracting want we find,” Mara and Maddie both turned half sideways to show the Captain the self contained, internal voltaic pile powered, automated mining equipment they both had strapped to their backs. “Ah, um, excellent,” said the Captain, feeling somewhat out of his depth. “Very well then, let’s get this circus on the road. Corporal” and with that Forlath indicated to Corporal Chemisesrouges of the Royal Marine detachment.

The corporal swung open the main access hatch and slid down the metal ladder to the ground below, followed quickly by the rest of his squad. The first step of the Queen Bran’s Revenge crew on a brave new world. The excitement was palpable. “I wonder if they have any pubs on this planet” Forlath thought to himself as he exited the ship…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Saturday
The royal marines quickly established a perimeter. Corporal Chemisesrouges detailed one fireteam to remain behind and guard the transport ship while the pilot prepped it for departure. Of the other two fireteams, one took point and the other took up position behind the exploration party. They were sturdy, reliable men armed with Mk2 Martini-Henrys and with many years of combat service between them. They were sure to be good lads to have on side in a scuffle of that Forlath had no doubt. The group moved toward the targeted geological formation.

The group came to a halt outside what appeared to be a large cavern. Mara had out her modified Geiger counter and was scanning for Dilithium emanations while the rest of the assembly waited patiently. She looked back and shook her head. Chief Maddie articulated her concern that the rock strata might be blocking any potential readings and that they should explore further inside the cave system before they gave up on what was theoretically a very promising site. Forlath looked up at the cave entrance as the group trooped inside and inexplicably found himself thinking “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate””.

Once inside, the cool damp of the cave gave Forlath a chill after the direct warm sunlight experienced outside. Mara continued to swing her Geiger counter back and forth looking for any indication of the crystals which they sought. The two fireteams had their rifles at port arms and were vigilantly scanning the cave for any potential threats. The rest of the party were quite clearly bored with the slow pace of the expedition thus far. Mara shook her head in frustration, “still nothing” she called over shoulder, her voice echoed eerily about the vast cavern.
Maddie spoke up and suggested they split into two groups to speed things up. She didn’t have a Geiger counter but she knew what to look for and while Mara continued to sweep, Maddie said she would scout out likely points for Mara to take readings. “We’ll synchronize watches and meet back here in an hour?” Forlath shrugged and thought sure, why not. Let’s split up, what could possibly go wrong and we can inflict more mayhem that way.

So Corporal Chemisesrouges and one fireteam accompanied Chief Phillips-Carter, Lady Patch and the XO as they went deeper into the tunnels that branched off the main cavern while Captain Forlath and another fireteam stayed with Mara while she conducted her scans. Forlath’s leg was still somewhat stiff and he hoped the somewhat slower pace of Mara’s work would grant him some respite. The Captain pulled out a pipe, hit the base of the bowl against his palm a few times, leaned against the rock face and stuck the stem of the pipe between his teeth. Forlath didn’t actually smoke, but he liked the tactile feel of the pipe in his fingers when he was feeling impatient. “Bit of a shame, that,” thought Forlath “we could have started a pool on first person to get eaten…”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Saturday
Captain Forlath Grey heard a scream, whether human or not was definitely up for debate but a scream it was none the less. It came not from the direction that Chief Phillips-Carter’s party went but from another tunnel entirely. Forlath swore to himself, put his pipe in a waist coat pocket, picked up his cane and picked a member of the fireteam at random. “You’re with me, the rest of you stick with Officer Fantoccini.” With that the Captain hurried towards the scream’s believed source…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Saturday
Forlath and the accompanying marine cautiously headed down the tunnel from whence the noise had emanated. As they moved further away from the main cavern the natural light became less apparent, leaving Forlath straining to see in the gloom. Forlath patted his waistcoat pockets, found a box of safety matches and lit a taper from his jacket pocket brought for just such an occasion. He held it aloft and surveyed the tunnel around them. What appeared to be a picture of some sort scrawled on the rock face to his left caught Forlath’s eye…
Just at that moment a gust of wind rushed through the tunnel blowing out Forlath’s taper. Before Forlath and the marine could react, the ground gave way beneath them and the Captain and the marine were pitched into yawning blackness…

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Saturday
Back in the main cavern…
Mara, distracted from her scanning. “Did you hear that?” she asked her remaining crew members.
Dust billowed out of the path the Captain had taken just a few moments earlier.
Thinking that maintaining radio silence would be a good idea, she covered her face with her handkerchief and walked towards the dusty entrance.
She shouts “Captain, can you hear me sir?”
the echo resounded throughout the chamber.
“O.K.” she thought aloud, “I am in command for the moment, now WWCFD?” she murmured.
“Hmmm, Colin Farrell, Colin Farrell, what would he do if he were in this situation” she continued.
Now, very confused and disoriented, she sat down on a nearby rock, pulled some rations out of her pack and proceeded to prepare afternoon tea.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Saturday

Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, Lady Elizabeth Patch, XO Ezra Yesterday, Corporal Chemisesrouges and his marines followed their selected tunnel further away from the main cavern as the Chief searched the rock walls for any sign of the illusive crystals. The passageway descended noticeably, the increasing gloom making it harder and harder to see.

The XO stopped and said somewhat imperiously “maybe we should head back and explore one of the other tunnels?” Before the others had the chance to agree, Lady Patch interjected in a terrible German accent “Kuck mal, da ez a certain luminosity.” The others looked where Lady Patch was pointing, almost imperceptibly the tunnel did appear to lighten up around the next bend.
Cautiously the group approached the bend; suddenly Ezra brandished his antique 16th century Spanish 6-shot flintlock sword revolver, and shouted

“For Queen and country!” and raced around the corner. Which was really quite odd considering Ezra had never set foot in the United Kingdom in his life. The XO rounded the corner in perfect hero-esque form, with a glint in his eye and a sparkle in his smile, his sword revolver swishing through the air… right up to the point where his right foot slipped out from under him on the wet rock and he landed on his back in five inches of water. The rest of the group rounded the corner to the sight of the XO on his back squishily contemplating the ceiling in a room full of pillars carved out of the living rock…

Reply by Lady Elizabeth Patch on Saturday
Upon rounding the corner, LP had to stifle a laugh as they approached XO…flat as it were…on his back in a puddle of water…
Kneeling down next to Ezra LP placed her ear over his forehead….seconds later turning to Maddie she whispered…”It’s just as I thought….empty.”
Wondering what the deuce Ezra was continuing to find so worth notice, LP laid down next to him and looked up….
“Uhhhh….Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, I think Fezz found something.”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter on Saturday
“Fascinating…” Maddie gasped in awe of the surroundings “….simply fascinating!” As Lady Patch attended to the prone XO, Maddie began to comb every inch of the structure.

“A temple complex of some sort I’d warrant…” she murmered, half to herself, half to the crew “…the construction bears a strong resemblence to….no, no, no, that can’t be…”

“Can’t be what?” inquired a perturbed Ezra, wringing out his jacket. He was quite flustered from his seemingly “dashing” fumble.

“Well, this pillar-lintel-corbel scheme is quite unique to East-Indian architecture, but, that would suggest…” Maddie trailed off.

“Suggest what!!?” Ezra exclaimed, his patience waning by the minute.

Maddie contemplated the ramifications of this discovery. She shuddered at the multitutude of possibilities, each more disturbing than the next. “Ermmm, nothing, nothing” she finally replied “Simply thinking aloud! Let’s explore this structure for the present, try to find any glyphs or markings that might help to indicate our whereabouts. Meanwhile, I’ll attempt to contact the Captain and inform him of our findings.”
Maddie detached a small two-way radio from her belt “Captain, this is the Chief, over.” Silence. “Captain, I repeat, Captain, this is Chief Phillips-Carter requesting immeadiate response, over.” There was a *beep*, followed by some garbled static…through the static Maddie swore she heard a bone chilling wail…then…silence.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on Sunday
At the sound of the wail from the radio, Ezra stopped fussing with his damp clothing, rushed to his kit bag, lying on the floor where he had fallen and after a brief search pulled out a neatly folded, yet somehow still crumpled, sheet of paper.
He scanned down it, moving his lips as he read, stopped at one point to consult his pocket watch, then dug out two 5-Peanut coins [Casino chips which the Captain had found somewhere on the Queen Bran and promptly instituted as the currency used for paying the crew, the cheap bastard… Umm, logistical genius that he was] and flipped them to Lady Patch.

“Good show,’ he said “you picked 5 minutes 37 seconds on the ‘First Victim in the Cave-of-Death’ pool. You were late by” quick calculation, involving both hands and one foot…
[It’s an accident of birth, and normally completely covered by his shoes…. It doesn’t make him a freak, so stop looking at him like that!]
… “18 seconds, but your time was closest.”

He turned to Maddie and the Marines,”Pay up Gentlemen, Maddie…That’s 10-P to the Medic!”
As the men grumbled and dug for their coins, Ezra wandered about the room, this time watching where he was going, so as not to fall… yet again.
In an alcove carved into the far side of one of the pillars he found a collection of odd books.
He turned and called to Maddie,”Chief Philips-Carter, maybe you should come take a look at this.”
He picked up one of the books as she came over and flipped through the pages, noting the strange, flowing script and odd little drawings.
As he leaned closer to try and make out the writing a little better, Maddie rounded the pillar, took one look and with a sharp, startled intake of breath and unceremoniously slapped the book from his hands.

She grabbed him by the still damp lapels shoved him against the wall and demanded, her voice raising in pitch and hysterical force with every word,
“Where did you get that book? No, wait, first, You didn’t Lick it at all, did you? Tell me you Didn’t Lick IT!”
“I foun…” He stopped mid-word and and did a classic Three Stooges double-take,
“I’m sorry, but…Lick it? Did you just ask me if I Licked an ancient, spooky, not particularly clean looking book I found stuck in a pillar in a lower branch of the Cave of Despair?!?”

He pondered for a moment..
“…Because, No, I didn’t… I’m sure of it.’

He bobbed his head decisively and said,

“Definitely NO….Ummm, Why?”

She gave him a penetrating look, assessing the truth of his statement as if their very lives depended on it, holding the gaze for several long seconds and then turned, stooped and picked up the book.

“Ermmm, nothing, nothing” she replied, in a quiet, once more controlled voice. She stood and wandered away, engrossed in the ancient, mysterious pages, “Simply thinking aloud…”

“She says that a lot,” he muttered under his breath as he went to a broken pile of rocks and sat out of the way so she could pace back and forth and flip excitedly through the tome in peace.
As he sat there, waiting for the next undoubtedly complicated and interesting post in response to this one, explaining all the arcane details he was unclear about, he pondered recent events…

“Heh, Maddie and the Marines… that would make a good band name… That or a really Naughty story title.”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Sunday
The three remaining marines left behind with Operations Officer Mara hesitated only a moment, the Captain and one of their brothers-in-arms had obviously suffered some sort of mishap and Officer Mara seemed intent on making a cup of tea and considering the situation first before doing anything rash. Obviously that was the sensible thing to do under the circumstances but the marines were not by nature sensible. They were men of action and rash was their middle name, which was quite a coincidence really, all three of them having the same middle name… but I digress. They quickly ran to the tunnel mouth and examined what appeared to be a cave-in.
The ranking marine snapped, “Officer Mara’s mining gear, quick, ask her if it could help us clear a path through this debris!” One of the other marines ran the 20 yards back to where Mara had just been boiling a camp kettle to ask for her assistance only to find… nothing. The marine anxiously looked in all directions but saw no sign of her. Just then the kettle came to a boil and started to whistle, and Mara’s cup rolled to a stop up against the marine’s boot as if she had only just dropped it seconds ago…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Sunday
Captain Forlath Grey recovered consciousness with a pounding headache and the sound of a high pitched keening in his ears that set his teeth on edge. “Oh do put a sock in it you big baby” Forlath complained to the marine laying on the ground five feet from Forlath’s foot. “You’d think you had never fallen 20 feet head first before”. When the marine didn’t respond Forlath crawled over to the prone figure on his hands and knees and pulled him over on his back. “Son of a biscuit…” Forlath groaned. The marine was out cold with a nasty gash to his forehead. Forlath tried to find the man’s pulse by putting two fingers to the side of his throat… with no success. It wasn’t as easy as it looked on Star Trek. Forlath put the back of his hand just under the Marine’s nose instead, well thank goodness for that anyway, he was still breathing.
Forlath looked about in the dimly lit room, it was hard to make out much detail but there was some sort of light source nearby that much was certain. He looked back up the way they had come, nothing but darkness and sheer stone walls, no way they were going back that way, nothing for it but to go onwards. “Is it head injuries or hangnail cases you’re not supposed to move?” Forlath asked of no one in particular as he stuck his cane in his belt and lifted the marine up into a fireman’s carry “Jiminy Crickets! What did you have for breakfast, bricks??” With the fireman over his shoulder Forlath slowly made his way along the passageway toward the light source, occasionally wincing from the strain on his bad leg. Forlath thought to himself as he staggered down the hall “I wonder if I at least won the ‘first person to land flat on his back’ pool…?”

Reply by Lady Elizabeth Patch on Monday
Sitting on the floor only half listening to OX and Maddie, LP sot to occupy herself with a small game of marbles….”And why not,” She happily mumbled to herself. “Seems a shame to let this lovey smooth floor go to waist.” LP Leaned down so that her cheek could rub against the cool tiles….Almost close to the floor as if she were about to caress it…lovingly…she stopped just an inch above the surface….and listened…Someone screamed…She quickly sat up and looked to the pair canoodling over a book….or rocks? Over something…don’t mind the details…as someone just screamed….
“Whats that?” She asked them. The same noise sounded behind her….
Turning round LP saw a door way…was it the one they came through? Or a new one? She simply couldn’t remember. Not thinking much of it…or much at all, LP picked up her marbles…and headed towards the doorway and peeked through it….
Just as she were about to turn back and ask Maddie which way was which, she herd a shuffling noise…and then someone mumbling a comment about rocks or some such….
“Hullo?” Long pause…..
“Hullo anyone there?” More shuffling and a grunt….LP perked up and decided…Yup, who ever must be shy….And walked into the darkness…
“I say!” (mans voice)

LP grabbed onto what ever or whom ever she smacked into upon entering the darkened hall trying her best not to tumble….only she didn’t expect two someones…and one of those someones to land right a top her person….effectivly cementing her to the floor….
Looking up, the light from the pillared room shown on his wary face….
“Why Cappi-tan! It’s you!” She said with a muffle as the limp man half covered her face.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Monday
Forlath rounded the corner and followed the passageway as it descended deeper into the bowels of the earth, or the bowels of whatever this world was called. Actually, now that Forlath considered it, the descending into bowels things in general had a certain unappetizing ring to it. “How about we just say that I’m walking along a passageway with a pronounced sloping gradient” Forlath thought to himself. The light source was definitely coming from up ahead. Forlath staggered under the weight of the marine over his shoulder. Sweat was beading up on Forlath’s forehead and trickling down his back in a most unpleasant fashion. “Again,” huffed Forlath “never an elevator when you need one.”
Forlath carefully watched his footing as he placed one foot slowly after the other. If they were to stumble and fall now Forlath wasn’t sure he would be able to get them both back up again. The light seemed much brighter, Captain Forlath looked up from the floor to find he and the marine were now in an octagonal room with a doorway on four sides including the one they had just come through. The light seemed to be emanating from a mesh basket full of crystals suspended by a chain from the center of the raised ceiling above their heads. Before Forlath had a chance to consider the significance of that information, he was sure he heard voices coming from the corridor to his right hand side. Was somebody shouting? Forlath headed as quickly as he could down that hallway only to bump into someone, stumble, lose his balance and before he could stop – the unconscious marine slipped out of his hands to land right on top of… Lady Patch. Forlath, completely flabbergasted said the first thing to come to mind “I say…”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Monday
Forlath quickly kneeled down and attempted to free Lady Patch. Greatly relieved to see a friendly albeit somewhat pained face Forlath eagerly asked where the others were. Lady Patch managed to free an arm and point back up the hallway from whence she came. Forlath looked up the hallway… just in time to see a stone door slide down and block Lady Patch’s point of entrance. To which Forlath responded in an extremely annoyed tone of voice “why am I not surprised?”

On the other side of the door XO Ezra, Chief Madelaine and the marines had also noticed the stone door slide shut where Lady Patch had just gone through. Thinking quickly, Corporal Chemisesrouges grabbed the rifle out of the hands of the closest marine and threw it bouncing and splashing across the floor into the doorway where they had entered the pillared room just as a stone door started sliding down there as well. The door slid shut with a thud, a slight gap the width of a rifle butt between it and the floor. Suddenly the group heard the sound of stone grinding against stone as the ceiling slowly started to descend down the slotted pillars towards the floor.
Meanwhile, back onboard the Queen Bran’s Revenge the current acting Watch Commander Chief Petty Officer Camisaroja took his pocket watch out of his waistcoat pocket and checked the time. Approximately twenty minutes since the landing part had left the airship, a good two and a half hours yet before they were to check in. At this rate, it looked to be a quiet morning…

Reply by The one Foretold yesterday
A pervading never ending darkness……….Breathing, deep, resonating, breathing…………….Who, more importantly what? his mind a kaleidoscope of contradicting images.
Crawling on his hands and knees, gently feeling his way through this humid hell,he chooses and advances.
For how long? Years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds…….They are of no consepuence in this existance. The nameless scurrying creatures are sustenance along with the condensation, rusty, metallic condensation…………The darkness never ends.
At one point, an experience outside the present norm, almost decompression, explosive decompression followed by an echo of an idea of a sentance, “GET AWAY FROM HER YOU B****”, in his head they made no sense.

Suddenly, on the edge of darkness, a lesser darkness. Advancing more light……………His surrounding now more grey than black. His pace picks up, A cool gentle breeze refreshes him.
A thundering omnipresent voice causes him to cower, and try to burrow into the surrounding pipes. “DROP SHIP AWAY IN T MINUS 3 AND COUNTING”

He must continue, to stop is to die. onward, ever onward, and then………Nothing, no way forward no way back. Light streaks in through the cracks….NO, this is not how it will end. Flinging his fists against the blockage, he pounds his defiance, NO.NO.NO.NO.NONONONONONONONONON. CRACK………

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Captain Forlath Grey pushed at the stone slab separating them from the other members of the party. It was no use, it wouldn’t budge. Forlath glanced back at the marine now propped up against a wall, somewhat worse for wear and at Lady Patch who had produced some colored chalks from somewhere and was currently drawing on the hewn stone wall. “Now what?” The Captain thought to himself.
After a moment’s consideration, he made sure his cane was secure in his belt (this cane was specially made by the Chief to his exact specifications, he wasn’t about to just leave it behind), and laboriously picked the still unconscious marine back up into a fireman’s carry. The Captain invited Lady Patch to accompany them and made his way back into the octagonal room. The room now had seven doorways to choose from excluding the one they had just entered from. Forlath stood for a moment fully perplexed. Weren’t there only four doorways a moment ago?
Forlath regarded the assortment of doorways somewhat accusingly. “Well I got nothing,” Forlath said to Lady Patch “which doorway do you fancy?” Lady Patch thought for a moment, her eyes lit up, she reached into a pocket and pulled out a somewhat dog eared spinner board from an old Twister game, laid it on the ground at the center of the room and flicked the little plastic arrow with her index finger. The arrow spun around a few times, slowed down and came to a stop, pointing at one of the doorways. Forlath gave a shrug and headed down the indicated hallway, marine on his shoulder and Lady Patch in tow.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
On the other side of the stone slab Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, XO Ezra Yesterday and the marines were frantically searching for a way out of the pillared room as the ceiling continued to slowly grind its way down to the floor. Three of the marines had their fingers under the door held slightly open by the rifle stock, they heaved with all their might but still they could not lift it more than a fraction of an inch. While the corporal and the other marine pushed at the slab blocking the hallway Lady Patch had gone through, the XO fretfully pushed and pulled at stones along the walls, hoping to find another egress.

While the men were thusly engaged, the Chief stood in contemplation as if doing mental arithmetic. The XO glanced over, noticed the Chief standing in the center of the room and shouted over the sound of grinding stone. “Maddie! Feel free to assist us in our efforts however futile they may, assuming of course you have no other more pressing engagements!”

Maddie looked over at the XO, smiled, fired up the mining contraption on her back and used it to break up the flagstones at her feet, creating a gaping hole in the floor and revealing the source of the water brimming over into the bottom of the pillared room. The Chief put two fingers to her lips and let loose a shrill, piercing whistle causing the marines to stop and look in her direction. Without a word, Madelaine threw aside her mining equipment, put her index finger and thumb to her nose and dropped feet first into the dark water. The marines hesitated only a second before they threw aside their rifles and any other bulky equipment and jumped in succession after the Chief Engineering Officer into the icy cold water below.
The XO shook his head, cursed his luck that he had forgotten his diving goggles and dove headfirst into the water only seconds before the ceiling crashed the rest of the way down to floor crushing everything left behind in the room into mangled fragments…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Mara’s eyelids fluttered as she woke from a lovely dream she was having about a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. Bees buzzed in amongst the flowers on the side of the back steps where she sat, birds sang in the trees, a warm breeze played with her hair, and then all went quiet as the Earth started to shake. EARTHQUAKE… Mara sat bolt upright. Something had grabbed her back in the cavern, everything had gone black and now… now Mara gawked in amazement at her current surroundings. She jumped to her feet and slapped away the things that were buzzing around her head, had been pulling at her hair and currently were scuttling away from her jumping feet.

Mara stopped, took a deep breath and looked down at the floor and stifled a gasp. Looking back at her with a wide assortment of visual stimuli recording apparatuses, was a large collection of small, mechanical, apparently wind up, clockwork, metal creatures. A few of the automatons floated in the air about her on mechanical wings and propellers of assorted kinds. One of the machines even looked like a tiny airship floating three feet in front of her at head level regarding her in quiet consideration.

Mara tore her attention away from the automatons and looked out over the rest of the room. She was standing next to an overstuffed leather sofa where she had until just recently been reclining. The sofa was located on a landing, at the top of metal stairs that curved up alongside a floor to ceiling rich, dark, wooden bookcase filled with tomes of various types and sizes on one side and an ornate, shiny, brass railing separating the stairs from the rest of the room on the other.

The main room was carpeted in Persian style rugs, detailed in complex, geometrical patterns. Tapestries and thick, plush draperies hung down to the floor at various locations throughout the room from the ceiling a good thirty feet high. What appeared to be gas lamps were ensconced along the walls at regular intervals. The main light source giving the room a warm glow appeared to be some sort of large crystal candelabra type fixture hanging from the center of the high ceiling.

The center of the room was dominated by what resembled a moving, twirling, mechanical planetarium. The vast machine seemed to be in constant motion with brass gears visibly turning and round objects following elliptical orbits swinging around the device on arms of diverse lengths and sizes at various speeds. Levers and knobs were visible at numerous locations along the base of the device and at elevated platforms and for all its girth and activity the device was relatively quiet, with only the sound of whirring objects audible to compete with the beeping and clanking of the crowd of automatons at Mara’s feet.

Mara looked at the room in astonishment and thought to herself “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Reply by Mara Fantoccini 23 hours ago
The room was beautiful.
It made her feel somehow at ease, after abruptly awakening from an unsettling dream, which culminated in an earthquake.
Mara trembled slightly at the remembrance of it, brushed it from her mind. and continued surveying her surroundings.
Having been a puppeteer in her previous life, even the small clock-work beings that surrounded her were comforting in a way.
But she missed her comrades
Her heart warmed at the memory of them.
She had to find a way back

She tried clicking her heels together, but to no avail.
“I guess that only works in stories” she mused, “plus, it helps if one is wearing shoes, I guess” she added as she looked down at her bare feet, wondering where her shoes had gone.

“Now, let me see, I was in a cave, searching for…..dilithium! Yes, that was it, I was with the away team looking for crystals, when……..?” her mind went blank. She could not remember anything after that.

The small mechanicals were whirring about her as if to tell her something, but she was trying determinedly to recall what had happened next.
‘Maybe there is a clue here amongst these books’ she thought.

One of the slightly larger automatons pulled a book from the bottom shelf and began dragging it towards her.
It stopped at her feet, made a few short beeps, and released the book.
She bent down, picked it up and dusted off it’s leather cover with the corner of her skirt.
There was no title on the cover, nor an author.
She opened it carefully.

There were mysterious drawings, and cryptic writings inside.
Scrawled in the margin, in capital letters it read

“This just gets curiouser and curiouser!’’ cried Mara (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English.)

“Should I disregard the warning and just ever so slightly touch the tip of my tongue to the page” she thought aloud.
Like Pandora and the box, it was tempting, to say the least.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 7 hours ago
Just at that moment a voice boomed up the stairs “young lady, either you’re touched or just plain thick. What part of ‘don’t lick’ do you not understand?” Mara startled by the voice dropped the book to the landing and looked toward the voice. Standing at the bottom of the stairs holding a tray with a tea kettle and what appeared to be assorted (hopefully) non-sentient pastry goods, was a short, stout figure, wearing a smoking jacket, a floppy felt hat with a bell at the end and a white beard that descended past his knees.

Mara gaped in astonishment and mild embarrassment “I, I… um…” Mara started. “…Weren’t using the brains the gods gave you for anything other than a hat rack. Yes, I could see that.” The dwarfish figure rejoined. He started climbing the stairs and Mara retorted with the first thing that came to mind “why did you abduct me!” The dwarfish figure stopped on the stair and chuckled ruefully “you can thank your little friends there for that” and nodded towards the automatons milling about Mara’s feet. “I had nothing to do with it” and with that he continued up the stairs toward the landing.
As he came to the top of the landing, Mara backed up somewhat nervously. The dwarfish figure came to just about chest height but for all his shortness he was at least three times the girth of Mara. “Why, why did they bring me here?” She quavered. He placed the tray on a side table next to the sofa and said “the automatons are a law unto themselves I’m afraid. I did not make them. I, shall we say… inherited them with my duties as warder of these chambers. Supposedly the engineers of the Divergent Worlds Machine,” with that the Warder indicated the device in the center of the room “made them as a what? As a diversion, as toys, just because they could? I can not say for certain but I have a sneaking suspicion that at this point they are making themselves judging by the numbers of them always under foot!” With that he scowled at the collection of contraptions, all of which somehow contrived to look nonchalant just at that moment.

The analytical portion of Mara’s mind kicked in at the words ‘Divergent Worlds Machine’ and she interjected “what do you mean divergent, what does that machine do?” The Warder glanced fondly at the machine and then back to Mara “Ah, she is a beauty isn’t she. We’ve lost the ability to build like that these days I’m afraid. That was the work of the Engineers. The clue is in the name, it tracks the paths of nearby divergent worlds.” He looked at Mara expectantly “you are of course familiar with the theory of the universal wavefunction?” Mara returned his gaze blankly. The Warder sighed and continued “the many-worlds interpretation maintains the objective reality of universal wavefunction without the actuality of wavefunction collapse to put it plainly that all possible worlds that can exist, do exist and this machine tracks those in our section of the aether.”
Mara gazed back at the device in wonder, could this machine be the key to getting them back home to their suffering world? Did they even want to go back? She nibbled nervously at one of the pastries (old habits die hard), she wished she could talk to the others about the ramifications involved here. For that matter, she wondered where the rest of her companions were right at this moment…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 6 hours ago
Forlath and Lady Patch had been trudging along the roughhewn passage for what seemed like hours, or in real time about ten minutes, when the hallway they had been following opened up into what looked remarkably reminiscent of a subway platform. More baskets of the luminescent crystals hanging at intervals served to light up the platform. There just ahead was an ornate, lit up, trolley car, with the passenger door open and ready for boarding.

Forlath and Lady Patch looked at each other, shrugged and boarded the trolley. Forlath set the marine he had been carrying down on one of the seats and stood and stretched his sore shoulder. Just then Lady Patch now at the operator’s station, shouted out “all ashore that’s going ashore!” Forlath turned his head just in time to see her close the door and push forward the engage lever. The trolley shook as the wheels caught and then began turning, propelling the trolley along the tracks into the darkened tunnel ahead…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 4 hours ago
First Chief Madelaine, then the marines one after the other, and finally XO Ezra surfaced in the pool gasping, their lungs aching from oxygen deficit. It had been a close thing finding the fissure in the underwater cave wall, beneath the pillared room that lead to this chamber. The XO had seen spots in front of his eyes just before he surfaced, one more minute and they might have drowned down there, becoming permanent additions to this ‘promising geological formation’.

The XO glanced around the chamber they found themselves in. Huge statues of reptilians with way too many teeth, looking way too pleased with themselves adorned the walls surrounding the pool. The group made their way out of the water, feeling slightly uneasy under the stony glaze.
Corporal Chemisesrouges checked his pistol, made a disgusted noise and holstered it again. “The powder’s wet,” the Corporal whispered “unless we intend to use them as projectiles, our firearms are useless for the foreseeable future.” The Corporal drew his cutlass and the other four royal marines followed suit. Something about the figures on the wall put everyone on edge…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 2 hours ago
Mara turned from the Divergent Worlds Machine back to the Warder and said insistently “I thank you for your hospitality but why am I here and more importantly how do I find my way back to my friends?” The Warder paused, tilted his head to one side and said “young lady, I’ve already told you that the automatons brought you here. As to why, I can only presume they felt you were in danger or perhaps damaged in some way? As to returning to your friends, down at the bottom of the stairs on the left is a personnel chute to the upper levels but I warn you, my people are not the only residents of these depths. Some of the denizens are nasty beyond comprehension and they are only a fraction as malevolent as the ghastly creatures they worship. I urge you to curb your youthful exuberance and rein in your impatience to return to your friends. There is much to discuss before you go running helter-skelter back out into those caverns.”

Three minutes later Mara was in a brass reinforced glass lift, elevating to the upper levels at speed. Mara had been conflicted; she knew the Warder was speaking sense. The automatons tugging at her legs not to go hadn’t made the decision any easier but her friends needed her. Her only hope was that she wasn’t too late and that she would know what to do when she found them again. As the pneumatic lift rocketed through its glass tube through chambers and caverns, a thought occurred to her that made her chuckle “if I didn’t know better I’d say the Warder was almost as short as Chief Maddie!”

Reply by Mara Fantoccini 36 minutes ago
As she hurtled along the chute, not knowing where she would end up, Mara contemplated the Divergent World machine and what the dwarfish sage had tried to explain to her.

“I am confused. I wish he had put it simpler.” she thought.

“When he said ‘many worlds’ did he mean many alternative realities, all occurring simultaneously, depending on what actions are taken that then lead to many different outcomes?”

“In other words, where I am now, is only one branch of my realities. In another branch I may now be with my friends, dependant on what choices each of us had made?”

She wrinkled her forehead, trying very hard to suss this out.
“If there are multiple possibilities, there are multiple realities which would mean, in theory, multiple worlds all existing in the same time frame?”
Again, she attempted to wrap her mind around this, it was times like this she wished she were smarter.
“I wonder if this has anything to do with other dimensions?” she said aloud, “because my friend Maddie knows a lot about such things, and some of what she tells is scary…unless of course it is just the gin talking.”
Her head was starting to hurt from an overload of thought.

It is or was, she was now completely confused, very difficult to leave, what with all the little automatons clinging to her. And what did he say, the old man? They felt I was damaged? What did that mean?
She changed her train of thought, as it had already derailed anyway.
Where were her shoes?

What had happened to the Captain and the away team?
Had those who were left in sick bay recovered, she worried?
She missed them terribly, especially….
The capsule she was in started to move even faster. She was frightened, so she closed her eyes and started to sing to herself. It always seemed to calm her.

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination” she hummed the parts she couldn’t remember “…if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it
anything you want to, do it, want to change the world? There’s nothing to it”
She felt a tug on her skirt hem. It was the little automaton that had brought her the book.
She smiled, happy to have the company.

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter on Wednesday
Maddie shivered. There was something eerily familiar about the beastly statues that adorned the walls of the underground vault. Naga she thought to herself…The East-Indian architecture might suggest that, but the Naga were an earthly race, and much more serpentine, so the legends go…she would have to give this some more thought, but for now, more pressing matters were at hand.
“Gentlemen” she said at last, addressing her bone drenched and miserable companions “This sodden gear is of no use to us, no good at all…If we keep going in this state we could all end up with trenchfoot or worse. I would suggest, despite our current situation, we stop for a spell and make camp.” The XO and marines nodded in agreement. Corporal Chemisesrouges set about making a fire with debris scavenged from the subterranean vault; strange lichens scraped from the cavern walls, which, when tested, proved to be quite flammable. It was a small, pitiful fire, which produced a queer, rather phospherescent light, but it would have to do.
Maddie warmed her hands by the fire, sipping from a flask of gin, which she offered up to her companions, each taking a swig for added warmth. Her mind drifted back to the reptilian carvings…think…think Maddie… As she struggled with her thoughts, a poem crept into her mind…

“A reservoir of darkness, black
As witches’ cauldrons are, when fill’d
With moon-drugs in th’ eclipse distill’d.
Leaning to look if foot might pass
Down thro’ that chasm, I saw, beneath,
As far as vision could explore,
The jetty sides as smooth as glass,
Looking as if just varnish’d o’er
With that dark pitch the Sea of Death
Throws out upon its slimy shore.”

That’s it, that’s it! The Nameless City….Ezra and that damnable book…it was all starting to make sense now…perhaps?
“No, no, no, it can’t be!!!” she cried aloud, her outburst causing her companions to turn to her with concern. “Can’t be what Chief?” Corporal Chemisesrouges asked, knitting his brow in confusion. A look of horror passed over Madelaines face “Valusians!!!” she whispered, blanching white with fear.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Thursday
The pneumatic lift came to an abrupt stop and the door slid open with a slight hiss. Mara with her little escort tucked in a pocket, cautiously stepped out and glanced about. The door snapped shut behind them and the glass lift shot up the tube back the way it came. Mara watched it disappear and then inspected her current surroundings with the Warder’s words still ringing in her ears. Were the automatons originally constructed by the Engineers for repair and restoration, to keep their creations running long after they were gone? If so, why would they think she was damaged and perhaps even more troubling, how were they intending to ‘repair’ her? Surely they realized she was a biological entity and not one of them… Surely?
Mara found herself on what looked like a deserted subway stop reminiscent of the forgotten stations on the London Underground that one occasionally read about. She looked around wondering what her next step should be. Before she could decide, Mara noticed an increasingly audible clickity clack noise coming from the tunnel at the end of the station. Mara, somewhat puzzled and slightly anxious, stepped closer to the edge of the platform. Suddenly with a gust of wind that swirled old flyers and other rubbish about the platform, what appeared to be a well lit, Victorian era trolley car swept into the station and screeched to halt, the metal wheels throwing up sparks on the rails as it stopped. The passenger door swung open to a smiling Lady Patch wearing a conductor’s hat. Mara stared, mouth open. Lady Patch laughed and called out “all aboard!”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Thursday

Meanwhile back aboard the Queen Bran’s Revenge the on duty Helmsman called over acting Watch Commander Chief Petty Officer Camisaroja. “Yes what is it AB ??????? ????????” “Sir,” she replied “something large has just appeared in our airspace and is rapidly headed in our direction!” Chief Petty Officer Camisaroja quickly checked the radar screen and then took out his telescope and went to the window. The Chief Petty Officer swore as only a seaman can at what he saw. At his nod the Helmsman threw the switch for General Quarters. As the klaxons started to sound about the ship the Chief Petty Officer thought to himself “so much for my quiet morning…”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on Thursday
As they preparations for the camp were nearly complete, one of the the marines suddenly looked at Ezra, who was still damp from his most recent swim and just heading toward the fire to try and dry off, and said in a suspicious, judgmental voice,”Allright, what’s that then?”
Ezra, missing the tone of voice completely, froze in place and said, with equal parts dread and resignation,
“What? No don’t tell me, there’s a huge wall of water heading our way, isn’t there?” He sighed, then continued, in a normal tone at first but with his voice becoming gradually louder “It’s rushing at my back as we speak, Isn’t it? Yes, I’m sure its back there, ready to engulf me and drag me back to the sodden depths, once more to test my swimming skills and, Oh I dont know, general absorbancy?… in some colossal cosmic slapstick joke at my expense.’

He became suddenly resolute in manner, straightening to his full, considerable height.
“Well I will not stand for it, I tell you!,’ he said, suddenly all clenched jaw and steely intensity,
“Listen very carefully, marine, who’s name I suddenly realize I havn’t managed to learn yet… Because, well you know, we have been running constantly for like, what 45 minutes now? Never mind, I’m sure to have liked you had I bothered to get to know you. I want you to shoot me before it gets here, do you understand? No way am I letting this place take me alive!”
The marine was quite taken aback by this outburst, leaning backward just a bit during the crazier parts, then leaning forward again conspiratorially once Ezra had wound down, and said in a dry tone,

[Dry tone!… Get it?… See? Who says marines don’t have a sense of humor?]
“Ummmm, sir! First of all,’ he said ticking off fingers as he went, “I’m not at all sure what you are talking about… there is no water heading your way. Secondly, my name is Marion, and I have an intense dislike of authority figures who I can beat up, so let’s just cut this short before I get demoted again, shall we?” he paused and gave Ezra a cold, dead eyed stare, to all appearances simply for the intimidation factor, then continued,
” And finally, IF your hysterics are quite over now…… sir…. I was asking why your shirt is suddenly flashing all different colors like that?”
Ezra lookd down and noticed, sure enough, the shirt he was wearing was flashing through every colour of the rainbow, and [as Maddie alone noted] one or two out of space as well.

“Not sure why it would be doing that,’ he murmured to himself as he wandered away from disturbing, angry Marion and his soon to be over cameo and sat on a conveniently placed rock to peruse the [damp of course] owners manual that had come with the shirt.
He was just getting to the good parts when Maddie exclaimed “Velvetans!” Which seemed an odd thing to say… Now that he thought about it, it was a Very odd thing to say, but then that was Maddie. He shrugged and went back to his reading, found the sub-sub paragraph and section he needed, then shot to his feet and said

“Hey Everyone, listen up! We have trouble… Wait, let me rephrase… We now have even more trouble than being stuck in Satans Water Closet.. The Queen Bran is under attack!”
As he looked around the room at the stunned, suddenly still faces, a horrible realization hit him like a kick in the stomach. [ Actually, the much lower extreme of the stomach region… really more at the juncture where the leg meets the body, truth be told]
*Cue dramatic end of episode music*

It would now likely be several more posts before the mystery of the random, incomprehensible and largely unneeded [apparent] ban on the licking of eldritch tomes would at last be addressed.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Friday
Casey’s eyes snapped opened, there it was again. A deep rumbling noise sent vibrations through Casey’s gurney. Casey struggled to sit up. He found himself in sickbay. Orderlies were rushing about the bay sporadically stumbling as the ship shuddered to booming reverberations. “We’re under attack” the realization hit Casey. He looked down at the IV in his arm and the monitoring leads attached to his chest. He ripped them off, holding a washcloth from a basin next to his bed to his forearm to staunch the bleeding from the IV entry point.
Casey swung his legs over the edge of the bed and attempted to stand up; he was feeling weak and nauseas. An orderly rushed over “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to please return to your bed immediately!” Casey brushed him aside and stumbled towards his quarters. He needed to get to the Bridge, he needed to find out what was going on, he needed to organize the defense of the ship but most importantly, he needed to put on trousers

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Friday
Maddie, sitting alongside the fire, glass of gin in hand, was engrossed in said book.
She had encountered a book like this before on one of her many adventures.
“If she could only decode those strange symbols,” she thought.
She suddenly sat up, alert.
“What was that?” she whispered.
She put her fingers to her lips “Shhhh….”
A moan was heard. Then a thud.
They all turned as Marion slumped to the floor in a dead faint.
So much for his bravado.
Glancing ‘round the room they realized what had caused Marion’s now unconscious state.
They were surrounded. How had no one noticed this?
Could it have been the fire that drew them there,
or perhaps Ezra’s flashing shirt?
Either way, they were surrounded.
Yet the creatures just stood motionless.
“Why aren’t they attacking? What are they waiting for?”
Ezra, now standing next to Maddie, exclaimed.
Their attention was momentarily drawn away by
the concentric circlets now rippling about the surface of Maddie’s glass of gin.
Maddie and Ezra exchanged glances.
Emerging from one of the cavern’s many passageways it came.
Words alone could not describe how horrendous and , well, purple it was!!!

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Friday
Mara was elated to see two of her friends.
She ran over and grabbing LP’s hands they both jumped up and down in delight.
“Oh, Captain” she immediately let go of LP and snapped to attention, hand to brow in salute.
“At ease, officer” spoke the Captain, “I want a full report on your whereabouts when we return to the ship.”
He continued, “we will make camp here for the night and in the morning we must find our way back to the rendevous point.”
“What about the others?” LP asked.
The Captain just shook his head, “if they are not there when we arrive, we will have to leave them, I’m afraid. The Revenge is under attack and communications are off line at present.”
“You two better get some sleep” he added, “I will keep watch.”
LP, now completely exhausted, curled up next to the fire and immediately fell asleep.
Next to LP lay Corporal Chemisesrouges, still unconscious.
Mara, not feeling tired at all and for some unknown reason never seemed to have a need for sleep, wandered away from the fire.
“Where are you going, officer?” the Captain barked.
“Just thought I’d take a little walk about, sir. I can’t seem to sleep.”
“Carry on then” the Captain’s voice now gentle, “but don’t stray to far.”
Mara wandered away from the fire’s light and began to pace..
She needed to think.
The words echoed in her brain…she’s damaged and needs repair.
She looked down at her still bare feet and wiggled her toes.
She proceeded to gaze at her hands, then placed them on her face tracing her features with her fingertips.
Her mind raced. Am I a machine? No, I can’t be, she reasoned, I have feelings.
Would a machine care? Could a machine love?
It was too upsetting.
She glanced back at her companions..
Lady Elizabeth was so sweet and kind and pretty, she thought to herself.
Our Captain- brave, stalwart, a bit wordy at times but she admired that, and he was always nicely groomed.
She smiled.
Where are the others? It worried her.
Maddie was courageous, level headed and reliable. She could take care of herself and a host of others as well.
Ezra, well she didn’t really know him that well as yet. A reconstituted mummy. At least he wore clothes now. She wondered if he still wore those gold lamé panties under his trousers? She giggled at the thought.
Then her eyes clouded.
What of those aboard ship?
Had Luke recovered from his ordeal with the dough?
What had happened to Erik and Zack?
And, Casey. She missed him most of all. She remembered their long three way onversations with Gordon.
Alas, poor Gordon, I knew him well.
Gordon would refuse to speak to Casey directly. Instead he would have her relate his responses to the then Chef Casey.
Casey would then reply to her, which angered Gordon, but what didn’t anger Gordon, she thought with a smile.
“%!@?# or &*#$@*! Casey” Gordon would say “Just because I refuse to speak to you, doesn’t mean I am @$$#*! deaf!”
Gordon had such a way with words, and he was head and partial left shoulder above most other chefs, but not above Casey.
Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted by the Captain’s voice.
“You had best come and get some sleep” he motioned at her, “and that’s an order!”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Friday
Captain Forlath Grey stared into the fire deep in thought. His mind was a twirl with the rush of recent events and trying to sort through them all was a challenge. As he chewed on the tip of his unlit pipe, with his cane leaning against his thigh, Forlath considered. First off how had Mara come to so coincidently be on that subway platform just as they had rolled up? Where had she been and why was she barefoot?
That was the least of the things troubling the Captain, his list of worries went on. Where had the unconscious Corporal Chemisesrouges suddenly appeared from? Was Forlath now expected to carry the Corporal and the unconscious royal marine from the cave-in? “The poor guy has been dropped on his head half a dozen times at least,” Captain Grey thought to himself, “at least the reason he’s still unconscious isn’t a mystery.”
But what was still a mystery was how did Forlath know the airship was under attack, gut instinct? Well regardless, there was nothing the landing party could do about it now. They were all trapped planet side until they could find a way out of these caves and their primary objective still needed to be met regardless of current circumstances. Some joker had decided the airship would run on dilithium crystals so now they had no choice but to find some of the blasted crystals otherwise this whole shambles of a mission will have been for naught.
Two final thoughts nagged at the Captain, firstly why did he have thoughts of hitting purple dinosaurs with baseball bats running through his head and secondly why had they left the trolley car to set up camp for the night when it was still only like 10 o’clock in the morning??? Forlath continued to stare into the fire, troubling thoughts indeed…

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Friday
Time and reality was forever shifting in these caverns.
It could be 10 o’clock in the morning and BAM! suddenly it was evening.
You could be here one minute and somewhere else the next.
It made for some very interesting moments, to say the least.
Perhaps deposits of granite and quartz within the chambers were causing hallucinations?
High magnetic fields could be the cause, and the Quartz could also be transmitting radio signals.
Or, was there something much more diabolical at work??????
Nevertheless, even with having so much to contend with, our fearless Captain held it all together.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 19 hours ago

Lady Elisabeth Patch, Operations Officer Mara Fantoccini, Captain Forlath Grey, Corporal Chemisesrouges and one other additional royal marine were currently back aboard a streetcar named ‘Where The Heck Are We’. Lady Patch was at the controls again wearing the conductor’s hat with a certain jaunty air. The night’s rest although fitful seemed to have done the marines good. Both of the soldiers were conscious again though the one was nursing a terrible headache waiting for the meds Lady Patch had given him to kick in. Corporal Chemisesrouges meanwhile seemed confused, somewhat incoherent and was as yet unable to tell the group how he had come to be with them or what had happened to Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, XO Ezra Yesterday and the other four royal marines.

The trolley car continued down the track. At times the tunnel had opened up to reveal various engineering works or what appeared to be simple maintenance structures but the group had decided to continue to follow the track until they came upon something more significant.
One bit of good news, Officer Mara while doing a function check of her converted Geiger counter that she had had strapped to her gear belt all this time (unfortunately she was still without footwear) had discovered that the crystals used as light sources practically everywhere in these caves and tunnels were actually the dilithium they had been seeking. That news had served to lift the little group’s spirits. Now with enough crystals to satisfy the ship’s needs for the foreseeable future stowed in their packs, all they needed to do was find the rest of their party, make it to the surface and return to the airship in time to aid in its defense.

“Finally,” thought the Captain to himself “perhaps now things are looking up and the worst is behind us.” A thudding noise on the roof of the trolley car interrupted the Captain’s thoughts and caused him to look up. “Did anybody else hear that…?”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 19 hours ago
“There it was again” Captain Grey said in a stage whisper as the thudding noise repeated itself on the trolley car roof. The group watched the ceiling of their conveyance anxiously. Lady Patch called back over her shoulder into the trolley from the conductor’s station “should I stop the trolley so we can check it out?” “Look out!” screamed Mara. Everyone quickly turned to face the direction of Mara’s pointed finger. There, just three feet from Lady Patch was a painted, evilly grinning face hanging upside down from the roof at the front of the trolley.
“What the hell was that?” Shouted Corporal Chemisesrouges as the face disappeared back up over the top of the trolley car. At that moment the sound of a body dropping onto the back platform of the trolley caused the other royal marine to turn around just in time to see what could only be described as a demonic clown entering the rear of the car with a wicked looking sickle in his hand. Before the marine could react the demon clown backhanded him across the face sending the marine flying backwards with a spray of blood over into the wooden bench running along the inside walls of the car. The marine rolled off the bench onto the floor of the carriage and laid still. The demon clown looked menacingly at the rest of the party, licked the edge of the bloodied sickle, grinned malevolently and advanced.

Captain Forlath’s hand went to his holster, he pulled out his service revolver but before he could bring it to bear the demon clown leapt towards Forlath, closing the distance between them in two quick bounds and knocked the revolver out of the Captain’s hand. As Forlath stumbled back, tripped over his own feet and involuntarily took a seat on the bench, Corporal Chemisesrouges threw himself at the demon clown, grabbing the arm, hand and sickle that were descending towards Forlath’s chest with deadly intent.

The sound of more conflict caused Forlath to glance towards the front of the carriage. Another of the demon clowns was currently wrestling with Lady Patch as she valiantly struggled to fight him off and control the trolley at the same time. Corporal Chemisesrouges took a sickle handle to the stomach from the demon clown and doubled over. The demon clown then kneed the Corporal in the face and the Corporal fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes. The demon clown turned back towards Forlath. The Captain saw his walking cane on the floor and dived for it for it just seconds before the sickle swung down and stuck fast into the wooden bench where Captain Grey had just been sitting…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 19 hours ago
At the front of the carriage Lady Patch had sent her attacker reeling backwards with an open palmed strike to the base of his nose. Before she could push her advantage he dropped to the floor and swept kicked Lady Patch’s legs out from under her causing her to fall back against the controls of the trolley. The demon clown, savoring the moment, approached Lady Patch anticipating her demise. Before he got the chance to finish her off, Mara shouted “hey Bozo! Get off her!” and did a running leap and grab onto one of the floor to ceiling brass poles running the length of the carriage. The grin left the demon clown’s face as the momentum of Mara’s leap swung her flying feet first right into the demon clown’s chest sending him crashing through the trolley front window and onto the rail in front of the street car. Mara landed on the floor of the trolley with a thump.
As the first demon clown struggled to wrest his sickle out of the wooden bench, Forlath grabbed his cane and rolled over on his back. The demon clown pulled his sickle free and turned towards Forlath intent on ruining the Captain’s day. Forlath pointed his cane at the demon clown center mass. The demon clown sneered cruelly and pulled back his sickle for the killing blow. “Juggle this clown boy!” Forlath pulled the trigger on his custom made 10 gauge shotgun walking cane, the blast catching the demon clown full in the chest at close range and throwing the clown violently down the entire length of the carriage to lie motionless at end of the trolley car.

The trolley car hit the demon clown obstructing the right rail of the track and heaved to one side as the body caused the trolley to tip over on its left rail wheels. The trolley screeched down the rail, the force of the trolley’s momentum pushing the trolley down the track tipped up on its left side wheels with the left edge of the roof scraping horrendously along the tunnel wall. Lady Patch pulled back on the brake with both hands and after about 50 feet the trolley finally came to a stop, teetered then fell back upright, tossing the inhabitants back to the floor.
Forlath staggered to his feet, snapped open his cane, extracted the empty shell, fished in a vest pocket, found another shell, loaded it and stumbled over to the demon clown and pulled the trigger at point blank range. “Rule number two: always double tap.”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter 16 hours agoSomething about this situation just isn’t right… Maddie mumbled to herself. Lost in thought, she gazed at the ripples stretching across the surface of her gin as the ginormous aubergine monstrosity shambled ever closer. She shifted her attention momentarily to the lizard men. Definately not Valusians she pondered…But still, there’s something strangely familiar about them….something about the tone, and texture, of their skin…And that, that, dinosaur…if it could even be classified as such, she mused… it just simply couldn’t be! As panic set in amongst her crew, Maddie struggled to keep her calm…Think, think…

Turning now to Ezra, Maddie stated in a rather matter-of-fact tone “I need to test a hypothesis…I apologize in advance” and with that she grabbed a hold of his forearm and pinched with all her might. “OUCH!” Ezra cried in shock “What the h…” “Shhhh!!!” Maddie interrupted and then, to herself “That settles that…hmmmm…what else…”
“AHA!” she cried at last “BUFOTENIN!!!!”
“What in the blue blazes are you talking about!” yelled a flustered Ezra in reply. This was becoming a trend with the Chief. She would puzzle over something, shout some cryptic phrase and never take the trouble to explain herself.
“Bufotenin is a mild neurotoxin with hallucinagenic properties, often secreted by amphibians and other reptilian creatures…The lizard-men, their skin, that damned book of yours is bound with it! It was absorbed through our skin when we touched it…”
“Great, so you mean to tell me we’re on some kind of trip? But the marines” Ezra questioned “Why are they experiencing the same reaction?”
“I don’t know” Maddie replied…”Maybe they came into contact with it through some other means…or they licked your book while you were sleeping…I don’t know!! But regardless, all of that is irrelevant right now!! It is likely that our perception is extremely altered. We need to focus on determining what is real, and what is phatasm.” “Also” she noted, scanning through the party “Where the hell is Corporal Chemisesrouges???!!!!”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 15 hours ago
As the group clambered out of the trolley, Forlath surveyed the wreckage. The trolley had seen its last journey. Without completely replacing the undercarriage there was no way the trolley would roll anywhere. That was without even considering the damage to the passenger car. The entire left side was bashed in. Forlath hoped the owners, whoever they were didn’t send him the repair bill. It looked like they were back on foot.
Lady Elizabeth ‘Sawbones’ Patch checked out the rest of the crew. Everyone had escaped with minor cuts and bruises except for the royal marine. He was in a bad way, Lady Patch believed his condition was stable but they needed to get him back to the airship. Captain Forlath felt somewhat discomfited by the fact that after all they had been through together he still had no idea what the marine’s name was. Forlath intended to ask Corporal Chemisesrouges the very next chance he got.

The Corporal was much more coherent, according to Sawbones Patch he had been under the influence of Bufotenin, a somewhat rare neurotoxin and hallucinogenic. It would account for the Corporal’s erratic behavior but still didn’t explain how he had come to be with their group. Mara spoke up “what if he just stumbled through a passageway or secret door in his drugged condition?” Forlath slapped his hand to his forehead, of course! The two groups could have been within spitting distance and not even realized it! Why hadn’t this occurred to them before??
Well, there was nothing for it but to make their way on foot back to where they had camped last night. It was the best hope they had at this point of finding the rest of the party. There was of course another concern besides the tedious chore of backtracking and carrying the marine on a stretcher made from parts of the trolley’s wooden bench. They would have to pass back by the place where the demon clowns had jumped onto the trolley and nobody was looking forward to the potentiality that there might be more of them out there. That thought weighed on Forlath heavily as he looked back up the gloomy subway tunnel…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
The gallant explorers had made fair to midland progress back up the track. All took turns carrying the stretcher and by this point all were approaching exhaustion. Mara especially found it hard going in her bare feet. Chief Maddie had fashioned some make shift sandals with bits of bench and some cloth torn off her uniform (“Great, and I was up all night sewing that blasted shirt” thought Forlath quietly to himself) but it still made for slow going.

Up ahead the tunnel appeared to lighten and open up into one of the larger grottos they had passed through earlier in the trolley car. The group quickened their step, eager to get out of the perpetual gloom of the tunnels for a little while at least. As they reached the tunnel mouth, the party was greeted by a panoramic view of a massive cavern that stretched on for miles. The track crossed through the cavern on trestles 50 feet above the cave floor.

Captain considered the view, what was that in the distance? “Does anybody else see that, it looks like a group of structures and possibly movement?” “It looks like some kind of market, or maybe a carnival?” Chief Madelaine responded somewhat dubiously. Mara thought of the Warder, maybe these were some of his folk or was it some of those he had warned her about. If only she had had more time to talk with him. “Maybe we should just steer clear to be on the safe side?” Mara suggested. “This marine needs medical attention,” Lady ‘Sawbones’ Patch offered “I vote we go check it out. Besides, I love carnivals!” “Then it’s settled,” said the Captain “now all we have to do is figure a way to get down from here and get over there…”

Reply by Luke yesterday
Luke gradually came to. Restless shadows played across his features as the gloom slowly took shape. Behind the gloom lay more gloom. Memories of a life of horrors swam across his mind as panic rose in his throat and choked life from his lungs. With an effort he pulled himself together. He had survived the Zombie hell of Malton, the cholera plagues of the British concentration camps, and the warp corrupted hull of the Terminus Est. Yet the sense of dread and foreboding washed over him in an unending tide of fear and panic. He was lost, alone in this dark and mysterious place. His sidearm and trusty axe, the slayer of countless feral zombie, were both gone, his biomech implants had long since failed due to lack of maintainance and everyone that he had known and loved had died onboard the Terminus Est. He was truly alone with nowhere to go and no one to guide him.

With an effort he steeled his mind. Somehow the gloom and despair were not his, but the essence of this unholy place. He barred entry into his soul and focused on his faith, always a guiding light in these hellish realms. Taking stock, he fumbled in his pockets for something, anything with which he could make his escape.

A smile slowly etched itself across his face, unseen in the dark shadows.
He slotted the vitamin tablet into the elastic band and stretched it to its absolute tension.
“Time to go hunting”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Acting Wing Commander Casey Steward (quite a promotion from his last rank of ‘Space Cadet’ but I digress) sat at the controls his Bf 752 Arc t, special rating spec 4, ARQ model SRT airfloater (with the optional CD changer, leather bucket seat and the speed stripes deluxe package). The Queen Bran’s Revenge Red Squadron approached the enemy base ship. Casey called out over his Tesla transmit/receiver:
“This is Red Leader, all wings report in.”
“Red 10 standing by.”
“Red 7 standing by.”
“Red 3 standing by.”
“Red 6 standing by.”
“Red Buttons standing by.”
“Redd Foxx standing by.”
“Big Red standing by.”
“Red October standing by.”
“Lock S-foils in attack position.”
“We’re passing through their magnetic field. Hold tight. Switch your deflectors on. Double front.”
“Look at the size of that thing!”
“Cut the chatter, Red 2.”
“Accelerate to attack speed. This is it, boys and girls!”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
“We’re in position. I’m going to cut across the axis and try and draw their fire.”
“Heavy fire, boss! Twenty-three degrees.”
“I see it. Stay low.”
“This is Red 5! I’m going in!”
“Zombie Zack, pull up!”
“Are you all right?”
“I got a little cooked, but I’m okay.”
“Zombie Zack, watch yourself! There’s a lot of fire coming from the right side of that deflection tower.”
“I’m on it.”
“I’m going in. Cover me, Pendennis”
“I’m right with you, Red 3.”
“I’ve got a problem, here.”
“I can hold it.”
“Pull up.”
“No I’m all right, I’m all ri…aahhhhhhh!”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
“Squad leaders, we’ve picked up a new group of signals. Enemy fighters coming your way.”
“My scope’s negative. I don’t see anything.”
“Pick up your visual scanning. Here they come.”
“Are those flying freakin hippos???”
“I’m hit!”
“You picked one up, watch it!”
“I can’t see it!”
“He’s on me tight, I can’t shake him.”
“I’ll be right there. Just gotta turn on the espresso machine… there. On my way!”
“Got him!”
“Watch your back, Zack! Watch your back! Fighter’s above you, coming in!”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Meanwhile back planet side deep in the bowels of the earth (there’s that phrase again), XO Ezra Yesterday shouted “CHIEF! Maddie! Where the heck is everybody?!?!”

In the course of the last few hours, one by one the rest of his group had disappeared, first the Corporal, then the Chief, followed one by one by the marines. Now, all that were left were the XO and Marion. As far as boding went, this ranked as fairly poor.
Suddenly Marion spoke up from behind the rock where he had been hiding, “XO, there’s a light down that tunnel.” The XO turned to see that the boob was right. Naively thinking things couldn’t get much worse, the XO and Marion headed cautiously down the tunnel only to find themselves in the midst of some kind of underdweller market in the midst of a massive cavern. There were manufacturer and crafter stalls, animal pens and food booths in every direction. And surrounding them, pushing and jostling all around going about their business was the widest assortment of creatures and beings the XO had every seen. “Do you think they have cotton candy?” Asked Marion, “I love cotton candy”…

Reply by Mara Fantoccini 23 hours ago
As they walked, questions began forming in Mara’s mind.
She tried finding reason in all that had happened to them thus far. None of it seemed real. Maybe it was all an elaborate dream?
Her countenance paled. What….she hesitated to think of it….what if they were all dead and lost in limbo? No, that was preposterous, Abrams said he would never let that happen, it would be a cop-out after having been lost for so long….wait a minute, she thought, who the hell is Abrams? Then it struck her, hell, was this hell? Had they stumbled into some hell-mouth?
That worried her, so she turned her thoughts elsewhere.
Perhaps where she had been, where the little clockwork mechanicals had taken her, held a clue. She would address her Captain concerning it.
“Captain, may I speak?” Captain Forlath nodded his approval.
“I do not know if this is pertinent, sir, maybe you have some inkling as to it’s importance.”
“Continue” the Captain responded.

“Well, when I disappeared from the main cavern while serving tea, I awoke from some type of temporarily induced comma (it seemed as though there was an awful lot of that going around as of late, a punctuation outbreak perhaps,,,,, she thought) in a most beautiful room.
There was an overstuffed leather sofa where I had been reclining in my unconsciousness. The sofa was located on a landing, at the top of metal stairs that curved up alongside a floor to ceiling rich, dark, wooden bookcase filled with tomes of various types and sizes on one side and an ornate, shiny, brass railing separating the stairs from the rest of the room on the other.
The main room was carpeted in Persian style rugs, detailed in complex, geometrical patterns. Tapestries and thick, plush draperies hung down to the floor at various locations throughout the room from the ceiling a good thirty feet high. What appeared to be gas lamps were ensconced along the walls at regular intervals. The main light source giving the room a warm glow appeared to be some sort of large crystal candelabra type fixture hanging from the center of the high ceiling. “Yes, yes, brevity please, officer” the Captain urged.

“But Captain Forlath, God is in the details (or was that the devil, she thought) correct?” she remarked.
With the slightest of frowns the Captain waved his hand “Proceed.”
Mara continued “there was this wondrous enormous machine in the center of the room, something like a giant orrery, she ventured, and a little old dwarf who yelled at her for thinking about licking a book, then mumbled something about the Engineer and not making contraptions like this anymore and continued saying something about divergent worlds and universal waves and he was the warder…” she stopped, should she tell him about the part where he said she was brought there because she was damaged? No, she thought against revealing it. After all, she couldn’t be a machine, she had memories. She remembered her dear Auntie Em and kindly old Uncle Gepetto back in Kansas. Those memories proved she was a real live girl.
She felt herself being shook.

“Officer Mara, snap out of it!” It was the Captain’s voice, “I will take all of this into consideration. As for now, we shall proceed towards the carnival, market or whatever it is across the abyss.”
And so, they continued their advance.

Reply by Luke 22 hours ago
The shadows clawed at Luke’s skin, thin tendrils of blood finding their way across his limbs where they had grasped him. As they clung on they shrieked noiselessly, the Echoes of previous torments made real somehow. Voices whispered in his head damning his every step. Somehow Luke knew he was going in the right direction. Every step was agony, his mind and body rebelling against his will. But every step was closer to his unknown goal. He knew this as truth.all the pain, all of the torment were lies, illusions dreamt up to stop him, to slow him down. They all urged him to give up, to lay down, to sleep. And who knew where sleep would take him. Was he awake? All lies.
Lucius von Hagen, Lieutenant, SA2941m85207UF, servant of the Emperor
Lucius von Hagen, Lieutebant, SA2941m85207UF, servant of the Emperor
Lucius von Hagen, Lieutenant, SA2941m85207UF, servant of the Emperor
The truth kept him moving, the truth would protect him he wOuld find his friends.
Lucius von Hagen, Lieutenant, SA2941m85207UF, servant of the Emperor

He stumbled and fell. A great pressure closed in on his head and lungs, smothering him and forcing the air out of him the same time. The shadows clawed at his face and found their way into his eyes, justting protruding , reaching got his eyes ears and nose. His hand felt something cold against his fingers and he reached for it. His fingers closed around the handle of his axe lost ages ago, the darkness around the blade dispelled by light glinting off the viciously sharp edge.

The double headed eagle that he had scratched into it’s face with a pocket knife all those years ago blazed a fierce blue, pushing at the shadow.
Bringing the butt of the axe down hard at the shadow on him gave him a chance for air, but hardly had he struck the blow than the shadow resumed it’s pressure on him. He thrashed violently and rolled to his hands and knees.
The blade bit into the shadow, color and light leaking out of the open wound.
Luke struggled to his feet

Lucius fething Hagen, Lieutenant of Ultima’s Stormtroopers, son of Janus, warrior of the Frakking Imperium of Man.
The axehead blazed white hot, tendrils of supernova light radiating off the edge. With a roar Luke brought it down on the shadow. The air around him splitered, crimson and violet light leaking around the edges. With a tinkling sound the darkness shattered and shards of light blew into the world.

Luke was aware of his head hurting as he shook the cobwebs from his skull. Gradually this vision cleared and the world swam into focus. Luke was lying in the hanger deck of the airship with a strange metalic fighter looming over him. The back of his head ached and his hand withdrew from the spot in a bloody mess. Clearly hE had suffered a severe concussion. His mind struggled to put the last memories back together but in vain.
Luke wobbled to his feet and clambered intO the metallic craft.
This is it, he thought. I’m going to turn on the radio, find out what’s going on and where everyone is, and kill anything that gets between me and them.

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter 16 hours ago
Chief Madelaine had a throbbing headache. As she trudged along with her companions towards the market…. carnival… hallucination… whatever most likely ominous and danger-ridden settlement that lay ahead, she wondered how she had even come to be with her current company. Last she remembered she was with the XO and a squadron of marines, surrounded by a hoard of menacing looking reptilians. Oh well she sighed, at least she was safe, for the moment, and the effects of the bufotenin had apparently worn off as well (or so she hoped.)
There were other questions plaguing her however, she ran through them in her mind…What about the XO and Marion…if everyone else had managed to find their way to the Captain, why hadn’t they? And what about Ezra’s amazing technicolour shirt? Why did he seem to think it signified the ship being in danger? And if the ship was in danger, in danger from what? And how fared her crewmates still aboard the Revenge? And what of the temple, the reptilian creatures and the book? And Mara’s fantastical story of Dwarves, Automaton and Engineers? How did any of this fit together? And now clowns..and a carnival?
And yet still one more, singularly important question tugging at Maddie’s mind, she smacked her parched lips together and thought aloud I wonder if this carnival has a bar?

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Wednesday
Mara stopped for a moment. Her feet hurt. She had splinters from the wood.
Not that she was ungrateful, but she couldn’t keep up with the others wearing the make-shift shoes.
She took them off and just wrapped her feet the best she could with strips torn from her underskirt.
She felt a slight movement in her pocket. It was the little automaton. It had been so quiet and still she had forgotten it was even there.
She had not shown it to the Captain or the others. Not by purpose but because she had honestly forgotten about it.
Now, though, she was unsure if she should bring it to their attention. If asked, she would feel compelled to tell them why and for what purpose they had taken her.

She knew she needed to disclose it all to someone. Someone who would understand. Someone she could trust…
They were getting closer to their destination. Perhaps there would be answers there.
Mostly though, she hoped there would be shoes.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Wednesday
I’m hit, but not bad. Erik see what you can do with it. Hang on back there.
Red 6…Can you see Red 5?
There’s a heavy fire zone on this side. Red 5, where are you?
I can’t shake him!
I’m on him, Zack! Hold on!
Blast it, von Hagen. Where are you?
Direct hit Xavier, thanks.
Good shooting, Pendennis.
Red Leader…This is Gold Leader. We’re starting our attack run.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Wednesday
Captain Forlath Grey, Lady Elizabeth ‘Sawbones’ Patch, Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, Operations officer Mara Fantoccini, Corporal Chemisesrouges and one injured royal marine currently being carried by the crew on a makeshift stretcher entered the carni-fair by means of the main path approaching from the south. The sight that greeted them nearly defied description. It was if several books of numerous genres had spat all their contents off of the page to create a rollicking, steamy, boisterous, urban, Victorian abomination of a gathering. The astounding variation and combination of races represented had the little group gaping in disbelief. There were solemn dwarves, in starched dickeys and stovepipe hats. Little goblinoids dressed in rags scampered amongst the crowd, selling rat-on-sticks and other things too disgusting to name. Tall, thin, ethereal beings dressed in airship crew gear seemed to float through the crowd. Humanoid animals of all description carried crates and barrels, worked stands and cleaned up after the other races, plus many, many more as far as the eye could see. The mind rebelled at the bizarreness of it all.
While the crew tried to take it all in, as chance would have it the Captain was nearly bowled over by XO Ezra Yesterday and Marion of all people. They had been chasing a little goblinoid who had picked the XO’s pocket just as he was reaching for some coppers to pay for Marion’s what appeared to be, if you squinted your eyes and tilted your head and ignored the smell, something that looked remotely like cotton candy.

“XO!” Forlath cried in astonishment. “Sorry Captain,” the XO replied after a double take, just as surprised as anyone to see the Captain and the rest of the landing party standing there. “The little bugger nicked my pocket watch.” “Let it go Ezra” Forlath laughed for the first time in ages “I’ll get you a new one. What is this place? Where are the other three marines?” The XO shook his head, “I don’t know the answer to either of those questions I’m afraid Captain. We haven’t been here long ourselves. Just long enough to get Marion here his um, cotton candy” with that the XO indicated a happily masticating Marion who was currently covered with sticky goo. Forlath was a bit perturbed by Marion’s current un-soldierly appearance but was too relieved to see the both of them to presently care.

Captain Grey’s thoughts on the matter where interrupted when Chief Maddie interjected to ask the XO if he had passed a pub…

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on Thursday
Ezra couldn’t believe his eyes… again.
Since this away mission had started, there had been nothing but confusion and.. well, really just confusion . He began to replay recent events in his head, then thought, No, there’s no time for that, Maddie has posed a serious question.
[Besides, if the readers were too lazy to go back and read the posts that brought us here, they would just have to try to muddle through and keep up the best that they could.]

He looked a bit embarrassed and said to the Chief, “I don’t know for sure, Chief, but Marion here may be able to help you in that regard.
You see, besides his unexcelled talent at Gross [and, might I add- Intensely detrimental to my sense of personal safety] insubordination …And his insistence on vastly overstaying his welcome, vis’a’vis the time allotted for his basic walk on cameo role… Turns out, he is also an excellent pathfinder and tracker.”

He gave the Captain a rather guilty glance, “Actually, Sir, we have been prowling this huge, ridiculous place for several hours, in search of the apparently rare and elusive Cotton Candy. We have seen many strange and wondrous things on out journey and I bought more than a few. For example, look at this…”

He pulls a small cloth wrapped bundle out of a paper bag, whacks it against a corner of the wall, and then dips it into a horse trough standing on the edge of the street. The water, crackles turns white and freezes solid, catching the tongue of a horse that had been drinking at the other end. The horse gave a startled yelp, tried to pull backwards, and then stopped as his tongue stayed firmly in place. It rolled its eyes at Ezra in fury and began to mumble loudly in what appeared to be garbled English. The only semi clear word to be understood, a final disgusted, “Wilbur!”
Ezra, oblivious to the horse’s plight, beamed like a kid with a new toy.

“It’s called an ice spider… only it’s not really a spider, more like a eight legged cross between a leech and a tick.” He unwraps the cloth to show a 2 ½ “ long slug like creature, mottled blue green in color, “See? They’re from a jungle planet, where they have these great bumbling lizard things, cold blooded and really, really stupid. So these chappies fall out of the trees and attach themselves to the back of a lizard’s head, and dig in to eat. The eating tickles the lizards, but since they are too dense to work together to get rid of them, like monkeys would, they try to get rid of them by bashing them against rocks, trees or whatever is handy. The ice spiders developed a response in the form a burst of cold, which puts the brutes to sleep… its really quite fascinating tha…”

It was at this moment that Marion’s brief stay with us came to an abrupt end.
[However, not as soon as his contract, to say nothing of common sense, would have indicated… Cameo… C A M E O… look it up, people]
… At any rate…it ended in a particularly gruesome and disgusting way, involving his digestive tract and the attempted mastication of sentient, pink and blue life forms… far too disturbing and, let’s face it, just plain gross to describe here.
Ezra rushed to his side and knelt down near him, avoiding the various multicolored and, in some cases,still twitching puddles and lumps scattered about.
He gazed on the horror for a second, then suddenly reached into his pocket, digging about urgently for a moment… then, sighed and said, straightening,
”Tsk, my watch is still gone. No way to call official time on ‘First red shirt to die in the presence of the Crew’… Ahhh, well… Pity, that.”

Reply by Lady Emma Darry on Thursday
“Oh, thank God! People!” Emma exclaims as she sees the group walking towards her. She begins running in their direction, her torn and worn out dress making a rustling sounds as she does. “I have been here for a month now, and the only human contact I have had was with creepy clowns. What brings you lot to this hellhole?”

Reply by Lady Elizabeth Patch on Thursday
Only half paying attention, LP quickly becomes distracted by all the shiny balloons….What a lovely bunch of coloured floating bobbles…
Only to be distracted yet again by an awful gurgle kind of icky some such noise…turning back towards her friends…LP covered her mouth…trying her best to keep the contents of her stomach from…from doing what one does upon seeing such a ewwy sight.
Taking 5 balloons from the clown, LP steadied herself as she made her way to wards the group…
Mara…just as shocked…stood watching the whole seine…
Smiling, LP hands her a bright red balloon whispering…”It’s my favorite.” …then bends down, grasps the strings of the remaining 4 balloons in her mouth and busies herself with the right boot of a one Mr. Marion…
When she is finished, LP hastily looks about for some sort of wash station, or lu…as her hands were less than clean…
“O’course! Why would anyone wish to keep clean…” But before she could say the rest…a young woman, shouting…rushed towards them….It couldn’t be….why that’s impossible..an impossibility really as…but it is…huh.
“Emma! Look at you…your… positively radiant in a disheveled messy sort of why…”
LP went to give her dear friend a hug…but then thinking better of it as she hadn’t cleaned the Fascia from her hands…quickly wiped them on her skirts….and then turned to let go of the balloons she’d been holding…now tied to the big toe on Marion’s right foot…
Slowly…the body lifted off the ground….and floated softly into the sky…
LP waved and smiled…”Good bye Marian…until we meet again…” Giggling and clapping her hands wildly, she turned back to her friends…all looking at her.
But just as they were about to say something…I’m sure…as Forlath usually has something to say….The wind picked up….and a sweet smell filled the space around them…bit of cotton candy floated past…some getting stuck in Ezra’s moustache….he picked it off…looked at it…before shrugging and popping the little bit of fluff in his mouth.
“Look at that!” Shouted Maddie….
They all turned to see….
A cotton candy tornado….what else!

Reply by Luke on Thursday
Luke jumped up on the gracefully curved wing of the fighter on the way up to the cockpit, only stopping long enough to take in the name stencilled in black under the canopy.
“The Red October, appropriate”
As he reached the seat he noticed that there was a headset conveniantly left inside and popped those on as he switched on the Master Electric and Radio switches. Luke took a moment to familiarise himself with the controls, but an unusual switch caught his eye and he flipped it on. A deep, heavily accented male voice spoke over the intercom.
“Welcome inshide Trebeck, I am the COgitant Nautical Navigantional Engine and Radiotelephony Yatchsman. I am currrently Shpooling up the compreshorrs, jusht like I spooled up yourrr motharr lasht night.”
When Luke finally managed to silence the CONNERY he released the docking clamps, pushed the throttle through the firewall and blasted out of the Queen Bran’s Revenge into the awaiting skies.He turned on the radio-osciliscope and armed the Tesla Potential Condensors before keying the wireless and broadcasting on the Queen Bran’s frequency.
“Dallas, I mean Red Leader, this is the Red October. I’m inbound, Angels 7, ETA 05. Weapons are armed and systems ready. Can you give me a threat update?”

Luke punched full voltage to the ion drive and accellerated up though the clouds as he anxiously waited for any sign of his sepperated crewmates.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on Thursday
As he climbed out of a cloud, Luke saw a quick flash of silver and other colors.. suddenly there were 4 small pops, followed almost instantaneously by a nauseating crunch…and his windows went black, well, black, brown, sickly yellow and twin stripes of pink and blue.
“What the blazes was that, Co-NNERY?”
“We Hit Shumpthing… Just like I …”
Luke hit the override switch on the voice panel.
“Dont give me any crap, Co-NNERY, I’m flying Blind here, Clean off the forward screen… Now.”
Nothing happened for several seconds, except for the blinking telltale on the voice override…
Luke finally stabbed the switch in fury and said, “What?!?”
“Shuck it, Trebeck.. I do your motharr… I don’t do windows.”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Thursday
“I copy, Gold Leader. Move into position.”
“Stay in attack formation.”
“The exhaust port is marked and locked in!”
“Switch all power to front deflector screens. Switch all power to front deflector screens.”
“How many guns do you think, Gold 5?”
“I’d say about twenty guns. Some on the surface, some on the towers.”
“Switch to targeting computer.”
“Computer’s locked. Getting a signal.”
“The guns… they’ve stopped!”
“Stabilize your rear deflectors. Watch for enemy fighters.”
“They’re coming in! Three marks at 2-10.”
“It’s no good, I can’t maneuver!”
“Stay on target.”
“We’re too close.”
“Stay on target!”
“Loosen up!”
“Gold 5 to Red Leader. Lost Tiree, lost Hutch.”
“I copy, Gold Leader.”
“They came from behind…. Red Leader, you’re hit, I see smoke coming from your rear fuselage. I repeat Red Leader you’ve taken damage! Are you all right? Do you copy Red Leader?”
“Dallas, I mean Red Leader, this is the Red October. I’m inbound, Angels 7, ETA 05. Weapons are armed and systems ready. Can you give me a threat update?”
Acting Wing Commander Casey Steward fanned at the smoke billowing up in his cockpit, he couldn’t be sure but that sounded like von Hagen just now over the receiver. Thank the gods for that. He tried his transmitter, it was dead. The comms unit must have taken a hit.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Thursday
Commander Steward quickly jettisoned his remaining rockets to lighten his airfloater, according to his fuel gauge he had taken hits to the propellant tank as well and the armaments were an unnecessary drag. But it was no use; even without the rockets he didn’t have enough propellant to make it back to the airship. There was nothing for it, he would have to leave this battle to Commander Luke von Hagen and the remaining members of the squadron and look for a place to set this bird down planet side.

There at 11 o’clock visual was the geological formation the landing party was currently investigating. It had been hours since they had last heard from the party. Casey hoped they were all right. Perhaps I can still catch up with them Casey thought to himself. With that he altered course and pointed his arifloater’s nose toward the mountainous spur.

Commander Steward saw three blips on his radar detach themselves from the main dogfight and head in his direction. “Son of a…,” the Commander cursed. “Don’t they have anything better to do than finish me off!” With that Casey changed his mind about finding the landing party’s drop boat. He didn’t want to lead the enemy (who the hell where they fighting anyway and why??) right to them. But perhaps Casey could lose them around the backside of the formation; the geological formation appeared to cover quite a few clicks and would certainly have a hiding place or two to offer.

The Commander took his aeroflot as close to the ground as he dared, the craft screamed mere feet over the vegetation beneath him. The three enemy fighters were still tight on his tail and at this rate would soon have a clear shot if he didn’t do something drastic. His sonic topography scanner indicated a chasm coming ahead at 3 o’clock visual. Casey altered course, spotted the lip of the gorge. Casey suddenly slammed the front stabilizers, flipped his craft 90 degrees and fired full throttle into the gorge. The enemy fighters flew past overhead completely unprepared for the Commander’s shock maneuver…

Casey turned the damping field to full and applied reverse thrusters. The bottom of the ravine was quickly approaching. It was going to be close. Meters from the ground, Casey yanked up on the nose of the airfloater. The fuselage groaned audible as the Commander forced it to defy the laws of physics. Casey closed his eyes and held on as the craft belly flopped on the canyon floor and bounced once… twice… three times and then skidded about 50 feet in a cloud of debris until it finally came to jarring halt against a vertical surface. Casey cautiously opened his eyes. Isn’t that always the way he thought, I just had this thing washed and waxed…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Thursday
Much to his amazement and disbelief Casey appeared to be alive and in one piece. He popped open the cockpit, stood up… and couldn’t believe his eyes. Surrounding him on all sides was what appeared to be an airship port built into the bottom of the gorge. Commander Steward came back to his senses to hear a squawking voice berating him (what the hell was that, a humanoid stork??) for his violation of 13 major and 27 minor port docking procedures and regulations. Who was going to pay for this, he would lose his flight status for this and… Casey tuned out the complaining stork, took off his flight helmet and chucked it in the cockpit of the now seriously damaged airfloater. He climbed out of the cockpit, jumped down on the wing and from there onto the ground. He slapped the approximate location of where he thought the stork’s shoulder should be and said “send the bill to the Queen Bran’s Revenge, currently in orbit” the Commander smiled in a disarming fashion “attention of Captain Forlath Grey, he’ll pay all charges.”

With that Commander Casey Steward walked wide eyed and grinning into the teeming, bustling streets of Underworld Market…

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter on Thursday
Maddie watched as Marion ascended into the air, wondering if he would just sort of hit the roof of the cavern and float there awhile, only to come crashing down on some unfortunate denizen of the carnival days later, or if a vent or passageway would perhaps carry him out of the cave completely. Perhaps he would even reach the airship? In that event, it might have been prudent to have tied a note to him, sort of like a message in a bottle, to relay their whereabouts the the crew still aboard the Revenge. But it was too late for that now…off he went, and with him, a pair of much-needed boots.

“I wonder what shoe size Marion wore” Mara mused, rubbing her sore feet. The rags she had used to wrap them were beginning to shred, exposing rough, blistered soles.

She really could do with a proper pair of shoes Maddie thought to herself. Scanning the carnival, a small booth caught her eye. It was stocked with shoes and boots of all varieties. Glass slippers, ruby slippers, boots of the north, +1 boots of stealth, winged sandals and a rather charming pair of blood red dancing shoes. Maddie spoke to the shopkeeper (a small, rather ichthyoid looking creature wearing brightly colored silk robes and a long fu-manchu style mustache) in a guttural, halting language as the crew watched on, amazed that human vocal chords were even capable of producing such sounds.
After a few minutes or so of heated conversation, which consisted of a combination of speech and wild gesturing, Maddie turned back to the crew, with a box in her hands and a smile on her face.
“I managed to trade him that empty gin bottle for a pair of boots!” she said, beaming with pride “…told him that a wish granting ginie, ha ha, get it? gin-ie? resided inside!!” She handed Mara the box. Inside were a pair of ruby covered combat boots. “Stylish, yet functional!” Mara exclaimed and immeadiately set about donning them.
“One more thing…” Maddie continued, still smiling “he also told me there is a fine bar right over there!” And with that, she took off at a run towards the pub.

Reply by Commissioner Casey Steward on Thursday
The underworld market, it’s impossible to describe, unless you have seen it yourself. Here you can find anything you desire. Life and death can be equally traded for a cheap pair of earrings. There’s my stop, The Plutonium Bar and Grill, more like Plutonium flophouse and cesspool. Here a man can get a bottle ,a pipe and a private room, no questions asked. This place is not for making memories, it’s for burying them, deep. If only I hadn’t got evolved in Time Travel, if I didn’t try to save my Grandfather William Travis at the Twinkiemo , If I had listen to Anna. Well, that’s the past. Now for that bottle. I’m going in and I ain’t coming out until I hear a pair of Angels sing, ‘Show me the way to go home’.

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter on Thursday
Inside the Plutonium Bar and Grill Chief Engineer Madelaine Phillips-Carter was deep in her cups. She was attempting to teach Ezra, whether he wished it or not, a drinking song she had learned in her university years…it went something like this:
Mine eyes have gazed upon things that should never be perceived,
Like the Elder Gods and Deep Ones dwelling far beneath the sea,
They’re coming after you and they are coming after me,
Go Miskatonic U!
Glory, glory Hastur, Hastur!
Turn the scholars into pasta,
Glory, glory Hastur, Hastur!
Go Miskatonic U !
The Great Race are the Trustees and the Chancellor is insane,
Yog Sothoth is President after a long campaign,
Since Shoggoths ate the science building nothing’s been the same,
Go Miskatonic U!
Stopping short of the final verse, Maddie noticed a familiar personage enter the pub. “Oi!!” she piped up, shouting through the din “Casey, m’boy, how in the nine hells did you get here!” She staggered up to him and gave him a rather harsh slap on the back. Slurring as she spoke, the Chief continued “How goes it then! I thought you were in a comma, or some other sort of punctuative state, back aboard the Revenge?” Before Casey could even reply, Chief Maddie had grabbed him by the arm and proceeded to drag him back in the general direction of the bar, where the rest of the crew awaited. While the crew proceeded to welcome Casey and brief him on their situation, Maddie turned her attention back to her drink, mumbling… “Now, where did we leave off…oh yes”
Azathoth and Nyarlathotep are the football stars,
Cthulhu and the Ancient Ones still hang around in bars,
Why just last week they binged and then had three patrolman’s cars,
Go Miskatonic U…

Reply by Commissioner Casey Steward on Thursday
Casey now among the crew members, body stiff and eyes straight ahead unmoving as the crew pulled him to a stool. ” there goes the neighborhood” Casey toted under his breath. Casey then managing to stand and move away from his friends, waved with one hand while reaching out with the out to make clear passage to the hallway.” I’ll get with you later guys”. Casey then signaled the bartender with his hand, to meet him at the end of the bar.

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Friday
Mara follows Casey to the end of the bar.
She clears her throat loudly to get his attention.
He pays her no mind, so she does it again.
He still ignores her so she pokes him, gently of course.
Casey turns, “and what do you want?” he slurs.
Mara smiles and answers, “Did you see my new shoes?”
She looks down at her feet.
He glances down “very nice, now may I get back to my drink.”
Disappointed that he was not as happy to see them as they were to see him, she nonetheless respected his wishes and returned to the others,
but not before tying the string of her red balloon to the button on the lefthand pocket of his uniform.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Captain Forlath Grey sat in the pub at the little round table the group had commandeered for themselves. He struggled with the bizarre loss of Marion. It figured, the one marine whose name was not a language variant of ‘Red Shirt’ ended up being the one marine to meet an untimely demise. Forlath did not see that coming. Then there was the Underground Market and this world and the increasingly erratic behavior of his companions… well okay, potentially the behavior of his companions had always been somewhat erratic. In any case things had indeed grown curioser and curioser and Forlath was at a loss to make sense of it all.

For instance why were they able to understand so many of the languages and dialects being spoken around them? Right at this moment a couple that looked unfathomably like a member of the undead and a sentient cactus were at the next table arguing in what sounded remarkably like a little known Javanese dialect that Captain Grey had picked up during his travels before the great bakery goods holocaust. And as for the wide variety of creatures themselves… Forlath’s words failed him.

The attempts at comprehension were bringing on a migraine. Best to put aside these conceptual holes in the plot for now and concentrate on the task at hand. They had the crystals they needed. Commander Casey had inexplicably found them and could guide them to the port entrance. Perhaps they could even buy passage back to the ship or failing that at least passage back to their transport, hopefully still on the surface where they had disembarked. The Queen Bran’s Revenge was currently engaged in full aerial combat with the base ship of an unknown enemy in the skies above and needed their help.

But what had happened to the three royal marines under XO Ezra’s Command? The thought of leaving them behind in this place, so far from home troubled his conscious. Yet the greater good was tipping the scales of fate. Their airship was under attack. That took precedence. Yes, it was time to head back to the airship. The decision made the Captain looked up at his crewmates. Commander Steward was at the end of the bar with Officer Fantoccini, something appeared to be troubling Casey deeply and the Captain only wished he knew how to help his friend.
The Captain’s eyes lit upon Lady Emma Darry. She was an enigma, clearly of their race, how had she ended up this place, how long had she been here, did she know about the Yeast Apocalypse back home? Surely they couldn’t leave her behind here despite the dangers the airship still faced? Lady Emma also seemed strangely familiar to Captain Grey but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Something about vicious waterfowl… nope it was gone. Forlath added it to the list of things that would require further consideration at a later date. Now it was time to get this merry little ragtag band of misfits moving again. The Captain knocked his drink back and stood up “okay girls and boys, drink up, as long as we still wear QBR insignia, we’ve got a job to do…”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday yesterday
At the captain’s stirring words, Ezra came to a decision. Although it went against his wishes and better judgement to keep referring to a cameo player in this manner, everyone else seemed obsessed with the grumpy blighter; and so, as he had neglected an important detail back in the cave post, he felt a toast was in order.

Slapping his palm against the table top, he grabbed his shotglass in his other hand and said,
“Hear hear, Captain, but before we go.” Raises his glass,”Ladies and Gentlemen, a toast to the departed. Drink deep, im memory of Private First Class [for the 3rd… no fourth time this tour, insubordinate git] Marion Cryscoch.. Rest well you cantankerous Welsh bastard.”
He glanced at the others from the corner of his eye, hoping this late introduction wouldn’t expose the fact that the significance of the other Marines last names had sailed completely over his head, tossed back his drink and cried out,

Reply by The Ringmaster 11 hours ago
Chittering, chittering, always chittering. I crunch their bones with my broken teeth and still they chitter away at me endlessly, endlessly. There, the voices again. Mad. Mad. Mad. I smash my head against the cool, dank stone until the voices stop. The taste of blood touches my lips. It streams down my twisted face. I giggle until I froth at the mouth. I need meat. I can no longer stand the taste of these bat creatures amongst whom I dwell. They are tasteless, colourless, soulless. I need more. So much more. What is that smell. I smell. I smell something new. I hunt. I drop down the wall and scrabble through the dark. Tonight I feed.

Reply by Mara Fantoccini yesterday
“Captain, sir, do you think we should appropriate some rooms and try getting a good night’s sleep (and sober up, she added under her breath, casting a glance back towards the Commander) before we venture out?” Mara asked, even though she was unsure of what time it actually was.
Being inside these caverns, having not seen a sun rise or set for so long, played havoc with ones internal clock, or clockworks, as the case may be.
She suddenly felt a chill run down her spine. Something inside her felt uneasy, yet she couldn’t quite make it out. “Chittering, always chittering”…… she brushed it away quickly, it must just be her imagination.

Reply by Lady Elizabeth Patch yesterday
Lady Patch…clearly lost in her own head…when is she not really? Caught just now in one of those marginally lucid moments, fiddles with the knob of her make shift mp3 player…
…Not quite sure if they were leaving or going really…
…where are we again….
…Is that…???

LP looks up to see Mara lost in thought…Finds the song she’s been looking for…Pulls the ear phone plug from the player letting the music stream from small speaker…fills the room with —–>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoQYw49saqc&NR=1 ——-
Oh! I say Mara…did you say something? (Bobs head to the beats…) Rooms…yes…rooms would be nice…I seam (yawn..) to be in need of a few winks.
Cappi-tan? When shall we be uh…mosey along…Got the feeling something wicked this way comes….Do you smell that? (sniffs air…smell of rotted flesh passes….LP shrugs her shoulders then returns to bobbing her head…)

Reply by Lady Emma Darry 22 hours ago
“What do you smell, Elizabeth?” Emma asks, more curious than worried. “If we are to be attacked by candy again, I hope it is candied apples this time. I always had a weakness for those.”
Elizabeth is obviously not paying attention, though, as she is far too concentrated in the music (excellent music, by the way!). So instead, Emma turns her attention to the rest of the group.
“You lot seem to have seen your share of adventures lately!” She says to no one in particular. “I would ask for details, but I have no idea where to begin asking.”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 3 hours ago
“Commander von Hagen, this is Base One Control. We’ve lost contact with Commander Steward. We’ve lost contact with the landing party. You are now ranking officer. Enemy base ship of unknown origin or design currently engaging Queen Bran’ Revenge in ranged and fighter combat. The Revenge taking damage in all sections. Fighter squadron strength down 30% and falling. Damage status of enemy ship unknown. Sir what are your orders??”

Before Luke could respond static erupted over the Marconi comms units everywhere in both the Revenge and the fighters. It ceased just as suddenly as it had begun and was replaced by a mechanical sounding monotone voice that could be attributed to what sounded like a language translator or perhaps even a mechanoid unit. “Attention human airship designation ‘Queen Bran’s Revenge’ your chance of survival in current combat scenario computes at 0.0345 percent. Further resistance is ineffectual. You will cease combat routine immediately or face termination. You will hand over entity known as ‘Mara’ immediately or face termination. There is no negotiation only compliance. Message ends.”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 3 hours ago
The landing party was discussing their next move after a last toast to Royal Marine Private First Class Marion Cryscoch. May he rest in pieces. When a large booming noise reverberated around the cavern that housed Underworld Market. The crew rushed out of the pub to a scene of chaos. Creatures were rushing everywhere, many crying out in alarm and fear. The cacophony of sound was almost deafening. XO Ezra Yesterday pointed in direction of the recently discovered airship port. All eyes turned towards the now visible billowing smoke. An explosion of some sort had obviously rocked the port. Captain Grey grabbed a feline form rushing by on two legs by the arm. “Excuse me, Sir…” “That’s Matriarch, if you must know” the feline snarled. “Apologies Matriarch,” the Captain quickly corrected “what’s going on?” “Haven’t you heard, the port is under attack!” With that the feline twisted out of the Captain’s grasp and disappeared into the crowd.
Forlath grimly looked back in the direction of the port. “R&R is officially over folks, that port is our way out of here. Darry, you’re with us. Welcome aboard, now everyone to the airport!” With that and in the face of all reason the landing party rushed towards the epicenter of the pandemonium…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 3 hours ago
As quickly as it had begun the aerial assault ended. The enemy fighters broke off dogfights with the Queen Bran’s Revenge fighter squadrons and returned to their base ship, ignoring any further attempts by the Revenge fighters to engage them. The enemy base ship stopped firing on the Revenge, turned deliberately and made its massive way towards the geological formation. Its intent was clear.
The realization hit Luke like a salmon across the face at three in morning after a night of drinking round the fire with some fishing buddies… The enemy ship had somehow discovered Mara was with the landing party…

Reply by Lady Emma Darry 59 minutes ago
“Pardon my ignorance,” Emma says politely. “but what in the world is going on?” Her head is spinning, although she is pretty sure she did not have that much to drink. From what she can see from where she is standing, the attackers are retreating. It makes no sense to her – the ship under attack (she can only assume this is the one that belongs to her new companions) seems in much worse a state than the ship doing the attacking.
“Did they get what they wanted?” she asks, adressing the questions to herself as much as to anyone else. “Where are they going?”

CHAPTER 3 (sure, why not)
XO Ezra Yesterday, Captain Forlath Grey, Lady Elizabeth ‘Sawbones’ Patch, Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, Operations officer Mara Fantoccini, Commander Casey Steward, Corporal Chemisesrouges, Lady Emma Darry and one injured royal marine fought their way through the panicking masses. It was like salmon attempting to fight their way upstream with all manner of creatures running in the other direction away from the port. It appeared an attack of some sort was taking place at the airship port at the edge of Underground Market where the underground caverns opened up to the outside world by way of a deep gorge.

Commonsense counseled the safest thing to do was to currently go anywhere but the site of the turmoil but the landing party was desperate to get back to their airship the Queen Bran’s Revenge and the rest of the officers and crew currently defending her such as Zack, Professor Pendennis and Luke, which last they had heard were still engaged in conflict in the skies above. The port was their best chance to find a transport ship to take them back to the Revenge. Little did the landing party know that the enemy base ship had broken off its assault on the Revenge and was headed in this direction, searching for them. (Cue dramatic incidental music). Still confused dear readers? Then buckle up and hold on tight as we launch into yet another exciting episode of the Misadventures of the Queen Bran’s Revenge!

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Monday
The landing party found the going getting easier as the crowd thinned. None of the creatures they were able to stop while fleeing were able to clearly tell them what was going on, only that some ones or some things had entered the port and started blasting indiscriminately. Captain Grey had the group do a quick weapons check. It wasn’t good, due to the occurrences of the past 24 hours they only had a few pistols, a couple of Mk2 Martini-Henry rifles and a couple sabers between them. The XO still had his antique 16th century revolver sword and the Captain had his one shot, 10 gauge shotgun cane. The Corporal and the other royal marine took the rifles.

The injured royal marine Private Rödtröja, was back on his feet again thanks to some medical attention from a blacksmith part time dentist part time surgeon who just happened to have a shop next to the pub the landing party had been in earlier. The only indication that Private Rödtröja had suffered multiple head injuries was the large amount of white swathing wrapped around his head like a turban and his current unchallengeable conviction that he was a giant red tomato.

The rest of the party divvied up the Webley RIC revolvers and remaining .450 caliber rounds of ammunition. Mara handed one to Lady Darry with an encouraging smile. “Don’t worry, we’ll be back on the Revenge again laughing about this over a gin and tonic in no time” Mara said “and if you’re not a big gin and tonic fan, don’t worry, neither am I but we have a well stocked bar in the officer’s mess so no worries.” The streets closer to the port had gone deathly quiet. All the market inhabitants had fled leaving behind empty streets and abandoned shops and stalls. The group continued toward the port, Commander Casey told them he had seen at least three smallish airships tethered at the port earlier, surely one would still be operational.

The adventurers began to see devastation on a grand scale the closer they got to their destination. Shops and stalls were in pieces and still smoldering, bodies of creatures lay strewn where they had fallen obviously gunned down by whatever had attacked the port. The crew came to the edge of the remaining market structures. The port and a 500 meter wide perimeter around it had been leveled, razed to the ground. Currently five ships were disembarking troops and support personnel of hard to determine description from this distance but Commander Casey instantly recognized the design of the ships. “That’s them,” Casey said “that’s who was attacking the Revenge!”
Forlath could tell even from this distance there was no way out for the landing party in that direction, even if any of the airships Casey had seen earlier were still in one piece which seemed unlikely, there was no way they could fight their way past a force that size. Perhaps coming to the port hadn’t been such a great plan after all. Captain Forlath had just finished that thought when a large mechanical contraption clanked into the street behind them…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Monday
“Target acquired” boomed the large mechanoid and opened fire with the Gatling gun bolted to its undercarriage. The HE rounds started exploding all around them, the intrepid explorers managed to get off a few shots in return but with no noticeable effect. It would be a massacre. Forlath quickly looked for some cover; the mechanoid blocked the street back the way they had come but an alley off to the left might get them out of the line of fire. “Alley!” Forlath shouted over the noise and pointed. The group ran like hell, legs pumping and skirts flying with debris, pieces of rock and shrapnel flying up all around them.

Miraculously the entire landing party made it into the alley in one piece only to find it was a dead end. Rubble, natural rock wall and the remains of shops effectively blocked the party in. There was no apparent way out and they could hear the mechanoid clanking its way towards them. “What do we do, there’s no way out!” Corporal Chemisesrouges wailed. Just at that moment a manhole cover they hadn’t noticed banged open not twenty feet from where they stood. The feline Captain Grey had grabbed earlier or one that looked just like it shouted “Humanzz, this way, quickly!” and with that disappeared back down the manhole.

As fast as they could the landing party descended rapidly into the manhole and down the metal ladder. The only mishap occurred when Private Rödtröja yelled something about his natural tomato buoyancy and jumped into the manhole headfirst, plummeting 20 feet onto the maintenance tunnel floor below. Chief Maddie had just slid the cover back into place and slid down the ladder when they heard the mechanoid clunking around over their heads attempting to locate them. The feline whispered for them to follow her and the landing party quietly followed down the maintenance tunnel with an unconscious Private Rödtröja dragging along behind them…

Reply by Commish Casey “Chuck” Steward on Monday
As Casey walks besides The Feline Captain shining his torch from side to side attempting to find an exit ,says casualty, “Now that we are up to our a**** in s**t, what’s next Capt.”

Reply by Lady Emma Darry on Monday
“What a beautiful description of our current state!” Emma replies cheerfully. “You should have been a poet. Truly, your words bring tears to my eyes… or it could be the smell. Nonetheless, I do hope we won’t be staying. Not that I don’t appreciate the rescue, uh… Matriarch?” Emma turns to look at the feline.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Monday
“Yes, Lady Emma Darry,” replied the feline “Matriarch Gr’larr of the Tosheken clan. I am also a Vicar Captain in the Holy Order of Peacekeepers and we know you well,” continued Gr’larr. “We have been observing you since your mysterious arrival months ago. We observed as more of your race mysteriously arrived yesterday and we observed as you and your clan mates headed towards the invaders when all others fled…”
The group had been following Vicar Captain Gr’larr down the maintenance tunnel, filled with steam pipes and gas lines. Captain Grey’s mind was awhirl with questions. He seized upon the first one that came to mind. “What is this tunnel?” he asked. “This is the Engineers’ handy work that we are currently walking through Captain Forlath Grey,” Gr’larr replied “these caverns are riddled with their constructions. Most of which we don’t understand.” “How do you know who I am?” Captain Grey asked. “I told you,” Gr’larr replied “we have been observing you, attempting to ascertain your risk to the peace which we are sworn to maintain.” “So you’re the local constabulary?” Forlath continued. “No, constabulary implies laws and these caverns have no laws,” Gr’larr answered “we have taken holy orders and have sworn to protect the holy peace. Good and Evil are inconsequential, all that is important is the peace… but I would not expect nonbelievers to understand.”
Before Forlath could formulate his next question, Commander Steward interjected “”Now that we are up to our arse in shite, what’s next Vicar Captain?” The Matriarch stopped dead in her tracks looked Casey in the eye and replied “a tribunal of Peacekeeper Bishops awaits to discern your involvement in the recent disruption to the peace and once they have divined your degree of participation, they will pass judgment.”
Suddenly ten feet behind the last member of the party a huge mechanical fist punched through the ceiling, slamming into the tunnel floor and crushing a steam pipe in the process. The mechanical fist of the mechanoid they had only just escaped pulled slowly back out of the tunnel leaving a gaping hole above their heads. The steam from the ruptured pipe swirled about them. Then three large metallic orbs dropped one after the other through the hole in the ceiling to land on the tunnel floor with a thud. The party stared in amazement as the three orbs uncurled in unison to reveal bi-pedal, human sized automatons armed with rods that crackled with Tesla energy. The automatons scanned the party and announced simultaneously in monotone, mechanical voices “target acquired.” “RUN!!” Screamed Gr’larr and the landing party not needing to be told twice ran down the tunnel after the Vicar Captain as if their lives depended on it…

Reply by Commish Casey “Chuck” Steward on Tuesday
Casey while running down the tunnel with the group, yelled out, ” Not peace but Unity, that’s what’s Most important”.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Tuesday
“What would you know of these things?” The Matriarch retorted to Commander Steward “unity of purpose is indeed divine but everlasting peace is the ultimate goal!” With that the group came rushing up to a closed steel blast door. Gr’larr quickly spun the wheel releasing the retaining bolts. She swung open the door, the landing party hurried inside; Gr’larr passed through and closed the door behind her. She started turning the wheel to reengage the retaining bolts when the metallic door suddenly crackled with conducted Tesla energy throwing Gr’larr across the room.
XO Ezra Yesterday dove into action, landed on the floor in front of the blast door and quickly used his feet with their rubber soled boots to spin the wheel thereby extending the retaining bolts and locking the door. Corporal Chemisesrouges then rammed his rifle in between the spokes of the wheel just as the automatons attempted to reopen the blast door from the other side. The rifle wedged up against the door jamb, started to creak, twist and bend but thankfully continued to hold the wheel in the closed position, for the moment at least. Metallic fists begun to bang on the door from the other side, each strike leaving dents in the steel blast door. “We don’t have a lot of time here people!” XO Yesterday shouted.
Sawbones Patch knelt beside Gr’larr while the other party members looked on pensively. Sawbones shook her head, “Tesla energy induced heart failure. She’s dead Jim.” With that Lady Patch closed the Matriarch’s staring eyes with her hand. Sawbones stood up and thoughtfully popped a jelly bean in her mouth.
“you were so so very pretty,
shame about the bad Tesla gun,
we will miss you little kitty,
hope you find your spot in the sun.”
“What?” Lady Patch said when she noticed the rest of the group looking at her “I thought she deserved something to mark her passing.” After a brief pause, Corporal Chemisesrouges cried “that was beautiful!” and started bawling like a little girl. Chief Maddie took out a flask she had stashed in her skirts and passed it around. Private Rödtröja again conscious thanks to the cushioning of his bandage turban started singing “O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road, An’ I’ll be in Scotland afore ye; But me and my true love will never meet again, On the bonnie, bonnie banks O’ Loch Lomond…”
The banging on the blast door brought the touching moment came to an abrupt end. Captain Grey looked about the room; it appeared to be a control center of some sort with panels, gauges and the like on all sides, but the only door was the one they had come through. They were trapped…

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Tuesday
At this point, Mara knew what she had to do.
Although she did not wish to leave her friends, their, as well as the other dwellers of the caverns, lives were more important.
Many lives had already been lost, she thought as she looked over at the Matriarch
Tears were welling up inside ready fall.
After all, it was her fault and she knew it.
Somewhere inside her head she knew.
She should have never left the room where the small automatons had brought her.
She knew that now.
She felt what must be guilt, for not telling the Captain about the little automaton in her pocket and what she was told when she was taken. What the little old dwarf had said. She was damaged.
She put her hand in the pocket of her skirt and it came out the bottom.
The little mechanical must have fallen out, or left at some point.
Was it a tracking device? Did it lead whatever was attacking them to her and her companions?
It made her feel even worse.
Why hadn’t she told someone!
She needed to find a way out.
She had to correct what she had caused the best she could.
No more harm would be done to anyone because of her.
She looked at the faces of her friends-
Captain Forlath, how would we ever have managed without him,
XO Ezra, one time mummy, had become an integral part of their family, as that is how she felt about them now, they were family. At least the family one would like to have had.
There was brave Maddie, dear unique LP, Lady Emma whom she hadn’t even really had a chance to get to know, and then there was Casey. Commander Casey Steward. She felt a strange bond to him. Was it because he too had been temporarily a machine, or at least linked to one? She didn’t quite understand her feelings towards him.
Her thoughts, because the previous one disturbed her, quickly turned to the others still aboard the Revenge. How was Luke? What had happened to Zack and Erik?
She knew now that at least some part of her was human because her heart was breaking.
She shook her head. Dashed the tears from her eyes.
Enough dramatics, she thought to herself!
She was resolute, she knew what she had to do, but how to make it so?

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Tuesday
Forlath looked at the main control panel; surely it must have some function that would get them out of their current predicament. Forlath drew upon his years of training, schooling and experience and looked deep inside himself for something, anything that would give him inspiration for this moment… Suddenly it struck him “start pressing buttons!” he shouted. The others turned in his direction; the Captain was throwing switches and turning dials, hitting every button he saw. The others shrugged their collective shoulders and started pressing buttons and pulling levers with a vengeance.
A motion out of the corner of her eye caught Mara’s attention, she saw a small access hatch pop open behind a console panel. It was hidden from the rest of the room by the console and before she could bring it to everybody’s attention Mara saw her little automaton stick its ‘head’ through and beep at her. It clearly wanted her to crawl after it. Should she follow it, should she bring the hatch to everyone else’s attention? The decision was entirely Mara’s…

Reply by Lady Emma Darry on Tuesday
From her position at the control panel, Emma can see Mara is crying. She moves closer to her and pats Mara shoulder soothingly with one hand, the other still busy pushing buttons.
“Don’t cry!” Emma says helplessly. She knows this is hardly helpful, but she reckons it’s the thought that counts. Mara isn’t looking at her, though – she is staring at the control panel. Emma figures she is attempting to hide her tears from the rest of the group. “We’ll be back on the Revenge again laughing about this over a gin and tonic in no time, right?” Emma repeats the reassuring words Mara has said to her earlier.

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Tuesday
Mara, giving as best a smile as she could muster to Lady Emma for her thoughtfulness, turned to face the Captain. They were literally face to face in such cramped quarters.
“Captain, sir” she said “there is something I need to discuss with you.”
“This is an inopportune moment to discuss anything, Officer” he replied.
“But sir” Mara insisted “there is a way out” as she points in the direction of the open hatch where the little automaton was now beeping frantically.
“I don’t know where it will take us, I leave it to your discretion, sir.” she countered.

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Tuesday
“I am so sorry” Mara declared as she wedged her way around to face Corporal Chemisesrouges.
She had inadvertently poked him in the eye when she pointed out the hatch to the Captain.
“Oops, excuse me” she said to XO Ezra as she elbowed him in the ribs trying to make the turn.
She was attempting to inch her way towards the open hatch and the now screeching little mechanical.
“My apologies”, she said as she stepped on poor LPs toes.
“Pardon me, Maddie” she was getting closer to her destination, sidling her way around her crewmates.

Reply by Lady Elizabeth Patch on Tuesday
Whilst the room spun in craziness…the group pushing this button…pulling that…Cappi-tan Forlath pushing every colored button in front of him…seems he missed maybe one…Nope!…He just got it….*lights popped out of the top of the control panel and began spinning.. effectively turning the dark lit room into a disco * Huh…LP thought…guess they do have a sense of humor after all…
Mara…crying on Dear Emma’s shoulder…wiped her tears, then noticed her little automation…she smiled knowingly…a way out….Thus bringing it to Cappi-tan’s attention.
At this point the pounding on the door had become louder than any disco LP had been to…and the gun that held the door at bay began to crack…holding on…but just barely…
Checking her person, LP felt relief to know her Lid-less jar still hung about her hip….Knowing they had but little time before the door completely caved in…She poured the marbles on the floor…
“Patch… This is not the time for a game of marbles…” Ezra said in her ear…. Effectively scaring the Hoo-Ha out of her.
Turning, she smiled up at him and then poked his nose. “That! My friend is a booby trap…didn’t you watch ‘Home Alone’?”
Right then is when Mara stepped on her toe…pain shot threw her foot…so she did what any normal person might…she jumped up and down holding her toe…all while watching Mara move towards her intended destination….

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Tuesday
Just at that moment the blast door finally succumbed to the steady beating it had been receiving and started to give way. The Corporal’s rifle snapped in two and the door started to bend inward at the top with a deafening squeak of tortured metal. Captain Grey looked to the door and then to the open hatch “GO, GO, GO!!” He shouted and gestured wildly to the hatch.
One by one the crew mates fell onto their stomachs and wiggled their way quickly into the maintenance hatch. The landing party fired shots at the opening blast door, attempting to ward off the mechanoids whilst awaiting their turn to squeeze into the hatch. It was going to be close. “I’ll never fit; I’m too big and juicy!” Shouted Private Rödtröja still convinced he was a giant red tomato. “I’ll hold them off, you go!”
Captain Grey turned from where he was standing next to the access hatch to force the private into the hatch but as he took a step towards the private, Forlath stepped on the marbles now scattered everywhere around the room, the Captain’s feet flew out from under him and he landed flat on his back with a woof as all the air was expelled out of his lungs. Commander Casey reached out and grabbed Forlath’s ankles and pulled him feet first into the hatch. The last sight Forlath had of Private Rödtröja was of him upside down valiantly firing his rifle at the mechanoids at point blank range while shouting TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY FOR A BLT!!

Reply by Mara Fantoccini yesterday
Once outside the control room, the away team found themselves in the center of what appeared to be yet another chamber with a myriad of corridors running out from it, like the hub of a giant wheel with countless spokes.
“Werl, rads awn rashes….” the Captain said, as he spat a beautiful pale blue marble into his hand, passed it to the Lady Patch adding “I believe this is one of yours.”
“Ahem” he continued “well, lads and lasses, any suggestions but make it quick!”
Lady Emma pointing towards one of the corridors “I say this one.”
“So be it” the Captain retorted, and off they all sped………all save one.
Mara had made her decision. She would no longer jeopardize her crew mates.
She lingered back until they were all in front of her then quickly turned and headed back towards the central hub.
She randomly chose a different path and continued running until she thought she was far enough away, then slowed to a walk.
They would never be able to know which corridor she had chosen, as there were so many.
She thought-
it is logical.
The needs of the many outweigh
the needs of the few…
…or the one.
The Captain in his great wisdom would understand.
The sound of beeps and whirs brought her out of her deliberation.
She looked down to see the little automaton standing there in front of her.
“How did you get here so quickly?” she asked
She was starting to actually make out words between the other sounds.
“You can help, is that it?” she said.
She thought for a moment “can you take me to the”…..what did he call himself, the little dwarf…she remembered “warder?”
The little mechanical responded with what she believed to be a yes.
“Well then, take me there this minute.”
It let out a stream of blips and beeps, becoming very heated.
“Alright” she said, “calm down.”
From what she could unravel from the minuscule tirade was that he was not a ‘transporter’ but merely a ‘watcher/guardian.’
Hmmm, she thought. She wished it would have stayed with her friends instead of her to keep them safe. Warn them of any danger.
As if it read her thoughts, the little robotic started to whir furiously.
It expelled something like a small metallic insect which immediately started to rapidly multiply.
To her astonishment, before her now stood a second identical little mechanical.
It had replicated itself.
It stood there, apparently awaiting a command from her.
“Find the others” she said, “protect them, warn them if danger approaches, but” she added, “do not under any circumstance lead them back to me!”
“Now, go” and off it scampered.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
The landing party ran full pelt down the corridor, suddenly Captain Forlath Grey came to an abrupt halt “where’s Officer Fantoccini??” XO Ezra Yesterday picked himself off the floor where he had landed when the unanticipated stop caused him to run smack into Corporal Chemisesrouges who careened into Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, who tumbled into Medical Officer Lady Elizabeth Patch, who, well, you get the idea.
“She was just with us, I’m sure” answered the XO. “We need to go back for her!” Shouted the Chief. “Son of a biscuit” sighed the Captain, the landing party started to retrace their steps when from around the corner came the three mechanoids and their Tesla weapons. “RUN!!!” Shouted Forlath as the corridor begun to explode with Tesla energy bursts all around them…

Reply by Lady Emma Darry yesterday
The corridor seems to go on forever. There are no places to hide, and they can’t keep running at this pace for much longer. Their persuers, however, can.
“What’s the plan?” Emma calls out. “We can’t seriously hope to out run these things!”
As she is saying that, one of the aforementioned things shoots its Tesla weapon, and pieces of the cieling come raining down on their heads. Emma has an uneasy feeling the mechanoids are playing with them, like a cat plays with its prey before eating it. Then another uneasy thought strikes her – the mechanoids came from the direction of where Mara was last seen….
Mara may not be lost – she could have just chosen a different corridor, she may not have come across these machines at all… but why would she choose to leave the rest of the group? It doesn’t make sense.

Emma pushes these thoughts away. They are counter-productive right now, and besides, the throbbing pain at her side makes it difficult for her to concentrate. She can’t go on anymore. Her heart feels like it is going to explode. She opens her mouth to heroicly urge her companions to go on without her when she sees the light. At first, she thinks it must be very far away. But then it starts moving and making beeping sounds.
“Can you see that too?” Emma points to the small creature, which has now begun to let out steam. “Or am I hellucinating?”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Back on board the airship Queen Bran’s Revenge the remaining officers Wing Commander Luke von Hagen, Science Officer Xavier Pendennis and Bartender 1st class Zack, who as luck would have it also turned out to be a 1st class fighter pilot, they along with Watch Commander Chief Petty Officer Camisaroja and the other on duty petty officers met in the ready room to discuss their next move.
The airship damage report confirmed what they all ready knew, the airship needed major repairs. Sparks flew, smoke billowed and steam hissed pretty much everywhere aboard the ship. Fighter and pilot strengths were currently down to one squadron, barely. Things didn’t look good. But in spite of all that, the vote was unanimous; the order was relayed to give chase to the enemy mechanoid base ship. The landing crew planet side would not be abandoned.

With all able bodied crew members at their battle stations, the Revenge slowly altered course and limped after the mechanoid ship. Things didn’t look good but the crew of the Revenge did not intend to give up without a fight even if the odds were stacked against them…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Captain Forlath Grey looked ahead to where Lady Emma was pointing; there was indeed some kind of small automaton bouncing back and forth apparently trying to get their attention just ahead. Before the Captain had the chance to digest that information Commander Casey called out “they’ve stopped chasing us!” The crew not believing their ears staggered to a stop and looked back at the mechanoids who if their eyes were not deceiving them had broken off the chase and were retreating back down the corridor.
As Captain Grey contemplated this new development a sudden chill ran down his spine. What if they were going after Mara! Forlath quickly looked back to where the automaton had been standing… it was gone.

Reply by Lady Emma Darry yesterday
Emma leans against the wall, trying to catch her breath and grabbing her side. How odd, she thinks to herself as she notices the little mechanic creature is gone. Could it be a coincidence that the automaton appeared just when their persuers let up and disappeared immidately after that? Probably not, but Emma has never been much of a robot expert.
“I hate to be the one to say that, but someone has to do it,” she manages to say after a moment. “The mechanoids had to pass Mara to get to us. We need to be open to the possibility that… that…” Emma can feel the rest of the group is staring at her. It is too dark for her to be certain, but she suspects they are displeased with what she is saying. She doesn’t bother finishing the sentence – they know exactly what she means, and Emma knows there is nothing she could say that would make a difference.
“We’re going after her,” this isn’t a question, but a fact. “I hope you have a better plan than running away, screaming, if we want to have a fighting chance.”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter yesterday
Running, always running…through endless tunnels…were they heading towards the surface, or tunneling ever deeper? Regardless, they couldn’t keep going like this; tired, ragged and without direction, on and on, deeper and deeper.
Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter shivered, a sense of claustrophobia creeping over her. She disliked confinement. It was one of the primary reasons she left home; balking at the idea of taking over her father’s drafting business, to become an adventuress. Freedom, open spaces, the wind at her back, these things brought her contentment…she imagined herself back aboard the Revenge…It’s not just an engine and a ballonet and a rudder, that’s what an airship needs, but what an airship is…what the Revenge really is, is freedom…And, if she couldn’t get back to the ship soon, all that could be gone…along with a nearly priceless collection of gin she thought, rather bleakly. They needed to get back to the ship. She needed to get back to the ship, if it were to have any hope of surviving the onslaught, the Revenge needed it’s engineer.
But we can’t leave Mara here, stranded, either…Maddie was torn. Pausing to collect her thoughts for a split-second, she approached Captain Forlath. “Captain, if I may…” she began…”I understand that no man, or woman, should be left behind, but, if we tarry too long here, we may loose the only chance we have of escaping this blasted hell-hole. The Revenge, sir, she needs us too.” The Captain nodded, his brow knitted pensively, as he considered the Chiefs words. “Then what do you suggest, Chief Phillips-Carter?” he replied, after some time. “Perhaps we should split up Captain…some of us continuing the search for Mara, while others, myself included, attempt to find our way back to the ship? Once I am back aboard the Revenge, I believe I can re-wire communications so that I may hail the away team via these radios” she said, motioning to the small device in her hand “That way I can guide the away team back to the ship, once Mara has been located, and brief them on the status of the Revenge?” she cast her eyes downward “It’s up to you Captain, I await your command…”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Captain Forlath Grey considered, what Lady Emma and Chief Maddie said made sense. Forlath was tired of being buffeted about by the winds of narrative. This time they would be the antagonists for a change. “Right,” Forlath spoke up “we need to act and act fast, Chief, you, the Corporal, Commander Steward and Sawbones Patch make your way back to the airship by the most expeditious route possible.” “Captain,” Casey interrupted “if it’s all the same to you, I would uh… like to help you find Mara.”
Forlath glanced at Casey and nodded, “fine, Commander you, and the XO are with me. Lady Darry, on the surface is a Drop ship, the gods willing still where we left it with one fire squad and the pilot Chief Warrant Officer Roteshemd standing by. If you think you can guide the Chief and Sawbones there, please do so. If however you feel you would be of more use coming with us on our suicide rescue mission then by all means join us. I leave the choice up to you. Chief get back to the airship and figure out some way to get us out of this mess fast and that’s an order!”
With that the Captain headed back down the corridor followed by Casey and Ezra. Forlath had absolutely no idea yet what his plan was but hopefully that wasn’t too obvious to the rest of the crew…

Reply by The Ringmaster 20 hours ago
I smell fresh blood. My stomach growls and twists in upon itself like a living being. It drives me on. I will crack the bones and suck out the marrow. Yes. I will crunch the cartilage from ears and nose. Yes. Yes. I will suck out the retinas. YEESSS. I stop, my many eyes look quickly behind me, side to side – my claws extend to their full nine inch length. I hear a giggling noise. I am puzzled. I relax, I realize now I hear only me. Giggling, delighting in my hunger. SSssssss!!! Wait! I smell peacekeepers! Wretched, always watching peacekeepers. I am becoming reckless in my hunger. Fool. Fool. FOOL. I must go stealthily or face one of their wretched tribunals. Not again. Not again, no, not again.
I smell fresh blood.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday 20 hours ago
XO Ezra Yesterday followed Captain Grey down Yet Another corridor, in search of Mara. As they rounded a corner, they came face to face with another group of Automatons; but there was something different about this group,as they were escorting a large figure in a hooded robe.
A voice spoke from beneath the hood,” Give us the one known as Mara.”
Capitan Forlath strode forward heroically, “Ummm,” he said.

OK, so it was lame, but at least it was said in a strong, confident manner, you had to give him that.
He cleared his throat and tried again, “That is, No! We aren’t giving you anyone, you tin plated bucket of bolts.”
As he started to warm to his subject, Ezra and Casey exchanged knowing glances and leaned against the tunnel wall… After he wasn’t called the Oncoming Storm for nothing.

Ezra zoned out for a few minutes, just woolgathering, thinking happy morning thoughts… It had been a long time since he slept.
He tuned back in as The Captain was winding back down.
” and furthermore, it is the firm policy of the Officers and Crew of the Queen Bran’s Revenge, Of which I am the Captain! that we Do Not negotiate with terrorists. Now Bugger off, me laddie, or I’ll take a blowtorch to your scrapmetal a…”
He paused, mid bluster, “…I say, what is that thing you have in your hand there?”

While he was winding up to full hurricane mode, the hooded figure had slowly moved to the front of his party, a scant 10 yards away, and as Forlath neared the conclusion of his Tirade, pulled what appeared to be one handed rocket launcher from under the folds of his robe.
“This?”, the Hood said, a palatable sneer hanging in the air, “Why, This is my Boomstick!” He thrusts it into the air.
“It’s the Zorg Z-F 1 Smartgun. It’s lightweight, the handle is adjustable for easy carrying, is ambidextrous, it breaks down into four parts undetectable by X-Ray, and is ideal for quick and discrete interventions. It has a 3000 round clip with bursts of three to 300. The ZF-1 also contains a rocket launcher, an arrow launcher with exploding or poisonous gas heads, a net launcher, and a flamethrower.”
Forlath and Casey were taken aback by this description, as was Ezra.

But As the hooded figure continued to talk, , Ezra suddenly sat up straighter, something in the voice tugging a memory….
The Hood took another step forward and said, menacingly, “Now shut up and listen to me, you ridiculous babbling brook of a man. You will give me the woman Mara… and in exchange I will make your death an agonizing one….If you Don’t Then before I am done with you, You will Beg me for the sweet release of slow roasting and being Eaten Alive!”
His voice rose in a crescendo of madness, reverberating off the tunnel walls,
” Give Her To Us… NOW!!!!”
There was a sudden awed hush, everyone stunned by this outburst.
A silence broken only by a muttered “…No way…” from Ezra, who was now staring at the tall hooded figure in apprehension,
“… It, simply…Can’t Be…”
The cloaked figure threw back his head, his hood at last falling back from his head as he bellowed, “I Said NOW!”…
…The glow from the overhead crystals revealing the face of Private First Class, Marion Cryscoch.
“You have GOT to be Kidding me!” Ezra said, pushing away from the wall and falling into a defensive stance.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday 19 hours ago
“How in the Blazes are you back from the dead, Marion?” Ezra said, “I saw you…well, it’s before the blasted watershed again, so I can’t describe it…but I saw what happened to you! How are you alive?”
The Royal Marine gave an alien smirk and said,
“It’s simple really, Ezra. I am not actually your ‘Marion’. I am a spy droneform, sent in advance of the invasion in order to find Mara and pinpoint her location so her extraction would go smoothly. I had been inhabiting the body of your Marine friend here since he passed out in the cave of Illusions, [somewhere back around page 18] hiding in the back of his mind… waiting…watching. I knew he would be there when you eventually met back up with your group.” He leaned his weapon on the floor like a cane and continued, “At last, in the marketplace, At last my patience paid off, as you finally bumbled your way back to your friends, so I sent the signal to the ship to break off the attack on your pathetic ship and concentrate here. I was about to take over your “Marion’s” mind and begin to dispatch as many of you as possible, when the idiot took a bite out of a Hlungfarl. Then that silly Doctoer woman of yours dispatched me into the sky… How did she know there was an air vent directly above, I wonder?”
While the abomination was pondering that mystery, Ezra slowly edged over toward the opposite wall. As he passed the Captain he handed off a small, cloth wrapped bundle, doing his best to not give away the exchange.
“Stop where you are… There is no escape for you! This plot exposition is going to happen whether you are alive or dead, so you might just as well suffer with the rest of us.”
Marion-bot paused, then continued “Anyway, where was I?.. Oh! Floating away roughly two thirds of a hideously mutilated corpse being lofted into the air by my left boot … I was hit by a passing fighter, fell back to earth, and assimilated another lifeform for its biomass.” He beamed hideously at Ezra, “ Since this person, which should rightfully never have been mentioned again after the short cameo he was afforded in the first place, irritates you so very much, I reconstructed myself in its likeness. Think of it as a farewell present…only without the farewell and with a double dose of DIE!”
With that several things happened at in quick succession:
Ezra sprang up into the overhanging pipes near the ceiling of the tunnel.
The Marion-bot fired its weapon at the spot Ezra had been standing.
Casey fired a blast from a sawed off shotgun into the pipes just behind the four robots releasing a jet of disgusting water, and other alien fluids, that sprayed all over them…drenching them instantly..
…As Forlath flung the cloth wrapped Ice spider directly at the chest of the thing wearing Marion’s face.
There was a rush of cold wind as every drop of moisture, and every wet surface froze completely solid. The guard bots broke into their component parts instantly and cascaded to the floor, useless rubble.
And a split second later, Ezra swung his trusty sword up and through the steam pipe he was hanging from, severing it cleanly and pointing it directly at the Flash frozen Pseudo-Marion.
With a furious scream that climbed into the upper registers like a steam powered dog whistle, the alien Spy-bot in Marions clothing exploded into multicolored nasty bits of snow.
Ezra began to laugh hysterically.. then the pipe he was hanging from finished giving way beneath his weight and he fell to the floor head first.
His companions rushed over to his aid, only to hear him mumble,” Achievement Unlocked: Level Boss.”
…And with a final chuckle, he passed out.

Reply by Lady Emma Darry 13 hours ago
“If we can find a way out of here, and if you remember where you parked your ship, I could probably lead you there,” Emma says to the remaining members of their group. “I know this place better than I would have liked to… I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s not exactly the most pleasant place in the world.”

She begins walking in the opposite direction to the one the captain chose, hoping it is the one they need. It must have been, because after some time, Lady Patch, Chief Phillips-Carter and Emma can hear voices. Clearly, the street is right above their heads, which makes it all the more frustrating that they can’t seem to get there. Eventually, though, the tunnel inclines upwards and their luck appear to be changing. The can even see a light now – Emma is almost giddy with relief. That is, until they get close enough to see that their way out is blocked by a metal sewer gate.
Emma approaches the gate and tries to open it.
“Locked, of course,” she sighs. “Any ideas?”

Reply by Dr. Maxwell Heartfelt Æther SPC 8 hours ago
so many tunnels. they all looked similar, no one looking any different from the last, but still he ran. the voices behind him grew louder and louder. there shouts and curses for his head and more private parts on a stick gave him enough reason to run faster. he rounded a corner and tripped over something on the ground causing to roll over the ground. he managed to end up on his feet, where gasping for breath he leaned against a sewer grate. he pulled out a dirty piece of cloth he had been using as a map, but found that it had gotten wet and all things written on it were washed away. he cursed loudly tossing the cloth aside. “the one time i really needed boots and she has to be on the ship ready to escape!” he sighed taking a moment to catch his breath while he tried to find something that would give him an idea where he was.

Reply by Mara Fantoccini 6 hours ago
Walking along the corridor Mara began softly humming.
It was an old tune she had heard somewhere, she thought it was called a lullaby.
As she hummed she noticed another sound.
It was the little automaton doing his best to ‘hum’ along. It was more of a soft whir, but it brought a smile to Mara’s face.
She paused for a moment and looked down at the small metallic figure.
“I wonder” she said “do you have a name?”
It started beeping and whistling.
“SPD-13….beep… may not injure MARA or, through inaction, allow MARA to come to harm….blip…. must obey orders given by MARA except where such orders would conflict with first law….whir….must protect own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with first or second law….whistle…”
“So” she said “you can speak after all.”
Mara was unsure whether it was actually speaking english, or if it were she, learning to understand the various sounds it made, and had no idea of what it was going on about.
Regardless, she added “I will just call you Bob, how’s that?”
‘Bob’ whistled, which Mara interpreted as a yes.
They continued along until they came to a small opening in a wall to the left of them.
Curious as to where it led, Mara walked over, crouched down and peered inside.
There was a small room on the other side of the opening.
“Hmmm, that might be a safe place to rest until I think of what to do next.”
She crawled through, followed by her little companion.
It seemed safe enough.
Bob agreed.
She sat down, cross-legged, back against the wall and then continued her soft hum.
Bob crawled onto her lap and nestled itself comfortably.
She pulled a corner of her skirt and covered him with it.
She didn’t understand why, it was just an automatic response. ‘Tucking him in’ she thought.
Then, resting her head against the wall, she closed her eyes and truly slept.
She dreamt she was back aboard the Revenge, before this all began.
The crew had just started to leave the bar, one by one, after having a lovely evening of, well, drinking and carousing.
She went back to her room and lay on the bed, not even bothering to undress.
As she closed her eyes and drifted off a feeling of dread crept over her.
It was there, in her room.
She felt it’s hot breath against her cheek and then at her throat.
It sniffed, then licked, then sniffed again…..
Mara awoke abruptly..
Bob, like a siren, was screeching, spinning, an angry little alarm.
A shudder racked her entire being as she glimpsed a hunched figure darting away, exiting the room through the opening in the wall.
She felt cold and unnerved.
In a shivering voice she said “I think we had better move on, Bob.”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter 6 hours ago
“It appears to be locked from the outside” Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter grumbled, descending from the metal ladder leading to the grate. “And the streets above are still in utter chaos due to the attack…no one would ever hear us above that din, even if we were to cry out for assistance.” She paused a moment and began to rummage around in her knapsack… “I have an idea though, and if my assumptions are correct, we will be able to bypass the market entirely…it’s far too risky to travel out in the open like that as it is…AHA! Yes, yes, fantastic!” Maddie pulled a worn book of matches emblazoned with the Piranha Club logo from her bag. With all they had been through, she hoped they would still light. She moved away from the manhole, down a second corridor, motioning for the crew to follow. Holding her breath, she struck the first match.
Nothing. She tried a second. Still nothing.
This continued on until only a single match remained. Maddie muttered a string of curses as she pulled it from the matchbook. The crew held their breath in antici…pation…
With a hiss the match sputtered to life! The crew let out a collective sigh of relief but was quickly hushed by Chief Phillips-Carter. “I need to you all to keep extrememly still…no talking…shallow breathing only” she whispered through clenched teeth. Slowly, steadily, she held the match aloft. The flame began to flicker, not towards the sewer grate as the crew half expected, but directly upwards!?
“Yes!! Just as I thought!!” Maddie grinned triumphantly, jumping up and down in place like a fiendish little imp (or Rumpelstiltskin.) “Corporal!” she called “I need your assistance…if you could, erm, give me a boost” she said, pointing towards the ceiling. While the ceilings were rather low, they were just out of Maddie’s reach. Corporal Chemisesrouges knelt down and gave the Chief a leg-up. She rapped on ceiling, pressing her ear against the cool, smooth metal, listening for a response. After a few moments, she dug into her knapsack yet again, this time pulling out a small utility knife. Wiggling the knife into a small indent, the Chief cursed, hammered her fists on the ceiling, and wiggled the knife again. With a pop, a panel released, falling to the ground with a crash only inches from Corporal Chemisesrouges. “Boost me up!” she said with a satisfied smile. Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter wriggled a bit before disappearing completely into the ceiling. Moments later, she popped her head out, addressing the crew “As I suspected, this is a ventilation shaft! Since we are deep underground, below a cave, in fact, fresh air is being pumped from the surface of the planet, through the cave systems and down into this city! If we follow the shafts upwards, we should emerge on the surface of the planet…with any luck, somewhere in range of the transport!” And with that, she disappearred back into the shaft, motioning for the crew to follow.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 5 hours ago
Captain Forlath Grey leaned up against the corridor wall. His bad leg was troubling him again, no wonder with all this running about they always seemed to be doing. He took his pipe out of his waistcoat pocket and smacked the bottom of the bowl against the base of his open palm. He had to admit, he did not see that coming. Not only did the events of the last few minutes tie up some loose ends, it kinda exonerated them of the brutal and bizarre murder of Private Marion Cryscoch back in the Underground Market. Well, not ‘them’ per se, if memory served the Private was already fairly close to ‘shuffling off this mortal coil’ due to an unfortunate and odd incident with something that had appeared to all intents and purposes to be cotton candy, when Ezra and Lady Patch finished him off and then grotesquely desecrated his body. But law enforcement agencies always seemed such sticklers when it came to the technicalities of murder and unlawful acts with corpses, for some reason. They’re kinda officious that way Forlath thought to himself as he put the stem of his pipe between his teeth.

Just then animal hybrids in body armor decorated with the holy symbol of Everlasting Peace and vicious looking projectile weapons swarmed the Captain, Commander and the XO. “Nobody move!” Shouted a mean looking pitbull headed Reverend Sergeant “you are all under apprehension for suspected disruption of the holy peace! You will accompany us to a Superintendent Bishop Tribunal for questioning. Cuff them Acolyte Constable!” With that what appeared to be a humanoid turtle slowly started to walk toward the Captain, XO Ezra and Commander Casey, cuffs in hand. Forlath rolled his eyes towards heaven, how did that saying go – ‘speak of the devil and he doth appear’? Forlath heaved a deep sigh, knowing their luck police brutality was to be expected…

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter 5 hours ago
The crew, led by Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, strove on… onwards and upwards through what seemed like miles upon miles of ventilation shafts. Luckily, utility ladders had been installed inside the more vertical shafts, to fill the gaping plot-hole Maddie had so carelessly overlooked.
After what seemed like hours of crawling and climbing (in near darkness no less, the likes of which should have driven most individuals mad) the crew began to see light. The air began to take on a sweeter, fresher quality… “We’re almost there!” Maddie cried with relief “Push on boys and girls….or rather, boy and girls…just a little further!” After one final ladder they reached a small grate. Maddie sighed…not again. She thought for a moment, then, in disgust and abandon, tired of the stifling passageways, itching to be free, she rammed her shoulder and forearm into the grate with all her might. With a loud “POP!” the grate flew off and went clattering across the surface world. How convienient Maddie thought this one wasn’t locked! Relieved to see daylight, she clawed her way up and out of the shaft, collapsing onto the cool dirt above. The crew followed suit. Lady Patch giggled in delight “This calls for JELLYBEANS!” she cried and passed around a bag. I wish there were gin flavored jellybeans Maddie thought to herself, throwing an empty bottle from her knapsack.

The crew were gorging themselves on jellybeans, oblivious to the world around them, reveling in their new found freedom when a familiar, thickly accented voice rung out from behind a large rock…

“Hört auf!!! Stop what you are doing, and slowly raise your hands into the air!” Chief Warrant Officer Roteshemd crept around the rock and inched his way towards the crew warily, his rifle cocked. Maddie scrambled to her feet. “Just what the hell do you think you are doing Officer!” “Whoa! What kind of greeting is this!” Lady Patch chimed in. “I…I…cannot trust you!” the Officer replied shakily…”You…you might not be who you appear to be!!” “Stop talking nonsense my man!” exclaimed Corporal Chemisesrouges “Explain yourself!” The officer hesitated, dropped his rifle to his side, then began

“Just yesterday I saw my squadmate Marion’s corpse come floating up and out of a tunnel in the ground, borne aloft by some brightly colored luftballoons….I watched helplessly as he floated up and up, into the sky!” he sighed. “Then, not four or five hours ago, he… returned…striding up to me like nothing happened! When I tried to interrogate him, he knocked me out, with some sort of…stungun? When I awoke, he was gone! And that is why I simply cannot trust you!!!”

Before the Officer could cock his rifle again, Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter dashed forward and hit him with a strong left hook across the jaw. The force of the blow sent the Officer staggering backwards. The Chief took this split second opportunity to wrench the rifle from his grasp, then, muttering an apology, hit him sqaure in the forehead with the buttstock. Maddie smiled wryly as the crew watched on in shock “Never judge a book by it’s cover, I may be small, but I pack one hell of a punch” and turning back to the downed marine she added “Corporal, if you would kindly give your sqaudmate a lift, I believe I see our trainsport.”

When they reached the transport ship, the crew clammored aboard. Maddie punched the comm. uplink and attempted to hail the Revenge “Chief Phillips-Carter to airship command….give me your status. I repeat, this is Chief Phillips-Carter…airship command, please respond.” Nothing but static. Maddie sighed, they would have to fly this one blind.

Reply by Dr. Maxwell Heartfelt Æther SPC 3 hours ago
he ran down the corridor with the hall behind him filled with angery bodies giving chase. he hit the com on his wrist and shouted into it. “boots! come in boots! be ready to scoop me up! i’ve got hostiles coming in hot and there’s gonna be no chance for me to get comfy in the ship.” his communicator just hissed and crackled and he hoped boots got his message. he reached over his shoulder with his caster pistol fireing off a couple water rounds, which causes several torrents of water to erupt amongst his chasers knocking some to the ground some drown from the massive amounts of water suddenly appearing. the ones struck by the rounds explode from the water suddenly filling there bodies.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 2 hours ago
The glass door of the pneumatic lift hissed open, Mara and Bob Gir stepped out. The large, well appointed chamber was comforting somehow after all that had happened since the last time she had been here. She looked about, the room had a pervading sense of patience and peace, like it had been here since the beginning of time and would continue to be here long after the suns had ceased to burn and the planets had ceased to spin.
Mara looked toward the center of the room. She could see the Warder’s dwarfish form up on one of the raised maintenance platforms on the side of the Divergent Worlds Machine. He looked so wise and serene even in his shirt sleeves. Could he… Mara thought suddenly… could he be some sort of divinity? Just at that moment the Warder took a large wrench from a table on the platform and started to bang on the side of the Divergent Worlds Machine “You blasted bucket of bolts, you’re lucky I don’t melt you down and sell you for scrap!!” He followed that up with a long litany of curses that made Mara’s ears turn red. Hmm, maybe not so divine after all…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 2 hours ago
The tiny automaton residents of the chamber upon noticing Mara and Bob Gir’s return quickly crowded around her in a happy throng. They beeped and tweeted their welcome, raising such a din that finally the Warder up on his platform looked over and noticed Mara standing there. He smiled or grimaced, it was hard to tell which, wiped his hands on a rag, put on his smoking jacket and slid down the ladder leading up to the maintenance platform.

He waddled up to Mara. “So,” he said “you’ve returned. I figured it was just a matter of time. I better put the kettle on” and with that left the room. By the time they were finally situated in a pair of comfy chairs next to the floor to ceiling bookcases with some tea and biscuits on the side table between them and the Divergent Worlds Machine whirring away in the background, Mara felt like she was going to burst. Every time she had tried to start the flow of conversation he had shushed her, claiming he couldn’t possibly talk and get the tea properly prepared at the same time. But now that they were seated, teacups in hand, the Warder gave Mara a simple nod and she launched into her questions like water rushing through a bursting dam.

“What did you mean when you said I was damaged?” Mara blurted. The Warder looked at her quizzically “are you sure I said you were damaged?” Mara nodded in the affirmative. “Are you sure I didn’t say you were in danger?” Mara paused but then nodded again insistently “I’m sure of it!” The Warder stroked his beard for a moment and asked a question in return that cut to the heart of the matter “have you figured out what you are yet?” Mara shook her head; that particular question had been troubling her ever since she had last left this room. The Warder sighed deeply. “I apologize for upsetting your world view Mara, it’s those blasted contraptions’ fault bringing you here in the first place” with that he glared at the windup automatons milling around Mara’s feet “but perhaps it’s for the best… well here goes… Mara… would you like another cup of tea?” Mara had been sitting on the edge of her seat and the last question caused her to gap in astonishment at the Warder.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 2 hours ago
“Hmm, yes, I suppose not,” hurried the Warder, “oh very well. Martial Armored Reconnaissance Automaton or MARA for short. Quite frankly, I’m surprised you hadn’t figured it out for yourself by now.” Mara felt sick to her stomach, how could this be… wait a second how was it she felt anything if she was some kind of machine! She insistently asked the Warder to explain. “Well, you’re not strictly a machine now are you? You’re a mechanically enhanced biological subspecies, all very top of the line don’t you know. Yes, very advanced stuff.” The Warder continued “your series was ‘manufactured’ by the Engineers for the great wars long ago. Actually I’m quite surprised to see a MARA model still on its, sorry, ‘your’ feet after all this time.”

“But that’s impossible,” quailed Mara, “I’m not even from this world; our airship came through just days ago!” “Well, that explains it doesn’t it,” the Warder countered “divergent worlds, divergent timelines, you obviously slipped through at some point in the distant past and are just now returning to your own timeline. Why that right there explains why you haven’t been decommissioned yet.” With that the Warder paused awkwardly, obviously he just said more than intended. Mara pressed him to explain. With another sigh, the Warder continued “Mara, you are in danger child, there are those that would love nothing more than to get their hands on technology of your standard for their nefarious purposes and there are others like the Holy Order of Peacekeepers that would see you as a threat to the holy peace everlasting and would want to see you um, ‘decommissioned’.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 2 hours ago
Mara fell back into her chair, she was gobsmacked. “What do I do now…” she asked weakly? “Well, there is one way to make you completely human of course” the Warder offered. Mara sat up again, a glimmer of hope springing to life. “True love, you must find true love…” with that the Warder descended into a coughing fit that lasted for a good few minutes. Mara grew concerned, that is she grew concerned until she realized the Warder wasn’t coughing, he was laughing. At the look on Mara’s face, the Warder eventually stopped laughing and whipped the tears from his eyes. “Hey, give me a break, I’m an old dwarf,” the Warder explained “my present line of work offers very little in the way of amusement.” It was plain that Mara didn’t see any humor in her current situation. “Okay fine, you want purpose, go save the dolphins or something, heck, go save the world but better yet why don’t you start by saving your friends?” The Warder cocked an eyebrow and gestured at Mara with his teacup “you have abilities and enhancements galore Mara Fantocinni, instead of sitting around here feeling sorry for yourself, you should be out there seizing the day!”
The Warder paused to let his words soak in. “But I’m just some old geezer, what do I know?” almost as an afterthought the dwarf added “of course there is one thing Mara, you aren’t going to be doing anything enhanced until you get that inhibitor chip removed, and don’t look at me or your little windup pals there. Not even the Mechanoids have the kind of technological knowhow necessary to remove that chip…

Reply by Luke on Friday
Luke turned to Science officer Pendennis. With your permission I’d like to take the fighters out to harry the enemy vessel. However, our weapons are unlikely to cause significent damage. We’ll need your guidance to force the vessel down so that we can conduct a rescue op. Preferably without destroying it and killing everyone onboard.
Zack sighed at Luke’s vitalist comment. His attitude had always been, that death was just another part of life. “Been, there done that, got the t-shirt.” He failed to see what all the fuss was about.
Luke glanced over at him sencing his mistake.
“No Offence buddy. But I’m not sure that Barhah is waiting for them on the other side.”
Turning back to the assembled officers Luke straightened up to give a prepared speach, but his watch chimed four and he was forced to rush off to pick up some groceries before the sortie. Afterall, he could always save his friends later, but if he forgot the milk his coffee would be ruined.
to be continued. 😉

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Friday
Folding her arms across her chest and narrowing her eyes in a questioning glare
“What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Warder?” Mara said to the old dwarf.
She was a bit perturbed.
Well, more than just a bit.
All this information given at once needed serious processing.
She blurted out the first thing that came to mind…
“Why did you not tell me of this before?
Do you know what my companions and I have been through these past few days?
Were you just toying with us, or is this some sort of test? Out with it!” she demanded.
The warder actually looked pleased with the reaction he had aroused in her.
“Calm down there missy” he replied “I’ve told you all that is necessary at the moment.”
This made her even more agitated.
“Now, let me assess the situation. You suck!” Mara said in no uncertain terms.
MARA started pacing the floor, trying to calm her rage.
The warder just sat there smiling, sipping his tea.
After taking several deep breaths she once again questioned the dwarf.
“Can you at least tell me where my crew mates are and how I can find them….and don’t tell me to use those blasted chutes!”
“You could use the exit behind those bookshelves. It will put you back in the tunnel system. Use the force, to find your friends” he said with a chuckle, “if not you can use this.”
He hands her a worn and slightly faded folded fragment of positively peculiar parchment paper. (note the alliteration 🙂
She opens it and sees it is a map of the entire underground. Looking closer she notices many footprints, with names attached, moving about the corridors. She studies it for a moment and there, there they were! The Captain, XO Ezra and Commander Casey….but where were the others?
She turned to ask the Warder, but he was no longer in the room.
‘I guess it is up to me now’ she thought as she grabbed Bob Gir and headed towards the shelves.
“True love…save the dolphins…gobsmacked, well I’ll show him gobsmacked” she grumbled under her breath as she literally threw aside the bookcase, causing books to fly everywhere and then exited into the tunnels.
As she headed towards the now still footprints of her friends on the map, Mara contemplated as to what she would say to them. How would she explain.
She had left them, thinking it was for their own good. Their safety.
Now what would she tell them-
“Hey, I ran into the warder again, you know, the one I told you about with the divergent world machine and all? Well, we had tea and oh, by the way, I’m not completely human and there is this chip somewhere in my body (he could have at least told me it’s location as I have reservations about experimental probing) that when removed I become something else, he didn’t say what, maybe a Chevrolet Camaro or a weapon of mass destruction or a toaster, I haven’t the foggiest!”
Still frustrated she ventured on.

Reply by Mara Fantoccini on Friday
It suddenly dawned on Mara,
perhaps she should have looked for weapons before leaving the Warders.
She turned about and headed back through the doorway.
Thankfully the Warder had not returned, even with all the noise she had made when leaving.
Stepping carefully over the strewn books, she looked round the room.
Hidden in a corner, behind a large mahogany desk, was a coffer.
She tiptoed over to it and tried lifting the lid.
“Locked” she said.
She turned to the desk and started opening drawers until she found a paper-clip which she used to pick the lock.
Inside was a lovely silver tunic. She looked at the tag in the neckline, it read “100% Mithril, dry clean only, made in Moria.”
“How nice, I think I shall wear it” Mara said as she quickly slipped it on.
She continued rummaging and came across a green cloak as well.
“This might come in handy” she thought as she removed it from the chest.
She was then dazzled by the most beautiful sword she had ever seen in her life.
Attached to the sword was a note, all it said was “+5 Holy Avenger”
“Wow!” Mara exclaimed “this is awesome!”
And taking her newly acquired loot, she exited, stage left.

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter yesterday
Corporal Chemisesrouges fired up the engine of the transport craft. Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter continued to fuss with the communications system in what seemed like a hopeless attempt to establish contact with their mothership, the Queen Bran’s Revenge. Lady Patch and Lady Darry were on lookout, scanning the skies for any hint of the ship or it’s attackers. “Take her up, Corporal. Ladies, look sharp. Keep your eyes peeled for any signs of struggle!” the Chief instructed. She then returned her attention to the communications uplink, flipping switches and punching dials…”Chief Engineer Madelaine Phillips-Carter to the bridge…please respond…requesting coordinates…please respond…”
“Erm, Ms. Phillips-Carter…I don’t think we’ll be needing those coordinates…” Lady Darry began, pointing out the rear window of the craft. Fire ripped across the southern sky, turning day into night. Off in the distance Chief Phillips-Carter caught a glimpse of the Queen Bran’s Revenge, loping along in slow pursuit of another, larger craft. “Corporal, turn this hunk of junk around…but for the love of god, do be careful, the enemy ship is also in range.”

Corporal Chemisesrouges turned out to be quite the proficient pilot, deftly manuvering the transport craft within range of the Revenge, artfully dodging enemy fire. Someone aboard the mothership must have taken note of their arrival, for the bay doors opened swiftly…”Brace for landing in 3…2…1” The transport clattered to a halt within the bowels of the ship.
The crew clamored out of the transport ship and into the elevator leading to the main deck. When the brass doors opened, they were greeted by a grim sight. The ship was in shambles…debris, mingled with the bodies of the fallen, both human and dough-man, littered the floors. “Corporal! Medical Officer! Chief! Am I glad to see you!” a marine called out from across an adjoining hall…”Percival! My God! What has happened here!” Corporal Chemisesrouges cried out in reply. “Sir, Ladies…” the marine began “We were attacked! Came out of nowhere they did! The Revenge has taken quite a beating, but we’re not backing down just yet! Please, make your way to the control room, Pendennis and the others will want to speak with you!” and, glancing around he added “If I may ask, where is the Captain, and the others?” “No time, Percy, they‘re safe I‘m sure…” Maddie called back to the marine as she marched off down the hallway. As they made their way towards the bridge, the crew passed the bar. Pressed for time or not, Maddie could not resist popping her head inside.

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter yesterday
The bar had sustained quite a bit of damage .Tables were upturned, barstools broken… most of the bottles of liquor had been knocked from their shelves, covering the floor in a thin coat of broken glass. Maddie shook her head….so much needless destruction she thought. As she turned to leave, a low groan caught her ear. “One moment” she called to the crew. She rushed back inside. The groan was coming from behind the bar, where a tiny doughboy lie, his side pierced by a broken stool-leg. “GRANDS!!!” Maddie cried, rushing to the bartenders side! “G-Good to s-see you, Chief” the doughboy coughed. Chief Phillips-Carter hoisted the tiny creature aloft, carefully, then turned to Lady Patch. “Sawbones! You’ve got to save him…you’ve…you’ve simply got to!!!” Lady Patch gave the Chief a quizzical look. She was not well-versed in dough-creature anatomy. “I’ll…I’ll see what I can do!” she murmured, gingerly taking the doughboy from Maddie’s arms. “I’ll be in the control room…keep me posted on his status please…and see to the other injured crew as well! Lady Emma, you may assist Patch, or join the Corporal and I, the choice is yours…”
With that Chief Phillips-Carter made her way to the bridge, where she and her companions were greeted by a rather distraught looking Pendennis, Luke and Zombie Zack. After briefing each other on their respective situations, Maddie turned to head to the Engine Room, where she (and the stash of Dilithium she was carrying) were sorely needed. Before she could exit, she was intercepted by Lady Patch, who was holding a steaming tray of biscuits in her hands.

“I’m…I’m sorry Maddie…” Lady Patch began “…but, he…he just couldn’t be saved…” and then, perking up she added “Biscuits anyone!”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
The Acolyte Constable humanoid turtle of the Holy Order of Peacekeepers had just finished putting the hand restraints on Captain Forlath Grey when all Hades broke loose. Panels on the walls and ceiling were pulled open and cloaked figures leapt out at the assembled Peacekeepers with deadly intent. Peacekeeper projectile weapons started throwing their needles in all directions. The Captain fell into the Acolyte constable, knocking him over his back. Commander Casey Steward and XO Ezra Yesterday ducked down as the needles ricocheted around the hallway lodging in walls and exposed flesh alike.

“Keys! Captain, get the keys!” Shouted Ezra. Forlath disentangled himself from the Acolyte Constable who was struggling to get off his back and quickly frisked the turtle (making the turtle giggle) till he found the restraint keys. Forlath unlocked his restraints and threw the keys to the XO. XO Ezra was still crouched down on one knee, in the process of unlocking his second cuff when one of the cloaked figures came rushing at him with long claws extended. Before he could react, Commander Steward blind sided the cloaked figure with a clenched double fisted strike to the side of where its cranium should be. The cloaked figure reeled from the blow, smacking its head against the corridor wall with a sickening crunch. As the body slid to the floor, the cloak fell away from its head revealing a long snout with a plethora of wickedly sharp teeth. Ezra’s blood ran cold; the creature looked like one of the statues in the hallucination chamber…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Ezra hurriedly finished unlocking his restraints and then turned and released Casey. Ezra reached down and took his sword off the now dead Reverend Sergeant, Forlath picked up his cane and Casey picked up one of the pneumatic powered Peacekeeper needle guns. The battle still raged around them, bodies piling up on both sides. Staying low and close to the wall they slowly backed away from the fracas. This was obviously something these lads needed to sort out for themselves, Forlath thought to himself, no sense getting involved and confusing an already complicated set of affairs. But there was one thing Forlath needed to do first. He ran back over to the Acolyte Constable, reached down, grabbed one edge of his shell and heaved, flipping the humanoid turtle over off his back. At least now the Acolyte Constable had a chance.
With that the three amigos made their way up the corridor. They were still within earshot of the sounds of battle when they came to what appeared to be a Tesla powered conveyance marked with holy symbols of the Everlasting Peace there in the corridor. As a matter of fact it looked amazingly similar to what was commonly referred to as a golf cart back on the world they had come from. They were just marveling at their good fortune when the sound of flapping reptilian feet from behind them prompted them to look anxiously over their shoulders. There coming towards them at speed was another one of the cloaked figures. Before it could get any closer Forlath was nearly deafened by the noise of “thwap, thwap, thwap, thwap” by his left ear. The reptilian flipped over, fell backwards and then lay still, thick green blood oozing from multiple puncture points. Startled, Forlath looked over to see the barrel of the Peacekeeper needle gun about three inches from the left side of his head.

Before the Captain could say a word, Casey smiled, said “C’mon boys, let’s roll. I’m driving” and with that flopped into the driver seat. Ezra and Forlath exchanged glances and smiles of their own and quickly jumped into the conveyance alongside Casey who then floored it and slammed it into drive, spinning the wheels and laying rubber a good 20 feet down the corridor…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 20 hours ago
The Warder came back from the kitchen still smiling, carrying a Battenberg cake that he had just made this morning and another pot of tea. He stopped in his tracks at the sight of the mess around the back door and sighed at the impetuousness of youth. Never mind, the flock of diminutive windup automatons were all ready busy replacing books and sweeping the spilt tea grounds from the rug. Always running off that girl, which on the whole was actually something of a relief. That impulsiveness implied the human side of this particular MARA unit might still win out over the automaton programming. The Warder sincerely hoped so, he truly did.
But here was a puzzle, the Warder put down the cake and pot of tea on the side table and went over to his desk. Why was that trunk open? He bent over and reapplied the label that had fallen off the trunk. There, that’s better he thought after he closed the trunk and pushed it back where it belonged. *Camera pans in… focuses on label… magnifies* Label reads “Christmas Play Props.” *Cue dramatic incidental music! Duh, duh duhh!!*

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 20 hours ago
Captain Forlath Grey, XO Ezra Yesterday and Commander Casey Steward were currently careening down a corridor in a supped up golf cart decorated in holy symbols. Occasionally Casey would shout out apologies as he forced other transports off the road. “Hey,” Casey said in response to accusing glares from Captain Grey and the XO “I told you I wasn’t exactly au fait with standard transmissions!”
“Where are we going?” Forlath yelled to be heard over the rushing wind and the occasional honks and angry gestures from other drivers. “I thought we were looking for Mara!” Ezra replied. “Right, Mara it is. I think we last saw her this way” said Casey. With that Casey took a sharp right turn cutting off what looked like an underground world school bus loaded with hybrid animal youth, forcing it to drive into the median resulting in crunching metal and an exploding Tesla generator. “Sorry,” Casey shouted back towards the bus which was now totally engulfed in flames, “I’m sure that will buff out.”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Monday
About two clicks off the expressway the front passenger side tire blew out, sending the golf cart spinning into a wall. XO Ezra Yesterday, Captain Forlath Grey and Commander Casey “Chuck” Steward held on for dear life (hard to say but there might have been some screaming involved) as the golf cart bounced like a pinball once, twice, three times down the corridor before coming to rest against a couple of traffic bollards marking the end of the vehicle access tunnel.
Nobody said a word for a moment; all three crew members did the standard internal self assessment test that went something like this:
1. Still alive? If yes proceed to #2. If dead maintain current position, wait for bright light.
2. Everything still attached that should be attached? If yes proceed to #3. If no, commence panic. Intensity of panic to correspond directly to importance of missing part/s. Passing out also option.
3. Everything still appears to still be functioning? If yes proceed to #4. If no, see #2.
4. Find nearest pub.
Slowly and with much moaning the three amigos extricated themselves from the golf cart wreckage. Casey stood and looked at the remains of the once proud cart. “They say any landing you can walk away from is a good landing “ Commander Casey quipped. XO Ezra grabbed Captain Forlath’s outstretched arm and pulled him out onto the floor where Forlath lay for a moment considering the capriciousness of the gods. “They also say never let Casey drive because he’s a lunatic” retorted Ezra. “Oh c’mon,” smiled Casey “nobody really says that.” “Well they should start!”
Forlath climbed to his feet and interrupted the exchange before it could escalate further “all right gentlemen, we appear to have reached our destination wherever that may be. Let’s remember our primary goal of finding Mara. Move out.” With that the Captain limped his way past the wreckage and traffic bollards and started down the pedestrian corridor. Ezra scowling and Casey still smiling followed after…

Reply by Lady Emma Darry on Monday
“Chief Phillips-Carter, I am terribly sorry for your loss,” Emma says as Lady Patch offers her a biscuit. Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite as appetizing having seen how it was made. And here I thought that rule only applies to sausages, Emma thinks to herself absentmindedly. She is completely and utterly confused. I should do something. But what can I do? Then she gets an idea. There is no pain too great to be alleviated with alcohol, and Emma can make a mean drink! Emma goes through the bar, taking whatever bottles remained intact. The result is a motley crew of spirits, bitters and drink mixers that can’t be used to make any cocktail Emma knows. With a shrug, she chooses a few random bottles and improvises. She pours her creation into half a dozen glasses, taking two and heading for the engine room.
“I know this may no be the best time,” Emma says to Madelaine as she hands her a glass. “but I was wondering if you managed to contact Captain Grey?”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter on Monday
A skeleton crew consisting of two doughboys and a single human engineer were doing their best to keep the Queen Bran’s Revenge operational. The doughboys scurried about hither and thither, their small statures allowing them access to the tight spaces within the ship’s workings that lay just outside human reach. There was a downside to this however, as the excessive heat produced by the engine tended to have an adverse effect on the poor doughboys. When Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter reached the engine room, she found it in a state of absolute chaos.
Algernon, the assistant and currently only other human engineer on duty was struggling with something that seemed to be lodged underneath one of the engines massive rotors. “Crescent!! For the love of god! I told you not to crawl in there! You know heat makes you…you… people…rise!” the assistant engineer cried in exasperation, as the other doughboys ran about his feet, flailing their arms in distress. With a sharp tug he wrenched the doughboy free, or at least part of the doughboy. He stumbled backwards, clutching the toasty dough-arm; and collided with the Chief Engineer. “Oh Chief! Thank heavens! Am I ever glad to see you!” he said, glancing back at Madelaine. “We’ve, well, we’ve had a good bit of trouble since you left!” He dropped the dough-arm to the floor non-chalantly…”You wouldn’t happen to have any of those crystals, would you? The ship is loping along at a snails pace and I would estimate in another hour or so it will cease functioning completely!”
Maddie reached into her knapsack and produced a clutch of crystals. “I believe this will keep us going for a bit. The Captain has an even large cache topside last I left him…”

Just then Lady Emma Darry entered the room, a tray of drinks in hand. She proffered the tray to Chief Phillips-Carter and Assistant Algernon, who gulped them down as if they hadn’t had a spot to drink in weeks. As Maddie began to sip at a second drink, a tiny doughboy toddled over to her and began to pull at her skirt….”Oh fine, Biscuit, I’m not sure this is very good for your sort, but who am I to deny you…just a tiny sip now!” and she passed the glass down into its eagerly grasping sticky little hands. “Excuse me” Lady Darry interjected “I know this may not be the best time, but I was wondering if you managed to contact Captain Grey?” she asked.
Maddie sighed, in all the chaos this had slipped her mind. “Algernon” she said, turning to her fiery-haired assistant, who was now starting in on his forth cocktail “Do you think you have this all under control” she motioned to the engine room “At least until I return?” He let out a tiny hiccup and nodded. With his large head and petite frame, he looked rather like a bobble-toy. “Good” Maddie exclaimed “I won’t be long, please try to keep any other doughboys from kicking the bucket while I’m away. We do need them!” and with that she made her way off to the communications room, Lady Darry in tow.

In no time the Chief managed to make the correct modifications to the onboard communications hub, allowing the ship to transmit messages at the same frequency as the hand-held radios topside. Turning to Lady Darry she muttered “Keep your fingers crossed!” as she flipped a few stitches and turned some dials. “Captain Forlath, this is Chief Engineer Madelaine Phillips-Carter onboard the Queen Bran’s Revenge. What is your status?” The two ladies exchanged glances, all they could do now was wait, hoping their message was received by the correct party.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Monday
Captain Forlath Grey mulled over the events of the last few hours as they trudged down yet another dusty old underground service corridor. Sharp cold, that was what had saved them against the possessed Cryscoch and his Mechanoids. Well, more than sharp cold, we’re talking absolute zero here. If they could manufacture some sort of cold snap generator and detonate it aboard the Mechanoid base ship…
Forlath’s thoughts were interrupted by static emanating over the XO’s handheld communicator. “Shut that thing off” sighed Casey “you’re obviously picking up interference from the quartz deposits over our heads.” Ezra’s hand reached for the volume button. “No wait!” Urged the Captain, “listen!” All three men stopped in their tracks and strained their ears. “There, it sounds like the Chief” whispered Forlath.
Indeed, ever so faintly they could just make out Maddie “Captain” crackle, zzzzttt, “Phillips-Carter” zzptttttttt “status?” Quickly the Captain grabbed the radio and pressed the transmit button “We read you Chief, we read you!! Listen, very important!”
Wait, Maddie was always talking about Miskatonic University, who were their rivals again, c’mon, think! Of course, the Fraternal Order of Librarians!
“Chief, time to send the FOL a Kelvin Zero Miskatonic U sendoff. Make it a real blast! I repeat, Kelvin Zero!” Admittedly as far as codes went it was fairly weak but hopefully the Chief would get the message, understand it, create something appropriate and get it aboard the Mechanoid ship in time to… uh… yeah, they were screwed…

Reply by Mara Puipéid on Monday
The footprints on the map of her crew mates had disappeared for a few moments, which was upsetting to say the least, but then reappeared overlapping and on top of one another which was even more disconcerting.
‘Hmmm’ Mara thought ‘that is most curious.’

Refolding the map, she tucked it into the left pocket of the beautiful Mithril tunic she was wearing, nicked from the Warder’s chambers.
She admired how it shimmered, even in the dimly lit corridor,
marveling as it luminesced with an ethereal internal glow,
noticing it’s many closely-woven rings yet it being almost as supple as linen.
It was as cold as ice, and seemed harder than steel.
It shone like moonlit silver, and was studded with white gems.
She didn’t understand what the label had meant…dry clean only.
It must be water and stain resistant, she thought.
It was the ‘only’ part that baffled her.
It was then she remembered the green cloak.
Removing it from the small rucksack, which she had also taken and had failed to mention earlier, she ran her hand across it’s nubbly surface. She liked to feel things.
A thought crossed her mind ‘I wonder what it tastes like?’
She touched her tongue to it’s surface.
It was prickly.
“This cloak tastes like burning” she said aloud, scrunching up her face and trying to rub the taste from her tongue with a corner of her skirt.
Bob Gir just looked at her and shook his head….
As she inspected the cloak further she noticed a small tag towards the bottom.
It read ‘Cloak of Invisibility, licensed property of the Acme Corporation.’
Eyes widening, looking absolutely delighted, she smiled at Bob and said “ubersuperfantasticly awesome!”
Bob just made a slow whistle that almost sounded like a sigh.
Returning her thoughts to the current situation, she resumed.
She had a mission, and that mission was to find her friends, return to the Revenge and, well she had no idea of the rest.
‘I will cross that bridge when I come to it.’
Briskly walking in the direction of the once again separate footprints of her comrades, and noting the still vast distance between them, she decided she needed a transport of some sort.
Luckily for her, there, idling in front of a dilapidated hovel, was the very thing she needed, a Harley Davidson Fat Boy with sidecar.
“This is it” she said stuffing Bob Gir into the other unholey (unholed? unholy?) pocket of her skirt.
She wrapped the cloak around her, strolled causally over, mounted the bike and took off at break-neck speed.
It took only what seemed like a few minutes before she saw what appeared to be her friends in the ever nearing distance.
She screeched to a halt just inches in front of them.
“Come with me if you want to live” she said, disguising her voice with an Austrian accent.
The Captain remarked “It’s about time, Mara, where have you been? We have been searching for you for hours.”
“How do you know it’s Mara, if you can’t see me?” she replied, now in as eerie a voice as she could produce.
The Captain looked at XO Ezra, then Commander Casey “do either of you have any idea what she is talking about?’
Mara, now completely exasperated, flung off the hood of her cloak and said.
“Yes, it’s me. It was my voice, right? I’m wearing my invisibility cloak, but you could tell it was me by my voice, right?” she insisted.
All three looked at one another.
“Humour her” Captain Forlath whispered.
Just then they heard Chief Maddie’s voice coming in over the communications radio
“Captain”” crackle, zzzzttt, “”Phillips-Carter”” zzptttttttt “”status?””

Reply by Lady Emma Darry on Monday
“Chief… crackle, zzzzttt… to send the FOL… zzztttt… Miskatonic U sendoff…. zzzzttt… real blast! I… crackle, crackle… Kelvin Zero!”
Emma looks at the Chief with a puzzled expression. “I hope that makes sense to you, Chief Carter-Phillips, because it sounds like gibberish to me.” Suddenly, Emma wonders if hasn’t been better off staying stuck at that creepy carnival. These people are proving to be equally mental, but she is becoming increasingly fond of them all the same. She really hopes they aren’t all about to perish painfully.
“Was that some kind of weakly phrased code? More importantly, do you know what it means? Do you think maybe the Captain suffered some kind of head trauma? Did they find Mara?” Emma doesn’t stop asking questions until she runs out of breath. Madelaine is staring at her as if she has lost her mind, which is not far from the truth. That drink was poweful. I must write down what I put in it, Emma thinks to herself, and then adds, “Just tell me what you need me to do, Chief!”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter on Monday
Chief Phillips-Carter pondered Lady Darry’s question a moment. Due to their current circumstances, she hadn’t had the luxury of learning much about the young lady… in fact, other than her name, she knew very little about Lady Darry at all. Where did she come from? How did she end up in the underground city? Why had she spent so long there? Was she unable to leave of her own accord? Was she waiting for someone? Did she have any experience aboard an airship? If so, what was her role? Where did her strengths, her aptitudes lie? Without knowing any of this, how could the Chief properly direct her?

“I have a task for you” Maddie began after a long pause “…it may seem like busy work, but I assure you, it is of the utmost importance.” Lady Darry nodded in response. “If I am interpreting the Captain’s orders correctly, and I stress if, as I fear I am at nearly as much of a loss as you are regarding their meaning….” the Chief continued “…then we need to gather as many potentially explosive items as are available to us upon this ship. I believe the Captain is instructing us to create a bomb…either that, or he wants us to throw one hell of an M.U. pep rally…” She scratched her head, considering this for a moment. “Regardless, Pendennis and the others have informed me that they intend to take on the Mechanoid mothership, Captains orders or no…” she sighed “I understand how this must sound to you, perhaps a bit like a suicide mission. This is not your fight, and if you desire, the transport pod will be available to take you back to the planet. I will instruct Corporal Chemisesrouges to act as an escort, should you wish to leave. Regrettably, I cannot guarantee your safety, either way.” With this, the Chief frowned, casting her glance downward. “However, if you should wish to stay and assist us aboard the ship, I will message Biscuit in engineering to be your guide as you gather the necessary materials.”
Lady Darry nodded again “I’ll take my chances onboard the ship for now, I guess, I’ve had enough of that planet! But it is kind of you to give me other options…I shall keep them in mind.” Chief Phillips-Carter contacted the engineering bay via intercom “Algy, could you spare Biscuit for a few hours?” The assistant engineer answered with a sigh “I believe so…we’ve managed to free Crescent from the rotor without inflicting any further damage” he winced audibly “He seems to be doing just fine at the moment…I’ve rigged him up a make-shift arm using a pretzel rod and some twine…haven’t the foggiest clue about doughboy anatomy, but he seems to be adapting to it!”

Biscuit arrived within minutes. “Now, Biscuit” the Chief began “I want you to escort this kind lady through the ship…she’s looking for explosives, or any materials with which some could be made. Do you know anything about explosives?” The tiny doughboy shook his head. “Lovely” Maddie muttered to herself…”Well, try your best…and just remember, for the love of all that is holy, please be careful, we’re on an AIRSHIP….a highly combustible airship…” she repeated, emphasizing the words highly and combustible. “Do see that he stays out of trouble…” she added, addressing Lady Darry. The tiny doughboy toddled off down the hall, turning back for a moment to wave at the Chief. Madelaine heaved yet another sigh and slowly made her way to the bridge to inform Pendennis, Luke and Zombie Zack of the Captains instructions.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Tuesday
“Chief? Chief!… It’s no good, too much interference” Captain Forlath Grey said handing the communicator back to XO Ezra Yesterday. “We’ll just have to hope and pray” Forlath muttered to himself. At least they had found Mara, or she found them, either way the Captain was more pleased than he could say. Somehow Mara had the ability to invoke an almost paternal sentiment. How had the XO put it? Almost as if she had “some form of field effect contraption…” but of course that would be absurd. That invisibility thing just now on the other hand was a bit odd, but they had all been under a lot of stress recently and that sort of thing was to be expected. Forlath snapped out of his reverie “right me hearties, let’s find the surface and see about getting off this rock, and if my ears don’t deceive me I think I hear our ride!”
Sure enough, just up ahead an underground trolley was pulling into station. It took some convincing to get Officer Mara off her stolen Harley and onto another trolley after the demon clown attack of their last trolley car ride but they still managed to board in time. This one came with its own conductor which was fortunate as Lady Patch with her mad conducting skills had left for the airship with Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, Lady Emma Darry and the Corporal.

The conductor was a feline similar to Matriarch Gr’larr of the Tosheken clan. Forlath hesitated every so slightly feeling the impulse to ask the feline if it had known the Matriarch but thought better of it. After a bit of scrounging the fabulous four scrapped enough change together to pay for fare and took their seats. The conductor had assured them that while this trolley didn’t go to the surface they could change at the next station for one that did.
As the trolley rattled along the track, the somewhat damp underground air blowing in his face, the Captain found himself almost daring to hope that things were finally coming together for them. The conductor called next station. The remnants of the landing party got up and moved to the trolley door. As the trolley pulled into the station and came to a stop, Ezra swore. Commander Casey quickly chambered a round into the needle gun. Mara threw her cloak over her head and Forlath just sighed. Directly across from the station platform was a building with a hewn field stone façade adorned with a sign that read “Holy Order of Peacekeepers – Headquarters.” Even as they stood on the trolley indecisive with disbelief, peacekeepers were noticing them, looking at wanted posters, nudging each other and pointing their way. Forlath turned to Casey and said “how would you like to wear a conductor’s hat?”

Reply by Lady Emma Darry on Tuesday
“I can do that, Chief,” Emma replies cheerfully as she followed Biscuit out of the engine room. Her experience with explosives is limited, but she knows enough to make things go “boom!” if she wants them to. However, moderations are a problem for her – Emma may blow up the entire planet if she has to set up a bomb. Oh well. That rock sucks anyway.

The more distant that wierd carnival becomes, the more Emma starts feeling like her old self again. She doesn’t know what came over her during her time there. Why didn’t I try to leave? Emma isn’t certain. Her memory is a blur. She remembers getting there, and she remembers waking up in the morning to find the ship she came with gone. She remembers putting a bit of a fight at first, but after that… Well, it’s a good thing Lady Patch and her friends got here when they did, or I would have stayed here to rot.

“So what do you think, Biscuit?” Emma asks the tiny doughboy. “It’s a ship, a ship with canons, I presume, so you must have gun-powder. Do you think we could spare some for the Chief’s purposes?” She isn’t hopeful. Should the ship be attacked again, they will need all the gun-powder in the world to defend it. Honestly, Emma is somewaht surprised the crate doesn’t just fall apart as it is.
“If not, I guess our best chances are with Molotov cocktails. A shame, really. We have so little alcohol as it is…” Biscuit nods entusiastically, but no understanding seems to strike with him. After some time, it is clear he is leading them in circles.
“The ship doesn’t have much hope with the two of us, now, does it?” Emma sighs as Lady Patch walks past them. Then she gets an idea. “Lady Elizabeth, you’re the ship’s surgeon, right? I wonder, could you possibly show me to the sick bay? There may be some things I need there. Chief Carter-Phillips wants me to blow things up.”

Lady Patch doesn’t seem the least bit surprised by that statement, and does as Emma asks.
“That is just perfect!” Emma exclaims happily as she finds the sick bay is equipped with rather large amounts of hydrogen peroxide. There’s some nitroglycerin, too, but Emma prefers not to use it unless she has no other option. If she had some acetone, though, the Chief could probably blow up hatever it is she likes, and have some to spare. And most importantly, the ship’s dwindling stock of liquor will remain unharmed!

“Lady Patch, you don’t happen to have some nail polish remover, do you?”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter on Tuesday
Lady Emma Darry returned to the control room where the Chief, Luke, Zack and Professor Pendennis were engaged in a heated discussion. “Ahem!” She cleared her throat, hoping to announce her presence as politely as possible. The four crewmembers turned to Lady Darry. “I hope your search proved fruitful” Professor Pendennis began, noticing that Darry’s hands were empty. “Yes, yes, no thanks to this one though” she said, glaring at the tiny doughboy engineer who was just now toddling into the room. “Biscuit” Chief Madelaine scolded, clucking her tongue “I don’t know what has gotten into you!” The doughboy ground his foot into the ground, studying the floor. “I am very sorry, Lady Darry, the doughboys know this ship inside-out, they’ve been serving on the Queen Bran much longer than we have in fact” she sighed “I thought that Biscuit would have been much more helpful, however, the doughboys do have a bit of a precocious side, perhaps it was his idea of a joke….Is that what it was, Biscuit?” Maddie turned her attention to the doughboy, her tone stern “Well, this is no time for joking!” She jabbed the pudgy little creature in the stomach with her index finger “No! Time! At! All!” Biscuit chortled “Hee-hee-hee!” The Chief shook her head “Hopeless…” she grumbled, returning her attention to the matter at hand.

“Where are the supplies?” she asked Lady Darry. “I left them in a nearby store-room for safe keeping” came the reply. “Good thinking, we don’t want to take any chances!” Maddie addressed her crewmates “Now, I am not very handy with explosives…” she began. Her mind flashed back to a moment in her childhood where she had attempted to build a bottle rocket with her father and instead, succeeded in blowing the nearby rabbit hutch to smithereens. The rabbits were no where to be found, she recalled. Her father told her that they were amongst the stars, which she had interpreted to mean that her rocket had in fact worked, and that there were tiny little rabbit astronauts milling about space. She knew better now, and shuddered at the memory “but I am sure one of you boys have at least a passing familiarity with incendiary devices?” The Professor nodded his head. “Good, the problem now lies in how we will deliver the payload.” Maddie frowned, it was a dangerous mission, no matter how they went about it, and they could not afford to loose any more crew. “We can rig the bomb to detonate either remotely, or on a timed charge, that is not an issue, but how will we get it into the enemy ship…” she looked to Luke and Zack “Would either of you, or your squadron of flyboys, have any advice?”

Reply by Mara Puipéid on Tuesday
Mara sidled over to Captain Forlath
“Psst…..psst” trying to get his attention “get under here with me, all of you” she whispered, holding the cloak up just enough to motion for them to join her.
“We’ll be safe, they won’t be able to see us” she added softly.
She was worried.
Worried because of what the Warder had told her about the Peace Keepers.
Worried that the Captain, XO, and the Commander would come to harm.
Worried about her other crew mates aboard the Revenge.
Worried because she felt responsible for it all, and
worried for not knowing what she could do to correct it
‘The Captain will know’ she thought as she began anxiously waving her hand
motioning for them to come beneath her cloak,
‘he always knows how to get us out of a sticky situation.’

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Captain Forlath Grey seeing the Peacekeeper forces arrayed before them in the station turned to Commander Casey Steward and asked “how would you like to wear a conductor’s hat?” Casey smiled, turned towards the conductor, cracked his knuckles and said “right, boy-o, hand over that hat and move away from the controls, the Captain wants we blow this pop stand.” With that Casey took a menacing step towards the conductor, his intent clear. At the Commander’s step forward, the feline Hybrid conductor jumped into the air, spun a full 360 degrees and kicked Casey full in the jaw with a loud ‘KER-SCHMACK’. Casey stood stock still for a full 30 seconds after the round house kick connected before he slowly… fell… over… backwards.

While the Captain and the XO stood with their mouths open in shocked surprise, Officer Mara Fantoccini quickly slid behind the Commander just in time to keep him from slamming into the floor. The two of them landed in a heap, with Mara pinned under the Commander’s weight. It took four Peacekeeper Hybrids to lift the Commander off her again, after which they cuffed both Mara and Casey’s still unconscious form together and took the four crew mates off the trolley and into the Headquarters building.
40 minutes later the fantastic four sat, stripped of their equipment in separate cells in the basement of the Holy Order of Peace Everlasting Headquarters building. Bars divided the room up into numerous cells, many of which were filled with malcontents, disturbers of the Holy Peace Everlasting and one very mean looking serial jaywalker. “Well,” observed Captain Forlath wryly “that could have gone better…”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday

When Commander Casey fell on top of Mara knocking her to the floor, Bob Gir was unceremoniously dumped out of Mara’s pocket and sent spinning across the floor ending up under a bench at the back of the carriage. It woozily climbed back to its feet just in time to see Holy Peacekeepers dragging the Mara unit away. Bob Gir whistled quietly to itself. This was bad, this was very, very bad. If the Peacekeepers discovered that they had a Mara unit in custody… well Bob Gir wasn’t exactly sure what would happen but Bob Gir was pretty sure it wouldn’t be good.
Would the Peacekeepers dismantle the Mara unit? Surely not, would they? Oh dear. Oh dear, what was Bob Gir to do? Bob Gir’s core programming advised that it go find the Warder immediately but no it couldn’t, its core programming had been bypassed by unanimous decision of the Cooperative. The Cooperative had specifically agreed that Bob Gir was to stay with the Mara unit and ensure she made it to the entity known as the Coder. Which… (Bob Gir computed furiously)… she was not… going to be able to do… if she was… dismantled! That realization made a small exclamation mark of shock appear above its tiny ‘head’. It had to help the Mara unit at all costs it computed to itself as it fugitively hurried after the Mara unit and her captors, careful not to be seen…

Reply by Ezra Yesterday yesterday
Ezra Yesterday hunkered down in his cell, attempting to get some rest, which was hard to do with the ::Yellow/Orange/Yellow:: flashing of his shirt.
He was both mildly concussed from his run in with the Cameo That Wouldn’t Die and rattled from his subsequent brush with death in the Golf Cart of Doom…To say nothing of the beating he took when it actually crashed.
[Yes, Casey’s driving had been That bad.]
At last the flashing cut through the fog in his head, the significance of the strobe effect jarring a memory.
He suddenly sat up and started rummaging around in the cargo pocket on his left leg and pulled out the instruction manual for his Ships Tunic ™.
“Lucky break that the guards had either overlooked this or simply dismissed it as unimportant,” he thought to himself…..
[What do you mean, ‘That’s a weak attempt to cover a plot hole?’… Hush, adults are speaking.]
He scanned through a few pages and suddenly sat up straight.
“Captain” he said in an excited whisper… “I think we have a way to contact the Cake Eater…”
* * * *

On board the Queen Bran’s Revenge, the assembled crew, minus Casey, Mara, Ezra and The Captain, stood on the command deck discussing how to deliver their Napalm Enema, thier newly mixed explosive. Lady Darry had insisted that was what they should call the unstable cocktail she had blended from medical stores, beauty supplies… and an old gallon of milk that had gone off days ago.
[“For that special, extra insulting, lumpy consistency you only get in the finest curd based explosives,” she had replied, cheerfully when confronted with a baffled “Why?”. As she was mixing said concoction at the time, it was decided that the subject was best left alone, …as was she, in short order, and with many a sidelong look in her direction.]
Suddenly, just as Maddie turned to the officers of the air Wing to get their input, there was a sudden shift in the lighting on the deck.
For hours it had been flashing the ::Yellow/Orange/Yellow:: of the battle dammage alert, but this was now replaced by a slow, uneven ::Blue/White/Blue:: pulsing.

Maddie turned to Professor Pendennis and started to ask him what this new alert was about, but he interrupted her with a curt wave of his hand and said in a baffled, worried voice. “This isn’t one of my alert patterns….”
Maddie swung around and glared at Biscuit, who cowered away, “Is this another one of your jokes? because if it is.. So help me…”
She was interrupted for a second time in 30 seconds, this time by Luke.
“Chief, this isn’t an alert… its Morse Code… From the Captain!” , his voice rising in girlish glee. He suddenly stopped, cleared his throat, and in a more normal, [if artificially deep] baritone said.”They have been arrested by the Holy Peacekeepers…” He started translating directly:
“Thats all, it’s repeating itself now” Luke said.
“Cold?!?, How are we supposed to just we generate Cold?” Maddie exclaimed…
* * * *

Back in his cell, Captain Forlath stood stock still and ramrod straight, glaring into the cell that held his XO, who had one hand shoved into his armpit, his elbow flapping like an epileptic chicken.
His shirt flashing ::Blue/White/Blue:: in time to loud flatulent sounds, tooting out a message in Morse code…
He looked nervouslly over his shoulder into the the other nearby cells and said quietly and intensly, through clenched teeth:
“Ezra, could you Please stop? You are Embarrasing me!”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Captain Forlath glanced back towards the other inhabitant of his cell, hoping against hope he hadn’t noticed XO Ezra Yesterday over in the next cell currently dancing the funky chicken to laser light accompaniment. “Here, just exactly what are yous in for?” queried the slim, ethereal looking fellow with pointy ears suspiciously. “Hmm, what’s that?” answered the Captain embarrassedly. “I asked you a question, what are you in for?” “Oh right, apologies all around, didn’t mean to be rude, it’s… uh… just been a bit of a long day.”
Forlath took a closer look at his cell mate, he seemed rather rough and tumble for all his slightness, had a bit of the sailor about him somehow. “I’m not entirely sure to be honest,” started Forlath “it might of course have something to do with the holy golf cart we ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Or maybe we’re being held responsible for a lizard attack on a Peacekeeper patrol, or perhaps resisting arrest, or maybe the death of a Vicar Captain. Or potentially, oh I don’t know, maybe we’re guilty of disturbing the Holy Peace by unleashing a Mechanoid attack on Underground Market!” Forlath realized he was shouting exasperatedly, causing the inhabitants of other cells to stare. He quickly lowered his voice and continued “the possibilities on why we are currently incarcerated are quite frankly endless. It’s been that kind of day.”
The elf looked at the Captain in utter disbelief “are you telling me that yous are responsible for the Mechanoid attack?” the elf asked incredulously. Forlath sighed, “I wouldn’t say we were responsible per se, we… uh… just seem to be (Forlath glanced involuntarily over at Mara who was currently rolled up in a tight little anxious ball in her cot three cells over) their current focus of attention.”
The elf appeared to mull this over. “Well what do yous intend to do about it?” he demanded eventually. Forlath completely surprised by this unexpected turn in the questioning almost laughed in response, he glanced again at Mara, her obvious distress suddenly stiffened Captain Grey’s resolve “do about it you ask? I’ll tell you what we intend to do about it my good er… man. We intend to bust out of here, crack a few Peacekeeper heads on the way, make it topside, get back to our airship and then kick some Mechanoid tin can!”
It eventually dawned on the Captain that his impromptu speech had all the malcontents and disturbers of the Holy Peace Everlasting up on their feet and cheering wildly. Even the mean looking serial jaywalker looked impressed. Forlath quite chuffed with himself allowed himself a small smile. It quickly faded when reality set back in, cast iron bars had a way of raining on perfectly good victory parades…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Captain Forlath Grey wracked his brain; surely there had to be a way to spring them from their confinement. Needless to say, the Captain was facing their pending Superintendant Bishop Tribunal with a certain amount of trepidation. Actually, Forlath had no idea what a Holy Order of Everlasting Peace tribunal would be like but he imagined it ranked minutely less torturous than spending holidays with his in-laws but probably much worse than say, a root canal. Well, regardless, Captain Grey had no intention of waiting around to find out.
Thinking quickly, Forlath removed one of his boot laces, wrapped it around one of the bars, grabbed both ends and then started to furiously pull the shoe lace back and forth around the base of the bar. Surely if he could build up enough friction, he could create heat, which in turn would… two sore arms and broken shoelaces later Forlath flopped down on his bunk utterly dispirited. His cell mate Guidolas “Tony Ears” Lllianaro just lay on his bunk and smirked. “You know what, I fink yous a funny guy, dat’s what I fink.”

Meanwhile, a couple cells over Officer Mara Fantoccini’s anxious deliberations were abruptly interrupted when suddenly Bob Gir appeared at the side of her cell bunk whistling and beeping and dragging a large iron key…

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter 20 hours ago
Back aboard the Queen Bran’s Revenge the crew was in an uproar. The transmission from XO Ezra’s technicolor dreamcoat had revealed a glaring flaw in their plans. “Extreme cold!?” Chief Phillips-Carter spat “Extreme cold!? How in the nine hells does he expect us to do that? Hurl a glacier at them? Blast them with dry ice?” She paced the length of the control room, her thoughts racing. Ice….ice….baby… hmmm…
“How about that ice-spider the XO purchased back at the market?” Lady Emma Darry offered.
It would take one massive ice spider to destroy the mechanoid’s mothership Maddie thought, shuddering at the mental image it produced… she absolutely hated spiders. “That’s not a bad idea, Lady Darry” the Chief replied “But we would need an awful lot of them. Plus, it would require us to return to the planet…unless we could somehow contact the XO and ask them to obtain some.”
“Luke” the Chief began “Since you seemed to enjoy decoding the XO’s message, I want you and Professor Pendennis to see if there is any means of reversing the transmission. If possible, get word to the crew topside and request that they retrieve an, erm, bushel? of ice-spiders.”
“Lady Darry, we simply cannot risk your Napalm Enema standing about, seeing how volatile it is….you must find a safe means of disposing of it…” she emphasized the word safe, glaring at the massive bomb. “Barring that, find an appropriate place to store it, preferably somewhere re-enforced and far from the engine room.”
“Now, I am off to speak with Corporal Chemisesrouges…“ Maddie continued “if the need arises for us to return topside, we will need to have a new away team at the ready…if anyone should need me, look in the crew quarters and if you cannot find me there, try the bar…”

Reply by The Ringmaster 7 hours ago
She smelled strange, tasted strange. Almost. Metallic. I awake, listen, smell, it smells – different. I push my contorted, squeezed form out of the crevice where I had hid; the memories flash through my head the burning, no air, the screaming voices in my head but not now. Now it’s. Quiet. I slink through the vessel; there had been people here but not now. I push open the hatch. Where am I? Different, but smells appetizing, the lights are too bright, the cavern too large! I slide down the ladder and hugging the floor I rush to the wall, to the shadows, I hear voices in this large chamber. I can’t let myself be found, too weak yet, need sleep, I find a small metallic grill at the bottom of the wall, it easily rips off in my grasp, I crawl deep inside the metallic labyrinth, need sleep, I hide once more, I wrap my many arms around me in a comforting embrace, the gentle vibrations, the motion all around me lulls me to sleep, soothes the voices, I can smell so many tasty treats but not now, soon, very soon.

Reply by Lady Emma Darry 6 hours ago
“Oh,” Emma is clearly disappointed. She was rather excited about the prospect of blowing things up. “Chief, uh, safe storage of deadly bombs is not really my area of expertise.” Building of deadly bombs isn’t, either, but I still created something that could blow this rock to hell, she thinks to herself proudly. “Are you sure we can’t set it off just a little?”

The glares the being shot at Emma from everyone in the room make a pretty clear answer.
“Well, it’s too volatile to store, and in case you haven’t noticed, there’s quite a lot of it,” Emma says defiantly and crosses her arms. More glaring.
“Oh, alright, I’ll find a way to safely dispose of it,” she sighs with sombre acceptance. “Biscuit, do you think you can help me find a very, very large waste bin and then a very, very large amount of sand, or is that too challenging for you?”
The little doughboy seems hurt by that.

“I’m sorry, Biscuit,” Emma softens and pats him on his dough-head. “I’m just angry that I went to all the trouble of making this bomb, and now I have to blow it up in a way that doesn’t damage anything. But I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. Now, will you help?”
The little doughboy stares at her for a few seconds, as if to make sure that she is really as sorry as she says she is, and then nods and toddles away.

“Even in the waste bin with the sand, we will still need to find a safe place to set it off,” Emma says to the Chief as she follows. “Preferably away from the ship.”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter 4 hours ago
Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter shook her head for what seemed like the billionth time since they had ended up in this galaxy…dimension…hell-plane…where-ever. The impetuousness of youth she mumbled to herself. If the Chief was not careful, this rambunctious young lady might end up blowing herself and the entire crew, both topside as well as aboard the Queen Bran’s Revenge, to kingdom come. She sighed heavily, it had been days since she had last slept. Or ate. How was it that she was still functioning? Never mind that, there was far too much to be done before the Chief

could even consider food or rest.
“Lady Darry” she began at last “There are a number of small escape pods in the hanger, along with the transport craft and a few aeroplanes…the last two are necessary, but I am sure we could spare one escape pod for now. Figure out a way to make use of it in your disposal.” She noticed a rather mischevious, or was that sinister, gleam in the young ladies eyes. “And DO NOT, under any circumstance, bring any harm to this ship, or the planet below” she added for good measure her voice suddenly turning quite grave “Our people are still down there….and if any member of this crew are injured due to your reckless disposal methods, well, let’s just say you will face the consequences. I will not tolerate foolishness, not while we face such dire circumstances to begin with.”

Lady Darry stormed off down the corridor with a huff. She disliked being given orders, especially when she had worked so hard at something. Still, the crew had offerred her their assistance without question…she should keep that in mind. Without them she would have still been stranded on that rock, for god knows how long.

Biscuit had just begun to tag along when Chief Phillips-Carter caught him by the hand. “Biscuit” she barked sternly “I want you to keep an eye on that one and don’t do anything stupid! Do you understand!?” The tiny doughboy nodded his head. “Good” the Chief replied “Remember, as your Chief Engineer, you answer to me first and foremost!” and with that, she let go of Biscuit’s sticky little hand. Muttering to herself, she headed for the crew cabin to find Corporal Chemisesrouges.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 3 hours ago
Captain Forlath Grey sat on his cell bunk despondently. His attempts at sawing through the cast iron cell bars had thus far proved futile. Mara sat down next to the Captain, he appreciated the sign of solidarity. If he didn’t come up with a way to get them out of here soon it could be the end of the crew of the Queen Bran’s Revenge. Mara spoke up “excuse me Captain?” “Not now,” Forlath snapped “Mara can’t you see I’m trying to get us… uh…” Ever a master of the quick uptake, Captain Grey jumped to his feet “Right! Officer Mara Puipéid, if you would be so kind as to duplicate your amazing cell opening feat for the others we’ll be on our way!”
Captain Grey turned back to Tony Ears, “So, Mr. Lllianaro, or is it Mr. Ears? It appears this is where we part company.” Tony Ears scrutinized the Captain for a moment. “What did you say your name was again?” he asked. Forlath answered “Captain Forlath Grey of the airship Queen Bran’s Revenge.” “Naa, I don’t think so hotshot” replied Tony Ears. “It isn’t?” “Naa, from now on I’m calling yous Captain Funny Guy. You know why?” asked Tony Ears. “Because… I’m a… funny guy?” Answered the Captain somewhat hesitantly. “That’s right, now you’re using the old zucca” Tony Ears responded, giving Forlath an affectionate slap on the check that made the Captain see stars.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 3 hours ago
Tony Ears turned towards the rest of the cells “All right you goombahs, time to bust out of this joint and give the bulls what fer. Let’s roll!” With that the rest of the cells were unlocked. XO Ezra Yesterday, Commander Casey Steward (now back on his feet) joined Captain Grey, Officer Mara, Tony Ears and the rest of the released inmates at the bottom of the stairs. It went poorly for the first couple of Peacekeepers of the Holy Peace Everlasting that came down the stairs to investigate all the racket. Then it was just a matter of course for the fugitives to use their superior numbers and the couple of needle guns they had stripped from the subdued guards to force their way to the Peacekeeper armory and arm themselves properly. After that… well it became a bit of a bloodbath. Captain Forlath and the other crewmates did all they could to prevent the killing but apparently there were a few old scores to settle and there was nothing the crew of the Cake Eater could do to stop it.
It was all over. 20 short minutes later Captain Forlath Grey and Tony Ears stood on the front steps of Holy Peace Everlasting Headquarters. They had shared a cell, they had shared battle and now, now they shared a quiet moment of contemplation… (yeah, okay, I admit that sounded better in my head). “Well Mr. Ears,” started the Captain, “I guess this time it really is goodbye. Thank you for all your assistance.” With that Captain Forlath held out his hand. Tony Ears took the Captain’s hand in a grip that made the Captain wince, turned to another tough looking elf standing close by and said “do you believe this guy? You gotta love this guy. Am I right or what?” Tony Ears looked back at the Captain “yous a funny guy, Captain Funny Guy. How do you intend to get back to your ship or fight them Mechanoids, eh? Yous gonna need help from the famiglia, you capisce?”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 3 hours ago
With that Tony Ears turned to his lieutenant, “Hey, Joeyanathir, you send out some boys and spread the word, we’re hitting the mattresses. You call in every favor we got and you tell the other Dons the Lllianaro famiglia is going to war and we expect their support if they know what’s good for them! Now go.” Joeyanathir nodded once and ran off. Tony Ears turned back to Captain Grey and the others and motioned for them to follow him “now let’s see about getting yous back to your airship.”

A few minutes later Captain Forlath Grey, XO Ezra Yesterday, Commander Casey Steward, Officer Mara Puipéid, Tony Ears and a few armed members of the Lllianaro famiglia were at the bottom of a vertical shaft that apparently went all the way topside. Tethered at the bottom of the shaft in front of them was hot air balloon harnessed to a wicker basket. “Now you listen to me,” Tony Ears informed them “when this is all over, you never saw this balloon, you don’t know nothing about no smuggling operation, as far as you’re concerned Tony Ears is a honest businessman, Capisce? Now get in there and when next we meet fair friends and trusted comrades, you’ll be buying the drinks so bring plenty of denaro.”
With that, the crew climbed into the wicker basket, the Lllianaros released the tethers and the balloon slowly floated its way up the shaft. As the crew of the Revenge drifted out of sight, they could just hear Tony Ears saying “that guy, you know what that guy is? I’ll tell yous what he is, he’s a funny guy, that’s what…”

Reply by Mara Puipéid on Thursday
As they rose, growing closer to the surface, Mara finally relaxed.
She couldn’t wait to get aboard the Revenge and show LP and Lady Emma her new
Mithril shirt.
She still had the cloak about her, but the Peacekeepers had taken her Holy Avenger.
‘Maddie and Luke would have liked that’ she thought to herself.
Bob Gir had scrambled back into her pocket just before they climbed into the basket.
All seemed well.
She looked down as they ascended and shouted
“Thank you for your help Guidolas, I shall not forget you!”
And she blew a kiss to the elf below.
He seemed somewhat familiar.
She thought she had overheard him say he was from some planet called Joisey.
She smiled and shook her head.
It seemed a weight had been lifted from her,
no not Casey’s, she was a bit sore from his landing atop her…
no, it was the weight of despair,
for she knew now that she had true friends.
Friends who were willing to risk their own lives to save hers.
She was so happy she could no longer contain herself.
“Captain Funny Man, sir?” she said saluting with a smile.
Captain Forlath turned “what is it” he replied.
“Request permission to hug” she continued.
Commander Casey rolled his eyes, XO Ezra stifled a snicker.
The Captain with a slight cough “proceed, if you must” he sighed.
He was a tolerant man, our Captain.
She threw her arms around all three of them the best she could and
enthusiastically exclaimed
“Group hug!”
As they continued to climb upward through the narrow shaft
she turned to XO Exra and asked
“Are we there yet?”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Thursday
The balloon floated easily up the shaft to the surface, like it had done a thousand times before. It was a relief to see daylight again and to smell the fresh air. Captain Forlath Grey heard birds; he hadn’t realized how much he had missed the sound of birds. Quite frankly, under normal conditions he considered them somewhat of a menace, always getting stuck in the engines of the airship like they did, but today, today after who knows how long underground, they sounded glorious. Forlath closed his eyes to better allow his other senses the opportunity to drink it all in…
“Uh, Captain?” Interrupted XO Ezra Yesterday insistently, “Captain!” Forlath sighed deeply, opened his eyes and replied exasperatedly to his XO “oh for the love of the pearly gates Ezra, can’t you just let me enjoy the moment for once, hmm, is that too much to ask?” “By all means Captain, enjoy away,” replied XO Yesterday nonplussed “but wouldn’t it be better if we shared this special moment on the ground?” With that Ezra pointed, Forlath’s eyes followed Ezra’s pointed finger out and over the edge of the wicker basket. It appeared they had overshot their scheduled topside destination by oh, approximately 100 feet and climbing. Incriminations and accusations of ‘why didn’t you’ and ‘I thought you were’ were quickly exchanged, followed by desperate attempts to reverse or even stop their ascent, all to no avail.
“I thought you claimed to be a pilot” shouted the Captain! “I am and as soon as you show me where the steering wheel is I’d be glad to take you wherever you would like to go” rebutted the XO! “Uh guys,” interjected Commander Casey Steward “guys?” “What” both the Captain and Ezra shouted at the Commander simultaneously. Casey pointed upwards; both Ezra and Forlath glanced in the direction of Casey’s pointed finger up past the edges of their hot air balloon. Looming above them was the Mechanoid base ship. It centered itself just above their balloon and retracted the doors to its cargo bay. “Captain, this is bad right?” quailed Mara. The hot air balloon floated up into the Mechanoid ship, the cargo bay doors slowly closed again after them with a metallic, final sounding clang…

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter on Thursday
Back aboard the Queen Bran’s Revenge, Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter was sipping whiskey with Corporal Chemisesrouges as they discussed the formation of a new away party. They were arguing over whether or not to include a doughboy or two, when a voice came over the intercom.
*crackle* “Chief Phillips-Carter? Chief?’ Are you there?” *crackle* It was Luke. “You’re going to want to get to the bridge as soon as possible!”
The Chief sighed… she was just getting comforable. She knocked back the remaining whiskey and popped up from her chair. “Corporal, you may resume your duties… I will return when I can.” The Corporal nodded as Madelaine left the room. On the bridge she found the Professor, Luke and Zack; their faces nearly pressed against the large viewport. “Chief!” Luke began, noticing the Madelaine’s entrance by her reflection in the glass “Only moments ago we spotted what appeared to be an unidentified floating object off on the horizon! Unfortunately, before we could take the Queen Bran in for a closer look, the enemy vessel accelerated to it’s position and, well, brought it aboard!”
“Could it have been the Capatin and the others?” Maddie inquired. “I don’t know Chief” Luke replied “But it is highly probable!” Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter slapped the intercom “Crew, this is Chief Phillips-Carter speaking! There’s been a change of plans…essential crew, halt what you are doing and report to the bridge post-haste!”
“You can’t be thinking of boarding the enemy ship!?” Professor Pendennis gasped “That would be insane!!”
“They don’t call me Mad Phillips-Carter for nothing…” the Chief retorted.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Friday
Captain Forlath Grey ordered his crew to stand down; they didn’t stand a chance in a frontal assault against the Mechanoid armaments and shielding. The Mechanoids secured the hot air balloon and with weapons at the ready ordered the crew to exit the basket. The Captain, XO Ezra Yesterday and Commander Casey Steward with hands upraised slowly climbed out of the basket. Officer Mara Puipéid, the moment they had spotted the Mechanoid base ship overhead had crouched down in a corner of the basket with the invisibility cloak taken from the Warder’s Christmas Play Props chest, thrown over her head. The Captain didn’t have the heart to tell her she was still visible.
The three Revenge crewmates were roughly pushed over to one side as the Mechanoids visually scanned the hot air balloon and basket. They communicated with each other in high frequency blurts, and as crazy as this sounds, appeared somehow agitated by what they saw in the basket. One Mechanoid with a red starburst on its left upper chest plate appeared to be engaged in a lengthy communication on an internal communicator while the other Mechanoids milled uncertainly about.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Friday
Ten minutes later the Mechanoids parted and let through what was once Private Rödtröja. The crew members gaped open mouth at his appearance. He still bore some physical resemblance to the man he once was but any trace of his humanity was long since gone. “Captain Forlath Grey,” Mechanoid Rödtröja started “you will tell us immediately where you have hid the Mara unit or undergo pain manipulated threshold facilitated inquiries until you tell us where you have hid the Mara unit.”

Forlath and Ezra exchanged glances “You uh, you don’t see Mara, I mean the Mara unit?” “Do not attempt to frustrate me with time delaying tactics” Mechanoid Rödtröja replied “the Mara unit was with you when we localized your ship. Now it is not. Reveal its location immediately.” Forlath’s mind raced, did that silly cloak have some sort of electronic mesh that blocked whatever signature Mara had that the Mechanoids were using to track her? “I wouldn’t dream of attempting to delay you and your uh, windup overlords. I’m sure your world domination chores list is a mile long” Forlath answered “you’re right; she was with us but uh, threw herself overboard when she saw your ship coming. It’s all very tragic. As you can imagine we’re pretty broken up about it.” With that Forlath winked sidelong at the Commander and XO both of whom immediately burst out into sobs of inconsolable grief at the loss of their erstwhile boon companion.

Mechanoid Rödtröja looked momentarily puzzled “Affirmative, a Mara unit is capable of such drastic measures but surely we would have picked up something… unless she’s discovered how to cloak her signal and gone to ground…” At that the Captain nearly choked and the XO and Casey started to howl their grief out with new intensity. Mechanoid Rödtröja looked over irritably “take them to the biological unit information extraction center while we rescan the area below the ship, as officers they will contain more useful data then their underlings.”
As they were forced into a corridor leaving the hanger, Forlath risked a look back at the balloon. The top of Mara’s cloak covered head was just visible over the edge of the basket. Good luck Mara, it’s up to you now, Forlath thought to himself. The hanger door closed and the Mechanoids forced the Revenge crew on down the corridor. So now they knew how the Mechanoids had so much information on them and what had happened to the missing Royal Marine fireteams. “XO,” Forlath whispered “absolute Kelvin zero, cold snap generator together with a large explosion, do you think the Revenge got the message?” The XO just shrugged. Forlath glanced over and noticed Casey’s growing agitation “not again,” he was mumbling “I won’t let them incorporate me, not again…”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey on Friday
“Ahoy, Airship Queen Bran’s Revenge” crackled over the gondola command room radio receiver, followed by “Ahoy? Are you freakin kidding me over here? Just because we’re elves that doesn’t make us freakin fairies, gimme me that mic.” “Hey yous, over der on the Queens wazzit, this is Guidolas of the Lllianaro famiglia. Those Mechanoid rat bastards just took your Captain and members of your crew. Are yous just gonna sit there and take that? Look out your porthole… *snicker* how about we teach those tin cans a lesson, huh? Are yous with us or what?” The crew of the Queen Bran’s Revenge looked out the viewports; all around them were at least two score airships of every size, shape and description. The odds had just been sweetened in their favor…

Reply by Lady Emma Darry yesterday
“Crew, this is Chief Phillips-Carter speaking! There’s been a change of plans…essential crew, halt what you are doing and report to the bridge post-haste!”
Emma doesn’t know who is considered to be essential crew, but she is sure she is not. Besides, she has a strong feeling the Chief would bite her head off if she dares to show it in her presence before this matter is taken care of. When she thinks of the way the Chief spoke to her, Emma’s face become flushed with embarrassment. The last thing she wants is to do anything that would potentially endanger the rest of the crew, and she is genuinely sorry she has made the Chief think otherwise. She only did as she was told. Granted, she may have taken it a bit too far. She doesn’t know why – explosives materials usually aren’t usually that appealing to her. After some thought, it occurs to Emma that she is angry – angry at everyone and everything that happened to her since she has set foot in this place. Maybe she thought the bomb was a good outlet for her anger, maybe she just wanted to exact vengeance on the inhabitants of this cursed rock, but either way, the Chief was right. She has been acting recklessly. With a sigh, Emma resumes working on the disposal of the bomb.
She is gently placing the Napalm Enema at the bottom of the waste bin Biscuit has found for her when a tug on her skirt almost makes her drop it.
“Biscuit!” she shrieks. “Do you know what would have happened if I had dropped this?!”
The doughboy shrugs and points to a few sacks of flower, sugar and other powdery substances he has managed to find in the kitchen. The ship would surely need to be restocked with food supplies after that, but Emma feels she will be forgiven for that as long as there is a ship to restock.
“Good,” Emma says. “Now help me get it in there – GENTLY!” She screams as Biscuit attempts to lift a bag and toss it into the bin. When they are done, she lights the fuze and seals the escape pod behind them.
“Quickly now, Biscuit,” she rushes the doughboy. Biscuit presses a few buttons, after which they can feel the pod part from the ship. An explosion is heard and the ship begins to rock violently for what seems like forever, but in truth could not have been longer than a few seconds. The rocking stops eventually, and mercifully, everything seems more or less intact.
“Biscuit, be a dear and let Chief Phillips-Carter know my Napalm Enema will no longer be a problem,” Emma asks the doughboy politely, albeit with a trembling voice. “I am going to get drunk.”

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter yesterday
Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter was marveling over Guidolas Lllianaro’s colorful fleet when a violent explosion rocked the Queen Bran‘s Revenge. The ship lurched to and fro, sending Madelaine careening head first into the porthole, hitting the glass with a loud *smack.* Recoiling from the blow, she tumbled backwards with a queasy squish direcly onto Zombie Zack. “Sorry about that old fellow, you still in one piece?” she shouted over the din of her frantic crewmates. The zombie chuckled wryly, replying “You can’t kill what’s already un-dead.”
“Everyone alright?” Professor Pendennis shouted, once the ship had ceased it’s rocking. He shot a glance at the control panel, “Hmmm, no damage….wasn’t an attack then…” It was at that moment that Biscuit came toddling into the room, looking completely and utterly unfazed. In a tiny voice he squeaked “Lady Emma’s bomb is aaaaallllll gone! KABOOM!” The Professor rolled his eyes in disbelief.
“AY! I said AY! yous over dere! What, are yous all deaf or just STUPID?!” crackled the voice over the radio. Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter scrambled to the communications system…”Hello? Hello? This is Chief Engineer Madelaine Phillips-Carter, my apologies for the delay, we were experiencing some, erm, technical difficulties…”she replied. She wasn’t quite sure just who this Guidolas was or for that matter how he knew of the ship and its crew, but she knew better than to look a gift-horse in the mouth. “Your assistance is greatly appreciated! I would say drinks are on me, but our bar is in a bit of shambles right now!” “Yeah, yeah, I hears ya…save the thank youses for after we deals with these tin cans…” came the reply. “We were just discussing plans for a rescue mission when you hailed us” the Chief began “I think if we had a bit of a distraction, our pilot Luke here could sneak us aboard? What do you say, um, Guidolas?” The Chief awaited a reply.

Reply by Mara Puipéid yesterday
Mara watched, paralyzed with fear, as the Mechanoids dragged away her Captain, XO Ezra and Commander Casey.
Her body convulsed with an intensity she had never felt before.
‘Stop being so useless! You know full well what they will do to them if you don’t take action!’ she whispered to herself,
or was it Bob Gir speaking?
It didn’t matter, her friends were in peril and she had to do something.
She looked about the cargo bay. There were only a few smaller machines mulling about.
It was now or never.
Pulling her enchanted cloak tightly about her, she nimbly climbed out of the basket.
‘To hell in a hand basket’ crossed her mind.
Silently, she crept along the corridor of the ship.
was printed on a door panel.
“Arsenal” for some reason she understood the strange glyphs.
She pressed the control switch.
The door slid open with a woosh.
She scanned the room, and quickly grabbed what she believed to be pistols of some sort,
and there in the corner, to her amazement, stood none other than her Holy Avenger.
How it got there, aboard this ship, she had no idea but there was no time to waste.
Every minute that passed could mean the death of her friends.
Leaving the room, weapons in tow, the door closing behind her she hurried
along past several more doors until she came to one marked
‘This is it, the interrogation room, Bob’ she murmured in what was barely a breath.
Slipping her hand cautiously from under her cloak, she pressed her palm against the control panel, releasing the sealed door.
As it slid open the sight she beheld was agonizing,
she paled, the colour fading from her countenance.
Captain Forlath and XO Ezra were pressed against the wall by an unseen force.
Suddenly it was no longer fear that clutched her heart but a surge of ferocity, like a lioness defending her pride.
Entering the room, she threw off her cloak and holding her sword above her head she roared
“By the power of Greyskull….
And with that the room filled with a blinding viridian light, a plethora of beams shot from her green eyes as the Mechinoids heads were severed from their bodies.
MARA rushed to the controls and reversed the field that held them, and in a flash, as if time and space itself held no reign over her, she was at the side of her friends.
“Captain?”….his eyes remained closed.
“Captain Forlath?” she repeated as she gently touched his bruised and battered face.
“Forlath!” it was a demand now. His eyelids flickered and then opened.
“Are you alright, sir?”
“Do you think you can walk?” she said, tenderly trying to blot away the blood oozing from a gash across his forehead using a corner of her magic cloak
The Captain nodded.
‘That’s going to leave a scar’ she thought to herself.
She quickly turned her attention to XO Ezra.
He didn’t seem as bad off as the Captain, but he still was injured.
“Ezra, are you able to stand?”
“I think so” he replied.
He placed his hand on her shoulder for leverage,
struggled a bit, but go to his feet.
He was so very tall, towering over them like a slender collosus.
She quickly glanced around the room.
“Where is Commander Casey?” she said as fear mounted in her yet again.

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
The Mechanoid base ship shuddered. The Queen Bran’s Revenge was obviously attacking against his orders sighed Captain Grey. The last few minutes had been excruciating, thank heavens Officer Puipéid had arrived when she did. Forlath was too disoriented by the data extraction procedure to know for sure but there had been someone shouting something about power and then a bright flash, must have been some kind of short circuit in the electrical grid, either that or another 80’s nostalgia flashback and we all know how unlikely that was.
With Officer Mara’s assistance the XO and the Captain left the interrogation chamber. Commander Casey Steward was nowhere to be seen. The corridor outside the chamber was full of Mechanoids running to their battle stations or fighter hangers. Obviously their programming made Mara and the rest of the crew irrelevant under the current circumstances. “Well Mara”, said the Captain “where to?”

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey yesterday
Guidolas and the Chief quickly came to an agreement. While the Lllianaro Famiglia airships, the Queen Bran’s Revenge ship guns and the one active Revenge fighter wing engaged the Mechanoid base ship and fighters, Commander Luke von Hagen, Science Officer Xavier Pendennis, 1st Bartender Zombie Zack, Lady Emma Darry, Lady Elizabeth Patch, Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter, Corporal Chemisesrouges and one fireteam loaded into a Heavy Raider. Biscuit would not take no for an answer, the Chief finally had to push him out of the ship and quickly close the door to keep him from coming along.

Luke and Zack climbed into the cockpit and took the controls while the others strapped themselves in. Luke looked over his shoulder “this is going to be a bumpy ride boys and girls, we’re dropping off the side down to 100 ft elevation above planet surface, we’ll punch the engines, attempt to avoid Mechanoid fighters and flak and then climb directly under the base ship, with any luck and a bucket load of skill we’ll reach one of their fighter decks. So hang on, and Lady Patch please keep your belt on this time, please?” With that final checks were made, the Heavy Raider was hoisted on a hydraulics arm and extended out over the side of the Revenge and… dropped…

Reply by Captain Forlath Grey 23 hours ago
The Heavy Raider bounced into the Mechanoid fighter bay, banged into the wall, spun around three times, skidded about twenty feet and came to a stop. Needless to say the paintjob and resale value were absolutely ruined. The hatch popped open and out tumbled the crew of the Queen Bran’s Revenge, all looking a bit green about the gills. It had been a harrowing flight but they had made it in one piece. More or less.
Thanks to the new weapons created by the Chief, the Mechanoids who attempted to stop their progress were quickly swept aside. Back on the Revenge, in a rare moment of sobriety, er I mean clarity it had dawned on Chief Madeliane Phillips-Carter that attaching canisters of refrigerant (you know, like you buy at the auto shop to charge your air conditioning system) to super soakers would create the perfect anti-Mechanoid weapon (hey, you weren’t there so shaddup). Any Mechanoid hit by the stream of refrigerant would instantly turn into clockwork popsicles.

The fireteam had three royal marines armed with the modified super soakers while the remaining member of the team and Corporal Chemisesrouges were armed with baseball bats (everybody knows that baseball bats are standard military issue). They would spray the Mechanoids and then the bat bearing members would whack them with the bats, shattering them into a million frozen clockwork pieces. It was not only fun to do; it was fun to watch as well… where was I? Oh yes, the officers were also thusly armed and together they quickly cleared the fighter hanger and ran into the corridor where as chance would have it, they bumped into Officer Mara Puipéid, XO Ezra Yesterday and the Captain. At last the entire crew was back together again, well, almost.

“Let’s save the tearful reunion for back on the Revenge folks,” urged the Chief “quick, back to the ship!” “Wait,” shouted Mara “we’ve lost Casey! We can’t leave without Casey!” “He’ll be on the bridge,” croaked the Captain, still weak from the interrogation “he knows the weak points in the Cake Eater’s defenses, they’ll have him on the bridge.” The Captain’s logic made sense. The assembled crew of the Queen Bran’s Revenge locked and loaded and headed for the bridge of the Mechanoid base ship and heaven help anyone who tried to stop them… actually, I’ve never really understood what was so great about the phrase ‘lock and load’. You hear it in just about every action movie when in effect what that entails is locking the bolt of your weapon forward and then loading your magazine. Much more dramatic would be ‘load and lock’ because then you would have a round chambered and ready to fire… No, seriously… But I digress…

Reply by Mara Puipéid yesterday
A short musical interlude….
Captain Forlath Grey limping but stalwart, enters the bridge stage left.
“I am the very model of a Steampunk Airship Cap-i-tain,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and whe-at-en,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
I’m very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a Steampunk Airship Cap-i-tain.
I know our mythic history, King Arthur’s and Sir Burton’s,
I answer hard acrostics, I’ve a pretty taste for paradox,
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes!
Then I can hum a fugue of which I’ve heard the music’s din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.
Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you ev’ry detail of Caractacus’s uniform:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a Steampunk Airship Cap-i-tain.
In fact, when I know what is meant by “mamelon” and “ravelin”,
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a Javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I’m more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by “commissariat”,
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery—
In short, when I’ve a smattering of elemental strategy—
You’ll say a better Airship Cap-i-tain has never sat a gee.
For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and whe-at-en,
I am the very model of a Steampunk Airship Cap-i-tain.”
The crew of the Revenge enters behind their Captain.
Corporal Chemisesrouges-
“I’ve got a theory
That it’s a demon clown
A dancing clown demon – nyehh, something isn’t right there”
Lady Emma-
“I’ve got a theory
Some kid is dreaming
And we’re all stuck inside his wacked broadway nightmare”
XO Ezra-
“I’ve got a theory, we should work this out”
Corporal Chemisesrouges, Lady Emma, XO Exra-
“It’s getting eerie
What’s this cheery singing all about?”
Commander Luke von Hagen-
“It could be the Hive queen and her
Sentient bread
Which is ridiculous ’cause bread they were
Good food and grains of the earth,
Starchy power and…
I’ll be over here”
Lady Patch-
“I’ve got a theory
It could be bunnies
Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes
They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses
And what’s with all the carrots
What do they need such good eyesite for anyway
Bunnies, bunnies
It must be bunnies
Or maybe midgets”
Chief Madeliane Phillips-Carter
“I’ve got a theory, we should work this fast”
Science Officer Xavier Pendennis and Chief Madeliane Phillips-Carter-
“Because it clearly could get serious before it’s passed”
“I’ve got a theory
It doesn’t matter
What can’t we face if we’re together
What’s in this place that we can’t weather
Sentient Bread Apocalypse
We’ve all been there
The same old trips
Why should we care”
The entire Crew of the Revenge-
“What can’t we do if we get in it
We’ll work it through within a minute
We have to try
We’ll pay the price
It’s do or die”
Captain Forlath Grey-
“Hey, I’ve died at least twice”
The entire Crew of the Revenge-
“What can’t we face if we’re together”
Zombie Zack-
“What can’t we face”
The entire Crew of the Revenge-
“What’s in this place that we can’t weather”
“If we’re together”
The entire Crew of the Revenge-
“There’s nothing we can’t face”
Lady Patch-
“Except for bunnies…”
Spotlight focuses on the M.A.R.A. unit for her solo.
“Don’t know how to take it
Don’t know where to go
My resistance running low
And every day the hold is getting tighter
And it troubles me so
Yet it’s clear to me
I don’t have a strategy
And I think I must be
Under attack
I’m being taken
About to crack
Defences breaking
Won’t somebody please have a heart?
Come and rescue me now
‘Cause I’m falling apart
Under attack
I’m taking cover
They’re on my track, three Mechs,
one coder
Thinking nothing can stop them now
Should I want to
I’m not sure I would know how
This is getting crazy
I should tell them so
Really let my anger show
I feel like I was trapped within a
I’ve got nowhere to go.”
From out of nowhere a background chorus-
“Still undecided I suppose”
Mara continues….
“Yes, it’s what I wanted
But I’m scared as well
Staring down the deepest well
I hardly dare to think of what would happen
Where I’d be if I fell
Under attack
I’m being taken
About to crack
Defences breaking
Won’t somebody please have a heart?
Come and rescue me now
‘Cause I’m falling apart (literally)
Under attack
I’m taking cover
They’re on my track, three Mechs,
one coder
Thinking nothing can stop them now
Should I want to
I’m not sure I would know how….”
(Credits- Thanks to “The Pirates of Penzance”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Musical” and “Mamma Mia the Musical” for their contributions.)

Reply by Lady Emma Darry yesterday

Reply by Madelaine Phillips-Carter yesterday
Chief Madelaine Phillips-Carter’s Solo:
Pulling a bottle of gin from her knapsack, Maddie sings-
Drink with me
To days gone by
Can it be
You fear to die?
Will the galaxy remember you
When you fall?
Could it be your death
Means nothing at all?
Is your life just one more lie?
Maddie passes the bottle to Corporal Chemisesrouges
The male crew members –
Drink with me
To days
Gone by
To the life
That used
To be
Let the gin of friendship
Never run dry
The Corporal passes the bottle to Lady Patch
The Female crew members-
Drink with me
To days
Gone by
To the life
That used
To be
At the shrine of friendship
Never say die
Here’s to you
And here’s
To me…
Lady Patch returns the now empty bottle to Chief Phillips-Carter. The Chief stares at the bottle wistfully…
Do I care if I should die
Here, so far across the galaxy?
Life without gin
Means nothing at all
Would you weep, Biscuit,
Should your Chief Maddie fall?
Will you weep,
Little Crescent
For me?
(Credit to Les Miserables)

Reply by Mara Puipéid 2 hours ago
Everything was back the way it was.
She was again aboard the Revenge in the bar with her friends.
Everyone was laughing and making merry.
They were all happy again.
She was happy.
And then she awoke….
The last thing she remembered was entering the bridge with her Captain and crew mates, followed by a great flash of light.
She tried lifting her left hand to her face to rub the sleep away but found she could not.
Her body was immobilized.
All she could manage was to open her eyes, which she quickly closed again.
The light was so bright.
Once more she opened them, just a sliver, allowing for adjustment.
When everything came into focus she realized she was no longer on the bridge.
Above her she saw a large machine with many intricate instruments attached to just as many thin metallic arms. She remembered something like this before.
‘The dentist’s office. That was it.’ she thought.
Only this was not the dentist’s.
There were several lights surrounding the machine above,
and a huge reflective disk which illuminated the small room even moreso.
The disk was highly polished allowing her to see herself reflected in it.
She felt embarrassed at first. What if her friends found her like this?
For whatever had brought her here had also taken her clothes.
It was then she noticed broken lines drawn in places across her body.
One ran horizontally, straight down her middle, from her throat to where her legs were attached.
There was another running the opposite direction, vertically across her abdomen,
yet another across her throat and one on her forehead.
The words of the warder came rushing back-
“Mara, you are in danger child, there are those that would love nothing more than to get their hands on technology of your standard for their nefarious purposes and there are others like the Holy Order of Peacekeepers that would see you as a threat to the holy peace everlasting and would want to see you um, ‘decommissioned’.
‘Was this what he meant by decommissioned?’ she thought.
‘By decommissioned did he actually mean dismantled to find out how she was created? What technology made her‘work’?’
It was here that she would normally have begun to shudder with fear, but not anymore.
She was tired of all the running away. Whatever lay in store for her, so be it.
The only torment she felt was for her friends.
She could not remember what had happened on the bridge.
She prayed they were safe and unharmed.
At that moment she heard the door whoosh open and several small Mechanoids entered the room.
They all gathered around her.
One attached a wire from the large machine overhead to her temples.
It started to pulsate.
A flood of memories rushed through her head, from the time she first met her fearless friends fighting ferocious flour fiends at the Super Target, Gordon Ramsey, the ride through the tunnel system when they first met XO Ezra Yesterday (then Ez-Ra the yet unreconstituted mummy), to finding the Queen Bran’s Revenge and their exploration on the planet below searching for those damnable dilithium crystals (who’s idea was that anyway? 🙂
She saw all the faces of her friends-Luke, Maddie, Lady Patch, Ezra, Professor Pendennis, Zombie Zack the bartender aboard the Revenge, the newly acquainted and dear Lady Emma, Corporal Chemisesrouges-I barely knew ye but I did like the name, Casey (and with the thought came a flutter) and the ever kind, courageous, loquaciously endearing Captain Forlath Grey.
She smiled, at least she felt she did, as she closed her eyes.
And then there was darkness.

Reply by Lady Emma Darry on Tuesday
Emma opens her eyes (though she does not remember closing them) and finds herself lying on the floor. Attempting to get back to her feet is accompanied with a splitting headache, and for a brief moment she considers just lying there for a while. She would have done it, too, except that the last thing she remembers involved storming the Mechanoid ship with some kind of freezing device (and the Chief calls her reckless). Emma wonders what happened to the rest of the crew, but groaning sounds coming from the floor around her assures her they are in a similiar state. She lifts her head just a little to get a better look of her surroundings, and two things immediately occur to her: number one, they were not on the bridge of the Mechanoid ship, which, as far as Emma remembers, is where they were last. And number two, Mara is missing. Again.
That alone is enough to make Emma jump back to her feet, ignoring the pain, though it is nearly enough to make her sick.
You’ve had worse hangovers, Em, she attempts to convince herself. You’ll be fine.
The space they are in, though spinning (or is it her head that is spinning?), is roomy and well-lit. There are even carpets and pillows on the floor. Whoever knocked them out apparently wanted them to be comfortable afterwards.
“Get up!” Emma yells. It was intended as a shock to the rest of the crew, but the sound of her own voice in her ears in her current condition makes her wish she was deaf. “Mara is gone, and I have no idea where we are,” she says quietly. “also, my head hurts like someone has hit it with a hammer. Someone has to answer for this.”

Reply by Mara Fantoccini Puipéid on Wednesday
Lady Emma had awakened first.
Hearing moans from the other crew members as they slowly began to recover from the blast that had not only rendered them unconscious (and possibly in commas,) but knocked out all systems on the bridge including the Mechanoids themselves, Lady Emma decided to launch her own search for Mara.
Her head throbbed, but she was a trooper and started making her way, stepping over and around the awakening crew.
As she approached the door a voice came from behind her.
It was Captain Forlath.
“Where do you think you are going Lady Emma?” he grumbled, rubbing his head.
The thought of yet another of his crew, wandering off, possibly causing havoc with some wild, inane (or was that insane?) interlude was just not going to happen. Ruin the gravitas indeed, he thought.
Lady Emma turned to Captain Grey “Mara is missing again” she said matter-of-factly.
“Everyone else is accounted for except her and Commander Casey” she added.
The Captain, slapping his hand to his face “for the love of……” he groaned not finishing the sentence.
“Well” he sighed “we had better look for them before something else happens.”
One by one they left the bridge, stepping over Mechanoid after Mechanoid lying dormant along the corridors.
Mara opened her eyes to see the room in complete disarray.
She was no longer bound but was now covered with none other than her magical cloak of invisibility and standing over her was Commander Casey Steward.
“You gave us a scare” he said handing her the rest of her clothes, then turning away, his back now towards her. He was always a gentleman of honour.
Mara, still a bit dazed, sat up and began to dress.
“What happened?” she asked in complete innocence, adding “you can turn around now.”
She was fully dressed and was finishing lacing her ruby red boots.
“Well?” she continued.
The Commander stood for a moment staring. He knew now that she was something out of the ordinary.
“Well” he echoed her “I was being interrogated on the bridge, they were trying to find out more of what the Revenge is capable of.”
It was then she noticed the bruises on his face and a bit of dried blood in the corner of his mouth. Her heart, or what she believed to be her heart, was touched. She wanted to reach out and wipe the pain away, but thought better of it. He had seemed very distant of late and it puzzled her.
Casey continued “the Captain entered the bridge, followed by the rest of the crew when all of a sudden there was a burst of light” he didn’t know how to tell her it emanated from her eyes so he just added “and then we were all rendered unconscious.”
“I awoke first, you were missing so after checking that the others were o.k. I went to look for you and found you here.”
He cast his eyes towards the mayhem that lay about them.
He knew it must have been her that caused it, but why bring that up now. They could work this out later, when back aboard the Revenge.
Mara was on her feet and standing next to her Commander.
A weak and guilt ridden”Thank you Casey” was all she could manage.
They both turned in unison as voices were heard approaching nearer.
In a matter of moments there in the doorway stood the Captain with Lady Darry and the others close behind.
“I see you found Mara, Commander” Captain Forlath muttered.
“Good show old man.”
“Now if she can only be kept in tow, perhaps we can resume our escape from this tin plated monstrosity!”

Reply by Mara Fantoccini Puipéid on Thursday
“Wait” Mara whispered, followed by “Shhhh.”
She heard a sound coming from a pile of debris over in a corner of the room.
Mara, of course, curiosity getting the better of her, silently (well as silently as ruby red military combat boots would allow) tip-toed over to where the sound seemed to be coming from, as her crew mates silently flailed their arms motioning her to step away, the Captain looking ever so stern, shaking his head and waving his finger in a scolding “don’t you dare” motion.
Mara only looked over her shoulder, smiled at them, and continued her approach.
She gingerly removed the rubble piece by piece until she came to a small overturned rubbish bin.
The noise was louder now as the crew continued even moreso their frantic charades and fervent whispers of “don’t touch that!”
Automatically ignoring them, she lifted the rubbish bin and standing there, having a conniption, was none other than Bob Gir.
“So there you are, Bob” Mara beamed, as her mates finally relaxed.
“I was worried about you” she added as she motioned for him to return to her skirt pocket.
Bob responded with an array of beeps, whirs and a string of @ # $ % ^ & *##%!!! which only she could interpret.
Mara shook her head and smiled “Oh, Bob! You remind me so much of Gordon!” her smile clouding for only a moment as she recalled her lost Ramsay.
Bob Gir continued his tirade until Mara patted him on his tiny head and again motioned for him to hop into her pocket so they could continue their journey.
He made a short beep after finishing his reprimand of her being much to spontaneous in her actions, turned towards the others adding a few more blips and bleeps then climbed into Mara’s pocket.

Casey Steward on September 24, 2011 at 10:16am
Casey with Mara in tow turns to the Captain “I was saving this for a special occasion, but wrapped around my midsection is enough plastique to blow a hole in this tin can two meters wide eleven time over. One problem though, no detonator .”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on September 26, 2011 at 7:18am
*Cheesy Superfriends Announcer Voiceover*
Meanwhile!…Down on the planet below:
In a darkened room, lit only by the monitor screens focused on the battle above the planet, the Peace Keeper elite discussing the mayhem in hushed, yet urgent tones.
As they muttered amongst themselves, a small access port high on the wall popped open and revealed the tiny figure of Bill Gir, the self replicated twin to Bob Gir, who was currently up on the Mechanoid home ship with MARA.
[Forgot about him, didn’t you?]
His last directive from MARA had been to protect her friends, a job made ridiculously hard by their utter disregard for their the own safety, their seeming immunity to the laws of physics and their apparent ignorance of both the forces arrayed against them and the basic tenets of plot structure.
It was enough to set Bill to cursing, a rather cute outburst that consisted of whirring and clanking and finished off with an emphatic, whistling release of steam.
This commotion was nearly his undoing, as one of the Knight Bishops began to turn his head to investigate this new, if minor, disturbance of the peace.
Luckily for Bill, it was at this moment that a mighty, regal leonine figure paced majestically into the room, golden armor gleaming; huge, black mane rippling in the breeze of his determined stride. His entrance sent an expectant, reverent hush over the assembled gathering, riveting the attention of everyone int the room, Bill included.
Supreme Field Cardinal Wapinzani had at last arrived to take control of the situation.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on Monday
Supreme Field Cardinal Wapinzani, the high commander of the Order of Holy Peace, the strongest, deadliest most capable leader in over a thousand years of Peace Keeper dominion, strode confidently and energetically toward the throne overlooking the Battle Command Center.
As he passed through the ranks of the assembled staff, the looks of awe grew to transcendent devotion on every face.
One junior functionary, a Cleric first class delivering a status report to one of the Bishops of Intelligence, swooned and passed out at the merest glance in his direction from the Cardinal’s piercing intelligent eyes.
As the poor, insensate cleric slumped toward the floor, the Cardinal seemed to turn…and was suddenly just there, lowering the hapless youngster to the floor gently, a task seemingly impossible to perform, considering the razor sharp claws on his huge, deadly looking paws. He checked the boy for breathing and a pulse; then satisfied, without a word, he rose and finished his walk, climbing the stairs and taking his rightful place on the Throne of Peace.
The Bishops gathered at his feet, taking turns giving their departmental reports in a reverent, orderly and peaceful manner.
He nodded to each in turn, never speaking, only absorbing the information in a calm efficient manner.
Suddenly there was an explosion on the screens, so powerful that dust was shaken from the roof even here, in the very heart of the Holy Sanctum.
The Bishop of Intelligence, a lizard of some sort with eyes rotating wildly, independent of each other, taking in several things in quick succession, spoke up, “Field Cardinal, the interlopers have just detonated some form of dairy based incendiary device. No clear data as of yet, but preliminary scent analysis indicates that it will register at least a,” his green face blanched, and both eyes suddenly focused on the paper in his hands and then rotated up, hesitantly, to the Cardinal’s face, “..at least 7.8 on the Limburger scale.”
Cardinal Wapinzani rose majestically to his feet, nodded gravely to the frightened Bishop and spoke….
[ There is no real way to properly convey in words the timber, tone and accent of his voice…
The best I can do is to say his vocal mannerisms bore a striking resemblance to the Impressive Priest from Princess Bride…
It was nearly an exact imitation, actually, since that is where I stole the idea…
In case you don’t know what I mean, or would just like a refresher for your memory, here is the link
yes, that silly voice is what this literal Lion of a man had been dealt in the game of genetics.
Seriously, it just goes to show, nobody’s perfect.]
” It is time,” he said, ” to put an end to this wediculous and destwuctive confwict. We must pweserve the peace at any cost. It is time to use our most sacwed weapon, the Holy Cannon of Siwence.”
A hush fell over the room, broken only by faint scrabbling sounds, retreating down the now empty access way high on the wall.

Reply by Forlath Grey yesterday
Just at that moment XO Ezra Yesterday came through the door dusting off his hands. He strode to the middle of the room aboard the Mechanoid base ship where all the officers of the Queen Bran’s Revenge airship were currently assembled and cleared his throat in a loud and irksome fashion until all eyes were on him. Then, with an irritating self satisfied grin on his face, he announced “job’s done just like you ordered Captain.” Captain Forlath Grey sighed “refresh my memory Ezra, which order was that?” “The one about hacking into the Mechanoid mainframe and searching for a self destruct program” Ezra replied. “Oh,” responded the Captain, somewhat surprised “that is good news, excellent work XO. Take me to the terminal, Pendennis, Chief, you’re with me, everyone else get to the transport ship and prep for our imminent departure. Looks we might actually finally finish the chapter on the Mechanoid menace.”

“No need Captain” interjected Ezra. “Why is that XO” the Captain paused somewhat puzzled. “Because I’ve all ready started the self destruct sequence of course.” XO Yesterday slightly startled by the shocked looks from his crewmates at his good news quickly added “relax, I left plenty of time for us to get off the ship…” Just then the Mechanoid ship computer announced over the ship tannoy in a sultry female voice “self destruct subroutine initiated. Self destruct in 30 seconds and counting. 29… 28… 27…”

Reply by Forlath Grey 3 hours ago
They almost made it. The intrepid crew of the Queen Bran’s Revenge reached the transport shuttle just as the Mechanoid ship computer counted Ten… Nine… Eight… Captain Forlath Grey was shouting “Go! Go! Go!” as the last member of the crew dived through the shuttle hatch. The Captain sealed the door as Commander Luke von Hagen jumped into the pilot’s seat. Five… four… Luke frantically patted his pockets. “Why aren’t we moving?!” bellowed XO Ezra Yesterday. Luke looked over his shoulder towards the rest of the officers “um, has anybody seen my keys?” Two… One…
“Excewent shot Acowyte Constable. I shall ensure you weceive a commendation.” Field Cardinal Wapinzani magnanimously smiled his approval as what was once the Mechanoid base ship now rained down on the planet in the form of four billion pull tabs. The Acolyte Constable scratched his head in confusion, he was fairly certain he had never even pushed the fire button but upon his very soul he wasn’t about to tell the Field Cardinal that…
The Warder released the lever on the Divergent Worlds Machine. He smiled to himself and went to the kitchen to make himself a well deserved cup of tea…

Maddie and Mara Theresa

(Maddie and Mara in the airship Officers’ Mess)

  1. Professor Extreme! 6 years ago

    2011 Bl***Y Hell we’ve wasted 4 years on this. Seems only like a millennia ago.

  2. Forlath Grey 6 years ago

    Don’t be ridiculous . . . three and half years, tops . . .

  3. You know, what with the weird and all. 🙂

  4. Hmm, so maybe not THAT exoplanet, but one of them. What say you, xoezra?
    (It’s actually quite thought provoking, can you imagine the possibility of even more diverse and active life than on Earth!?! Curious and exciting!)

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