Friday, 7 December 2007

Too Little Information

Extract from Alfonso Avalanche’s Caledon Citizenship Application Form:

To ensure you are the kind of person we are looking for in Caledon, please provide in the space below 8 (eight) random facts about yourself (Please note - evidence of the authenticity of these facts may be requested from you by a Caledon Ministry of Information Officer):

1. Despite my profession, I do not possess a full Circus Strongman licence.

2. I served as an engineer onboard the Circus Dreadnaught Barnum during the Clown Wars and was briefly attached to the Human Cannonball Commando unit.

3. My Uncle Monty had an unfortunate accident while juggling elephants.

4. I wrestled all comers at my Uncle’s circus under the name of “Gigante Enmascarado”.

5. The Flying Circus’s main tent is in fact constructed from steel plate, rather than canvas (to hopefully avoid a reoccurrence of the unfortunate “elephant juggling” incident).

6. My Professorship issued by the Royal Society for High Adventure was purchased over the aethernet for the low, low price of L$100.

7. My mother was the Circus strongwoman, and bearded lady at my Uncle’s circus.

8. The steam powered elephant gains its lift from a unique uni-directional pressure system that is accomplished by an unusual arrangement of boiler pipework.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Big Finish

JTTTLBTMI Crossover Part 4 (Strongman and Pixie Finale)

Governor Shang stood high above us all, a maniacal grin playing across his features as he surveyed the chaos and destruction before him.

I gasped. The Governer? Here? Behind all of this?

“Mr Guvnah Sir’s been a very naughty man!” said Fuschia, and she was right.

Everyone was still frozen in place, looking up expectantly at the Governor. I seized my chance and continued my dash up the stairs. The clattering of feet broke the silence and the clammer of the crowd roared back around us. Pursuing tribesman mounted the stairway behind us and as we approached the top the Governor slowly turned towards us and withdrew a small box with a single red button from his pocket.

Still a good few paces away I dived forward to tackle him, but the button was pressed, a trap door opened beneath him and he dropped through it. My hands snagged on his jacket and hair as he slipped through my grasp. I was just a moment too late to catch him, but fast enough to catch something else. With a tearing noise I found myself holding a shredded jacket and an amazingly lifelike wig and face mask – so maybe it wasn’t really the Governor after all.

Sprawled over the trap door I peered down into the darkness catching a flash of long blonde hair as the figure plummeted out a view. A lady…?

“Quick! Quick! Quick!” Shouted Fuschia as she came running up behind me. I twisted around to see tribesmen now pouring up the stairway on both sides of the dais towards us, viciously sharpened fruit at the ready. Without pausing for thought Fuschia grabbed me by my collar and leapt down into the trapdoor dragging me behind her. As we followed the Faux Governor on his speedy downwards journey, I really hoped there would be a soft landing.

The walls of the narrow tunnel had been polished and as the passage in which we plummeted jogged to the left we found ourselves starting to slide rather than fall. Fuschia was giggling about it being just like a big helter-skelter, while I nervously glanced behind us, but could see no pursuers in the gloom.

We slid into a brightly lit section of tubing, no not brightly lit, but glass, taking us through a bright white room. Below us we caught site of a huge machine churning out what looked like mechanical bunny rabbits. Then back into darkness…Then out into another cavern. This one glowed red from the sea of lava bubbling away beneath us and there on a narrow finger of rock, I’m sure that was Baron Bardhaven and Mr Abel sword fighting, Mr Benmergui holding a carved stone idol in his off hand…but no time to get a good look as we were soon back into darkness again.

I felt more than heard the mountain roar, the tunnel around us starting to crack – then fall apart and soon we were falling through darkness and then…oblivion…

I woke with a sore head, Fuschia poking me in the ribs. I was lying on my back and opening my eyes I could see a tiny grey circle of light way, way above me.

“Wake up, big ‘un, you’ve had more than enough rest.” She sounded worried and reaching up I felt the damp bandage she’d wrapped around my head. “We fell out of that slidey-tube and you hit your head and you looked like you probably needed the rest, but the mountains gone all shakey and angry again…

I winced as I got back to my feet. I ached all over. We appeared to be at the bottom of some deep shaft. In the dim light I could make out a few large rocks and animal bones, but no sign of any exits or passages. Looking up I could see the shattered remains of the tunnel-tube we’d fallen out of and far, far above it a stormy daylight coming from, I presumed, outside.

The cavern convulsed and rumbled. Dust and small stones began tumbled down around us from the walls of the cave. “It’s been doing that more and more for the last few minutes,” Fuschia said. “That’s why I woke you up – I think we’d better go.”

The last few minutes? How long had I been unconscious? Again, giving me little time to think, Fuschia grabbed me under the arms and flapping her butterfly wings began lifting me up towards the light. “Ooof! We’d better stop you eating so many fairy cakes. You’re definitely getting heavier.”

Slowly we climbed as the rock walls moaned and grumbled around us, occasionally showering us with rocks. Fuschia deftly avoided the larger ones and eventually we emerged from the cave mouth into a scene of chaos.

We were halfway up the side of the volcano and most of the jungle below us was burning. The bits that weren’t burning appeared to be falling into the sea. As Fuschia gained altitude I could see lava flowing freely between the trees and with a growing rumble one whole side of the mountain began to collapse.

“Wait! Wait!” I shouted. “We’ve got to go back for everyone else!” Fuschia began pirouetting in mid air back towards the volcano just in time for us to catch the full brunt of the island exploding.

The retina burning flash was followed a split-second later by an ear splitting crack and then we were hit by the pressure wave.

We were blasted through the air. A feeling I was getting more and more used to on this journey. We both held on to each other as we splashed down into the water as rocks, fireballs, trees and bits of mountain crashed down around us.

I struck out for a large piece of floating, smouldering debris, something to hold onto, to help us get our breath back. Beyond it I could see the blackened smoking remains of Philip sinking below the water.

The deadly rain eased, settling into a steady fall of ash. I reached the big piece of flotsam helping Fuschia on to it before pulling myself up to join her and suddenly realizing what it was.

I ran my hand along its surface feeling its soft vibration, the soot and grime coming away to reveal it’s battered, blue wooden shell and the words “Police Public Call Box”. It was Oolon’s Cabinet. And the doors we were sitting on suddenly opened and we tumbled inside.

Oolon looked up from the console as we splashed, dripping wet onto the floor just inside the doors. “Ah Fuschia, young Avalanche you’re just in time, Terry’s just put the kettle on.”

I began spluttering out “What..? How..?”.

“Oh don’t worry, I’ll explain later…” A frown played across his lips, “Don’t worry, everyone’s safe, but there are a few more people we need to fish out of the old briny.” He strode over to a tall cabinet and pulled out a pair of oars. “You couldn’t do me a favour and paddle us about a bit..? I’m afraid the Old Girl’s taken a bit of a knock and needs to get her strength back before she can do it on her own and I don’t want our friends to get too chilly.”

I took the oars as Fuschia curled up happily on the chaise long.

One thing about life in Caledon, I thought as I clambered back outside, it’s never dull…

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Fight Club

JTTTLBTMI Crossover Part 3

Lady Darkling’s song rose above the deep rumble and roar of the mountain, the eerie music and the bubbling of the lava below us, a gentle soothing tone, ethereal and unworldly. The hot air felt a little cooler, the sparks and embers that floated through the air pirouetted around her and a strange peacefulness fell across the cavern.

“She’s singing the mountain a lullaby,” Fuschia laughed. “Putting the mountain and the burny rocks to sleep for us to get across the bridge. She's not daft, her.”

It looked like it was working; the lava boiled away slowly beneath us but sent forth no more burning balls of molten rock. The song grew louder and louder as Lady Darkling drifted across the bridge, carried by her music and that of the mountain and we all followed, carefully watching our step. I was halfway over when I suddenly realised we were all singing along, joining Lady Darkling’s song, keeping the mountain slumbering.

As the last of the penguin sherpas crossed the bridge, the mountain must have decided to turn over in its sleep as a huge gout of flame leapt up from the pit, spraying the bridge we had just crossed only moments before. We feverishly hurried onwards; there was no telling how long the mountain would stay rested.

More caverns, more tunnels, more twists and turns and finally a decision, a fork in the path. Without hesitating, Lady Darkling carried on down the left hand path and was followed by Baron Bardhaven, Miss Kelley and Mr Abel. Lady Eva, however, stopped just short of entering the cavern and cocked her head to one side. “Listen…”She said. So we did.

The strange melody had become part of the background noise, along with the rumbles and groans of the caverns, but it was much louder here – and much louder from the right-hand path. Lady Eva, Lady Gabrielle and Lady Amber were already drifting in that direction, their bodies swaying in time to the beat of the music and before I knew it, I was too. I shook my head, trying to clear it of the music, but here it really was becoming loud. We followed the Duchesses and Baronesses onwards with Oolon fractiously muttering about “hypnotic sub-harmonics in the lower frequencies”.

Almost without warning the passage we were following opened up into a huge chamber filled with native men and women in various states of undress, cavorting around bamboo poles and swigging from half coconuts with little umbrellas in them.

“Rudey people!” Fuschia exclaimed happily and Terry laughed, covering Oolon’s eyes as he began blushing furiously.

“Good Lord!” Lady Eva cried “It’s a Gentleman’s Club!”

I had to agree that’s exactly what it looked like.

The music here was pounding and deafening. The walls of the “club” were exquisitely carved organ pipes, formed by the looks of it from the living rock of the mountain itself. Opposite the entrance, on a raised dais of steps, a figure cloaked in shadow maniacally played the gargantuan organ.

Lady Gabrielle shouted out a warning and I turned to see a large group making their way through the dancers towards us. They didn’t look like a welcoming committee.

We didn’t stand a chance in the yawning maw of the cave opening; we had to make things more difficult for them.

“Into the crowd!” I shouted and set off at an angle into the throng of people, grabbing Fuschia’s hand and pulling her with me. Terry did the same with a befuddled looking Oolon, whisking him off into a group on the opposite side of the entrance. The last glimpse I caught of the Duchesses and the Baroness before the crowd closed in was of them standing back to back, each adopting a fighting poise and silhouetted by a fire ball leaping up from one of the open lava pits in the room. Somehow I got the feeling they could look after themselves.

I pushed on deeper into the crowd, trying to make my way to the dais and avoiding any of our unfriendly greeters. Our luck, however, didn’t hold for long. Thankfully, I’d spent some time when I was younger earning money at my Uncle’s circus by wrestling all comers and when the tribesman lunged for me from out of the crowd, I let go of Fuschia, grabbed his sleeve and collar and suplexed him up over my head and down onto a nearby table. Coconuts, rum, umbrellas and table splinters flew in all directions. With spilled drinks, the crowd around us was turning nasty; Fuschia had drawn her swiss army spork from her sock and was waving it menacingly at anyone who came near her. Things were about to get out of hand very quickly when suddenly four black and white shapes dropped onto the ground in front of us. Four penguins, each wearing a different coloured headband and each brandishing a different weapon (of far eastern origin I would guess), posed dramatically and then leapt into what had turned into an angry mob, buying us breathing space and time to escape. Mr Abel certainly trained his little assistants well.

We jostled our way quickly through the mass of people. At last, we reached the dais and began pushing our way up the steps when suddenly the music stopped, the room fell silent and all eyes turned to the raised platform.

The mysterious organist stood, leaving his glittering marble keyboard, and strode into a shaft of light, illuminating his features and at last revealing his identitiy to us all…

Thursday, 27 September 2007

The Descent

JTTTLBTMI Crossover Part 2

Bunzilla’s roar split the air as a fearsome, carrot-crazed eye peered down at us. There was nowehere to go but into the cave, so that’s where we went - at great speed. From the mouth of the cave I watched it snuffling and grunting at the tangle of balloon, trees and tents. Behind me I could here discussions of where we should go next and what we should do.

From what I could gather, it appeared as if Fuschia and myself had indeed appeared just off the coast of Caledon. This new volcanic isle threatened the very safety of that great nation and this small group had been sent to solve the problem. I’m not entirely sure how they were going to achieve that, but any help we could give them, we would.

Most of the discussion seemed to centre around a tattered map that Mr Abel had discovered. Sadly the major problem seemed to lie in the fact that the cave system was represented on the map by a tangle of lines, almost as if they’d started drawing it all out nicely and then just decided it was too complicated and scribbled a pencil round and round for a bit.

Lady Amber stood in the corner surrounded by a gaggle of penguins swigging from a battered hip flask. The light from the cave entrance glittered off her cleavage…No, hang on, I don’t mean cleavage, I meant her…bosoms. Now that’s odd; everytime I looked at her my eyes slid away onto her… attributes. Something at the back of my head was itching – trying to tell me something, trying to show me something… I caught Fuschia’s disapproving look; I think she’d caught me staring – so I hurriedly looked away and pretended I was studying the cave wall instead.

We decided to push on into the darkness. Baron Bardhaven believed that’s where the source of all this trouble was and that’s where we’d find answers. We pressed on because…well…he sounded like he knew what he was doing and we certainly weren’t going back out there with Bunzilla.

The tunnels wound on and round and round. I began to wonder if the strange scribbles on the map weren’t entirely incorrect; the passages seemed to twist onwards and downwards for such a long time. Baron Bardhaven and Lady Darkling took the lead. At times, Bardhaven peered at the map then indicated a particular direction; at others, Darkling drifted down a certain passage following a mysterious glowing orb as if in a trance. All the while, Oolon kept up a running commentary on the fascinating rock stratification and geological formations while Terry rolled her eyes. The Duchesses chatted excitedly about the grand adventure and the balls that would be held in all our honour when we returned home. Miss Kelley’s eyes darted around each cavern we passed through, gently mewing and watching every movement and shadow.

The strange music continued throughout our journey, echoing from the passage walls and fading in and out. The strange thing was, down here it seemed less alien, less unusual. Maybe we were getting closer to the source, or maybe the echoes and harmonics of the tunnels were just right, but I was sure I was beginning to recognise familiar phrases and bars. This was music I’d heard before, music I’d heard in Caledon when wandering through … was it Tanglewood? Or by the Governor’s mansion? Lady Amber slipped into my field of vision and again I found myself … distracted. Even more so as she appeared to be peeling off layers of clothing again - because of the heat she claimed.

And she was right; it was getting a lot warmer. We began passing through chambers filled with lava flows and sparkling embers dancing in the air. Soon we were all removing some of our more bulky clothing.

We finally came to halt in a large chamber. Our path took us across a narrow, crumbling bridge of rock and across a lava flow, all the while fireballs leaping up and exploding over us.

I’m sure this wasn’t marked on the map…

Monday, 17 September 2007

The Poison Belt

JTTTLBTMI Crossover Part 1

The butterfly tunnel swirled around us. It had been a good few weeks away; a nice, relaxing change of pace. Pixie had it’s peculiarities but was certainly a marvellous place to relax.

We were travelling to Caledon rather than the Colony, because Fuschia said that it was much easier to navigate back to somewhere like the Homelands, where the love of it’s people acted as a sort of beacon, making it much easier for Pixie magic to home in on.

I felt the balloon catch on an updraft of wind…we were definitely approaching something…something that smelled like sulphur and smoke… The twisting vortex before us darkened, filling with thick black clouds. This didn’t look good.

I gently shook Fuschia awake and she wrinkled her nose at the smell. “Are you burning breakfast, again?” She mumbled before sitting bolt upright and whispering “Something’s wrong!”

I nodded and was about to explain when the tunnel shattered around us and the balloon leapt violently.

Once onto our feet we could see that we were surrounded on all sides by thick smoke. The butterflies that had formed our passage to and from Pixie were lost in the darkness. It was searingly hot and proving very difficult to breathe.

Where were we? This certainly didn’t look like Caledon. The balloon was twirling and I could see no more than a few feet through the smoke and ash. Fuschia handed me a strip of cloth she’d torn from her petticoats to act as a face mask in order to keep out the choking air.

I tugged on the control ropes of the balloon, trying to gain height and get above whatever we were in. A deep rumble sounded below us and a fireball tore upwards through the sky, alarmingly close. I peered down over the side of the basket and could feel even more heat as well as perceiving a dull orange glow below us through the smoke. Were we above some enormous pyre? Had the alien invaders returned and reduced Caledon to nothing but fire and ash?

I attempted to regain some control over the balloon, but we were caught in an unpredictable updraft and the balloon's control vents were useless in the ash laden, turbulent air.

“Look!” Fuschia shouted. “A funny flying man!” I turned, not sure what to expect. The brief glimpse of him I got before impact was of a young man dressed in a pastel shirt, carrying a spear and wearing a helmet crudely fashioned out of a large coconut, propelled through the air by what appeared to be a battered brass and bamboo steam jet pack. A moment later he’d collided with the canvas above us, punching a hole clean through the balloon’s envelope and sending us on a very fast journey – sideways…

We careered wildy through the air, the balloon letting out a strange high pitched wail as the gas escaped.

The balloon described several crazy loops as we clung desperately to the sides of the basket. We eventually shot out of the bottom of the smoke cloud and I briefly caught a glimpse of a volcanic island (the smoke from which we had just left) surrounded by a huge expanse of water. On the downward swing of one of our circuits the basket skimmed the top of the water, scooping up a good proportion of it along with several penguins, a rather surprised looking Baroness (Lady Amber, to be more precise) and an even more surprised looking hammerhead shark.

The balloon curved upwards again, propelling us up over the island (as the penguins heaved the shark overboard) in what would be our final descent. We swung back down again, this time crashing through some tents that had been erected on the beach, and onwards into the deep jungle trees. Tribesmen scattered in all directions and I’m sure I caught sight of several people tangled in the canopy, rigging, tent, trees and, by the looks of it, cooking pot wreckage that we’d accumulated as we skidded through the undergrowth before sliding to a halt at the mouth of a dark and foreboding cave.

Fuschia helped a rather shaken Lady Amber up out of a pile of penguins and the now ruined basket, while I clambered out to help disengage our unexpected, and no doubt shocked, reluctant passengers from what was left of the rest of the balloon. And what a collection of nobles we’d entangled: A Baron (Bardhaven), A Duke (Greystoke), a Timelord (Sputnik), Sidhe (Lightfoot) and no less than two Duchesses (Carntaigh and Loch Avie) and two Marchionesses (East and West Speirling - or at least one Speirling and one cunning "copy-cat").

As I began hastily disengaging them from the rope, canvas and foliage, eerie music drifted from the cave entrance behind me…

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Destination: Pixie


Fuschia was the one who suggested we should have a few weeks away. The militia and fund raising was winding down and the unusual invaders that had appeared on the shores had been driven off, many bits of clothing had been made, much tea drunk and many cakes eaten. We were both exhausted and in need of a break.

She suggested we go and visit some of her friends in Pixie (apparently a nice little corner of the otherworld near Faerie, where the pixies live). I’d never been there before, but she assured me it would be really nice and we could even take the balloon.

After an extensive few days of packing we pushed off from our little bay in Penan. We’d locked up the workshop and had employed a young urchin to keep and eye on the circus and feed the boilers of the steam elephants in our absence.

Waving goodbye to young Master Grut we drifted onwards from Penan, out by the nearby floating castle and over the sea, where I realised that what I had assumed was a flock of birds from a distance was actually a huge swarm of multicoloured butterflies gathering over the ocean. Fuschia giggled at my look of surprise and wiggled her nose. The butterflies swirled in the air, coming closer and closer until we were entirely surrounded. And then there was a subtle change; we were no longer in a small vortex of butterflies but in a huge twisting tunnel stretching on as far as the eye could see. This was to be our path to Pixie.

I’m not really sure how long we spent travelling. Not long after we entered the tunnel the hands on my pocket watch began to spin crazily around it’s face, randomly pointing at numbers and every so often even pointing at new numbers that weren’t even on the clock face when we’d set off.

We’d worked through a good number of wax cylinders and books when I felt a breeze. The tunnel we were travelling in was eerily quiet (aside from the soft, scratchy music of the wobbly recordings) and since we’d set off there had been no feeling of wind or motion despite the coloured / shifting walls of the tunnel. I looked down to where Fuschia had dozed off in the balloon’s basket and was about to nudge her awake when suddenly the tunnel around us scattered into a multitude of tiny wings.

The balloon lurched as it once again gained purchase on new air and our tiny escorts scattered into the forests that unfolded beneath us. We were floating in a deep purple sky, a blazing orange sun dipping below a great mountain range in the distance, and I suddenly had a strange feeling. It was almost like deja-vu…but not quite. For a moment it appeared as if the mountain ahead of me burned, as if the sun dipping behind it was actually some great gout of fire erupting from its maw. Strange music echoed in the distance and a peculiar feeling of foreboding began to creep across me…

Fuschia yawned and sprang up onto her feet beside me, peering out across the landscape of her home. Something had changed, the spell had been broken, and once again there was just a sun sinking below the horizon.

Putting the odd trick of the light aside, I pulled on the control ropes of the balloon and we began our descent into a clearing…

Friday, 6 July 2007

Air, Sea and Land

Dear Miss Tombola,

Just writing to thank you for the lovely afternoon of transportation related adventure, and for the very kind charitable donation that set us on this path in the first place.

I successfully retrieved the hot air balloon from the foot of Terry’s beanstalk in Tanglewood last night and am happy to report that apart from the odd branch trapped in the rigging it survived our rather bumpy descent down through the tree canopy.

I’ve also managed to straighten out the slight bend that appeared in my steam board after the unfortunate encounter with the sea bed in Lionsgate, and the hangar walls in Steam City.

Thankfully, I caught Admiral Wind at her shipyard this morning and with her assistance was able to lift the Caledonian Queen from the rocky coastline of the Moors, although I think the keel may need a bit of patching before she’s going to be seaworthy again.

Oh, and your stable boy should be on his way over to drop off your improvised monowheel. I gave him a bit of change to pick up our cycles from where we left them at the Victoria City train station, and he seems a trustworthy enough lad, if a little grubby.

Hope we get a chance to do it again sometime - although not too soon, as I think my legs need a bit of time to recover from chasing the train all the way through Carntaigh.


Alfonso Avalanche

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Lists Are Good

Checksheet for regeneration:

1. Old Timelord


2. Cast of thousands


3. White Lady


4. Fireworks


5. Nice Effects Shots

6. New Timelord
Blimey. Check

7. Star Vampire


8. Power Source

Power source? Oh bugger.........

9. Dancing


10. Bananas

Oh yes. Bananas are good.

Friday, 15 June 2007

I love the smell of steam in the morning

From the journal of Alfonso Avalanche

What an evening last night turned out to be: regenerations, star vampires, stolen power sources, possessed Time Lords – I definitely needed time to get out of the circus workshop and clear my head. At least Oolon seems to have come through it all largely intact. Let’s just hope the gamble hasn’t caused more problems than it’s solved…

I decided to go take the air in Primverness and check that all was well at the Steampunk exhibition. It’s amazing the technological feats the engineers of Caledon can accomplish.

As I was passing, I thought I’d better check that my own pieces of engineering were still in good working order.

Thankfully, the alignment on the space gun appeared to be fine, and Miss Paris’ steam elephant still showed stable boiler pressure.

The strangely soothing sound of steam trains (thanks to Dr Burton Newall), steam engines (courtesy of Mr Denver Hax), hissing baked potatoes (provided by Captain Lapin Paris), ticking clockwork limbs (built by Sir Edward Pearse), the odd boing of the cavorite repulsion chamber (envisioned by Mr Greggan) and humming laser piggy eyes (by, who else, but Miss Virrginia Tombola), made a most unusual dawn chorus.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

A dream? Really, Doctor, you'll be consulting the entrails of a sheep next

I found it difficult to sleep last night. It was a night of odd dreams.

I dreamt of an old friend sitting in a bright white-marble room, weaving a giant tapestry. He wore colourful robes with a high collar, looking almost incongruous on his small frame. It was a tapestry full of strange images – silver robots, domed automatons, black suns, blue boxes, piano lounges, beaches, planets, stars and so many people. The small man smiled up at me as the last thread fell into place, his robe gone and replaced by a more familiar tuxedo. He’d found a martini from somewhere and finished it off with one gulp. He winked at me with one of his large eyes, reached out and in one sudden move tore the tapestry from the loom.

The room filled with a blinding blue light, and I shielded my eyes. When I reopened them I was elsewhere. It was dark and I was in his photographic studio. He sat at his workbench, looking more like he does now, a flickering light playing across his face. He was surrounded by unspooled kinematic film. It spilled from the desk and covered almost the entire stone floor. He turned and beckoned me over to see what he was doing. He was winding through a reel of film on his home made editing equipment. The images on the small screen whirled along, too fast to follow as his hand spun the feed wheel. With no receiving reel fitted, the film continually cascaded onto the floor. It was impossible - that small reel couldn’t possibly have held all that film. He must have read my thoughts as he tapped the side of his his nose and whispered “it’s bigger on the inside”.

I don’t know how long I stood transfixed, catching a glimpse of familiar scenes, people and faces in the hypnotic glow of the screen, when suddenly it stopped on a single image…an empty white room with a circular motif repeated across the walls. Had we come to the end of the reel? I glanced over to see it still had plenty more to go. His hand slowly, carefully moved up to the guillotine he used for cutting his movie footage. His hand hovered there, almost as if he dared not touch it. His gaze wasn’t on the, film or the guillotine, it was out through the glass windowed walls of the studio.

On the lawn, beneath the bright starry sky, stood his Cabinet. A warm light spilled from the open doors and the blue beacon atop the device pulsed reassuringly. The silhouette of a figure appeared in the doorway, and as I heard the sound of the guillotine slicing through film, the figure stepped out onto the grass…

…and I awoke.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Play Misty

Dear Virrginia,

Its been a long time since I've been off for a wander, so I thought I really ought to. What with Oolon doing daft things and putting himself out of commission I don't suppose we'll get to do any more ETD jaunts (not that we have for a while anyway, but you know what I mean). Anyways, I kept hearing people talking about a place called Avillion and it sort of sounded a bit like home. Not that I really miss home all that much (there's too many kind and wonderful people and exciting and interesting things here to make me want to abandon Caledon; oh yes, and Alfonso) but every now and again a Pixie needs cool water and shade and the feel of magic between her toes.

I arrived in a castle keep of some sort, in the midst of a thriving market. Burt resolutely refused to come out in case I made him carry something (lazy little oik), but it was all big person stuff and you know the problems I have with proper capes. Some sort of creature gave me a little note on the etiquette of the land and some very nice clothes to wear, so I was quite happy (at least I was then). They're very nice clothes, too; comfy and soft and a lovely colour. Still, poor mite can't have had much room in that sign. I pointed out to Burt how there were Brownies far worse off than him, but he only grumbled.

After I'd got changed behind some packing crates (being small does have some advantges), I left the keep and followed the path down to a little village. There were even more shops here, but I didn't tarry. There was also a considerable number of locals gathered in a clearing near by (I think they were having an argument so I tried not to intrude but you have to say hello, don't you?). They certainly weren't very polite and only one good gentleman responded to my greeting. In fact, the whole time I was there, he was the only soul who even acknowledged my existence. I did wonder if it was part of that strange effect we'd noticed when we did go out in the ETD, but someone could see and talk to me so I guess that the inhabitants of Avillion just aren't very friendly people.

Which is a terrible shame really, as its quite a pretty place (but not one I'd ever want to go back to). There were magnificent tree houses that you could only reach by fantastical stairways (my wings felt very sad and heavy there and I could barely manage a flutter). Many contained ballrooms and opulent furniture, but were oddly silent. Everybody seemed to be downstairs arguing or posing next to a tourney field. Give us that much ballroom space in Caledon and we'd be dancing non-stop, I'm sure of it.

Many more were open to the stars, affording a breathtaking view of the waterfalls all around. The music of the falls was thunderous and mighty and normally this would have filled me with joy. Sadly, although the earth was moving, it wasn't breathing; there was no heartbeat. The life I had expected to feel from all this foliage and force wasn't there; it was a hollow land, lost and empty. I could have wept.

And then I found out why the people here are probably so miserable: Drow. Don't have much of a sense of humour, your Drow. Its all "Oh the pain of existence! Woe is me, woe is me!". Pfffft. It certainly explained the swamp and the tunnel full of dismembered butterflies. They do tend to ruin a neighbourhood with all that misery and spikey nonsense. Can't be doing with them personally and thankfully I didn't run into any of the cheerless gloom-monkeys.

Unfortunately I did run into their sense of humour. Oh wait, that's right, they don't have one, which is why I ended up stuck in a graveyard arguing with a bunch of irritating wisps about how I was going to get home (booby traps, marvellous). Just capped off the trip perfectly, that did. To be utterly frank, I'd seen all I wanted to by that point and so I concentrated really hard and "popped" myself home to the Colony. Its hard work and I always need a good sit down and several cups of tea afterwards, but enough was mostly definitely more than enough.

I wouldn't go there Virrginia, it wasn't fun. I know it might seem frivolous, but I feel the need for fun in a world of gathering storm clouds; I crave sunshine and life, my dear friends and their warmth and companionship. I can safely say that never have I been so happy as to see my beloved Caledon as I was that day.

Your friend


Monday, 11 June 2007

Blue Box Recorder

Dear Oolon,

It’s been such a long time since I put pen to paper - way back when I was still exploring the mainland. Sadly as you know, all that exploration had to be put on hold when Master Grutt delivered my military reactivation papers and I was summoned back to Tanglewood HQ. Did I ever tell you about my time serving in the engine rooms of the circus dreadnaughts back in the Clown Wars? It’s been so busy since I got back, servicing the engines on the ornithopters and transport balloons for our brave boys and girls.

Anyway, I’m drifting off the point, as I often do. I’m writing because I had a bit of an odd experience and I was wondering if you can shed any light on it?

I was sitting having a nice mug of tea back at the colony a few days ago, when I heard what I took to be the familiar roaring, tearing noise of the ETC engines. However, the box that appeared was similar, but not quite the same as yours. It had the same basic shape but was bluer, squarer, different proportions, if that makes sense? I was wondering if you’d been doing some work on her, when suddenly the door opened and a complete stranger stuck his head out through the door.

Seeing my surprised look the white haired gent lifted an ornate pocket watch to his face, stared for a while as if trying to focus on the watch hands, muttered something about “crossing his own timestream”, vanished back into the box, and slammed the door.

I’d put down my tea by this point and had started to make my way over to this “other” Cabinet, but only got half way there before the roaring started again and the blue box was gone.

Didn't get a chance to get any pictures of the chap or his box, but thought I'd drop you a letter to see if he was one of your Gallifreyan friends? I don’t mind them dropping in, it’s just I didn’t recognise him and he seemed to have such an odd reaction to seeing me. I hope I didn’t offend any of them with that unfortunate mix-up with the pantomime zebra costume last time they were over visiting you in the ETC.

Right, must be off, I’m busy rifling a huge gun barrel at the moment, nothing to do with the war effort, just a personal project. Just out of interest, have you given any thought in trying to get to the moon?



Saturday, 19 May 2007

Kissing Caledon Colonels Court Controversy

Clipping from The Caledon Sun:

A recently discovered photograph has led to much wagging of tongues and has sent shockwaves through Caledon society.

The picture allegedly shows two Colonels of the Caledon milita, Col Alfonso Avalanche (Royal Engineers) and Col Hotspur O’Toole (CHIT / Caledon Air Force), engaged in a passionate clinch.

The Caledon militia has launched a full enquiry and an investigation led by Major Erasmus Margulis promises to get to the bottom of the situation.

The Sky Full of Stars

Oh my poor diary, how I've neglected you of late. It's shameful really, when you've always been such a patient listener and confidante. I really don't know where the time has gone, except that my sewing machine has barely been silent. But these are, at best, excuses and I shall trouble you with them no more.

Do you know the world is a magical place, even here on this earth so far away from Faerie. People forget; slowly, inexorably they stop pausing to enjoy the beauty and wonder all around them. Its nobody's fault; life is hectic and there is always so much to do and be done. So when instants of absolute stillness occur, when you can hear the heart of the Universe beating out it's symphony, when time crystallises into that one perfect moment, these are the times that are the most precious we have.

I had such a moment last night.

I had heard rumours from our friends that Mr Darkle Sands had been experimenting with light in the manner of that august gentleman Mr Tesla. I made so bold as to ask Darkle if I might be able to see his creation and he very kindly said that I could. For all his quiet reserve, he truly does have the soul of a poet (as a very dear friend told me; how right she is).

Above the clouds, nestled between heaven and earth, he laid out his masterpiece with the care and tenderness of a proud father. And he had every right to be proud. The gentle glow of the bulb field was utterly breathtaking, wrapped in silken shreds of cloud that fleetingly touched the earth before melting away into nothingness.

I called Alfonso to see the quiet majesty of the spectacle, knowing how much of a fan of Mr Tesla he is. And Miss Paris as well. Like me, they were most taken with the scene. Taken - the word doesn't do the feeling justice; I know that the moment I saw the tiny, perfect twinkling lights my spirit soared and I felt that magic had returned to the world in all its primal glory; demure, comforting but vast and mighty, a force of nature biding its time, awaiting its moment. This is what we are (or at the very least this is what we can be): beacons of light in the darkness.

I have always loved light, the play of shadows, the sense of mystery and illusion. The stars had fallen to earth, only to be swept up again into the vault of the heavens, waymarkers to guide us all safely home to those we love.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

The Answer To Everything

Dearest Em,

I am very sorry that I haven't written to you in a while. I don't have a proper excuse; I think I've just been having too much fun making dresses and helping Miss Paris (and playing on catapults and springy boards and dancing). Life is rarely dull in Caledon...

What shall I tell you about first? I suppose Steam City happened before I went swiming with Miss Virrginia and flying with Miss Paris so that should really be the one, oughtn't it?

The Guvnah Sir very kindly said that we could go and play on the proposed site for the new neighbourhood and you really can't refuse an offer like that. We'd missed the steam elephant racing and it was all very quiet, so Alfonso set up two of his catapults for us to play on. We weren't alone for long though; the catapult does seem to attract people in a most mesmeric sort of way. Alfonso couldn't resist the opportunity to test his new invention on a willing band of guinea pigs and brought out his Moon Rocket.

It didn't exactly work, but people seemed to be enjoying themselves so Alfonso knocked up some launch boards from the spare building materials that were lying around. That was much more reliable, although there were a few, er, well, embaressing moments.

Its not like Mr Margulis to be so underdressed (except when raving, of course; this was entirely due to the acceleration he assured me), but we were all far too polite to say anything. And Miss Paris and Miss Schnabel were very well organised; they were packed for every eventuality, as proper ladies of adventure always must be.

And then there was Mr Buchanan and his shark. I'm not quite sure what was going on there, but the shark didn't seem to mind too much and I could have sworn he was smiling as he blasted skyward.

It has to be said that the citizens of Caledon are always up for a bit of a giggle and if it includes being catapulted into the air at a huge rate of knots, so much the better. I managed to make it all the way over Port Caledon in my inner tube and I landed in the pond in Caledon II as well! I slept well that night, let me tell you.
It was a shame that Virrginia couldn't be there, knowing her fondness for all things aerial, but I did get a chance to have a small adventure with her when we went swimming at Rua.

This was after she taught me to fly an ornithopter. Let us just say that I'm marginally less bad at that than I am flying with my own wings (we only got stuck upside down twice. Or was it three times?). And the flying goggles were rather useful under water too. There were some nice sea urchins that Virrginia had a sit on (and as she pointed out, exploring requires a great deal of sitting) and quite a lot of interesting wildlife.

But poor Virrginia wasn't feeling too grand and kept swooning (which isn't really a good thing when you're underwater, mermaid or not), so we called it a day and she went for a lie down at home. I wandered over to Tanglewood, where Alfonso was mending Miss Paris' steam elephant (who'd banged his head when he'd been playing with the catapult and he hadn't been quite right since). After my lovely husband had wiped his hands and tidied away his tools, Miss Paris offered to take us all for a celebratory ride.

I'm not sure that Alfonso had completely cured the bumped noggin because this Snorty had a moment of reversion to the activities that made his forebear so infamous. Mr Gray assured us he was fine despite his skewering and the trip continued apace. I didn't stay for too long as I was feeling rather exhausted from all the swimming and flying, but it was fun swooping over Caledon a la elephant.
So, as you can see, its been all go here. I do hope you get the chance to pop over for a cup of tea soon, its ages since we had the chance for a proper gossip and you know how pixies have to satify their natural curiosity as often as possible.
Take care, dear Emilly.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Miranda Miranda

Dear Diary,

Its been quite a weekend, let me assure you. Its been lovely to have my husband home from his travels, although his workshop has never been so busy (still, keeps him out of the tent). He does love a good challenge.

Although I think its fair to say that this was much more of a challenge for those viewing it than it was for him. His Uncle Monty has a lot to answer for, that's all I'm saying. I'm not quite sure how he got into my banquet frock, just that I need to thank the seamstress for making it from such durable and stretchy fabrics.

And then there was the catapult. Now I knew that was fun, because we played with it over at the Circus. And it was lovely to see all of our friends having great fun experimenting with exactly what you could throw using it.

I seen a horse fly, I seen a dragon fly, I seen a house fly, and I've even seen an elephant fly. But a zebra????

And then there was Miss Cyn Vandeverre, shortly before some naughty witch turned her into a daffodil (which coincidentally flew very well indeed).

And there was jousting. Not with horses; far more civilised than that. All it really needed was some cake and tea for the journey. Here you can see our gallant Guvnah hurtling towards victory (although Miss Kelley needn't have been quite so alarmed).

And then there was the dancing. It all started so innocently at first, although Alfonso had obviously had too much sun by that point of the day.

And then it began, quietly at first: the Caledon Ladies' Pagan Dance Society, later to become the Secret Miranda Society.....(I somehow don't think Miss Paris had any idea of the repercussions her chance comment would lead to!)

Somehow, I was reminded of Aunty Pan's dance troupe...

At this point, Oolon was still clinging to his dignity and stood as our token male (although Alfonso's and Mr Margulis' dignity had long since waved bye-bye):

It didn't last...

Poor Mr Nino looked most bemused by the cavorting and gyrating sea of blue and red; he found it quite impossible to judge the best dressed competition.
And then the wings came, and the jester hats....

And of course, the bright glowing lights...

Still, her Grace Gabrielle took it marvellously well that we had erm, well, descended into madness on her lands...for the second night running...
Shortly after I retired to the Colony, with very sore ribs and a happy heart. Dancing lifts the spirit (and hopefully we shouldn't have any rain in Caledon for weeks now...)


Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Stormy Weather

Dear Virrginia,
I hope you don't mind too much, but me and Terry went off on our own for a little Fey outing to a lovely place Miss Tamura had discovered called Metatheria. In some respects it reminded me of home, although everything was a lot bigger. If you ever get the chance, it would certainly be worth a visit (just don't go left, there were skulls down there...big ones)

And don't take any notice of the creepy whispering voices when you arrive, either. That's just there for the casual tourists who expect these sort of things (I think Terry called it an ambience, whatever one of them is, but it sounded like a lady to me).

Terry was as forthright as usual and boldly led the way into this (to me) undiscovered country. There were lots of very pretty trees and flowers, and a long langorous river and a waterfall and lots of interesting temples, nooks and crannies to climb over and sit in. And mushrooms, of course, this being Fey land (I would have been terribly disappointed if there hadn't been). And a big dragon's nest, which was sadly empty and not as comfortable as you might imagine considering the usual level of comfort most of the dragons I know prefer. Terry looked very funny perching in there, but Burt was too busy hiding in case a big bird came by and tried to eat him, so I didn't get any paintings; he's such a coward sometimes. There were some big birdies, but they had better taste than to go after Brownies (who tend to be a bit stringy and muddy).

The sound of running water was very soothing; swans and ducks dabbled and fish swam in lazy circles beneath the cool blue surface. We wandered over a bridge and found ourselves at the bottom of some very steep steps.

There was a lovely recreational area and a bar up the stairs (Em would have loved it) and that's where we met a Metatherian Sidhe, a very refined lady called Miss Ayres. She was ever so friendly. So were the other nice Sidhe people we met (yes, people! That hadn't all run away before we got there). Made quite a change to have someone else to chat to...

But that was all after we saw the dinky ice palace and I broke the swing. I've been very good lately, and I've hardly got my dust into anything, but there was a storm coming and the breeze was picking up; it must have wafted it into the swing mechanism. I didn't mean to break it, it just sort of, well, happened. Terry thought it was very funny but it was terribly embaressing.

See this was the swing before I tried to sit on it. Terry was having a nice relax and enjoying the flowers. Then:

It sort of got stuck. Still, you had a very good view of the flowers from that angle, although it was a little bit tricky to stay seated. You couldn't see the waterfall anymore though, which was a shame as it was a very magnificent waterfall. And I couldn't get it unstuck again, which was even worse; I do hope that the storm washed all the dust out - I've been too shy to go back and see for myself.

Where did we go then? Oh yes, up to the bar and then over the big, scary rope bridge to where the birdies were. We were looking for the Underground that Miss Ayres had mentioned, but the secret entrance was actually under the bridge and not over it; which makes perfect sense really. Still you never can tell with Fey, they do like to confound your expectations.

The Underground was luminous, with yet more bridges and glowing mushrooms and bridges and flowers. And there was a very pretty swirly thing, though heaven alone knows what it was there for. Mind you, I don't suppose pretty things really need a reason to be; its often more than enough that they simply are.

Terry thought we might enjoy a trip out on one of the boats moored nearby, but the storm was gathering pace and was creating big spouts of water. I know that both of us are pretty waterproof, but that doesn't mean that you go looking to get wet and I get sick if I whizz about too much (which is why I avoid travelling in that confounded bouncing contraption of Oolon's). I do apologise for the quality of the dageurotype - Burt went into hiding again when the spouty thing got too close.

It wasn't long after that the storm hit and what a doozy it was, too. We got a bit lost in the bushes trying to find our way back from the beach, but the branches were going all over the place as the wind picked up. Then I think we got caught in one of the usual storm related dislocations, because both of us found ourselves very unceremoniously dumped back at our respective homes (after a few moments of utter blackness). It's happened a few times lately, but I still can't quite get used to the strength of the Linden winds. We did pop back, but only briefly as it was about then that we received the call to Port Caledon...
Well, better get back to Alfonso; he's running about the Circus with two coconut shells and prancing about in a very alarming manner. I think its something to do with the Rennaisance Faire; at least, that's what he says it is. Hmmmmmm.
Anyway, I look forward to seeing you again soon. You take care and don't work too hard.
Your friend,