The Arth Series

The Arth Series
Click on the picture above to go to the Smashwords giveaway.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Playtest

I took my iPad to Starbucks, Monks Cross today and typed in over 1,000 words. It has really inspired me to play a steampunk PC game as Arthur. There was one part of the story missing though, I wrote it on a separate piece of paper and need to find it.

When I got to my daughter's I cut out the Arth card game cards I had printed out at the weekend. At least now I can playtest a 3 player game.

Today's joke is (out of the new animal joke book my wife bought me today):

What kind of sharks never eat women?

Man eating ones!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Re-Tax

I managed to type in about 1,500 words of SAASA 6 today. About 1,000 to go then I can proof it to put on at the weekend. Got to #1 again in science fiction, young adult, steampunk. Had no chance to do any drawing today but we did find the document we needed to re-tax the car.

Today's joke is:

If you lean over a balcony and cut open a rotten peach you will see the pitfall!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sunday

I drew one picture today, proof read SAASA 5 and put it on Amazon. It should be FREE on Sunday.

Today's joke is:

Heard a myth about a single bed placed on top of another one, and attached with a ladder. Fortunately, I was able to debunk it.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

3

I did two drawings today and proof read 3 pages of SAASA5.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to a bank, I bumped into a clown...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Maybe

Did lots of housekeeping things today so only typed in about 500 words and did 3 drawings.

Maybe had an idea for a York based detective book series...

Today's joke is:

I hate cliff hangers, do you know what I'm going to do about it...?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Home Publishing

I managed to type in about 1,000 words today and do a drawing and a half. Then in Waitrose I saw a man I know and discussed self publishing on the Kindle with him for about an hour.

Today's joke is:

Cartoonist found dead at home, details are sketchy!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Niche Market

I drew 3 drawings today and typed in 750 words, a little short on what I wanted to do.

Got to number 1 for Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult on Amazon at the weekend. (It's amazing what 14 free downloads in one day will do in a niche market!)

Saturday, 20 September 2014

FREE on Sunday

Finished typing in SAASA 5, it should be on by next weekend. The free promotion for SAASA 4 might start in about 10 minutes... but will probably be underway tomorrow morning sometime.

Also did 1 drawing today.

I'm not doing a joke today, download the short story for FREE and laugh lots!

http://www.amazon.com/Arthurs-Steampunk-Adventure-Part-Only-ebook/dp/B00NQI3V22/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411203364&sr=1-1&keywords=Sid+and+Arthur%27s+Steampunk+Adventure+part+4

Friday, 19 September 2014

Sunday

I typed in 500 words of SAASA 5 and drew one drawing in Waitrose. I also scanned the other pictures in and put SAASA 4 on Amazon. I was planning to have it free tomorrow but it will have to be Sunday now.

Today's joke is:

Trapped in a container ship, a freight worse than death!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Formatting

I managed to type in 500 words today, and also do two drawings. I finished one at my daughter's house while having a cup of coffee then did another at Waitrose with my free coffee. I am thinking about formatting SAASA 4 tonight to put on Amazon for Saturday.

Today's joke is:

Then a bag of cement went past at 100 miles an hour. I thought, “That’s quicksand.”

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Mint

I still felt a bit funny after my cycle ride last night. So I typed in about 500 words today and did two drawings. If I can do about another 100 words of typing then I will finish chapter nine.

Today's joke is:

Well actually my wife was funny yesterday.

I saw a small car with Quality Street logos all over it.

"Mint!" said my son.

"No, it's chocolate!" replied my wife :)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Family members

I thought I had done so well today, I typed in four pages of SAASA 5 and thought I had done 1,000 words. I really did about 850. So altogether, yesterday and today I have typed in 1,500 words :(

I also drew 3 drawings for my game and scanned all 8 pictures in. Cut some paper copies out with my granddaughter. She loves them because some of the characters are family members.

Today's joke is:

What do you call a bear with no teeth?

A Gummy Bear!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sample

While I put the sample of Attack on Thera on my blog I managed to finish SAASA 6 and finish typing in and proof read SAASA 4. I was going to put it on Amazon for free at the weekend but I'll do that next weekend. I have also typed in about 700 words of SAASA 4 today and produced 4 drawings for my card game.

Today's joke is:

I can't believe I got fired from the calendar factory. All I did was take a day off!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Attack on Thera (Chapter Seven.)


CHAPTER SEVEN

After helping to clear up the last groups of attackers Lizzie made her way to the conference room where Simpkins and the others had been holed up. She still had Paul’s notebook and made her way to give it to him. 
When they had heard that there was an attack under way Paul and Simpkins had directed those in the room to make a barricade at the main doors. Paul then led some of the others to a weapons locker and they armed themselves. Some of the advanced forces did attack the room but Simpkins and his men managed to hold them off until the metal men came. Two metal men smashed down the barricade and went about killing its occupants. Three guards were dead before the metal men were defeated with the new energy weapons that the giants had left behind on the flying island.
Paul smiled at her as she got up to him, “You’ve seen some action then?” she asked as she handed him the notebook.
“I saw you at the other end of the passage near the pads, so you had a bit as well.” He took the notebook off her.
“Just a bit, I think I need a cup of tea now.” Cheekily she looked back at him as she left.


Later on, in the break, she had a meeting with Paul in his office. She was most upset by the fact that there must have been a spy who had helped the Andacians. “So how did they get onto the island?”
“There must have been a spy on board, who switched the travel pads on,” replied Paul.
“Who is the spy then, we need to know straight away.”
“Maybe they came in with the delegations for the summit.”
“How do we check that then?”
“I have no idea, maybe ask the delegates to check them out themselves?”
“Well at least we know it wasn’t done by the delegates because they were all at the summit.” She slapped her hand upon the desk as she looked out of his drawing room window, “I think we need Simpkins, he’s a good detective.”
“We could question Dr. Oswald, he’s in the brig. He could be quite helpful.”
She smiled a wry smile, “I’ll go and get Simpkins so we can question him.” 
“Maybe you had better let Hannay have something to do with the investigation as well, keeping good relations with the Tyreen etc. Do you have any ideas about who the spy may be?”
“I don’t know…” the Vuridanian general was on her mind, “I think it is strange how Leegan started off life as a liaison officer then became a general in a few months. He was supposed to have been captured by pirates, but I’m sure I saw him in Pintarn only days after. When I asked him about it earlier he got quite upset.”
The English officer tapped his notebook on the desk gently, “Just a feeling then?”
“Yes.”
“See what you can find out about him, but be discreet.”
She nodded an acknowledgement then went to find out about Leegan before he left with his delegation.


Really, she didn’t know where she was going to start. If she questioned anyone in his delegation then they were probably on his side anyway. Did she know anyone who knew him before? While she thought about it she would go back into the meeting to observe him.
Because the attack came before anything had properly been decided about how they should deal with Andacia the delegates were holding their meeting in another smaller room. There were two guards at the door armed with Mk II electric rifles. She needed no ID for they knew who she was. As she entered some in the room looked at her including Leegan. She sat at their table and listened.
“We cannot attack the Andacians, they are part of our alliance against the Hoo,” said General Bridell of Chelac.
“Surely the fact that they were Andacians who have just attacked us shows that we have to attack them back,” replied Rotok.
“But why have they planned the attack on us in secret? Why not just declare war?”
No one at the table seemed to know except Wagstaff, “It is because they have been infiltrated by the Hoo, they have used clones to replace key officials. The common people do not want war with us.”
“So we just need to attack their military then.”
“What bothers me is that they tried to take New Britannia, that is an act of war.”
“Against the British.”
“And now the Tyreen because they are their allies.”
Lizzie motioned Wagstaff over and whispered to him, “I did spot one thing, one of the soldiers who attacked us was a Vurindanian. He was not with the delegation but dressed as a common soldier. I met him at the ambassador’s palace, he was an aide. What is somebody from Vurindai doing dressed as a soldier in the Andacian army?”
“Was he a spy do you think? And if he was then was he an Andacian pretending to be a Vurindanian? He was not with the delegation from Vurindai so he must have come through on the pads. Something doesn’t add up.”
“I suspect something is wrong with Leegan. He was a liaison officer a month or two ago, now he’s a general. Paul has asked me to find out about him.”
“You go and do that then and I’ll keep my eye on him here.”


She guessed that Simpkins would be down in the brig. She was right. There were only four cells and they were all completely full. The giants were in one cell, Oswald, Hawkins and the other doctor in another. There were ten Andacians each in the other two cells. Simpkins had one of the soldiers out of the cell and was taking him into a nearby office. One of the guards kept a gun on the prisoner at all times.
Lizzie came in behind them to listen.
“What is your name?” asked Simpkins.
The man did not answer.
“Are you an Andacian?”
He smiled smugly but still did not answer.
Simpkins picked up one of his hands to look at. There was a scar along the edge, “He’s a Gite.”
The guard who was with them grew a little tense.
Simpkins took Lizzie to one side, “We’ll get nothing out of him. I’ve heard it tell that the Hoo and Gites are able to take an incredible amount of punishment without talking.”
As Lizzie started to shake her head the Gite grabbed for the guard’s rifle. The guard discharged it into the Gite’s stomach. Still the prisoner managed to grab the gun and turn it around towards the guard. Simpkins kicked the rifle away just in time and the discharge hit the wall. The prisoner fell dead on the floor.
“We need a clone or a human to get them to talk,” said Simpkins as he looked at the corpse near their feet.
She went back into the brig with the others and looked through the bars. Looking at their hands she noticed one who did not have a scar on his hands. “That one, he’s a human,” she told Simpkins. But too late, another Gite grabbed the man and broke his neck before they could get the cell door open.
Simpkins banged the bars in anger, “Hated spawn of hell!” he cried.
Lizzie put her arm round his shoulder, “Come on, let’s go to the medical room.”


Now, though the metal doctors aboard the ship could repair all of the wounded, there were so many of them that some had to lie in the hallways on stretchers to await their treatment. Lizzie and John checked the ‘Andacian’s’ hands and found one who was unconscious with no scars on his hands. “Now he’s either a newer Gite, the one the doctor spoke about or a human,” whispered Simpkins.
“Let’s put him first in the queue so that metal doctor can fix him,” suggested Lizzie, “then we can question him.”
One of the other wounded ones there protested that somebody else was being moved ahead of him. “I will lose my leg if you’re not quick.”
Lizzie saw he was a Gite, “You’re lucky we didn’t kill you all, it would have been a lot easier.”
The man shook his head as they carried the other unconscious man into the medical room. Another Gite had been healed and was getting off the table. He saw that the man they were carrying was a human and guessed what their plan was. Grabbing the man around the chest he began to crush him, he wasn’t in the right position to grab his neck. Simpkins caught hold of the Gite and tried to pull his arms off only to be thrown back against the wall. Lizzie smacked the half giant on the back of the head with a piece of machinery that was lying in the medical room. It broke his skull but still the half giant crushed the air out of his prey. Lizzie felt helpless as she had left her pistols back in her room. Another blow to his head by Simpkins brought him to his knees. He released the other still unconscious man. The guard who was in the hallway finally came in brandishing his rifle.
“Very good Private,” admonished Simpkins as he panted with exertion, “better late than never.” He helped Lizzie up who had fallen to the floor.
The guard helped Simpkins lay the other prisoner on the bed. Lizzie asked the doctor robot to repair the patient on the bed. Once the medical metal man had done his job Lizzie and the others made him get up and walk to another nearby room with them. 
“What’s your name?” asked Simpkins.
“What?”
“What’s your name,” he asked more forcefully.
“Arthur Grisdale.”
“Are you an Andacian or a Vurindanian?” asked Lizzie.
Simpkins looked at her, she seemed to be taking the questioning in a different direction.
“Vurindanian.”
“Why are you dressed as an Andacian soldier?”
“They wanted to make up the numbers.”
“Who wanted to make up the numbers?” asked Simpkins.
“The Red Pirates.”
Neither of them had heard who the Red Pirates were. “Who are the Red Pirates?” she asked.
He couldn’t believe her question, “Are you new or something? Who do you think steals all the tea from here to Sanctum?”
“Maybe you should be called the Red Tea Pirates,” Simpkins joked. “Why are you attacking us?” 
“I don’t know, we usually just attack tea ships. More recently though we’ve had an influx of new mates.”
“New mates?”
“Yeah, you know, people joining the Reds. Since then we’ve been doing slightly different things. Stealing technology here, assassination there, you know.”
Simpkins was thinking and looking at Lizzie trying to work Arthur out, is he telling the truth?! “Who is your leader?”
“Gaptooth Weston.” He shook his head, “What’s the use of being a bloodthirsty pirate if no one has even heard of you.”
“Is he one of the new ones?”
“Naw, he’s been pirating since I was a lad. Scourge of the Blue Sea he is. Everyone’s heard of Gaptooth Weston…” he paused a little, “except you lot!” He laughed and slapped his leg.
“Do the new mates have a leader?” Lizzie asked the pirate.
“Sort ‘o, skinny feller, bit of a wimp if you ask me.”
“That sounds like Leegan,” she commented to the others. “Is he called Leegan?” she asked Arthur.
“His name’s Cray, Elijah Cray.”
“Is he a Vurindanian?”
“I don’t know what he is, but the newer mates look to him for leadership and old Gaptooth just seems to go along for the ride.”
The interrogators talked to each other, “It sounds like this Elijah Cray is really Leegan,” thought Lizzie.
“We’ll need Arthur to check Leegan out to make sure though,” suggested Simpkins. He looked him up and down, “I’ll get him dressed in one of our uniforms and take him in.”
“How do we know we can trust him?” wondered Lizzie.
“Just show him what the Gite prisoners did to that other pirate in the cells,” he said quite loudly.
“Don’t worry,” said Arthur, “they have just tried to kill me. Gites you say? I should have known they weren’t real tea pirates, they didn’t like tea!”


Arthur got dressed in a British uniform, but his hair was too long so Simpkins had him pile it up inside his Foreign Service helmet. After combing his beard he smiled at himself in the mirror.
“Very pretty Arthur, now all you have to do is stand on guard duty in the room until I tell you I don’t need you. Can you do that?” asked John.
Standing to attention Arthur showed him what he could do. Simpkins readjusted Arthur’s rifle where it should be. He also made him tuck his tummy in.
“Will Leegan, or Cray, remember you?”
“Not dressed like this he won’t.”

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Attack on Thera (Chapter Six.)

CHAPTER SIX

It was a bright day and Lizzie had awoken early. After she got dressed she was about to have breakfast with Simpkins and Paul when they all got a call to come to the docking port docking bay. When they got there they saw the Volans Terrorum hovering close to the New Britannia and a smaller craft floating towards the bay. Johnson piped them aboard as the Tyreen officers walked down their gangplank and onto the bay. The other senior officers of the island also came to have a look. Paul was the most senior British officer and he stepped forward to salute with Captains Grenville and Deacon. The five officers saluted back, they were all from the air navy and their uniforms showed this. The commanding officer among them spoke, “Captain Hannay and Lieutenants Taylor, Mosley, McQueen and Hire reporting for duty.”
Paul introduced his officers, and Lizzie and the other VAS members who were there. 
They were taken to the bridge initially to let the officers look around before they had lunch in the officer’s mess.
Hannay was impressed by the Britannia and said so, “We were lucky weren’t we,” he said to Lizzie whom he was sitting beside at lunch, “the Hoo could have destroyed us hundreds of years ago if it hadn’t been for the lightning shields. Look how far ahead of us they were even then!”
Lizzie had heard stories of the newer Hoo technology, “Mini transport pads, chemical weapons, exploding comets and ultra fast airships.”
“Yes I have heard of similar devices. And that the Hoo are preparing an armada to sweep over us when they have destroyed the lightning shields.”
“Until now the Hoo have been at war with each other but there is now a new leader in the eastern continent, Drakuum.”
“I have heard of him. With the resources of three giant kingdoms he can surely defeat us.”
This bothered Lizzie for she knew that unless they defeated Andacia quickly then they would have to fight on two fronts.


There was to be a summit between the military leaders of the Tyreen, Chelaccian, Fenegans and Vurindainians to be held on the New Britannia which was deemed a neutral kingdom for this purpose. As the leaders were landing on the small airstrip created for the event Lizzie saw Leegan who was part of the Vurindainian delegation. She went over to greet him, “Leegan, I have not seen you since last we met in Sagus.”
He looked down his nose at her, “General Leegan.”
“Although once I thought I espied you in Pintarn, which was odd because you were supposed to be have been captured at the time.”
He looked a little shaken, “Excuse me Miss McBean,” he said as he went to catch up the rest of his delegation.
Lizzie followed Paul into the large dining area that they now used as a hall for the meeting. He sat at the head of the tables because it was the British who were hosting it with the Tyreen. To his left sat General Bridell of the Chelaccians and his party. To the right was General Leegan with his advisors, and in front of him but at a lesser table was Rotan of the Fenegans. 
Looking at Lizzie Paul asked, “Lizzie can you be a dear, I have left my notepad in my quarters, can you fetch it?” 
She nodded, she didn’t mind because the actual thrashing out of the plan would probably be boring anyway. Walking down the ramp to the next floor she walked through the passage that led to all of the travel pads on this side of the ship. The soldier on guard saluted her as she passed by. It was a pleasant day and she looked out of the windows as she walked and daydreamed about picnicking and reading in the shade. She hadn’t read anything for ages. I’ll have to remedy that.
To stop incursions by the Hoo or the Gite the travel pads had been switched off. When they were switched on it was at a pre-determined time so that there was less of a chance that they would be invaded. Also, when they were switched on, there was a heavier guard presence and all personnel were checked, needing special documents produced back on earth. 
She opened the door at the end and startled the other guard, “You scared me Miss, I thought things was goin’ a be quiet.”
“I am quiet private, as quiet as a church mouse,” she put her hands up to her face pretending they were mouse whiskers to have a joke with him.
He obviously enjoyed her act.
Down another two floors and she came to the rooms that had been converted into Paul’s apartment. There was another guard on the door, it was Sergeant Brown, the Corporal had been promoted, “Hello Lizzie,” he grinned, “has he forgotten something?”
“His notebook.”
He opened the door for her and she entered the apartment. She retrieved the notebook and had a look in the mirror at her own appearance, I need to get a better style for my hair, maybe something like Reena’s? She passed Brown again, “Thanks Tom.”
He nodded at her and closed the door then stood quite straight again.
She nearly went through the terramidion on the way back but thought better of it in case one of the doors was locked and then she would have to double back. She passed the private again but as she started down the passage she heard a noise from one of the far travel pad rooms. Opening a closer door she hid in one of the rooms with the door slightly open so she could see what was going on. Four men, they looked like Andacians, stepped through the door, looked to the right and left then walked towards the farthest door. This is not right. She heard a muffled thump at the other end and saw the body of the other private fall into the hallway. She listened for a second to make sure there were no other transports then ran out to the soldier guarding the door at her end. “Quick, some Andacians have made an unauthorised transport, get some men up here.”
He started to run down the passage that she had come from before she rebuked him.
“Go the other way in case any more come.”
He set off down the ramp to the next level as she did. She continued on to the next floor to her quarters to get her pistols and a couple of electric grenades Wagstaff had made her and to warn Brown that there seemed to be an attack. “Brown she called down the passage.”
“Yes?” was the reply.
“There is an attack on the island, they’re coming in on the travel pads. With me.” She led him back up to the travel pad area. Her intuition was right, she heard the travel pads hum slightly. They both covered the hallway and when Andacians entered it they shot at them. A lot more of the doors opened and more enemy soldiers came through. There were too many to shoot so Lizzie threw a grenade down the middle of the passage and nearly all of them were knocked out. “Throw down your arms,” she cried to those who were still standing. Some of them threw down their weapons. Those who did not were shot at by Brown so accurately that they decided to surrender after all. She heard the machines hum again and another batch came through. They had difficulty opening the doors and were kept in the rooms by Brown and Lizzie firing at them. A group did force the doors open and attempt to rush Lizzie and Brown but her last grenade stopped them. She didn’t know how they were going to contain any more attacks when some soldiers led by Paul opened the other door. The resulting crossfire stopped any more Andacians from entering the hallway. As some more soldiers came to her side to help her she asked another corporal, “Have we successfully stopped the attack?” 
“The ones who got in on the other side have taken over the metal men factory. Sarn’t thinks they are making the metal men work.”
She ran up to the next floor accompanied by Brown and saw some of her own soldiers held off at the corner overlooking the door to the metal man factory. I need some more grenades.
She needed to be back down on the next floor to Wagstaff’s quarters. He had some grenades he was working on, she had seen them, but also, his door was locked and he was obviously trapped in the summit. “You help them out Brown, I’m going for some more grenades.”
Her hat pin was the usual mode of opening locked doors on the earth, even in most parts of Tyreen or the other human kingdoms she was able to open most of them. But these new locks were electronic, and had a keypad. She needed to guess his number. Can I do it?
Wagstaff’s birthday? It didn’t work. What was Irene’s birthday again? The 31st of August 1827. It still didn’t work. Or was it the 27th? She inputted 310827 into the keypad and it opened. “Yes!”
His room was nearly as small as hers and full of Hoo junk, bits of artefacts he was interested in and didn’t want to keep in his lab or that he forgotten he had in his lab coat when he got back to his room. There were two of the newer grenades, based on the technology he had found in the energy rifles, on his desk. She picked them up. When he had showed her, they worked in a similar way to the old ones except that you could set the timer between 1 and 10 seconds. Looking around for anything else of use she found an energy rifle with no battery pack. “He always takes things to pieces,” she moaned to herself as she looked for a battery pack. 
As she looked under the bed and moved one of his spare shoes she found one. It might work. When she had loaded it in she did a test shot at his door and found out it did work, especially when it burned a hole straight through it! “Oh dear, well never mind, he’ll have to get a new door.” She pulled the door closed and found out that it no longer locked. Trying a couple of times more she decided to leave it and made her way back up to the fight on the floor above. Brown was taking pot shots at those he saw near the doorway. His rifle versus their first generation energy weapons. She handed him the newer energy weapon she had found in Wagstaff’s quarters. “Thanks,” he said as he put his old rifle down. 
“I’m going to throw one of these newer grenades in,” she told him as she looked towards the doorway. A bolt from an energy rifle passed her and hit the man to her left. She stood back, “I’ll need some cover Tom.” 
“Let me oblige then,” he smiled as he put three shots into the doorway. It looked as though he hit one of them as well.
While he was shooting into the doorway she ran across the hallway onto the same side as the door. She turned the timer for three seconds and threw it into the doorway. There was a large discharge and she heard four thuds on the floor. Leaning forward slightly she saw that the four men holding this door had fallen. Motioning to Brown to move forward she got her electric pistol out. Once both she and Brown had got to the door she saw another two men coming to take over the position from their downed comrades. She stunned one and the sergeant killed the other with a hole straight through his chest. 
“Nasty,” he commented as he took a position inside the room to fire on a metal man that was coming towards them. 
Lizzie didn’t know whether to throw another grenade for she could see three more metal men and about ten Andacians behind it. She decided to try and shoot it with her electric pistol. Brown hit its shoulder and melted it slightly but still it came on. Lizzie’s bolts of electricity were doing no good, again Sergeant Brown aimed at it but this time its chest and he hit it. The thing had its chest plate fused to the workings inside and it also took a step back. Two more steps forward and it would be upon them. The rest of Paul’s men from the hallway had also come into the room and fired their weapons at it. Some of the bullets must have done something to its insides because one half of its body seemed to stop working. It stood there and tried to reach for Lizzie just inches off her head. Another shot from Brown’s rifle and it became inert. Now the other three metal men and the soldiers were coming down to deal with Lizzie and the rest. She fumbled for the grenade and wen she found it turned it to a full ten seconds and threw it. It landed right among them but before it went off the invaders were able to shoot at them. Brown was hit in the shoulder and a couple of the other men were downed. Lizzie hid behind the inert metal man that was still standing. 
The grenade went off and all but one of the metal men was caught in its discharge. The one that still could ran towards them. Brown missed two shots. It charged into the broken metal man and knocked Lizzie flying. The sergeant made one last shot and managed to hit its leg bringing it down. It slid on the floor towards them then started to crawl in their direction. The sergeant tried to fire again but the power cell had been depleted. He whacked it with the now useless rifle that was snatched off him by the crawling machine. Falling backwards over a fallen comrade he tried to evade its grasp. Lizzie was now behind it for it had passed her, she emptied the chamber of her DN35 into the back of its neck and the last shot severed the bundle of wires housed there. The metal man’s arm fell onto Sergeant Brown’s leg but did nothing more. “Ow,” he cried just before he kicked the lifeless arm away from him. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Attack on Thera (Chapter Five.)

CHAPTER FIVE

When Lizzie got there she went straight over to the queen to see how she was. She looked concerned, “How is she?”
Parvill was haughty, proud and was also not overly concerned, “As long as she wakes up slowly then there will be nothing wrong with her.”
“So what were you doing to her then?”
“We are changing her thought processes so that she will be more amenable to the Hoo cause.”
“I thought you were Andacians?”
“No, we are Hoo.”
“But you are not giants?”
“We have been genetically manipulated to look human.”
“Gene what?”
Wagstaff was listening, “Changed Lizzie, in their bodily structure, so they look more like us. I bet he is still super strong though,” The professor threw a small metal container at Parvill who caught it and crushed it in one hand.
“See what I mean, super strong.”
“But I thought giants were supposed to have six fingers?”
Ichabod looked at the side of Parvill’s hand, “See, he has a very feint scar on the side of his hand, he has had his extra fingers surgically removed.”
Parvill put his hand in his pocket but too late because Lizzie did see the scar. He then sneered at them.
“What is it,” asked Wagstaff, “what do you know?”
“We can genetically engineer Gite without six fingers or toes. There will be no scars then to reveal us.”
“Why do you call yourselves Gite?” asked Lizzie.
“As Hoo means ‘Heroes of old’ so Gite means ‘Giants in the earth’. The Gite are the children of the Hoo and we shall rule the solar system.”
“But we have stopped your plans to invade earth.”
Parvill laughed menacingly, “That was just one plan, to take your Great British Empire by deceit. It would have made it easier on you, now you shall have to suffer invasion from the air as we fly our spaceships to earth to turn you all into slaves.” 
To Simpkins she looked for backup before she spoke to Parvill again, “You have to defeat the people of Thera first.”
“That will be underway soon, the ships are readying even now to bring devastation on Tyreen, Fenega, Vurindai and Chelac.”
“What about Andacia?”
“We already rule Andacia, our clones have infiltrated all of the key positions, it is they who will help us defeat the rest of the human kingdoms, from within the electric shield.”
“Which giant kingdom are you from?”
“We are from the United Kingdoms of Grak, Flymm and Svastol.”
“How have they become united?” asked Wagstaff, “they have been at war for hundreds of years.”
“A powerful ruler has united us, Drakuum.”
This sent a chill through Lizzie’s being.
Now they needed to discuss all of these revelations more privately so Lizzie asked one of the soldiers to guard Parvill while she spoke to Wagstaff and the others. She closed the door of Victoria’s room. “The United Kingdoms of Grak, Flymm and Svastol are planning to invade both the human kingdoms on Thera and earth soon. We must warn Tyreen and the rest. Andacia has already fallen to the plot and they will also be attacking the kingdoms to the south.”
“We must tell them at once,” said Simpkins, “Andacia needs to be attacked.”
“We need to take Gersbalk first,” thought Wagstaff, “it can be used as a flying base to attack the Eastern giant kingdoms, we can even used their travel pads against them to land troops behind their lines and cause disruption.”
As they were talking the doors at the top of the amphitheatre burst open and some of the slave males who worked on Gersbalk ran in with clubs. Tran called to them, “Sot hama din got,” but too late for as the men continued into the room they attacked one of the soldiers and clubbed him to the ground. Tran continued to cry out in protest.
Lizzie brought three down with her electric pistol. Things got so desperate that the soldiers had to use their rifles as clubs because they couldn’t reload in time. Wagstaff used his last good grenade that knocked most of them out and one of the soldiers. The rest were frightened by the use of the grenade and cowered over near the right wall, dropping their weapons. “Dinat sant bund ganto,” they cried.
“What did they say Lizzie?” inquired Simpkins.
“We were made to do it.” She knew intuitively what would happen next. “Quick, the rest of the giants are about to attack!”
She was right. The other four giants came through the door shooting energy weapons. One of the soldiers fell immediately. The professor threw one of his makeshift grenades and stunned two of them who fell to their knees. Lizzie used her pistol to good effect shooting three charges at another and bringing him down. The one who was unaffected, a good seven or eight feet tall, picked up a bench and threw it at three of them, Lizzie included. All of them fell under the impact of the bench. Johnson kept firing his energy weapon at the giant, who was dressed in such a way that the material deflected the rays harmlessly.
Brown managed a reload and shot at the giant wounding him in the leg. The giant yelled in anger more than pain and charged at Brown smashing him into the wall. Lizzie had dropped her electric pistol on the floor and while she was trying to get it back saw that the two stunned giants were now preparing to shoot. Simpkins and Paul both made shots at the giant’s heads, Simpkins missed. One of the giants fell to the floor dead.
Unable to retrieve her electric pistol instead Lizzie used her DN35 and fired from the floor at one of the giants. As she did she saw Parvill grab for something from the corner of her eye. He was above her eye line so she pulled herself up onto the bed and saw him going to fire something into the Queen’s neck. “Get away from her or I’ll fire.”
“Shoot me dear and it’ll probably inject into her neck any way, as part of the nervous reaction.”
Lizzie held back. Parvill then took a small transport device from his pocket with the other hand, held on to Queen Victoria, then they both vanished. “Noooo,” cried Lizzie in despair.
Wagstaff used another grenade on the last giant and as he fell to his knees Simpkins shot him through the heart.
One of the soldiers was dead, the others were badly injured. Wagstaff and Lizzie had bruises. Simpkins, Phoenix and Johnson had got away with it lightly. They now had three captured giants, Oswald and the other doctor to store somewhere. 
Tran directed them to the cells that the giants locked unruly slaves in. They also found out that some of the slaves could use the Hoo technology and had been doing so without the giant’s knowledge. Lizzie and the others were told that the slaves could switch the travel pads back on and also ‘fly’ the island to wherever they wished. It was decided that they would make their way to Teredon so that Tyreen’s scientists could study her and also to receive protection from the base itself in case the Hoo tried to recapture her.


The hundred or so slaves that were on Gersbalk were very helpful to Wagstaff and the other scientists showing them how things worked on the island.
There was one more secret the slaves revealed that solved a problem that Wagstaff had encountered in his study of the metal men. He was talking to Rolf Jacquabean, one of the ex-British slaves who had been captured recently and had ended up on the island, in the metal man factory that they were getting ready to use again. Wagstaff was trying to shut down the lasers to make it safer to walk around on this part of the ship, “I still have not been able to work out the mechanism for the metal man brain. I know that it is housed in a box in the head but that when you detach it stops working. Some kind of organic material.”
“It is brains Professor,” replied Jacquabean, “they cut out human brains and put them in that box.”
“Brains?” flustered the professor, “but the box is square?”
“I have heard that they squished the brains in. They also used electronic means to control the brains so that they did what the giants wanted. This was the reason they stopped production here, they ran out of suitable human brains, that and they thought they had enough metal men made for any eventuality. Over time some went mad and others overcame the programming and attacked the Hoo. So the giants developed other technologies to counterbalance this.”
“What other technologies?” asked the professor as he cut the circuit and stopped the laser.
“The ones they are using on the planet. Up here on Gersbalk they didn’t bother to upgrade anything because it was so old and only supposed to be a transport pad overflow really. They had only started fitting newer guns more recently because they heard that Gersbalk might be a target for the human kingdoms to attack.”


Once they got back to Teredon Lizzie and the others was called into a meeting with Admiral Shore, he was most pleased that they had captured Gersbalk. “We should rename it,” he suggested.
“We had thought about renaming it New Britannia,” she replied.
“I don’t know, that might cause rankles with high command.”
 “Well then, allowing Colonel Phoenix to be its new captain might cause even more rankles,” commented Wagstaff. “Also, Lizzie gets on so well with all the old slaves because she speaks Hoo that they have offered to stay on and help us.”
“You can’t be serious,” said the Admiral, his jaw dropped.
“The New Britannia would make a good base for the Empire to work from. We would not be taking over anybody else’s land, just making sure that the earth is not invaded.”
“You cannot do that!” blustered the admiral.
“We captured her and it is we who should have the biggest say,” demanded Lizzie. 
“This is not right, my government shall have something to say about this.”
She opened a file she had on her, “Here is a letter to Queen Isabella, requesting said flying island for a roving base.”
Shore took the letter and dismissed them. He did not like this turn of events at all, an Empire presence on Thera with a flying weapon as powerful as the best in their fleet. Though he was originally British his allegiance was now with the kingdom of Tyreen and he would separately advise his queen against this course of action.


The VAS members of the soon to be renamed New Britannia had already been receiving reinforcements and supplies via the travel pads from earth. Wagstaff and his scientific team had figured out how the Hoo had been able to do this. As long as there was one IWTD in operation then that could direct its payload to any other travel pad.
Paul’s entire unit had come through as well as the scientists from Rookwood. Their first target was to get all of the cannons working. About ten percent of the guns were the modern ones that the giants had been fitting when they were attacked. Ten percent of the old ones were working and the rest needed either replacing or repairing. They did not have enough scientists or engineers to do this so some of the guns were sent back to the earth.


Lizzie received an invitation to meet with Queen Isabella at the Spanish Palace in the capital city of Tyreen. She travelled there on the Princess Tawa and the admiral had also ordered that Reena and her ship go with them as an escort. 
Lizzie waved to both Charlie and Reena from the deck of the Tawa as they flew over the city. When they landed the Queen herself and her household was there to greet them. Lizzie bowed slightly to as they shook hands. Queen Isabella led the way into the palace. 
The meeting was in the rear reception room, the queen sat first followed by Lizzie. Isabella picked up the letter from the table they were sitting at. “Thank you for your letter Miss McBean. I was advised by Admiral Shore to reject your request.” She looked over the letter before she made her statement, “However I have considered your request and after deliberation with my officials I am pleased to inform you that you can have the flying island, with one proviso, that some of the crew will be from the Tyreen air navy.”
Lizzie nodded back at her and smiled, “This is commendable Your Highness, and may our two great nations be able to defeat the giant menace.”
They both looked pleased with each other.
“This reminds me of the time I met Maximilian who became the Emperor of Mexico,” commented Lizzie.
“Most of my ancestors are either Spanish or South American, I do however have an English uncle.”
“So do I!” replied Lizzie which sounded a bit foolish really because she was English.
They left on good terms.
She rode back with Reena and her crew to catch up on the gossip. As she sat in the galley looking out of the window she saw Simpkins peering over at them with a telescope, I do believe he’s jealous! This pleased her no end.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

★★★★★★★ "Incredulouso!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"You do know that's not a direct quote from anything but this blog don't you," King Arthur asked me. "And seven stars, they don't even do seven stars on Amazon."
"I know," I replied, "I was just having a bit of fun that's all."
"And incredulouso sounds a little like incredibly lousy, and you don't want them to think that do you?"
"Oh..."

Attack on Thera (Chapter Four.)

CHAPTER FOUR

The explosion was unexpected. The sound she had been listening for was that of an electrical discharge, a kind of crackling buzz this however was definitely an explosion. Her ears rang, then she heard Simpkins’ voice.
“Do you surrender?” he called.
“Yes,” came the reply, “we give in.”
Not knowing if he could really trust them he nodded to Paul so as to make sure that the other man would maintain his vigilance over the gap in the barricade. Warily he climbed over it, grenade in hand. When he looked over the other side he saw that six of the ten men were dead outright. The other four were wounded, one bleeding out. He looked back at Lizzie and the others who had come out of the door to make sure they could help if he needed it. “Come on they need help.” Climbing over one of the men Paul had shot earlier he made his way to the soldier who could talk. “Where are you hurt?” he asked.
The man had been wounded in the side.
Lizzie came over next helped by Johnson. She looked at the one who was mortally wounded. He had been hit in the throat and could not speak. A look of terror was in his eyes and he seemed to be trying to gulp. As she held the wound on his neck, a half smile came across his face then he stopped breathing. Poor man. She wiped her hands with the handkerchief from her bag.
Wagstaff, who had a little more medical knowledge than Lizzie, helped the one who needed the attention most out of the others. He tied off the man’s leg with a tourniquet before he bled to death.
Lizzie went over to the man who had called the surrender to them. He was holding his side. “Let me see,” she asked as she took hold of the hand he was using to cover his wound. He lifted his hand. When she uncovered his side she saw that a piece of shrapnel had hit him. It needed removing, but she had no tools to do so. She stemmed the flow of blood as best she could with a wad of cloth given to her by Phoenix who was standing near. “He needs a surgeon really,” she told Paul.
Paul could do nothing but shrug.
After tying the other man’s leg up he came over, “How is he?”
He has shrapnel in his side, he needs someone to take it out, but I have no tools,” she replied.
“I have some pliers, they need cleaning though.”
“I do have some tweezers but I fear they would be too small.”
Wagstaff looked at the wounded man, “Is there anyone on the island who can help you medically?”
The man looked up in obvious pain, “There are a couple of Doctors/scientists who came through the planet portal with us. One of them has surgical skills.”
“Can you contact them?”
The man had trouble reaching into his pocket but managed to retrieve a small communications device. He twisted it slightly to reveal a mouthpiece and earphone then spoke into it, “Dr. Oswald, can you put Dr. Oswald on please.”
They heard another voice on the other end, “What do you want Brown?”
“Is Dr. Oswald there, we need medical attention.”
“Did you kill Wagstaff and the others?”
He remained silent not knowing what to say. 
There was hardness in the man’s voice as he replied, “Unless you kill them all then you will get no attention from Doctor Oswald.” The line went dead.
“Parvill, Parvill…” cried the man, desperately.
Lizzie glanced at Wagstaff who shook his head. This man could die at any time, Parvill is evil! She thought to herself.
“Can you ask Tran if there any medical facilities near please Lizzie,” asked the professor, “my Hoo is not as fluent as yours, not the spoken kind anyway.”
There was a medical station further down the passage they were in but they had to climb back over the barrier. Paul and Lizzie guarded the doorway that Parvill’s men had come through just in case he sent reinforcements. Simpkins and the others pulled some of the barricade down to allow easier access to the part of the passage where the medical station was, then took the wounded there.
Everything in the room was white, the bed, the surfaces of the cupboards, the floor, the ceiling. Tran directed Simpkins and Johnson to lay the man with the side wound on the bed. As they did so he said, “Se glimpto flang ton.”
A small silver coloured metal robot came out of a panel in the wall and scanned the wounded man. It then proceeded to put him into a type of stasis before it operated on him to remove the piece of shrapnel. After sealing him together it then stopped the stasis. The man did not awake, for he was never put to sleep, but, because he had been repaired and given some kind of pain relief, he sat up and said, “I feel hungry!”
Lizzie was amazed, a man who could have died within hours now healed and asking for food!
The medical metal man ‘repaired’ each of the humans, including Paul’s ankle.
Touching her chin in thought she asked the Corporal who had the side wound a question, “Are you real?”
“What do you mean Miss?” he asked. 
“Are you one of those doubles.”
“No, not me, I come from Paddington.”
“Well then, why were you working for Parvill then?”
“Me and me mates were recruited in a bar on the Chippenham High Street. They took us to that castle, gave us uniforms and trained us. We thought we was in the army.”  He let his hand run across the side he was standing against, preparing to tel her his innermost thoughts, “Then we were dragged into this nightmare. It’s not right you know, “ he looked her in the eye, “they have the queen,” he said with emotion.
“Are you with us? “
“They also have giants. Parvill had two of us killed when we wanted to go back home.”
“So, are you with us?”
“Can you get me and the lads back home?”
She nodded, “Of course, we just need help getting the queen back.”
Checking with his other men by nodding to each of them he then replied to her, “We are with you.”
When he heard this Paul said, “You can lead us to Parvill then.”
“He might kill her you know, so we can’t rescue her.”
Simpkins also came over, “You know where she’s being held and the security he has, can we do it before he does?”
“He has her strapped to a bench in a laboratory on the next floor. They are trying to change her mind in some way so that if she goes back home she will be working for them. They have set up cameras on the way there so they can see if we try anything.”
“They take photographs?” wondered Lizzie.
“More like moving pictures, but in colour and with sound.
“‘We found out that this flying island is very old, the giants have developed newer technologies since it was built. It is only more recently that one of the giant factions has been using it as a flying base. Oh, by the way, he’s a spy.”
He nodded over to Hawkins.
Quickly Hawkins looked from man to man then started to run away from the door of the medical room. Lizzie stepped out and shot him with her electric pistol. He fell down mid run. “How do you know he was a spy?” she asked the corporal.
“Parvill spoke to him over his communications device, it was him who raised an alarm to let us know you were here.”
Paul walked over to Lizzie who had made her way over to the unconscious Hawkins, “It seems as though that other fellow back at the base was set up.”
“Unless there were two of them?” she looked at Johnson.
He had an open expression, “I’m not a spy.”
She believed him, “I don’t think you are.” scanning the downed Hawkins she asked, “What do we do with him then?”
“Let’s tie him to the medical bed,” said the Corporal, “get that metal doctor to perform an operation on him.” He smiled and cocked his head slightly.
So they tied him to the bed but Lizzie had assumed he was joking about the operation bit. “When he wakes up he might have a nice headache.”
Wagstaff took Lizzie, Simpkins and Paul to one side to talk to them quietly. “Knowing that Parvill is waiting for us, and may kill the queen, concerns me.”
“I have an idea,” she revealed, “we could send the Corporal and his men in to either attempt the rescue or interfere with the camera things so we can get in.”
“Do we trust them now?” asked Paul.
She pointed at him, “You can go with them, put some black on your face like one of the dead ones, you’re dressed nearly the same. Put one of their hats on and go in near the back.”
“It might work,” agreed Paul.
“You can take my last two good grenades with you,” offered Ichabod, “that will knock out anyone in there, and deal with any electrical equipment.”
“I could dress as a soldier as well,” said Simpkins, “we could even bring the rest of you in as prisoners.”
They told the others this plan but the Corporal told them that the prisoner part would not work, “Parvill told us to make sure you were all dead.”
So it was decided, Paul and Simpkins would go with the corporal and his men. They walked behind the rest of the soldiers as they went through the passage towards the next deck. Lizzie and the others followed until just before the first camera.
As she waited she notice her palms were sweating. Would they succeed or would Paul and Simpkins be killed in the crossfire? Wagstaff saw her and tried to calm her nerves, “I’m sure they’ll be all right, both of them are resourceful and tough.”
She smiled at him but was still very bothered about them.


They all walked down the ramp, Paul saw one of the cameras and made sure he looked down at the floor, Simpkins readjusted his helmet. As they passed it they glanced at each other. John fingered one of the electric grenades in his tunic pocket.
Once they had passed two more cameras that seemed to follow them they continued on towards the experimental section. 
Entering through the double doors Simpkins and Paul saw something similar to an amphitheatre that led down to a staging area. There was a collapsible screen at the other end that was partially open and there was another room beyond where Simpkins could see that Queen Victoria was lying with wires and tubes attached to her.
Parvill came through an office door that led into the area behind the screen, followed by the Oswald and the other doctor. They had seen the men returning on their surveillance system.
There seemed to be no obvious threat from Parvill and his doctors so Simpkins nodded to Paul to see how it would play out if they just listened for now.
“So they are all dead then?” Parvill asked the corporal.
“Er, yes.”
“You seem a little confused by the question, are they all dead or not?”
Now the corporal was a little confused because he had expected Simpkins to throw one of the electric grenades. He looked down at the floor because he didn’t want to reveal either Simpkins or Phoenix by looking at them, “Yes they are all dead, even the girl.”
Parvill looked among his men, “Four dead, where’s the air sailor who was with them?”
“He’s dead as well, they found out he was a spy and killed him.”
Parvill considered this, “We can grow another Hawkins if we need one. Now which of you needs medical attention?”
“A slave led us to a medical room and we were repaired by the metal man there.”
“Mmm,” hummed Parvill, “go and clean yourselves up and get a meal. If I need you again I’ll call you.” 
Dr Oswald turned and went back into the office followed by one of the other scientists.
Parvill instead went over to Queen Victoria and checked the wires and tubes going into her body.
The corporal glanced at Paul to see if they were indeed going to get cleaned up and some food. Paul then motioned to Simpkins to let him know that they were going to move now. Paul went for Parvill while Simpkins went for Oswald. Parvill put his hands up when Phoenix trained his rifle on him, “What do you think you are doing?”
As Simpkins got to the doorway he did not just see Oswald and the other doctor there but also two seated giants. He fumbled in his pocket for the grenade.
“What do you want?” asked Oswald.
Simpkins knew that when he had turned the dial on the top of the grenade they would have ten seconds to respond once he had thrown it. He turned the dial, “Er, what I was going to say is that we found this on them.” He took the grenade out of his pocket, counted beneath his breath, “5, 4, 3,” then threw it into the room. As he dived out one of the giants caught it and tried to crush it, but too late. It went off and Oswald, the other doctor and the two giants were shocked into unconsciousness. “Whew that was close,” he said to the corporal who helped him up. As he brushed himself down he asked, “By the way, what’s your name?”
“Corporal Brown, Corporal Tom Brown.”
“Can you Let Lizzie and the others know that we’ve been successful.”
“Of course,” replied Corporal Brown as he turned to go back up to the entrance.
Simpkins then went over to see Phoenix who was talking to Parvill.
“… when?” Paul looked over at Simpkins, “He says he cannot take her off of the machine yet in case she dies.”
His lips thinned in obvious displeasure, “We will be hanging around here like sitting ducks with I don’t know how many metal men, drones and giants after us.”
“Four giants.”
“Eh?”
“If there were only ten giants to begin with then there are only four left.”
“Whatever.” He looked back at the Parvill, “How long?”
“About two hours,” he smiled ominously.
Simpkins knocked the chair sideways that was near him. He saw Brown’s soldiers looking at him and tried to calm himself down a little then ordered them to, “Bind up Oswald and the others so we don’t have any problems with them.”

Monday, 8 September 2014

Attack on Thera (Chapter Three.)

CHAPTER THREE

Glistening sunlight poured in through the windows reminding Lizzie of the time she had last been here, the time she had escaped from the giants on the flying island and to the pad in Kashlum. Too much of her experience here was full of physical pain and distress at being chased but she also remembered her wonder at the technology and the internal architecture. She looked back at Paul who was making the best he could of his predicament. He’s putting on a brave face, I bet he’s as scared as I am.
Things were quiet until they got to a ramp that led to the next floor, a swarm of flying droids had gathered in the hallway below. They seemed to be waiting for them. There were too many to fight so Wagstaff threw another grenade at them. All of the drones fell to the floor with a clatter at the same time when the discharge hit them. 
As the party picked their way through the drone cemetery Lizzie moved the fallen flying machines out of the way so that Paul could get past safely. About half way down the hall a glass like barrier blocked the way. Simpkins walked into it, “Ouch!”
Lizzie felt it, “Is it glass?”
Wagstaff also looked at it, “Or something like it. We may have to go around. Ask your friend if there’s another way?”
“Ven hat tumo?”
The man nodded and pointed to a door they had passed, “Ventro kallan.”
“What did he say?” asked Paul as he made his way back towards the fallen drones.
“It’s dangerous though,” translated Lizzie as she followed the man through the door.
The room they entered was large and Lizzie saw a wall of gold to the far side. Then she realised what it was. Metal Men, hundreds of them. The man continued to walk ahead, “Fan tuno,” she called. She asked him why he had brought them here to die. He replied that the metal men were not working, it was a factory that had been closed down long ago. They still needed a part to make them work, the metal man brain. It was dangerous at the other end where there were welding lasers that would have to be negotiated or disabled.
“Did you get that Professor,” she asked, “he said there are welding lights at the other end we have to deal with.”
“Lasers,” corrected Wagstaff, “very strong lights that can cut through metal.”
When they got to the other end they saw the problem. The only way through was via a metal arch. The metal men had passed through it when they were being made and were welded together with lasers. Two lasers were flickering on and off still pointing to where they had done their welding. They had cut two holes straight through the walls and floor and could be seen from outside the craft. The top laser had eaten through the roof and part of it had collapsed blocking the safe way through to the other end of the room.
Looking at the flickering lasers the Professor judged the situation, “To be safe we have to redirect at least one of the beams with a mirror.” He looked at her, “Lizzie, I know you have one in that little bag of yours.”
She searched through her shoulder bag for her makeup mirror, when she found it she handed it to him. 
He had some pliers on him and he gently held the mirror with the pliers, “We don’t need seven years bad luck do we,” he said as he directed the lower beam towards one of the inert metal men. The laser bit into the golden man and crackled, but now the gap was big enough to get through. Lizzie went first and all but Wagstaff followed her through. The professor then handed the pliers and the mirror to Lizzie to hold for him while he stepped through. “I really need to get a look at how this laser is produced,” he mused, “it would make a good weapon.”
She took the mirror back and handed him the pliers. “Not much of a good weapon if all it takes is a mirror to stop it.”
“Ha ha, not all things can be covered in mirrors.”
Looking at the one of the metal men the professor noticed something, “These metal men look different to the ones we got from the temple, newer maybe.”
“Does that mean they are better then?” she inquired as she also looked at the lifeless golden golems.
“I would have to take a look inside really,” he looked at one of the plates covering the chest.
“We need to keep moving,” said Paul as he looked towards the door at the end. He was annoyed that the professor kept wanting to stop.
Johnson got to the door first and opened it. He looked outside into another passageway and as he did he saw a barricade at the end where they needed to be going. A shot from an energy weapon hit the door frame above his head. Holding the others back he said, “I think we have giant trouble.”
Lizzie used her mirror to look down the passageway to see a giant laying on a table with an energy rifle. She asked the man who was helping them if there was another way round. He told here that there were even more metal guardians and drones the other way. “It seems as though the giants have forced us this way round, so they can deal with us.”
Simpkins looked at the man, “Has he got a name?”
“Klim Kano?” inquired Lizzie.
“Tran,” he replied.
“Does Tran know how many giants there are on the island?”
She found out that there were ten giants and one hundred slaves. The giants were the engineers and scientists whereas the slaves did the menial labour.
“Only ten, “ mused Simpkins, “we’ve already killed three. I wonder why there are so few?”
Lizzie spoke to Tran while the others tried to decide how to deal with the giant. 
She came back to Simpkins and the others, “I found out that the island was really only supposed to be a defensible overspill for when a lot of people use the travel pads. This past couple of centuries the giants have let things slip defensibly because there was no perceived threat from human interference. That is until recently with the human invention of the coil driven airship. The giants are now trying to overhaul the defence system. They don’t trust the slave humans enough to teach them how to be engineers or scientists. It is they who stopped the transport pads expecting an attack of some kind.
“‘So that spy at the airbase was really working with the Hoo, not the Andacians.”
Simpkins looked a little sheepish, “That’s good Lizzie,” he paused, “We have thought of way to deal with the giant but it needs your help.”
“Me, what?”
Paul then joined in, “We thought that you could order Lukin to zigzag towards the giant…”
“I am not going to tell him to do that!” she said furiously because she didn’t want him destroyed.
“No, you didn’t let me finish. I was going to say that when he is distracted by Lukin I can take a shot at him.”
She was silent for a bit as she considered this request. That’s not too bad I suppose, as long as John gets him. What about Paul? “Can’t you let Paul take the shot, he’s better than you.”
Simpkins immediately looked at Paul and she could see there was a rivalry between them.
“I don’t mind taking the shot,” remarked Paul, “It’s just that it might take me more than a couple of seconds to set up with the gammy ankle and all.”
Lizzie got Lukin out of the bag, “Come on Lukin, I have something for you to do.”
Lukin started to hover into the air away from Lizzie’s hands. “Yes Lizzie.”
She looked gloweringly at Simpkins, “You’d better get him first time this time, not like you did on that metal man.” Then she looked into Lukin’s glowing eyes, “I want you to go through that open door, to the right, and zigzag down to the barricade and back again. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes Lizzie,” replied Lukin as he started to move towards the door.
“Quick,” she cried to Simpkins who was a bit slow off the mark.
Lukin zigzagged quite quickly down towards the barricade. Simpkins could see him doing so and got down on one knee. He looked through his scope and could not see the giant straight away. The giant saw Lukin and shot at him twice. One of the shots came really close to Simpkins.
He saw the giant and also saw the giant lining up on him. For a second he stopped breathing and then fired.


Lizzie looked out of the door. She had heard the shot. As she peered out Lukin came back and hovered in front of her face, “Is there anything else Lizzie, it’s just that somebody has been trying to shoot at me.”
She ignored Lukin and looked down. Simpkins was smiling up at her. “That wasn’t so slow or inaccurate now, was it?”
As she shook her head Paul popped his head out as well, “Has he done it yet or is he messing around again?” He too smiled at Simpkins who had got up and was walking towards the piled up furniture at the other end. When he got there he saw a large giant, about ten feet tall, sprawled out on a desk with a bullet wound to his head. The giant was dressed in the silvery metallic material he had seen on the others. Simpkins picked up the rifle the giant had just started to point at him. He looked at it, it shined as if it was coated in chrome and was nearly as long as he was. Aiming at a chair that was at the top of the barricade he shot at it. It shattered the chair and left the remains smoking. Lizzie and the others came up to him, “That’s a little more powerful than your pistol Lizzie,” he said as he handed her the rifle for a look.
She looked it over, “I think it’s a little too big for me to handle.” She gave it to Johnson who she liked more than Hawkins, “You need a gun of some sort.”
“We need to get over this,” said Ichabod as he climbed up to look over the barricade.
As Wagstaff looked over the barricade a shot hit his arm. He fell backwards onto Simpkins who was climbing up behind. Simpkins caught the professor and helped him down, then scrambled back up to peep over. He saw ten men with Martini-Henry rifles formed as a squad might position themselves in the army. He looked back at the others, “I think it’s some of Parvill’s soldiers guarding the passage beyond. Some of them still have parts of their uniform on.”
Wagstaff was not badly hurt and spoke to Lizzie as she looked at his wound. “I should have been more careful,” he shook his head.
“It’s a minor wound, luckily it only nicked you. A bandage and a tot of rum and you’ll be fine.”
Getting down again Simpkins walked over to them all to discuss the situation, “It looks like they’ve blocked the passage we need to be down. Any ideas?”
“We could use another grenade,” suggested Paul.
“Then I only have one left,” replied the professor, “we still have six giants to deal with and I don’t know how many metal men or drones.”
“Could you make more grenades?” asked Lizzie as she continued to bind him up.
“Maybe I could, I could use some parts from those unfinished metal men.”
“How long would it take?” inquired Simpkins.
“About half an hour, if somebody else helped me take the metal men’s chest plates off then a lot quicker, maybe ten minutes?”
“Let’s go back then,” ordered Paul.
She helped Wagstaff up with his good arm and they went back to the metal man factory. Paul guarded them from the doorway in case any of Parvill’s men tried to come over from their side.
Wagstaff had made 1 makeshift grenade when they heard a shot from the doorway. Paul called back to them, “That one didn’t just get away with an arm wound,” he smiled.
Wagstaff made them all stand back as he tested one of the new grenades. It wasn’t as powerful as the others he’d made, “The storage batteries have not kept their charge, it will only take out a few men or possibly one metal man.” He picked up the spent grenade to have a look, “And the wiring is not so good, I need to solder these really.”
“We will have to make do,” said Simpkins as he returned to take another chest plate off to get to the inside.
The soldiers had their own grenades and threw one over. Paul saw it in time and closed the door quickly to stop the blast entering the room. He then opened the door again and shot another man who tried to get over. Then he saw another man’s eyes look at him for a second. Paul shot the part of the barricade he thought the man was hiding behind. “I think they might try to rush us or something, have you got one of those grenades ready?”
Wagstaff had another two ready and Lizzie was also helping him prepare some more by twisting the wires together. He gave two of the grenades to Simpkins, “Turn this switch, you have ten seconds to throw it before it discharges.”
Paul then covered Simpkins while he went closer to the barricade.
Another grenade came over from the other side. Because it landed near Simpkins he dropped the electric one he was carrying, picked up the explosive one and threw it back. Just in time for it exploded in the air just beyond the barrier. He picked up the electric grenade and as he did he heard groaning from the other side.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Attack on Thera (Chapter Two.)

CHAPTER TWO

The noise became louder as she came into consciousness. The light also became brighter until she opened her eyes. She had a headache, similar to the one she had on Gersbalk last time. Lying there she looked around, Simpkins was aiming his rifle out of the window but she couldn’t see anyone else. As she sat up she felt a little giddy.
Simpkins looked back at her, “Lizzie, are you all right?”
She nodded, “I think I really do need a metal helmet when I go on a mission, ow!”
Standing and holding onto the side she asked, “Where’s everybody gone?”
He looked at her, “The two air sailors are helping Paul free the ship from the ground it’s caught onto. The Professor is running his shield machine, it seems to be working.”
“Really?”
“Yes, since we’ve been here none of those guns has got through it. I only hope they don’t have proper artillery, then we’re done for.”
“Have you seen any giants?”
“One popped his head out of a hole and I shot him,” he grinned, “John the giant killer.”
“I suppose it was lucky the shield wasn’t stronger really, otherwise your bullet would have ricocheted all round it, might have killed one of the air sailors.”
“What, the useless one,” he whispered but mouthed at the same time to give it emphasis.
“Useless one?”
“Yes, that Hawkins, when we got hit he threw a wobbler and crash landed, there was nothing wrong with the ship before he crashed it.”
She went down to the engine room, Wagstaff was floating on the ceiling and she had to grab on not to also be taken up into the air, “What are you doing?” she wondered.
“I am trying to calibrate the coils so that we have the shield while we are in flight. I think I’ve just about done it.” He used the climbing bars to make his way round to her, “Now if they can just free her from that outcrop...”
Following Ichabod outside the airship she saw Paul, Roland and Hawkins trying to cut the Tawa free from a nasty hook she had crashed into. They needed to saw through the strut that was caught on the hook. Flying higher had only caused it to get a better grip. It was Paul’s turn to use the hack saw and he was breathing heavily. “Lizzie...” he called her as he handed the saw over to Johnson. He walked up to her, “Saw you bang your head, I think you need to wear a helmet or something when you’re on the move.”
Grimacing she asked him,” Are we nearly free?”
“We are, but I’m thinking about staying. We’re safe as long as we stay up here, under the shield. Any giants who pop their heads out either Simpkins or I will shoot.”
“So we’ve just come for the view and the hunting of giants then?”
“We are on Gersbalk, the giants are going to know we’re here whether we’ve come secretly or not, and that’s if we could have been secretive. They seem to have some kind of sense that we’re here, Wagstaff told me. So I say let’s make the best of it and try to rescue the queen now.”
“So you’re going to shoot your way through hundreds of giants?”
“Hundreds, I thought you said you only saw a few?”
“I did, but I only saw a small bit, there could be hundreds, there could be fifty. Either way it’s risky.”
“Shall we take a vote on it then?”
“No, we should try now.” For a second she looked at the enormity of the flying island and then went into the airship to discuss how they were going to attack the giants and find the queen with Wagstaff and Simpkins.
As they sat having the cup of tea that Wagstaff had prepared them Paul suggested, “We could go in through that door that the giants keep trying to use to get to us.”
“We could,” agreed Lizzie, “and if it’s locked we’ll get Lukin to open it for us.” She had kept Lukin wrapped up in her bag so far, Wagstaff had said that the shield machine might affect him.
“What do we do about the guns firing at us?” queried Johnson.
“I think I can create a corridor through which we can walk in safety by moving the WED with us part of the way,” suggested Wagstaff. He unbolted the shield machine, “We can take it as far as these wires are long, after that we’re on our own to the door.” Then he asked Johnson to help him lift it, “You two can cover the party,” he nodded to Simpkins and Phoenix. Making Johnson go backwards up the steps Wagstaff made sure of his footing as they both walked towards the giant door.
The single cannon that could line up on them continued to fire at the ship, however they would be dangerously close to being targeted by another gun when they made a run for the door.
There was twenty foot of cable, which left a ten-foot gap with no cover. And from this distance they could see two dead giants through the doorway and another cowering behind a wall. Simpkins positioned his rifle to take a shot, but the giant saw this and moved completely around the corner. He looked at Paul, “Who’s going in first?”
“I wish I had a shot gun, at close range it would take him out.”
“Or a grenade,” smiled Wagstaff as he took one out of his pocket.
“That doesn’t look like a grenade?” commented Lizzie as she too lined her DN35 up on the doorway.
“It’s a stun grenade, I’ve been working on them based on the technology from electric pistols. You see here…” he started to explain to them how it worked.
“Just throw the blessed thing,” ordered Paul.
The Professor turned the knob at the top, left the safety of the electric shield for a bit and then threw the grenade into the passageway beyond. At the same time as he stepped back into safety an electric discharge hit the giant and it fell motionless into view. Part of the discharge hit the electric field but dissipated around it.
Paul and Simpkins looked at each other then, as though they had communicated with each other mentally, both ran for the door. The other gun turned to match their movement but did not fire.
When they got inside they found a spiral passageway leading down. There were no other giants waiting for them. Paul kicked the arm of the unconscious one, “Big feller in’t he.”
Turning to Paul he remarked, “Well, he is a giant!”
Lizzie came in next followed by Wagstaff then the two air sailors.
As she looked down the passageway she saw a cylindrical object, open and full of tools, “Looks like they were a repair crew, they weren’t even armed.”
“Shall we kill him?” Paul asked as he kicked the unconscious giant again.
“We’ll tie him up for now,” said Simpkins who didn’t feel right about killing an unconscious man/giant.
Lizzie moved forward a bit to look down the ramp, “We seem to be at the top of a spiral walkway, I can see another gun emplacement further down.”
“They were fixing the guns,” responded Wagstaff as he joined her, “that means we were lucky then, all the guns weren’t working.”
Paul finished tying the giant up with some metal strip he found in the giant’s own toolbox. Then Lizzie led the way down the metal ramp.
They passed the backs of thirty energy cannons on their way down. When they got to the bottom the rooms were similar to the ones Lizzie had been in last time she was on Gersbalk. “I think the terramidion is down that way a bit,” she commented.
“The what?” asked Simpkins.
“It is like a giant conservatory.”
“What’s the use of that?”
“You can bypass locked doors and that.”
“I thought that’s what we had your little toy for?”
She looked thunderously at him, he is so arrogant, and I thought I liked him?
There was a strange clattering sound from the passageway they were nearest to. She looked down it, “Metal men.”
The others all took a gander as well, “Four, how are we going to deal with four?” moaned Johnson, who was only armed with a cutlass.
“Can one of your grenades take them out Professor?” asked Lizzie.
He felt in his knapsack, “I don’t know, I only have four left.”
“What else are we going to do then,” she reasoned as the metal men came closer.
Paul and Simpkins started shooting at them and though they were hitting them they had no effect.
“Oh all right then,” relented Wagstaff as he primed the grenade, “but Lizzie hide your stun pistol in case it affects it.”
As he threw the grenade she made sure the pistol was behind her back. Three of the metal monsters were hit by the full blast of the electric grenade and fell to the floor the fourth only partially. It had been thrown backwards and was now scrambling to get to its feet again.
“Use another one Professor,” she ordered.
“No, I only have three left, what if there are loads more of them?”
“I’ll distract it,” offered Paul, “while you shoot it in the back of the neck Simpkins.” He then began to run towards the metal man.
“Simpkins,” cried Lizzie, you fool.
Getting on one knee John readied himself for the shot. Paul ran straight towards the robot then, as it began to grab for him, he sidestepped and got behind it. A broken table leg looked like a good implement, left after one of the others had fallen on it. He threw the leg at the golden man and so it turned to combat him.
Simpkins shot at the robot and hit it but missed its neck. He reloaded.
“You can’t afford to miss John,” chided Lizzie.
“Don’t put me under even more stress then,” he replied as he put his eye to the scope again.
Phoenix whacked one of its arms, then ducked. Come on Simpkins. The thing grabbed for him again and caught hold of his leg. It swung him up in the air.
“Dang,” cursed Simpkins as he saw Paul being swung in the air by the robot. He didn’t want to make the shot and hit his friend by mistake.
Lizzie saw what was happening and ran toward Paul and the metal man. Maybe I can shock it with my stun pistol. 
As he was dangling there, his ankle in a vice-like grip, he tried to grab for the bunch of wires on the back of its head but missed.
Pointing her electric pistol she shot at the back of the golem, it had no effect at all, except to make the thing angrier. It shook him even harder.
“Thanks Lizzie, I almost had it then.”
Turning round the metal man looked at Lizzie, it raised Paul as though it was going to use him as a weapon then fell inert.
“Can somebody please release me,” called Phoenix from the back of the machine.
Running behind the robot Lizzie saw Paul dangling there clutching the bundle of wires from the back of its neck. She jumped up and down but couldn’t reach the arm to release his leg. The others came up to try and help. Simpkins stuck the bit of broken table leg between the fingers and Johnson helped him pull the fingers apart. Holding on to the metal monster Paul lowered himself down. “Oww!” he cried as he rubbed his foot, “the stupid thing nearly snapped my foot off!”
Wagstaff looked at it, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a bit of a sprain.”
When Paul tried to walk on it he found he did have a sprain. “Great, now I’m going to be hobbling around in the midst of danger.”
“You’re the one who ran into danger,” she admonished as she looked at his ankle.
“You could put a bandage on it for him,” Wagstaff suggested to her, “it’ll feel a little better. A few days rest and he’ll be as right as rain.”
After she had bound his ankle and Simpkins had given him a curtain pole as a stick to walk with they discussed what they should do next. “Can’t that talking head of yours tell us where she is?” asked Simpkins.
“I can ask him if he has a map of Gersbalk and where the likeliest place would be,” she replied.
“Do that then.”
Johnson spotted something, “Hey, there are people looking at us.” He had seen them peeping out of a door across from the windows that looked out on the rest of the island. He ran down to the door but it closed in his face. Trying to push the door open he got a broom in his chest. This sent him backwards and he fell on his bottom.
Lizzie laughed, “Ha ha, I think you just met the same people I saw last time.”
The door slammed again. She walked up to Johnson and held out her hand, “Come on.” As he stood to his feet she told him, “They only speak Hoo. I’ll need to talk to them.” Through the door she said, “Got ham ne gundan.”
“San balet?”
“Se Lizzie McBean com, se tum kenar.”
“What’s she saying?” Simpkins asked Wagstaff.
“She’s saying she’s a friend, that’s all,” replied the Professor.
Lizzie continued to talk to the cleaners behind the door until one of them plucked up the courage to open it and let them in.
The woman had seen Lizzie before and she was scared. The man was friendlier but neither of them knew much English. When Lizzie asked the man if he knew where the queen was he said that a prisoner had been taken to the waygard. The waygard was at the lower part of the island. She was guarded night and day.
Lizzie asked him to show them the way. The woman was most distraught fearing that she would be punished by her giant masters if she helped in any way. The man told her to go back to her quarters. He was willing to show them though as long as they took him with them when they left.


“Clip, clip, clip,” went Paul’s makeshift crutch.
“Well that’s nice and quiet,” Hawkins moaned to Johnson. They were at the back of the party because Johnson only had a sword.
“What’s the matter with you, you’ve been quiet until now and then you moan?”
“We shouldn’t be helping them get their queen back but defending our own land.”
“Wouldn’t you ask them for help if Queen Isabella was kidnapped by a foreign race?”
Hawkins shook his head, “Of course I would.” He held back a bit then as he passed a console he pressed a silent alarm.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Attack on Thera (Chapter One)

CHAPTER ONE

The airship rocked as another shot from the giant flying city hit its metallic walls. Its Tesla coils crackled in protest against the barrage. The air sailor steadied the craft and tried to take it away from the electro cannons that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere from the body of the island. This was supposed to have been a covert mission, one of secrecy. The giants on the flying island had switched off the transport pads so the rescuers had attempted to reach the Queen by airship instead. Now they were encountering resistance they hadn't planned for.
“They know we’re here for sure,” whispered Lizzie to Paul as she lined one of the ship’s cannons up on the defences of Gersbalk. A beam of light shot out from the tip of her weapon and hit its target. “One less,” she smiled. The smile didn't last long though for another shot from the island hit the Princess Tawa.
One of the coils shorted out. Without the coils exactly cancelling each other out then they lost the anti gravity effect needed to maintain flight. The craft started to dive towards the flying island.
“We’re going to crash,” cried the other air sailor, “hold on to the rails.”
She held on for dear life. I should have stayed back at base. At least then I could have had some spotted Dick.
Though the air sailor tried to line the planes up to make the ship land more smoothly it did not work and the Tawa crash landed on a promontory of the island. Lizzie hit her head on a loosened strut and fell into unconsciousness.


24 hours before…

There was a meeting in the house that they had been allocated by Tyreen High Command. For a week now they had been drilling on the Princess Tawa with the two air sailors that were seconded to them. Between all six of them (seven if you counted Lukin) they were able to fly the airship and use its weapons adequately. The first to make his voice heard was Simpkins. “We must try something, the longer we wait the more they can mess up her mind, or… even kill her.”
When they had first arrived on Thera they had discussed just putting in the co-ordinates to the giantish kingdom to the East, the one that Parvill had used to escape with Queen Victoria. They sent Lukin to scout ahead and report his findings. He ended up in a slave market and was nearly captured.
When they did check it out they could find no trace of Parvill or the Queen and had difficulty accessing a transport pad to return to the airbase.
Eventually Admiral Shore gave them the name of a contact within the eastern giant kingdom. When they contacted him he told them that Queen Victoria had been taken to Gersbalk for conditioning. That was a week ago now and a week since they found out that the travel pads no longer transported them there.
“But we are not ready,” fumed Paul who was used to training and drilling soldiers, “if we try too soon then all may end in failure.”
“Then let us put it to a vote,” said Professor Wagstaff who looked at the others who were seated at the table with him.
The air sailors were present and voted against the mission, so did Paul. Wagstaff, Lizzie and Simpkins voted for it.
“A split vote,” observed Simpkins.
“We could get Lukin to vote?” nodded Lizzie enthusiastically.
Paul laughed, “You can’t be serious?”
“We need a vote to break the tie.”
“You may as well just ask him to generate a random number. No, I should get the deciding vote, I am the ranking officer.”
“I am a founding member of the VAS, I should get the deciding vote.”
Paul looked at her as though he was going to argue, but then relented and held his hands up in submission.
“Do we go then or not?” asked Wagstaff,.
“Yes tomorrow, when the repairs to the Princess Tawa are complete.” She clenched her lips together waiting for somebody else to disagree with her but none did.


Simpkins caught up with her as she was walking to the hangar to see how the repairs were coming along. “What was I going to say?” he shook his head.
“She looked back at him, “I have no idea.” She was flattered because Simpkins was showing some interest in her.
“I’m glad you pulled rank on him, we need to try for a rescue as soon as possible.” They both entered the hangar and saw two ships being repaired. The other was the Queen Isabella, Captain Reena’s ship.
Captain Reena was there, one hand on her hip, inspecting the Queen Isabella and she looked a little angry when she saw Lizzie and Simpkins.
“Hello Reena,” greeted Lizzie, a smile on her face as she came over.
“Miss McBean,” nodded Reena. She snubbed Simpkins.
He looked a little embarrassed.
“It was an accident Captain Reena,” explained Lizzie, hoping to bridge the barrier that had come between the two.
“Who let Simpkins pilot the Tawa? If you had let the air pilot do his job then none of this would have happened. My boots still don’t fit right after we were downed in the sea.”
“We needed to let him get a bit of practice in an action situation.”
“Does he speak for himself or hide behind your skirts?”
This irked Simpkins, “You are a patriot aren’t you Reena.”
She was a bit taken aback, “Of course, why?”
“If your Queen Isabella was kidnapped then wouldn’t you do all in your power to get her back?”
“Yes.”
“That is what I am trying to do,” he turned and stormed away.
Reena softened a little around Lizzie. “So you like him then?”
Lizzie smiled.
“He’s not bad I suppose, a bit too English for me.”
“I haven’t seen Charlie, since…” Now Lizzie was still a little hurt over Reena and Charlie’s relationship. She bucked herself up, “…since he came through the IWTD with Lukin.”
“No, he’s doing a special mission for me.”
“Getting some stretchers for your boots?”
“It is a secret.”
“Getting some secret boot stretchers for you?”
Reena shook her head, laughed a little then invited Lizzie for a cup of coffee over at the canteen.


As they were drinking their coffee the two air sailors who were part of Lizzie’s crew came in and sat next to them to eat their breakfast. “Johnson, Hawkins,” acknowledged Lizzie.
“Roland please,” said Johnson as he sat down with his tray.
Reena looked at Hawkins, “Do you have a first name?”
“Edwin,” replied Hawkins curtly.
Reena raised her eyebrows to Lizzie at the obvious grumpiness of Hawkins.
“How are the repairs going on the Tawa?” Roland asked Lizzie.
“Aye she’ll be ready by tomorrow,” she replied in a West Country accent.
Roland laughed and put his hand over his mouth. Hawkins just glanced at him.
“Well I must be off,” Reena told Lizzie, “the Isabella is nearly ready, not as much water went into her as the Tawa,” she got up and smiled then left.
Hawkins spat out his food, “This is dire, I need a drink.” He also stood up and left without another word.
“He’s a cheery fellow isn’t he,” commented Lizzie.
“No, not really, he’s always grumpy.”
Has this guy ever heard of sarcasm? She thought as she looked at him quizzically.


Hawkins went back to his barracks. In the latrine section, under a sink, he retrieved a small communications device. He made sure there were no others around then he used it. “Butterfly to Spey, Butterfly to Spey, come in.”
There was no reply to begin with so he opened the channel again, “Butterfly to…”
A voice came over the device, “Butterfly, what do you want?”
“I was successful in crashing the airship, they thought it was the tall Englishman’s fault. But the ship will be ready by tomorrow, they will attempt to land on Gersbalk to rescue the Queen then.”
“Gersbalk’s defences are being restored, only a third of its cannons are in working order, you must delay the mission or sabotage it again.”
“Understood,” as he said this he heard someone enter the barracks and so put the communications device into his pocket.
“Hawkins,” said the NCO, “the commodore wants to see you.”
As he was walking towards the outer barracks door he threw the communications device under the pillow of another air sailor.
The NCO looked back, “What was that?”
“I was trying to swat a fly.”
They both made their way across the courtyard to the administrative building.


Ichabod was in the development section of the administrative building, Lizzie went to see him with a cup of coffee. He heard her coming up the steps, “Is that you Lizzie?”
“How did you guess?” she asked as she came in and put his coffee on the side.
“Ooh, not there, that’s where I keep my notes,” he picked the cup up and put it on the windowsill.
“I have a distinctive walk?” she asked as she sat on a spare chair.
“Yes, the heels of your boots make an unusual sound.”
She thought about the sound of her boots as she looked around to see what he was working on, “What are you doing?”
He picked up his coffee and took a sip, “I am developing an electric shield for the ship. If it works it could direct energy weapon fire away from the hull.”
“Would that mean we were invulnerable?”
“Not from laser beams or regular weapons.”
“Still that’s good, there are quite a lot of ships that have energy weapons.”
Tapping his finger on his cup to denote his frustration he replied, “I can only make it work when it’s not flying at the moment, the earth gives it a grounding effect.”
“Can I see it in action?” she stood up and went closer to the machine Wagstaff was working on.
“All right, I’ll do a test now, we do need to be over the other side of the room though.” He placed an insect within the range of the machine, stood back and then switched it on. She saw a slight blue hue surround the machine. Wagstaff fired his own electric pistol at the machine and the bolt from it dissipated around the shield and hit the wall behind, scorching his map of Thera. “Oh dear,” he sighed as he switched the shield off and patted the map, “I’ve singed the North Pole.”
“Why can’t it bounce a cannon ball off?”
“Well it could if I had more power, but the engine and coils on the ship aren’t big enough. You would need the coils and engine from something like the Volans Terrorum.”
This reminded her of the air battleship she had flown on to Kashlum. She had seen it being refitted in the dry dock. Then she laughed.
Looking over his glasses he asked her, “What are you laughing at?”
“I was just imagining those big coils on the Tawa.” She moved toward the machine again, “So what could it stop if I threw something at it?”
“Maybe a tennis ball.”
“Can I try?”
“Of course,” he moved the insect back to the machine and switched it on again, then he gave Lizzie a tennis ball. “Try to squash the insect,” he told her.
She caught the ball and then threw it at the insect. It bounced off the shield, landed on the windowsill and spilt the rest of his coffee over some of his notes. “Oh no, oh no,” he moaned as he switched the machine off and dabbed the notes with his scarf, “I always seem to get into trouble when you’re around Lizzie McBean.”
As she left she looked a little embarrassed and closed the door behind her.


For the rest of that day she took in the sights of nearby Teredon and also decided to do a little shopping to get some new boots so they didn’t make a distinctive sound. She returned later, ate her evening meal and went to bed early.


The airship repairs were finished in the morning and as a team they were already making plans to fly up to Gersbalk because its current position was quite close to Tyreen. Lizzie was looking in the base armoury for some more ammunition when she overheard a conversation between the stores man and another air sailor. “It was Keith, they found it under his pillow as part of an inspection. Who would have thought old Keith would have been a spy for the giants.”
“A communications device that small? The things we have are like boxes!”
She was on the other side of some shelves and the stores man was a bit startled when she came out from behind, “Cor, love a duck, I forgot you were there. Did you get everything you needed?”
“Erm, can I have a revolver as well, and some shells?”
“You’ll have to sign for them, so I can tell the Commodore where they’ve gone.” He picked a DN35 off the shelf close to him, “This should do you, not too big, six shots, .45 calibre.”
Looking at the barrel and then pointing it at the shelves she said, “Thanks.” Then she collected up the rest of her ammunition, said goodbye and went back to the Princess Tawa.


She stowed away her gear in the box below her bed. Simpkins came in with a new rifle. “Nice,” she commented.
“I thought it was better to get one myself instead of using Paul’s.”
“Did you hear about that spy they caught?”
“Yes, the Commodore told me earlier.”
She felt a little miffed that she had not known.
Within another half an hour they were travelling toward the flying city of Gersbalk.


There were some clouds in the sky but Lizzie was just able to see the flying city in the distance. It grew bigger and Lizzie swore that she saw giants moving through its outer areas. Hawkins took Wagstaff’s advice and tried to advance upon the city from above. As they started to ascend Johnson noticed that some of the cannons were lining up on the ship. “We have movement from those guns.”
She looked down, it was quite disconcerting to be so close and to see the enemy’s guns line up on you. But she also saw that other guns were inert. When she looked at Wagstaff he seemed to be in a bit of a tizz. “What’s the matter?” she inquired.
“I can see those guns getting us in their sights and I don’t know whether to switch the WES on.”
“WES?”
“The Wagstaff Electric Shield.”
“Why? What difference does it make?”
“We could lose altitude, it could affect the way the coils balance each other out.”
He didn’t have chance to switch it on before a shot came from one of the guns on one of the concourses. “She seems to be all right at the moment,” said Wagstaff. Then they started to dive. The Professor ran into Hawkins to find out what was the matter.
“She seems to have lost lift.”
Wagstaff ran to the engine area below. He called up, “Both coils are fine.” but by then another shot hit them and they started to fall towards a promontory on the island.