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Excerpts from the Staggering Stories Blog:


Staggering Stories Podcast #265: Wonder Cough
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sat, 17 Jun 2017 16:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review the 2017 Doctor Who episodes ‘The Lie of the Land’ and ‘Empress of Mars’, discuss the 2017 film ‘Wonder Woman’, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #193: Doctor Who – Smile
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 11 Jun 2017 08:54

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, emojied, in front of the 2017 Doctor Who S10 episode, ‘Smile’, and spout our usual nonsense! The Doctor is interfering with a new species, Bill has a decision to make and the Vardy just want everybody to be happy. But enough of their problems, […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #264: Stimulated Reality
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sat, 03 Jun 2017 16:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Fake Keith, the Real Keith Dunn and Steve Brittain review the 2017 Doctor Who episodes ‘Extemis’ and ‘The Pyramid at the End of the World’, discuss the Big Finish boxset ‘Charlotte Pollard, Series Two’, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #192: Babylon 5 – Between the Darkness and the Light
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 28 May 2017 08:33

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, sprung, in front of the Season 4 Babylon 5 episode Between the Darkness and the Light, and spout our usual nonsense! Sheridan is sporting a fetching head band, Garibaldi is looking for mercy and Ivanova is feeling crushed. But enough of their problems, please […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #263: Musical Helmets
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sat, 20 May 2017 14:03

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review the 2017 Doctor Who episodes ‘Knock Knock’ and ‘Oxygen’, tell of their recent visit to the Doctor Who studios in Cardiff and the Capitol 2 Doctor Who convention, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #191: Doctor Who – The Pilot
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 14 May 2017 09:46

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, puddled, in front of the 2017 Doctor Who S10 premiere episode, ‘The Pilot’, and spout our usual nonsense! This Doctor is a lecturing security guard, Bill is fattening up the locals and Heather has a very moist fixation. But enough of their problems, please […]

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Buccaneer Chronicles

The Buccaneer Chronicles:
Catharcerous

By Keith Dunn (despite interference by Tony Gallichan and Adam J Purcell)


Part One - There's a chair in my head, it's where I used to sit

Chapter One - Crystal Trips

 

Deep space. In this time period an unimportant galactic backwater.

Amongst the billions of planets, millions are habitable and on the face of it no different from this one. Perhaps the oceans are a bit more green than blue. But there are wide-open grasslands and deep valleys between forest covered mountains that are toped with snow. All signs of a planet that is pre-industrial. But all is not well here. Focus down to one landmass in the northern hemisphere and there is evidence of a battle raging, of lives and blood being spilled.

What looks like a sea of black armoured attackers covers the land before the castle like structure. Fire brands, burning boulders and heated metal flow through the air like so much flack or tracer or even energy weapons of a later age. The attacker's moved in uncanny unison without a word said or curse muttered, their black smooth elongated helmets giving no sign of the features underneath, their entire bodies covered in the same shiny, smooth black amour.

For the defenders however it is a very different matter. Every victory is cheered no matter how small. Orders are shouted down the line. Every engagement is given by the way of praises and curses. One thing is certain though as ladders are propped up against the battlements this is a fight that the human defender will eventually lose.

 

The sound of battle raged through the stone halls as Captain of the Guard Traverlan entered the command chamber. He saluted commander Calavan,

" My lord, it is the opinion of my men and I that the Primary wall will not stand another assault. We have lost to many men to defend it properly". Calavan looked up with a sigh, he was in his early fifties, a veteran of nearly a hundred campaigns. He had known that this mission was a death sentence when he accepted it.

"Muster sixth and twelfth platoons to form up on secondary wall. Begin a slow pull back from primary to secondary. Have the dead dressed with what amour and weapons we can spare and have them man primary. When the Chell come charging over that wall in the morning have the sergeant at arms ignite the thunderclap charges. I also want all wounded that will survive the journey placed on a chart bound for Ure Denloch and I want this all done by first light".

Traverlan narrowed his eyes,

"Any reinforcements, or military aid of any type?"

Calavan looked straight at the captain's eyes and a moment of military honesty passed between them.

"There will be no reinforcements! We are to hold Druss Denlock for as long as we are able. Ure Denlock will be the new holding line. And with the marriage between the houses of Glastonvay and Avorever there may just be a chance. But only if we hold Druss Denlock to the last man!"

***

"No, No, No, No Look we'll try again " Macfadyan rolled his eyes upwards. "The horse can only move in an L shaped pattern. You do know what an L shape is don't you? Just after K and before M?"

Macfadyan in this body was a man in his thirty's long blond hair pulled back in to a ponytail and a neatly trimmed full beard. He wore the clothes of a 17th century gentleman pirate (Bucket boots gold trimmed / patterned black waist coat and a black over coat) but more in a style that anyone would recognise from the early 1980's.

They were sitting in the dim light of the TARDIS console room, a large chamber with backlit roundels. Everything seemed to be made of dark grey granite. There were stone archways circling the chamber forming a cloistered walkway around it. They all met at the edges of the large hexagonal power unit that hung over the control console. On three of the archways' pillars, a small face had been carved. Each face was different. The first was of a young man slightly nervous, with an air of neat prissy-ness about him. The second face looked altogether more cheerful. Round cheeks and a slightly bulbous nose gave him a perpetually jolly air. The third face was bearded and looked sternly across the console room as if disapproving of everything it could see.

It was the face of Macfadyan himself.

In one area there was no wall. Instead there was a grassy area complete with rocks and a waterfall and stream. Tall ferns seemed to go on till they vanished in the distance. Mist gently floated around the area. From somewhere a beam of sunlight shone through the mist, making the area a sea of tranquillity. There was an old fashioned, striped deck chair on the grass. In it, one of five cats could be seen curled up asleep. Four other cats were dotted around the room, reclining in ways that only cats find comfortable.

The events in Jersey were a couple of weeks old now. Since then they had been flitting through the vortex, making the odd landing. However, when ever or wherever they landed, Macfadyan had become almost instantly restless and eager to be moving on.

"But why it's only a game. Who cares which way it moves? " Was Blanche's whinny reply. She was an eighteen-year-old street urchin from Victorian London. When she wasn't grubbing around trying to steal every thing that wasn't nailed down, she was an attractive blond with short cut hair. She had only recently discovered jeans and was wearing a man's shirt that was two sizes to big.

"Right fine ok will do this some other time then. Some time when you're more amenable? When it isn't too much trouble? No, no. It's ok. There's no need to feel guilty about wasting my precious time." Blanche sighed. This looked like it was going to be one of Macfadyan's longer rants. He shoved the Ming dynasty chess pieces back into their box.

"Its only the basis for nearly all tactical gambits, that's all. Hmmf! " He stood and marched to the console and begin stabbing at the controls with his fingers. Then again, maybe she would get lucky this time.

"But as the moves appear to be too difficult for you I'll see if I can find some thing more simple." Yes, he was definitely becoming distracted.

He mulled over the co-ordinate subroutines muttering to himself. Then with a sudden cry of triumph begin re-setting them "Yes that should do nicely"

* Where are we going? *

The form of Cre'at floated down from near the ceiling to register the new co-ordinates. Cre'at was a Sot'm from the planet Sottus. He basically looked like a large mechanical head two or three times larger than a human head, with arms where his ears should be. He had a wispy beard like growth on his chin and what looked like sunglasses in the space where his eyes should be. The Sot'm race was almost as old as the Time Lord's and Cre'at was Macfadyan's oldest travelling companion.

"Somewhere peaceful. Look". Macfadyan activated the holo-viewer and one archway of the console room suddenly had a starscape beneath it. Sitting serenely in the middle of the picture was a blue-green planet.

"It looks peaceful enough. I think that our picnic may have found the perfect place to be eaten." he paused as he ran his last sentence back over in his mind. Deciding to ignore the look that Blanche was giving him - she had developed a remarkably good "Bemused yet faintly mocking" look - he activated the spatial drive. The time rotor began to oscillate. Then he turned back to Blanche and launched into a ten-minute lecture on the benefits of chess for the seasoned time traveller. And she'd nearly escaped it, too. Bugger!

***

Queen Aralan gazed out at the royal blue of the sky from behind the covers of the wagon. The sounds of bird song intermingled with the musical clink, clink of chain mail armour. The lush vegetation slowly scrolled passed. It was a world a way from carnage and chaos that was happening at Druss Denlock. Hopefully the marriage, her marriage to prince Jalke of the house of Glavtovay would form an alliance that would enable them to mount some form of defence against the forces of Ralban.

Suddenly the horses started to shy away, refusing to go any further. On the edge of hearing a sound started up, gently growing stronger. It sounded like a discordant beeping sound, a wheezing groaning noise slowly fading up into it and becoming a roar, like an ancient machine being forced into life. The troops halted and took up defensive positions as a tall outcrop of emerald crystal rapidly faded in to view. With a loud echoing boom, the sound shut off and the crystal settled into solidity.

 

Macfadyan opened the door,

"Ah the sweet smell of pre-industrial air. There's nothing quite like it. " He then started making exaggerated panting sounds and running on the spot. Blanche used her hand to shade her eyes from the glare of the sun and started to look around the landscape, only to jump when she caught sight of the troop of solders standing a few scant meters away. She stared to pull at the edge of Macfadyan's coat,

"If you could stop the strong man routine Mac. We have a audience". Macfadyan scowled at Blanch then glared at the soldiers through the crystal structure of the TARDIS. Rapidly locking the door he strolled purposefully towards the Queen's entourage, with Cre'at and Blanche somewhat nervously following. There was barely restrained hostility from the troops. Guard Captain Crillia pulled his sword and pointed at Macfadyan,

" Hold Warlock let it be known that we have mages that are casting wards against you!"

Macfadyan turned indignantly towards Cre'at,

"Did he just call me a warlock?" He turned back to the guard captain, "Did you just call me warlock? If you must know, I am Lord Macfadyanagogobibblebibblelungbarrowmas" He looked at the guards as if expecting applause.

" That's two bibbles and one S", he said in a hopeful tone. The guard's faces didn't move. Sighing and casting his arms around to take in his companions he added, "And this is Blanch Simmons, The large metal head with the sparkling personality is Cre'at of Sot'm."

"Tell your men to put up their weapons, guard Captain. Then request them to recon the area with a view to making camp."

The speaker was a tall Aristocratic looking woman who was wearing armour with a cut that left no doubt to her sex. She was probably one of the most attractive women that Macfadyan had ever seen (somewhere between Cleopatra and Helen of Troy) long legs, pleasant round face and long auburn hair. Crillia turned to her with the amused annoyance of an old friend,

"My lady, please. I have been charged with escorting you to the ceremony and keeping your person safe!"

There was an amused lute to her voice,

"And you are doing a grand job my guard captain, but the Lord over there does seem to be more than just a Warlock."

A note of protectoral obligation entered his voice,

"My lady, we have knowledge of the aliment of these creatures".

"Well why don't we just ask them?"

At that the guards flinched back in to activity. A very wary guard captain followed Queen Aralan down to the time travellers. Macfadyan watched the whole discussion with mixed emotions. The guard captain was suspicious but took his duties very seriously. The Queen however was relaxed, happy and what's more seemed to expect to find him, or at least, someone here. Carouser and carouser, he thought.

"You will forgive us our inhospitality, Lord Macfadyanagogobibblebibblelungbarrowmas, but we are at war, my men need to know your aliment, where your allegiance lies. You are welcome to join us if you swear fealty or camp with us for the night. But it would be under guard".

"My Lady", said Macfadyan, making only the faintest attempt at a bow, "If it's in my power to put your mind at rest then I shall do so. We are but newly arrived in this realm. We are travellers in time and space."

"Travellers from the eternal firmament", breathed Aralan.

"That's as it may be my lady but we still don't have confirmation on there allegiance. "

Macfadyan rounded on Crillia, waving a finger a few scant centimetres from his nose,

"Now listen, you jumped up police man from some third grade, backwater planet. The only way I can show my elegances is in my actions. I can only say that I have no idea what is going on here!"

Crillia slowly began to draw his sword,

"I have heard enough of this, Bandersnatch!"

There was a distinctive whine as Cre'at began to charge up the laser cannon mounted in his forehead. The other guards hurried forward to interpose them self's between the Queen and Macfadyan's group.

The look on Queen Aralan's face was one that realised they were rapidly losing control. Just when it seemed that hostilities were about to begin, Blanche piped up,

"Why don't you take them on a small trip in the ship?"

There was silence, as almost everyone turned and looked at Blanche. A red line of embarrassment slowly crept up her face,

"Well they can't trust us and we can't prove ourselves, so I was thinking why don't we take. . . what you all looking at?"

Macfadyan turned back to Crillia, rubbing his hands together,

"Well Guard captain are you ready for a small trip round the nine galaxies and then back in time to sort out your piffling little problem?"

Crillia sheathed his sword "Agreed but only I will accompany you. Your companions are to remain as a mark of your fealty."

With an exasperated snort Macfadyan waved his arms in the air and then stalked back to the TARDIS, unlocked the door and held it open,

"Well comes on then, if your coming". Crillia marched up defiantly and entered the ship. Aralan stepped closer to Cre'at

"Is it safe? I would prefer it my kinsman is not flung into the depth of time, he is a good servant, an excellent adviser and a very close friend."

Cre'at thought it was a good idea to reassure the Queen; after all she was only from a primitive level three society at best,

* Have no fear they will return. *

"Oh, so it's not some form of null time effect then."

Cre'at was turning away to watch the TARDIS fade from sight when his sub-processor assessed what she had said, causing him to do a classic double take (which for a large metal head is not an easy thing to do)

* What did you say? *

As the ship finally faded from sight she made one final exclamation,

"Oh, its some form of warp matrix dilation distortion then".

Those two comments gave Cre'at plenty to think about as they waited for the TARDIS' return...

 

Catharcerous: Chapter Two