Questioning Reality

Matt Smith's Doctor Who shouting 'Geronimo'.

Previously…

The warning lights are still flashing on the empty flight deck outside the Tardis. The Time Rotor screeches and wails while the Doctor battles with its controls.

‘Look, Miss Jemma!’ Cee-Threepio points at the viewing screen. ‘I think your star-ship is trying to communicate with us.’

I peer at the screen. Line upon line of text is spewing across my work station monitor. It’s too small to read from here, but it must be important. Otherwise, why would it be there?

It’s my ship, and from the way the Tardis is bucking and rolling despite the Doctor’s efforts, we’re all in trouble. I head for the doors. My place is on my own flight-deck and if Harris and Steven’s are still on theirs… I squash that thought down.

‘Jemma, wait!’ I hear the Doctor call out behind me, but I’ve made my decision. I fling myself through the doors of the Tardis; they snap closed behind me and I stumble over to my seat. The sound of the warning sirens is almost deafening, far louder than I’ve heard them before, but my job is to focus.

I strap myself in and concentrate on my monitor. A series of complex equations scroll before my eyes. Something’s wrong. The equations are incomplete. Basic stuff is missing! I grab the old-style keyboard and my fingers start to fly over the keys. I might not be a gamer like Harris, but I know my basic quantum theory. I hunch over the keys, scrolling down the lines, fixing errors and omissions, and tidying up messy calculations.

It’s like one of the speed tests we used to have back in Cadet College! I finish and flop back in my seat, then look around. Everything has gone quiet.

No red lights, no sirens. I swivel around. No Tardis!

Then I hear low-pitched voices and laughter. Harris and Stevens appear from the back of the flight deck.

‘You should’ve come with us, Jem,’ says Harris.

‘The Rec Room here is awesome,’ adds Stevens. ‘It’s got a top of the range Holodeck. We had a tour of the Millennium Falcon with Han and Chewy…’

‘…and I got to fly a mission attacking the Death Star,’ adds Harris excitedly.

I’m confused. Hold on. ‘Rec Room?

‘Yeah, Jem’, says Stevens slowly, as if talking to a particularly dim droid. ‘Starbase 74, you know, it’s recently been upgraded.’ He gives a sideways glance to Harris. ‘Maybe she’s a little low on sugar.’ He tosses a crumpled chocolate bar over to me. It looks like a ‘Snickers’ but it says ‘Banquet Bar’ on the label.

Did I miss something?

Harris crosses to his seat, glancing at the calculations on my screen. ‘You plotted the co-ordinates then. That’s great!’ He rubs his hands together. ‘Our first solo mission.’

I stare at the screen. All my quantum calculations have morphed into a simple star-schematic. The location is certainly familiar. It’s where landed up when we first ‘borrowed’ the Professor’s Special Space Machine. But how did we end up here..?

Harris and Stevens have both strapped themselves in. They look at me expectantly.

‘Take her out, Captain Jemma!’ says Stevens, grinning broadly.

As I reach across to take the controls, the comms device tumbles from my tunic pocket. The screen flashes on and the face of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who appears. He puts a finger to his lips, and a speech balloon appears over his head. ‘My reality is different from yours,’ it reads. The Doctor winks, then his image is replaced by a cartoon white rabbit disappearing repeatedly down a black hole.

Something is definitely not right.

And so, as Jemma and her crew head out into space again, so concludes series two of Space Cadets, leaving you, in fine tradition once again, with more questions than answers. But judging by the way this has ended, it looks like there’s going to have to be another series.
Stay tuned!


Image credits: darstcenter.com, space.com

No time to lose

R2D2 inserting his scomp link into a port

Previously…

‘Everyone into the Tardis,’ cries the Doctor herding us towards the open doors.

Artoo beeps excitedly and scoots across the flight deck. Cee-Threepio is less enthusiastic. ‘Surely we won’t all fit in there, sir,’ he says as he bustles after Artoo.

Cee-Threepio steps over the threshold, then steps back, looking curiously at the Tardis’ exterior. ‘Oh I see, Doctor. It’s bigger on the inside!’

Despite the urgency of the situation, I allow myself to smile; Artoo emits a low-pitched beep, which I’ve come to realise is his equivalent of an eye-roll.

The Doctor is already at the controls as I close the doors behind me. Artoo’s head is rotating anxiously and he’s waving his scomp link in the air. ‘Plug that in here,’ instructs the Doctor, pointing to a port on the console, ‘but don’t upload the coordinates until I say.’ The little droid beeps his assent.

‘What can I do, Doctor, sir?’ asks Cee-Threepio.

The Doctor flicks a switch giving us a view of the flight deck beyond the Tardis’ doors on the interior monitor. ‘Concentrate on that image, Cee-Threepio. Commit that ship to your memory banks.’ The Doctor whirls around and points his index fingers at me. ‘Now you, Jemma, get Mr Solo on the line. We need to make sure that Harris and Stevens are on board too.

I pull out the comms device. Han’s anxious face appears on the screen. ‘What’s happening, kid?’

I hand the device over.

‘So you’re the mysterious Doctor then,’ says Han.

‘That’s right. I’m the Doctor and everything’s under control.’ I glance down and notice that the Doctor’s fingers are crossed.

‘What’s the plan, Doc?’

‘It’s complicated.’

‘Try me.’

Artoo whoops and beeps loudly enough for Han to hear.

Han looks taken aback. ‘Okay, I’ll just concentrate on keeping the Falcon steady.’

‘Thank you, Mr Solo. Lovely ship, by the way. Now, let me speak to the boys.’

I peer around the Doctor’s shoulder as the worried faces of my two fellow cadets appear on the screen. ‘Now listen. Harris, Stevens, I want you to get back on board the ship and strap yourselves in.’

‘But Doctor…’ Stevens moves the device so we can see what’s behind him. The bright red ship doesn’t look exactly stable.

‘Trust me, Stevens. Take the comms device, leave the channel open and get back on the ship. I’m about to do something very clever and a tiny bit against the rules of the universe.’

The boys look at each other.

‘Well off you go!’ He waves them away with the back of his hand and passes the comms device to me. ‘Right,’ he says, rubbing his hands together. ‘Let’s get to work, Artoo!

I watch as Artoo activates the scomp link. For a moment nothing happens. I glance at the Doctor who holds up a finger. A moment later, things start to happen very quickly.

‘Geronimo!’ yells the Doctor.

The Time Rotor in the centre of the console begins to move and I feel the floor shudder. Artoo extends his stabilisers, rooting himself in position.

‘Oh dear, oh dear me!’ Cee-Threepio cries out, tottering on his feet.

Warning! Warning!

The alert’s coming from my ship. I wheel around and check the viewing screen. Red lights are flashing all over the flight deck.

Quantum Error!

The red lights continue to flash and the Time Rotor begins to screech.

‘Is something wrong Doctor?’ I shout over the din.

The Doctor’s hands race over the console, flicking switches and adjusting dials. I snatch out the comms device. ‘Stevens! Harris! Come in!’ But all that comes back is static.

What’s this Quantum Error? Has the Doctor’s plan misfired?
And what’s happened to the boys on the other ship?
Tune in next week for the final episode in the current series…

And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets
 here


Image credits: outerplaces.com, darstcenter.com

Welcome to the Multiverse

Matt Smith's Doctor Who

previously…

The Tardis door bursts open and Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor bounds over to me. ‘Jemma! Thank goodness you’re safe!’ He looks around the ship and spots the two droids. ‘Don’t I know you..?

Cee-Threepio and Artoo exchange glances. Artoo emits a series of excited whoops and beeps, while Cee-Threepio raises a golden arm to his forehead as if he is searching his memory banks. ‘Sorry, sir, I don’t quite…’

Artoo mutters something in beep-talk.

‘Okay, never mind that now,’ the Doctor turns back to me. ‘The Tardis has detected a quantum disturbance in this galaxy and it seems to have something to do with your ship, Jemma.’ He looks around, puzzled. ‘Where are the boys?’

I explain as briefly as I can.

The Doctor taps his sonic screwdriver against his head. ‘The Millennium Falcon, eh? Always wanted to have a go on that,’ he says with an envious grin.

‘That’s right,’ pipes up Cee-Threepio. ‘That’s where we’re waiting to go, isn’t it Artoo?’

Our surroundings flicker like they need re-tuning again.

‘This doesn’t look good,’ says the Doctor.

Artoo’s head spins agitatedly and he emits a stream of tech-babble in beep-talk.

The Doctor obviously understands. ‘Golly,’ he exclaims. ‘The ship has divided into two, you say!’  The Doctor whirls around, brandishing his sonic screwdriver in Artoo’s direction. ‘That would explain a lot.’

Artoo scoots over to the console and inserts his scomp link. He projects an image of a starship docked in the familiar cargo hold of the Millennium Falcon. If that’s our ship, it doesn’t look  quite how I imagined it, but then I’ve never seen it from the outside. Even so, a bright red fighter was not what I’d envisaged.

‘Are you sure that’s right, Artoo?’ asks Cee-Threepio. ‘I was under the impression that Miss Jemma’s starship was a rather pleasing shade of blue.’

The flight deck suddenly becomes less gloomy and comes more sharply into focus. Was it something Cee-Threepio said?

I look more closely at the image the little droid is projecting. The boys are on the ramp at the rear of the spacecraft and Han Solo is standing on the cargo deck holding something in his hand. All three of them appear quite animated.

Two ships, multiple dimensions…Harris’s version and mine…

The comms device in my tunic pocket buzzes urgently. Han Solo’s picture appears on its screen. ‘Jemma? Jemma are you there?’

‘Yes, Han, Jemma here.’

‘Look, kid. I don’t know where you’ve gone, but you need to get back to this ship of yours. Right now! There’s some sort of…’

I return my gaze to Artoo’s projection. Han is running anxious fingers through his hair, while Harris and Stevens cling to the sides of the hatch. The bright red ship is flickering, like it’s about to dematerialize.

‘Look, Doctor!’ I gasp, pointing to what’s happening. Artoo whistles loudly and cuts the image. The little droid turns to the console and starts to wave his clasper arm over the controls.

‘This really isn’t good at all, Jemma. We need to get the two versions of your ship back in sync.’

I turn my attention back to the comms device. ‘Don’t worry, Han, the Doctor’s with me. We’re on our way.’

Doctor who?’ I hear Han ask, but I leave the question hanging.

Cee-Threepio peers over my other shoulder. ‘Yes, sir, don’t worry, we’re coming!’

The comms link goes dead.

The Doctor starts to pace around, tapping his teeth with his iconic implement. Suddenly he stops. ‘That’s it!’ He waves the sonic screwdriver with a flourish. ‘Come on Jemma, there’s no time to lose!’

What’s happening back on the Millennium Falcon? Will the Doctor get Jemma there in time? And what exactly was Artoo up to at the console?
Tune in next week for episode 9

And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets
 here


Image credits: thegeektwins.com, outerplaces.com

Cowboys, Beware!

jug of lemonade and two glasses

Alys waved her wand with a flourish. ‘Ceiling reparo!’

Sparky, her diminutive dragon, looked up as several stray flakes of plaster dislodged themselves.

Alys waved her wand again. ‘Plaster mendaro!’

The cracks in the ceiling made by the bogus dragon inspector stubbornly remained.

Alys lowered her wand. ‘I don’t know, Sparky. I’m no good at these DIY spells.’

‘Maybe we should call someone.’ He flew over to the bookshelf and pulled out a thin volume with a bright yellow cover. Sparky started leafing through the flimsy pages.

They were interrupted by a loud thud on the doormat heralding the arrival of two stocky little men wearing blue overalls. One held a large bucket and the other carried a ladder. ‘You called, Miss?’ they said in unison.

Alys turned to Sparky. ‘Did we?’

Sparky shook his head.

‘Aha,’ the two little men pointed at the ceiling. ‘We see your problem, Miss.’

‘Can you repair it?’ asked Alys hopefully.

‘Of course.’ Fred rubbed his hands together. ‘We’ll have this done in a jiffy.’

Alys returned to the kitchen where a hair preparation ‘for constantly flowing locks’ was gently simmering in her cauldron. Sparky followed carrying his new copy of Dragon Detectives’ Monthly which had arrived by doormat that morning. He’d only just settled down to read when a loud hiss of crimson steam issued from his nostrils.

BEWARE THESE COWBOY CONTRACTORS!’ the heading screamed. Sparky hastily silenced the article with a swift pat of his paw.

‘What is it, Sparky?’

Sparky put a purple claw to his mouth. He beckoned to Alys and pointed at the photograph. The faces of the two stocky workman stared out from the article. ‘Wanted in two counties for preying on the unwary, these practitioners of make and mend have been wreaking mischief and mayhem on unsuspecting clients’ homes. They extort money on the promise of rectification and then disappear without completing the work. Their most recent victim was Agatha of Agador…’

Alys looked up. Agatha was one of her best clients. ‘Poor Agatha!’ she exclaimed.

Alys ladled a couple of spoonsful of the preparation from her cauldron into a glass jug and muttered an incantation. The mixture fizzed and bubbled, then slowly cleared to a pleasant lemony colour.

She poured it into two glasses, winking at Sparky. ‘Refreshments, gentlemen,’ she called out cheerfully, carrying the glasses into the next room and putting them on the table.

The two men seized the glasses and drank. ‘That really hits the spot,’ said Bob.

‘Just as well,’ said Fred. ‘This job is trickier than we thought. We’ll need to come back tomorrow.’

Alys eyed the ceiling where there was now a gaping hole.

‘We need more materials,’ Fred rubbed his hands together, ‘and an advance on the payment.’

Sparky snatched up the Dragon Detective’s Weekly and flew across the room, dropping it on the table in front of the two men. A threatening shower of sparks spurted from his snout.

Fred put his hands on his hips. ‘So? D’you want the job finished or what?’

Bob nudged him. ‘Your hair, it’s… it’s green and it’s growing!’

Fred turned to him. His jaw dropped open. ‘So’s yours!’

Within seconds grisly green hair was pooling at their feet.

Alys glared at the two men. ‘Put my ceiling right and your hair will go back to normal.’ She twitched her wand and the hair began to curl and tighten around their bodies. ‘And finish all those other jobs,’ she pointed at the article.

‘That’s blackmail!’ Fred mumbled indistinctly through a forest of green beard.

‘Just do it,’ said Alys sweetly.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #42

The challenge this week was extort. Photo credit: dreamtime.com

A small cute purple dragon
Click here for more Alys and Sparky stories

The Dragon Inspector Calls

A small cute purple dragon

Alys was stirring a batch of Witches’ Wonder Beauty Cream when she heard a knock at the door.

‘We’re not expecting anyone are we, Sparky?’

The diminutive dragon looked up from the Weekly Witch where he was reading about their recent success in the WI Competition. He shook his head.

Alys turned off the cauldron with a wand-wave before opening the door. She was greeted by broad chest with a large belt buckle below it. Alys stepped back in surprise. ‘Oh, it’s a giant!’

The owner of the large belt buckle stooped down and a big black bearded face appeared. ‘Your doorway is somewhat small, but I’ll just…’ The giant squeezed himself inside. ‘Right.’ He looked down at Alys with a stern expression on his face.

Alys looked up at him. Fearing for her ceiling she asked him to sit down. The giant perched on the edge of her work table, whose legs groaned loudly.

‘What can I do for you?’ Alys asked.

The giant consulted the clipboard he was holding. ‘You’re Alice of the Western Witches’ Coven?’

‘That’s right.’

‘My name is Bruwod. I’m here about a Breach of Ye Olde Treaty of Magical Creatures’.

Alys frowned. Sparky flew up onto her shoulder. A wisp of agitated steam escaped from his left nostril.

Bruwod leapt to his feet. A sprinkling of plaster peppered his shoulders as his head hit the ceiling. He pointed at Sparky. ‘You have a dragon!’

‘And I have a hole in my ceiling,’ replied Alys testily. ‘What’s this about?’

Bruwod glanced at the upwards and seated himself again. The table sighed heavily. ‘Your dragon is Unregistered in Breach of Regulation 6.66. He will be impounded and released back into the wild.’ He jabbed his pencil in Sparky’s direction.

The diminutive dragon snorted in alarm, sending out tiny showers of purple sparks from his flaring nostrils.

‘Into the wild? I’ve had him since he was an egg!’ said Alys in alarm.

‘Do you have the Proper Documentation for his Provenance?’

Alys shook her head.

‘You’re keeping a Protected Species without the Proper Documentation.’ Bruwod stabbed his pencil on his clipboard for emphasis. The point promptly broke.

With a whoosh and a bang and a cloud of red smoke, a piece of parchment appeared on the doormat. They all turned to look. The parchment reared up revealing a picture of Bruwod framed by the words: ‘Wanted for Dragon Abduction; Reward Offered.’

Bruwod flung down his clipboard and lunged towards Sparky who flew up in alarm, golden flames shooting from his nostrils. Bruwod grabbed at him with a meaty hand catching him by the tail. ‘Gotcha!’

Alys snatched up her wand as Sparky shot a dagger of brilliant blue flame into Bruwod’s face. The giant let go, tripping over the doormat and landing in heap next to the retired cauldron.

Not familiar with the Craft of Combat and Containment, Alys struggled for a spell, but the retired cauldron was quicker, casting a huge net over the writhing giant.

A gruff voice shouted from the other side of the door. ‘Witchery Enforcement! Stand back, we’re coming in!’ The door burst open.

It only took a few moments for the four burly officers to bundle Bruwod into their van. ‘Well done, Miss, you’ve captured a dangerous criminal,’ said their leader touching the peak of his cap with his wand.

‘It wasn’t really me,’ Alys glanced at her retired cauldron which quivered gently.

‘Nevertheless, we’re grateful for the assistance.’ He handed Alys a voucher for Acme’s Ingredients and Equipment for Witches.

Alys and Sparky grinned. It was their favourite store.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #41

The challenge this week was treaty.
Photo credit: clipart-library.com

Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here!