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May 2017 Ficlet Challenge
purplecleric
"The world's favourite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May."
- Edwin Way Teale

The word prompt this month is ... MAY

Expressing hope or possibility, asking for permission, another name for hawthorn and its pretty spring blossom or in literary terms, one's bloom or prime.

May 1st is the time of many rituals: in Oxford the choristers sing from Magdelan Tower and Morris Dancers line the streets, there is maypole dancing and green men and fertility garlands. For others, Mayday is Labour Day - worker's rights and the stirrings of revolution. What will it mean for our heroes?
 
Joe Dredd
purplecleric wrote:
What will it mean for our heroes?

That the rebels have the lifespan of mayflies?
 
Anniew
Bit obvious this response so I got in quick:

"On screen, Zen."

Blake lowered himself onto the couch while the computer flashed into action. He draped one arm along the back of the couch aiming to project complete confidence but despite his resolve his forefinger strayed towards his mouth and he was soon nibbling at it nervously.

A circle appeared in the centre of the hexagon revealing the face of an elderly man.

"This is a message for Roj Blake," he announced. "Help us. The freedom of Argandia depends on you. Deposits of Narridium have been discovered in our mountain ranges and the Federation has approached us with an offer to mine them on our behalf. Our King is weak. Our ruling class corrupt. This is the opportunity they have been waiting for. They will enrich themselves at the expense of the people. We have learned of your intervention on Horizon. We beg you to meet with us and help us avoid a similar enslavement."

"Narridium?" Vila questioned.

" A component in plasma technology...rare and expensive." Avon spoke absently, as he bent over his monitor, scanning the information flashing there.

" We must help of course." That was Cally. Avon straightened abruptly.

"Oh must we? We MUST help this unidentified and I might add, unidentifiable old man? There's no record of him on any data base. Argandia has no history of rebellion or indeed of any mineral deposits aside from those common to most habitable planets in our galaxy. Moreover it is a class D planet: primitive technology, agrarian economy. How could news of Blake's exploits on Horizon have reached such a backward place without Federation interference? This has all the hallmarks of a trap."

"It does sound like a trap, Blake." Jenna bit her lip uneasily, torn between common sense and her desire to offer support. " How can we meet with these rebels - yes assumed rebels, Avon, I got that- how can we set up a meeting without detection? "

" Ah I was hoping someone would ask," Blake beamed. " Zen...run the next programme please."

The lights pulsed again and the crew stared at the screen, mesmerised.

"It's the Argandian equinox, " Blake explained as cavorting people dressed in white, wreaths of vegetation on their heads, long batons in their hands and bells adorning ankles and wrists filled the screen. "They are celebrating their Goddess of Fertility. We just have to dress up as Maycando dancers and we can mingle with the crowds undetected."

Vila watched, mouth open, as a figure completely hidden by a straw leapt into the dance.

" Well I'm in..." he announced unexpectedly.

xxx

The return to Liberator was a hurried affair, though accomplished with nothing more than a minor injury to Avon who was hurried by Cally to the med lab shouting, "It WAS a trap, Blake! Why does nobody LISTEN to me?" as he shed straw along the corridor.

Jenny smiled at Blake and then looked pensive:

"Still it was a trap. If it hadn't been for those ribbons on that pole we'd never have trussed Travis so quickly..."

"Rebellion is all about taking risks," Blake admonished her, somewhat pompously, "as Vila at least, seems to have grasped."

"Hmmm. Is that so Vila? Why did you agree to Blake's plan so readily."

"Are you kidding Jenna? The risks were well worth it. When else am I going to get the chance to beat Avon about the rear with a stick?"
Edited by Anniew on 01 May 2017 23:28:47
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
 
Ellen York
Sneaky Vila! I'm sure Avon is in the med lab plotting revenge. Smile
 
littlesue
Anniew...my keyboard is now a bit soggy!!!!
Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!


sues stories http://sjlittle.w...
sues youtube channel http://www.youtub...e54/videos
sues book shelf https://www.media...ne%20Shelf
rebel run video http://www.youtub...prqS-XZtLo
Lara and Sue's Stories http://lectorisal....webs.com/
 
Rainesz
Annie: I love the Blake mannerisms that start your story. Also: Trussed-up Travis and naughty, naughty Vila. Wink
Haha! "Why does nobody LISTEN to me?"
 
Anniew
"May I?"

She frames it as a request but she's leant forward and wiped his mouth with her napkin without waiting for a reply and a familiar expression, part gratitude, part affront, crosses his face. Affront wins out. He'd intercept her hand if he could but he's not quick enough, and anyway his own shake too much today to allow that as a possibility. He can only glare at her and even that response has lost its diamond hard edge...the eyes no longer quite so bright, the mouth less tightly compressed than they were last year. He's failing fast.

As if to deny that realisation, she leans forward again, without even the pretence of request and places her hand firmly over his, guiding his fork to his mouth. The sound he makes, like an offended stork, amuses her and she lets it show, her own mouth quirking wryly. The fork clatters onto his plate and immediately an obsequious servant materialises at her elbow.

"Go away," she commands and the shadow steps quickly back.

He smiles at her now, enjoying her display of command and despite his frailty she sees the man she has protected for forty years. Laboriously he forces himself to capture her hand, wrinkled and blotched as is his and she sees him steel himself to bring it steadily to his lips. The kiss is dry, tree bark brushing her skin, but the contact makes her shiver with pleasure. He takes each finger in turn, each with its perfectly manicured blood red nail and flamboyantly places his lips to them: a gesture edged with contempt. Then tiredly he lets the hand fall and his eyes begin to close.

She signals imperiously and the obsequious shadow is at her side helping her to rise. Once vertical she waves him away and then steps around the table towards her....partner in crime...soul mate...lover? Briefly she enjoys the joke. Prisoner of course. Never quite tamed but broken enough to allow her a measure of intimacy these days. As she helps him to rise, she can feel his attention wavering, see him slipping into his own twilight world of memories and regret.

"Come," she commands him. "Time to return you to your cell."
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
 
Rainesz
Oh, beautifully written, Annie! You write Servalan (at all stages of her life) so well. She's cruel, but also very human. You superbly captured the continuing hatred/fascination aspect of her relationship with Avon with this. (Poor Avon. He still can't help himself, it seems.)
 
Anniew
Rainez...it disturbs me how readily my understand her!! Thank you.
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
 
Rainesz
Anniew wrote:

Rainez...it disturbs me how readily my understand her!! Thank you.


Ha ha! Well now... Wink
 
Travisina
That's wonderful, Annie!
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
Anniew
The wind murmured in the pines and the noise of the suppliants' feet as they shuffled through the browned needles on the ground added its whisper to the sighing of the trees. Clouds came and went rapidly across the sun so that light flickered and strobed through the tree gaps. Children looked fearfully around, awed by the sense of absence, the emptiness of the forest, grasping the hand of their accompanying adult more tightly as they progressed.

As they neared the shrine, faces leered horribly at them from the tree trunks and plastic coils, pieces of metal and coloured plexiglass strung on wires swung and clattered from thin branches, beams of light stabbing from them as they caught the sun. The masks all depicted the same face, mouth opened in what could be a cry, a long gash cut from the corner of the left eye in a sickle shape, the eye drooping towards the mouth. Tight coils of wire surrounded the face giving the impression of hair.

They bowed their heads in homage. This was the hunter...the bringer of bounty.

The Elder reached the metal doors of the shrine, twisted and broken allowing easy access and a pale light filtered in through the holes that gaped in its vaulted roof revealing tangled masses of wire entwined with briars, forming curtain-like obstructions to the inner sanctum. This was the place where the figure still stood, the spheres that formed its upper structure suggesting a head and the metal coils protruding on each side giving an impression of limbs. It was here, before It, that she would make the sacrifice.

She signalled once and they brought to her the Dark One, his pale face and black hair marking him out as different from the rest. He came quietly, drugged into a peaceful acceptance of his fate.

The Elder and her priestesses entered the shrine, two proceeding to push back the tangled curtains of wires, two bringing the dark one. She followed holding aloft the sacred knife.

Silence. Even the wind had ceased. Words if any were spoken, were too softly uttered to be heard from the watchers outside. And then, clear as the cry of a bird, one, two, three sharp screams split the quiet, echoing around the cavernous depths of the structure and the watchers shuffled their feet in sudden relief, their shoulders drooping as the tension left them.

The Elder appeared now a silhouetted in the door way. She held up a hand.

" It is done," she intoned. "The 'May I Humble' is concluded. Go now. Enjoy the blessings of the Bounty Hunter and his Slave."

They left the clearing. Slowly the sun faded from the sky and the whispering voices of the trees reclaimed the empty space.
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
 
Rainesz
Because everyone seemed to like Cally Junior, she's baaaaaack.
(And yes, I got carried away and went way over the word count again.) Wink

The Scourge of the Federation

"Zelda, may I speak to your sister?" Avon asked the frowning little girl. "Where is she?"

Zelda pointed upwards into the tangled, thorny branches of the towering Zircopa tree and a small face identical to hers appeared, peering down at them. The light of Kahn's orange dwarf sun shone through the branches behind her head and gave her messy brown curls an ironic halo.

Avon heaved an irritated sigh. He had somehow expected this.

Zelda, standing beside Avon at the foot of the tree, sent the appropriate telepathic message upwards into the dizzying heights of the Zircopa.

*Mr. Grumpy wants to speak to you.*

Even from the ground, they could see the face of the twin in the tree grow defiant. Zelda then turned and gave Avon (aka Mr. Grumpy) a triumphantly wicked grin. "She says she won't speak to you unless you climb up there with her."

Avon's eyes widened slightly in alarm which made Zelda delighted.
"Are you afraid?" the little girl taunted.

"No, it's just that I value an unbroken neck." He sighed. "Very well. If these are the terms..." Growling, he carefully hoisted himself up, placing one black booted foot after another onto each ascending branch.

Watching with incredulity, Zelda finally covered her eyes with one small hand. *Cally, you are going to be in SO much trouble with Dr. Franton when Mr. Grumpy falls to his death.*

*Nah, he looks like he can do this.* High above, Cally folded her arms and sternly awaited her guest to arrive. *I'm impressed. He hasn't even made a single branch explode yet. Someone must have warned him.*

When Avon had finally pulled himself wearily onto the tree limb next to her, she remarked, "Nice work. I knew you'd make it all right."

"Thank you for your vote of confidence. Your office is not particularly accessible for clients."

"I just wanted to see how brave you were."

"Or how mangled I would look at the bottom of the tree." Avon grunted and repositioned himself on his precarious perch, careful not to look down. "Your sister doesn't climb up here with you. That either makes her a coward or very intelligent."

Cally frowned. "It makes her boring." She glared at him. "You don't like us clones very much, do you?"

"Quite the contrary. I knew one clone quite well and I liked her very much. That's why I'm here. Also, because we are in need of the rather unique skills both you girls possess."

"It was one of my aunties who died, wasn't it?" Cally demanded even as her empathic scan of him told her she was correct. She bit her lip, feeling awkward when she sensed his hidden grief. She asked in a quiet voice: "What was she like? The other Cally?"

Avon looked off toward the silver buildings in the near distance that formed the Auronar Phoenix settlement of Kahn. "She was much more sensible when it came to climbing trees that are known to combust under extreme temperatures. And she was better at keeping her bones intact than my present company."

"My arm got better!" Cally pouted. "I can feel that you don't want to be here talking to me. I'll bet you don't like kids either."

"Hard to say. I haven't known many. And I personally have never met a child who was fond of exploding trees, so this is a new experience for me. You actually might have liked a young woman I used to know named Dayna. She liked things that exploded, too."

"Well, you were a kid too a really, really, really long time ago, right?"

"So I was led to believe. Does that give me any credibility here?"

"Dr. Franton told me you want my help fighting the Federation. You wanted to know about Zelda and me and our... games."

He sighed. "I understand the ramifications of having to recruit children with exceptional abilities for our cause—but these are desperate times." He then gave her a peculiar look that was both stern and appraising at the same time. "But I have the greatest faith in Cally's gene stock."

Cally looked him over with a frown, assessing him. "I'll help you because the Federation killed my people... but I'm not sure that I like you very much."

"Well now, no one really does. But I will stay out of your way, if you'd prefer. I would not want to incite your wrath, after all. I could end up at the bottom of a tree." His eyes glinted with a wry smile and Cally found herself starting to grin, despite herself. "You'd actually be working with a colleague of mine," he continued. "She's the captain of our ship. Her name is Jenna Stannis."

Cally's eyes lost focus suddenly. "I... think I remember that name," she said in an odd voice. "My auntie, the other Cally, knew her..."

Avon drew in a subtle breath. "Remarkable. You have cloned memories. Then... you must remember me as well."

She fixed him with a hard stare. "Yes. I do. And I still don't like you. Zelda calls you Mr. Grumpy— but what's your real name?"

"It's Avon. But 'Mr. Grumpy' is also a fair epithet. Shall we now descend carefully from this perilous perch so that you can begin to help the resistance? I have a strange suspicion that the Federation will live in fear of you."

"Avon," Cally scowled, "you're a very weird person."

"And so I've also been told many times." He grabbed a branch which promptly started to smolder at his touch. "And please inform me as to how not to blow myself up."

The future Scourge of the Federation gleefully showed him the way.
Edited by Rainesz on 21 May 2017 12:32:03
 
Travisina
Brilliant stories, Annie & Raines!

@ Annie - atmospheric and chilling - do I detect a hint of 'Wicker Man' and / or 'Harvest Home'?
@Rainesz - adorable! Love your tales of Cally, Zelda and Mr Grumpy! More, please?
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
Anniew
Travisina..Probably more Time Team. SmileSmile


Rainez...we have the Og saga...the Revels saga and now the baby Cally saga. We are so lucky. I love all these Universes. Young Cally and Avon work so well together - no cloying sentimentality - they have the same sense of complimentary equals that the adult Cally and Avon had. Great dialogue and description, " Avon drew a subtle breath,". Love the description of the Phoenix Centre too and the way you use it to add emotion to Avon's reply. The Uncle Avon vibe is cannon! Soolin and Dayna used to treat him like that.
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
 
Rainesz
@Annie, what a creepy and clever story. You got in Beltane and Blake as Herne the (Bounty) Hunter. And I love that Slave is the "altar". (I'm guessing the victim is an Avon surrogate. Or Travis? Though the ritual stabs are the same number of times Avon shot Blake. Poor sacrificial victim...) As Travisina said, also very atmospheric and the description is fantastic and tension-building. Love the "May I Humble".

@Travisina, Annie-- Thank you! I think I'm having flashbacks of bickering with my sister. Also, I couldn't resist naming the Auron settlement Phoenix. It seemed appropriate as well as also being the town where I live. Wink
 
Anniew
Rainez thank you. Story inspired with a ' dally' in a garden centre with a Green Man mask for the garden. I then wondered what would happen to the Blake Legend in the future and based the idea on the Terminal experiment conclusion: that man would devolve over time into ape men! ( This is the story 1,000 before that happens or thereabouts) The dark man is indeed the Avon surrogate. Based on Soolin, I imagine the natives of Gauda to be Nordic blonde so anyone born with dark hair or who wandered into the territory with dark hair, would be considered an outsider and therefore a suitable sacrifice. I guessed that Avon might appear in the legend as The Dark One....the other face of the Hunter ...the one that brings storms and disrupts the Harvest unless destroyed- hence the ceremony! Glad you liked the May I Humble!!! I did too.
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
 
littlesue
Anniew...another great story, very eerie and compelling.
Rainesz...I've now got Arthur Lowe's voice in my head when reading about Mr Grumpy!
Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!


sues stories http://sjlittle.w...
sues youtube channel http://www.youtub...e54/videos
sues book shelf https://www.media...ne%20Shelf
rebel run video http://www.youtub...prqS-XZtLo
Lara and Sue's Stories http://lectorisal....webs.com/
 
Rainesz
littlesue wrote:
Rainesz...I've now got Arthur Lowe's voice in my head when reading about Mr Grumpy!


Heh heh! Wink For some visual and audio reference:
https://www.youtu...W3PsiEwlsc
 
Lurena
Oh Annie, what a wonderful diversity of stories! Naughty, chilling, touching, atmospheric, filmish.

And Rainesz, your characterisation is so well written. I very much enjoyed reading the interactions.

Thank you ladies for your clever work!
Lara&Sue's Blake's 7 stories
*No, I am not. I am not expendable, I'm not stupid, and I'm not going.*
 
http://lectorisalutem.webs.com/
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