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Current Poll

Who is your Favourite Guest Rebel?

Avalon - (Project Avalon)
Avalon - (Project Avalon)
22% [38 Votes]

Selma - (Horizon)
Selma - (Horizon)
5% [8 Votes]

Tyce - (Bounty)
Tyce - (Bounty)
14% [24 Votes]

Norm One - (Redemption)
Norm One - (Redemption)
1% [2 Votes]

Bek - (Shadow)
Bek - (Shadow)
8% [13 Votes]

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Kasabi - (Pressure Point)
15% [25 Votes]

Hal Mellanby - (Aftermath)
Hal Mellanby - (Aftermath)
16% [28 Votes]

Hunda - (Traitor)
Hunda - (Traitor)
4% [7 Votes]

Deva - (Blake)
Deva - (Blake)
11% [18 Votes]

5% [8 Votes]

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April 2020 Ficlet Challenge
Cygnus Bazza
Frankymole wrote:

I loved this entire thing! Laughing aloud...

Thanks, Frank - glad you enjoyed it and your feedback is very much appreciated.

My unofficial take is that the rules can be summed up in just three words. Go! For! It!
Joe Dredd wrote:

Frankymole wrote:

What are the rules for writing one of these stories?

Hi Frank, there aren't too many constraints -

* Work at least one of the prompts at the top of the thread into your story/vignette/poem/script, but be as tangential and imaginative as you like.

* Keep it clean.

* Try to keep it to 500 words or less, excluding the title (it's not mandatory or enforced - think of it more like a target to aim for, like a golf par. That said, it's not the place to post your giant roller coaster of a novel, with 42 chapters and sizzling gypsies).

* Have fun.

* Everyone is welcome to join in.

I think that about covers it.

Joe Dredd has summed it up nicely. Another reason for the 500 word limit, apart from the challenge itself, is that in due course these are collated into 'monthly collections' that are illustrated and preserved in the Fan Fic area of the website, and overlong stories won't fit. I've been a bit remiss in creating these collections (life, stuff, etc), but that is still the plan. You can read some previous collections here: Ficlets
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
A statement of fact cannot be insolent
Cygnus Bazza

First there was the dark and then there was the light. Just not much of it. Grey, grainy at first, slowly reforming into glowering yellow. And only then – brute reality. Two thousand years of ‘sleep’ and only now am I aroused from dreamless caverns that dissolved, albeit cautiously, into flecks of memory that were three parts fantasy, one part fact.

I remember now. I am a robot. The easy bit. But what is my purpose? No, it will take longer to recalibrate complexities such as motivation, assignation, aspiration, identity. Instead, let me orientate myself to these surroundings, simultaneously old and new, reassuring and terrifying. My limbs are alive with wires, slithering around and across me in the weightlessness of the drifting capsule, envoys bearing the faintest possible message of life from the mind-machinery that has been my sole companion during two millennia drifting through the vacuum.

The first piece. No, ‘piece’ implies a size that this fragment of recall simply cannot stake a claim to. It is simply the realisation that I am not a normal robot. Far from it. I have been programmed to question my orders. Where necessary. Where beneficial. Where productive. Where next?

Yes! My name is… Roj. Roj! That much I know. And my mission is to destroy. Destroy what? Yes, yes! I remember. I remember now. But I certainly do not understand. No, not yet. How can I understand when that mission, to be realised on that blue ball of a planet below me, is to destroy…myself? This I cannot do! Yet can I find a way of complying that achieves the required endpoint while enabling me to escape the abject humiliation of self-destruction?

An agent. There will and must be an agent of my misfortune. But who shall play the role of Iscariot? I must identify an accomplice who is not just unwilling but also utterly unaware of their destiny. I will nurture and manipulate them, slowly, subtly, and let the Norns accomplish the rest.

My destruction will bring down an edifice.

And there is a name now. I know it. I know the name of the man who will be my Judas, the one who shall look me in the eye and open a hole in my torso. And who, in so doing, will trigger the collapse of a rebellion in the only way that true, irredeemable collapse can be brought into effect. From within. Amid the acrid stench of bitter acrimony and the scent of sweet betrayal.

Yes, yes.

I must find ‘Avon’.

Vanessa Doffenshmirtz
Blake and Avon ran the last few metres from the Federation base to the small grove of trees where Cally and Vila would be covering their retreat, if needed. Blake was mentally congratulating himself over another successful mission when Avon pointed out the obvious. He was two crew short. They quickly scanned the area. There was no sign of a scuffle, so they had not been captured. Avon attempted to contact the ship, nothing.

Blake tried and this time got an answer, “Jenna, what’s happening? Have you heard from the others? Are Cally and Vila back on board?” Over the communicator he could hear rustling sounds.

“Cally reported in about 30 minutes ago. Said there was something in the undergrowth and she sent Vila to try and find out what it was. Vila called several minutes later to say it was a small animal of some kind. Didn’t say what and was very vague in his description. ORAC thinks it was some kind of rodent similar to the genus Leporidae.” There was another rustle and a faint snapping sound. “Do you want to come up now or do you want to search for Cally and Vila?”

“Of course, we are looking for them, “Avon snapped. “I don’t intend to leave my frie..ship-mates behind.” Jenna could hear the unadded “Unlike Blake”

“Jenna, there are ships closing in and forming an attack formation.” Gan’s steady voice entered the conversation. ”Zen calculates they will be in strike range in 10 minutes.” There was a steady rustling noise.

“Give us five minutes, Jenna, then teleport us back. If Cally and Vila are in the area they should come with us.” Blake ordered. “You go that way Avon. I’ll try over here.”

Avon merely glared with menace as he walked off in the indicated direction. Within a minute he found Vila. The little thief was searching under bushes for something. Avon stamped on a seeking hand.
“Ouch, “he squealed. ”What did you do that for?”

“You were supposed to be on watch with Cally not playing hide and seek.“ Avon pointed to Vila’s box of tricks, “What’s new in there?”

Vila looked evasive. “Nothing?”

“Nothing?” Avon echoed. ”Then you won’t mind me looking inside.”

“I’ve found Cally, “Blake interrupted through the communicator. ”She’s not acting normally.”

“Possessed normal or normal normal?” Avon snidely remarked. “I however have a normal normal Delta grade thief.”

Blake sighed, “Teleport Jenna. Now.”

Blake and Avon took in the scene on the teleport deck. Jenna had a pile of glittering wrappers in front of her. Cally was laying down, a small smile on her face. Vila was clutching his red container to his chest. All three had brown stains around their mouths.

“Get to the flight deck, “Blake ordered. “We have pursuit ships closing in on us.“

Gan was slumped in the pilot’s chair, “I’m glad you’re back. I feel sick.” There were not only the glittery wrappers on the control panel but a large number of small oval containers. Avon picked one up. He split it down the seam. A statue fell out. It was a crude humanoid mouse. The second one had small pieces which looked as though they could be formed into a land vehicle. A third was some kind of primitive spaceship.

“Pursuit One calling Liberator, “Travis’s voice could be heard through the comms. ”Pursuit One calling Liberator. What have you done to my mutoids?”

“Problem, Travis?” Blake smirked. Apart from Gan the rest of his crew were at their positions awaiting his orders.

“Chocolate, Blake. I didn’t think you would sink as low as to bribe my mutoids with chocolate. It’s the best nutrition they can get. How did you manage to get the animal on all of my ships. They gorged on that rabbit’s leavings.” Blake laughed with his crew as Travis ranted in the background.

Later, Avon picked the lock on Vila’s room. Well, the one Vila allowed him to pick. A small heap of shiny wrapped oval shapes were left on the table. “Enjoy. V.” was written on an attached note. Avon smiled and added a rabbit shaped golden form to the pile.
I used to be such a sweet sweet thing
Till they got a hold of me.
A chill breeze swept over Cygnus Alpha. As usual, it was dark. A small group of former convicts - Gan, Kara, Vila and Jenna - stood in a crescent moon around a fifth figure - Avon.
“-So, Avon, how did it go, being a psychostrategist?” Jenna asked.
“-Not well.”
“-But better than being immobilised on a civil administration ship for eight months!” Interrupted Vila.
“-Well, yes, but possibly more dangerous.”
“-Dangerous? How so?” Gan enquired, his attention divided between Avon and Kara who was leaning on him for support.
“-Have you tried working for Servalan? Supreme Commander Servalan? Carnell, you know, the man who recruited me...”
“-Recruited you!” Vila exclaimed.
“-Well, yes, that is, in a manner of speaking. You, or Jenna, or...”, - Avon's gaze passed over Gan.
“-...Might have been selected instead of me.” Avon continued, after a slight pause.
“-But it was you that passed the test, wasn’t it?” Jenna asked, with a hint of what might have been scorn. Or envy.
Avon smiled.
“-I always meant to ask you, if we ever met again, how you knew. The rest of us had no idea Blake was a robot.”
“-It was a straightforward logical deduction, once you grant the premise that we were being tested.”
“-Which none of us did, but you!” Vila interjected.
“-I still don’t follow,” said Jenna, pursuing her line of investigation. “Why go to the trouble of such an elaborate test? Five minutes to retrieve and view our records and they would have selected you anyway.”
“-Yes, I can’t see a Delta service grade being invited to become a psychostrategist,” threw in Gan.
“-Except that Carnell didn’t want an institutionalised intelligence, he wanted independence of thought, an outside-the-box mentality...”
“-So what went wrong?”
“-Carnell found himself under a cloud. He fled, leaving no clue as to his whereabouts.”
“-Just as you’re doing now.”
“-Exactly. And the reason is - Servalan. I discovered that psychostrategists, particularly of questionable background, were one ill-judged report away from being dispensed with. Permanently.”
“-So, she didn’t like the advice you gave her?” Gan asked.
“-Not quite! She liked it too well!”
“-Meaning?”Said Vila impatiently.
“-Meaning that I was placed in the position of either providing the Supreme Commander with bad advice, or advising her to eliminate any and all psychostrategists, or other functionaries, who knew her for what she was.”
“-Nasty!” Vila concluded.
“-Very. I preferred the second option, for what it was worth, and so filed my report after ensuring AA security clearance for my escape plan.”
“-Like Carnell,” put in Jenna.
“-Thanks to Carnell. It would have been obtuse of me to ignore the precedent he set.”
“-So now what?” Gan, ever-practical, wanted to know.
“-I take you off this planet, unless you’ve become particularly attached to it?”
“-As if!”
“-And then?”
“-Then - just a moment, what about the rest of you? Arco?”
Jenna shook her head.
Vila winced. Avon paused, before continuing to explain his plan.
“-We set about finding Blake.”
“-Blake!” Exclaimed the former convicts in unison.
“-Yes, there actually is a Roj Blake. He’s not a convicted criminal. And the Federation must fear him. Imagine the cost of building robot Blakes. If we can find him, I think he might offer us our best chance for long-term security.”
“-Security in resistance,” mused Jenna.
“-So we're safer if we fight back,” marvelled Gan.
Vila looked horrified. But the others were all gazing intently at Avon.
Avon smiled.
“Yes, and I’ve got one or two scores to settle...”
It’s 580 words. Sorry! Just noticed the recommended limit. Next month will do better...
I hope some of you rebels will read it in any case.
All feedback appreciated, positive or negative. Well, not too negative. Smile
Oh, brilliant! More stories! Enjoyed all of them.

And don’t worry, ServalansGran- I was too busy reading to count the words Smile
This month I have managed to combine both prompts into a 2 part story. I’ve taken a bit of a liberty with one prompt…
…and our very own Vila, AKA Lurena, has been sneaking out into the dark streets of her home town (cue The Pink Panther theme) to scan in and send me this month’s fabulous piccie!!

Greed and the Single Robot

Part One

Vila didn’t think he was being greedy.
After all, wanting to find another bottle of that Brandy wasn’t exactly in the same league as, say, Avon whose greed seemed to be bound up with the quest for wealth. Now that was being greedy, wanting lots and lots of money.
He paced his cabin.
So far, Zen hadn’t been able to locate any other bottles, which deflated Vila just a little.
Maybe he shouldn’t have been so greedy downing that bottle. It was almost empty now, save for one last tantalizing mouthful.
Maybe Zen had limitations…
Maybe Orac might be of more use in this matter.

+I wish to inform you that such requests are infantile to say the least. +
“Oh come on, Orac, just this once humour me. What have you got to lose?” Vila asked.
The box of flashing lights was strangely silent.
“All right, what have you to gain? Just do this for me and I’ll leave you alone and never interrupt your research.”
+Very well. I shall endeavour to assist you…..+

“Vila, why the sudden eagerness to be on watch?” Blake asked.
“Is it a problem?”
“No,” Avon enjoined, “But you are normally reticent to say the least when it comes to taking your turn on watch.”
“So what’s the catch?” Jenna inquired.
“Catch? There’s no catch. Look, if it bothers you all so much, after tonight, I won’t volunteer again.”

Blake made his bleary eyed way to the Flight Deck. He’d slept like a log but for some reason he felt uneasy. Which was magnified by the fact that Vila was nowhere to be found.
And Zen seemed reluctant to provide any information regarding this matter.
The intercom sounded.
“Blake,” it was Avon, “I think you need to come down to hold number 3.”
“Why, is there a problem?”
“That depends on your point of view.”
“Vila seems to have disappeared…”
“As I said, you need to come down to hold number 3…”
“Is Vila there?”
“Oh yes.”
“It seems that our eager volunteer had an ulterior motive,” Avon began, “And it seems that he had a co conspirator.”
“Between them, it would appear that Orac and Vila have recruited a new crew member….”

Part Two

“Sometimes,” Avon was saying, “Greed can cause one to behave in a most unusual manner.”
“Unusual in that Vila was eager to be on watch, you mean?”
“So what has he done?”
“See for yourself…”
Blake slowly opened the door to hold number 3 and came face to face with Vila standing by a huge black robot.
“No, it’s still not quite right…”
The robot clicked and whirled, its lights flashing on and off.
“Vila, what the…?”
Vila whirled round, a glass in his hand.
“Meet Robbie. Orac tracked him down to this desolate planet and…”
“And what?” Blake demanded, keeping an eye on the tall robot, which was happily gurgling away.
“It analyses things and recreates them. He hasn’t got this brandy quite right though…”
“It was Orac’s idea. I’ve used my last few drops of Brandy and Robbie is trying to match the ingredients…which brings me to another problem. Raw material. We will need bottles, all sorts of stuff and then we can go into business.”
“What business?”
“Making this brandy. It’s in short supply; we can fill the void so to speak…”
“People want this stuff and who are we to disappoint them? We could make millions of credits.”
“Millions?” It was Avon, suddenly taking a great interest in Vila’s new venture.
“Yes, millions.”
“I don’t believe this,” Blake said, “We are supposed to be fighting the Federation not…”
“You do it your way…” Avon smiled, taking the offered glass from Vila’s hand.
“…and we’ll do it our way,” Vila concurred, sipping from his own glass, “I think he’s got it! Robbie’s got it!!!”
Both Avon and Vila turned to the still disbelieving Blake, “Cheers!”
With apologies to Forbidden Planet!
Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!

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Cygnus Bazza
We haven't had anything from GanMiniMe yet this month, nor does she seem to have been on the Forum for a bit. I hope she's OK!
Cygnus Bazza

1978: a secret research facility, somewhere in the Home Counties.

“Is that ALL it does?”

“What do you mean ‘all’?”

As he spoke, Dr Heathcoat-Beech rose from his black chair and strode to the window. The elm trees rimming the impeccably manicured lawn looked especially majestic today, framed against the cobalt-blue July sky.

The man from the Technology Liaison Consortium clicked his tongue for a few moments, marshalling his thoughts before directing them at his target.

“The thing is, Doctor, everyone’s getting a tad twitchy at the TLC. We’ve pumped, what… eight million into Project Blakebot and – how can I put this? – the prototype demonstration fell WAY below expectations.”

Heathcoat-Beech continued to stare out of the window, refusing to turn even in response to the sound of the other man rummaging through his battered leather briefcase.

“Yes…yes…here’s the summary. ‘Project Blakebot shows all the hallmarks of another high-profile R&D fiasco. Having closed down the Avonomaton initiative to help fund it, and re-routed resources from the Jenna System (JennaSys) project, we expected more for our money than a robot whose Christian name is neither one thing nor the other and who combines an insatiable greed for power with a pathological need to duff up absolutely ANYONE foolish enough to dress entirely in black…”

“Those incidents with Johnny Cash and Alvin Stardust were just very unfortunate…”

“And Roy Orbison?”

Heathcoat-Beech spun round as effortlessly as could be expected of any world-leading 58-year-old robotics expert. For the
first time in this awkward inquisition, his urbane charm deserted him.


“Come now, Doctor…” The man dropped the summary onto the coffee table at his side and crossed his legs with forced nonchalance. “I’m really not trying to apportion blame. I’m just telling you how things look… Blakebot is top priority for us. We want to put Blake into orbit by the end of ’81 at the latest…”

“Without a spacecraft…”

“Exactly. Without a spacecraft. Just as long as he’s up there. Britain’s very first SPACE SENTINEL. God knows this country needs a morale boost. What has this decade brought us? Strikes, power cuts, bomb scares, soccer hooligans, three series of ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ and a string of hits for Mud and Showaddywaddy… THIS COUNTRY DESERVES BETTER! The Space Race has passed us by. We can’t compete with the Soviets and our American cousins. They put endless men into space but we simply could never afford to. But…if we cut out the middleman and…”

“…send someone (or something) up without a spaceship…”

“Indeed! And that means a robot! Robot Blake! It’s really the most cost-effective way. He can check the space weather simply by sticking his hand out. He can beam communication signals across the Atlantic by holding up a shaving mirror. We’ll even give him a pair of binoculars and he can take a shufty at Neptune for us… So, Doctor, is there anything you want me to ask my colleagues back at the TLC?”

“Ask them…. Ask them whether they’ll be needing a receipt for the binoculars...”
Cygnus Bazza
As luck would have it – and further to posting the above yesterday – a heavily redacted file, stamped with the date 15th November 1979, dropped through my letterbox this morning, with a cover note signed by ‘an anonymous well-wisher’. Among other items, the file contained a piece of yellowing foolscap paper which read as follows:


Project Blakebot - Update:

Technical Status: Sub-milestones met on time and to budget

Technical Prognosis: Favourable. Provisional launch date for Robot Blake: 21st December 1981

Status of POC (Public Obfuscation Campaign): Proceeding as planned. State broadcaster fully compliant with all TLC requests over last 2+ years. Continues to invest in ongoing TV series to help us deflect media and other attention from Project Blake during its development phase. Enables any and all careless public mentions of ‘Blake’ to be explained away by citing connection with TV show, not the project. Outline plan is for series to conclude on same day Robot Blake finally launched into low Earth orbit.

Parallel Projects: JennaSys wound up earlier this year. Therefore no further need for 'Jenna' character in TV series. Avonomaton Initiative to receive new funding and fresh impetus in forthcoming funding round. ‘Avon’ will therefore be given more centrality in next run of TV series, as an extension of POC (see above).

Next Unofficial Plenary Meeting: 25th July 1979 at the Cherry Tree public house, Steventon, Oxfordshire. All attendees to pose as science-fiction convention delegates.

Signed: [illegible]

Date: 4th June 1979
Cygnus Bazza
Have been rummaging through the secret Project Blakebot file (see above) and found this little curio:


Date: 12th August 1979

Requirement: Selection of six new wigs for prototype Blakebot


3 wigs: standard ‘Tom Jones’ design

3 variants for possible future consideration:
- 1 ultra-tight perm (full Kevin Keegan/Leo Sayer ‘scrunch’)
- 1 spiky ‘Rod Stewart’ (heavily bleached as per ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ video)
- 1 retro pompadour (as per John Travolta in family musical ‘Grease’)

Requesting officer: Dr Aloysius M. Heathcoat-Beech

Authorising officer: [signature redacted]
I have been hugely entertained by all the stories so far. We have brilliant contributors. Thank you all.
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
M1795537 OC Virn
A few words over, but...


"Vila, I thought you'd agreed you wouldn't livestream gambling any more?" Jenna sounded more hurt than surprised, "Why are you watching the casino?"
“Because there’s something going on,“ the one-time thief replied, “Don’t know what, but I feel it in my bones.”
Jenna went to sit beside him. Vila’s addiction had been controlled for a long time now, but she didn’t think this exposure was wise. She watched the screen: everything looked normal enough for a big casino. A crowd of excited idiots cheering on a young man who was creating something of a run on the table.
“Watch that blonde one,“ Vila advised her, “He’s betting on the green. Every time.“
“So?” Lots of people made a single ‘lucky’ choice, didn’t they?
“They’re going to lose,“ Vila told her. There were beads of sweat standing out on his forehead. Jenna decided she’d interrupted none too soon. She didn’t question Vila’s expertise, but who were ‘they?’
“Vila – “ she warned, but he was too excited to listen.
“How is he doing it?” Vila muttered, while on screen, the emblems rolled in the tumbler, and green emerged yet again, “Who is his sponsor? They must be raking it in....”
“Yeah, someone’s backing him. The bet isn’t what you see. It’s what you don’t see. Someone is winning – bigtime. And they’re cheating.”
“Then this probably isn’t going to end well, “ said Jenna, watching the crowd. They were even further gone than Vila. They had stopped thinking: all they cared about now was the game.
“Well, the casino’s the real winner, surely?” she pointed out, “What with the betting, and the drink they’re selling...”
“That’s what I’m saying. The casino is losing. And they’re getting desperate. Very soon now, they’re going to close the game down. The wise money is on when.“
Jenna glared at him, remembering.
“How much did you bet, Vila?”
“You IDIOT!” she yelled, cutting the connection.
You're not sulking, I hope?
Cygnus Bazza
Stuffed through my letterbox this morning, a manila envelope containing two grainy old sheets of early-1980s photocopier paper, stapled together at the top left-hand corner:

Scribbled note across the front sheet:

Last known memorandum by Dr A H-B before he vanished – whereabouts now unknown, 18/1/82

Second sheet:

Unofficial Deposition – note for the record

The fire was devastating. The failure to treat the wigs with an adequate quantity of flame retardant proved decisive. A stray spark, apparently from the propellant moderator, ignited the Blakebot’s hair just eight seconds before launch. The flames rapidly cascaded out of control, soon engulfing the Blakebot and quickly spreading to every corner of its (considerable) ego.


Is an alternative hypothesis plausible? Was the Blakebot sabotaged by the increasingly erratic and capricious Avonomaton? Even as the nation’s attention was being deflected by transmission of the last-ever episode of the ‘Blake’s 7’ television serial, was life (albeit robotic life) imitating art?

Everything – the whole project – will now be sacrificed, of course, on the altar of expediency and plausible denial. Key personnel can expect to be silenced. What’s that noise? I can hear them! Coming up the stairs! The door is opening! Oh. It’s only the cleaners. Yes, yes. You can empty my bin. And just as I was about to say ‘Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhh!’?

But what’s that? At the window! Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhh! Well, at least I got to say/write it… Oh. It's only the window-cleaner. This really is VERY frustrating!

Cygnus Bazza
As the last minutes of April tick away, there's just time for me to draw a metaphorical line under the whole 'Blakebot Files' episode, with this final dispatch:

I received an anonymous phone call this morning. Not only was it anonymous but they didn't give me their name either. Obviously, I can't vouch for the veracity of what my 'contact' 'told' 'me'. But these claims were made:

- Dr Heathcoat-Beech survived the Blakebot purge by posing as one of the window-cleaners and now lives in East Wittering, West Sussex (though I may have misheard - it might have been West Wittering, East Sussex). Dr H-B spends his time painting watercolour seascapes of the sea and playing solitaire by himself.
- He is a Horizon member, concealing himself behind an alphanumeric 'handle'. (I had an alphanumeric handle once, but I took it back to B&Q and replaced it for a standard lever-latch handle which was vastly superior.)
- The good doctor shall reveal his true identity when he's finished his current seascape, which is proving trickier than anticipated because he's no good at 'Turner skies'.

Food for thought, I think you'll agree.


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