Ficlet Challenges Archive: January - March 2021

January 2021 Ficlet Challenges by PURPLECLERIC

Happy New Year to you all!

A slight change to the format this year. Instead of a word prompt I'm providing a phrase prompt so kicking the year off:

The phrase for January is ... Money Doesn't Grow On Trees

For the second challenge:

The crew have come down with a mysterious illness...

Have fun!

JUSTBRAD - untitled

Cauder pointed to the star chart,
“Take that base and we’ll push the Federation clean out of this sector. And with the weapons we’ll capture, we can push them out of the neighboring sectors.

“If we could take that base, but we can’t,” Grant stifled a sigh.

“We can do it. We have the men.”

“But we don’t have the equipment,"Grant shook his head, "You can’t take a base that size with small arms.”

“You did on Albian," Cauder persisted, "And there is no solium device on that Federation base.”

“There was a company on Albian. There’s an entire regiment on that base, with armor. We’ll need bazookoids, neutron canon, and armed drones at the very least.”

“You have connections, your smuggler friend for starters,” Caauder still insisted.

“I have connections, but I don’t have the cash. My ‘smuggler friend’ isn’t a manufacturer, she can’t make assault weapons, she can only buy them with the cash we provide, and transport them. We’re not talking about a few thousand credits here, Cauder, we’re talking about millions. That kind of money doesn’t grow on trees. Now get some sleep and try to come up with a feasible plan.”

Grant retired to his ship. As was his habit, he checked for messages before turning in. There was one, and it was marked Urgent.

Avon’s face appeared on the screen. Grant couldn’t recall ever seeing him so haggard, not since his trial. Something had happened.

”Grant, I hope you never see this recorded message. If you do, it means I am dead. I rolled the dice and lost. If I had won, you’d have heard about it soon enough.”

There came a thin, Avonic smile, a dark smile that made Grant nervous as Avon declared,
“The whole galaxy would have heard about it soon enough.”

“Grant, you know why I was sent to Cygnus, what I was trying to do. Like the Federation, you probably think I let one little setback, like being exiled for life, stop me. You should know better, particularly as I had a resource like Orac. My mistake was in trying to hack the banking system itself instead of individual accounts, particularly the accounts of individuals who can’t call the authorities if their ill gotten gains are pilfered. Check you account. The one you think no one knows about. You really should have picked a better password. You know what I always said about money.” The dark, Avonic smile reappeared on his lips as the image faded.

Yes, Grant could remember what Avon always said about money, namely that ‘wealth is the only reality,’ and that ‘a fool and his money are soon parted.’

Feeling a cold chill, Grant brought up his secret account and entered his password, A-N-N-A. As he waited for the screen to change, he held his breath, expecting to see a zero.

And he did see a zero. In fact, he saw eight of them, and a seven. Seven hundred million. And then he thought of the other thing Avon always said about money: 'You can’t take it with you'.

Grant hit his communicator,
“Cauder, meet me in the ward room. Now. And get a secure line to Morphaniel. I have one hell of an order to place.”


“All I’m saying is, we all hate the Federation’s greed, but before them, what did people have to be greedy for?”
“Ignore him,” said Avon shortly, his head buried in an open circuit hatch, “He’s been given time to think.”
“But seriously, everybody wants to get wealthy but all the wealth, one way or another, is controlled by the Federation. They control the power, the food supplies, the water, the alcohol, the narcotics, everything! You can’t accumulate credits without going through them. I mean, how did people get rich before the Federation?”
“The same means, I suppose,” Jenna shrugged. She had never really given it much thought- she wasn’t really interested in how people of ages past became rich- she was usually too busy trying to make a living in this one.
“You are correct,” chimed in ORAC, “In the Pre-Federation era much of the wealth came from the profits from selling luxury commodities.”
“What luxury commodities?” asked Cally, looking concerned, “Not - slaves?”
“In many ways, Jenna is right. People used to make huge profits from all sorts of things. Certainly slavery, but also a lot of material things. In the majority of cases slaves were used to help cultivate the crops of these material goods.”
“Crops?” asked Vila, surprised, “Farming?”
“Sort of,” said Blake, “Not the vegetable sort of farming though. Huge profits were made from tobacco- before the synthetic methods, it was grown in certain parts of the world, dried and ground up and smoked.”
“Indeed. The same applied to drugs such as cannabis and opiates.”
“Early narcotics. They were derived from poppy plants. They were originally painkillers but were also highly addictive.”
“It’s a pity you can’t grow alcohol,” said Vila jokingly.
“As a matter of fact, centuries ago you technically could,” replied ORAC, before Blake had a chance to stop him. “Many ingredients used in popular alcoholic beverages had to be grown in fields- hops and barley for beer, sugar for rum and sweets-“
“And that is before we consider the fabrics used to make clothes,” added Blake, trying to steer the conversation into safer waters, “Cotton was so widely used, it became a massive industry.”
“Is it true that before credits they had to use solid tokens to pay for things?” asked Jenna.
“Indeed it is,” replied ORAC, borrowing Zen’s viewscreen to display an old image of a greenish rectangle decorated with pictures, patterns and ornate curly writing. “This is a banknote. First used in ancient China and widely used until the mid-21st century.”
Jenna stood up and went over for a closer look.
“Is that-?”
“-paper? Affirmative.” Vila was frowning with the effort of all he had processed.
“So... all this time... people saying money doesn’t grow on trees...”

“Nonsense,” said Blake.

LITTLESUE - Windfall

(Well here is the first prompt….and a piccie from Lurena.
We wish to point out that no rather nice computer expert was injured during the drawing of said picture.)

“Money doesn’t grow on trees” they had said, but as Vila surveyed the orchard and its burgeoning growth of apples weighing down the boughs of each tree, he couldn’t help but whisper, “Oh yes it does!”

They had returned to the bottling plant and the orchard as fast as Avon could persuade them to go: his concern for the growing number of lost and abandoned robots aboard the Liberator becoming more apparent as the days or even hours passed. Vila couldn’t understand Avon’s dislike of the robots. After all, they were making every one’s life far easier, even trying to help with the ironing, much to Avon’s annoyance. That was his job. He had agreed to do that just to rid him and the Liberator of these infernal machines.

“Daydreaming, Vila?”
It was Avon, suddenly standing right by him.
“How’s it going in there?” Vila asked.
“Your friend Robbie seems to have everything in hand. Repairs to the machines and that floor…” Avon shuddered as he recalled the floor opening up beneath him the first time they were here.
“Oh good. You know, all these apples, seems a pity to see them all go to waste. I wonder…”
“Please don’t,” Avon said.
But it was too late.
“Cider…I could make cider. Yes, while I’m waiting for all the brandy ingredients to come…I could make cider. Robbie…”

“How do you intend to remove all these apples Vila?” Avon asked, “Even with all these robots of yours, it will take ages to pick them.”
“Oh, Robbie’s got the solution to that…”
“It would have,” Avon thought to himself.
“Our danger, danger friend will demonstrate…”
And sure enough, it did.
“Danger! Danger!” it warned, shaking the tree for all it was worth and allowing the apples to fall en mass to the ground...
“Oh dear,” murmured Vila.
Blake arrived, hoping to see exactly what was planned for the orchard,
“Where’s Avon? I thought he was out here with you away from those troublesome machines….”
“He was, I mean is,” Vila smiled meekly.
“Where?” Blake asked.
“Well, it’s like this, he totally ignored the ‘danger, danger’ warning…and didn’t get out of the way…”
In answer, the large pile of apples under the tree began to heave and Avon appeared ignominiously from under them.
“That does it, Blake. Enough is enough…”
“Now what!!!!”
As if in answer Robbie appeared, driving a machine that literally scooped up all the fallen apples…including a protesting Avon.
“Oh no,” Vila cried, “This could be a disaster. My entire first run of cider totally ruined...”
“Where is this machine going?” Blake asked breaking into a run alongside the anguished Vila.
“To the sorting and wash…Oh no, Robbie…STOP!”

Avon was wet, very wet, but at least the very first crop of apples was on its way into the newly refurbished bottling plant.
“This is going to cost you, Vila,” Avon glared.
“I’ll pay you back from the very first profit I make from this cider. And then I can truly say that money does grow on trees…can’t I!”

Link to Lurena's illustration

strong>STORMYPETREL - untitled

“Blake, do I have to take this watch? I’m not well, look...” Vila’s plea stuttered to a halt as he entered the flight deck to find not only Blake, but the whole crew, looking at him expectantly. The hand he was holding out for inspection dropped to his side.

“That answers that question,” said Jenna. Blake nodded.

“Something we’ve all been exposed to.”

“What... I don’t...” Vila stared back at them in horror, realising that they, too, had a peculiar tint. “You’re all...”

“Yes,” said Gan wearily.

“But you can’t just sit there! What if it’s serious? Do something! What if I’m about to die?”

“Do you feel like you’re about to die?” inquired Cally.

“I feel like I’d been drinking all last night.” Vila collapsed onto the end of the central seat, his head in his hands.

“That will be a novelty for you,” remarked Avon.

“Well, I wasn’t. And anyway, it wouldn’t turn me orange, would it?”

“Green does seem to be your preferred colour on such occasions,” Avon agreed calmly, as if he saw nothing of note in the fact that the Liberator’s entire crew were, undeniably, bright orange.

“I think we’re agreed that none of us are feeling our best,” interrupted Blake, before an argument could break out. “What we want to know is why.”

“I don’t suppose it has anything at all to do with you insisting on our visiting that desolate rock in search of something that turned out not to be there? An entirely pointless trip which seems to have given us more than you bargained for.”

“But I was aboard the whole time,” pointed out Cally, “And I seem to be affected much like the rest of you.”

“That’s what I can’t understand,” admitted Blake. “We didn’t bring anything back with us...”

“Didn’t we?” said Avon.

Blake sighed. “Zen. Are there any mysterious illnesses known to originate on the planet Arcturus Minor?”


“Vegetable production?” Vila looked up, confused.

“Arcturus Minor was a Federation farming colony,” Jenna told him. “It was abandoned years ago. Now it looks like we know why.”

“We’ve been poisoned by ancient vegetables?”

“We may as well know the worst,” said Avon, ignoring this potential explanation. “Zen, is there any information as to what form this ‘injury’ would take?”


“I still don’t see how Cally’s been affected,” said Gan.

“Some of us obviously brought the soil back on board,” answered Avon, with a pointed look at Vila.

“I didn’t ask to be teleported into a muck heap, did I? And you needn’t all have been so enthusiastic about brushing me down when we got back, either. You almost beat me to death, and there was dirt going everywhere... Oh.”


“At least we know what it is now.” Jenna did not sound entirely reassured. “But what do we do about it?”

“Zen?” Blake glanced at the screen.


“How eventual?”


“So we are indefinitely orange,” said Avon. “Wonderful. But it seems a cure is easily effected. We disinfect our surface clothes... and possibly Vila.”

LITTLESUE - Contagion

(And now for the 2nd prompt...sorry guys!
And a lovely piccie from Lurena who no longer has to sneak about the meanstreets of her home town...she has acquired her own scanner!!! so no more Pink Panther music!!)

“My head hurts,” Vila moaned.
“You too?” Jenna asked, “Both Blake and Avon seem to be suffering the same thing. You all weren’t down there imbibing, were you?”
“If only,” Vila grunted, “Then maybe all this pain would have been worth it…”
Jenna reached for the intercom,
“Cally, have you found anything in the sick bay to put a stop to all this moaning. Vila’s complaining now.”
Cally appeared at the top of the stairs leading down to the Flight Deck,
“Until we know what we are dealing with it is difficult to prescribe any medication.”
“One man complaining is bad enough, but all three is just too much. Maybe we should pay this spaceport a visit and find out exactly what we are dealing with.”
“I agree.”
“Vila, you can keep an eye on things up here, can’t you?”
“But I’m dying!” Vila insisted.
“Then do it quietly…” Cally suggested.

“So why haven’t you or I been afflicted with this…this…thing?” Jenna asked.
“Maybe someone on this spaceport can advise us.”

The woman leaned back in her chair and smiled.
“I take it that your companions are the male of the species?”
“Does that make a difference?” Jenna asked.
“Oh indeed it does. The question is…how much are you prepared to pay for it?”
“Pay for what?” Cally asked.
“The antidote.”
“The antidote?”
“Well, you can ‘cure’ them now. Or put up with them claiming that they are dying for quite a few weeks. Most visitors pay up immediately.”
“But that’s extortion.”
“No, it’s good business. So what’s it to be - the antidote or three men making your lives a misery?”

Vila gratefully downed the sugar cube and sighed with relief.
“So I’m not dying…”
“No,” Jenna replied, handing a glass to Blake.
“But at least you got the antidote. Strange way of doing business though,” Blake pointed out taking the proffered glass.
“And quite a profitable one too” Cally said, handing Avon a glass.
“Profitable?” Avon asked, “Just HOW profitable?”
“It’s best you don’t ask,” Jenna informed him. But it was too late. Avon almost choked on the water, before running off towards the Liberator’s strong room.
“He is not going to be happy when he finds out just how much it cost us,” Cally sighed.
“No,” concurred Jenna, “In fact, I sense a sudden relapse coming on!!”
Link to Lurena's illustration

STORMYPETREL> - untitled

“They want a ransom,” said Jenna’s voice clearly, “Of thirty thousand credits. Each.”

The remainder of the Liberator’s crew, crowded round the teleport controls, exchanged glances; but it was Avon who pressed the communicator switch to reply.

“I see,” he said. “Not quite the friendly associates Blake expected, then. Tell them we will need time to consider the matter.”

“You have an hour before they sell us to the Federation.” Jenna cut off abruptly.

“What do we do?” Gan looked worriedly towards Avon.

“We can’t just leave them.” Cally, too, was worried; but she had hardly finished speaking before Vila answered,

“We’ll have to pay up.”

“Within an hour?” Avon looked scornful. “With what, exactly? Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

In other circumstances, Vila might have pointed out that he was well aware of that: money usually grew in elaborately-locked bank vaults, and harvesting it was a risky business. It could, for example, get you sent to Cygnus Alpha... Given the urgency of the situation, however, he merely blurted,

“But we must have something we can give them!”

“Perhaps they’d consider an exchange,” suggested Avon pointedly, “Let me think.”

“We haven’t much time,” said Gan, earning himself a glare.

“What if they come after us next?” Vila still sounded anxious.

“They’re more likely to try turning to the Federation for a ransom,” Avon frowned, turning to Cally, “Can you put us down just outside the complex?”

“Well, yes, but...”

“Good. Vila, get your kit.”

Vila took a step back.

“Me? What do you want me for?”

“If Blake and Jenna are being held as hostages, they are hardly likely to be roaming free.”

Vila pulled a face, but he went in search of his equipment. Avon, too, rose to go and collect his surface clothes and a gun.

“Are you sure about this?” asked Cally, as they returned and stepped into the teleport bay.

“No,” answered Vila, with a nervous glance at Avon.

“We will hardly get far without a pilot.”

“I don’t know...”

“You very rarely do. Cally, put us down.”

Cally did so: there was a pause, then, unmistakably, Avon.

“Down and safe.”

“You hope.” That was Vila, fainter, in the background.

Gan and Cally looked at one another.

“I suppose all we can do is wait.”

* * *

They waited. Then, just as the hour seemed about to pass, an abrupt message came through.

“Bring us up!”

“That’s Blake!” observed Cally, as she reached for the switches.

Sure enough, four figures appeared in the teleport bay. Fully visible, all of them appeared battered and torn. Jenna’s hair was wild; Avon had a deep scratch down his face; Blake was dripping blood from one hand.


“Money doesn’t grow on trees, he says,” said Vila, setting down his toolbox and fishing awkwardly down the back of his anorak, “But thorns do, don’t they? Look at that!” He withdrew a vicious green point and held it out for inspection. “I do doors...”

“A window’s hardly a big difference,” Jenna told him.

“It is when it’s at the top of a spiky great hedge!”

February 2021 Ficlet Challenges by PURPLECLERIC

The phrase prompt for February is … If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen

And for the second challenge:

There’s a baby on board! What?! Who? How? (Remember this is a PG13 site!)

Happy writing!

GANMINIME - untitled

Gan brushed the flour from the front of his faded pink gingham apron and dusted his huge hands. He always loved baking bread, and as he was the only one who really cooked or baked, the kitchen was a nice little escape. Although the others may tease him, they didn’t ever seem to mind sampling whatever he had made.
It would need to rise for a couple of hours. Gan even had his favourite place for this purpose. Under the large square unit which heated the tap water, there was a dark space, always noticeably warmer than the rest of the room. It was too small to store anything in, so was usually just left empty... but not today. Gan felt a moment’s surprise to discover his favourite proving place already occupied. He sighed and put down the loaf tin. He went to the communicator.


Avon raised his eyes from his latest piece of experimentation and glowered at Gan.

“Avon, we all agreed to take turns.”
“Blake agreed that we should all take turns. If he spent less time agreeing to pointless crusades on our behalf none of the rest of us would have had to do anything.”
“You don’t want your turn? Fine, I’ll take him.” Vila eagerly went over to Gan, who carefully removed the large, green, purple- spotted egg from under his tunic. Vila happily settled down on his favourite part of the sofa, cradling it in a fold of his jacket.

“We forgot about your aversion to responsibility,” remarked Jenna.
“It is not an aversion to responsibility, it is the fact that none of this situation is my responsibility,” he replied curtly. “I did not decide to try and colonise a planet only to discover it was incompatible with my species, It is not my fault that they all died, and it certainly wasn’t me who promised the last survivor that we would take her last viable descendent back to its home planet.”
“But it wouldn’t have survived alone down there!” protested Gan, “It wouldn’t even have hatched. What were we supposed to do, let it die?”
“Why, don’t you have a recipe that requires eggs?”
The shocked pause was broken by Cally, who had been busily knitting an unusually large egg cosy.

“I hear the young of this species are carnivorous.” At this, Vila’s eyes widened in alarm,
“Yes. I wonder how they would like the taste of alpha-grade human?” The slightly sharp edge in her voice made everybody look at Avon. He, however, had at that moment buried his head under the table, apparently searching for a component of his experiment which had made a bid for freedom- nobody had heard anything fall.

“Relax, Vila, it isn’t going to hatch for another eight days.” Gan turned to the screen, “Zen, time to arrival on Essmay?”

Gan turned to Vila.
“You see? There is no chance of it hatching yet, as long as we don’t let it get too hot. If you get bored or need a break, just get one of us to take over, don’t leave it under the boiler.”
“Don’t worry about us,” he replied, cheerfully, putting his feet up, “When’s that bread going to be ready?”


(My second attempt... apologies to all of you for the length and general daftness of this one but it’s been a very hard month and I’m only in the mood for writing silly stuff for a laugh.)

Gasping for breath, Tarrant slumped to one side and leaned his clammy forehead against the wall.
“What have you eaten?” asked Soolin.
“The same as all of you,” he rasped, “Is everybody else all right?”
“As far as we know. I haven’t seen either of the others yet.” Tarrant caught the slight scent of Soolin’s expensive and very pleasant perfume and promptly retched into the toilet again. He tried to stand up. “I must have been poisoned,” he moaned, wiping the tears from his face. “I need ORAC.”
“You need to be in the medical bay,” said Dayna stoutly, “Soolin, can you get ORAC and meet us there?”

Vila was already there, lying on one of the beds.
“You took your time,” he grumbled.
“You, too?” Dayna wasn’t much surprised.
“I’m in agony,” Vila whimpered. He was lying in his side, clutching his lower abdomen.
“You’ve had too much to drink,” accused Soolin contemptuously.
“It’s not that!” he insisted. “Wine has never made me feel this awful. It really hurts, and my lower back, and I feel so fat and ugly and... and fed up! And where on Xenon do you keep the chocolate? Please, tell me you have chocolate...”
Tarrant flopped down on the other bed,
“Have you been sick?”
“No, but I feel a little bit sick. Have you?”
“I haven’t stopped! I’ve never felt this tired and ill in my life,” Soolin plugged ORAC’s key in.
“ORAC, have you any idea what’s wrong with them?”
“Of course I do!” snapped ORAC. Vila grumbled and rolled onto his other side. “It would appear that the Seska are a very tribal species; in the event that one of them is killed by a Hommik, the Seska are able, in their last seconds, to alter the physiological functioning of any men in the vicinity. The objective being to incapacitate the culprits long enough for any remaining Seska nearby to catch them and exact revenge.”

“What physiological changes?” Tarrant asked the ceiling.
“It appears that they can trigger a major hormonal imbalance. Hormones which normally exist in very small amounts in males become massively elevated. By my reckoning, Vila has a hormonal level similar to a female at the commencement of her menstrual cycle: Tarrant’s is consistent with the early stages of pregnancy.”
Tarrant groaned loudly.
“Tarrant’s pregnant and Vila’s having a period?” Soolin looked unimpressed.
“As it happens, neither statement is in fact true, they are merely experiencing the symptoms. Fortunately, as the Seska are no more, Pella’s death will not be avenged. And the symptoms only last for around twenty-four hours.”
“Twenty-four hours of this?” Exclaimed Tarrant. Vila burst into tears. Both fell immediately silent when the question shot out of Dayna’s mouth before she even knew she was asking it.

“Where’s Avon?”

They heard it from the end of the corridor: a long, low groan which crescendoed into an unfettered, ear-tearing scream. Vila, with uncharacteristic clumsiness, took longer than usual to break open the door. Inside, Avon was on his knees on the floor, leaning on the seat of the chair for support. His hair was damp, the collar of his jacket was soaked in sweat. He was gripping the base of the chair, his knuckles white. Tentatively, Vila approached him, gently helped him off with his jacket and carefully reached around to feel his stomach.
“Get off me!” Avon snarled in response. Vila felt a lump come to his throat at the sharp words, but swallowed and turned to the others.
“The same,” he said, “Not actually in labour, just having the contractions.” Avon's head came up at this.
“Just contractions?? These are not just contractions!” he spat, “My body is crushing me to death from the inside! This is worse than being tortured, this is worse than being kicked in the-“
“ORAC says it’s only temporary. It’ll stop after twenty-four hours.”
“TWENTY-FOUR HOURS??” shrieked Avon, “Twenty-four hours? I can’t do this for twenty-four hours, I’m going to die!” He burst into loud wailing sobs. “I can’t do this, I can’t, I can’t do any more-“ he buried his head in Vila’s jacket. With one hand Vila awkwardly rubbed Avon’s lower back, and his own cramping abdomen with the other.
“We need pain relief,” he decided.
“Oh, you’re a doctor, now, are you?” snapped Tarrant, leaning weakly against the wall.
“Who do you think delivered my youngest sister?” Vila retorted hotly, “ And helped my Mum deliver my cousin? Doctors were pretty thin on the ground where I came from. We need something for the pain, and soma if you have any.”
“Can you give soma to somebody in labour?” queried Tarrant doubtfully.
“-he’s not in lab-“
“-he’s not even pregnant-!”
“Just do it!” Shouted Vila over the clamour of voices. New pain, accompanied by Avon's rising hysterical torrent of unexpectedly bad language, put an end to the discussion. Soolin grabbed Dayna and they made for the medical room. They were back minutes later with first-aid box and a large metal canister, with a thick pipe coming out of it and a black rubber mask. Dayna turned the tap at the top and thrust the mask at Tarrant to give to Avon, but the strong smell of the rubber was too much for the pilot and he vomited all over the floor. Cringing, Vila snatched the mask out of his hand, clamped it over Avon’s face and commanded him to breathe.

Twenty minutes later and things seemed a little more under control. Tarrant was lying on Avon’s bed with a waste-paper bin on standby next to him. Vila and Avon were taking turns at the gas mask.
“Did the contractions just come on at once?” asked Soolin, after yet another one had subsided.
“No,” he replied, drowsily. “They’ve been getting worse for the last couple of hours. Last night I was only feeling nauseaous but I’d assumed it was something I ate.”
The weight of his words slowly bore down on them all like a millstone, but most heavily on Tarrant. The remaining colour drained from his face. Soolin heard herself say,
“No, oh no, oh no no...” Vila didn’t look up. He simply took another breath of the gas and replied, in a weary monotone,
“Girls, if I were you, I’d get some more of this ready.”

LITTLESUE - In the Heat of the…Kitchen or Windfall Part 2

(Meanwhile, Avon's worries from last month...carry on this month!!!
And another lovely piccie from Lurena...)

“Hmm, that smells delicious,” Jenna said.
“Absolutely,” confirmed Cally.
“What does?” asked Avon.
“Whatever it is cooking in th….Avon, what happened…?”
A rather damp and unkempt Avon stared back at both of them.
“Don’t even go there. Suffice to say THAT robot caused this. The sooner we leave this planet, this bottling plant and those robots…the better. Now if you don’t mind, I need to wash some of this mess off.”
“This is the kitchen,” Jenna pointed out.
“I am aware of that…”
“It won’t like you barging in and disturbing its latest creation,” Cally put in.
“Well that’s just a little too bad,” but then Avon thought better of it, “What’s in there and what is it doing?”
“Which one?”
“Huggy,” they both replied.
“Cooking? With what?”
“Apples. Well it realised that there were far too many apples to make Vila’s cider….” Jenna said.
“…so it decided to make good use of them and make an apple crumble…”
“..And some baked apples…”
“..And some stewing apples...
“I get the picture," Avon replied, "As it’s so busy it won’t mind me using the sink, will it?”
Jenna exchanged a worrying look with Cally, but decided against stopping Avon walking into the kitchen.
“Do you think we should have told him that Huggy is using neither gas nor electric to cook its creations with?” Cally asked.
“He’ll find out soon enough,” Jenna smiled.
“But he’s wet through!”
“Not for much longer. You know how helpful Huggy is.”

Avon’s nostrils filled with the sweet aroma of baked apples and the apple crumble, nicely browned on top, looked very appetising.
“Very nice, I hope you’ll clean all the ovens off when you’ve finished…” Avon’s voice tailed off. None of the ovens were on, but it was decidedly hot in the kitchen: very hot.
Then it dawned on him just what the helpful robot was cooking with.
On cue it trundled round the central kitchen island and stood still about two metres away from him, obviously studying the somewhat soggy Avon.
Avon didn’t move, reasoning that by doing so the helpful robot would ignore him and go back to baking its next delicious creation…

“Where’s Avon?” Blake asked.
“In the kitchen,” Jenna and Cally informed him.
“Well, at least it’s warm in there and he’ll have a chance to dry off.”
“I have a feeling that it’s just about to get hotter…” Cally murmured.
“Oh? Why?”
As Blake spoke, the kitchen door slid open and Avon ran out, with Huggy the helpful robot in hot pursuit, trying desperately to dry the fugitive’s wet through clothes with its flame thrower...
Blake was stunned,
“What the?...”
“Well you know what they say,” Jenna began.
“…if you can’t stand the heat,” Cally added, “Get out of the kitchen!”
Link to Lurena's illustration

LITTLESUE - A Babe in Arms, Part One

(And now for the second prompt. I’m afraid that I got just a little carried away and have split the story into two parts. And once again, we have a lovely picture from Lurena)

Blake stirred in his bunk as the Liberator seemed to suddenly go through some manoeuvres, but as Gan hadn’t called for any help, he turned over and resumed his sleep.
Much later, he was suddenly awakened by the sound of a baby crying.

He sat up, bleary eyed. Was he hearing things?
A knock on the door drew his attention.
“Blake,” It was Avon, “You are required in the sick bay.”
“Who’s hurt?”
“None of us, if you are worried, but we seem to acquired a few passengers.”

“Well, who are they?” Blake asked. He and Avon were standing outside the Sick Bay.
“We appear to have rescued them and before you ask, it was Gan’s idea with a little help from Orac and Zen. While you and I were asleep, they managed to dock alongside a drifting spaceship, that appeared to have been involved in a battle of sorts and these three people were still alive in it…”
“But I heard a baby cry.”
“Indeed you did. There is a baby with a woman whom I take to be his mother and a rather odd gentleman who claims to be a Vizier.”
“A what?”
Avon had that bored look on his face, which warned Blake not to ask any more questions.
“All right, so he’s a viz…or whatever. Why don’t we go in?”
“Because the woman is dying, Blake, and she seems intent on giving the baby to Gan…”
“To Gan?!”
“Yes, well, each to their own. Cally and Jenna are with her, but she insists that we take the baby to her home planet.”
“Which is?”
“Along way from here, but Zen has the coordinates and the Liberator is on its way there now.”
“But what are they doing out here in a space craft so far from home…?”
“I intend to find out. Something isn’t quite right about this…”

Babe in Arms
Part Two

Gan sat in the middle couch of the Liberator’s Flight Deck, the baby in his arms, with Cally and Jenna either side of him and Vila sitting on the floor making faces at the baby which induced a lot of laughter.
The only person not laughing was the Vizier.
“So, sir, this is the legitimate heir to your planetary system, but why are you so far away from it?” Blake asked.
“My lady was in great difficulty during the birth so it was decided to take advantage of the kind offer of the Terran Federation to tend to her.”
“The words ‘kind’ and ‘Federation’ don’t exactly go together, sir.”
“Maybe not, but they were of a great help and then on our way home our ship was attacked and both I and my lady with the Prince were about to be put into a life capsule…but alas, it was never launched.”
“But you’re nowhere near a hospitable planet!”
“And they weren’t meant to be,” It was Avon standing at the top of the stairs, gun in hand.
“I found something very interesting about your crippled ship. Orac informs me that there was an active a homing beacon. Exactly who were you expecting…sir?”
“I do not have to put up with these questions, the Prince must return to his planet and take up his place…”
“With whom as his Regent? It would appear that there is yet another homing beacon - the one that you have about your person…sir.”
“I have no idea what you are speaking of.”
“Don’t you? This little device says otherwise.” With that, Avon pointed the scanner straight at the Vizier, “I think you’ll find it somewhere in one of his pockets….”
Link to Lurena's illustration

Later with the Vizier securely locked away, the Prince asleep and everyone taking turns to look after him, Blake found himself alone on the Flight Deck.
Avon entered with that pleased look on his face.
“So I presume you’re going to tell me what all this about?” Blake asked.
“Naturally,” Avon smiled, “The Vizier had made a pact with the Federation; In return for allowing the Federation to take over that planetary system, he was offered wealth and power as the next ruler. It meant his Lady and the Prince having an unfortunate accident while involved in a battle, but then we came along. Something not even considered.”
“So wealth and power? A great inducement.”
“Sometimes, “Avon began, staring straight into Blake’s eyes, “The promise of wealth and power is all that is needed for a man to betray his people.”


“It is some distance away,” Lev looked his guests up and down, taking in their thermal suits with a nod, “You have come prepared for our atmospheric conditions, I see.”

“Blake?” Vila looked worried: Avon rolled his eyes. “I can’t...”

“There is a problem?” inquired Lev.

“No,” said Blake, as Avon put in with some sarcasm,


Lev’s eyes narrowed; Vila hurried to explain.

“It’s the cold... I’ve got a weak chest, you see,” He threw a protesting look at Blake, “Cally said you weren’t to keep me outside. I’ve only just got over the last time...”

“As have we,” remarked Avon meaningfully. “Next time you decide to come down with something, see if you can do it quietly.”

“If you hadn’t gone dragging me to Exbar...”

“All right,” snapped Blake, “I’m sure you can manage a short walk.”

“It is not that short.” Lev looked doubtful.

Vila twiddled the dial of his thermal suit, only to discover it was already on its maximum setting. He gave Blake one last appealing look. Blake remained unmoved; Lev gave a sudden exclamation.

“I know. We will take my son, Blake, and your friend can stay here. If he takes my son’s place for a little while, that will work out nicely,” he smiled at Vila, “It is the warmest place in the complex.” Without waiting for a response, he began to walk away: the others had no choice but to follow. They stopped at the doorway of a well lit, well heated room. A young man, presumably Lev’s son, looked up curiously as they entered.
“Dav, you are going to join us, " said his father, "Vila here will watch the eggs for you.”

For the first time, they took in what else was in the room.

“The hatchery,” said Dav, “Do you know what you’re doing?”


“Just watch them. Mostly they hatch by themselves. There shouldn’t be any trouble. You just have to make sure they survive.”

“Right.” Vila swallowed, suddenly looking as if enduring the paper-thin atmosphere of Arxus might be preferable to being held responsible for the lives of hundreds of eggs.

“Shall we go?” Blake was getting impatient. Lev nodded. Dav joined them, with a cheerful wave to Vila.

The eggs, as Dav had predicted, seemed inclined to give no trouble. They did not, in fact, seem to be doing anything at all. Perhaps the warmth of the hatchery was making them sleepy... Vila jerked back to attention as he heard the sound of an eggshell cracking. Frantically, he looked round to identify the culprit, realising as he did so that nobody had mentioned what, exactly, they were trying to hatch.

“Peep!” A beak appeared, but its owner was obviously struggling. Vila approached cautiously. At least it didn’t have teeth... Carefully, he helped remove the eggshell, to reveal a bedraggled yellow creature. “Peep!”


“Peep! Peep!”

“Oh, there’s two of you...” Vila blinked as the twin inhabitants of the egg staggered towards him. “There you go, then, you’re out...”

“Peep!” Two yellow ducklings waddled determinedly after him.

“No, don’t follow me... oh, hell... No!”

* * *
“Bring us up, Jenna.” There was a resigned note to Blake’s request: Jenna exchanged glances with Cally as she reached for the teleport controls. Three figures materialised to the accompaniment of a loud sneeze.

“Blake, I told you that Vila...” began Cally.

“It wasn’t me!” Vila edged out of the teleport bay as Avon gave another violent sneeze.

“Avon? What...”

“Feathers,” he said thickly, with a vicious glare in Vila’s direction.

Vila grinned nervously; a small, yellow head popped out of his collar.


March 2021 Ficlet Challenge by PURPLECLERIC

The phrase prompt for this month is … A Fool And His Money Are Soon Parted

And for the second challenge:

It appears that the crew have travelled back in time!

Have fun!


“I told you we shouldn’t pressed that big red button,” sighed Vila, putting down his lunch box. The lid was open.

“Shut up, Vila! Orac, where are we?” asked Avon.

“Around 65 million years in the past in a clearing in Paraguay. I can get us back to Xenon Base, but it will take me a few minutes to simulate the signal. Now kindly let me get on with my work.”

“Hold on," said Dayna, “My history isn’t the best, but surely 65 million years ago means…”

There was a large roar at that moment, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex lurched into view. Before anyone could say anything, it swooped down with its large mouth and ate Tarrant whole.

"They've killed, Tarrant!" exclaimed Vila, "The bar stewards", quickly correcting himself when saying the last word when he remembered that this site is PG-13.

The T-Rex burped, and then closed in on the rest of the crew.

But before it could do anything else, Soolin shot the large reptile dead. She was looking lovely. More of the creatures lurched into the clearing, but she cut each one down. Within minutes, Orac had got Avon, Vila, Soolin and Dayna back to the base.

A few hours later, Avon had finished quizzing Orac. He smiled as the others returned to the main lounge area. Soolin was still looking lovely, having taken a lengthy shower.

Vila didn’t like it when Avon smiled.
“What is it?”

“Well now. Orac has just been in communication with several Federation computers programmed with Earth’s history.”

“And?” questioned Dayna. It was Orac who answered,

“It would seem the dinosaurs did not die out because of a large meteorite. But instead they all ate each other until only a few Tyrannosaurus Rex were left and those were living in Paraguay…”

“I shot the last dinosaurs?” Soolin interrupted. Orac confirmed that she had.

In the meantime, no-one saw the baby T-Rex crawl out of Vila’s lunch box and head in the direction of the men's shower room. Vila had a nasty shock coming...


JUSTBRAD - untitled

Vila left damp footprints as he carried a small box from the teleport bay to a table,
“That’s my second trip to Aristo, and the second time I’ve gotten my foot wet. Okay, we’ve got it, but what is it?”

“It is my creator’s second greatest invention," Orac whirred, "A prototype non dimensional temporal displacer.”

Vila cooed as if impressed,
“Oh, a non dimensional temporal displacer.” He turned to Tarrant, “What is it?”

“A time machine,” Tarrant answered.

“I think you mean a prototype time machine," Vila balked, "Sounds dangerous.”

Avon shouldered his way past Tarrant to examine the box,
“And will remain dangerous until I have finished programming it.”

“IF you can finish programming it,” Tarrant couldn’t resist adding.

“Indeed.” Avon’s answer was surprisingly candid.

***Much later***

The crew stood huddled together on the flight deck under the watchful eye of several armed troopers, Servalan, and Jarvik.

Tarrant stared down a supremely confident Servalan,
“I’d rather face the business end of a poisonous snake.

“As I thought," Servalan cooed, "I shall just have to watch you break.”

Avon stepped forward,
“All right, Servalan, if he won’t, I will. You get it all: Liberator, and Orac.”

“And the time machine,” Servalan smiled as she indicated a black box.

“You know about that?” Avon’s shoulders sagged, “Ensor called it a non dimensional temporal displacer. Very well. Shall we start with that?”

Servalan ran a hand over the device,
“WIth this, I will have ultimate power,” She looked up at Avon, “How does it work?”

“Set your time here, and press the button. Everything in a five foot radius will be displaced. May I suggest a short trip to start, say, ten seconds?”

“As long as you come with us,” Servalan answered.

As Servalan turned the dial, Avon gestured to Jarvik and the guards,
“Everyone in tight.”

Servalan pushed the button. Nothing happened. She looked to Avon.

“Orac, why isn’t it working?” Avon slowly moved towards Orac.

“There is a built in seven second delay,” Orac whirred.

“So there is,” Avon smiled.

Servalan, Jarvik, and the guards vanished. Tarrant ran for the weapon rack,

“Ensor called it non dimensional. I presume that means they will reappear exactly where they dematerialized in ten seconds.”

Avon turned to Zen,
“Zen, is Liberator in a geosynchronous orbit?”


“Which means they will materialize 200 Spacials behind us?" Tarrant paused.

“Because we’re moving, but they aren’t?" Vila ventured.

“Yes,” Tarrant grinned, “End of problem?”

“End of problem,” Avon answered.

“And the end of the Time Machine,” Vila nodded.

“It was useless anyway," Avon shrugged, "Ensor immediately realized what it has taken me months to deduce. Time really is linear. That’s why there was only one dial. You can go forward, you can’t go back. And no time machine can move without a dimensional stabilizer.”

“Zen," Tarrant moved to the pilot station, "lay in a course for Keerzarn. Standard by four.”


GANMINIME - Sorry, everybody. No, really...

“Well, we can at least say we have learned something from this,” said Tarrant loftily. Avon spun round with the speed of a striking snake and began to prowl around the transporter area.
“Might I remind you that when we lost the Liberator, with it went our money, all of our bargaining power, everything except the clothes we were standing up in. Since then we have been unable to afford the luxury of paying the premium price for anything, least of all your ethical principles.”
“But didn’t you think that they were selling those linear stabilisers a little too cheaply? It certainly occurred to me-“
“As you haven’t yet tired of reminding me, and as I remind you, Tarrant, that when spare parts are acquired by dubious means and offered for a good price it doesn’t benefit either side to ask too many questions.”
“The result certainly hasn’t benefited us. The teleport is still malfunctioning and Vila and Soolin are lost,” Tarrant jumped up and began an agitated circuit of his own around the consoles. Dayna turned back to ORAC as it spoke.

“Information: I have pinpointed the signals of the missing bracelets.”
“Finally!” she exclaimed. “It took you long enough. Where are they?”
“It is not merely a matter of where they are, but when. They appear to have landed on Earth in around the sixteenth century, pre-Federation calendar.”
Both men stopped pacing. Tarrant opened his mouth to ask Avon if he was satisfied now, but Dayna cut across him,
“Can you get the communicators working?”
“Of course I can!” Huffed ORAC. Dayna tried Vila’s first, then immediately regretted it.

“Dayna, there you are!” cheered an inebriated voice, “Why don’t you come down? You’d love it. They don’t drink water down here, only wine and beer. The water’s bad for you- what have I said all along? And real wine too, strong, not like that fruit juice on Xenon base. Soolin? Yes, she’s fine... what? No, don’t bring us up yet-“
Vila rematerialised alone and giggling.
“Where’s Soolin?” asked Avon. Vila fumbled for a minute in his jacket and proffered her bracelet, “That’s what I was trying to tell you- she’s not wearing it.”
“Why not?” He snapped.
“Because we ended up playing cards with some fellows down there and I gambled it and lost- but I got it back!” he hastily added as Tarrant advanced on him, “I picked his pocket for it as soon as his back was turned. Look what else I got!” Several rings, coins and a brooch resembling a squashed Brussels sprout clattered out of his other pocket onto the floor. “He reminded me of you, actually-“ Vila's voice tailed off when he saw Avon’s face.

Tarrant moved to the pilot station.
“Soolin’s still down there?” Dayna said pointedly.
“Well you didn’t give me enough time to put the bracelet back on her... all right, all right, put me back down and I’ll get her!”

Dubiously Dayna obeyed. Moments later Vila’s cheery voice chimed in above a background noise of confused and objecting voices.
“Down and shafe... safe... she’s still here, come on lovely lady, put this back on your arm- what’s wrong? No, come on now, gorgeous, we have to go back- oh come on- deady, Rayna!”
There was a shrill whirring and two figures appeared. Vila overbalanced with a tipsy,
“Whoop!” and got to his feet, laughing. Nobody else laughed.
“Where’s Soolin?” This time Tarrant just sounded bewildered. Vila carried on laughing.
“Oh, very funny, Tarrant...”
“Vila, where... is... she?”
“She’s right here, you idiotsic pole!” Vila flung his arm around his fellow teleportee and gave an affectionate waist squeeze, “Mind you, you’ve picked up the smell from down there. Could do with a shower...”
“A shower, sir?” came the response in a voice uncannily unlike Soolin’s.
“Or a bath. Either will do...” Tarrant said, recoiling slightly as the miasma reached him.
“I’ll come and do your back if you like...” Vila leaned in and gigglingly whispered- pausing in surprise at the unexpected scratchiness of a beard.
“No need, Sir, I had a good wash in the Thames just the other year,” he said almost proudly. “And I scrubbed my own back. Found a nice dead rat to do it with-“
“Baldrick?!” exclaimed Vila, recoiling, “I thought you were Soolin!”
“She was sitting on your other side, Sir. Sorry, I tried to tell you-“
“So she’s still down there?”
“She was talking to my Lord Blackadder. He didn’t seem to mind.”
“Soolin doubtless isn’t so thrilled about it,” remarked Avon. Baldrick shrugged,
“She said one sarcastic know-it-all in black leather is the same as another, Sir.”
“Tarrant, get back down there with that-“ words temporarily failed him “- and get Soolin back. And Tarrant...”
“What?” Tarrant was forcefully removing Vila’s bracelet and putting it on himself. Avon looked hard at him.

“Don’t drink the wine!”

LITTLESUE - A Time of Remembrance Past

(Here is the first prompt. I was thinking of something along the lines of The Final Countdown, but Lurena suggested something else as B7 doesn’t really do Time Travel…and after reading her idea this story sort of wrote itself. Sorry it’s gone over, but the keyboard wouldn’t stop tapping and then, of course, Lurena produced yet another of her lovely pictures…..)

It was desolate now; a ruin, destroyed by some outside force.
For Avon, though, what did matter was the fact that some falling masonry had temporarily knocked him out.
He dragged himself up to a sitting position and leant against the wall. His head was still spinning, but for a moment, this room, this suddenly familiar room, was filled with music and laughter.
He tried to clear his head but the music played on.
And then he was standing by the champagne fountain.
He took a proffered glass from the waiter.
These functions were not generally in his line. He preferred his work. And the latest project was causing him headaches.
He wondered if anyone else was feeling the same.
After all, they were all working on the Aquitar Project.
Why was he thinking about that?
Hadn’t Blake worked on that as well?
Had he attended this affair?
He tried to remember, but his head still wouldn’t clear.
“I suppose this isn’t your idea of fun either?” the man next to him asked.
“No. I can think of other important things,” Avon replied.
The man’s face wasn’t clear, but he seemed familiar.
“Still, if the powers that be order an attendance, then who are we to argue?”
“I presume you are working on this…project?”
But the man’s face still seemed out of focus.
“Ah, gentlemen -” The arrival of yet another man, accompanied by his wife, put paid to any other niceties, “My name is Chesku and this is my wife, Sula.”
“I trust you are enjoying the party?” she asked, “I believe both of you gentlemen have a special interest in this project?”
Sula looked at him. Avon shuddered. It was Anna, as she was when they first met. Why had this room taken him back to that time? And still he didn’t know who the faceless man was.
“We do,” Avon said, captivated by her blue eyes, a faint smile dancing in them.
“And you sir?” asked Chesku.
“Amongst other things, yes," the other man replied.
That voice sounded so familiar.
“My wife seems to have a special interest in you; perhaps you could explain exactly what the project entails?”
“Of course.”
“Maybe we will meet again. Avon, isn’t it?” Sula smiled at Avon.
“Yes,” he stammered, as the reply caught in his throat.
And then she was gone, arm in arm with the faceless man. A man whose name he didn’t know.
She seemed so interested in him.
But why?
The man turned round to say his farewells as he escorted Sula and Chesku out of the room.
It was Blake.
If only Avon had known then what he knew now, He could have warned Blake about this Sula.
But it was too late.
For both he and Blake.
Sula would become Anna in his arms, Anna, the playful nickname from her childhood: so she said.
The room spun again...
And then Blake was there, in front of him, a concerned look on his face.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” Avon replied shrugging off Blake’s helping hand.
“You know, this place seems familiar, but I can’t place it.”
“Leave it Blake," Avon got his feet, "It was a long time ago.”
“Forget it Blake. I already have…..”

Link to Lurena's illustration

LITTLESUE - What kind of Fool…

(And for the second prompt….a heart warming story (sorry,went over the limit, again) with another piccie by Lurena.)

“I’m a fool,” declared the desolate man standing beside Vila.
“I know the feeling,” replied Vila, “I just don’t understand how I get dragged into all these so-called meetings and alliances.”
“You don’t understand, "the man sighed, "I thought I could beat him.”
“Beat who?”
“Him. Ricardo. They warned me, but I wouldn’t listen. He’s the best, they said, but I had to prove them wrong. I’ve lost everything, including my pride. And all because I wouldn’t listen.”
The sorrowful man downed the last of his drink and gazed wearily into the bottom of the glass,
“A complete and utter fool, that’s me…”
“This Ricardo. He’s the best at what?”
“Cards. He must be a card counter or something. I thought I had him…but no. How do you explain to your family that you’ve thrown away their future?”
“Where exactly is this Ricardo?” Vila turned round and surveyed the ill lit room.
“Why, you fancy your chances?”
“I’m not sure. Just point him out to me…”

“Vila, I don’t know what you’re planning,” Cally began, “But we are supposed to be waiting for Blake.”
“He’ll be ages yet. Look. I just need you to…”
“Cheat. You want me to tell you what cards this Ricardo has in his hand.”
“I’ve just watched a couple of games and something isn’t right. I think he has someone like you helping him.”
“Another Auron? We wouldn’t stoop to such a level.”
“Maybe not a telepath then, but just come and look. Please.”

A reluctant Cally found herself in, what she considered to be, the den of iniquity.
She and Vila had watched from afar as Ricardo had drawn some unsuspecting victims in with easy wins and then gone for the jugular and taken every single one for every credit they had.
It was not a pretty sight as yet another man left the table, empty handed and minus his dignity.
“Come on,“ shouted Ricardo, “Is there anyone else fool enough to take me on?”

“Yes,” said Vila, stepping into the pool of light that hung above the table, “I will.”
//No Vila// Cally’s voice echoed in his head.

The money in the middle of the table was piled high.
This was to be the final hand.
Winner takes all.
Vila felt a light touch on his shoulder.
It wasn’t Cally as she was standing directly behind Ricardo, supposedly in awe of his skill.
//You are right, Vila, Mr Ricardo is indeed getting a helping hand. That was one of them.//
Vila didn’t take his eyes off his cards, but listened intently as Cally told him exactly what the man was holding.
Ricardo smiled.
“I call…”
Vila slowly laid out his cards. He had made sure that at least one of those in his hand had been hidden from view.
Ricardo’s face was a picture.
“Mine, I believe,” Vila said, pulling the stash of credits towards him.
“Do you think I’m a fool?” blurted Ricardo.
“No, but you took me as one. What do they say? A fool and his money are soon parted? Not in this case.”
So saying, Vila began to walk away, laden with his not so misgotten gains.
The desolate man at the bar stared in disbelief as Vila handed him most of the winnings.
“Make sure the others get their money back as well, will you?” Vila smiled.
“Yes, sure. Thank you - thank you so much.”
“Vila,” Cally said, “I’m so proud of you.”
“Just don’t tell the others. I’d never live it down.”
Link to Lurena's illustration