Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...

Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...

Other sites:

:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::

I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.

August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004]

If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.

The Poppy Tales

(Transformers fanfiction!)

Transformers mini-comics here.











I'm a Member of 

UK Veg Gardeners!


My IMDb ep summaries

(completed)
Arthur of the Britons
Sky
Star Maidens
The Starlost
Space Rangers
The Sentinel (part: seasons 2 and 3)
Swamp Thing (part: season 3)
Gravedale High
Transformers: Armada
Transformers: Energon
Transformers: Cybertron (part)
Misfits of Science (four eps)
Zoo Gang
Zodiac
Jupiter Moon
Transformers: Beast Wars (part: seasons 2 and 3)
Transformers: Beast Machines (part)
Vampire Princess Miyu
Starhyke
Nathan Barley
No Heroics
Undermind (3 eps)
Will Shakespeare (Tim Curry version)
Nightwalker
12 Kingdoms
Trigun (ep 8)
Rayearth
Hyperdrive (season 2 ep 3)

For later:

Earthian
Dragonball Z (season 2, part)
(Someone else beat me to it!)
Robotech (s2 ep14 Triumvirate)
BBC Lion, witch and wardrobe
BBC Caspian and Dawn Treader
BBC Silver Chair
Beauty and the Beast (part)
(Missing Excel Saga eps)
(Missing Haibane Renme eps)
(And possibly Marine Boy...)


Silver birch at Eastwood 

Farm

"Autumnal - nothing to do with leaves. It is to do with a certain brownness at the edges of the day... Brown is creeping up on us, take my word for it... Russets and tangerine shades of old gold flushing the very outside edge of the senses... deep shining ochres, burnt umber and parchments of baked earth - reflecting on itself and through itself, filtering the light. At such times, perhaps, coincidentally, the leaves might fall, somewhere..."

(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Act 2: Tom Stoppard)

Autumn...

I love this time of year. I love the colours, the sharp slant of sunlight on the trees, mosaics of acid-yellow and harts- blood, velvet and darkness and a haze of mist-grey over the hills. I love its immanence, its mellowness, the tang of frost just around the corner of the year...

Watching the little birds in the goat-willow in my garden, I realised something more.

I love this land with a fierce, possessive love, deep-rooted in two thousand years of history. From the frosted beaches and cloud-brushing peaks of the north to the wind-haunted meanderings of the rivers of the east, from the sensuous rolling patchworked hills of the south to the demanding dark moors of the west, this land seeps into bone and blood and synapse, mother of motley nobility, culture, individual freedoms. It can be known. It can be understood. It can be felt deep inside.

I love its effortless eccentricities, its vigour and vibrancy, its flawed perfections, its silent strength and tenacious resilience, its hard-won tolerances and intense and variable beauty, the profound energy in its sacred mythical landscape.

Home and more-than-home, the forces that shape and protect and bind, in me, as I am in the land. Love returning love in the stillness for those who'll only take the time to listen...

(Joules, Autumn 2004)


All photographs taken by Joules unless otherwise specified. All photographs © Joules A Taylor or other specified individual.


In Memoriam

17.03.09 - Argent

25.07.08 - Raptor

18.12.07 - Quyn

02.12.06 - Ryme


Currently enjoying:
Muse
Transformers - IDW, Prime, Animated, Rescue Bots.

Currently reading:
Various Transformers books and graphic novels.



Currently working on:
Heart, The Poppy Tales

Currently chuffed with:
My garden

Currently miffed at:
Nestlé, Nonpres Tinyhands Fart, Toadface Farage

Currently maintaining:
BCHS
BCP


Blog Pics
I've gathered some of my pages of photos together: the page of links is here. I'll be adding more as time goes by!




Evil Squid
A Little Glossary of Taylorspeke
(in no particular order)

plit popints - n. Typo for 'plot points' typed on a keyboard with more than half the characters worn off...

[PING] (alt [ping]) - n. A brainwave. The text equivalent of a lightbulb going on blindingly over someone's head. Usually mine. And usually at the most inconvenient of times. [sigh]

TPTB - The Powers That Be.

wulmet - n. A person of little or no talent who somehow inveigles himself into a position where he is in power over other, far more talented people and uses his position to downplay them in order to try to make himself feel superior.

biteable - referring to an anatomical part vb, tasty.

Flatterfed - vb. 27.02.08: my typo for flattered, but since it's so cutely apt I thought it would fit nicely here. Lutra defined it as "the lovely warm feeling of satisfaction resulting from enthusiastic reviews..." (which I've been getting for my MB fics).

Composted - vb, 'compos mentis', mentally capable of working. Contrast with uncomposted or non- composted, not 'compos mentis', not capable of working, hungover...

Cumbles - n, cucumbers.

Kewp - how Ken says 'thank you'. We rather like Lutra's 'nanx', too...

Musekick - noun, music, without which I cannot work.

'feinne - noun, caffeine, essential for correct mental functioning, especially first thing in the morning. I prefer mine in the form of SodaStream Diet Coke. And on that subject...

Skoosh - verb, noun. To skoosh - to add CO2 to a sodastream bottle filled with water to make it fizzy, prior to adding Diet Coke syrup (or just drinking as sparkling water). A skoosh - a bottle of water that has been skooshed. Skooshy - something that has been skooshed, water, or that whipped cream that comes in tins you have to shake then upend and press the nozzle...

Shoogle - verb. To shake gently, for example, of roast potatoes in a roasting tin to ensure they're covered with oil. I have vague memories of this being a real Scottish colloquialism...

Stegasaurus - n, spider of the genus tegenaria. Why? No idea. I just find it easier, that's all...
Edit 08.09.07: Lutra thinks that Brian is a good name for a mini-stegasaurus. From now on, any 'Brian's in the posts may be assumed to be a tegenaria. Except where otherwise specified.

Viterals - noun, vitamins + minerals. Also a pun on victuals.

Splish - verb. A combination of slosh and splash.

Parrots - noun, paracetemol (from the old joke "Why are there no aspirin tablets in the jungle? Because the parrots eat 'em all...")

Maggles - noun, magpies. As opposed to non-magical people.

Flamewings - noun. Swifts. So called because the first time we became aware of them was an early summer evening when they were flying high, the light from the setting sun seemingly turning their wings to flames. Lovely little birds. We always know summer's arrived when we hear their high-pitched squeeing.

Murfs - noun, moths.

Peasant cut - noun, roughly cut up into big chunks, e.g. vegetables chopped in a hurry for a hearty stew or soup. By extension, anything prepared in a hurry - haircut, material, even a first draft of a story...

Giraffe - noun, a carafe (of wine, coffee or water, for example).

Shrumps - noun, mushrooms.

Splings - noun, Kai's spelling homework: by extension, any spelling.

Tyops - noun, typos. var toyps, typso, psyto, psoyt, etc. Usual result of a dose of the fingerials (see next entry).

Fingerials - (pr. fin GEEE ree yalls) noun, fingers that will not type what you want them to.

Haddock - noun, time, of which I never have enough. (Origin of this term here.)

Sleep - noun? vb? a.k.a. sheeeeeeeeep.... I used to know what this word meant...


The Updates Blog

The place to stay notified of WaveWrights' Fiction updates: Zone, Darkside, DarkRealm, Matrix, Vault, Safehouse 13...




my computer gremlin Butch. click the pic to see the larger image

Butch, my computer gremlin. Click the pic for larger version, and read his adventures here...

Butch by the talented 

Sylverthorne

A gift for me! Butch by the very talented Sylverthorne. Click pic for larger image.

Joules' 

Haddock

This is MY haddock. It was caught exclusively for me by Talon. No, you can't have any. I need all the haddock I can get!!



A'lestrel by 

Valkyrie.

A'lestrel - a gift for me from Valkyrie...



Kood, my new mp3 

player.

Soundwave! (Kood's still moving in...)


Albino Alsatian Benten (c) MEBird 

2004

Another gorgeous Valkyrie gift for me - Benten the Albino Alsatian! Click thumbnail for larger image.

Radittsu, an oekaki for my birthday 04 

by 

Onna

Oekai by Bakayaro Onna - Radittsu at his sexiest...



I now have an Amazon wish list - find it here. But please be warned most of the things on it are yaoi. If you don't like yaoi, or don't know what it is, you probably won't want to take a look.




The Zone Plant from
The Zone 

blog 

plant

OrganicHTML (which alas no longer seems to exist...)
[::..My Regular Reads..::]
:: Astronomical Pic of the Day [>]
:: What is Space... [>]
:: Dark Roasted Blend [>]
:: BLDG [>]
:: Pruned [>]
:: Watchismo Times [>]
:: Fundies say the darnedest things [>]
(Warning. This site is likely to have you screaming with laughter, shaking your head in sheer disbelief, or weeping for the future of your species. Often all three at the same time. I disclaim any responsiblity for any harm suffered by anyone who visits...)
[::..Fun Places..::]
::HubbleSite
Stunning...
::PALEOMAP Project
Absolutely fascinating.
::The Hacker Dictionary
Hackers with Humour!
:: Carol's Place
My GoodTwin's Homepage!
:: Skymap
Check out the night sky where you are!
[::..Useful Sites..::]
:: GreenNet
First stop for environmental matters
:: MailWasher
Excellent anti-spam software
:: About Bristol
The essential guide - and beautifully user-friendly too!
:: The Forest of Avon
Our local community forest and places to visit
:: The Guardian
Online Guardian Newspaper.
:: ZSPC Colour Chart
Check how your text and background colours look together before releasing them on the world!
:: Symbols
Exactly what it says
:: World Timeserver
For checking the current time around this world
:: Universal Currency Converter
Actually it's just a terran-global currency converter, not universal, but it's still useful...
:: Union of Concerned Scientists
Exactly what it says. Fascinating - and worrying...

So what is it with the haddock? Am I some kind of fish freak?

I'll leave that to others to decide.

The tale (or tail if you prefer) harks back to October 2000, when my GoodTwin and I, ably assisted by Sue, ran the first UK Professionals convention...
It's common knowledge that I never have enough time, and I was determined not to bewail the fact that weekend: hence I promised not to use the 'T' word...
Of course, that didn't really work (if nothing else I had to let the trainees know what times things were supposed to be happening!) so we decided a substitute word would be employed instead. There were several suggestions. Banana came very close to being chosen. However, I eventually decided that 'haddock' fitted the bill nicely. Ever since, haddock=time. Hence the title of my forthcoming autobiography,
My Half-Life in the Haddock Space Continuum....


Normally I wouldn't, but these were just irresistible...

How could I resist?

Just too adorable...

and to complete the rainbow...

These Too-Kawaii Kitties
were adopted from
Ghost's Anime Page (which appears to have disappeared, alas...)

[::..Anime/Manga..::]
Useful sites:

Yamato -
Fabulous anime figures

Anime Lyrics
A huge selection... evil popups

Anime still needed to complete series' I'm collecting... Many thanks to everyone who has helped me acquire the collection!
Ai no Kusabi

Owned:
   DVD
   Dj: June Special
   CD: Ambivalence

Cyber City Oedo 808

Owned:
   DVD
   All 3 eps on Video, dubbed
   Dj: Cyberage 1-3
   Illustrated Book 2 (Benten's) in Japanese

From Eroica with Love

Owned:
   Manga Vols 1, 9, 11

Mirage of Blaze

Owned:
   DVD Vol 1 (eps 1-4)

R.G. Veda

Owned:
   English Manga: Vol 1
   Japanese Manga: Vol 1-7 complete
   Tarot Pack
   R.G.Veda video

Twelve Kingdoms

Owned:
   Anime Vol 1-12: complete

Under the Glass Moon

Owned:
   Manga Vol 1, 2
Vol 3 needed

Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust

Owned:
   DVD

   Vampire Hunter D Book 1



New Vampire Miyu

Owned:
   (Studio Ironcat) Manga Vols 1 -5 (complete)


Yami no Matsuei

Owned:
   Viz Manga: English translation, Vols 1 - 11 (complete: I believe vol 12 is only available online)
   Japanese 3-DVD set
   Central Park Media: Descendants of Darkness Vol. 1, English/Japanese subbed.
   Sketchbook


[::..Joules SPfied..::]


... this is Terra? How the hell'd I end up here...?

(Thanks, Lutra, for the quote!)

[::..archive..::]
07/01/2002 - 07/31/2002
08/01/2002 - 08/31/2002
09/01/2002 - 09/30/2002
10/01/2002 - 10/31/2002
11/01/2002 - 11/30/2002
12/01/2002 - 12/31/2002
01/01/2003 - 01/31/2003
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
04/01/2003 - 04/30/2003
05/01/2003 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/30/2003
07/01/2003 - 07/31/2003
08/01/2003 - 08/31/2003
09/01/2003 - 09/30/2003
10/01/2003 - 10/31/2003
11/01/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
01/01/2004 - 01/31/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/01/2004 - 03/31/2004
04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004
05/01/2004 - 05/31/2004
06/01/2004 - 06/30/2004
07/01/2004 - 07/31/2004
08/01/2004 - 08/31/2004
09/01/2004 - 09/30/2004
10/01/2004 - 10/31/2004
11/01/2004 - 11/30/2004
12/01/2004 - 12/31/2004
01/01/2005 - 01/31/2005
02/01/2005 - 02/28/2005
03/01/2005 - 03/31/2005
04/01/2005 - 04/30/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/31/2005
06/01/2005 - 06/30/2005
07/01/2005 - 07/31/2005
08/01/2005 - 08/31/2005
09/01/2005 - 09/30/2005
10/01/2005 - 10/31/2005
11/01/2005 - 11/30/2005
12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005
01/01/2006 - 01/31/2006
02/01/2006 - 02/28/2006
03/01/2006 - 03/31/2006
04/01/2006 - 04/30/2006
05/01/2006 - 05/31/2006
06/01/2006 - 06/30/2006
07/01/2006 - 07/31/2006
08/01/2006 - 08/31/2006
09/01/2006 - 09/30/2006
10/01/2006 - 10/31/2006
11/01/2006 - 11/30/2006
12/01/2006 - 12/31/2006
01/01/2007 - 01/31/2007
02/01/2007 - 02/28/2007
03/01/2007 - 03/31/2007
04/01/2007 - 04/30/2007
05/01/2007 - 05/31/2007
06/01/2007 - 06/30/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/31/2007
08/01/2007 - 08/31/2007
09/01/2007 - 09/30/2007
10/01/2007 - 10/31/2007
11/01/2007 - 11/30/2007
12/01/2007 - 12/31/2007
01/01/2008 - 31/01/2008
01/02/2008 - 29/02/2008
03/01/2008 - 31/03/2008
01/04/2008 - 04/30/2008
01/05/2008 - 31/05/2008
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01/09/2008 - 30/09/2008
01/10/2008 - 31/10/2008
01/11/2008 - 31/11/2008
01/12/2008 - 31/12/2008
01/12/2008 - 31/12/2008
01/01/2009 - 31/01/2009
01/02/2009 - 28/02/2009
01/03/2009 - 31/03/2009
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01/01/2010 - 31/01/2010
01/02/2010 - 28/02/2010
01/03/2010 - 31/03/2010
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01/05/2010 - 31/05/2010
01/06/2010 - 30/06/2010
01/07/2010 - 31/07/2010
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01/11/2010 - 31/11/2010
01/12/2010 - 31/12/2010
01/01/2011 - 31/01/2011
01/02/2011 - 28/02/2011
01/03/2011 - 31/03/2011
01/04/2011 - 30/04/2011
01/05/2011 - 31/05/2011
01/06/2011 - 30/06/2011
01/07/2011 - 31/07/2011
01/08/2011 - 31/08/2011
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01/11/2011 - 30/11/2011
01/12/2011 - 31/12/2011
01/01/2012 - 31/01/2012
01/02/2012 - 28/02/2012
01/03/2012 - 31/03/2012
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01/08/2012 - 31/08/2012
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01/10/2012 - 31/10/2012
01/11/2012 - 30/11/2012
01/12/2012 - 31/12/2012
01/01/2013 - 31/01/2013
01/02/2013 - 28/02/2013
01/03/2013 - 31/03/2013
01/04/2013 - 30/04/2013
01/05/2013 - 31/05/2013
01/06/2013 - 31/06/2013
01/07/2013 - 31/07/2013
01/08/2013 - 31/08/2013
01/09/2013 - 30/09/2013
01/10/2013 - 31/10/2013
01/11/2013 - 30/11/2013
01/12/2013 - 31/12/2013
01/01/2014 - 31/01/2014
01/02/2014 - 28/02/2014
01/03/2014 - 31/03/2014
01/04/2014 - 30/04/2014
01/05/2014 - 31/05/2014
01/06/2014 - 31/06/2014
01/07/2014 - 31/07/2014
01/08/2014 - 31/08/2014
01/09/2014 - 31/09/2014
01/10/2014 - 31/10/2014
01/11/2014 - 30/11/2014
01/12/2014 - 31/12/2014
01/01/2015 - 31/01/2015
01/02/2015 - 28/02/2015
01/03/2015 - 31/03/2015
01/04/2015 - 30/04/2015
01/05/2015 - 31/05/2015
01/06/2015 - 30/06/2015
01/07/2015 - 31/07/2015
01/08/2015 - 31/08/2015
01/09/2015 - 30/09/2015
01/10/2015 - 31/10/2015
01/11/2015 - 31/11/2015
01/12/2015 - 31/12/2015
01/01/2016 - 31/01/2016
01/022016 - 28/02/2016
01/03/2016 - 31/03/2016
01/04/2016 - 31/04/2016
01/05/2016 - 31/05/2016
01/06/2016 - 30/06/2016
01/07/2016 - 31/07/2016
01/08/2016 - 31/08/2016
01/09/2016 - 31/09/2016
01/10/2016 - 31/10/2016
01/11/2016 - 31/11/2016
01/12/2016 - 31/12/2016
01/01/2017 - 31/01/2017
01/02/2017 - 28/02/2017

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bonus post - Devices, Too part 4.

(For anyone new, the story starts with Appliances and continues with Devices, Too...)

Part 4 - Outside

A couple of hours later Poppy flopped down at the kitchen table, winced as her back made contact with the chair, and took a long swallow of her cooling coffee. Chill shook his head. None of her charges were able to make much in the way of facial expressions but in the last year she'd become something of an expert at reading their body language and overall attitude: Chill was a little alarmed.
     "Are you all right?"
     "I will be." Poppy rubbed at the back of her neck. "But I'd appreciate it if you could have a word with Grunt. I'm not a soldier, I can't be expected to do their workouts!"
     The multigym had turned out to be a bit of a tyrant, insisting on her using him at least once a day, and continually upping his programme. Poppy had tried resisting, but he was stubborn, and followed her around the house until she gave in. And since he had turned out to be particularly clumsy, unless she wanted half the furnishings broken she was pretty much forced to do as he wanted. So far it hadn't been too bad, and she'd been feeling the benefits in increased stamina and flexibility, but it was time now to grab back control before everything got out of hand.
     Chill nodded understandingly. "'Spin and I will have words with him. If matters don't improve, we can always have him seconded to one of the NEST bases." He paused in thought, then inclined his head. "That might actually be a better idea. The soldiers there would get more benefit from him than you ever could. When do you speak to Agent Graham next?"
     "He asked me to contact him after I get back from the pub."
     "Then I suggest you mention it to him this afternoon."
     Poppy nodded, a little reluctantly.
     "It'd probably be for the best, though it feels like I'm failing Grunt..."
     Chill shook his head.
     "Not at all, Poppy. He'd be a lot more useful, and a lot happier, somewhere he feels he has more purpose."
     Poppy considered it, then smiled.
     "I suppose so. Thanks, Chill."
     "You're welcome. May I get your breakfast?"
     "I'd rather you tell me what that business was this morning at the crack of dawn. What's energon?"
     "Our lifeblood."
     Poppy blinked.
     "You what? Seriously?"
     "Yes. It fuels and feeds us."
     She considered that for a moment then frowned.
     "But... You've never said anything about it before. And I thought you used solar power for fuel..."
     "Solar power can be converted into energon. It's easy enough for we smaller transformers. But the larger ones - especially those with vehicular modes and weapons - require a lot more than can be simply gathered from sunlight."
     "Ah, I see. That makes sense. So the energon in the garage is just for 'Beat?"
     "Primarily. Though if he's willing to share, we'd all welcome a little. Energon has a certain... pleasurable effect if one hasn't had any for a while. If I've understood it correctly, it's a little like human alcohol."
     Poppy stared, then waved her hands.
     "Oh god... I don't want drunk robots running loose! Can you imagine what Muncher would do?"
     Chill made the sound she'd come to associate with him chuckling.
     "No, it's nothing like that. Well, not for us - I can't vouch for our larger colleagues. We just become... mellow is probably the best way of putting it."
     "You sure?" At Chill's nod, Poppy breathed a sigh of relief. "Well, OK then. But I'll hold you to that!"
     "Of course..."
     There was a moment's silence, then,
     "So if that's energon in the big tanks, what's in the others?"
     "Coolant in the smaller tanks, additive-rich refined energon in the drums, and medical-grade oil with added nanites in the can. That's one of Ratchet's specials: it'll help protect Upbeat's exterior and heal any little scratches he may pick up. It's different from the medical nanites, for general use rather than for injuries."
     Poppy grinned.
     "He thinks of everything!"
     "Ratchet is rather good."
     "What does the refined stuff do?"
     "It acts as lubrication. Your planet's surface has an astonishing amount of irritants. They're not too much of a nuisance for us, but for the vehicles... most aggravating, if not actually painful."
     Poppy nodded thoughtfully, chin propped in her hand, and gazed at Chill.
     "You're well-educated, aren't you? What were you? You know, back on Cybertron."
     He stilled, staring at her, then lowered his head, shoulders bowed.
     "I was training as... your equivalent would be a cross between architect, electrical engineer and metallurgist. I wanted to specialise in creating versatile, self-sustaining domiciles..." His voice tailed off and he shrugged. "Then the war came..."
     Poppy bit her lip, regretting she'd asked.
     "I'm sorry."
     He raised his head and regarded her sadly.
     "So am I." The brilliant light of his eyes faded for a moment, something she'd come to associate with them closing, then brightened again as he straightened. "But I'm alive, unlike so many of my colleagues. I may even be able to resume my studies, one day. And in the meantime - this is not such a bad life."

Steamy was agitated.
     "But Poppy! That sort of food isn't good for you!"
     "Just once isn't going to do me any harm."
     "But I've read so much about how bad pub grub is for you."
     "Yes, if you eat it all the time." She was trying to be patient. She knew they all had her best interests at heart - no, they had sparks instead of hearts, didn't they - but honestly! Even her fussy aunt Veronica hadn't been this pernickety. And even 'Spin, who usually took her side when such issues were mooted, wasn't helping.
     "But we've heard terrible thingth about what cholethterol doeth to your bodieth. And alcohol! You could have a heart attack! Liver failure! Obethity! You could die..."
     Oh for... Poppy took a deep breath and gazed around at the worried forms of the assembled transformers. "Those things take years to happen. You all know I'm healthy - you've all been making sure of that! All I'm going to do is have one little meal at the pub. Just one. I will be fine."
     "You promith?"
     Poppy nodded.
     "I promise. We'll be back in a couple of hours or so and tonight I'll eat whatever you think would be best for me. How's that sound?"
     'Spin grumbled. "It'll do, I thuppothe."
     "Great. Now, if you'll excuse me, 'Beat is waiting. Chill's in charge 'til I get back."

Poppy sat back, her hands loosely on the wheel, and just let 'Beat drive. The radio station he'd chosen today played rather more recent music than his usual golden oldies, but also avoided what passed for pop these days. She wasn't surprised when he took the scenic route, the narrow road winding through autumnal countryside.
     "This is nice."
     "Thought y'd like it. Your planet is very pretty."
     She grinned and settled a little more deeply into her seat with a contented sigh, happy to ride without words for a few minutes.
     But her curiosity wouldn't let her stay quiet for long.
      "So... How often do you need to refuel - and do I need to help you with it?"
     The Mini juddered for a second, on the verge of stalling, then the forward motion smoothed out again before Poppy could ask what was wrong.
     "Nah. Can feed meself. Might need a hand with th'oil, though. Can't reach me back."
     "Hm. Do you need it in both your forms?"
     "'s useful in both. If you don't mind."
     "Of course not. I want you to feel comfortable."
     "Ta. Maybe when we get back?" It was tentative, and Poppy chuckled.
     "OK." She peered forward. Through the trees ahead she could make out a building. "Is that it?"
     "Yup."
     Moments later 'Beat pulled into an area that was more paddock than car park. Framed by trees a short distance away was an ancient and rather unprepossessing building, blocky, its roof thatched, its windows small. The sign was so faded as to be almost illegible: Poppy could just make out 'The King's Head'.
     "Blimey. Which king?"
     There was a moment's silence, presumably while 'Beat accessed information, then,
     "Charles the second, I think."
     History wasn't Poppy's favourite subject.
     "So how old is it?"
     "Middle 1700s. Was old coaching house."
     Poppy frowned.
     "It's a bit off the beaten track for a coaching house, isn't it?"
     She almost felt 'Beat shrug.
     "Not me place to criticise human ways..."
     Poppy grinned and opened the door.
     "So, how do I recognise Lightdance?"
     "He's over in th'corner at th'end of th'bar."
     "OK, thanks. I shouldn't be too long."
     "Don't mind me. You enjoy y'rself."

There were only a handful of people in the pub, the owners of the four other cars parked outside, presumably. They glanced up as she entered, as people are wont to do in half-empty pubs, then resumed their quiet conversations as Poppy approached the bar. The middle-aged, motherly-looking woman behind the counter smiled.
     "Ullo love. First visit?" Poppy nodded. "Going to be eating?"
     "Please." She took the offered menu card, asked for a half-pint of local cider, then, her eyes finally adapting to the dimness inside the room, ran her gaze to the corner at the end of the bar.
     And blinked. Apparently Lightdance's alternative form was a jukebox. She was anything but a connoisseur, but the machine looked like an original - and was very pretty. She moved closer, admiring the smooth curves, the broad, stylised glittery petal effect at the base, the chunky design. The sign on the front read Wurlizter. And ye gods, it still played actual records!
     "Aren't you a beauty?" She murmured, touching the glass front.
     Lightdance twinkled at her. She inclined her head.
     "Hello. I'm Poppy."
     "In't she grand?" Poppy jumped and looked over her shoulder. The barmaid was hovering behind her, cider-filled half-pint mug in hand.
     "It's lovely! I didn't know you could still get ones that play vinyl."
     "Not many left outside museums, these days."
     "I'd love one. I don't suppose it's for sale?"
      "No, love, 'fraid not."
     Poppy grinned.
     "No harm in asking. If you ever do decide to sell, can I have first refusal?"
     "If you like." She handed Poppy a notepad and pen. "Give us your name and phone number and I'll tell the boss."
     Poppy obliged, then took her drink to a table close to the jukebox and had a look at the menu. Ploughman's lunch, fish and chips, baked spud with an assortment of toppings... Her mouth watered. Healthy food was all very well as standard fare, but sometimes you just had to indulge in something deliciously naughty.
     Ooh, steak and ale pie with chips and mushy peas! Perfect!
     Steamy would have a fit. Perhaps better not tell him...
     She gave her order at the bar then stood in front of Lightdance, ostensibly taking a look at what music was on offer while speaking very quietly to the transformer.
     "'Beat tells me you're a friend. I suppose he's told you about me. I'm here to say hello and invite you to join us."
     With a whir and a click, without being touched the jukebox slid a record into place, and seconds later the warm strains of a clarinet drifted across the room. The barmaid smiled as she carried Poppy's lunch to her table.
     "Ah, 'Stranger on the Shore'... somehow that one always gets played. Enjoy your lunch, love. Let me know if you need anything."
     'Stranger on the Shore'. Somehow that seemed highly appropriate...

The meal was delicious and filling, and Poppy treated herself to another cider (though only because she knew 'Beat would be driving back), while Lightdance regaled the pub in general and Poppy in particular with a variety of melodic old songs. Poppy recognised 'World Without Love', 'Aquarius' and 'Exodus', but most of the rest were unfamiliar. Though no less delightful for that, and somehow very fitting in the ancient low-ceilinged room with the smoke-darkened beams overhead. Poppy leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, soaking up the atmosphere.
     "Everything OK love?"
     Poppy opened her eyes and nodded as the barmaid lifted her empty plate.
     "That was really good, thanks."
     "Glad you enjoyed it. Can I get you anything else? Pudding, maybe?"
     Poppy considered it, but the meal had been of the usual generous pub quantities and she really was rather full.
     "Next time. I'll make sure I order something a bit smaller!"
     The barmaid chuckled.
     "Right you are!"
     Poppy swallowed the last of her cider and, with one last smile and gentle pat to the jukebox, paid for her meal and exited the pub.

'Beat opened the door for her and reminded her to put on her seatbelt as she slid behind the wheel. She slapped lightly at the dashboard.
     "What's all the fuss for?"
     "Eh, you've had a drink. Can't be too careful..."
     She considered remonstrating, but it was too much effort. Chuckling, she directed the Mini to take them home.
     'Beat took the direct route this time, and after a couple of minutes said carefully,
     "Lightdance liked you."
     "Oh good. I liked him too. Wonderful choice of music."
     "'e's not sure 'e wants t'leave th'pub though."
     Poppy sighed.
     "I can understand why. Though I'd love to have him join us."
     'Beat was silent for a moment., then asked, tentatively,
     "Pr'aps we can go back again, in a couple o' days? See if e's changed 'is mind?"
     "I think that's a very good idea. Thursday lunchtime it is."



© JAT Oct 2011

[grump] Sue sent me an email earlier...

Browsing the latest catalogue from my friendly bookseller, this caught my eye… [g]
Alan Dean Foster : Codgerspace
Severn House 1994
"THE TOASTERS WERE REVOLTING . . . . . as were the lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and just about every other household appliance imaginable... Now an alien threat to man and machine has put the fate of the galaxy in the unlikely hands of five senior citizens - and their brave little food processor... "

There's nowt new under the sun. I've never heard of this (though it does sound fun): the Poppy Tales are based on the Bayverse Tfs. (And looking at the date, I wonder if the original Tfs were inspirational... Probably not.)

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Busyness. Up at 7.15, two pages of Poppy24 (Devices, Too part 4) written before heading off to the doctor (blood tests, one to check auto-immune system, t'other to check for rheumatoid arthritis), then to dentist (had a letter on Saturday saying they'd cancelled today's appointment, which was when I was supposed to get the cap fitted on the broken molar: when I got there it was my Nov 14th check-up that had been cancelled... [sigh])

Back down the hill and a Tesco shop: back for a very quick lunch then back up the hill for the dentist (via Wilkinson and provisions for the birds). The repair is silver coloured amalgam, but it's right at the back and can't easily be seen. I'm just happy to have the tooth repaired and no sharp edges jabbing into my tongue. As a bonus, I don't need a check up now until next April. And the dentist is contacting the dental hospital again to urge an appointment, as the front root canal is now just a constant ache (under control at the moment as I'm taking the 'prufen and parrots for my hand. Ye gods, it's an analgesic balancing act!)

Then it was making dinner, carving the pumpkin oh blast I forgot to take a photo sorry about that (we did a cat's face), dealing with all the trick or treaters, and then we watched The Adjustment Bureau on Filmflex (intriguing film, very stylish, got a little too religious at the end for my liking).

And now I'm settling down to get Poppy24 finished. Not too far to go and I can post.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cakes


Food porn for Lutra...

There was a Samhain Love Food Festival at the Paintworks today - I treated us to these deliciously lush cakes. Anti-clockwise from top: chocolate and vanilla (with sugar ghost), chocolate caramel, raspberry ripple, apple crumble, blackberry and apple, pumpkin spice. Omnomnom.

Back to Devices, Too in a bit.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weston-super-mare

Well, the weather was supposed to be OK today, at least until 2 p.m., so we headed off to Weston-super-Mare.

Alas, it started raining before the bus reached the town, but stopped again when we arrived, so at least it was dry while we were walking (went right along the seafront to the dunes at the far - southern - end. Photo is from there looking back to the centre). Debated having a go on the big wheel but it's £6.50 each so gave up on that idea. It was nice to get out of Briz for a few hours, and the wind up the Severn estuary is always bracing!

Next Devices, Too part now plotted out in my head: will make a start tonight.

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Aaaand the next part of Devices, Too...

(For anyone new, the story starts with Appliances and continues with Devices, Too...)

Part 3 – Hideaway

The roses were just so pretty, so fragrant – and Graham was sparkling in the moonlight...
     Poppy frowned as a soft voice intruded, drifting across her dreaming mind.
     "Poppy? I'm sorry, but you have to wake up. There's someone at the door and they don't want to go away..."
     Groggily, Poppy forced open her eyes to see her 'radio alarm clock' – a sweet little cat-like transformer who went by the designation of Livewire and who made it a point of honour to always wake her as gently as possible – gazing at her apologetically. She groaned and rubbed her eyes.
     "Wassa time?"
     "An obscenely early 4.30 a.m."
     "Bugger..." She hauled herself more or less upright and shoved hair away from her face. Livewire started playing soothing music, and awkwardly pushed a freshly brewed cup of coffee within reach. Not for the first time Poppy silently thanked whatever was looking after her that one of her wards was a coffee-maker with a timer: she was useless without that first cup of coffee...
     As the caffeine hit her system she became aware of the noise from the front door – a prolonged ringing of the bell, followed after a space of about ten seconds by several firm raps on the metal door knocker, a pattern that repeated after another few seconds. Whoever it was was obviously not going to be put off by the non-responsiveness within, and Poppy dragged herself from the bed, pulled on a floor-length fluffy purple dressing gown that almost swamped her – last year's birthday present from her mother – and managed to get down the stairs without tripping, distantly relieved to see that all her charges were acting human-normal, silent and dumb.
     She opened the front door, gazing blearily at the figure outside, then, with some alarm, jerked upright.
     "What's happened?"
     The soldier smiled in a conciliatory fashion.
     "I'm really sorry to have to wake you, ma'am... uh, Ms Moss. I know it's early, but I really have to be in Southampton in a couple of hours..."
     Poppy waved a hand vaguely at him.
     "S'OK. S'there a problem?"
      "No, but I've been ordered to make the energon delivery."
     Poppy stared blankly.
     "The what?"
     And suddenly Chill and 'Spin were there.
     "Energon? Why... oh, of courth. Upbeat."
     Chill inclined his head to the soldier.
     "If you would wait just a minute, I'll open the garage."
     The young man smiled gratefully.
     "Thanks, that'd make my life easier!"
     Poppy watched, a little dazedly, as between them Chill, 'Spin and the NEST operative manoeuvred four large tanks of... something into the garage, setting them against the rear wall. They were followed by four smaller tanks, two metal gallon drums and what looked like a large can of oil.
     The soldier proffered a clipboard and a pen, which Poppy automatically took, signing the delivery sheet, and handed back. He saluted her with a grin.
     "I'll let you get back to sleep now, ma'... Ms Moss. I'll try to deliver at a more reasonable time, next time."
     "Ta." As he climbed back into his truck, Poppy turned to her transformers. "What...?"
     Before either could answer, she stiffened and swept an alarmed and now fully awake gaze around the garage. The empty garage.
     "Where's 'Beat? Oh god, he's not been stolen or something has he? Surely he has an alarm, or something..."
     'Spin laid a hand on her arm.
     "It'th OK, Poppy. He jutht went out for a little drive."
     "He what? He's not supposed to do that! What if anyone saw him?"
     'Spin's reply was interrupted by the sound of a familiar engine, and seconds later Upbeat eased himself into the garage. Poppy glared as he transformed, her hands planted on her hips.
     "And where do you think you've been?"
     The Mini flinched, lugubrious expression even more hangdog than usual.
     "'m sorry. Was out meetin' a friend."
     "... scaring me half to death, s'not good for my blood pressure you kn..." Poppy stopped and stared. "You were what? What friend?"
     "Lightdance. Lives in pub down the road."
     Poppy could feel her mouth opening and closing like a goldfish, but was unable to force anything intelligible out for several seconds. She looked at 'Spin, who shrugged, and then at Chill, who dropped his gaze to the floor, then she turned back to 'Beat.
     "In the pub down the road?!"
     The Mini winced at the volume.
     "Um, yeah."
     "There's a transformer living in the pub down the road??!"
     "... yeah..."
     Poppy spluttered, and Chill handed her a glass of water. She was too stressed to wonder where he'd got it from. Taking a gulp of the cold liquid, she made herself calm down.
     "OK. OK. Let me get this straight. You have a friend living in the pub down the road. How long has he been there and why didn’t you tell anyone? And do the owners know?"
     "Nah. He keeps to 'imself, and's learned to use mains power to stay hidden. 'Is own signal's hid by the electrics in the place. Been there a few years now."
     "Why didn't you tell us?"
     "You never asked."
     Poppy rubbed at her forehead, fighting back the incipient headache. She really wished they'd be a little more forthcoming and a little less literal.
     "How often do you go to visit? And how do you... I mean, you wouldn't fit in the place..."
     "Nah. I pops down every month, an 'e comes out t'me. "
     "Unsetting all the alarms, I suppose."
     "Yep. Then activatin' 'em again when he goes back in."
     "OK..." Poppy frowned to herself. "How did you know where he was?"
     "'e told me."
     "And you've been sneaking out every month since you got here to meet up with him?"
     'Beat looked shifty, then shook his head.
     "Been meetin' up since I got here. To your planet. That were ten year ago."
     Poppy blinked. "I thought you were a new arrival."
     "Nah. Just got tired of tryin' to hide on me own and turned meself in to NEST."
     Well that was a bit of an eye-opener.
     "So, how long has he been here? On earth, I mean."
     'Beat considered the question, then raised his hands.
     "Must o' been about... fifty o' your years, give or take."
     Poppy stared, speechless.
     "There've been transformers here for that long?"
     "Much longer'n that." He gave her what passed for a grin. "We're good at hidin'."
     "Obviously." Poppy shook herself. "But he should really be here with us, shouldn't he?"
     "e's happy where 'e is. Likes watchin' humans. Finds you interestin'."
     "It's not really safe though, is it?"
     'Beat shrugged.
     "Been awright so far."
     Poppy sighed.
     "I need to report this."
     The Mini nodded mournfully.
     "I s'pose you have to."
     She patted his shoulder.
     "I'm sorry. But wouldn't you like him to live here?"
     "I would. Dunno if 'e'd agree."
     "It would be safer for him."
     "e's been safe for fifty year."
     "Well yes, but people here know about you now. And some of them are unhappy about it. Your being here, I mean."
     "Yeah, so 'e might be safer stayin' where 'e is."
     Poppy could see his point of view.
     "OK then. At lunchtime you and I are going to go and visit so I can see him. I know we won't be able to talk, but I'd still like to see what we're dealing with."
     "Awright."
     "Can you speak to him from outside the pub? Do you have some sort of... internal communications?"
     "Oh yeah."
     "Good. Would you introduce me, so he knows I don't mean any harm?"
     "Awright..." It was said reluctantly, but Poppy was determined. She'd had nightmares where her friends had been captured by hostile humans and gutted in front of her, and they had made her wary of being too trusting.
     "Thanks." She patted his arm. "I promise I'll do what I can to cause as little fuss or upset as I can, but I really think NEST need to know about this."
     "I know." 'Beat sighed – then his eyes brightened as he caught sight of the tanks against the wall. "Ooh! Energon!"
     'Spin snickered.
     "I hope you're going to thare thome of it."
     'Beat smirked.
     "I'm sure I can spare a bit."
     Poppy frowned. "And on the way to the pub you can tell me what that's all about."

She'd lost track of the time, or she might have thought twice about contacting Graham. As it was, the unshaven, bleary eyed face that regarded her from the screen had her glancing at the clock. Quarter past five? Oops...
     "Poppy?"
     "I'm sorry. Shall I ring back later?"
     He rubbed a hand over his eyes and rested his chin on a hand: it took Poppy a moment to realise he was in bed.
     "What's the problem?" Behind him she could just make out a pillow covered with a mass of pale blonde hair. Oh bugger it: she'd not only woken him up, she'd disturbed him too. Best to get the message delivered so she could let him get back to sleep. Or whatever else it was he did first thing in the morning.
     "I've just found out there's another transformer not a mile from the house."
     He was immediately alert, sitting up, the continental quilt falling to his waist. Apparently he didn't believe in bedclothes.
     "How did you find out?"
     "'Beat told me. Apparently the new one's been here about fifty years."
     The NEST officer frowned.
     "Hm. The older ones can be difficult to persuade to move."
     "I thought I'd go there at lunchtime – he's living in a nearby pub – and get a feel for the situation."
     "We don't want you endangering yourself."
     She grinned.
     "I'll be fine. I mean, it's a pub. What could possibly go wrong?"
     He raised an eyebrow.
     "That sounds like 'famous last words'. I should really accompany you, but I can't get away until mid-afternoon."
     "No, honestly, I'll be fine. If I'm the least bit worried I'll get out and ring you right away."
     She could see him considering it, and sighed.
     "Please. I'm not incompetent, you know."
     He chuckled. "Oh, I know that. Very well. But take Cable with you. In a pinch he can contact me urgently."
     "Oh, OK." Graham smiled, and she suddenly remembered her dream. She burst into giggles, and the officer eyed her warily. She waved a hand dismissively.
     "Sorry. Just remembered – you were in a dream I had last night."
     He looked alarmed. "I was?"
     "Yes." She tried to quell the giggles and ended up spluttering. "You were all sparkly, like one of those stupid American vampire things."
     Both eyebrows rose. "I'm... not sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult..."
     "Oh, an insult, definitely. Sorry. I sometimes worry about my mind. It wanders off into the weirdest places."
     "Yes..." He eyed her wryly. "And on that note, I will say goodbye, and please report in as soon as you can after your foray to the pub."



JAT Oct 2011

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Friday, October 28, 2011

So, Tintin...

Technically brilliant, the 3D excellent, the comedy a bit too slapstick for my liking, the characters endearing. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon, but I doubt we'd watch a sequel. Never really into Tintin even when I was younger.

Tyjer in greenhouse

Greenhouse cat is warm and happy...

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Opticians today, for Kai's regular check-up - and I finally picked up my new, redid glasses. 'ooray! They work! And they're very light and comfortable. Comes of being so small: they sit on my nose 'like a pimple on a haystack', as my grandmother would have said. Don't care - I can see without strain again, that's all that matters.

Off to see Tintin tomorrow lunchtime.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Well that was hectic...

Up early, into town, cheques in bank, over to Bristol General Hospital (the back way, past the Ostrich pub), 2 x-rays with my hand in two very awkward positions that have left it very sore (sorry Lutra, didn't even see the pics myself, they'll be sent to the doctor so maybe next week), then up to Wild Oats and Better Foods (and the latter does have the degradable bags I was looking for so bought five packs - will keep us going for a bit), then back to Sandy Park Rd to the Post Office, then down to Sainsbug's for shopping. And I got back at 1 pm - feel like I crammed a whole day into a morning. [frown] Actually, I pretty much did, didn't I?

Arrived back to find Kai getting on with his psychology homework: nearly finished, then he just has a bit of physics. (He's worked damned hard this holiday!) Going to see Tintin at the weekend, and if the weather is good we may go out somewhere too - see what he feels like doing.

Also found that my copies of Defiance and Alliance have arrived. I've been disciplined and answered all my email first (a gratifyingly large amount of it from FFNet, reviews and favoritings for Appliances and Devices, Too. Dead chuffed people like them enough to let me know!) but now I'm going to go indulge myself for a bit and read them. Next part of Devices, Too is currently bubbling: may be posted tomorrow...

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I must be inspired... I'm certainly enjoying myself!

Part 2 of Devices, Too. I suppose at this point I should add the standard disclaimer. If you recognise the name/character from the films, they aren't mine. If you don't, they're my own creations, based on the Hasbro Transformers concept!

Part 2 - Hurt

"I'll be a couple of hours. Don't get up to anything naughty while I'm gone!"
     "Ath if we would!" 'Spin made a sound remarkably like a disdainful sniff, and Poppy giggled. He was remarkably easy to tease.
     Upbeat (she hadn't been able to make herself call him Ringo. She may not be a Beatles fan, but there could only ever be one Ringo as far as she was concerned) was waiting for her outside, engine thrumming quietly. Poppy had been very nervous the first time she'd sat in the driver's seat (which had, alarmingly, shifted to accommodate her, becoming extremely comfortable in the process): not only did it feel most peculiar to be inside a sentient machine, but also, as she'd be the first to admit, she was hardly the best driver in the world. In fact, she'd not even been behind the wheel of a car since that accident four years ago.
     'Beat had done his best, in his mournful voice, to reassure her that if she wanted she didn't even need to touch the wheel: all she needed to do was direct him and he'd do the driving. Which felt even weirder, but in practice worked really well. Though she did keep her hands on the wheel, just in case anyone happened to glance in. She was supposed to be keeping a low profile. The last thing she needed was the police stopping her for dangerous driving.
     The nearest supermarket - the one that boasted 'every little helps' - was a good six miles away, but its advantage over the local shops was its anonymity and the fact it carried everything she needed under one roof. And it was nice for 'Beat to get out every now and then. She knew he recorded the trip, and played it back later for the others over TeeVee. Not exactly ideal, but at least it let them join in her life a little, even if only at second hand. She really wished she could take some of them shopping with her, but that really wasn't possible. Yet, anyway.

It was a pleasant drive in early autumn sunshine, the leaves just beginning to change colour. 'Beat drove sedately along the narrow roads, ignoring the jeers from a group of teenagers in a somewhat decrepit Volvo that tried to roar past them and which they passed half a mile further down the road, pulled off to the side with smoke coming from under the bonnet. Poppy smiled and waved as they drove past, giggling at the scowls from the erstwhile passengers.
     The car park was fairly full, and 'Beat pulled into a space some distance from the supermarket. Poppy patted his dashboard as she opened the door.
     "I might be a while. It looks busy, and I've a lot to get."
     "S'awright, Poppy. I'll be here." He switched on the radio and found a 'golden oldies' channel. Poppy sometimes thought he might be overdoing the retro thing, but it seemed to make him happy, so she didn't comment.
     The supermarket was full of wrinklies - must be pension day she thought - which slowed things down considerably, but which gave her the opportunity to search out bargains, BOGOFs and any interesting or special products. There was a new eco-friendly laundry liquid 'Spin had asked her to keep an eye out for, and in the fresh produce aisle a new selection of locally-grown organic vegetables. Steamy insisted on her buying organically-grown or bred wherever possible, and she had to admit it did taste very good. The prices seemed to be coming down too, always a bonus...
     An hour later she stopped the laden trolley beside 'Beat's boot - and leaned over his roof, frowning: there were a series of wide, vicious scratches across the Union Jack. Glancing round to check no-one was within hearing distance, she laid a hand on the windshield.
     "'Beat? What happened?"
     The Mini shuddered minutely.
     "Some louts with a broken bottle. Tried t'smash me windows too."
     Poppy peered at the... was it glass? She tried not to take anything for granted anymore... and found tiny chips in the driver's side window.
     "The bastards! Did you see which way they went?"
     "Nah. They split up."
     Poppy frowned.
     "It wasn't that bunch from the Volvo, was it?"
     "Nope. Never seen this lot before."
     She ran her fingers gently over the scratches.
     "Well, we can get it repainted..." She paused: 'Beat had shuddered again. "What? It wouldn't take long."
     "S'not paint."
     She stared at him, then noticed other shoppers approaching with their trolleys, and opened the boot to pile her bags inside. Once finished and the trolley pushed into a storage bay, she climbed in and 'Beat started his engine. Poppy waited until they pulled out onto the road before asking,
     "What do you mean, it's not paint?"
     "It's me... you'd call it skin. Part o' me body."
     "You mean... Oh ouch! 'Beat, I'm sorry. Does it hurt?" She frowned. "Can you actually feel pain."
     The Mini snorted.
     "Course we do! Got sensors all through us. Like your nerves."
     "Oh..." That was a not-particularly-welcome revelation. "So how can we fix your roof?"
     He sighed.
     "Got no medics over here. Just 'ave to heal by itself."
     "Will it?"
     "Yeah. Nanites'll take care of it. Be awright in a couple o' days."
     "Is there anything I can do to help? Should we... cover it up, or something?"
     "Nah. But sitting in sun'll help."
     "Then you'll have to stay outside the garage for a bit."
     "Fine by me!"
     She frowned to herself, realising suddenly that she really didn't know very much about them. She'd assumed that they were just sentient robots - basically hunks of metal with intelligence. But thinking about it, there had to be more to them than that. The way they moved, their abilities, the way Chill chopped vegetables, careful not to let the knife too close to his own digits... And that must be why Muncher had winced, that time a sharp stone hidden in the grass had bounced off his side while he was mowing.
     Bloody hell, they were closer to human than she'd thought. She'd have to speak to Graham, find out if there was anything she could do in case of accidents or damage...

The Volvo was still there on the way back, but now there was a police car stopped in front of it. To Poppy's surprise 'Beat flinched and speeded up a little, only slowing back to his usual rate once they were around a corner and out of sight.
     "What was that for?"
     The Mini hesitated, then muttered, "Bad mem'ries."
     Poppy was itching to ask, but given he was hurt, thought it best not to make things worse...

As luck would have it, Graham was waiting for her when she got back, which usually meant another transformer or two for her to take under her wing. She let 'Beat park up in full sunlight and climbed out, waving to the officer. Graham gestured to the open hatch of his Defender: inside were two transformers in their natural mode, one small, one considerably larger. Poppy grinned.
     "Hello. I'm Poppy."
     The two glanced at Graham, who nodded and beckoned to them.
     "It's all right, she's going to look after you." He turned to Poppy. "They're a little twitchy. Had a near run in with Barricade. One of the Decepticons." He added at her blank look.
     "Oh, you poor things!" She held her hands out. "Come on inside and we'll get you settled. And you can meet the rest - they're a really nice bunch."
     Ushering them into the house, she glanced back over her shoulder.
     "Could you hang on a minute? There's something I need to ask you."
     Graham nodded and followed her into the house.

Chill and 'Spin had been their usual charming and friendly selves, and the two newcomers - Cable, whose alternate form was a portable DVD player, rather to Poppy's delight, and Grunt, who transformed into, of all things, a multigym (oh wonderful. Poppy thought to herself. Bad enough with 'Spin, Steamy and Chill keeping tabs on my diet, now I'm going to be nagged to death to exercise as well!) - were welcomed and taken through into the main lounge to meet the rest. Poppy switched on the kettle for coffee, and Graham seated himself at the kitchen table, expression attentive.
     "So, what did you want to ask?"
     Poppy poured boiling water over instant coffee and handed a mug to the officer.
     "Upbeat's been... hurt. Damaged. Injured. Not sure what to call it..."
     Graham tensed and leaned forward, frowning.
     "What happened?"
     Poppy explained the events at the supermarket. Graham drummed his fingers on the table, then obviously came to a decision.
     "Is Ramp online?"
     "Should be." Poppy led the way to her little office, where Ramp, ever attentive to Poppy's needs, had just finished transforming into his computer mode. Graham gazed at the monitor.
     "Connect me to base, please."
     "Yessir!"
     Seconds later a face appeared on the screen. The man grinned at Graham, then his eyes met Poppy's and he saluted.
     "Ma'am. You must be Ms Moss. On behalf of NEST, I'd like to say how much we appreciate the great job you're doing for us."
     Graham chuckled as Poppy blushed red.
     "Cut the flannel, Lennox, you're embarrassing her."
     Lennox laughed, then smiled at Poppy.
     "It's true though, you are doing a good job." His gaze returned to Graham. "So, why the call? You aren't due to report in for another four hours."
     "We have a... situation. Not urgent, but it's something we haven't devised protocol for yet." He explained what had happened at the supermarket, and Lennox frowned.
     "Yeah, see what you mean. OK, I'll brief them here, you speak to Ratchet."
     The screen darkened momentarily: when it brightened Poppy and Graham were face to face with... Poppy felt dizzy. It was the most alien face she'd ever seen, grey and... sort of spiky... with bright little turquoise eyes...
     Graham saluted casually.
     "'Morning, Jolt. Ratchet handy?"
     A shiver of what looked like lightning arced across the transformer's blue chest, accompanied by what sounded like the language her own wards spoke, then he moved aside as another face came into view, this one silver and chartreuse.
     "His self-repair will deal with the problem on this occasion. However, it might be useful for the human to keep a supply of medical nanites in-house, in case anything similar happens in the future. I'll arrange it."
     "Thanks, Ratchet." Graham nodded, and the view on the screen switched back to Lennox.
     "All done?"
     "Yes. If you could organise a courier though, we'd appreciate it."
     "No problem. Hey, do you think you could send us a shipment of that local beer you like? We're running out of anything decent here."
     Graham laughed.
     "Oh, I'm sure you could twist my arm. Anything else, while I'm at it?"
     "I'm sure we can think of something."
     "Make a list for when I report in."
     "Will do. Lennox out."
     Poppy was staring at him.
     "What just happened? It was like listening to half... no, a quarter of a conversation!"
     Graham smirked.
     "Ah, that was the well-oiled military machine you may have heard of hard at work."
     She stared blankly, and he chuckled.
     "Ratchet is always busy. To save time and me repeating it, Jolt and Lennox passed on what I told Lennox, and Ratchet came up with the answer and a solution which should help should anything like it happen again."
     "He... he was a bit brusque..."
     "He certainly can be. He's probably working on a project at the moment, always makes him impatient with interruptions."
     "Oh." Poppy felt suddenly breathless - it had been a glimpse into a completely alien world. And she was a part of it! Even if only a tiny part and only peripherally. She shivered and grinned at Graham.
     "Thanks."
     "You're welcome. There'll be instructions for storing the nanites when they arrive - hopefully in English, but ask Chill to translate if Ratchet forgets and leaves them in glyphs - and if you have any other problems, have Ramp contact me." His head swivelled to the door as a crash came from the lounge, followed by a babble of voices. "Sounds like you might be needed. Want backup?"
     Poppy sighed.
     "No, it's OK. I'm sure between us 'Spin and I can sort it out."
     "Then I'd better head off. A pleasure as always, Poppy."
     He headed for the door as Poppy entered the lounge to see a disconsolate Grunt sitting in a corner with 'Spin patting his shoulder, while Sucker zoomed about vacuuming up the shattered glass from a large fruit-bowl that had been sitting on the coffee table.
     Well, it wasn't the first, and it wouldn't be the last, Poppy thought, as she went to reassure the ungainly new transformer that it was OK, it was just an accident, and not to worry about it...



© JAT

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Monday, October 24, 2011

[sigh] Must make note to self to go and see a doctor before things get... painful.

Don't think I mentioned, but about eight or nine months ago I started having problems with my left thumb. Ignored it, as I do, but it's gradually got worse, until now I pretty much can't use it. No strength, and trying to hold things hurts like hell. So I finally nagged myself into making a doctor's appointment.

And now I have to go get it x-rayed, and next Monday I go back to the surgery for blood tests, and next Friday I see the her again for the results. Could be some sort of physical problem, or possibly some sort of arthritis: hopefully next week I'll find out. In the meantime I'm to take 'prufen and parrots to the daily limit to see if that eases the pain and inflammation, and Ken's having to help out, as I can't even hold a potato to peel it. [grump]

Other than that it's been a bitty-busy day - some intensive orchid care, and Kai's done another load of physics homework. And now it's pissing down. Oh joy...

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Soundwave

Soundwave in robot form.

Soundwave

Soundwave in satellite form, now hanging from my right-hand speaker bracket.

Forgot to say - K&K assembled and hung the new gate yesterday. It's great, and it closes with a very satisfying 'clonk'.

Last [spooks] tonight...

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

[g] So, for everyone who liked Appliances, here's the first part of the sequel...


Devices, Too


Part 1 - Changes

"Checkmate."
     "What?!" Poppy stared down at the chess board, scowling, then raised her head to glower at the slender silver figure sitting opposite. "Bugger. I'm never going to get the hang of this."
     Chillvern raised his hands apologetically.
     "It takes practise, Poppy, that's all."
     Easy enough for him to say, given he could download the details of every game ever played in microseconds. She was beginning to regret ever asking him to teach her...

In the year and a half since the Cybertronian refugees had first appeared in her life, Poppy had seen a few changes. After that scary business in Egypt - and the accompanying revelation of the transformers' presence on earth - she'd found herself mothering a few more of the creatures. So many, in fact, that she'd had to move to a house on the outskirts of the city, a rather nice old five-bedroomed place with high ceilings and a big garden. Paid for by NEST, of course, since there was no way she could have afforded such a place on her salary. Much of the garden was shaded by large trees: humanity might know about the transformers now but that didn't mean they went out of their way to make themselves conspicuous, and while there was no problem inside the house, her friends really liked being out of doors in their natural, robotic forms. Under the trees they were shielded from all eyes, in the summer and autumn at least. Even though she didn't think her house would be under any kind of satellite scrutiny, there was always Google earth, and the occasional plane or police helicopter overflying the area...

She stayed mostly at home now, teleworking for her old company while still able to keep an eye on her charges. As semi-official-but-under-the-radar robot-sitter - NEST had unofficially appointed her to the post of 'consultant' - she was able to claim some expenses from the organisation. Not that she needed to, much, but it was nice to know she could call on them in case of any problems. She sometimes missed her old workmates, but that was what the internet was for.
     She'd also had to buy another fridge, as Chill much preferred to stay in his natural form. The others were happy to stick to their appliance functions - 'Spin had declared 'there wath NO WAY he'd trutht her clotheth to any human devithe' - when needed, but for food storage she really didn't have a choice. To be honest she was a lot happier having a fridge that couldn't talk back to her, anyway. And Chill had turned out to be quite a nice person, modest, intelligent and companionable.
     Even if he did keep beating her at chess.
     "It's lunchtime, Poppy!" Steamy peeked around the door and blinked at her. "What d'you fancy today?"
     She waved at him.
     "Oh, you choose. Surprise me!"
     "Perhaps I should go and assist." Chill inclined his head, and Poppy nodded. Steamy's 'paws' weren't really designed for food preparation, and it was something Chill seemed to enjoy.
     "OK. I should go and check on the others anyway. Back in half an hour."

At the far end of the garden, in the dappled shade of what was effectively a complete copse of trees, a disparate bunch of aliens was sprawled on grass and moss. Poppy smiled affectionately as they waved and called out quiet greetings as she approached. Muncher, her newest arrival whose alternative mode was the large ride-on mower now proving extremely helpful in keeping the extensive lawn under control, offered her a courtly little bow. Of all of them, he was the largest, towering over her by at least three feet, and she'd been a little wary of him. Those extremely sharp blades didn't help his overall dangerous appearance either. She suspected Chill and 'Spin had been tutoring him in earth customs, since he'd taken to doing everything he could to put her at ease. He gave her as much of a smile as his face could manage as she seated herself on the bench under the oak.
     "How's it all going?"
     As usual, 'Spin answered for them all.
     "It'th great! We like thith plathe a lot."
     "Good. I'm sorry I can't take you all out, though..."
     "Oh, it'th no problem. We're happy to be able to come out here. The retht - well, TeeVee and Ramp thow uth what your world ith like. We have more freedom here than we had on Thybertron, at the end."
     Ramp, Poppy's computer transformer, nodded.
     "True, that."
     Poppy was tempted, again, to ask what their home world was like, but as ever she hesitated. Whenever they mentioned the planet, it was always with a hint of melancholy, of loss, and she didn't want to upset them.
     "Is there anything you need?"
     "No. We're fine here for the afternoon. Unleth there'th thomething you need uth to do?"
     "Not until this evening."
     "OK..." 'Spin paused, gazing towards the house. "There'th thomeone coming..."
     Ramp raised two of his hands to quell the momentary buzz of alarm.
     "It's Graham." His antennae twitched. "And he's brought a friend..."
     Intrigued, Poppy headed back to the house. Parked under the handsome larch on the small drive at the front was Agent Graham's off-roader - and what looked like a classic Mini. A white Mini, with a Union Jack painted on its roof. It would have been perfectly at home in Carnaby Street in the 1960s. And Graham was talking to it.
     Poppy stopped and stared, not sure whether she was feeling horrified or pleased. She'd seen confidential NEST footage of the larger transformers in action in Egypt - Graham had said he believed she should know a little more about them, since she was looking after so many - and had been hugely impressed by the cars. Especially that silver one - Sideswipe, she thought the name was. Not that she was any sort of car buff, but he'd been quite something. Though it may just have been the swords... And Graham had said that more refugees had arrived, many of them large enough to take on vehicular alternative modes, so there was a possibility that she might be able to have her own, once the new arrivals had been inducted.
     But a Mini?
     Just as well she didn't suffer from claustrophobia.
     Graham waved at her, then gestured towards the house's garage. The Mini obligingly drove into the building: the humans followed slowly, and just as they reached the door there was that strange but enthralling sound Poppy knew meant the car was transforming. It was, understandably, considerably louder than the noise her other charges made.
     "Poppy, this is Upbeat." Graham indicated the creature now hunched over slightly inside the garage. "He will be your guardian for the foreseeable future. Upbeat, this is Poppy Moss, our resident autobot caretaker and consultant."
     The transformer waved a large hand.
     "'Ullo Poppy. Good t'meet you." Poppy stared, then automatically waved back. The accent was pure Liverpudlian. And while the transformer had a relatively humanoid face, it held the most doleful expression she'd ever seen. On anything. "Me designation's Upbeat, but you c'n call me Ringo. If y'like."
     She glanced at Graham, who was desperately trying not to laugh. Wonderful. She was now the proud... ward? of an autobot reject from the Beatles.
     Then the funny side hit her and she giggled. What the hell, her life was weird anyway, what was one more absurdity...
     "Welcome, Upbeat. Ringo. Um... can I think about which I prefer?"
     "Course y'can."
     "Thanks... Is there anything you need?"
     "Nope." He looked around the garage, which was a fair size, and nodded. "Comfy."
     "You don't have to stay in here. Most of the others are in the garden." She pointed. "Just follow the trees."
     "Awright, ta." He resumed car mode, drove to the start of the avenue of trees that led to the copse, transformed back and hurried off to join the others. Poppy turned to Graham, shaking her head.
     "Can I ask for a refund?"
     The officer laughed.
     "Hey, he's a classic. People pay good money for a car like that."
     "Good for them. I must confess I was hoping for something a little more... modern, myself."
     "Well, we can try asking him to upgrade, but he rather likes that mode..."
     "Eh, I'm sure I'll survive. I've been laughed at before." She grinned and gestured to the house. "Steamy will probably have lunch ready by now. Like to join me?"
     "I'd be delighted..."

"So, how're things going?"
     "Fairly well." Graham took a last forkful of the prawn-stuffed peppers Chillvern and Steamy had served up, chewed appreciatively and swallowed, washing it down with a mouthful of sparkling water. "There are still people who are... resistant to their presence, but that's not likely to change. There are always going to be those who don't want to share the planet with anyone, let alone aliens. Generally, though, the reactions have been pretty positive, especially after Egypt. I'd still maintain a low profile though, if I were you. Just in case."
     "Oh, I've no intention of making waves!" She grinned as Chill took away their plates and put a bowl of fruit on the table. "It's not like I had a huge number of friends anyway: this life suits me. I always was a bit of a hermit."
     Graham nodded. "We know. We had you thoroughly checked out before asking for your assistance."
     Poppy blinked, her smile fading.
     "So, if I hadn't checked out, I would have lost them all?"
     "I'm afraid so. But it didn't happen, so don't let it bother you."
     It would though, she knew. But Graham was still speaking.
     "If - and it's a big if - I can arrange it, would you like to meet some of the others?"
     Poppy's mouth dropped open.
     "What, like Optimus and Ironhide? What a stupid question!"
     Graham chuckled.
     "I'm not promising anything. But make sure your passport's up to date."

The officer had left soon after, and Poppy practically skipped down the garden to join the others. Upbeat had obviously settled in easily, and appeared to be regaling the others with all the latest news. Not that she could understand Cybertronian, but the others were listening intently and occasionally asking questions, so it was a logical assumption to make. 'Spin waved at her.
     "Can we come too?"
     "What? Oh..." she sometimes forgot their enhanced hearing and Ramp's automatic close-monitoring of the house and everything that went on inside it. "It's not anything like definite. And I don't know. I could ask next time we speak..."
     "It would be wonderful." 'Spin's voice was wistful. "None of uth have ever met the Prime. Even Upbeat'th only theen him from a dithtanthe." The washing machine glanced at the Mini. "He wath too nervouth to thpeak to him."
     "Well, I'll ask. No promises though."
     "Thank you."
     "Thank me if it happens." She grinned at TeeVee. "That film you all wanted to watch is starting in half an hour. Coming in?"
     TeeVee reverted back to TV mode and switched himself on. "No need. We'll watch it out here."
     "Then I'll see you later."



© JAT Oct 2011

More to come...

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Wells Cathedral from Tor Hill Wood

The weather forecast was for sun today, so we thought we'd take a jaunt over to Wells...

It was a lovely ride, along the crest of the Mendip Hills in warm autumn sun, the grass in the fields vivid, almost electric green, the soft froth of fading leaves delicate against the sky. I love this country - not the people, necessarily, but the land itself. Best in the world.

This time we explored Tor Hill Wood - or rather, Kai did, just climbing the first flight of rough steps brought on a horrendous coughing fit for me (no, the lurgy hasn't gone yet) so I sat and wrote notes for Appliances 2 while waiting for him. Yes, there will be a second part. Not sure when, depends on how much time I can make and how inspired I feel...

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

[sigh] So the dentist had a look, and decided, since the other side of the tooth shell is also going, that drilling out a whackin' great lump of the old filling, taking a mould and having a cap made (or is it a crown? I can never remember which is which) by the lab would be the best procedure. I go to have it cemented in next Thursday. In the meantime she's put a temporary filling (which tastes most odd) over the raw surface. It doesn't hurt. If I remember rightly that tooth has a root canal filling anyway, so the whole thing is dead. I just hope the cap/crown is going to be strong enough: it's the lower backmost molar and that gets a hell of a lot of heavy use.

This afternoon Kai and I went to see The 3 Musketeers (the new one). Heh. It's OK - nice period detail, and Matthew Macfadyen is the best Athos since Oliver Reed - but it suffered from some truly horrendous (cringe-worthy) hammy overacting from Bloom and Jovovich, and I really really really hate the use of modern parlance in a period film. The notion of the war ship was... a bit odd too, presumably a way to add some interest to a story that has seen umpteen incarnations. A fun way to spend an afternoon, but probably not a film we'll buy. Though (if it gets made) we'll probably go see the sequel it set up at the end.

Arrived back to find my Soundwave had arrived. Another lovely bit of design (he's a triple changer, satellite and a rather snazzy air-cruiser) but the light's too dark for photos so will have a go at those tomorrow.

I ordered a copy of this yesterday. No, not a full price copy: one for 1 pence. Plus £2.80 p&p. So, one of the books off my wishlist for all of £2.81 - cheaper than a bus into town! I like that sort of bargain.

Re: Appliances - I've had a couple of people over at FFNet also ask for the story to be continued, so I'm letting that bubble and collide a bit. Not going to try and force it, but if inspiration - or Lutra - strikes, there may well be more. I'm rather fond of the characters myself!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So, part 5 of Appliances...

(If you're new here, nip over to Appliances to read the whole thing in its natural environment - this is the last part and won't make any sense without the rest!)

Discharge

Poppy closed the door with a sigh of contented relief. Bank Holiday weekend coupled with two days annual leave – bliss!
     "Hi kids – mum's home!"
     A babble of voices greeted her from both the kitchen and the lounge, Sucker churring out of his corner and running a quick circle around her before heading back to his usual space behind the kitchen door. There were times he reminded her of a cat. Sort of.
     "Anything interesting happen while I was out?"
     "No. Well, there'th a new character in that medical thoap opera I like, Thucker and Thteamy want you to try growing vanilla orchidth, and Chillvern thayth you're running low on ithe cream. And there'th a new fabric condithioner I'd like to try. And there'th been an earthquake in Japan, and riotth in theveral countrieth, and the uthual upth and downth on the thtock marketth, but other than that, it'th all been quiet."
     She patted his top.
     "Quiet is good. We like quiet."
     Steamy giggled.
     "'S nice an' peaceful here, Poppy. 's lovely."
     She grinned as she pulled a marinaded tuna steak from the fridge and popped it into the steamer's lower basket. A double handful of mixed exotic veg followed in the medium basket, and she left him to work his magic while she unpacked her shopping. Chillvern hummed appreciatively as she slid shut the drawer now containing several packs of rather expensive ice-cream, affordable now that her fuel bill was about a quarter of what it had been.
     "So, what's on TV tonight?"
     "New sci-fi series starting." TeeVee switched himself on. "You might enjoy it. It's about machines that come to life and try to take over the world."
     Poppy laughed.
     "Yeah, right! OK, remind me when it's starting and we'll give it a go."

A couple of hours later, fed, showered and comfortably slouched on the sofa, Poppy licked the last of the toffee-chocolate ice-cream from her spoon and sighed happily.
     "Mm. Wonderful way to start a mini-holiday."
     "And your programme's about to start." TeeVee changed the channel – and the doorbell rang.
     "Damn." Poppy sighed and rose to her feet: Blue started recording the episode for her to watch when she'd dealt with the interruption.
     "Hell...." Her greeting was cut short as an arm reached around her waist and pulled her out into the corridor, almost closing the door behind her. It took her maybe two seconds before the shock wore off enough for her to start struggling.
     "What the...!? Let me go!"
     A hand settled over her mouth.
     "Ms Moss, please. We're not going to hurt you."
      Twisting, she saw that the man who had hold of her wasn't the only stranger in the hallway: there were at least six more and they were all wearing... what was the term? Fatigues? Green army clothing anyway. The sort actors wore in war films on TV.
     They all had guns. All of the guns were pointing towards her door.
     "Eeeep!"
     "If I let you go, will you stay still and hear me out?"
     She nodded, and he pulled his hand away from her mouth, then set her down on her feet.
     "We have reason to believe you are in danger."
     "How?"
     "We believe that some of the appliances in your flat may be... dangerous."
     She frowned.
     "And they send the army to deal with that sort of thing now, do they?"
     The man who'd held her, who she assumed was probably the one in charge, eyed her with some startlement.
     "They do when appropriate, yes."
     "And this is appropriate?"
     He scowled at her. Behind him, he heard one of the other soldiers snicker.
     "Yes. It is."
     "And how do you know they're dangerous?" She let a little sarcasm into her voice. "I mean, I've been living with them for months and they've never threatened me."
     "It's..." He stared at her, nonplussed. This wasn't exactly the reaction he'd been expecting. "They give off a certain energy that we can detect. They're... foreign, and often faulty. Not up to UK regulations. They may start fires. Some have been known to explode, which is why we're brought in. We've been trained to deal with this sort of thing."
     "Hm." Poppy nodded. "I see. Well, everything I have is all absolutely fine, up to scratch and functioning perfectly. You must have the wrong address."
     The soldier stared at her for a moment before speaking into his earpiece. "Target is proving... resistant."
     He listened for a few minutes, then gestured to his men, who moved cautiously forward and arrayed themselves in a semi-circle at the door, weapons at the ready.
     "Please stand back, miss."
     "But..."
     Before she could object, the first three men burst through the door, scanning the area swiftly before beckoning the others in. Over Poppy's blustered objections they fanned out, moving into each of the rooms in the small place. On the leader's wrist a small... thing, vaguely resembling a wristwatch, was beeping.
     The soldier beside him glanced at it.
     "Energon reading, sir."
     The leader nodded, then moved to the kitchen.
     "All right, we know you're in here. Show yourselves."
     Poppy pulled at his arm.
     "What the hell do you think you're doing!? You come bursting into my home, waving guns, talking to thin air... There's nobody here but you lot. And me."
     "Our detection devices say otherwise, miss. You'd be safer out in the hall."
     "And leave you in here to wreak havoc? I don't think so."
     "Then will you at least stay behind me?"
     "No. There's nothing here that can hurt anyone, especially not me - hey!" Two of the men had moved to stand in front of her, gradually backing her against the wall, completely ignoring her objections. "Let me go!"
     "It's for your own safety, miss."
     "I'm perfectly safe in my own home! And stop calling me miss!"
     "Sorry, Ms Moss."
     The squad leader (the officer? When this was all over she'd have 'Spin look up army ranks for her so she'd know how to address them if it ever happened again) aimed a small, complicated looking device around the kitchen. It bleeped when pointed at Chillvern. The officer hefted his rifle and aimed at the fridge.
     "This is equipped with incendiary armour piercing rounds that can cut through Decepticon hides in seconds. I suggest you show yourself."
     There was a fraught silence for a moment, then a deep sigh.
     "I'm sorry Poppy."
     Before her astonished – and the soldiers' dispassionate – eyes the sleek silver refrigerator started to... shift, twist in on itself, almost turn inside out. In seconds a strange, silver... creature stood in its place. Vaguely humanoid, with – she thought – rather pretty turquoise... eyes? They sat in what looked like a face where a human's eyes would be...
     "Chill?"
     The creature – robot? – nodded sadly. Poppy glanced quickly at the washing machine: 'Spin sighed, and also transformed. He looked oddly squat and dumpy next to the slender fridge. Guns were immediately pointed in his direction.
     "Faction?" It was snapped, the officer gesturing with his weapon to press home the query. "Autobot? Decepticon?"
     "We're neutralth."
     "Neutrals?"
     "Yeth. We never took thides. All we wanted to do wath live quietly thomewhere the war couldn't find uth."
     The officer frowned and muttered something into his earpiece, listened to the reply, then gestured to the door.
     "You're going to have to come with us while we check this out."
     Poppy gasped.
     "But... these are mine! My appliances... my friends..."
     The officer regarded her with what she would swear was sympathy.
     "I'm sorry. Not my decision."
     "S'all right, Poppy." Steamy had turned into a funny little four-legged thing with small bright eyes, his power cord coiled up on his back like a squirrel's tail. The officer scowled around the flat.
     "Any others?"
     Poppy watched as TeeVee and Blue shifted into matching, oddly spiky creatures, sleek black with blank blue eyes a little like miniature television screens, while Sucker bumbled along looking... well, looking like a vacuum cleaner with legs with wheels for feet, to be honest. She bit her lip, fighting back sudden and unexpected tears.
     "What will happen to them?"
     "They won't be hurt."
     "I'm coming too."
     "I'm afraid not. It's a security matter." he added as she opened her mouth to object.
     "But... This is ridiculous! They're not a risk! They've done nothing but help me since they moved in!"
     The officer shrugged.
     "They're illegal aliens."
     Poppy would have laughed if the situation hadn't been so grave.
     "They're mine!"
     "No." He shook his head. "They are sentient robotic organisms. They shouldn't even be here."
     "Where are you taking them?"
     "That's classified."
     "Will you let me know what happens? Please." she begged as the officer hesitated. He sighed.
     "I'll see what I can do."

They'd transformed back into their appliance mode for the soldiers to carry them down to the army vehicle parked outside. Poppy had stood on the pavement and watched helplessly as they'd been driven away, wiping tears from her eyes as she climbed back up to the suddenly empty, lonely flat.

She'd been too despondent at first to replace the missing appliances, using the laundrette around the corner for washing and eating out of tins. Two weeks later she'd still heard nothing, and was beginning to think she'd better get used to the idea that that little bit of magic was gone forever. She still had nightmares about them being hurt or killed, deactivated, scrapped, whatever it was they did to sentient robotic organisms, but there was nothing she could do. She resolved to at least visit a showroom and price up human appliances during her lunchtime.
     There was a stranger waiting for her when she arrived home, a man with an indefinable military bearing despite the civilian clothes he wore. He inclined his head to her as she halted at the door.
     "Ms Moss?" She nodded warily. "SASF Agent Graham. I'm here to discuss your... friends."
     "May I see some identification, please?"
     He smiled. It was a nice smile.
     "Very wise." He removed a wallet from an inner pocket and flashed an official looking document. Poppy frowned at it. She'd never heard of NEST, but it looked genuine, and since he knew about the appliances... She opened the door.
     "Please, come in."
     "Thank you."

At the kitchen table, they sat with coffee as Graham explained that before he could tell her anything, she would need to sign the Official Secrets Act. He went on to explain the ramifications of such in considerable detail. Intrigued, Poppy agreed and signed. Then listened, entranced, to the story of an ancient alien war on a far distant metallic world, a war that had ended up coming to earth quite accidentally. She knew he was only giving her the bare bones of the matter, but even so... wow...
     "So, my appliances – transformers?" He nodded. "They really are neutrals?"
     He sighed.
     "Yes. As with most wars, there were a lot of innocents who couldn't or wouldn't join sides, who got caught up in the nightmare and simply tried to survive. Some of the transformers managed to stow away on ships leaving their home world, and some of them – including yours – found their way here."
     She pushed away her now-cold coffee.
     "Where are they? Mine, I mean. How are they?"
     "They're well. They've been reunited with a few others of their number who also managed to fall to earth."
     Poppy grinned, a little dopily.
     "I'm glad they're OK. Will you tell them I asked after them – unless, of course," she eyed him hopefully, "I can see them myself."
     He regarded her for a moment, then smiled.
     "Actually, we were rather hoping you'd be able to do a little job for us..."

"Poppy! POPPY!!" Poppy held her arms out as 'Spin, in his robotic form, skipped into the kitchen and hugged her – very very gently. "Oh, it'th THO good to thee you!"
     She sniffled and grinned at him, then turned her smile on the rest. Chillvern had settled himself into his corner and transformed back into fridge mode with a contented sigh: Sucker was already zooming around the flat, all his tools out, returning the somewhat unkempt place to the standard of cleanliness he insisted upon, while Steamy was burbling about a whole new load of recipes he'd learned. TeeVee and Blue touched Poppy's shoulders gently as they made their way to their old places.
     "And these are the new ones." Graham stood at the door and ushered in the three new transformers Poppy had agreed to have stay with her. What would become the stereo system immediately made himself at home in the corner of the lounge, apparently nattering with TeeVee and Blue: a squat little creature skittered over to the kitchen table, climbed on and sat beaming around at them all before shifting to become a second, smaller television (well, that would help solve the problem of them arguing over who got to see which programmes, at least for a while), and last but definitely not least, a graceful, complex-looking transformer tossed her a wave then loped to the desk in her bedroom and became a high-end computer system with all the peripherals she could ever want. She glanced back at Graham, eyes wide and mouth open, and he chuckled.
     "Only sensible, Poppy. This way you can have instant access to one of our operatives, in case of any problems, and vice versa." He held up a hand. "Visual comms only if you authorise it, I assure you."
     "Oh good!" She grinned happily. "This is fantastic."
     "We are glad you're happy with the situation. Thank you for volunteering."
     "My pleasure."
     "We're also trying to organise a car for you."
     She stared at him.
     "There are transformer cars?"
     "Oh yes. But they are larger and tend to be more involved with the actual war, so finding one who can be spared to act as guardian for a civilian is... not as easy."
     "It's OK. If it happens, great. If not – I'm very happy with this." She gestured around the flat.
     "Excellent. Well," he glanced around, checking that everything was in order, then saluted Poppy. "I had better be on my way. It was a pleasure meeting you Ms Moss. May you have peaceful days."
     "'Til all are one." chorused the transformers around her, and Graham chuckled.
     "'Til all are one."




©: JAT Oct 2011




... Course, I'm now tempted to write a followup...

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hurricane simulator


It's a hurricane simulator. Outside Iceland up at Broadwalk. Interesting idea, but at £2 a shot perhaps a little indulgent...


Dentist very happy with Kai's teeth - he doesn't need an appointment now for another 9 months! I have one on Thursday morning to repair the broken molar. Oh joy.

I've now finished Appliances, but not going to post the last part until Lutra's had a chance to read it (tomorrow a.m.) Quite pleased with it though!

The pilot episode of Alphas is on in twenty minutes. Going to give it a try, although I suspect it could bear a strong resemblance to Mutant X, which never did anything for me...

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Monday, October 17, 2011

[grin] Ordered!!

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday shopping, then K&K started assembling the new gate.

... and that's about it. Kai is now on two weeks holiday so the usual mad dash to get everything ready for Monday was blissfully absent.

Oh, perhaps I should note that our robin is back, and the goldfinches, that had disappeared for a month or so, have also started visiting the feeders again.

Also, this -

Strawberries
Also strawberries

Taken lunchtime today up at my strawberry bed. Strawberry flowers and fruit. In the middle of October. They'll die of course, as soon as the weather gets colder. Climate change? Wassat then?

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Later edit: Topspin now transformed - see here. Proved to be a little delicate, with easily dislocated ball-joints: supposed to be suitable for 5+ years but I'd have thought it was a little tricky for that young. Lovely design though, and with the light behind him his eyes/visor glow teal.

And I managed to lose a filling. Well, the repair to the enamel around the filling cracked off while I was eating (a mini Crunchie). Annoying as it scrapes against the side/bottom of my tongue, but it doesn't hurt. Kai has a checkup on Tuesday: I'll make an appointment for a replacement while we're up there.

Horrible night spent spluttering awake every time I managed to drop off. But had to get out today, nearly out of hedgehog food, so headed off (with Kai, who came along for the ride) to Hurrans. Except we couldn't get there, as the ubiquitous 'they' were digging up the crossroads at the top of Flowers Hill, and the pedestrian crossings and footpath down to Hicks Gate were all non-functional and closed off. [sigh]

So on the offchance we dropped into Pets at Home - who had three different sorts of hedgehog food! Most excellent. (They also had squirrel food. Who in their right minds would want to feed squirrels? Aggressive little invaders that they are...)

While we were up that way we dived into the Toys Я Us superstore, which had a 25% off sale on all DotM transformers and who also had a very nice mechtech Topspin (scroll down the page a bit. Photos later when I've struggled through the 20 moves required to transform him...)

And Ken said to go ahead and order RotF Soundwave, since the price has dropped way down (I assume because his newest alt form, from DotM, is a Mercedes). So I now have all the characters I planned to collect (plus a few extra) - until the Tf: P ones become available (and affordable) which will be next year at the earliest.

Still can't quite work out why I like action figures so much (well, the Tfs are easy - they're fascinating 3D puzzles as well as being intriguing alien characters). I absolutely hated dolls when I was little...

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Bleurgh...

But we got the summer downie washed and mostly dry, and I had my hair trimmed (by Jeff at The Zone in Sandy Park Rd - he's done a lovely job, exactly what I wanted). Tried to take the rest of the day easy - coughing has left my ribs feeling like they've been repeatedly punched. Will be glad when this has gone.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Transformers Vault arrived - it's terrific, absolutely gorgeous graphics.

And I've gone back to using Firefox 5.0.1. Versions 6 and 7 kept freezing - and while frozen were using 50% of my processing power. Will wait until they sort it out before upgrading again.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Ai haz a lurgy.

Do not want.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Treated myself to this...

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Saturday, October 08, 2011

[happy sigh] Just finished watching all three Transformers back to back. Eight hours, almost. Ken stayed to the end, Kai will watch the last two thirds of Dark of the Moon with me tomorrow pm (he was flagging and sensibly decided that pulling a late night on Saturday would jeopardise his getting up on Monday).

Now I can read that Ironhide fixit fic on FFN...

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WAIIII!!!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon has just arrived in the post. Cue a Transformers fest weekend ('cause Kai can only vaguely remember the previous two films and Ken can't remember them at all, so we have to watch all three... [beg])

Me gone.

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Friday, October 07, 2011

Bonus post - Disturbance, Part 4 of the cracky Transformers and Lutra inspired fic Appliances. (For the other three parts see Suds, Chillin' and Collecting, below.)

Disturbance

Poppy was getting used to the trio of voices greeting her when she got back from work every evening...
     Sucker – his real 'designation' was Suckmaster, he'd told her cheerfully, but she refused to call him by a name that sounded like some sort of sex-toy - and Steamy – whose full name was, apparently, Heatsteamcontroller – were, she had to admit, incredibly useful. Even if it now sounded as though she was sharing her flat with the cast of a bad porno film. But Steamy cooked her food exactly as she wanted it (she hardly used the oven or hob any more), somehow managing to steam even widely disparate foodstuffs to the perfect texture all at the same time. And as for Sucker – well, his various attachments meant he was able to keep the flat spotless, without Poppy having to do a thing.
     She could get used to this!

On the third Monday after their arrival in her flat, however, she arrived back from work to hear raised voices, and unlocked and entered in a hurry. As the door swung open everything went silent – well, her sentient appliances went silent, at least – only to resume as she called out "Only me!" and closed the door.
     "Oi's glad you'm 'ome!" grunted Sucker, his broad country accent sounding distinctly aggrieved. "'E's bin 'oggin' TV all day."
     Poppy looked into the kitchen. Steamy was perched on top of 'Spin, with Sucker sitting on the floor in front of them, all three positioned where they could see the TV in the lounge. Sucker gave the impression he was sulking.
     "Oh dear. What's happened?"
     And they all started talking at once.
     "I wath here firtht! I get to choothe..."
     "Oi wannid t'watch me gardenin'..."
     "I had t'miss my favouritest cookin' programme cos he wanted to see..."
     "Whoa, whoa!" Poppy raised her hands. "Please children, one at a time. I gather that you" she pointed at the washing machine "have not been sharing screen time with the others?"
     'Spin whirred peevishly.
     "But I wath here firtht, Poppy, and I'm the oldetht."
     "But Oi do more 'round t'ouse."
     "An' I cook every day!"
     Poppy giggled. They resembled nothing so much as a group of arguing kids.
     "You need to learn to share. Why don't you work out some sort of schedule? You know – 'Spin gets to watch his favourite soap, then you switch to something the others want to watch."
     "But Poppy, they all clash!" Steamy was quivering earnestly. "And I need t'watch my programmes so I c'n keep you well!"
     Poppy sighed, then grinned.
     "Well, you'll have to work something out between you. Otherwise we'll just have to let the fridge choose what to watch."
     She'd expected a chorus of chuckles: what she got was deadly silence. Very slowly she turned to the fridge, eyeing herself mistily reflected in the brushed steel of the slowly opening door.
     The voice that emanated from the machine was low and cultured.
     "Well, that's dashed decent of you, Poppy."
     "... what?"
     She scowled and whirled to glare at 'Spin.
     "Another one of you?"
     "Yes, I am, actually."
     Poppy glared over her shoulder.
     "I wasn't talking to you!"
     "I do beg your pardon..." The fridge shut up. Poppy turned back to 'Spin.
     "You only said Sucker and Steamy!"
     'Spin fidgeted minutely.
     "Um... I wath afraid you might not be too happy if I told you everything..."
     "Guess what? You were right!" She folded her arms and glowered around the kitchen. "Who else is here?"
     "Oh, no-one, Poppy."
     She eyed the washing machine narrowly.
     "OK, Captain Literal. Who else is here in the flat?"
     "That'd be us." The voice floated in from the lounge as the TV and blu-ray player blinked their on/off lights at her. Poppy grabbed her hair in both hands.
     "AAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!"

But actually, it only took her a few days to get used to TeeVee and Blue; she assumed that having a kitchen half-full of sentient machines already she was becoming inured to the shock. Especially since they very rarely spoke. She had trouble warming to Chillvern, however. Something about storing her food inside a creature that she could hold a conversation with was very offputting. 'Spin had tried to help.
     "He'th really nithe, Poppy. And hith whole mithion in life ith to pretherve your food, make thure nothing nathty can get in. Make thure you're healthy."
     "I appreciate that, 'Spin, but all the same..."
     She jumped as the fridge's urbane voice came from behind her.
     "I deeply regret that you find my presence unsettling. If you wish to... sell me and buy a human refrigerator I will not object."
     That little catch in his voice... dammit. She'd hurt his feelings. Determinedly not feeling guilty, she asked, "What would happen if I did?"
     A moment's silence, then, "It is very unlikely that my new owner would be in possession of others of us. I would most likely be a little lonely, but we are all of us used to that."
     She wondered for a moment if he was trying to gain her sympathy – but no, it was more likely he was simply being honest. One thing she'd learned about them was they had a noticeable lack of guile. Well, when speaking to her, anyway. Mostly. If she made sure she got the whole truth.
     She sighed. "No, I wouldn't be that cruel. You're friends with 'Spin, aren't you?"
     "We... have been acquainted for a considerable time, yes."
     She raised an eyebrow and glanced at the washing machine.
     "Yeth. We're friendth. Have been for ageth."
     "Very well. You can stay. But" she raised a finger warningly as 'Spin almost visibly perked up, "no more!"
     "I promith! And...thank you, Poppy. We are all grateful. You are very kind."
     "OK. Just don't make me regret it!"

A week later she arrived home to find two men standing on her doorstep. Two very officious looking men, with severe raincoats, bulky briefcases and matching frowns. And Electricity Board IDs hanging around their necks.
     "You are Ms Poppy Moss?"
     She eyed them nervously.
     "Um, yes?"
     "Resident at this address for the last three years?"
     "Yes... What's this about?"
     "Perhaps we could speak inside."
     Poppy frowned. Their IDs looked genuine, but...
     "Tell me what it's about, first, please."
     The balder of the two sighed. It sounded both irritable and exasperated.
     "It has been brought to our attention that the amount of electricity you have been using over the last two months has dropped considerably from its previous level. It is the Board's suspicion that the meter may have been tampered with. We are here to investigate."
     "Oh. Oh, all right then." Mentally crossing her fingers – she didn't think her 'tenants' had done anything to the electrical installation in the flat, but regardless, one didn't argue with people who had the ability to cut off one's energy supply – she unlocked the door and let them in. Apparently the appliances had heard the conversation: everything was switched off and silent, including the TV.
     "I've bought some new appliances just recently." she offered. "They're the highest energy-efficiency rating I could afford, all A ratings. And I've not been switching on as often as I used to." She tried a somewhat nervous smile. "Trying to reduce my carbon footprint."
     The less-bald official nodded negligently as his colleague opened the meter casing, peering closely at the wiring underneath by the light of the small but powerful torch he'd pulled from an inner pocket. His inspection seemed to take ages: in the meantime the other was wandering around the flat, checking sockets and switches, and noting down everything electrical she possessed. Finally less-bald grunted, straightened, and closed and fastened a tamper-proof seal on the meter.
     "Nothing there." he frowned at his colleague. "All as it should be."
     "Hm." Baldie scowled. "We'd better check downstairs." He turned to Poppy.
     "Very well, Ms Moss. We can't find any evidence of tampering, and I've noted that, as you say, you are being very energy-conscious. That's a good thing. We may need more information in the future, but for now, thank you for your cooperation."
     Poppy sighed silently with relief.
     "Any time." She followed them to the main door and watched as they climbed down the stairs, then closed the door and slumped against it.
     "Are you all right, Poppy? Your pump ith operating very fatht."
     She jumped at 'Spin's voice. Pump? Oh. Heart. She wobbled into the kitchen and dropped into a chair.
     "I'm OK. That was just a bit scary." She frowned at him. "OK, so, enlighten me. Do you lot actually use electricity?"
     "Not a lot, no. Only if we really really mutht. We have our own... power thellth. We normally top them up with tholar power when we need to."
     "Oh great. No wonder they noticed."
     "... have we cauthed you problemth?"
     Poppy managed a small grin.
     "Well, I appreciate the saving on the electricity bill, but it's not fun, people thinking you're defrauding them."
     "Oh. I'm... we're thorry. Do you want us to thtart uthing the... mainth thupply?"
     "Oh god no! That'll just make them think I was on the fiddle and have now put it right to stop any further investigation! No, I think it's best just to carry on as you are. But for gods' sake don’t use any less electricity, or they'll be back right away."
     "We can do that."
     "We're reelly sorry, Poppy." Steamy sounded upset, and she patted his cover.
     "It's OK, honestly. You weren't to know."
     "'f you're sure..."
     "I am. And after all that, I need something to eat!"
     Immediately the little steamer brightened up, chattering happily about what he planned to make her for dinner: following his instructions she lifted ingredients out of Chillvern and dropped them into his baskets.
     Twenty minutes later, eating her lemon chicken with mixed steamed vegetables and listening to the appliances chatter, she suddenly realised how comfortable – no, contented – she felt. They may not be human, but it was nice having company.


© JAT Oct 2011


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