The East Anglian Bombardiers And Grenadiers, p.1Stephen Jennison-Smith
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Copyright S.Jennison-Smith © 2014
Also by the same Author:
(The Theran Chronicles)
The Sun Thief
The Victoria Conspiracy
Attack on Thera
The Tawa (short story)
Sid and Arthur's Steampunk Adventure (crossover)
(The Arth Series)
The Crying Pennant
The Sitting Duck
Up and Away
Ground Hog War
The Detective One
Romancing the Drone
A DaVinci Co-Ed
The Time Backwater: The Time War
Factory of Androids
War in the Precincts
(The Books of Kendra)
The Lies we Teach Our Kids
The East Anglian Bombardiers and Grenadiers
The colonel sat at his desk facing the door. A fire crackled in the grate and pictures of his loved ones adorned the mantelpiece. He was writing a report to be sent to head office but was thinking about a reprimand he had to give to one of the men under his command.
There came a knock at the door and he replied to it, “Enter!”
As the door opened his colour sergeant shouted, “Left, right, left, right!”
The boots of the private rang out in unison to the sergeant’s staccato of commands.
Marching in then stopping on command the soldier saluted his officer.
“Private Plattington reporting for reprimand Sir,” explained the NCO from beyond the doorway.
“Thank you Sergeant,” replied the colonel.
The door was then closed to give the colonel and private privacy.
Colonel Pendragon carried looking at his report, leaving Plattington to stand there still at attention. “Is that enough attention Plattington?”
“Maybe if you had paid greater attention to me before you would not be standing to attention in front of me now.” he pushed the report away from himself and looked with a withering gaze at the private.
The private looked to the ground in shame.
“I wanted to give you your first stripe.”
“The whip Sir?”
“No man, your corporal’s stripe. You could have led your own platoon. It could have been called ‘Plattington’s Platoon’, which would have been quite funny.” He thought quite quietly to himself, “If we had a platypus mascot then we could house it with him and it would be called Plattington’s Platoon Platypus.”
“It’s no good saying sorry now, you’ve done the deed.” Colonel Pendragon mused for a little while, “What was it again that I’m supposed to be punishing you for?” He leant over the desk to look at his notes.
“Annoying chatter Sir,” replied Plattington.
“Annoying chatter? I get that all the time off the colour sergeant.” Tapping his billy stick on the table he tried to remember, “Who made that stupid rule up?”
“You Sir, it’s not in the TEABAG manual.”
“Oh, well. It seems a bit silly now doesn’t it. I must have been particularly annoyed at somebody chattering.”
“It was Chatteris Sir, he chatters all the time.”
“So who reported you then?”
“Chatteris Sir, he said he couldn’t get a word in edgeways.”
“How ironic, Chatteris reporting you for chattering annoyingly.” As he walked to one side of the desk he made a decision, “It’s not a bad enough offence to lose a stripe over. I’m still going to promote you to bombardier, which is also what a corporal is called in the artillery. Er, and you have to look after the new regimental mascot, a platypus...” Pendragon threw a stripe across the table.
Plattington grabbed it, smiled and saluted.
“Dismissed,” also smiled the colonel as he tapped his forehead in acknowledgement. “Scubbins!” he then bellowed.
The colour sergeant entered and stood to attention, “Sir.”
“I’ve promoted Plattington and given him a platypus.”
“So that’ll be Peter Plattington’s Platoon platypus then?”
“He’s called Peter is he?”
“Yes Sir, it’s better than being called Pat. Pat Plattington’s...” he began.
“That’s all Colour Sergeant.”
Scubbins smiled, clicked his heels and turned to leave.
Looking out of the window the colonel thought about his story so far. He was a clone, another clone, of King Arthur. Produced at the Tulox clone factory on Reema V. “What did that make now?” he whispered and then began to add them up on his fingers. There was good old battle chieftain Arthur, the original. Then there was the Arthur of the Arth series (he was a clone of him.) Art came next, from the Sci Fi dimension. (Sci Fi sounds a bit like Hi Fi, I suppose it’s supposed to.) Arthur 2 before he disappeared. Evil Arthur from the anti-matter/alternate universe. Then there was himself - another clone of Arth Arthur. And lastly there was him!
He picked up a cup that he hadn’t noticed before to take a drink. As he lifted it up to his lips a pair of eyes appeared on it and blinked at him. “Aargh!” he exclaimed as he threw it away.
It didn’t smash but globbed to the floor and slowly turned into, himself!
“Why do you always do that?” he asked, of the shapechanger.
“All the better to see you with,” retorted the cup/colonel/thing.
“What do you want Ruhtra?”
“Nothing, I thought I’d introduce myself to the readers.”
“Think of another reason, we can’t break the 4th wall so soon.”
“Erm,” thought Ruhtra, “special mission?”
“The one where we have to retrieve secret technology.”
“How do you know about that?”
“Ways and means old chap, ways and means. You know it really is disconcerting conversing with you. You look and sound so much like me.”
“In the mirror?”
“Yeas... in the mirror. It’s really because you’re a copy of the evil Arthur from the anti-matter/alternate universe aren’t you?”
“We both know that already?”
“Yes but the read...” he stopped himself, “let’s discuss some ideas about this special mission then.”
“What, so you can explain them to the others and get to look good?”
“I am the ranking officer.”
“I outrank you, I was commissioned on the 24th of July 1884.”
“So was I.”
“But I said it first.”
“Doesn’t count, anyway you’re lying, just like you always do. You’re supposed to be a liaison between Zathan and Her Majesty’s Britannic forces on Thera.”
“On my own world I’m an emperor.”
“No, you’re part of an emperor.”
“Part of an emperor is more important than a full colonel.”
“Just get on with the discussion or I’ll zap you,” Arthur drew out his stun pistol and turned it to shock then threatened the wayward shapechanger with it.
“All right, all right,” he said as he held up his hands, “Let’s begin. There is a code book kept in the tower of Tarrelo, the capital of the Andacian Empire. This code book unlocks an ancient Hoo
“What, you mean they used one of their chopped off tongues to write in? Savages!”
“No, I did not mean that. I know you’re really not that stupid so don’t interrupt me again.” Ruhtra turned to the map on the wall that had just conveniently appeared there. “We will fly in via airship, pretending to be traders. Hover over the tower, shimmy down ropes and get in...” he looked at Arthur who seemed to want to speak, “go on?”
“But couldn’t you do the whole mission on your own, being a shapechanger and all?”
“They may have anti shapechanger technology, so I need to take you lot with me in case they have.”
Arthur smiled, he felt useful again, “Carry on.”
“Once we’re inside we need to make our way down to the deepest dungeon and break in through the bars, retrieve the code book, then make our escape?”
“What do we make our ‘S’ cape out of? Is it for Superman?”
“I do believe humans are stupid.”
Completely randomly Arthur asked, “You’re one of the shapechangers who was part of Zattaz aren’t you?”
“So a bit of you is evil then?”
“Just a little bit.”
“Can’t you chop it off, you know, the evil bit?”
“It would be like you chopping your head off, it wouldn’t affect your intelligence but you wouldn’t look so nice.”
“Hrumph!” hrumphed Arthur, “I think I’ve heard enough now to explain it to the others. Er, you can go for a cup of tea now.”
“You know I don’t drink tea.”
“Well a cup of whatever it is then, dismiss.”
In a surly manner Ruhtra exited by the drain.
“Scubbins!” cried the colonel as he pretended to shuffle some papers on the desk.
The colour sergeant entered the room and stood straight, “Yes Sir!”
“Gather the men will you, I need to brief them.”
“You want me to gather them up in their briefs?”
“No man, tell them to come into my office so that I can explain the mission to them.”
As Scubbins left he smiled, it was his way of getting back at his pompous commander.
So now we are introduced to the rest of the team. Imagine if you will a film where the main actors step forth to introduce themselves.
First we have Colour Sergeant Sidney Scubbins. A very short man, some might even say a dwarf, with a beard. He shouted his staccato of commands out.
Secondly Sergeant Gunby appeared in the doorway, looked at the camera, and stopped for just a second before taking his place in front of the colonel. Now Gunby was a giant of a man, 7’ tall in his stockinged feet. (9’ tall if you believe the front cover!)
Following him was Sergeant Tresham, a Southern gentleman of the United States, well, a clone of him anyway. He too stopped for a while and then smiled before taking his place next to Gunby.
Thirdly came Corporal Plattington, showing off his new stripe to the audience before standing next to Tresham.
Nextly (if that is a word) chattered Chatteris all the way over to Plattington.
A metal man, well two, had difficulties navigating through the door. Those were Robo Sid and Robo Arthur, and when they both got through the door at last they got in to a clinch for the camera, before also taking their places before Pendragon.
Lastly slithered Ruhtra in the form of an Arthur headed snake. He slithered onto the colonel’s desk and slurped himself into an empty fruit bowl so that he could have a rest while we listened to Pendragon’s explanation of the mission.
Beginning to pace with his hands behind his back Pendragon readied himself to talk. “Now men, The East Anglian Bombardiers and Grenadiers, (Special Operations Section) has just received a new important mission.”
“By shapechanger,” inferred Ruhtra from his bowl.
Arthur ignored him.
“Which Arthur?” asked Robo Arthur.
Colonel Arthur Pendragon ignored him.
“Oh,” ohed Robo Arthur as he again shut up and listened.
Pendragon continued, “There is a secret thingamyjig…”
“Codebook,” prompted Ruhtra.
“Codebook in the er, Tower of er,…”
“That’s it, Tarrelo. Don’t tell me any more Ruhtra, I’ll try to remember it. Now…er, we have to fly the airship over the Tower and shimmy down. Erm, then we need we need to bring it back here. Oh, I forgot, the code has something to do with a great Hoo power and we can’t let them get their hands on it.”
“So concise and precise in his explanation isn’t he,” murmured Robo Sid to Robo Arthur, “just like you, who also bumbles like an absent minded professor.”
(Well this seems to bring an end to this section, so…)
The Talent. The TEABAG’s airship. It makes you think it’s a cross between the names of the Tawa and the General Gallant, which it is. I had to make it slightly larger than the Tawa or the Gallant because of the extra crew members, or else Gunby would be sleeping with his feet out of the window, (and if he was in his stockinged feet they would freeze!)
So it’s there, on the tarmac. Well it’s not tarmac, but another tar and stone compound quite similar. It was close to their main base building, protected by its own electric shield.
The first on board was Private Chatteris who was the second pilot. The first pilot was second aboard. It was Tresham. The sergeant was going to allow Chatteris to take the helm until we got to the good stuff (what’s a helmet doing aboard anyway?)
The others filed aboard and Pendragon, in all his bossiness, was dishing out meaningless orders like a waiter with order soup.
Second pilot Chatteris pulled some switches and drew the steering wheel back. The Talent started to rise, they were underway.
Now this is where we get to the slow down part where we try to develop the characters a bit more, so you grow to love them and will watch all of the TV series because of it. Today’s character development is… Plattington!
Now Plattington hasn’t been in any of the other tales before so we have to work on his back story. He was a captured human slave from the London of earth in 1880. Rescued by tea pirates he managed to make his way to Tyreen. There he became part of the Tyreen air navy and when the British finally came through the IWTD in force he decided to join up with them instead. He also has a cat called Felix. The cat is aboard. There, that is it.
“Felix,” called Corporal Plattington, he also made kissy noises with his lips.
This annoyed Pendragon who made his displeasure known to Scubbins, “Can’t we get him that platypus sooner? It’s really annoying me, him doing those kissy noises.”
Sid was drinking a cup of tea in the central ship area where there was a nice largish table.
“What kind of relationship do you have with the Author?” asked Sid.
“Well not too good really. When I found out you and I had only been created to fill in for the real Sid and Arthur from The Crying Pennant, well, that’s it really. I don’t speak to him because of it.”
“Excuse me!!” interrupted Plattington, “this bit is supposed to be about me and my character development.”
“So tell us about yourself then, but not the stuff the Author wrote about you seven paragraphs ago,” ordered Arthur.
“Well er, I was born in Kensington, London.”
“That’s posh,” remarked Sid.
“St. Mary Abbott’s, that’s all, I was only there for two weeks, the maternity section.”
“So things soon tumbled into ignominy with you then,” presumed Arthur, “ended up in Whitechapel I presume?”
“No, Shoreditch actually, my old dad was a Hansom cabbie.”
“Why thank you,” thought it a compliment Plattington. “I look like my father, I’m told.”
“You’re old?” again pretended to mishear Sid.
“Not as old as you I’m told. Over 300 aren’t you? You don’t look a day over 250.”
Sid grinned and accepted the compliment, but then realised, “Well actually, the real Sid is supposed to be over 350. I’m only six months old.”
“Ooer, yes, you’re a clone of the REAL Sid aren’t you?”
Looking a little dourer, Colour Sergeant Scubbins rued, “Six months old and I don’t look a day over 250. Hah, that’s not a compliment at all. I have a good mind to stick you on jankers.”
“Now now Sid,” admonished the colonel, “that would be a tad unfair don’t you think?”
“Have we done enough of this silly character development yet?” wondered Sid, “can’t we just get on with a bit of action?”
I suppose they could be attacked by tea pirates - that would give me a good cliffhanger for the end of the chapter.
So, suddenly, as though I had just thought of it, the Talent rocked from side to side.
“So, the Author’s been listening to rock music has he?” thought Arthur.
“Tea pirates!” shouted Chatteris from the bridge.
“TEABAGs to action!” shouted the colonel as the three of them, who were in the mid-belly of the airship, started to ascend the ladder to get into action.
“Now is the winter of our disco tent,” cried the Richard the III steam powered android as he goaded his tea pirate crew to swing across the chasm between both airships to board the Talent.
“What!” grumbled Arthur, “a Richard III android from the Sanctum steampunk museum leading an army of metal men tea pirates.”
“Yup,” yupped Sid, “sounds like the Author wants to make it into a computer game of some kind. Us lot against metal men instead of Zulus.”
“Do you think it’ll work?”
“I don’t know, ask him.”
But Arthur did not want to ask me anything. So instead he shouted some orders at his men, “Repel boarders, batten down the hatches, fire in the hold…”
“Do you have to use clichés so flippantly?” queried the short colour sergeant who was really a dwarf, well, a dwarf clone anyway.
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