Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 33 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for Sunday 20th August is ‘Space’:
Here’s the purple space dragon from the GIF:
It’s also linked to my previous story, ‘A wizard takes a train in the year 3000,’ and my ‘Merlin, excerpts and outtakes from ‘Second Chance at Destiny.‘ stories. This is one of two plot bunnies I can’t stay away from, and is a bit longer than usual because I got carried away!
Warnings for mild language.
It was a cold day in the year 3000 the day the distress signal came through. Although really, it was always cold on New Earth.
‘People at Moonbase 3 say there’s trouble again,’ one of the guards said, as he read through a report on the screen in front of him. ‘Second report this week, wonder what…’
‘Moonbase 3? Ain’t that the newest outpost?’ a second security guard interrupted. He leaned back in his chair, feet atop a console full of buttons.
‘Yeah. Yeah it is. Bloody hell.’
‘What?’ the second guard asked. He let his legs fall to the floor and spun his chair around to peer over his companions shoulder. ‘Giant purple dragon? They’re having a laugh, right?’
‘Hang on, there’s a picture attached,’ the first guard replied. He clicked on the attachment and let out a gasp.
‘I ain’t dealing with that,’ the second guard said. ‘No way. Send in the robots. They’re expendable.’
‘Right,’ Guard number one agreed. He pressed a green button on the console.
A tinny voice sounded through the speakers, bubbly and excited. ‘You’re through to Moonbase 2. How may I help you?’
‘Need a giant robot squad deployed to Moonbase 3, and make it quick,’ the first guard ordered.
‘What, no hello? How are you?’
‘Listen, kid, this is urgent. There’s a giant purple space dragon terrorising the people, and I need those robots there now!’ Guard two yelled.
‘All right, all right, geesh. I’m on it. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.’
The line went dead.
‘The robots can handle it, right?’ Guard one asked his companion.
‘Course they can. How tough can a space dragon be?’
Space dragons, as it turned out, were pretty tough.
‘You sent our entire battalion of giant robots to fight this thing, and what’s left?’ their commander yelled.
Both guards flinched as their boss threw a robot arm at them. It spiralled through the air. Guard one ducked. Guard two was not so lucky. The arm smacked him square in the forehead, and he stumbled back a few steps.
‘It’s not our fault,’ Guard one replied, as he watched his friend rub at his forehead. ‘It’s that girl on Moonbase 2. She was the one who sent the lot of them, and…’
‘If a might interject,’ a gravelled voice called from behind them.
The commander and his two guards turned on heel. ‘What do you want, old man? How’d you even get in here?’
‘Just thought I’d offer my services,’ the old man replied. He gestured towards the monitor with a weathered old staff, where a mug shot of the renegade space dragon filled the screen.
‘You?’ Guard two asked with a laugh. ‘I’ve heard about you, old man. Rambling to anyone who will listen about kings and reuniting the land. Crap. All of it. What would you do? Talk it to death?’
The old man sighed and ran a hand through greying hair. ‘It’s not crap. It’s the truth.’
‘Stop getting sidetracked,’ a young boy of no more than seventeen said, as he appeared from nowhere brandishing a sword. He clapped the old man on the shoulder and gestured to the monitor. ‘That’s what you want me to kill to help unite the land?’
‘And I suppose this is the king of England?’ Guard two replied with a scoff.
‘Apparently.’ The boy sighed as he eyed the pile of robotic garbage. ‘His reincarnation anyway, according to him. I’m Arthur.’
‘You think you can take down a dragon?’ Guard two asked. He pulled out his wallet. ‘I’d bet against you there.’
Arthur ignored him and wandered towards the robot graveyard. ‘The dragon did this?’ he asked. He turned to the old man. ‘I ain’t doing it.’
The old man shuffled over and placed a hand on Arthur’s shoulder. The guards and commander looked on as they spoke in hushed whispers.
‘Tore them to pieces… Can’t…’
‘You’ll be fine… You’re ready. If not… magic… perfectly safe.’
Arthur raised an eyebrow as the old man guided him back towards the monitor. ‘You couldn’t even light the barbecue yesterday!’
‘But I did cook amazing cakes in the Easy Bake oven 3000,’ the old man replied, with a smile and a wave of his arms. ‘Proof of my awesome powers.’
Arthur sighed. ‘You’re not letting this go are you? The dragon.’
‘People are dying, Arthur!’
Arthur looked at the monitor again. At the carnage which was once Moonbase 3.
‘Fine, we’ll go,’ he agreed. He held up a small device around his neck. ‘But first sign of trouble, I’m teleporting out of there and leaving you behind.’
‘You were never this cowardly in your past life,’ the old man muttered in reply.
‘There you go with that again!’ Arthur retorted with a fond smile. ‘Honestly, why I continue to hang around with you is anyone’s guess.’
‘Must be my charm and good looks,’ the old man replied, with a gesture to his wrinkled face and tattered robes.
Arthur shook his head and turned to the commander. ‘All right, we’ll go. Lend us a ship.’
‘Your funeral,’ the commander replied with a shrug. He turned to the guards. ‘Get them a ship, will you?’
‘I still don’t see why I can’t be the pilot,’ Arthur grumbled. He slouched forward, belt unbuckled and head resting on his arms on the desk in front of him.
‘Do you have 500 years of experience piloting spacecraft?’
Arthur shook his head and glanced up as they drew closer to the moon.
‘Then shut up, and buckle up. Never been too good at the landings.’
Arthur scrambled backwards and clipped his belt together around his chest.
The old man raised an eyebrow. ‘That was fast.’
Arthur shrugged. ‘If I’ve learned anything about you in the past few weeks, Merlin, it’s that you don’t lie about your inadequacies.’
Merlin looked away for a moment. His lips pressed together, and his eyes slipped shut.
‘Did I strike a nerve? What happened to… Woah! Open your eyes and pay attention to where we’re going!’
Merlin’s eyes shot open, and he fumbled with the controls as their craft hurtled closer to the planets surface. ‘Damned these old man hands!’
Light shimmered around him, and he murmured a few inaudible words. Arthur shielded his eyes with his hands. When the light faded, a young man of about Arthur’s age sat in front of him.
‘Much better!’ Merlin said with a grin, and he grasped the controls and piloted the ship away from the large metal spike in front of them.
‘I told you, you should have let me fly!’ Arthur yelled.
‘Not a chance. You’re my responsibility.’
Gone was the gravelly voice and rasping tone. In its place was a lighter voice, but one still heavy with the weight of responsibility.
‘I make my own choices,’ Arthur replied indignantly. He batted Merlin’s hands away from the controls and pulled on the brakes.
‘Leave that alone! What are you…’ Merlin blinked as an asteroid skimmed past them. ‘Oh. Thanks.’
‘You’re welcome,’ Arthur replied with a grin. ‘I may not have as much experience as you, but I can fly. My father lets me all the time.’
‘Really?’ Merlin raised a sceptical eyebrow.
‘Yeah,’ Arthur replied. He ran a hand through his hair and looked away.
‘It’s a simulator, isn’t it?’ Merlin asked. He reached forward and initiated the docking sequence.
Arthur shrugged. ‘You know what he’s like. He never lets me have any real fun.’
‘He’s just trying to protect you,’ Merlin replied. He unbuckled his belt with deft hands and offered Arthur a hand up. ‘Come on.’
Arthur took Merlin’s hand and pulled himself to his feet. They exited the spacecraft and strode along the long metal gangway.
‘Where first?’ Arthur asked with a frown as they reached a crossroads.
‘All Moonbases are the same,’ Merlin replied. ‘They have outer limbs for docking, a large ring of storage, and a giant dome of tempered glass in the middle. Dragon that huge will be in the centre. Come on, it’s this way.’
Arthur matched Merlin’s now brisk pace as they continued straight ahead. They found the dragon exactly where Merlin said it would be.
Arthur drew his sword and rested it on his shoulder. ‘Should I attack it?’
Merlin scoffed. ‘If you have a death wish. If not? Stay back. It hasn’t noticed us yet.’
Arthur peeked around the corner of the corridor they were hidden in. The dragon loomed in front of them, in the centre of the dome. Large. Deep purple. Covered in swirls of light blue, and spikes, not unlike the Spinosaurus from his ancient history lessons, littered its back. Its six eyes spun around the large dome, and they settled on something in the distance.
Arthur pulled out his phone camera and zoomed in. ‘The Moonbase was evacuated, right?’
Merlin nodded as Arthur thrust his phone at him. ‘Supposed to be, why?’
‘It may not have seen us, but it’s seen them,’ Arthur replied. He pointed to three woman and a child on the screen, trapped in a building in the dragons line of fire.
‘Dammit!’ Merlin huffed and ran a hand through dark hair as he surveyed the area around him. Apple trees? No. Those took years to grow. He couldn’t set them alight to distract the dragon. ‘Thirty apple trees, lots of rubble, but nothing to play with.’
‘Quit playing games and help them!’ Arthur yelled, as the cornered citizens continued to cower. ‘Before the space dragon eats them!’
‘Right. Right,’ Merlin replied. He sucked in a breath and his gaze settled on a pile of lumbar. ‘Can always trade with Earth for more of that, at least for now.’
Arthur watched as Merlin raised his staff, muttered a few words, and a fireball shot towards the pile of wood.
Six eyes flickered towards the ball of light, and the dragon lumbered around to bat it with its tail. The fireball skittered away towards the apple trees. In seconds, they were ablaze.
‘Shh.’ Merlin grabbed Arthur and plastered them both to the wall.
A large, purple head peered around the corner, and six eyes blinked down at them. Merlin peeled himself away from Arthur, and spun on heel to stand in front of him, arms outstretched and staff in hand.
‘Your aim is appalling. Perhaps I can help you, young warlock,’ the dragon said.
Merlin spluttered and glared at it. ‘My aim? You were the one who hit it into the trees! I wanted to hit the lumbar pile!’
‘Oh, I thought you were aiming at me,’ the dragon replied with a frown. ‘Actually, why weren’t you? The robots did.’
‘Yeah, and look at what happened to them,’ Arthur retorted. He sheathed his sword and leaned against the wall, arms crossed. ‘In bits, the lot of them.’
‘I just wanted to get your attention,’ Merlin said. Wary eyes tracked over the large beast in front of him, and he stepped to the side to check on the trapped people. They’d vanished.
‘Oh! You got my distress signal!’ The dragon replied with a grin. ‘Great. I need you to kill all the humans.’
‘You, a giant space dragon, need help killing humans?’ Arthur said with a laugh. ‘You honestly expect us to believe that?’
The dragon growled and swiped out a paw towards Arthur. Arthur jumped back.
‘See?’ the dragon asked, with a swish of its tail. ‘Puny humans are too small and tricky for me to hit. It’s like a human trying to catch a mouse. Useless. Go on then. Hop to it.’
Merlin turned his attention back to the dragon. ‘But why?’
‘They invaded my land and hunted my people,’ the dragon replied. It exhaled and puffed purple smoke from its nostrils.
‘There’s more of you?’ Arthur asked, with a discreet glance towards Merlin.
The dragon nodded. ‘Beneath the surface we dwell. Or dwelled. Perfectly happy until your lot came along an’ started drilling.’
There was a clatter and a bang from behind them, and then, a group of settlers made themselves known. Guns glinted in the artificial light as they surrounded the dragon. The dragon roared and bared its teeth.
‘Real warriors use swords,’ Arthur said, with a glare of distaste towards the guns. He peeled himself from the wall and drew his weapon.
‘For Fagus sake!’ Merlin exclaimed, eyes wide with horror as Arthur placed himself in between the guns and the dragon.
Arthur turned to Merlin with a raised eyebrow. ‘Celtic god of beech trees? That’s the one you’re going for?’
‘You? Shut up!’ Merlin ordered with a glare towards Arthur. Arthur snickered as Merlin turned on the giant space dragon. ‘You? Stop it. And you? He turned to the people. Put the guns down. Do you know how many wars, how many conflicts I’ve seen start, all because no one would talk to each other? Sort it out. The dragons? They were here first. You either work with them, or you leave.’
‘I think they should leave,’ Arthur muttered, when the people refused to down their weapons.
Merlin sighed and hefted his staff to aim at them. ‘I tried asking nicely.’
He muttered a few words, and the staff glowed. The guns tore from the hands of the men and gathered in a cluttered pile by Merlin’s feet. ‘Sit.’
The people sat. The dragon huffed.
‘Do you need persuading too?’ Merlin asked with a glare.
Arthur shuddered at the force of it and watched the dragon sit. He didn’t blame it.
‘Right. Now we are going to sit here until we work out a way you can live together in peace.’ Merlin said. ‘Dragon, you’re first. I’ll mediate.’
Arthur leaned against the wall and yawned. It was going to be a long day.
The cycle of day had ended by the time they boarded the ship to head home.
‘Well, that was a success,’ Arthur said, but he followed up with a sigh.
Merlin nodded absently and pushed Arthur towards the pilots seat.
Arthur’s eyes lit up. ‘Really?’
‘You deserve it. Besides, I can tell when you’re restless.’
‘Is it that obvious?’ Arthur replied with a sigh. He sank into the seat and adjusted the height. ‘We saved the Moonbase, but I didn’t get to use my sword. It was a little disappointing.’
‘You negotiated better than I expected though.’
‘Maybe it’s my past life catching up with me,’ Arthur replied with a grin.
Merlin’s answering smile was brighter than the sun. They stared at each other for a moment, before Merlin’s face fell.
‘I burned down every tree…’ Merlin muttered, and his eyes flitted over the dome.
Arthur followed his gaze and sucked in a breath. Smoke rose from the Moonbase. Merlin stood and opened the hatch.
‘You’re never happy, are you Merlin?’ Arthur replied with a sigh. ‘Where are you going? You can’t do anything about it now!’
‘I forgot to put the fires out!’ Merlin yelled, eyes wide in panic as he tore from the shuttle and gestured wildly towards the rising smoke. ‘It’s going to spread!’
Arthur cursed and followed him back to the dome. Where Merlin was concerned, nothing was ever simple.
Thanks for reading!
This is an excerpt from a work in progress I’ve been playing with based on Arthurian Legend, but set far in the future. Hold onto your hats for reincarnation, boys being boys, knights, space dragons, space travel, and much more! This is one contender for my NaNoWriMo project, where I plan to be a planning pantser. The other is the pizza assassin story I’ve mentioned on Twitter.
Next Sunday’s prompt:
The prompt for 27th August is ‘Seaside.’
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 27th August, and leave a link in the comments below this post so that I can read it 🙂
If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂