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Umbrella Man
Joe Dredd wrote:

Headhunter - starring Glynis Barber as Ena Sharples and Paul Darrow as the Umbrella Man.


This photograph showing our heroes in somewhat unusual circumstances seemed to me like a wonderful picture prompt for a fanfic challenge. Sorry for the following nonsense but I couldn't resist ...

Behold, Umbrella Man!

The strange object was made of metal and cloth. It had a surprisingly sophisticated folding mechanism but it did not seem to serve any practical purpose. Avon spun it around in his hands and took a scrutinising look at it.

‘What is this supposed to be?’ he asked.

‘It’s called an umbrella’, Soolin explained, ‘it is a shield against rain.’

‘What for do we need that? It never rains on any planet we visit!’ Avon retorted. He pondered the thought for a while and then added, ‘Actually, no space adventurer ever visits a planet where it rains.’

Soolin sighed and tried to grab the umbrella. ‘You don’t have to bother with it, anyway. It is not part of your disguise but of mine. Give it back!’

Avon looked at her strange garment and pointed to her headdress. ‘I think I’ll keep the umbrella,’ he decided, ‘just in case that it will start to rain. You have this protective cloth on your head.’

Again, he spun the umbrella in his hand, watching the gaudy pattern moving in the sunlight. There was not a single cloud in the sky but you can never be careful enough.

‘Silly disguise, though’, he finally said.

‘We are a couple of peasants taking a break on the wayside on our way to town’, Soolin reminded him, ‘we have to blend in as much as possible to avoid Federation patrols.’

She took a doubtful look at his leather gear. Avon did not blend in very well. He had strictly refused to clothe in the not so fashionable local fashion. Well, they only had to keep up this charade until their contact arrived. Soolin stretched her neck to look in both directions of the road. The hills blocked her view after a few yards. A few peasants were walking past, but no-one looked like the man they were waiting for.

But suddenly, one of the passers-by startled and pointed towards Avon.

‘Umbrella Man!’ he shouted, ‘Umbrella Man has finally come! We are saved!’

He sank to his knees, stretching out his arms in praise. Within mere seconds, a small crowd had gathered around him, staring expectantly at the two alleged peasants at the wayside.

‘“And when all these things shall come to pass, Umbrella Man will return to his people’“, the kneeling man quoted, ‘“and thou shalt recognise Him by His Gaudy Umbrella. When thou seest Him walking down the street flaunting its fancy pattern thou wilt know that He is afraid of nothing, and thou shalt serve Him and put thy hope in Him.’“

Sooling looked around nervously. This was not exactly her idea of keeping a low profile. Fortunately, there were no Fed troops in the vicinity. However, that could change any minute. They might already lurk behind the next hill.

Avon decided that the easiest way to destroy the myth of his being Umbrella Man was to pass the umbrella to Soolin. She hastily took it back, furled it and tried to hide it behind her back. But this seemed to be the worst cause of action they could have taken.

The kneeling man rose to his feet, anger blazing on his face. ‘What have you done!’ he shouted, ‘you have given the Holy Umbrella to a lowly, unclean woman?’ He nearly spat out the last word as if it described something hideous. ‘This is against the word of our much revered prophet, Saint Benst Eed!’

Avon shuffled uneasily. The situation was completely spinning out of control. And any moment a Federation patrol could appear on the spot! As much as he would have loved to, he couldn’t simply shoot this fool and his cohorts.

The fanatics drew nearer, and in the next instant, Avon would have called Scorpio to pick them up when suddenly a rifle shot blared through the air. The peasants whirled around, and when they spotted three Federation troopers on the crest of the next hill, they dispersed and hastily walked on. Avon cursed silently. If they teleported away now, it would alarm the whole garrison. They had to try and bluff it out. After all, they were in disguise, weren’t they? Soolin obviously did not have much faith in their disguise – especially Avon’s – but reached for the concealed gun in her garment.

The three troopers had finally reached them. ‘Sorry we didn’t intervene earlier’, the leader apologised, ‘it’s always the same with these peasants. Pestering you, didn’t they? Well, no wonder. We don’t have celebrities like you on this godforsaken planet every day!’

Avon froze in alarm. Celebrities? Was that a sarcastic way to say ‘wanted terrorists’?

You couldn’t see it under the mask, but Soolin was sure the guy winked. ‘I recognised you immediately’, he said, not knowing that he had never been nearer to death. Then he took out a small notebook and a pen and gave it to Soolin.

‘You are the lady from Crowning Road, aren’t you? Can I please have an autograph?’
What ever you are drinking, I'll have one.

Hugbot SmileSmileSmile
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
Joe Dredd
Very good Hugbot. Saint Benst Eed indeed!

If posting pictures produces more Hugbot Tales, then I predict the site will soon be awash with photos.
Joe Dredd
Thank you all! I hope you have spotted the Firefly reference - ?

JustBrad wrote:

What ever you are drinking, I'll have one.

That might be a little expensive. Hansen Schwarzbier is an exclusive microbrew that you only get in two restaurants in Flensburg.

@Joe: Thank you for the compliment; however, I did not plan to use this thread as a vehicle for more Hugbot stories. I am hoping for my fellow fanfic authors to come up with explanations for the surreal circumstances in which our heroes are portrayed in the picture!
Hugbot wrote:

That might be a little expensive. Hansen Schwarzbier is an exclusive microbrew that you only get in two restaurants in Flensburg.

Hmmm... Another trip to Britain next year to see all our friends and maybe attend another con... or a beer with Huggy at his favorite local...

Tough choice. Pfft
Good things seldom result from a blow to the head. And when someone suffers three blows in the space of a single day; tops it off by imbibing too much red wine, tripping, head butting a door and knocking themselves out cold again; and should this occur in the vicinity of a basement with the ability to affect brains at a sub- molecular level; then their return to consciousness should be anticipated with trepidation.

"Yes alright, Vila, I see the problem, but what do you expect me to do about it?" Tarrant snapped; his usually buoyant spirits dampened by the fact that it seemed likely he would be forced to spend his remaining years eking out an existence in which rodents featured far too prominently.

"Well, I don't! I don't understand at all. It doesn't seem likely to me. You're sure you're not making all this up! How much wine have you had?"

"I'm as sober as a judge. Well perhaps not a judge. The ones I encountered all seemed pretty fond of the sauce. I'm as sober as...well sober anyway. It's true Dayna...Avon woke up...asked when we were going to begin filming again...then told me he was off to have a fag and I was to call him when he was needed..."

"Filming...fag...? You're definitely on something Vila...You let him wander off didn't you...?"

"He fell asleep, more like. That's it isn't it Vila? You fell asleep and when you woke up, Avon was gone. So you concocted this story..."

" I didn't. I'm telling you what happened... He woke up, said he was going for a fag and the last I saw of him he'd grabbed some odd kind of directional device and he was off.."

"Directional device?"

"That's what it looked like....a sort of pink plastic dome with metal spokes and a curved handle. He was holding it over his head. I think he must have found it in Dorian's workshop... It had flowers.. Went up and down..."
Soolin was used to madmen. After all she'd survived two years as Dorian's companion and had worked for other bat-crazy despots. But she had never been taken hostage by a smiling lunatic wielding a pink plastic dome on a stick. At least she supposed she'd been taken hostage. Avon, (whom she'd been weighing up as a potential ally) had surprised her while she was sleeping rough, insisted she donned a strange piece of cloth to "protect your hair style while we wait to be called" and was now sitting beside her holding his plastic dome in one hand and his clip gun in the other, calling her "kid" in a low, gravelly voice.

It was, however, her nature to act rather than speculate. Even as she faked the laughter he seemed to expect his gravelly voice to induce she was feeling behind her for a rock.
When he eventually came round again, Avon had no memory of how he came to carrying an object that Orac later identified as, "a device for protecting oneself from precipitation, commonly referred to as an umbrella", or why he had suddenly developed a craving for tobacco. He wasn't going to ask either and the others preferred not to mention it. Though they were moved to wonder during all the crazy events that followed, whether these were the result of bad luck, those blows to Avon's head or following a script written for them by a unusually sadistic cynic.
Edited by Anniew on 20 July 2016 11:53:15
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
Oh very good Hugbot, LOL!

Anniew, your story is as weird as the scene on the photo! Will there be a sequel?

Thanks for the photos Joe, I love to see more and maybe I'll manage to write down as a story what I thought at first sight.
Lara&Sue's Blake's 7 stories
*No, I am not. I am not expendable, I'm not stupid, and I'm not going.*
'Odd kind of directional device' Grin
Nice one, Annie! We all knew that all these bumps on the head in Power must have had some adverse effects ...
Incidentally, you did not by any chance sneak into a school graduation party in Paderborn on the 17th of June, 1984, and watched a play written by a friend of mine and myself? Wink
It was a wonderful prompt Hugbot. I really enjoyed wrapping my brain around it. Only my second attempt at a meta fic. ( Never absolutely sure what meta is but I think it's where you deliberately break the fourth wall!) I've never understood why Avon went missing at the start of Power or why he asked Orac to teleport him with such a low probability of reassembly or how he and Soolin missed each other!
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
Of course, I could not resist JD’s second ‘picture prompt’ (post #5). But then I will stop. I’m walking a fine line here as the pictures actually show the actors in their private time during breaks, and I fully support the Horizon policy of not writing stories about the actors but only about the characters. But pretending that these mundane and very un-sci-fi actions were actually done by our heroes is irresistibly surreal.

Smoking Can Kill You

With trembling fingers, Avon ripped open the pack, took out a cigarette and lit it. When he inhaled deeply, he slowly felt his calmness coming back.

When had this all started? It had been at his last meeting with Servalan. She had once again tried to persuade him to pool their resources, and to mark the importance of their talk, she had given him his very first cigarette. It was an old ritual, she had told him, and she had even lit the cigarette for him. He had, of course, not agreed to her plans, but nonetheless she had given him a generous amount of cigarette packs as a present. At that time, he could not explain her behaviour. Now he knew. The stuff was addictive. And she controlled his supply.

He was already down to the last pack. In the last weeks, he had tried to reduce the amount of cigarettes he smoked per day, which only resulted in his getting grumpier and grumpier with every passing day.

The last pack ... but Servalan would not simply starve him, would she? He picked up the pack again and examined it carefully. And there it was, a small piece of paper hidden between the fags. When he unfolded it, he recognised Servalan’s handwriting. The message only consisted of a name ... and a stain of lipstick, obviously meant as a postscript.

The name was vaguely familiar. Some backwater planet, if he remembered correctly. Of course this was a trap, but he could not help but go there. However, he had to find some reason for his crew.

Reluctantly, he inserted Orac’s key.

‘Orac, what can you tell me about a planet called Gauda Prime?’
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