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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:18 pm 
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viewtopic.php?f=15&t=10817

Back when I was working on this, before a PC mega-crash destroyed my notes & plans, I'd been called-out for an anachronism. I was, um, five decades off in one essential reference...

See viewtopic.php?f=15&t=10834
Oops.
So, for info, here's the revised Chapter #3
===

It was ten days before Uncle Jim returned. I left my wrecking bar on the edge of the building's plinth, walked over to his SUV.

"You've taken down the West wing's walls," he noted.

"Yes, we've cleared all the brickwork from the West side and we're making good progress on the East wing." I pointed to the conveyor's stream of bricks falling into the excavator's bucket. "The extra weathering means its mortar just falls apart."

"You'll be finished soon, then ?"

"No way..." I shook my head. "There's an ungodly tangle of ceilings and floors to un-pick, plus three flights of stairs."

Uncle Jim looked surprised.

"We've layers of lath and plaster mixed up with big timbers. We're having to prise huge planks off their massive beams with wrecking bars, tow them clear with the Land-Rover." I shrugged. "We'll make up time on the East wing because the wood there is so rotten."

"Good."

"One thing I'm not looking forward to is clearing all the lath, plaster and mortar waste off the plinth." I pointed to the excavator. "We could do it in an hour with that, if we could trust the vaults to hold its weight."

"Ah..." Uncle Jim shook his head slowly. "No, I don't think so..."

"So we'll do it the old fashioned way with shovel and wheel-barrow."

"Then you'll take down the chimney stack ?"

"That's the plan. We'll also have access to the cellar stairs." I shrugged. "We haven't exposed them yet."

"Sounds like you have everything under control."

"I hope so..." I took a careful breath. "While you're here, you might like to hear what Jenny, our archivist, has found. Definite whiff of scandal."

"Lead on !"

The first marquee's tables were strewn with photo-copies. Blonde Jenny looked up from the sheet she was studying, called, "Hi, Dave !"

"Hi ! Jen spent a day ransacking County Hall's records," I said. "Besides the usual stuff, she came across something surprising."

"The Walgate Wyrm." Jenny nodded. "Starts with Adrian Salter. He made his money in textiles, then married heiress Miriam Spencer Jones. They bought the Walgate estate, demolished the ramshackle seventeenth century house and built this place. Unfortunately, Miriam died in childbirth, so there was just the one son, Archibald.

"He seems to have been a bright lad. Home-schooled, then Eton, then Oxford to study Classics. Doing well until Adrian died suddenly and Junior inherited the lot. He left Oxford, joined the fast set in London. Became friends with Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose writings inspired Aleister Crowley--"

"Now there's a name to conjour with..." Uncle Jim grumbled.

"Gets better." Jenny grinned. "Following an esoteric soireé at Walgate Hall, a menagerie animal savaged its handler and escaped into the grounds. Archibald and company pursued with pistols and sabres, but it got away. Over the next week, it killed and ate several sheep, and frightened many locals."

"What sort of animal ?" Uncle Jim frowned.

"That's a funny thing..." Jenny shook her head. "The reports said long and sinuous, but thick-bodied rather than snake-like, with a sucking mouth rather than fangs."

"Hmm... Go on."

"Archibald offered a twenty guinea reward for its capture, dead or alive. Several teams tried and failed, one group reporting that the Wyrm was impervious to musket fire. Finally, the local blacksmith used a portable brazier and red-hot pokers to herd the Wyrm back to its pit in the menagerie."

"Ingenious !"

"Archibald thought so. He paid in full, and also gave a guinea to each of the blacksmith's apprentices."

"Job done !"

"You'd think so." Jenny nodded. "But it gets stranger; within six months, Archibald had disavowed occultism, sold Walgate Hall and moved to America."

"That is unexpected... What became of him ?"

"Died defending his plantation from raiders during the War Between The States."

"Well, that certainly is an interesting tale." Uncle Jim nodded. "Thank you. Good work."

We'd walked back to his SUV before he spoke again. "I hope those timbers don't hold you up too much."

"We're getting better with practice," I assured him. "There's a knack to prising loose their spikes."

"Good. I'll see you next week."

"Drive safe."

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 Post subject: And a bonus...
PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:40 pm 
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Sadly, I only got as far as #19 before the Walgate project 'crashed & burned' with my old CAD Tower. I had live back-ups of the text, but the rest was toast or jumbled to 'path too long' printers pie.

Recently, while trawling my archive for 3D material for the new CAD Tower, I found a slide-mount back-up from several busy months before the crash. There's just enough research to inspire a Walgate re-boot but, given everything's moved on five years, I'd have to re-work the vehicles, base-camp, stores, instruments and load-outs...

However, like PfP's unwritten sequel, 'The Lady May', whose research was also lost, Walgate had stuck like a burr.

So, I give you a 'Solutrean Cycle' / 'Walgate' cross-over...

This is set just after Walgate's as-yet unwritten chapters 20~22, when the team begin to realise the logistical complexities and spiralling costs of an expedition.
===

Movement on our CCTV caught my eye. The small, Day-Glo orange SUV stopped opposite the parking bays, carefully reversed into the end one to face the exit. Its occupant, a slim young man with remarkably ginger hair walked directly to our 'Admin' unit's entrance, rang the bell.

Magda answered the door. Their discussion was brief. She showed him into the 'coffee corner'. I looked up from the report I was checking as she put her head around my office's open door. She nervously whispered, "Boss, he says he knows what we do. He wants to help."

I secured my desk, stepped out. My unexpected visitor was casually dressed in a grey T-shirt, fleece gilet and jog-pants. He looked late-twenties, had a near-feline poise. He extended his strong, right hand and, in a gentle Scottish burr, said, "Hi. I'm John MacPherson. We have mutual friends in Hereford. They said you need some help."

I didn't meet his hand. Instead, I frowned, said, "We're a private research facility, currently engaged on transect sample analysis--"

"Your Walgate Wyrm came through a tesseract portal during the Carrington Event."

Though that was surely true, I shook my head, gave him my best, 'You're Not Even Wrong' look, said, "I'm sorry--"

"Have you read the 'Solutrean Cycle' ?"

"Huh ?"

"Have you read the 'Solutrean Cycle' ?"

"Well, yes--"

"What do you think of those books ?"

"Wonderful-- Such detail, so self-consistent, not a loose thread in the pack..." I stopped. This guy was the name-sake and decade older look-alike of Joanne Lavender's ingenious, hyper-lethal Apprentice from Book#4 and its complementary 'Young Adult' Book#5. Coincidence ? I blinked, said, "Now, just a minute-- That tentacled mega-slug in the 'Solutrean Fables' is a standard trope--"

"I'm a Scientist of sorts, degrees in Astronomy and Geology, but I've had to accept all those crazy Cosmologists' missing 'Dark Matter' is right next door..." He held up his left hand, strong as a freckled axe-head, stated, "Item one: Solutrea is real. Really, really real. Been there, done that, went ninja on Pappandrelle's four 'Dragons', picked the locks and looted her treasure chest."

"Huh ?" He was claiming a Fantasy Epic as reportage.

"Item two: My super-canny Aunt Vee 'munged' the 'World Gate' details for security. No glowing pendant. Just visualise the complex tesseract key and the 'Third Law' portal opens."

"Uh..." It would explain how 'Team Lavender' crafted the Cycle's flawless, flawless 'photos'. "But--"

"Item three: I read widely. The remarkable coincidence of the 'Walgate Wyrm', the 'Ritual Activity' floor and the 'Carrington Event' made me wonder. Happens Clan MacPherson sheltered Lochaber's 'Wise Women' when King James' cruel WitchFinders came hunting. That legacy endures; I'm the Clan's 'Foul Bane', with a 'Sworn Silver Sgian Dubh' to gut 'Dark Siders'. My 'Research Assistant', a very good friend, is an honest-to-goodness fey Seer and our Valley's 'Harbour Light'." He took a careful breath. "I'm very, very good at problem solving. I trawled our Clan's 'Black Museum', researched the arcana, did some lateral thinking. I'm also an electronics hobbyist. I did a lot of stuff for 'Dance Props' and our 'Fourth Expedition'. Took some tinkering, but I built my own tesseract gate. Lost several web-cams before I figured the day lengths differed..."

I shivered. I'd dreaded independent discovery, but this...

"Well, it wasn't Solutrea," he allowed. "At least those foetid coastal swamps would suit Wyrms. I reckon they're ambush predators, 'Saltie' niche."

"They live in rivers, too," I admitted.

"Ach," he grumbled. "Solutrea's piranha-analogue, the 'psycho-perch', are boney, but good eating. I used a spoon lure on a wire trace, had a strike on almost every cast. The locals were seriously impressed..."

"Did-- Did you take samples ?"

"As best we could." He nodded to my grudging acceptance of his tale. "There's a bunch of new antibiotics coming through from my aunt's earlier soil samples. 'John Innes' loved her wild-strain fruit, grain and greens. A lot of stuff was reported under NDA. This time, we had to 'lighten ship' to piccies, books and loot."

"Understood..."

"Item four: Given the Solutrean portal's key was a higher order tesseract, a polychoron, I tried them. Again, it took some tinkering, but I struck gold. Depending on the 'differs', I can access Solutrea and three others, all synchronized. Sea level and topographic variations are a problem, but I took sneak-peeks with a kite-cam, did some mapping from the top of buildings, found key-holes.

"After my aunt and I made our escape, the Imperials sent in a Legion and fortified the 'Cycle' portal. It's now a killing field, like an inside-out castle. Those canny Imperials even stretched a guard-rope down the portal axis. Two seconds after a portal forms, cutting the rope, there's a shower of cross-bow quarrels, followed by hefty Ballista bolts and other nasties. Even our mutual friends in Hereford had to back off. At least my portable portals let them keep an eye on things. They warn the whole region's a 'Military District', unsafe for overt 'World Walkers'. Don't go there...

"Second world's Europe is a volcanic wasteland. Resembles Iceland's Barrens, with gritty, grey ash and a few hardy weeds. It's a dozen degrees down, dim at noon, has weird sky colours at dawn and, sometimes, dusk. Easterly winds carry vog. Stratification and mineralogy from my limited sampling suggest their Eifel hot-spot blew during our High Bronze Age and is still seriously active. Think Katmai. There are old, old traces of a Cyclopean, Minoan-plus civilisation." He shrugged. "If some 'Atlanteans' fled through their Alt-Tech 'World Gates', Hancock may be half-right about his 'Clever Ancients'..."

I gulped, but managed to say, "Scant evidence--"

"Agreed. My super-canny aunt did some MAD and Y2K 'prepping', cached tons of neat stuff. I've built on it. Yet, even with that trove, it would be very, very hard to re-boot civilisation, to bridge a 'Dark Age', to claw back to 'SteamPunk' or better. There's just so many failure modes. And, without a hefty boot-strap kernel plus a robust development program, any refugees' portable Alt-Tech is fated to become legend like 'Greek Fire' and the 'Philosopher's Stone'. Back home, many isolated communities must have hung on as best they could, losing tech and diversity with each benighted generation, with every fraught ash-fall...

"Desperately in-bred, poisoned and mutated by volcanic toxins, perhaps psychotically degenerate, they'd easily pass as 'HellSpawn' or 'UnSeelie'." He shivered, added, "Along the 'Western Fringe', warmed by the Gulf Stream, washed by Atlantic gales, I suspect some shards of civilisation lingered into historical times. Perhaps the Arthurian 'Avalon' was truly 'Out West' ? Celtic and Gaelic legends tell of the wondrous Fae, with their 'Under-Hill' doorways to Tír na nÓg, of their 'Trooping' and 'Solitary' Sidhe. Even the Solutrean Fables carry dire warnings to let such empowered travellers pass unhindered."

I blinked, said, "Your extrapolation is impressive. Some evidence would be nice."

"Agreed." He shrugged. "So, my fey friend and I will trawl folk-lore for possible portal locations. Given coastal erosion and other topographic variations, I'm building a sneak-peek suitcase-cam she can take on ferries."

"The third world ?"

"Big Mars-- Cold, dry and bleak, one-thirty millibars CO2, dozen nitrogen, no oxygen. It sucked--" He must have read my face. "You've reached it widdershins ?"

"Unless there's two the same," I allowed. "But just a glimpse..."

"Fascinating..." He shook his head slowly. "But how did it get like that ? My guess, the 'Late Heavy Bombardment' baked out too much water and Cyano bacteria never got a foot-hold. Like Mars, plate tectonics stalled and the planet died."

"You-- You said it was synchronized ?"

"Oh, yes !" He grinned. "Which is so very, very weird ! Just needs an air-lock on the portal ! Our mutual friends in Hereford borrowed the makings from the Open University, put a team through. They collected samples, set up a weather station, planted flags, took lots of piccies."

I just looked at him.

"Officially, they're training for a 'Mars Mission' simulation in the Canadian High Arctic," he said. "But I've saved the best until last..."

"Aliens ?"

"Better." He grinned wider. "Ever wondered how small dinosaurs would have fared if they survived Chicxulub and the Deccan Traps ?"

"Of course..."

"World Four. Sociable, partly feathered, omnivorous bipeds. 'Wing' claws, so resemble neotenous Hoatzin. Simple stone tools. Fire. 'Homo Habilis' stage, I'd say. They'll peer at a trail-cam's lens glint, so I got lovely, lovely piccies." He pulled a fat thumb-drive from his fleece gilet's inside pocket. "Everything you need. Annotated diagrams and schematics. Lots and lots of images and data. Encryption key is 'Tesseract 1986', leading Capital-T, one space. Enjoy."

"I--" I caught my breath, asked, "Why ?"

"I've had a lot of fun, but this is much too big for a hobbyist. Time to 'pass the baton'." He dug in another pocket, opened its Moleskine note-book, unfolded a cashier's cheque, placed it in my trembling hand atop the thumb-drive. "Help for your cash-flow."

"Uh..." It had a one then lots of zeroes. It would solve so many problems. "Why ?"

"I've domestic responsibilities. Family, business, pro-bono stuff. I've the 'Solutrean Cycle' to tend, the 'First Carennac' franchise to build, a dozen books to translate, study and publish in facsimile. Happily, my 'Dance Props' book is a money-tree." He shrugged. "That hundred k makes me a 'Corporate Sponsor'. There's a cast-iron, reciprocal NDA on the thumb-drive as a PDF. Get your lawyers to look over the details, send mine a signed copy. Play nice."

"I--" I got my wits into gear. "What about awards and such ?"

"Not interested." He shook his head. "Besides, you cracked the portal problem. If asked about polychoron stuff, stand on your NDA."

"I-- I understand. I think..." I shivered, admitted, "No, I don't..."

"I do not want publicity. I certainly do not want people joining the dots to Solutrea. What's not in our books is a bunch of elite Hill Rangers followed us back. Lieutenant, Sargeant and five Eighths. We hid them in plain sight as re-enactors. Good people, they've married into our community." He turned that strong left hand about. A slim, silvery band glinted on his ring finger. "I'm Jacey's 'Sworn Man'. We've four wonderful children, a fifth on the way."

"Ah..."

"Solutrea's reality is an unofficial secret." John MacPherson winked. "We'd like to keep it that way. Go careful."

Then, with a smart dojo bow, he stepped back into Legend...

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:50 am 
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Good Nik! Now... more!

Whatever happened to The Bus..? ;)

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:07 pm 
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I was ill. Then my wife was ill. Then I was ill. Then my wife was ill...

Some-where along the way, I was diverted by finally getting the money together to build my CAD_PC. That is still in commissioning phase as my wife's back in hospital and I'm too stressed to be creative...

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:52 am 
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Nik,

So sorry I missed this. Hope things are improving for you.

Just had a thought, could the Walgate worm be related to the Lambton Worm at all?

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:50 pm 
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They may be cousins, the Komodo Dragon to the 'common or garden' Monitor lizard.

The Walgate Wyrm was a cruelly malnourished specimen; a well-fed 'bull' is bulkier than an Elephant Seal, longer and meaner than a mature 'Saltie' Croc...

But who's to say such a Wyrm is the apex predator ??
:twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

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 Post subject: Domestic progress...
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:21 pm 
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After ten weeks in hospital, mostly bedridden, often lethargic unto 'zombie', my wife has recovered enough to complain she's *BORED*.

That is serious, serious progress.

With luck, her leg-cast comes off later this week, and the physiotherapists can get started...

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:56 pm 
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I am thrilled to hear it!

I shall hoist one in honor of her health this evening.

Belushi TD


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:55 am 
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Woot woot! Glad to hear it Nik!

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