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Clocks and Boxes — Part 43: Tonight

As Donna expected, the Barnlings attacked in the early evening. In their silver ranks, they marched down Wellington Road, singing as they came.

“When you’re the Barn,
You’re in Barn all your life,
‘Cause we don’t give a darn
When we’re cooking up strife

“When you’re in Barn,
You’re the fightingest goons!
We’ll mess up our foes
We don’t think there’s no spoon.

“We don’t know a lot,
But that does not distress us.
Whither the plot?
Wherefore the Pyramid oppresses?
We have no guesses!

“Here comes the Barn with the strength of a tree,
And in these silver pants
It is quite hard to—“

Donna stood close to Mr Theopoulos in the alley between the ChainBurger store and the bank. Behind them stood the assembled ranks of the combined Pavilionite/Pyramid cultist forces. Theopoulos examined the approaching Barnlings with his binoculars.

“Think the Pavilionites can’t do better than that, Donna?” he said.

“Well they’ve got a good bad singer section, mind," Donna said, "but no not-bad singers, that’s for sure.”

Donna closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them, she lead her people in song:

“Pavilion,
I worked at a shop called Pavilion,
And gradually I found
Trouble all around
For me.

“Pavilion,
We fought for a shop named Pavilion.
We were beset with strife,
And now we look at life.
In jaaaaa----illl!”

The sad final not brought a tear to the eye of many a jaded Pyramid cultist, but Theopoulos merely sniffed and said, “Needs work.”

The Barnlings continued their march, clicking their fingers as they went. The ordinary civilians of South Hertling stood out of their way, seemingly as embarrassed as they were scared. The Pavilion’s song shifted key:

“The Pyramid will die, tonight!
Pavilionites will fry, tonight!
The Super Centre’s had it -- it’s doomed now.
As Simpson, B., would put it
We won’t have a co-o-ow…”

With a gesture, Donna lead the Pavilionites forward, past the bicycle racks, around the bus shelter and into the street. They sang:

“The Barnlings fight their final fight, tonight!
We’ll pulverise the silver gits, tonight!
The Pyramid’s our ally, it seems,
But in the case of plot twists
They’re gonna scream…”

Donna watched Theopoulos as she belted out this lyric. He did not fail to notice the obvious threat. He tilted his head back and sang:

“The Pyramid will wake, tonight!
The universe will quake, tonight!
The forces of destruction, slept hard,
As all the evil cultists, kept guard
Now our work is done.”

As Donna considered her response, a mighty wooshing noise took her attention. She glances around to see a small rocket taking off from the roof of the music shop, trailing a long electrical cable. The rocket seemed to vanish into thin air, and the music shop began to glow a bright, neon green.

The door burst open, and out danced Nalda Teheintausand, backed by a phalanx of people who looked like they came from a 1980s music video. No, not people. Holograms, Donna realised. You could see the glowing green wireframes just beneath the skin. But in spite of being holograms they were clearly solid as evidenced by the damage they were doing to the cars they were boogying on.

Donna’s heart leapt in her chest. Reinforcements! Nalda, the cyborg from the future and some of her AI buddies, presumably. But Donna's joy died as soon as it was born as Nalda sang:

“Heute Abend,
Roboter kämpfen gut
Menschen sollten sich hüten heute!

“Morgen der Welt
Der KI-Sieg ist jetzt
Von der Met-ropol-e zur Matrix!"

"Of course," Donna muttered. "Bound to happen. Once again, Fate takes a dump in my shoe."

Taking a deep breath, she began singing again:

"Tonight…"

But she was cut short by the sudden appearance of Gwen Harper, back in her old mask, black hat and cloak.

Gwen sang, "The Phaaaaaaaaaaaaaantasm of the Super Centre is heeeeeeeere…"

"Oh, shut up, Gwen," Donna snapped.

Donna avoided the temptation to ask how things could get any worse. It didn't help. Even without the invitation to further disaster, a hole in space/time tore open and a brass and mahogany spaceship came zooming out across the roofs of South Hertling. Donna was bowled from her feet as it hit the ground, shaking all the buildings of the Super Centre to their foundations.

"Of course," she said, before the vessel exploded.

Next -- Part 44: Afoot

Previously -- Part 42: Pod

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