The Babbage engine that Donna had retrieved from the carpark was just a little larger than a fridge, so it had been easy to find space for it in the backroom of the Storage Universe. Donna's understanding of computing was fairly decent, but her understanding of mechanical AIs was basically nonexistant.
Fanaka was the obvious person to examine it, but he'd had to go and open the watch repair shop. Nalda, as an AI herself, was also a good choice but her shift had begun at the disposals store. That meant that the task was in the hands of Axel Platzoff and Vincent Pizaro.
Professor Devistato and Captain Stellar. A former supervillain and a former superhero, working together. Donna wondered whether Sadie would have appreciated this, or considered it an unfortunate compromise.
"Nothing," Axel said. "I can't see any obvious problem, but it's shutting down anyway."
"Hang in there!" Vincent said. "Don't give up now, damn it!"
"How does that stop something from dying?"
"I don't know. It just does." ...continue reading "Clocks and Boxes — Part 36: Future"
Wellsey leant against one of the pillars that held up the lofty roof of the Handy Pavilion and sighed deeply. It really was just one of those days. Marlon, leaning on the other side of the pillar, sighed even more deeply. From his jeans pocket he took a hip flask, took a swallow, and handed the bottle to Wellsey. Wellsey shook his head. Marlon shrugged, and slipped the flask away.
"You and Joyce got Valentine's Day plans?" Marlon said.
Something came hurtling over the nearest shelving unit. Part of a toilet? Something porcelain anyway. Both men ducked as it hit a nearby shelf, smashing a pile of paint cans, sending blue acrylic dripping to the floor.
"Nothing fancy," Wellsey said There's a Valentine's special at our local restaurant. Free bottle of champagne. And we don't get out as much as we used to. How about you?" ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 55 — Principles of Retail Management"
It was Valentines Day. This is probably a big day if you work in a florist's, a jewellery shop or a high-end restaurant, but for most sections of the Handy Pavilion it was just another day.
There were exceptions, of course. The garden centre was busier than it had been in months, while Nalda in arts and crafts was struggling to keep papier-mâché hearts and red paint on the shelves.
"Excuse me, miss, where's the pink glitter?"
"Over dere, and next year buy champagne." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 53 — A Very DIY Valentines Day"
Wellsey had always known about Axel's past. Known about his attempt to rob Fort Knox from orbit. Known about his plan to replace major world leaders with realistic marionettes, to teleport Hobart to the Sahara Desert, to turn the people of Melbourne into walking catfish.
Wellsey knew all that, but still he'd never been afraid of the man. Wellsey was an ex-con. To him, a dangerous man was someone with a shank, a grudge and a guard who owed him a favour. Axel was frightening in a way that Wellsey could barely get his head around.
Now, though… now Wellsey was afraid, but he was afraid for his friend, not afraid of him. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 37: Intervention"
Axel looked down at the pile of glass terrarium bottles he'd just unpacked, and realised that he'd put them all on the wrong shelf. In his frustration, he kicked the base of the shelving unit, which hurt his toe far more than it did the massive steel form of the unit.
Why didn't Captain Stellar just fight him?
That was the thing. A week before, Stellar had confronted him about the incident with the death ray. He'd guessed everything. Everything!
Axel ought to have known that Stellar would figure it out eventually, once he'd sobered up and pulled himself together. But no, Axel had been caught flatfooted. His mind had raced, searching for some strategy for fighting Stellar without causing any damage to the Handy Pavilion. But before he'd even finished ironing out the issues with his third contingency plan, Stellar had waved goodbye and walked away.
Ever since then, Axel had been off his game. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 28: Axel’s Enemy"
Captain Stellar had been sober for fifty days. No. Captain Stellar wasn't around any more. It was Vincent who had been sober for fifty days. Only Vincent.
Vincent, off the bottle and here to make amends to the people he'd wronged. He'd written an anonymous cheque for the damage he'd done to the DIY Barn and the Place O'Pets, but that was just impersonal property damage. Now he had to make amends to the real people he'd hurt: Popplewell. Harper. Cho.
Platzoff. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself Chapter – 24: One Day at a Time"