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Aerialist Jade XXIV quietly takes the cello out of the case and takes a seat. Cocking her head to one side, she listens to the music, her bow poised over the strings. Softly at first, she follows along.

Aerialist Jade XXIV gains confidence as her fingers reacquaint themselves with her instrument once more. She plays with the melody, then does a counterpoint, weaving in her sound with the song's. A song for Merlin.

Aerialist Jade XXIV loses herself in the beckoning music that echoes through the halls. A song for old friends, a song for new friends, and a song for someone who is more lost than here now. Her lips curve wistfully.

Aerialist Jade XXIV stops playing when her fingers ache. Gone were the calluses she once had, soon to reform after playing for so long. Just as quietly as she started, she trails off.

Aerialist Jade XXIV stands and snaps her fingers. In an instant, the chair is back where it was and the cello sent off to her room again. She hums the melody as she goes off to the kitchen. "Bruce, you there?"

Bruce eventually drags himself from his cot, he'd had no more than 2 hours continuous sleep in weeks, he puts the kettle on, and the oven and begins to bake.

Aerialist Jade XXIV me reappears from the kitchen, patting her belly. She somehow coaxed Bruce into making a quiche after he was done baking cookies and bread. Whistling, she makes her way to her room for a good nap.

Rifleman calliaphone wakes up in her cart, profoundly hungover. She groans, lights a cigarette, and slips on her shades. Then she struggles down from the cart, leaving the penguin and canary still snoozing in there.

Rifleman calliaphone follows her nose into the kitchen, and emerges shortly afterwards the remains of a quiche, a large hunk of bread liberally covered in peanut butter, and a steaming mug of builder's tea.

Rifleman calliaphone sits on the floor beside her cart while she tucks in. Peering through her shades, she turns her groggy attention to the matter of the wheelclamp. Santa said he'd sort it, but s'ppose he can't?

Rifleman calliaphone swallows the last of her tea, and wipes her mouth on her sleeve. Reaching up, she tugs Haynes Wheelclamps from her cart, and starts flipping through it.

Rifleman calliaphone whistles softly through her teeth, as she re-examines the half-drilled lock. The tune might be some sort of Tartini Allegro in D Major, though goodness knows where she picked that up.

Rifleman calliaphone digs uselessly at the broken drill-bit in the lock, while her accordion starts humming along with the tune. Dammit, what she needs is her needle-nose pliers, now where did she leave them?

Rifleman calliaphone has an idea! She could shoot the wheelclamp off! She unslings her rifle and then hesitates. The possibility of missing the lock and hurting the cart or its occupants occurs to her as quite likely.

Rifleman calliaphone sighs, and puts down the rifle. She is still whistling, and Cordy is still humming. And now there is a new sound. A tuneless, pathetic buzzing. Forgetting the wheelclamp, Callia turns round.

Generalissimo Santa Bernard emerges from his grotto wearing an emerald green robe, he's yawning and stretching and automatically heads into the kitchen; "Morning Bruce, I'll take a full English, please." and strolls out.

Rifleman calliaphone dives on the injured toaster, which is the source of the miserable sound. "Sssshhh," she pleads, picking it up. "I told you to stay out of sight. I'll fix you as soon as I can."

Generalissimo Santa Bernard grins at Calli, "Morning there, have you eaten?" he pauses and regards her work tools, and rifle, "You're determined to defeat that lock aren't you?"

Rifleman calliaphone gasps at Santa's sudden appearance, and tries to hide the malfunctioning toaster behind her back. "Yesyes" she nods - affirmative to both questions.

Generalissimo Santa Bernard stands on tippytoes and tries to peer behind Callias back, "What's that behind your back."

Rifleman calliaphone blushes, and looks guilty. She backs up, trying to keep the toaster hidden, but its frantic buzzing is becoming hard to disguise. She hopes Santa won't take a dim view of be-friending "monsters".

Generalissimo Santa Bernard points at the sack, "Is that a. . . toaster in there?"

Rifleman calliaphone gulps, and decides she'd better own up now, before things get out of hand. She produces the toaster. It is in a sad and sorry state, with a bullet-hole in its side, and bits of wire poking out.

Rifleman calliaphone rushes to explain, "I know it looks like - i meantosay it was - one of those aggressive malfunctioning ones. But it's not now, i swear, it wouldn't hurt a fly. It just wants to sing."

Rifleman calliaphone continues, "I fixed it up, y'see. ages back. a whole bunch of 'em. I couldn't stand to see 'em expressing themselves so aggressively. seemed they just needed a bit of positive attention."

Rifleman calliaphone adds, "I didn't expect 'em to turn out so musical." She shrugs. "they've formed a colony, 2 clicks east of here. last i saw they were domesticating Letter Hs. Saying something about woodwind."

Rifleman calliaphone means east of IC, on this occasion. she's always been a bit of a sloppy navigator. She holds out the pathetically buzzing toaster. It really cannot hold a tune. Terrible thing to see.

Generalissimo Santa Bernard peers at the toaster, he makes a sharp intake of breath so beloved of workmen all over the globe, "Phew, looks in a really bad way. . ."

Rifleman calliaphone drones on again, "I think they've got some idea about forming an orchestra. At any rate, they're not aggressive. Not these ones."

Generalissimo Santa Bernard turns to Callia, "May I?" he gestures at the buzzing electrical item, "I've fixed this sort of thing before." of course, "But I've never heard 'em singing before. . ."

Rifleman calliaphone nods, "I guess some contestant took it for one of the usual kind, and shot at it. But it could've been trying to help, with our war effort. They agreed to scout for us, y'see. I asked 'em."

Generalissimo Santa Bernard starts to rustle in his myriad pockets in his emerald green robe. He brings out a soldering iron, set of tiny screwdrivers and a penny whistle, "Would just need to jiggle a couple of wires. . ."

Rifleman calliaphone hands the toaster over. She's been a bit stuck on where to start with this one, it's in such a state. "Would you really?"

Generalissimo Santa Bernard stands up, slowly, creakingly, he gestures over to the grotto. . . "It's up to you, but I think we can repair him."

Generalissimo Santa Bernard heads over to the grotto, with the toaster under his arm, still buzzing. He places the useful bit of kitchen machinery on the workbench, and lays out the screwdrivers, "Could you hold it?"

Rifleman calliaphone nods. Gently, she takes hold of the injured toaster, hushing it. It seems to sense it is among friends, and calms a little.

Generalissimo Santa Bernard selects a tiny wee screwdriver, and begins to work on the side plate of the toaster. This'll need replacing. Inside, there's a pretty depressing sight, many of the wires and connections have fused.

Rifleman calliaphone winces, but holds the toaster steady.

Generalissimo Santa Bernard turns the light on, illuminating the work bench, and, indeed, the grotto. In one corner of the room, there's a low thrum. Should anyone turn to investigate, they'd see four huge tyres connected by

Generalissimo Santa Bernard 's own design space-frame, industrial suspension and a Pratt-Whitney jet engine. It's headlights flicker on, and the whine rises in pitch. Bernard presses on, unpicking wires and reconnecting.

/game Son Of Zimmer and Jag's engine whirrs into life, it jerks towards the two people and their patient, and bathes the whole scene in halogen spotlit brightness.

Rifleman calliaphone blinks in the bright light, and ogles the engine. That is one helluva machine!

Generalissimo Santa Bernard gasps as the buzzing of the toaster dissipates, "Shit!" he exclaims, "Its internal processor has shut down, SNUV, get the Crash Team!" he bends his head down again, as SNUV bursts out of the grotto

Generalissimo Santa Bernard turns to Callia, "Can I get it's BP. . .?" BP? BP? "And can you charge these up for me?" He hands her two paddles, connected by wire to a car battery. . . "Then stand back!"

Rifleman calliaphone says "BP 80 over 50 and falling." she grabs the paddles. "Charging."

SNUV returns to the grotto, through the massive hole in the wall he'd caused, he tweets and makes a little sad noise, he's brought a huge trolley with him, though!

Rifleman calliaphone really hopes that trolley never gets clamped.

Generalissimo Santa Bernard snaps out commands, "Callia, attach the paddles to it's electrical supply! SNUV! Can you extend your grabber and hold the toaster in place?!"

Rifleman calliaphone hastily hooks up the toaster to the paddles. She looks up."Clear?"

Generalissimo Santa Bernard nods, "Clear!" and he stands well back for Callia to charge the toaster. When she does, all the lights in the clan hall dim and flicker. . .

Generalissimo Santa Bernard groans, "It's like a scene from The Green Mile in here! You'll have to charge again!"

Rifleman calliaphone gets on with it, grim faced. "Charging . . .. and, clear!" The lights flicker again, and the toaster twitches slightly.

Rifleman calliaphone tries not to remember her own recent electrocution, performing a similar procedure on a robot in CC. Focus, focus, and be careful.

Generalissimo Santa Bernard almost whoops with happiness, "There was a buzz!" SNUV seems to make a delighted little jig, his huge wheels shaking the ground. Bernard delves back into the mass of wires, "I can fix you!"

Generalissimo Santa Bernard makes a grab for the penny whistle, "NEVER MIND JUST FIXIN' YOU, SON, I CAN MAKE YOU BETTER!" This same he inserts into the body of the toaster, "Attaboy! You're doing brilliantly!"

Generalissimo Santa Bernard turns to Callia, "What I'm going to suggest is we fix up the toaster to SNUVs motherboard for a couple of days whilst it recuperates. SNUV can help out scouting and'll get the patient fresh air!"

Rifleman calliaphone nods. she is blinking back tears. "Will it make a full recovery, d'you think?"

Generalissimo Santa Bernard nods, "I hope so. SNUV will take care of it, and it'll only take 10 minutes to connect 'em." He begins his hard work.

Rifleman calliaphone wipes away her tears, and leaves the toaster to the tender ministrations of Santa and SNUV. Wandering desultorily through the Bingo Hall, she happens once more upon her wheelclamped cart.

Rifleman calliaphone mutters something about "needle-nose pliers" and disappears to her room.

Floating Heads Fergus groan from up in their nest. Son of 's roaring and wall-busting have finally stirred the mass of floating heads from their nearly two week long slumber.

Floating Heads Fergus groggily (as in, mumbling about having too much grog) float out of their nest in the rafters and down to the kitchen. Chatting with Bruce can be heard, followed by many faces stuffing themselves.

Floating Heads Fergus float out into the main hall again after filling their. . . stomach? Stomachs? They still aren't sure, but they don't care either way. They spot Jade and grin.

Floating Heads Fergus drones on again, "Oi! Tis' great ta see ya, lass!" "Aye! We 'ope ye 'ave been well." "An' greetin's ta any other new GERMans!"

Rifleman calliaphone is back! She has pliers and she's not afraid to use them. She waves cheerily to Fergus, and then gets down to work.

Rifleman calliaphone wiggles the pliers about in the semi-drilled lock of the wheelclamp. the broken drill-bit is a stubborn little bugger, and there is much cussing and muttering, but at last. . .

Rifleman calliaphone gets hold of that drill-bit, and gives it a good yank, pulling it free of the lock. Way to go! She beams. Then she remembers - she's not actually any closer to freeing the cart. Yet.

Rifleman calliaphone narrows her eyes. She has a PLAN and she's not afraid to use that either. She chucks out the old drill-bit, and fits a new one. A BIG one. The biggest, meanest drill-bit in her collection.

Rifleman calliaphone puts on some major REVS and waves her power drill in the air. As she advances on the clamp, Darren and Joni peep over the edge of the cart. They look worried. They should do.

Rifleman calliaphone applies the MEGA DRILL BIT to the clamp lock, leans on it good'n'hard, and lets rip with the POWER. For a few moments, all is well, and the drill-bit gouges into the lock. But then, it jams.

Rifleman calliaphone is still holding tight to that super-charged drill. The bit is stuck-fast in the lock, but the revs keep turning.

Rifleman calliaphone lets out a noise, not unlike "wooaauuugggghhh" as she is spun round in a circle, clinging to the madly-revving drill-handle. Darren and Joni cover their eyes.

Rifleman calliaphone is a blur of yelling and plaits. All 12 of her cigarettes fly out of her pocket, to land (amazingly) in the buff-pot. And then. Only then, does she think to let go.

Rifleman calliaphone separates from the drill at speed, both of them still whirling round like a broken centrifuge rotor. She flies across the room and out through the open window, into Improbable Central.

Rifleman calliaphone 's drill eventually runs out of power, and winds itself to a halt, sticking out of the implacable wheelclamp. Darren and Joni look at it, at the window, at each other . . . and go back to sleep

* * * some time later * * *

Generalissimo Santa Bernard is at the reception desk, talking with Lilith, although they're speaking in low voices, the peculiar acoustic properties of the Bingo Hall means anyone standing near the kitchen can hear everything

Generalissimo Santa Bernard says, "And can you make sure that meeting room one and two are both booked out all week and also ensure Bruce brings tea and coffee and then leaves the room?" Lilith makes a note in the ledger.

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