THE MEKON’S FLAGSHIP DROPS SILENTLY through Earth’s cloud layer towards a corner of countryside somewhere in Southern England. It slows its descent through clear blue skies on a sunny day in mid-spring. On board with the Mekon in his control cabin, are Dan Dare and Digby, under Treen guard.
MEKON: Observe – we are coming in to land now, Earthlings. For my purpose, I have chosen a particular area and you, Colonel Dare, will be an integral part of my plan.
DAN DARE: Hey, Dig! I recognise some of the landmarks, and if I’m not mistaken, this is that isolated rural area enclosing Nutwood. Isn’t that where that funny little mutant freak with the furry face and red pullover lives?
DIGBY: Aye, Colonel Dan, ‘Appen it are, an’ theer’s yon Rupert Bear fellow ‘imself – joost below us!
DAN DARE: Why, yes! The little green monster’s bringing us down right on the common just outside Nutwood – and look, there’s some of Rupert’s strange little friends gathering now, too! It’s odd, Dig. The boffins at Spacefleet reckoned this must be the result of genetic engineering at nearby Harwell. And the isolated Nutwood area contained the results of those experiments: half-animal, humanoid freaks – living out the rest of their lives in a self-contained, semi-medieval idyllic charade.
DIGBY: But we know differently, don’t we, Colonel Dan? At least, we’ve reasons t’ believe as ‘ow theer’s soom sort of warp affecting this little corner of England, an’ that Rupert an’ ‘is pals are the natural denizens of another dimension. This little corner is supposed t’ be some sort of window an’ doorway into an alternate world existing alongside ours.
An’ it all sounds reet queer t’ me, too. Ye know me, Colonel! Ah much prefer ordinary things that mek sense – things more simple an’ straightforward – everyday things like eatin’ an’ drinkin‘ – an’ shaggin’ an’ sleepin’. Things Ah can appreciate properly an’ get t’ grips with.
DAN DARE: Hmm! I wonder what Jocelyn’s doing right now! Haven’t seen her in a while. I’d like to – No! Mustn’t think such thoughts – not right now! Inappropriate! She’s a qualified scientist – a professor, botanist, nutritionist – a trained, skilled Spacefleet-pilot and – and she’s so damned attractive!
DIGBY: Ee! We’re touching down on common now – an’ look – ‘ere coom Rupert an’ ’is pals. Shades of Blackpool, they look a bit wary an’ timid, all takin’ cover behind bushes an’ trees – can’t say as Ah blame ‘em!
THE MEKON’S OVAL SPACECRAFT SHUDDERS GENTLY TO A HALT ON A THICK CARPET OF EMERALD MEADOWLAND AND A DOOR IN THE HULL SLIDES SILENTLY OPEN. A SCENT, RICH WITH SWEET FRESH GRASS, EARTHY WOODLANDS AND WILD HERBS, DRIFTS IN. DAN DARE AND DIGBY STEP OUT ONTO THE COMMON, USHERED OUT BY THE MEKON, HIS WIZENED FOETAL FORM HOVERING ABOVE THEM AND OUT OF ARM’S REACH SEATED ON HIS LITTLE FLOATING BOAT. THEY ARE FLANKED BY SEVEN-FEET HIGH, TREEN GUARDS, PLASTI-BUBBLE NOZZLES IN THE FRONT OF THEIR GOGGLED HELMETS AND ARMED WITH VICIOUS-LOOKING FLAME RIFLES.
RUPERT BEAR: Look! It’s spaceman Digby and Dan Dare!
BILL BADGER: And that horrible swollen-headed little gremlin Mekon and his nasty Treens!
DIGBY: ‘Allo, Rupert, lad. ‘Ow goes it, then? Wotcher, chums. Sorry we’ve got ‘orrible greenies wi’ us, but theer was nowt we could do ‘bowt it!
DAN DARE: Um – yes! Sorry, chaps! You’d better run and tell the villagers the Treens have arrived, Rupert!
RUPERT BEAR: Oh, dear! I don’t think my folks are going to like this, at all!
ALGY PUG: Nor mine – they told me not to go near strangers with guns!
PODGY PIG: Mine won’t, for sure! They hate nasty surprises like this!
BILL BADGER: And the other villagers won’t be too pleased, either!
MEKON: Never mind that, strange young earthlings. Just tell your elders that the Mekon is here – and tell your headman to assemble everyone ready for inspection upon our arrival!
WILLIE MOUSE: The M – M – Mayor, you mean?
EDWARD TRUNK: He’ll be very cross!
MEKON: Quiet! Stupid fat one – or my captain will shear off your ridiculous proboscis!
WILLIE MOUSE: Oo – er!
FREDDY FOX: The Mayor might be sleeping at this time of day!
FERDY FOX: Yes, having his afternoon nap!
MEKON: Then go and wake him, furry pointed-eared simpletons – and hurry, before I lose my patience and decide to have you all stuffed and mounted in one of my museums! I warn you – if my Treen guards have to wake the Mayor, they won’t do it gently!
RUPERT BEAR: Come on, lads – let’s go!
RUPERT AND HIS PALS BACK OFF AND THEN TURN AND WALK AWAY, LOOKING OVER THEIR SHOULDERS EVERY NOW AND THEN – HALFWAY ACROSS THE MEADOW, THEY LINK HANDS. FREDDY LEANS ACROSS AND WHISPERS SOMETHING IN FERDY’S EAR. THEN FREDDY STRAIGHTENS AND DOES A LITTLE JIG AND HIS BROTHER JOINS IN, BOTH LAUGHING WITH SHARP BARKING SOUNDS. THEY WHISPER TO EDWARD, WHO CHORTLES AND WHISPERS TO WILLIE. EDWARD’S TRUMPETING MIRTH FLUTES OUT ACROSS THE MEADOW, COUNTERPOINTED BY WILLIE’S SQUEAKY VOICE AS IT PIPES UP MERRILY. NEXT, PODGY JOINS IN, SQUEALING AND GRUNTING WITH DELIGHT. PRETTY SOON, ALL RUPERT’S PALS ARE LAUGHING HEARTILY, EVEN THE RABBIT TWINS WITH THEIR SOFT CHUCKLES. THEN, AS ONE, THEY BURST INTO SONG.
RUPERT AND PALS: We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz. Such a wonderful wizard, a wonderful wizard, a wizard there never was – the wonderful wizard of Oz. We’re off to see the wizard –
IN MID-SONG, THEY BURST THROUGH A LINE OF HEDGE, THEN DOWNSLOPE AND OUT OF SIGHT, THEIR VOICES FADING WITH THEM.
DAN DARE AND DIGBY GLANCE AT EACH OTHER, FACES WEARING WORRIED FROWNS. THE MEKON IN HIS STRANGE METALLIC, REPTILIAN VOICE IS ISSUING ORDERS IN THE TREEN TONGUE TO HIS GUARDS. IMPASSIVELY, THE TREENS SHOULDER THEIR FLAME-RIFLES AND UNSHEATH VICIOUS-LOOKING NEEDLE-SHARP PISTOLS FROM HOLSTERS AT THEIR WAISTS.
DIGBY: Phew, Colonel Dan! I don’t like the look of this! Yon ‘appy laughin’ green lads are now armed with plastiguns and paralysers. Looks like they mean t’ freeze and bag the villagers in those inflated egg-shaped capsules as specimens or summat!
DAN DARE: Not while I live and breathe, Diggers, old chap!
MEKON: It is time for us to follow these freaks to their primitive village, Dare! Lead on! My guards and I will be close behind you!
DIGBY: Ee! What’s t’ do now, Colonel Dan? We can’t let owd Meeky bonce an’ is gremlins carry out theer plan! We’ve got t’ think of summat soon!
DAN DARE: Play for time, Dig – and keep your eyes peeled for an opportunity, that’s the best we can do for now!
DIGBY: P’raps if Ah thought oop summat t’ distract yon Treenies, joost for a mo’ – we could jump ‘em an’ turn tables afore they knew what ‘it ‘em!
MEKON: Whatever it is you are whispering about, you can forget, Earthlings! Your intentions are quite clear to me! One false move, Colonel Dare – and it will be the worse for you both!
DAN DARE: You need us alive, Mekon! You said so yourself, to help you with your evil little scheme – which means you’re cooking up some diabolical plot to force us to help you!
MEKON: Who said anything about killing you, Colonel Dare? You and your fat comrade will merely finish the journey frozen stiff in ovoid plastic containers – which my Treens are quite capable of rolling through any terrain. Such a journey is very uncomfortable! So, be warned, for I am wise to your stupid Earth tricks!
DIGBY: Aye, but never ready for ‘em, you ‘orrible little green microbe!
MEKON: What was that, fat fool?
DIGBY: Ah said arm dead on me feet and want summat t’ eat!
MEKON: Do you think of aught but food, you gluttonous primitive creature? You’ll get nothing till we reach the village – so the sooner we do, the better for you, fat one!
DIGBY: It’s a good job Ah’ got soom chocky with me then, innit – coz arm roody starving!
AS DIGBY REACHES INTO HIS POCKET, THE NEAREST TREEN GUARD LEVELS A PARALYSING PISTOL AT HIM.
TREEN GUARD: Raise both your arms in the air immediately, Earthling!
DIGBY IMMEDIATELY SHOOTS BOTH ARMS ABOVE HIS HEAD.
MEKON: Search him, Nastig! Bolzhi, Tharg – watch him closely! You others – watch Dare! And keep your guns trained on them both!
NASTIG: Keep quite still while I search you, fat one!
BOLZHI AND THARG TRAIN THEIR PISTOLS ON DIGBY, AND WITH THE OTHERS WATCHING DAN DARE, NASTIG HOLSTERS HIS AND BEGINS FRISKING DIGBY.
DIGBY: ‘Ere, take it easy, green lugs! Arm no’ a flaming kit bag!
NASTIG: What is this?
FROM DIGBY’S POCKETS, NASTIG PULLS OUT A SPACEFLEET-ISSUE PARALYSING PISTOL, SEVERAL PENS AND PENCILS, A COMB AND A POCKET PENKNIFE. HE PUTS THEM IN A POUCH AT HIS WAISTBELT.
NASTIG: And this? Ahh!
NEXT, HE PULLS OUT A HUGE SLAB OF CADBURYS FRUIT AND NUT FROM ONE OF DIGBY’S JACKET POCKETS.
DIGBY: It’s only chocolate, Nasty! Earth food!
WITH DISTASTE DISTORTING HIS FEATURES, NASTIG HASTILY HANDS THE SLAB BACK TO DIGBY, WHO UNWRAPS IT AND STARTS MUNCHING AWAY.
DIGBY: Ee! That feels mooch better! Ta, Nasty, ol’ chum – but Ah could’ve got it meself, wi’out all this palaver! Hungry, Colonel?
DAN DARE: No, thanks – Diggers! Good try, anyway!
MEKON: One more move like that, and it may be your last, fat fool. There’s a limit to my tolerance – and yours and Dare’s use to me!
DIGBY: O-key-do-key, Meeky – or should Ah say, not so Meeky! Ah’ll sue Nasty, later, for theft of me personals and one item of Spacefleet property! Anyway, theer’s village comin’ oop – so Ah can get summat t’ drink t’ wash this down! Ee! Reet good it are, an’ all! Pity you Treens don’t eat – you’re really missin’ out! P’raps it’d mek y’more human, like! Gee Willikins! Would you believe it, Colonel – whole village ‘as turned out t’ meet us!
DAN DARE: In force, Dig – and there’s the Mayor, smack dead centre of the whole bang-shoot, all done up in ceremonial robes and chains and looking just like one of the three wise monkeys.
DIGBY: Won’t mek any impression on Melon bonce, though. Cold ‘ard science and power is all that interests ‘im – an’ no amount a dressin’ oop and swankin’ around by anyone’ll change that!
DAN DARE: That’s just it, Dig – he thinks everything and everyone is beneath him – and that’ll be his downfall – just wait and see!
DIGBY: Ee! Ah’ll drink t’ that, Colonel Dan – soon’s Ah gets me ‘ands on a decent bevvy!