The Guardian of the Sig series

This is a collection of the Guardian of the Sig series, concerning life and times in the notorious newsgroup demon.local and featuring characters past and present. The Guardian himself is {R}, aka Richard Ashton, a man who thinks that fools should suffer - or was that does not suffer fools gladly?

Brief cast list

FlyYour humble narrator
*@theridgeThe children of The Ridge College
Blue Whale/photographerNeil Barker
JonKeyJohn Kaye and his legendary willy
Queen SylvianaSylvia Spock Wiggly
ANNAAnna Warman
1010Iolo (don't call me Imo)Davidson
SlimeballTony Sidaway
Dowager Duchess of Cat FurrierPaola Karthuria
Sam/Hickup/man with TobleroneRonald Hickey
Admiral HornblowerJamie Harvey
K'Ganjames g keegan jr
Randy MightMandy Wright
Bus driverSteven Tweed
Eezakleen agentGlynn Bradley
Blue NeilComrade Councillor Neil Tungate
Re SolSimon (Sol) Oliver
Elderly frogTrevor Dennis

Guardian of the Sig 1Marina and The Ridge
Guardian of the Sig 2Noid appears
Guardian of the Sig 2aNoid surrenders
Guardian of the Sig 3Slidaway
Guardian of the Sig 4Exodus
Guardian of the Sig 5james g keegan jr
Guardian of the Sig 6Hornbeam and Hickey
Guardian of the Sig 7leo and PLA
Guardian of the Sig 8The Tame Bunch
Guardian of the Sig 9Cats
Guardian of the Sig 10Gang of n

Guardian of the Sig

The scene - a peaceful newsgroup, its landscape punctuated by the occasional explosion, sounds of gunfire, and billowing clouds of napalm smoke. Trudging into view comes a rather jaded looking horse, named, if we are to believe the embroidery on the saddle blanket, pOS/2ive. The rider has an {R} emblazoned on his somewhat battered and singed breastplate, and carries a flamethrower loosely with the ease of long practice.

In the distance, a large sig attracts his attention. Checking the pilot light in the flame thrower and ensuring it is set to "blow" and not "suck", he guides the horse over to the sig and dismounts. There he checks the address on the sig and relaxes slightly, casting a fond glance at the black and white Miss Marple video in one of his saddlebags. From the other saddlebag he pulls out a blank piece of parchment and slowly scribes a note, tongue stuck between his lips in concentration.

"Oh fair and comely maiden" reads the note, "thou hast fallen from the narrow way. Please accept my gift of an sig which hath been restrained to the bounds of the community of the UseNet."

Knocking the sig dexterously to its back, he slices off top and bottom with his trusty editor, then, lifting the sig back upright, he affixes the missive to it and re-mounts his steed. Slowly he rides away over the Ridge, where he sees a massive towering sig. Spurring POS/2ive into an almost hurried plod, he heads over to the sig and checks the address. "@theridge?" he mutters, and from the saddlebag pulls another piece of parchment, this one already printed with his message.

"Dear Sunshine" says the note, "You stupid twat, you're well over the Usenet limit for a sig. Get four fucking lines or get a fucking life". He crosses out the "Z" at the bottom and substitutes "{R}", then, turning the flamethrower to Gas Mark Solar Flare, he sprays the sig until it is nothing but smoking rubble, then drops the missive onto it. Slowly he rides away...

Guardian of the Sig II

The mighty, fast and friendly charger pOS/2ive trotted down the lane, carrying his master {R} back from the sig wars in triumph. The flaming had been heavy and hot, but only Ho Twat was still an unresolved issue. {R} felt that he deserved some peace and a quiet drink at his local hostelry, exchanging banter with the many regulars. At last, his destination drew nigh.

A strange, unpleasant smell wafted to {R}'s nostrils. His nose wrinkled, he saw the crowd of regulars standing around outside the inn. Gradually, he recognised the smell - faeces!

"Hello, {R}" called JonKay, the half-man, half-stallion centaur. "We've got some trouble. Thought it was the drainage at first, but KKKate put us right on that".

"Indeed" said Queen Sylviana, crossing her shapely legs in a way that made {R}'s vision briefly blur. "He decided that instead of our club that everyone could join, he wanted one that only he could join. We thought it was because of the membership form arriving late, and he calmed down for a minute. Then he started screaming and smashing up the furniture".

"Yes", ANNA said, "the siglets nearly got squashed - just as well the Beerman had adopted one and another had fastened itself onto Fly's leg". She indicated a theoretical dinosaur figure, thin on top and much much thicker in the middle, grimly trying to kickstart a motorbike with a siglet firmly gripping his thigh in its teeth.

"You want me to try and get it to change its ways, then?" asked {R}.

"Yes, indeed" chorussed Christine and JOhn's cats together.

With dawn's light, and marina's central heating boiler, {R} strode up to the hostelry. He pushed open the door and was confronted by a stink of excreta. A wizened shape scurried up to him.

"It's a humanoid" thought {R}. "Though not a very good one".

The noid opened its mouth and voided another heap of ordure onto the flagstones. "Cabal, cabal, cabal" it screamed.

"What's all this caballers?" asked {R}.

"Cabal, cabal, cabal" screamed the creature again.

{R} looked around him. The inn was old and wooden. Any large scale flame war would destroy it irreperably. Better to walk away now.

He turned and walked slowly from the inn. Stopping briefly to write a note, he continued walking slowly to pOS/2ive and mounted up. Looking up from his endless kicking at the motorbike, Fly was struck by the determined look in {R}'s eyes. What was he mouseynning?

No-one else heard the muttered words - "I'll be back".

Then horse and man were gone with the wind.

Guardian of the Sig IIa

In a distant galaxy, long, long, ago...

Sorry, start again.

We left {R} having strategically withdrawn from the scene of battle, with the noxious noid screaming "cabal, cabal, cabal!" and exuding vast quantities of ordure. And so it comes to pass, some weeks later, that once more the sound of pOS/2ive's hooves may be heard in the distance as {R} once more draws nigh unto the infamous tavern, the Dangling Newsmaster...

From a few hundred yards away, {R} discerns a few of the old regulars seemingly behaving as normally as they ever have, though noone is the only one going into the tavern, in between singing songs. He hails Fly. "Has my strategic mouseyn worked then?" "And what mouseyn would that be then, run away and leave the rest of us to sort it out?" grumbles Fly. There is the click of a flamethrower's safety catch. "Er, yes, {R}, great mouseyn. Come over here and talk to Queen Sylv".

{R} approaches Queen Sylviana, who once more crosses her legs in a way which makes his codpiece suddenly seem very tight. "Ah, {R}" she says, sounding rather like Basil Brush. "So you have returned?". "Yes", replies {R}, "or more accurately, I haven't actually been away. I left a lurking-spell in this vicinity, and so found out most of what was going on". "Well", says Queen Sylviana, "would you like to perform the final exorcism?". "Certainly" replies {R} with a glint in his eye.

Approaching the tavern with his flamethrower set to singe, {R} notices the distinct lack of abusive screaming from within. Gently he pushes the door open and looks inside, to see nothing moving, just a giant heap of manure. Marina, who had followed {R} in, immediately demands a shovel and wheelbarrow, and two strong young men (for after she's finished shovelling the manure away). Suddenly, the mound gives a convulsive heave. The three siglets run away in panic (or at least .&&&& and .@@@@@ carry the sleeping .%%%%% between them) as a rather nondescript young man with a slightly receding chin and a mild case of acne.

The young man looks bemusedly round the room at the array of hostile faces, the array of sharp objects, and the array of pointers to a set of objects with the inherited property of "sharp" wielded by the C++ brigade. "Er, I'll go now then" he murmurs, and slipping through the assembled ranks, he departs.

"Wonderful, {R}" enthuses leo the lion with the scarecrow's brain, the tin-man's sensitivity and Dorothy's sense of direction. "I shall now ode in your honour".

"Is that the time?" exclaims Fly, remembering at the last moment to look at his watch. "Must be off then".

"Must get back to the home planet right away" chorus eVAp and Er...

"Mmmble mmmble" says Sophie the pixy, trying to speak with her mouth full.

Disregarding them all, leo continues to ode:

I'll sing a witty ditty
'Cause we're out of shitty city
Time for fun and frolics
Now there's no more bollocks [tm]

I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK, etc

We've beaten off the noid
His space is dull and void
There's no crap a-spouting
Let's have a little outing

Are you going to Scarborough Fair etc

{R} collects his accolades and departs in a haze of goodwill. "Farewell, guardian" cry the assembled d.lers. "We hope to see you again soon". "Indeed, wherever sigs spill over four lines, or cabals are mentioned, there you will see me. Until then, be of good countenance and remember to follow the Green Cross code. This has been a public service broadcast".

Guardian of the Sig III

The Fly muttered imprecations agaist the Disclock Fairy as he heaved the bike upright again, a rowdy siglet scuttling round his feet. Just as he put it on the sidestand, he was knocked flying by a huge blow from behind.

"What the fuck was that?"

He looked up and saw a ghastly sight. Above him hung five huge balloons shaped like dancing pigs, with dangling from them a creature with the body of a spider and the head of a poodle. Supported by the web walking monster was a large slimeball, dangling a huge sig below it.

"Hoy, fuck off out of it with that sig" shouted the Fly.

"Make me!" squeaked the slimeball.

Looking wildly around as the sig swung menacingly in the air, the Fly spied a figure in slightly singed and tarnished armour, atop a white steed. Alongside walked a large camel, which {R} steadfastly ignored.

"{R}! You're here" cried the Fly. "Come on over, and bring the camel with you!".

"There is no camel" replied {R}, evenly. The camel sniggered slightly and unhitched a large flamethrower. Setting the flamethrower to "singe", it took aim. {R}, still ignoring it, also set his flamethrower to "singe" and let fly at the slimeball's sig. The bottom of the sig crumpled - then the awful creature grabbed the sig, screwed a new two lines to it, and glued asbestos to the underside.

{R}, the camel, and the Fly peered at the new two lines.

"Fuck off, I've applied for restrospective planning permission, but I'll knock it down if you're nice to me" read {R}.

"Ah, a control freak" said the camel.

"Oh, I thought the word was fuckwit" said the Fly.

The slimeball above them suddenly started screeching and wailing, and unloosing great gobbets of excrement on the newsgroup below. From afar came the faint sound of a battle-cry...

"llanfairpwysgwyngogerychgogoantisilio oh bugger what was it again?"

Riding up to them was a Welsh warrior, large quantites of armaments deployed about his person, mounted on a large battle ram. pOS/2ive looked at the ram hungrily.

"{R}, old friend, you need a rest" said 1010. "Here, put up your umbrella to keep the shit off you, and I'll join battle with the slimeball". He reached into a bucket containing gravy-soaked meatballs.

"Hang on" said the Fly. "I know you don't like faggots, but surely you're not going to waste them? There are homeless people fishing for salmon in the Thames, you know."

"You're right" replied 1010. "Here, you nip down to the Thames with these, and I'll use a few of the old techniques".

The slimeball squeaked down at them. "I've got rid of the last bit of the sig now, except when I forget or there's a 'y' in the day, because of all those nice letters I sent myself - oh sorry, that all those nice fans of mine in the newsgroup have sent me. Now I just want to throw some more shit around. After all, I can do what I want - I go on the Big Net".

1010 looked grim. "OK, boyos, he's mine" he muttered between clenched teeth. As the slimeball continued to rain down excrement, 1010 leapt from one new heap of shit to the next, crushing them with his trusty flick-hammer. Gradually, the slimeball began to look more and more flaccid as the crap slowly drained from it.

"This may be more of a problem than I thought" said 1010. "It's actually made entirely of shit. Still, let us not give up". He looked around. "OK then, good idea, you lot use the umbrellas. I don't think this one should last too much longer".

"Let us know when it's over" came a chorus of muffled voices from behind the large umbrella, embroidered with the legend "From: *paininthebum*".

Guardian of the Sig IV

Gently, the Dowager Duchess of Cat Furrier pushed open the door of the empty newsgroup. She looked around for clues to the desertion. There was no sign, no inhabitants scuttled away in the unaccustomed light. She walked across the floor, her heels clicking on the concrete, only slightly muffled by the dust of aeons. "Empty", she whispered to herself.

She turned and walked back to the door. Briefly, she paused and rubbed a sleeve across the name plate on the door. "Perfect", she breathed...


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Across the rubble of a still-smoking newsgroup strode a disparate band. {R} walked at the front, leading his charger pOS/2ive, with a camel walking alongside which he steadfastly refused to look at. Behind him walked the Fly and JonKey, and just behind them the KrazyKat pair of John and Neal. Determinedly strumming a guitar which had had all its strings blown off was Marcus, and beside him 1010 attempted to bring his sheep under control. A determined Neil was trying to sell tickets to a piss-up in a brewery, and behind them strode an almost unending cavalcade. Bringing up the rear was Dereck, arm-in-arm with someone wearing prisoner-of-war clothing but carrying his flamethrower as jauntily as the rest.

A call came from the middle of the group. "Shhhhhhh", said KKKKKKate, "can you hear something?". They paused. From a distance separated only by the letters A to D came the sound of laughter, cut off at regular intervals. "Does that remind you of something?".

A Steve pressed himself forth, and nodded. "Rather Amaircan", he said, "sounds like canned laughter". The others nodded. On the nearby roundabout, Sylviana called "Yes, it just goes in and comes out". The others adjusted their editing scissors.

They pushed forward to a building carefully concealed with flannel. "This is it", said the Fly. Each stood close to a window, rubbing the grime away to look in. "Here, Wendy, give me lift up" whined the slimy creature that had followed them. "Bugger off" said the ex-POW, "I'm no-one's poodle. Get yourself someone else, or I'll run over you in my Volvo". "Volvo?", cried a voice from the darkness. They turned, and saw a set of teeth shining at them in the gloom. "Yes, Adam, now just calm down and come here".

They watched in fascination as the dowager duchess of Cat Furrier walked amongst her chosen few, passing out a compliment here, a reprimand there. They heard a little voice say "Thank you for creating the Glade Ark, and bringing us all here, away from those horrible people, especially that JonKey, nasty northern bugger".

"It's all right, JonKey" said the Fly, turning to JonKey, and then realising he was gone. "Shit, what's going on in there?"

They watched in a horrified fascination as JK kicked in the door and strode over to Tim. Grasping the mitten hanging from Tim's left sleeve, he pulled violently. The right mitten flew up and smacked Tim in the eye. Then JonKey turned and left.

"Bunch of wimps", he said.

Guardian of the Sig V

"And" *smack* "don't" *smack* "call" *smack* "me" *smack* "Imo!" *smack smack*.

The words, punctuated by ringing slaps, rose above the hubbub of the weyrd. K'gan burst sobbing from the cave and across to his faithful dragon, Postmistreth.

"Come along, my only friend" he snivelled. "You can help me prove myself to these cruel fellow weyrdlings. Let's go away from here to our secret place".

Postmistreth turned her head and looked at him, her red eyes slowly crossing and uncrossing with affection. Of course, she replied. Anything to help you - we could even see the Wizard of Vax if you thought that would help. Oh look, some people are coming to talk to you. They're saying something about a club - perhaps they want you to join one.


The newly invented communicator burst into life. 1010 answered it. "Oh hello, {R}" he said.

"Hello there" replied the Guardian of the Sig. "Do you need any help with bringing K'gan up properly as a worthwhile member of society?".

"I think not" answered 1010. "Crag the troll is outside jumping up and down on his head, Neil's taking photos of it and Fly is writing a book about it. If that doesn't improve his attitude, I don't know what will."

"That's all right then. pOS/2ive's feeling a bit jaded and I've got the queen of the fairies to keep an eye on".

"What, you mean Slideaway the Slimeball is back?".


Drying his eyes, K'gan dismounted from Postmistreth. "Come along, just through here" he murmured. She pushed her large head through the undergrowth, following it with her even larger body, and then looked in puzzlement at the assortment of blacksmith's tools lying in the clearing in front of them.

I don't understand, she said. How are you going to use this lot to get some respect?

"Just heat up your fires, my lovely. All will become clear."

She chewed on the Mexican flamestone, slobbering slightly. K'gan stubbed his toe on one small boulder and hopped around for a few minutes, screaming, until he realised that Postmistreth was paying no attention to him. Whimpering slightly, he subsided.

"Now, my pretty, blow your flames here. No, not my finger, stupid, here!"

What's it all about then?

"I've decided to be the best dressed man in the weyrd. People will respect me, they'll look up to me and won't cast doubts on my sanity and the size of my genitals. I will be armoured, in body and spirit, against them. Yes indeed, clothes maketh the man."


"I'm going to forge some mail".

Guardian of the Sig VI

Suddenly, there came a knock at the door.

[Readers of previous GoTSs may wonder what this follows on from. It doesn't, it's a dramatic device, OK?]

Awakened from a fitful slumber, where no pleasant dreams of searing flamethrowers and screaming newbies disrupted his nightmares of peace, love, and Windows 95, {R} wandered to the door. He opened it a bare six inches, and a foot shot inside.

"ah, sir, may yot i interest with otterings of clean to make?" gibbered the small figure, its reinforced steel boot repelling any attempts by {R} to close the door. "i notice yot camel yard in is, dirty be it, i eezakleen it and yot inline bigtime money be distributor".

{R} managed to struggle through several layers of grammatical torture, and finally arrived at a conclusion. "That's no camel" he informed the figure, who was now busily distributing stickers around with "i'm yor eezakleen agent - you kno makes if sense" written on them. "That's pOS/2ive, my trusty steed, who now obeys not just my hands but also my voice".

The eezakleen agent hesitated. "so if not there a camel is?" it asked, fearfully. "the blue whale if wat who where said there be it here, but not maybe".

There was the click of a flamethrower safety catch.

"Get your foot out of my door" said {R}.

"be not in four-line sigs here ever then post?" asked the agent.

"No, never" replied {R} as the pilot light ignited.

The boot disappeared from the door, which slammed shut. {R} leaned back against it with a sigh of relief. Good to know his abilities hadn't been diminished with lack of use. He smiled, and kicked the flamethrower's cylinder. It gave a hollow ring. Good, he could still bluff when he needed to.

He glanced out of the window and saw the agent struggling down the road, weighed down by a suitcase nearly as big as he was and with the words "eezakleen: all you what want if here" emblazoned on the sides. A siglet was rubbing itself against the agent's legs, trying surreptitiously to trip him with every step. Beyond him, in the harbour, a ramshackle craft had moored. {R} looked on with interest, recognising the faded gold braid that adorned the threadbare uniform of the occupant.

The occupant of the boat stood, rocked from side to side, and plunged over the gunwales. He emerged, dripping, some minutes later on the quayside. Straightening his brocaded hat, he pulled a loudhailer from his coat and addressed the slowly gathering crowd.

"All you here, listen now and obey. The edict by which you all live, your holy of holies, is now declared null and void. I, Admiral Hornblower, declare it so".

The crowd shuffled its collective feet and started to murmur.

"Yes, throw off your chains. From now on, you can use any length of sig you want!".

Several items of fruit were hurled in his direction, not to mention a few vanilla pods. Someone eased the safety catch off a cricket bat.

"It's no good you struggling, I have allies..."

Suddenly, a collection of waves transformed themselves into a wizened figure. "Indeed you have, young master" said the creature. "Sam" cried Hornblower. "How good to see you".

"Indeed, 'tis wonderful to see you too, young master" replied the faithful Sam, before turning on the crowd, armed with a large triangular chocolate bar. "Now, ye varmints, get ye back afore ye get Toblered" he shouted.

"Bugger off, fuckwit" yelled the crowd with one voice (except for the eezakleen agent, who yelled "bugger of is wit for fuck"). The barrage of fruit redoubled, and Sam strove to fight it off, while behind him Hornblower leapt almost into his boat, struggled onto the deck, and frantically paddled for the open sea, followed by a large blue whale.

As the fighting intensified, another figure armed with a chocolate bar suddenly appeared, wildly screaming and waving. The crowd paused, and slowly broke into sniggers at the wild hair, flashing eyes, and melting bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk. "Your separator is broken" screamed the figure, pointing at 1010. 1010 drew his breath... and the crowd, as one, grabbed for earplugs and put them in.

Then it was the time of reckoning. Slowly, 1010 explained why the separator was not broken. The eyes of the two invaders opened wider and wider as they realised what they had let themselves in for, and that having all their teeth removed with no anaesthetic and bamboo slivers up their fingernails would have been a preferable option.

At last it was over. The invaders stood ominously motionless, turned to stone by the relentless 1010. The crowd relaxed, pulling earplugs out and breaking into comradely chatter.

"Bus timetables, getcher bus timetables here" cried a new voice. The crowd sniggered and nudged each other at the sight of a troll dressed in fluorescent pink and green, with a huge neon sign above his head saying "ME!!". At last, the entertainment was returning to normal...

Guardian of the Sig VII

{R} paused in his careful tying of a fly as he heard a knock at the door. Laying the zip on one side, he opened the door. A foot immediately inserted itself.

"Party want come in a daze couple?" asked the Eezakleen agent. "And i can tel al abbout the time i went to North Africa".

"Yes, probably" replied {R}, after mentally sifting the words. "But don't try and sell me anything. And no bloody slides, OK?".

"KO" was the response, and off the Eezakleen agent limped.


Meanwhile, in a caterers not a million miles away, sixteen staff took it in turns to follow the instructions on the food order for the party. "Wee in peanuts for our enjoy wish" said the order, and the staff held that the customer was always right.


The party was in full swing, Pink Floyd reverberating through the Eezakleen agent's fine collection of toilets. Somewhere near the door, the Fly and Blue Neil were shouting at each other while their various companions waved dead fish at each other. Suddenly, the door flew open and a lone figure with a giant Toblerone appeared in the doorway.

Mutters ran round the room (until he was brought down by a magnificent tackle, followed by a shout of "my tackle's even more magnificent than that" from JonKey) as the identity of the stranger became clear. "It's Hickup" exclaimed a plurality of people. "Yes, it is indeed I. I couldn't cope with hearing Pink Floyd inside while I was stuck out there with a huge sig which was getting pretty bloody heavy, let me tell you".

Slowly the party got back up to speed. {R} looked around, wondering why it seemed different to normal. Then it dawned on him - there was no 1010 there, and the normal huddles of peacefully-sleeping would-be debaters were absent too. Somewhere, there was a shriek as an ice-cube found its way into an item of clothing where it had no business. "Here" said the Fly to Randy Might, "do you want to see how far down the zipper on this one-piece leather goes? And these knee sliders are pretty good too...".

Randy was just showing signs of succumbing to the Fly's subtle charm when once again, the door flew open. Standing there was a strange figure, clad in a green tweed bus-driver's uniform. Jammed firmly in the doorway was one of the biggest sigs anyone had ever seen.

The figure raised one hand in a Thespian fashion and intoned "Oh say have you seen, by the dawn's early..." "FUCK OFF" shouted the crowd in almost-unison, and "uFck of to North Africa", to no-one's surprise, yelled the party host. A sig wolverine slunk forward, teeth bared.

"Let me prove myself, comrades!" came the cry from Hickup. Waving his Toblerone aloft, he sprang forward and brought it down crashing on the head of the bus-driver, who slipped and fell, then rose again and again raised his hand. "I saw the devil by the Ceno..." he started, only to have the Toblerone descend once more on his head. The sig wolverine took a large chunk out of his leg. Shaking both head and leg, and dislodging the sig wolverine, the bus-driver again started. "Two little boys had two little...". This time the Fly rammed a Honda camshaft into an anatomically improbable area of the newcomer. Now kneeling, the figure coughed and raised an arm again. "I shall wreak my vengeance upon you all! You will be grist to my fodder and I shall trample you under the wheels of my mighty 52-seater chariot. Here, help me to the door, would you?".

As the door closed behind the bus-driver, there came a voice from the back of the room. "I 'ad that Plato in the back of the cab once, and he came up with a great idea for a Utopia. All we need to do is think before we speak.".

The others looked aghast at her as the full implications sank in. "But - but - but I wanted to ode any of these fuckwits to death" said leo. "Look, I was just getting this ready for that last one:

He thinks he's a tweedy
But we know that he's weedy
Even though he makes a fuss
And he boasts of being clever
But we know that he never
Because he only drives a bus

That should have done it...".

PLA was also shaking his head. "I had a cunning mouseyn all set up, I shall commouseyin to whomever should be in authority. I want none of this mouthing of mouseytitudes, I want this to be a mouseyce with teeth.".

The two stood up and walked to the door, casting ne'er a backward glance.The others studiously ignored them. The conversation started up again. Slowly, everything remained exactly as abnormal as it always had been...

Guardian of the Sig VIII

Fly stood by his Triumphs, looking them over and debating which to ride today, and which of his leather suits should he wear - the sensible two-piece number or the racey one-piece with the zip that went All the Way Down, which seemed to be much in favour with certain young persons with two X chromosomes. Decisions, decisions.

The sound of a howling race exhaust and the squeal of a slipping clutch growing slowly closer attracted his attention. Turning round, he saw a strange figure with bright orange arms mounted on a Yamaha, revving the engine frantically and slipping the clutch while on a trailer behind him he pulled a 60 foot tall effigy of himself, apparently made of baked shit.

The stranger stopped and pulled off his helmet, revealing a shock of hair (as in electric shock). Taking a soap-box off the trailer and standing on it, he addressed the crowd that had by now started to gather, fascinated by the effigy. "I've come to complain about those disgusting posters that someone has been putting up in our clubhouse. That someone has a Demon passport, so I know they've probably got nothing whatsoever to do with this place, but I thought I'd have a good old harangue in here anyway.".

One of the crowd stepped forward. "What are you doing with that bloody eyesore, then?". "Eyesore? Eyesore? Surely you don't mean my beautifully crafted effigy, the symbol of my personality?". Fly tapped the statue - hollow. "My eye, er, effigy, accompanies me everywhere. It is by that that I am known. And by my name, Re Sol.".

"Known to be a fuckwit" grumbled a photographer, experimentally prodding the statue with an aluminium baseball bat.

"Now you stop that" squeaked the orange-armed one. "Once my friends catch up, they'll give you what for!".

With perfect timing, a plume of dust appeared a little way away. Slowly a figure became visible. As the figure drew closer, it became obvious that it was {R}, mounted on his steed pOS/2ive. He drew up in front of Re Sol. "Are those twats that I just passed back down the road with you then? They might get here by tomorrow.".

Re Sol drew himself up to his full height and flashed his orange arms several times. "Indeed they are", he replied, "my stalwart companions.".

"Load of bloody arseholes if you ask me" replied {R}. "Or even if you don't ask me, come to that. There were some odd bikes too. Those GS500 things, they're not really bikes are they?".

Re Sol pointed up the street. All eyes turned to look, and he took the opportunity to wave a sign over his head that said simply "Help!". "Here they are now." he said.

A tractor belching blue smoke with "Aprilia" painted on the sides chugged up the street and stopped. A round-faced yokel climbed down from it, scattering five pound notes on the floor. "Oi, you caaaant, be you faaackin telling moi faaacking mate to get ooorrrff your faaacking laaaaand?" asked the new arrival. "And, moi dear, whaaat be your naaaame?".

The last question was aimed at Vivianne, who fluttered her eyelashes at him. "Vivianne, you big strong hulky biker." she husked. "'Ere, Re Sol" shouted the yokel, "Oi reckon the Viv bird's a right taaaasty piece of stuff.". There was a crunch as Vivianne's heel landed on his foot.

"Don't call me Babe, er, Viv", she hissed.

More arrivals were, er, arriving. An elderly frog drew up on a VFR750, with a heavyweight sig bungeed firmly to the back. He pulled a zimmer frame from on top of the sig and used it as a stepladder to dismount, then hobbled over to Re Sol, carrying the sig, the weight of which threatened to pull his arm off. He was joined by someone who looked rather like Mr Blobby in a rhinestone suit, carrying an enormous placard advertising moped and whippet racing, and seated on a moped which was bending slightly under the combined weight of the rider and sig.

A young woman pulled up in front of Fly and, looking at him out of the corner of her eye, dropped a pair of lacey knickers at his feet. Fly blushed, bent over, picked up the knickers, and shyly cleaned his visor with them.

The frog glared around at the inhabitants. "I thought someone said this lot were tough" he said. The sound of fifty flamethrower pilot jets lighting up was clearly audible. The frog gulped.

"I'm bored", he announced casually, and briefly whistled a casual air. "Time to wander over to uk.transport and stick pins in that Huge Axolotl. Anyone coming?".

The visitors slowly returned to their respective vehicles, except for Re Sol, who had now threatened to ignore anyone who didn't like his statue. The crowd around him thinned out rapidly, leaving him ranting alone with his hands clasped firmly over his eyes and a pair of well-licked earplugs in his ears.

Just as the visitors started to leave, a yellow Renault Megane with 'CBR1000' painted on the doors, driven by a bald fat bloke, pulled up. "Have I missed anything?" he asked. A woman wearing an NGG badge and with a bottle of Scotch gaffa-taped to her helmet tottered over to him. "Not that I can remember, sweetie" she slurred.

The elderly frog rode slowly up the street and paused by the Triumphs. He looked over at Fly. "Why are you hanging around with this lot then, obeying this rule of theirs? Why not leave and come down our clubhouse? You can do what you like with your sig - why, we can barely move for the splendid sigs we have in there.".

Fly slowly shook his head and walked back over to the Triumphs.

Guardian of the Sig IX

There was a knocking at the door. Fly stirred (but not shaken) and finally woke, crawling out of bed to the front door. "Wassermarrerbuggeroff" he mumbled. The small figure outside, dressed in a clown suit and carrying a fire extinguisher, leapt from foot to foot as though in need of relief. "The publishers have sent me" he cried. "Where's your next volume of memoirs, it's overdue!".

"Bleedin' hell, is it 1998 already?" muttered Fly, and wandered over to the writing-desk. He rummaged around in some drawers for a moment, found them entirely devoid of nubile young females, and tried to kick-start his memory. The scene went all blurry and wavey, and Fly swore off Old BogFartBreath for ever.


Wandering through the streets of the newsgroup, the denizens couldn't help but notice a gradual increase in the number of cats. While most, or perhaps just a large number, of the denizens liked cats, and rather fewer, or indeed less, or indeed perhaps more but it didn't seem that way and was probably statistically insignificant due to the small sample size, didn't, these cats seemed - different. They were often to be seen dragging sigs round as big as they were, and the post digestive process resulted in rather smellier crap than the average cat. A few of them took to deliberately trying to trip people up.

{R} kicked one as it flung itself beneath his feet, snatched it up and looked at the name tag on the collar. "My name is Nigel" he read. "What a fucking stupid name for a cat" he opined. "What's them other feline fetritudinous feotid festering fuckers called?".

Fly reached down for one. "This one would appear to be Khazi. I suppose that means he's not coming out of the closet".

The clown picked up another, which aimed a savage blow at his face and missed by several feet. "This one's a Baloo" he said. "A bear? In some rather good book and some rather awful Disney film?".

A figure dressed in a white coat and wearing stockings and suspenders leapt onto the main street, one finger upraised. "I am the Umpire of Meow, and you're all OUT!" he screamed. One or two of the cats sniggered, and they all studiously ignored him. "Right, two can play at that game" he cried, and immediately sat down, ignoring them all.

The next morning dawned with no sign of the cats. In the middle of the square was a giant wooden nose. Slowly the locals approached and surrounded it. "So what the bloody hell's that?" asked {R}. "'Tis a strange and wondrous thing, come to bring my Dolly to me and drive the evil llamas away from my door, with much wailing and gnashing of pubic hair" expounded Hadders, one arm raised in classic expostulating posture, before a nurse dressed in a tight rubber dress took him gently


Fly sighed in memory.


by the arm and lead him away.

Suddenly a pair of doors in the giant nostrils opened, and a flood of cats came hurtling out, each mounted on a 250cc nose. They snorted round the group, ignoring the locals as they hurtled around, parking their noses where they pleased. Finally they rode off, with shouts of "I'll be back". But, come next morning, they weren't...

A figure dressed in a black cape and wearing stockings and suspenders leapt onto the main street with both arms raised high. "I am the Vampire of Meow, and you will all be mine" he cried. He looked round and was struck by the absence of cats. "There, I knew that would work" he said contentedly. "Er, I hate to tell you, Keef, but that was a demon's work" muttered {R}. "See, he's put this wall up round the place, and anyone trying to sneak in on a nose will get blocked. As the cats only like to travel anywhere by nose, that's the problem solved".

"You thenk the preblem solved?" screeched a high voice down {R}'s ear. "The preblem is neot without, it is within. You are all kerrupt beens and you hev been attecked by a rain of kets es e reselt. I hev sin the fewture end it is bleck indid". In the distance the sound of pounding feet could be heard, accompanied by puffing which would have made any railway enthusiast's heart leap and hand go to notebook, and a slightly rotund red-faced silver-haired man hove into sight, waving a syringe madly in the air and yelling "Medication! Medication!".


Months passed, and peace (or a lower level of warfare, anyway) returned.

"So, about this fence then" said a demon, appearing from nowhere. "We don't know about keeping it up for ever, could be a bit costly in maintenance and so on if them cats try and do another assault. So, hands up those for keeping the fence". A sea of hands went up. "And hands up them for losing the fence". A few hands went up. "That's settled then" said the demon, "the fence goes". The demon disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, leaving the locals standing round bickering as if nothing had happened.

Slowly descending on the breeze there appeared a slimeball. "Oh hell, it's back" grumbled JonKey. The slimeball briefly unfurled a gigantic sig, shook it out a couple of times and then folded it neatly and put it away. "Hello" it smiled, "I'm back and I thought I'd come and talk with you this time". The man with the syringe turned towards him, mouth flecked slightly with foam. "And YOU can bugger off an' all" he shouted, before returning to waving his syringe at the Wm.


"The End" Fly thought, laying down his pen. His moment of peace was brought to an abrupt end by a knocking at the door. Outside stood a figure with a large case, bulging suspiciously with what appeared to be brushes. "Wanted I to put in Africa story North of" said the figure, one foot firmly jammed in the door. "All right" said Fly wearily, "come on in". The salesman nearly fainted at the unaccustomed words, but wasted no time in rushing in and giving Fly a piece of paper. Fly looked at it.

"Once upno time I a North wetn to Africa".

"That's it?" asked Fly. "Not much, is there?".

"No, on, all tah'ts not" said the salesman, and turned the paper over.

"Adn thne I back came".

Guardian of the Sig X

The stranger rode up to the newsgroup on an elderly Triumph. Dismounting, he paused only to adjust a wide-brimmed hat which shadowed his face before strolling in. It seemed almost deserted in there, the tumblespam blowing down the quiet street and the wailing of a neglected cat sounding out, ignored. On the edge of the newsgroup, where it bounded on another, under a sign marked "SERVICE", there was a small crowd burning an effigy of someone with a placard saying "Lance Gobshite" hung round his neck.

A couple of inhabitants emerged. "Howdy stranger" said one, blinking behind strong glasses. "Welcome to our newsgroup. Sadly, we're clean out of sluts since JonKey drove them all into hiding. I'm John Hall. Who are you, then?". "Pleased to meet you - I'm Dip, Dip Terror" replied the stranger. "I had heard that this newsgroup was rather more active than this. What's happened to it? And who's this JonKey?".

"Why, that's JonKey over there. Just listen in awhile, and you'll find what's been happening" replied the bespectacled one. "It's not been easy these last few months. Nice to meet you, but I must be on my way.".

With that, John Hall picked up his hat, turned on his heel, and left without a backward glance.

Looking where John Hall had pointed, the stranger saw a small man, accompanied by a nightclub bouncer, a rotund photographer, and a slightly less rotund figure with silver hair and gold teeth. They were surrounding a woman with "V" knitted on the more than ample bosom of her more than ample sweater. Dip Terror listened carefully.

"You're telling me what's right and what's wrong?" demanded JonKey. "You have the affrontery to try to dictate morals to me? What do you think you are, some sort of Ethics Girl?".

The V-marked one faced up to him. "Perhaps someone ought to stand up to you at last. You come down from your castle and bully everyone around, you set your poodles" (she gestured at the bouncer, the snapper, and the gold-toothed one) "on us, because you want us to be nastier. Then, when we are nastier, you complain that we're being nasty.".

"Nasty? Nasty? It's not that" said JonKey. "And they're not my poodles. Are you?" he added, at which the other three said in unison "Oh no, JK. We have our own minds, JK. We know because you told us that, JK". "There you are", JonKey continued, "totally independently-minded, like I told them to be. Just good friends. And I've heard tell that you're starting a secret society.".

"Secret society? You're accusing me of that now?" said Vivianne. "What do you think I am, a Masonette?".

"Well, you're certainly not flat" muttered Dip. The others briefly glared at him, then returned to their arguement.

"You're just a big stirrer" said the bouncer. "Look, here's your wooden spoon, stir, stir, stir, nyeh, nyeh, nyeh. Huggy, huggy, big girl's blouse.".

"Why, thank you for noticing, Craig" Vivianne replied. "And it's always nice when you manage to use your brain to its full extent, and don't come up with mindless invective.".

The snapper suddenly started to twitch and wriggle around, looking slightly uncomfortable. With a somewhat embarassed air, he extracted a mole from somewhere in the recesses of his clothing. "Now behave yourself, Notmandy" he hissed, slipping the mole into an outside pocket and firmly fastening it.

A hamster came rushing up to Dip. "A newcomer, eh?" it squeaked. "What day were you born on?". Dip stared at the hamster. "Sunday" he replied. "Aha" squeaked the hamster, "the child that is born on the Sabbath day is bonny and blithe and good and - GAY! Do you like footstools, too? Bet you're another huggy. Gotta wine-gum?".

Dip sighed, picked up the hamster, and put it into a box. Ignoring the squeaking from within, he taped the box up, checked for air holes, and addressed the box to Richard Gere.

A commotion emerged from a nearby gateway, festooned in pink and fluffy cotton wool. As it drew nearer, it became apparent that it was centred around someone wearing a long robe over a naval uniform with tarnished gold braid, and brandishing a staff.

"Come, er, arrive, rather, gather round" he cried. "Listen to my words, as you did before, when you completely ignored me. I am Moses Hornblower, I bring joy, and I can take you where"

NP: Joybringer - Manfred Mann

"Er, sorry about that, yes, now listen. You can choose to remain here in this place of misery, or you can arrive with me to a land of milk and huggy. Follow me, follow"

NP: The Hippopotamus Song - Flanders and Swann

"Will you stop that? Er, yes, follow me to the Promised Land".

The Gang of Four had formed a tight circle around Moses, and the taunts began to fly.

"Fuck off, you huggy" said JonKey.

"Huggy bastard" said the bouncer.

"Uh huh. *cough* Indeedy. Huggy" said the snapper.

The fourth member stood silent. Swiftly, a replacement with "Mr Tough Guy so Just Fuck Right Off" across his T-shirt stepped forward and stuck his tongue out at Moses Hornblower, whose bottom lip started to tremble slightly. Crestfallen, he turned and wandered away.

Suddenly, up went a cry of "Ochayefoookanyerfashnfooknfook", and another commotion made its way towards the 2 < Gang of < 6. This was a solo commotion, consisting of a juggler with wild eyes and flying balls. "Och, yer lerda fookin wassy pooodles" he cried accusingly at the Gang members standing by JonKey. The commotion's companion uncorked a bottle of wine, poured a glass out for the juggler, and absent-mindedly drained the bottle. "Yer fashin washin wishy washy willies" further elaborated the juggler, "an' yer mother dresses ye funny".

"Fuck off, you hug - er, I've said that, haven't I?" said JonKey. "Your spelling's rubbish! There, that's told you".

"Can't spelly bastard" said the bouncer.

"Uh huh. *cough* Indeedy. Can't spell" said the snapper.

"Come, er, accompany me" said JonKey. "We've got a wall to build".

The 2 < Gang of < 6 wandered over to a partially completed wall that divided the newsgroup in two and slowly began to build.

A large red-bearded man dressed in a suit of blue rosettes was waving a blue flag around. "Come, worship at the shrine of the Thatch, the She-Goddess, the One True Light.".

"Why?" asked Dip. "What did she ever do for us - apart from feature in a re-make of the dead parrot sketch, anyway.".

The red-bearded one pointed a shaking finger at Dip. "Heretic!" he screamed. "Godless one! May she strike you down where you stand!". He slyly kicked Dip on the ankle. Dip slyly kicked him back, and the two continued in this vein until one or two of the audience told them off. Finally wearying of the limited entertainment, Dip strolled away.

As Dip wandered off down the street, he heard a car spluttering along behind him. He looked round, to see a rusty Ford Fiesta pulling up beside him. It stopped with one wheel in a small puddle. A small boy with a big scarf wrapped several times round him leapt from the car, tripped over his scarf, looked at the puddle, and burst into tears. "Look what the bad, bad car park has done to my car" he blubbered. "I'm not going to take this. I'm going to write to the Prinsipull." Dip pointed to the crumbling buildings around them. "What about this, don't the buildings need a bit of sorting out?". The boy started berating Dip. "Once upon a time, there were wonderful, fantastic people here" he whined. "Now there's just howwible, howwible fweeloaders like you. Oh, I hate you, I hate you.". He fell to the ground, sobbing. Dip backed away, embarrassed.

Dip wandered over to the wall and faced the 2 < Gang of < 6. "So", he said, "is there anything from your past that you're afraid of?". n - 1 of them looked at JonKey, who shrugged. The other n - 1 shrugged in unison.

Dip Terror reached into his coat. The 2 < Gang of < 6 drew back slightly. He pulled out a small medallion of a camel. There was a gasp from the n. "But - but - we only posted those to the favoured ones of the camel" gasped the snapper. "You - we thought you were...".

Dip nodded. "Yes, indeed. You have tried to turn the camel to the Dark Side. I reject it. There is another who you sent the Sign of the Camel to, but I don't see him with you. I can only hope that {R} also rejected the call to the Dark Side, and will join forces with me on the Light Side.". He took off his hat and threw aside the long coat, revealing a one-piece leather. "Yes, I have returned. Here I am, Dip Terror - or rather, Diptera, the Fly. The benefits of a classical education, you see. Now, should I reveal something about the messages you sent?".

The 2 < Gang of < 6 turned slightly pale. "You mean, the one with the 'c' word?" asked the snapper. "Yes, 'colonise' was the word" replied Fly. "I suggest you ask the Dowager Duchess of Cat Furrier about that - or perhaps the Admiral over there can give you some tips about inviting people to your new playground, where the sigs will be short and the faces long.".

"On the other hand" replied JonKey, "we could just continue as we are".

"True, true" said Fly. "Is that Bass Museum place open yet? I wanted to try and extract a pint from that Tory chap.".

And so it was that nothing changed.