Yes, it's been FOREVER since I posted one of these - or indeed anything else, for that matter. Put it down to an extended case of the can'thelpits.
Anyway, Raven's cranked things up again, so go to Raven's Nest for all the poop on what to do.
Here's an old mini challenge I did yonks ago but didn't post.
Words: treasure trove, potency, salamander, choice, cheddar cheese
The survivors from the Salamander counted themselves lucky to be alive. They had managed, in the dying minutes of the ship's hellish plunge through the atmosphere, to climb into the only undamaged escape pod and blast away from the stricken vessel. The escape pod's AI had got them down safely, if a little roughly, and now, here they were on a strange new world. The AI confirmed that the atmosphere was breathable and the temperature bearable. The pod being too small for them to live in, they had little choice but to venture outside. There, a treasure trove of breathtakingly beautiful scenery and flora awaited them. Small, brightly-coloured birds flitted amongst the trees and, in the bushes, small furry animals of surpassing cuteness peeped out with large liquid brown eyes. Despite this, within seconds, the men were sobbing, jostling, pushing and practically falling over each other in their haste to scramble back into the pod. As they closed the airlock once more, a strange sound came from the AI's speaker grille. The atmosphere was indeed breathable – but the AI had neglected to mention that it was not remotely bearable. The air had a smell of eye-watering potency, a rank miasma such as might be possessed by an aged cheddar cheese long since gone to its reward, a stench strong enough to fell a bull elephant. The strange sound was, according to the AI's hastily-consulted manual, being generated by its state-of-the-art levity module. This feature was discontinued in subsequent models.
This week's mini words: whales, ferns, purchase, sparkling cider, tranquilizers
Andrew awoke, astonished to find himself lying on a bed of ferns, their fragrance filling his nostrils. Someone had thrown some kind of animal skin over him as a kind of blanket. It was dark, but his eyes began to adjust and he became aware of a red flickering light dancing on the rough stone of the wall next to him. So, he was in a cave then, and someone had a fire going. He tried to remember the last thing he had been doing, but drew a blank, he could get no purchase on his memory. His head ached and he must have let out a groan or something, because suddenly there was someone beside him and a cool hand was on his brow. A cup was pressed to his lips and he drank, finding himself suddenly thirsty. The liquid had a light taste of... apples. Then, he remembered. The debts, the divorce, the redundancy notice, the glass after glass of Whales Finest Sparkling Cider and a whole bottle of tranquilisers. But he'd been saved by this kind stranger.
"Thank you," he croaked, "I might have died..."
There was a smile in the stranger's voice, "What makes you think you didn't?"
And here's a non-wordzzle-y Harold episode.
New to Harold? Catch up here.
It was night once more, with just a few stars showing, as Mercury stopped the car.
"OK," he said, "The place Moon visited today is just at the end of this road on the right – you've seen it on Google earth. We're just going to go around the outside and see what we can see for ourselves. Be on the lookout for cameras and any other security . The whole idea is just to get a good look and see if there might be a way in or if there's anything else we can learn about the place. Let's try not to arouse suspicion."
Harold could feel a tingle of excitement as he got out of the car. They had finally made some real progress, they were finally closing in on their mysterious adversary.
Looking around though, he had to admit that, as secret headquarters went, this place was a bit of a let-down. The business park was typical of its type – a campus of single or two-storey brick buildings, as alike as Lego blocks. Each pale brick-built building was surrounded by a block-paved parking area and the regulation amount of carefully landscaped but essentially uninspired lawn and planting. Each building had a tasteful sign proclaiming the name of the company housed in it – Adept Engineering, MillCo, Branch & Simons, and so on.
"We'll be approaching Moon's building from the rear, which should be less obtrusive, but we still need to be careful." Mercury said quietly. "Prada, you're with the demon and Mr Teatime. Othello, you're with me." He took out his phone and dialled India's number. "OK, we're at the park and we're about to do a circuit of the building."
They set off, splitting up at the next intersection, so as to approach the building from different directions and save time by covering the area in two teams.
"Looks like a few things have changed since Google maps last photographed this place." murmured Prada, as she and Harold looked at Infinity Recycling's premises. Unlike the other Lego blocks on the park, this one had a 10-foot high fence of sturdy metal railings running around it. The landscaping had been torn out and replaced by asphalt. The building itself was not noticeably different from any others on the park. A couple of white trucks and a handful of cars were parked in the parking area and, while most of the building was in darkness, light glowed behind drawn blinds in a couple of the ground floor windows. The parking area itself was well-lit by tall light poles around the perimeter.
"There seems to be an awful lot of security for a recycling business," said Teatime. "I can't imagine anyone wanting to steal what is essentially rubbish."
"Maybe they recover gold from old circuit boards or something, or maybe it's toxic stuff and they need to keep people out for safety." said Prada, peering up at a light pole next to the fence. "Is that a camera up there?"
Harold looked where she was indicating and saw the telltale shape. "Looks like there might be more than one." he said.
"Maybe they've got infrared as well, just in case." Prada got out her notebok and jotted this detail down, marking the position of the pole on a sketch-map. She took out a camera of her own and took a few quick photos. "OK, Let's move around the next corner."
They started walking, being careful to stay well out of the range of the light.
Inside the building, a security guard set down his coffee mug. The console in front of him had emitted a beep, and a red LED was flashing. Below it, a monitor showed a red dot moving slowly to the east of the building. The security guard's heart-rate increased: this particular monitor had never shown anything, except during training exercises.
He picked up the phone and dialled a few digits. "This is Nugent at Security-one. Sorry to disturb you, but I thought you should know that the c-detector's just lit up. Yes, for real"