Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Time Tunnel

I wasn't going to do this, honest, but a post on the 7TV Action! group on FaceBook was just too good to overlook. It was for a scenario for the second game of a 7TV2 worldwide campaign, leading up to a 7TV event to be held in June 2018. The scenario sets two time-travelling teams against each other in the hunt to recover an atom bomb lost in a real air crash in 1950

It's a great premise for an episode, and just the sort of motivation I need to get some figures painted and some terrain made. Even better, the description of one of the sides is that they are from the Time Tunnel. The intent of this is not to be the same The Time Tunnel as the classic TV show, but as I am a big fan of that, how could I resist?

So here's the report, with some images. Enjoy.

Lost scenes from an unreleased episode of The Time Tunnel
Episode: Broken Arrow

Cue music. Two smart-casual dressed physicists writhe in front of swirling kaleidoscope of colours as the narrator speaks, in a deep, dramatic voice…

Two American scientists are lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages, during the first experiments on America's greatest and most secret project, the Time Tunnel. Tony Newman and Doug Phillips now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, somewhere along the infinite corridors of time.

In the depths of a concrete bunker somewhere in 1968 Arizona, Dr MacGregor and Dr Swain sit at their monitors, carefully turning sensitive dials, while Lt General Kirk watches anxiously over their shoulders as an image forms on the screen before them of Tony and Doug. The scientists are openly relieved, for Tony and Doug look to be in good health. Their last-minute escape from the dinosaurs had happened without a moment to spare, and now the challenge was to determine where, and when, they had arrived. 

Computer registers slowly settle, and Dr MacGregor can make out some details. North America, the very recent past. In slow-motion, Tony and Doug half-jump, half fall, and then land safely on icy ground. They stand, and dust themselves off, surveying the scene as the scientists watch. They are at the snow-line of a barren mountainside, in a landscape of sparse stands of conifers and icy rocks, covered with a light dusting of snow. In the distance, smoke rises from scattered piles of debris, its cause for the moment unclear.

An icy scene, smoke rising from scattered piles of aircraft wreckage
"Sergeant, there's two here," someone calls, and a group of smartly-dressed Mounties appear from off-stage. They seem disappointed, and not a little surprised to find that Tony and Doug are in need of no medical assistance whatsoever. After a short conversation it is clarified that the Mounties saw a large aircraft crash in this part of the mountains, and they have hurried to the scene to rescue any survivors. It is clearly a miracle that Tony and Doug are totally unscathed - even their hair remaining perfectly coiffed.

As the Mounties rush off in search of survivors to help, Doug, who has an uncanny knowledge of history, reviews the evidence. "We're obviously in the Canadian mountains, Tony. Based on the accents of the Mounties, most probably British Columbia".
Tony nods. Doug's uncanny knowledge of history is almost always correct. "Yes," he replies, dramatically, "But when?"
"From the map of Canada on the Sergeant's RCMP tie-pin, it must be after March 1949, when Newfoundland became part of Canada… and no later than 1954 because of the old design service badge and the style of his long-shank spurs… - but Tony," Doug continues, his mind racing, "This is incredible. There was only one significant air crash in British Columbia within that time period, and that was in February 1950 when a Convair B-36B of the US 7th Bomb Wing from Carswell Air Force base went down during a training exercise - carrying the first nuclear weapon to be lost in history. This can only be that crash!"
"But Doug", Tony responds enthusiastically, "Surely the first loss of a plane carrying a nuclear weapon happened during the Korean War?"
"You're thinking about the Fairfield-Suisun Boeing B-29 crash, Tony," Doug corrects. "An easy mistake to make. This crash was six months earlier before Canada joined the Korean War."
Tony nods, sulking inside. Damn, he thinks, I should have known that. Even with PhDs in particle physics and temporal engineering he remains in his partner's shadow; Douglas Phillips, the man whose draft undergraduate thesis had been submitted for a Nobel prize.
Doug continues thinking aloud, utterly oblivious to Tony's sense of inadequacy. "If memory serves, the Convair flight lost a Mark IV nuclear bomb. A composite-core uranium and plutonium weapon reliant on a levitated-pit implosion procedure, with an explosive yield of between 1 and 31 kilotons!"

The director allows for a short pause as Tony and Doug stare meaningfully at each other, allowing the TV audience to take in the evident seriousness of the situation.

"But Doug," Tony says, breaking the silence, "If they find..."
"You're right," Doug concurs, interrupting, "We must recover the bomb, or its uranium-plutonium core, first, and return it through the Time Tunnel to safety. Otherwise, who knows what disaster might happen!"


The scene changes. A gloved hand in a lavishly decorated silk sleeve presses a red button, and a monitor screen flickers into black-and-white life. A view forms of a chamber dominated by a large and mysterious stone apparatus -  a vertically-standing circular ring etched around its edge with bold characters in an arcane script. Its new home in this concrete-walled former bunker is not so different to the dank, ancient tomb beneath the overgrown temple deep in the Cambodian jungle, from which it was recovered by SHIVA less than a year ago. A ramp from the floor of the chamber leads up to the broad aperture in the centre of the ring.

As lab-coated technicians with clipboards fuss over minor details, instructions are called by an off-screen operator as the outer edge of the ring rotates, clicking into sequential positions, dialling co-ordinates like an alien bakolite telephone. The air trembles within the Stargate, like water rippling vertically.

The camera view shifts and the face of a dark-skinned girl in an orange jump suit, her hair tied back in a neat pony tail, appears on the monitor.
"Report, Agent 13," the Guru's dark and sinister voice commands.
"Master," the Daughter of SHIVA known as Agent 13, obediently acknowledges. "Everything is in order and my team is prepared. Equipment has been checked and blades have been sharpened. We are ready for the jump and await your command."
"Proceed," the Guru replies, with authority. "You have the honour of being the first SHIVA mission to travel through the TimeGate. The Disruptors are counting on us, and our reputation is at stake. You know what to do. Bring the device back. Kill anyone who gets in your way." He gives an evil grimace, then pointedly adds, "Do not disappoint me, Manasa."
Agent 13 tries to hide her nervousness. "I obey, Master, as always" she confirms, and gives the SHIVA salute as the last of her team steps into the rippling wall that is the gateway across time. Swiftly, she turns and follows them through.

The Guru watches them leaves, then turns the monitor off.
"Mwahaha!" He laughs, rubbing his hands together. "Nothing can stop us now!"

The Casts

The Time Tunnel cast
The Time Tunnel
Dr Doug Phillips, physicist (co-star, 5 points)
Dr Tony Newman, physicist (co-star, 6 points)
Mountie sergeant (extra, 3 points)
4 x Mounties (extras, 6 points altogether)

Cast created for 7TV2 using the Open Casting rules

The SHIVA cast
SHIVA (acting on behalf of the Disruptors)
2 x Daughters of SHIVA (co-stars, 6 points each)
Minion commander (extra, 3 points)
3 x Minions (extras, 5 points altogether)

Yes, entirely unintentionally, it's boys vs girls.

A snowy scene. I may re-use this for On Her Majesty's Secret Santa
Act I

They arrive in a snowy landscape, smoking piles of wreckage all around. Manasa sends her sister Johi off to inspect wreckage on the right, and her minions towards more wreckage on the left, while she keeps watch, surveying the scene and watching out for activity. There must be no trace of their having been here, after all.

In the distance she makes out a group of men dressed in red - Mounties - walking slowly their way, rifles slung over their shoulders. To the left a pair of civilians, their smart-casual clothes suggesting they are either physicists, or have prepared badly for the weather, or both, are making better progress upslope toward them, keeping close to the tree line.

Manasa and Johi lead the way
The Mounties stop, and appear to be having a team briefing (Cutting Room Floor). SHIVA take advantage of their indecision and advance for a closer inspection of the debris.

"Don't you find it cold in these short skirts?"
Meanwhile, Tony And Doug have also reached a pile of smoking wreckage.

Doug contemplates the smoking wreckage
"There's nothing here, Doug," Tony says. "Just pieces of broken fuselage and some old in-flight meals."
As Tony considers the situation, they unexpectedly spot a group of smartly-dressed women ahead, wearing orange uniforms and armed with sub-machine guns. Keeping their heads down, they watch the women search more of the aircraft wreckage in the area.

Manasa, in the centre of the open area, advances toward the Mounties, her sword sheathed for the moment.

"I think it might be a bomb"
The leader of the group of women moves a piece of broken metal to one side to reveal the a large, bright yellow object - obviously the bomb. Tony, stretching to see more clearly, slips over some of the icy debris covering a pile of broken aeroplane parts nearby, and the sound of metal scraping on metal causes one of the minions to look in his direction. Seeing movement, she does not hesitate to open fire. Machine gun bullets spray the area, wildly missing Tony and Doug.

Act II

"We can't let them get that bomb, whoever they are," Doug shouts to Tony, and, also unhappy to be the target of gunfire, seizes the moment and charges. She may be a girl, but today that doesn't stop him punching her and taking her out. Tony moves in alongside Doug to give him support, charging into contact with another minion.

Doug and Tony charge in
The sound of gunfire distracts Manasa for a moment, and she loses her footing, momentarily weakened.

The Mounties open fire
The Mounties, realising they and their new-found companions are in danger, open fire with their rifles, and Manasa drops before she can draw her sword. They turn their fire on the remaining minions, and the commander drops to the ground as well. Job done, they cautiously advance.

Johi, the remaining Daughter of SHIVA, has seen her sister fall, and is intent on vengeance. She advances towards them in the cover of the trees. One of the last two minions opens fire on Doug and Tony, but the shot is risky. Both physicists are unscathed, but the unfortunate other minion is gunned down beneath her companion's raking hail of bullets.

With only two of their cast left, the girls of SHIVA make a spirit test to continue, and succeed.


The director calls for an impromptu action sequence, and the last minion falls in a blast of gunfire. Doug and Tony, now left alone, attempt to dismantle the bomb.

"Did you by any chance bring a screwdriver?"
"Tony," Doug asks, "You know how to remove the core out of one of these, don't you?"
"Of course," Tony replies, "I've done it many times".
But they don't have the tools to open the bomb up, and can't find anything that they can use as a screwdriver, and so they make no progress.
"There's only one thing for it, Doug," Tony announces, "If only they can hear us in Arizona. If they can get an accurate co-ordinate fix they can bring the bomb back through the Time Tunnel now and dismantle it there!"

While the audience are left wondering if the Time Tunnel scientists do have the co-ordinates for the bomb, the Mounties advance, shooting to no effect as Johi crouches in cover.

The director, who considers that now is the time for some serious action, decides this is the time to blow the budget. The camera focuses on Johi, who leaps in slow-motion out of the woodland. For a moment, it is as cool as The Matrix. But then, in mid-scene, there is a power cut, everything goes dark, and the moment is lost. 

The lost camera shot: Johi attacks the Mountie sergeant during a power cut
The scene resumes immediately finding Johi victorious over the Mountie sergeant, surrounded by the remaining Mounties in a massive brawl. Again, she makes the spirit test at the end of the turn, the SHIVA cast is not axed, and the show continues.

In Arizona, frantic action is happening. Lt General Kirk has already given the order, over-riding all reasonable health and safety concerns to increase the power level dangerously and bring the bomb to their time. Minor pyrotechnics occur in the tunnel and the bomb duly appears there, instantly vanishing from Doug and Tony's side. Two expendable technicians rush into the tunnel to open the bomb and make safe its uranium-plutonium core.

But they are not fast enough. The pyrotechnics immediately commence again, and the bomb disappears, along with the technicians, as the Time Tunnel scientists exchange glances and wonder what went wrong. The bomb returns to Doug and Tony's side. The technicians are not so lucky, sent somewhere else along the infinite corridors of time. Knowing their luck, probably where there are dinosaurs.

And as time runs out, the episode ends on a Cliffhanger, as the words


appear on the screen.

But now it's time for the evening news, and not even a Mark IV nuclear bomb can stop that.


SHIVA and female minions from Crooked Dice Game Design Studio
Mounties from Pulp Figures
Tony and Doug converted from Spectre Miniatures
Clear bases from Sally 4th
7TV2 cards for Tony and Doug made up by me and printed using the brilliant 7TV2 Studios Casting Agency app by Jorge Robles
Terrain, base mat and aircraft debris scratch-built by the author

Special thanks to Wayne Peter Bollands for the original scenario. Keep 'em coming!