After a one month hiatus, the Railway Series Evolution continues! I've been so busy I nearly forgot this. There's some things I wanna discuss, but I'll get to it later; for now, enjoy the story.

ThomasAngryBirds' Remakes and Stories

Remake 52: James in the Middle

Based on "Middle Engine" by Brian Trueman

Not long after the Golden Jubilee of the Railway Series, the Fat Controller made an important announcement at the sheds.

"As you all know," he said, "British Railways have been privatized and split up into different countries. Four of their diesels have been out of service for some time, so I took it upon myself to purchase them for 150 pounds a piece, and they've agreed to it."

"Beg pardon, sir, but where will they be working?" asked Duck.

"I'm glad you asked, Duck," said the Fat Controller, "two of them will be working at the Ironworks at Barrow-in-Furness with Diesel 10, their names are Arry and Bert."

The engines shuddered at the mention of Diesel 10's name; he was a bad-tempered diesel with a claw on his roof and had deep hatred for steam engines.

"Two other diesels," continued the Fat Controller, "will be working on the Little Western, named Sidney and Norman, and a fifth diesel will serve as a shunting engine for Knapford Harbor."

"A fifth diesel, sir?" asked Gordon, "But you said four."

"Oh, I didn't tell you, did I?" The Fat Controller cleared his throat before continuing, "The Steamworks is building a Class 08 as we speak, and he will be a full-time shunting engine at Knapford to save Percy and Toby time. Please make the diesels welcome as possible, but be careful around Arry and Bert; they're a little rough around the edges."

"They must be trouble," said James to himself, "but I won't let them stop me." Even though James no longer had dislike for diesels, he felt he should take care around Arry and Bert in case they messed him up. Even so, James was not looking forward to meeting Arry and Bert, nor were the other engines.

The next morning, Barry the Class 2 tender engine pulled into Barrow-in-Furness with a goods train intended for the other railway. A Class 33 diesel was waiting for him.

"You're right on time, no. 13," the 33 smiled.

"Thanks, Crompton," said Barry, "that's what our railway wants to be - really reliable, and right on time."

"If you want my tip," said Crompton, "watch out for those diesels Arry and Bert. They're a rough pair, those two."

"Thanks for the tip," said Barry, "I've to take some steel from the Ironworks to Tidmouth. They must be making new buildings, I assume."

"Good luck," said Crompton, as Barry puffed away to the Ironworks, "and take care!"

"I will," called Barry. As he puffed along, Barry felt rather uneasy about meeting with Arry and Bert. He was friendly with diesels like BoCo, Bear, and Rusty of the Skarloey Railway, but Barry felt Arry and Bert would be a different story.

Barry arrived at the Ironworks and puffed onto the turntable to couple up to his trucks. As he spun around, Barry looked around the Ironworks. It was glowing red as his paint, and the atmosphere was spooky, giving Barry bad memories of his time in the scrapyard.

"What's this? An engine ready for scrap?" a sneering voice called.

Barry looked around, looking from side to side. "Where are you?" he called.

"Right next to you, steamer!" the voice snarled. Barry looked to his right and stared in shock. There was Diesel 10, and on his roof was his claw Pinchy.

"You're not ready for the scraplines, are you?" Diesel 10 scowled at Barry.

"I'm just here to collect my trucks for Tidmouth," said Barry, hoping to get away from Diesel 10 as soon as he could.

"Make sure that's all you do," snarled Diesel 10, "and get out of my face!" Pinchy snapped in agreement.

"I was just going to," muttered Barry, and he rolled off the turntable and backed down onto his flatbeds loaded with steel.

"That's funny," said his driver, "we've only half our trucks!"

"Where's the other half?" asked Barry, but as he said that, two Class 08 diesels rolled up in front of him. They were painted in EWS red and yellow livery with hazard stripes, with NWR on their yellow stripes in red, and both had names and numbers; Arry D11, and Bert D12.

Arry was pushing a brakevan and the other half of Barry's trucks right in front of him, and before the Class 2 knew it, he was stuck in the middle!

"Hey!" cried Barry, "Move those trucks out of my way, please!"

"Silly steamer in the middle!" chortled Arry, and he and Bert rattled away laughing.

"Idiot diesels," grumbled Barry, "Crompton was right; they arerough! He might have said a little stupid too..."

They had to couple the trucks in front of Barry so they didn't run away at the top of hills, and he had to put up with doing a push-pull run on the mainline and go slowly, and it make things frustrating for Barry.

As Barry puffed past Crovan's Gate, James was there taking a stopping passenger train waiting for Sir Handel.

"Look at that!" laughed James, "It's slow poke Barry!"

Barry found this most embarrassing and scowled at James.

"You wouldn't be laughing if you were stuck in the middle, James!" he fumed.

Barry tried to attract little attention as he could, but whenever he passed a station, people would stare in surprise and take some pictures. Barry wished they didn't; being stuck in the middle was bad enough for him, but in the front brakevan, it was a worse situation.

The guard in the front was supposed to keep a good lookout for red signals ahead, but he was distracted and was trying to solve a Sudoku puzzle.

"Hmm... I can't put a 3 or a 7 on that square, and I can place a 1, a 4, or a 6 only..."

Of course, Barry and his crew didn't know this, and did their best to keep their eyes open for a green signal, despite the trucks in Barry's way.

Barry soon came to Gordon's hill. Pushing up was going to prove a struggle for him, but he pushed his hardest.

"Never mind," he said, "as long as the guard keeps his focus, we'll be at Tidmouth very soon."

But Barry was wrong. They soon reached the top, and all of a sudden, the weight on Barry's front hook dragged him down the hill.

"Oh, good grief!" cried Barry, "Brakes, guard, brakes!"

But the guard didn't hear Barry, for he was close to finishing his Sudoku.

"Just two more 4's and a 7, and I've finished!"

The rocking and rolling of the brakevan caused the guard to fall off his chair, and his newspaper sheets landed all over the floor!

"Oh, drat! And I was so close to finishing too!" Then the guard heard Barry's whistle, and realized he had to act quickly.

But by then, it was already too late. They passed a red signal, and there, Douglas was passing Wellsworth taking a slow goods to the other railway. Up ahead, Douglas could see the shape of a brakevan coming up towards him, and had a sudden feeling of deja vu.

"Look out, driver!" cried Douglas, "There's a train coming our way!"

Douglas' driver applied the brakes, but it was not enough to stop the accident. The guard jumped clear as the brakevan crumpled up against Douglas, and two flatbeds of steel derailed and spilled their loads onto the tracks.

"Oh, bother and blow!" groaned Barry, "That's torn it...!"

The stationmaster at Wellsworth called for help, and soon Bear arrived with Rocky in tow. When the mess was cleared up, Douglas and his train were taken by Bear to Crovan's Gate, and Barry continued on his way to Tidmouth, wondering what the Fat Controller would say about this.

"Now, Barry, I know this accident wasn't your fault," said the Fat Controller, "I spoke to the guard, and he's been given the sack for not paying attention. Tell me; why were you in the middle of your train?"

"It was those diesels, Arry and Bert, sir," said Barry, "they made me a middle engine, I had to run a push-pull train and then there was the accident."

"I see," said the Fat Controller, "Douglas will need his front and brakes looked at, so it means more work for you and Donald, I'm afraid. I will have a word with Arry and Bert later."

"I'm sure I could handle those two," said James to no one in particular, "even with missing wheels and a busted funnel!"

"Then you, James, will take materials from the Ironworks to Crovan's Gate tomorrow," said the Fat Controller sternly.

"Yes, sir," grunted James. He meant to say it to himself, but he should've kept his mouth shut.

James was determined not to let Arry and Bert bully him, and he knew by now that not all diesels were bad, but in James' perspective, Arry and Bert did sound bad from what Barry described.

"Who's this, Arry?" asked Bert.

"It's Rusty Red Scrap Iron, James," oozed Arry, "like what our friend Diesel called him back in '57."

James seethed in silence at the mention of that nickname. Back when Diesel visited Sodor, he told lies about Duck, blaming him for calling insulting names to James, Henry, and Gordon, when really, it was Diesel saying those names.

"Listen, you two!" said James sternly, "I won't take any nonsense from you. Just arrange my trucks and then don't get in my way!"

"If you say so," Bert chuckled, and the two diesels rolled away. James smirked to himself as he rolled onto the turntable and turned around.

James found his trucks ready and backed down onto them. Unknown to him, he was in for trouble.

"That was easy," said James, "Arry and Bert won't bother playing tricks on me!"

But James spoke too soon, because Arry shunted coal trucks in front of James, much to the big red engine's surprise.

"What the-?!"

"Rusty red steamer in the middle!" taunted Arry.

"Just like that Barry!" jeered Bert.

"How dare you!" snapped James, "I won't move unless you get these trucks out of my way!"

But Arry and Bert didn't, and they left laughing at their own triumph. James' driver tried to get his engine to move, but James stubbornly refused.

Meanwhile Barry had arrived at Vicarstown with a stopping passenger train when the stationmaster came up.

"Leave those coaches on a siding," said the stationmaster, "Belle will take over. James won't leave the Ironworks because he's a middle engine."

"We were on our way to Barrow-in-Furness," said the driver, "we'll be glad to help, won't we, Barry?"

"I'll be glad to help," Barry smiled, and when he was uncoupled, he chuffed away to the Ironworks. Barry was looking forward to seeing James.

"Well, James," chuckled Barry, "gotten in the middle, have we? Oh well, we live and learn. Let's get going; Crovan's Gate can't wait!"

James said nothing as Barry was coupled up to the front trucks. The guard's whistle blew, and Barry set off for Crovan's Gate.

Barry and James made it safely to Crovan's Gate without further incident.

"Well done, Barry," said the stationmaster, "if it wasn't for you, they would have never made it for the Steamworks."

"It was nothing," said Barry, "just doing my job."

"What's James doing in the middle?"

"He's learning."

"Learning what?"

"To be careful on what he says in the near future!" Barry chuckled.

James went redder with embarrassment, but inside, he was hoping to be more careful about what he said in the near future. I bet you're wondering about Arry and Bert, right? Well, the Fat Controller caught up with them, and he was not impressed with their behavior over the last few days.

"Your tricks have caused holdups on the mainline," he said crossly, "and now one of my engines, Douglas, is out of commission! Your manager will make sure you are punished for your actions. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, sir," the two diesels grumbled. Hopefully they'll think twice before playing tricks. Don't you agree?

I know the guard not paying attention is a bit dumb, but at least it isn't an engine on the tipper's loading ramp, right? Plus, there's consequence for the guard not alerting Barry too. Hopefully my writing isn't too rusty...

Some time between this and Emily and the Christmas Train, I got two anonymous, but very interesting, reviews on Diesel's Return. Here's what they were:

From Reviewking: I like the chapter, but you do realise Diesel would never act like this right? The reason why they put him in the series is to have a pernament villian in the series. They wouldn't just change his personality out of no where. If you're trying to tie the TV Series into the Railway Series, try to make it more believable.

From Thomasfan: Great chapter. The only problem that Diesel would never act like this

And that left me thinking to myself, "have I left some plotholes when I wrote Diesel's Return? They may have a point." Okay, here's the deal; after I complete New Diesel Engines, instead of writing Unusual Engines after, I will do a remake of Thomas and the Evil Diesel, as well as a new story explaining the shift in Diesel's attitude. Bear in mind, Diesel won't always be completely nice, just a little grumpy on occasion so he still has a bit of his character we know and love (or should it be loathe?) Also, for a villain, I think Arry, Bert and Diesel 10 would cover that role okay, if you know what I mean.

Look out for more stories in the future, and trust me; updates will NOT take over a month between stories. :P