Accused

Fiction detailing the ongoing events on the Homeline and numerous parallel Worldlines.

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Re: Accused

Post by Keeper » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:51 am

As he followed the warden down the winding passageways Tebbit became increasingly aware of the squalor in which the inmate dwelt. Even though Newgate tended to house those from middle and upper classes, there were parts of the prison that housed the lower classes and people accused of some heinous crimes.
Tebbit found the transition from stark plastered walls to rough stone quite distinct, however it was the smell that made it more noticeable.
As they passed through one heavy iron-clad door the odour hit hit, mad him momentarily pause from the shock of it.
“Apologies, my lord, I should have warned you about the stench,” Hargreaves said. “I'm so used to it by now that I forget other will not be.”
“Quite so! Merely caught me by surprise is all, nothing one cannot cope with,” the ageing minister remarked.
“This is the older part of the prison, the sewage system isn't quite up to our modern standards here I'm afraid. Not enough in our budget to get them upgraded, you see? Anyway, that is why we keep the prisoners who know or deserve no better down here.”
“So why is Lord Reynolds down here?”
“Isolation, my lord. Most of the general public wouldn't have a clue who he is, but those from a better background might recognise him. We couldn't risk somebody taking the law into their own hands, you understand!”
“Yes, yes, quite so,” Tebbit agreed adding, “and aside from that the bastard certainly doesn't deserve any better!”
The warden stopped and turned. “My Lord, I couldn't agree more. And I am glad you see it that way, at least seeing the traitor down here won't come as a shock.”
He moved on, leading the Foreign Secretary through the lower class gaol, down an old spiral staircase of worn limestone.
Tebbit became aware of a musty, decaying odour. The air became thicker, a mix of candle smoke and general ling term dampness. He was led to a doorway where two prison guards stood idly. They snapped to attention as the warden approached.
“The prisoner has been dressed in clean clothes, Warden. Best we could find at such Shirley notice, sir.”
Hargreaves acknowledges with a nod. “Very good, open up.”
The warden led Tebbit into a dark, wet room.
What he saw astonished him.
Lord Sebastian Reynolds was standing before him, but if the two had passed in the street Tebbit would not have recognised him.
Reynolds’ hair was a lank mess, his face unshaven and filthy, his clothes were ragged and didn’t fit, obviously for someone much bigger. The shirt hung loose, unbuttoned, bruises and cuts showing in the man’s torso.
They hadn’t marked the face though, clever people.
Reynolds glances from one man to the other, looking subservient, broken. He noticed Hargreaves’ smug expression, a man exhibiting his tamed beast, a man who believed he had won.
“He’s all your, my lord,” Hargreaves said. “We’ll stay for your safety, of course, if it please you?”
“It would, yes,” Tebbit replies almost absently.
Then he squared up to the sorry looking mess that was the Baron of Roborough.
“Lord Reynolds, I presume?”
Reynolds nodded.
“Speak up, man!” Tebbit snapped.
“Yes,sir.”
“Good. I am Lord Tebbit, Foreign Secretary to the Prime Minister. I have some questions for you. The truthful answering of which will reflect better on you in the forthcoming days.”
“Of course, my Lord,” Reynolds said quietly.
Tebbit nodded, satisfied.
“The Prime Minister and I have concerns, Lord Reynolds. This crime that you have been accused of. We must know if this was you alone or were others a part of the conspiracy?”
Reynolds stood before the Foreign Secretary, his eyes defiant, his lips well and truly sealed.
“Reynolds, don’t be a fool. Your silence here will only mean I have to search deeper, delve into the comings and goings of your friends and known associates, even your brother and sister.”
They saw a reaction at the mention of his family.
“Hmphhurumph,” Reynolds croaked.
“I beg your pardon?”
Reynolds coughed dry and sharp barks.
Tebbit turned to true warden. “I cannot understand him. Perhaps some water?”
The warden frowned. “There’s no drinking water in this part of the building, my lord.”
Tebbit frowned back. “Hmmm!” He grunted.
Turning back to Reynolds he said, “You may answer me slowly, but your response must be clear. Your only hope, and that of your extended family is for you to show your cooperation now. Do you understand.”
Reynolds nodded meekly.
“Good! So I shall ask you once more;did you act alone in your treachery.
“No, my lord,” Reynolds croaked.
Tebbit turned to Hargreaves smiling. “Now we are getting somewhere!”
To Reynolds he continued. “You will give me the names of your co-conspirators? I must know if this is a prelude to a broader attack from this country’s enemies.”
Reynolds again nodded and spoke so quietly that none could hear him.
Tebbit stepped closer. “Say again, Lord Reynolds.”
That was close enough.
Reynolds reaches out and grabbed Tebbit’s arm, spinning him around to face the warden and the guards before anyone could react.
He had the arm twisted up behind the Foreign Secretary’s back.
His other hand a had already deftly plucked the pistol that rested at Tebbit’s side from the shoulder holster Reynolds knew the man always wore.
With the foreign secretary as a shield, Reynolds presses the gun to Tebbit’s head.
“Warden!” Reynolds said clearly. “You and your men; weapons on the ground, now!”
“You're dead, Reynolds!” Hargreaves hissed.
“That may well be, Hargreaves, but do you think that makes me more or less worried about shooting you and this Cabinet member?”
Angry to the point of visibly shaking, his moustache dancing crazily beneath his narrow, hooked nose, the warden stood his ground.
“Not that your fate isn't sealed already, but doing this will end everyone you care about too. I will personally see to it!”
“And if I leave the guard injured but alive, he'll tell just how you could have saved Lord Tebbit with a single command and chose not to. That would ruin your reputation and shame your family.”
The warden laughed. “There your plan falls, you arrogant little worm. I have no family and the guard here is on my payroll. He'll say whatever I tell him.”
“Hmmm,” Reynolds conceded. “It does somewhat alter my perception. However I still have the better hand. Lord Tebbit, order them to drop their weapons.”
Tebbit hissed as Reynolds pressed the gun barrel hard into his temple.
“Do as he says, gentlemen. I have no wish to push Reynolds into proving his point. I shall take the blame for this incident and my gratitude to those who have essentially saved my life will be boundless.”
“Don't be a fool, Hargreaves,” Reynolds warned. “I can kill you right now. Your guard here would get all the credit when he obeys the command. Drop your weapons and receive Lord Tebbit's favour, or die right now on a shit-soaked mattress.”
Sighing heavily Hargreaves removed the pistol holstered beneath his left arm and ordered the guard to drop his rifle.
“And the two in the passageway, place your weapons on the floor on front of the door and come on in here.”
They did as ordered.
“Key?” Reynolds demanded. One of the guards handed a bunch across.
Keeping Tebbit between them and himself Reynolds backed out of the doorway.
“The good gentleman here will be coming with me. Anyone follows – he dies.” Reynolds said.
He locked the door but kept the key in, half turned, so that anyone on there with another key could not use it to get out.
“This way,” he instructed the Foreign Secretary.

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Re: Accused

Post by Keeper » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:53 am

He led Tebbit right to a dead end. There was a grating in the floor. It was loose and after a bit of heaving came free.
Reynolds looked at Tebbit. “Sorry old boy, but this is the only way.”
Tebbit looked positively cheerful. “No problem, this is my first prison break. It's all jolly exciting! Lead on!”
Steel bars set into the wall formed a ladder down to an old brick sewer. The smell was horrendous.
A box, clean and very out of place sat at the foot of the ladder.
Removing the lid he found a small pack with a note pinned to it, a torch beside that. The note was in a hand he did not recognise.

Clean clothes, money and a gun. Take them. In the box is a bomb. You have two minutes to get clear. Oh, and if it helps – follow the water.

He shone the torch at the slow moving stream beside their raised walkway and immediately wished he hadn't. He had seen many unpleasant things in his life but the river of human effluent that was London's sewage network always managed to turn his stomach.
“That way, my lord,” he told Tebbit. “Quickly!”
He turned the timer on the bomb and set off after the older man.
They followed the rancid stream, Reynolds counting time in his head.
“Cover your ears,” he warned, crouching with his own hands pressed to the sides of his head.
The explosion was loud in the confines of the tunnel but not too powerful.
After the initial blast he heard falling rubble, the sewer collapsing.
Lord Tebbit shook the foginess from his head.
“Good grief!” he exclaimed.
“Indeed!” Reynolds coughed as dust got into his throat. “Let's go before we choke.”
they moved on through the murky sewers until, rounding a bend, they cam upon an outlet into the Thames.
Tebbit stopped beside a ladder up to a manhole on the road that ran alongside the river.
“I believe this is where we part ways, old boy!” he said. “You had best get those clean clothes on or the hounds will be able to track you down even with pegs on their snouts!”
“Thank you, Norman, for everything.” Reynolds began stripping his prison rags off.
“Well that's my part done my friend but you aren't out of the woods yet! Not by a long stretch of the imagination.”
Changed, Reynolds threw his old clothes into the stream and watched the slowly sink into the brown waters beyond.
“All the same, my friend, this was beyond the call of duty.”
Tebbit smiled. “Well i'm not quite finished yet. Your instructions are to head for Greenwich docks, the Witch is there. Make sure you are not seen. However, you must not board her under any circumstances. Instead you must head for the tube station and the door at the east end of the platform. The door will have an advert for next months show at the Magdeline on it if it is safe for you to use. It will be unlocked. Go through and search for the crocodile.”
“Right, okay,” Reynolds said.
“You understand all that?”
“Yes.”
“Sebastian?”
“Yes?”
“I'm not going to regret this am I?” Tebbit asked.
“Bloody hell, old boy, you know me better than that! I'll find the bastards behind this and expose them. Clearing my name is paramount now but I will wash it down with a large glass of cold revenge.”
Tebbit didn't doubt it. “Well whoever it is has stitched you up good and proper. Be careful.”
He indicated the ladder. “Up you go then, I'll give you ten minutes before I come up. It will probably be another five before I find a bobby. Quarter of an hour should be good enough don't you think?”
Reynolds shook his hand, thanked him and said goodbye, then clambered up the ladder and pushed open the grate at the top, thankful it was still dark and there would be very few people about at this time.
With just his head out he checked the area, no one around.
It didn't take much for him to disappear into the shadows.

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Re: Accused

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 27, 2020 11:08 am

Lord Guthrie paced around his office.
The room was spacious, as befitted his standing within Scotland Yard and was decorated in the new minimalist style; the walls were a crisp white with a picture of Her Majesty on one wall (because fashion and decorum had done battle and decorum won) and a board upon another that normally contained notes and pictures and names of those crimes which Guthrie was paying particular interest.
Right now only one incident was recorded on the board and only two names.
Earl Richard George Henry Windsor, grandson of the aforementioned monarch and connected by a big fat arrow was Viscount Sebastian James Ambrose Reynolds, Baron of Roborough.
The former name; the victim.
The latter; the murdering toff bastard responsible.
The Assistant Commissioner had been told by certain prominent members of authority that the prosecution and sentencing to death by public hanging of the viscount were his chief priority and the successful conduct of which would greatly enhance his chances of becoming the next Commissioner.
Guthrie had had his eyes on the Deputy spot for some time and it was only one step away from the top job. He was very keen to see his name upon one of those doors.
However the bastard had escaped and put that dream on the edge of a precipice.
Bold as brass he'd kidnapped a member of the Prime-Minister's cabinet and waltzed right out.
Guthrie was furious. What in the nine hells was a bloody Cabinet member doing visiting his prisoner?
That idiot warden would be taking Reynolds' place on the gallows if the Assistant Commissioner could have his way.
“The warden's instructions had been clear, had they not?” Guthrie hissed at the only other person in the room.
“Yes, sir.” Sergeant Hackett said.
“And what were they?”
“Well, I wasn't there when you gave them to him, but if I recall, it was to allow no visitors and complete denial of Reynolds' presence at New Gate, sir.”
“Almost, sergeant, almost. It was, in fact, absolutely no visitors.”
“Of course, sir!”
A knock at the door drew their attention as an officer entered.
“Lord Guthrie?”
“What is it Newton?”
“London Traffic Control have been in touch. They have traced that vehicle you asked about.”
he unfurled the roll of paper he carried in his hand and summarised the report.
“It departed from Knightsbridge and travelled to Greenwich Docks. LTC believe it is still there.”
Guthrie shrugged and waved a hand dismissively at the officer but as the young man turned away he said, “Wait! What vessels are berthed at Greenwich? Find out will you?”
“I already checked, sir,” Newton said referring back to the paper.
“Five vessels berthed or arrived after the zep-car's arrival. All still there now. The Vorcha, the Northern Trudger, HMS Camelford, the Waterwitch and a Thames Authority dredger.”
Guthrie punched the air. “The Waterwitch!” he proclaimed. “That's his damned ship! She said she was going to see a witch. I'd thought she meant a damned soothsayer or some bloody medium to cast a spell to help her brother but she was going to the his bloody ship because she knew he was going to escape and that is his getaway vehicle. Follow me!”
Guthrie led the two men out of his office and into the incident room, three doors down the hall from his.
The large room had numerous maps of London's boroughs mounted on the walls but Guthrie led the men passed the desks where ether-scopes were stationed, ignoring the borough maps to a huge comprehensive map of Greater London on a table that dominated the centre of the room.
The place was modelled on the war room at Whitehall.
Guthrie pulled three counters from a drawer and placed one on the approximate location of the Reynolds Knightsbridge town-house, another on Greenwich docks and the final one over Newgate Prison.
“How long was the flight from Knightsbridge to Greenwich?”
“A little over twenty minutes, sir,” Newton answered.
“Sergeant, what time did Miss Reynolds leave?” Hackett flipped his notebook open.
“A little after six, sir.”
“And what time did the traitor make his escape?”
“About ten sir.”
“And how long to get from New Gate to Greenwich through the sewers?”
“No idea, sir!” the sergeant shrugged.
“Approximately ninety minutes according to our best estimates,” Newton said.
Guthrie looked at the clock. It was half past eleven.
“Newton, get me Greenwich docks! Immediately!”

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Re: Accused

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 27, 2020 11:10 am

Captain Paige Holt slugged down a shot of rum and shuddered as the heat of the alcohol warmed her insides.
“Drink up, Lady Reynolds. It's time,” she said.
Elizabeth glanced up at the clock mounted on the day cabin bulkhead. It was almost half past eleven.
Paige watched as Sebastian's sister seemed to ponder the dark liquid in her glass and was pleasantly surprised when the woman threw the drink she had nursed back and didn't even flinch.
Paige had never met Elizabeth before but there was something about the woman that she found unsettling. It was as though, despite some outward shows of emotion that Paige wasn't completely convinced by, none of this whole situation was really bothering her.
Maybe it was just because she didn't seem as uptight as Rebecca, the younger sister who lived in the Reynolds family estate down in Devon.
That was hardly surprising though as the younger sister was totally in the grasp of Reynolds' formidable aunt, Catherine, their father's sister.
Aunt Catherine was all about being proper. Either she chose to ignore the more nefarious side of the Reynolds family or she somehow was never aware of it. As far as Paige could tell the latter was more likely.
Paige opened the cabin door and stepped out onto the bridge.
Her executive officer, Mr Gecko, was just outside the open port-side door that led out onto the bridge wing-decks.
“Mr Gecko, prepare to cast off.”
gecko merely nodded curtly and began bellowing orders down to the lower deck.
Next Holt asked, “Is the engine room ready, Mr Whitby?”
“Engine room reports ready and standing by, Captain.”
“We're away!” Gecko reported as he stepped back into the bridge and pulled the heavy watertight door closed behind him.
Holt smiled at him. “Thank you, XO.”
“Miss Buxley, ahead slow. Take us clear of the wharf.”
“Aye captain, ahead slow,” Lilly-May Buxley confirmed as she pushed cranked the throttle lever to ahead-slow and turned the ship's wheel slightly right to starboard.
Once clear of the wharf she eased the huge vessel out into the main shipping lane.
“Prepare Light-Ether Drive,” Holt instructed, every command an echo of her father giving these same imperatives.
Whitby crossed to another panel and turned a number of valves in sequence.
“Ready, Captain.”
“All yours, Lilly,” Holt said giving her coxswain a light friendly pat on the shoulder.
Paige was proud of her crew.
Once the rot that had supported Nestor Wade had either been killed during his failed mutiny, or thrown off once they had made suitable land-fall, the crew now were as good as she could have ever hoped for.
Lilly grabbed another lever and pulled back hard.
Throughout the ship a whooshing sound could be heard as lighter than air ether was pumped into the massive ballast tanks within the unusual vessel.
Slowly Buxley cranked up the power, giving the ship more lift and everyone could feel the lurch as the vessel began rising out of the River Thames.
“Flank speed!” Holt commanded. She needed it to look like they were trying to get away in a hurry.
The Waterwitch roared over London as it gained speed and altitude.

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Re: Accused

Post by Keeper » Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:28 pm

Guthrie stared at the green haze of the Ether-Comm station, waiting for the call to be answered.
Eventually the haze sparked to life and the image of a man with full side burns and balding head formed before him.
“Good evening, this is Greenwich Docks. Wharf-master Phelps speaking.”
“Lord Guthrie, Assistant Commissioner, Scotland Yard.”
Even in the ether generated image Guthrie could tell the man had suddenly sat up straight.
“My lord,” he said. “How may I help you?”
“The vessel Waterwitch is berthed at your docks. I need you to lock the vessel down.”
Phelps looked awkward. “Ehm, I'm sorry my lord, the Waterwitch has just departed. It was the most incredible thing! The ship just took off! Rose up like a giant zep-car or zep-ship? I've never seen anything like it!”
“Damn!” Guthrie cursed and saying no more flicked the switch to end the call.
His next move was to call the Metropolitan Sky-Traffic Control Centre which oddly enough was based way out near Gatwick.
“Guthrie, Scotland Yard!” the assistant commissioner announced the moment the call was answered.
“Albert!” A cheerful voice greeted. “Ned Jennings, here. How are you old boy?”
“Ahh, sorry Ned, no time for pleasantries I'm afraid. I'm tracking a fugitive and I believe him to be on a vessel called the Waterwitch. The vessel is airborne now and I need it stopped.”
“Right-oh! Any idea where...”
“Greenwich Docks about five minutes ago,” Guthrie interrupted.
“I'll despatch interceptors right away. Will be in touch.”
“I'm heading after it as well, Ned. Call my personal ether-comm.”

Two Metropolitan Police Sky-Interceptors were dispatched from the nearest field in Islington, racing across the London night sky towards the Thames.
Numerous stations across the city were tracking the Waterwitch's travel and relaying the information back to control at Gatwick.

Their quarry had already travelled south some distance, but even so, on this clear night the bright ether exhaust ports of a vessel travelling at maximum thrust were easy to spot from the sentry posts and just as easy to follow on the Royal Air Force's Ether Defence Detectors down on the coast.
The interceptor pilots were impressed that the vessel was travelling so fast, for such a large and heavy ship it seemed almost unfeasible.

On board the Waterwitch, Captain Holt sat in her chair waiting for some sort of response from either the police of the Air Force or someone.
Her whole plan relied on the contact and she hoped that the representatives of Her Majesty's law enforcement departments weren't in a shoot now ask questions later kind of mood.
“Any sign of pursuit, Mr Gecko?”
“Nothing from any of the watch-stations, but it is black as a badger's arse out there. No one will see anything until its on us.
Paige Holt grunted in annoyance but said nothing.
“Patience,” a soft voice from behind soothed.
Holt glanced over her shoulder at Elizabeth.
The woman seemed very calm, stood there in her fancy expensive dress, the silly yet fashionable little hat perched upon the mountain of blond hair piled pristinely upon the woman's head.
Paige had been studying her in the day room. Everything the woman did, from the way she walked, the way she sat, the way she'd sipped tea from Holt's finest porcelain cup spoke of the proper upbringing and high social station the woman represented.
Paige had been a little envious of Elizabeth Reynolds. She seemed like a doll, flawless skin, perfect teeth, immaculate clothes, fingernails neatly polished and shaped and so infuriatingly attractive.
Holt wasn't into women but she knew a beautiful woman when she one.
It must be something in the family blood, she mused.
Sitting in the chair waiting for the presumed inevitable call her thoughts drifted to Sebastian.
She knew that their relationship was likely fleeting, that she wasn't of suitable standing in the eyes of society to be his wife, but that stop her feelings for him.
The terrifying creature that was Aunt Catherine had always stood in their way, determined to pair her nephew up with a socially suitable partner, even when Paige was there with him.
She also seemed determined to find someone very plain and bland – totally not what Lord Reynolds wanted.
She remembered Seb coming to her one night having spent the evening with one such girl that Aunt Catherine had surprised him with and he had described her as a 'walking personality vacuum'.

The ether-comm station suddenly crackled to life, tearing her from her thoughts.
“SS Waterwitch, this is Metropolitan Air Patrol, you are ordered to return to Greenwich Docks for inspection,” the voice instructed.
Holt turned a dial on her command chair.
“On what grounds? I'm late for a delivery and this will cost me, unless of course Air Patrol is going to compensate me?”
“Your business arrangements are of no concern to us, Captain. Now return to Greenwich by order of the Metropolitan Police. Failure to comply voluntarily will require us to use force.”
Holt sensed the bridge-crew's eyes on her.
“Keep the throttle on and get us up into those stars Miss Buxley, out of range of those ground batteries.”
“Aye, captain.”
The Waterwitch pitched up at the bow, climbing ever further skyward.

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Re: Accused

Post by Keeper » Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:29 pm

“You have them on scope?” Guthrie asked the green image before him. “Can't this thing go any faster?” he yelled at the helmsman.
The police Zeppelin was already going at maximum speed.
“I have them, Albert, they won't get away,” the green image of Ned Jennings said.
“We have to catch them before they get to the sea.”
“Don't worry, sir, they are heading straight for our Naval Air Station at Eastbourne. They won't get past them. I've already alerted the Duty Watchmen of their incoming quarry.”
Guthrie sighed in relief. “Thank you, Ned. Keep me posted will you?”
“Will do, old boy!”

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Re: Accused

Post by Keeper » Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:29 pm

“SS Waterwitch,” the cold calm voice on the radio announced. “I will repeat the order. Retun to Greenwich Docks for inspection, immediately!”
Paige Holt laughed into the microphone.
“Goodness, Shamworth, you really sound official this time. You've upped your game,” she said. “But, I'm not falling for this again, you charlatan! You cost me over one hundred pounds in fines last time. No way I shall be falling for this trick again and end up late a second time.”
“I beg your pardon?” the radio replied, genuinely perplexed.
“Shall I spell it out to you, Shamworth? Not a chance in hell I'm falling for your little charade again!”
“Madam,” the voice said sternly. I do not know who you think you are talking to, however I can assure you I am indeed Air Control Officer Norris of the Greater London Metropolitan Air Patrol. I can assure you that failure to obey my instructions will cost you a damn sight more than a fine of one hundred pounds. You will, in fact find yourself spending time at Her Majesty's pleasure. So turn that ship around, immediately.”
Holt signalled for Holt to push the Witch faster. “Well, I have to hand it to you Shamy, old boy, but that almost sounded convincing!”
“That's it!” the voice sounded angry. “This is the police, obey the command, NOW!”
Captain Holt sat back in her chair and closed the connection.

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