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

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Post by Keeper » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:01 pm


The wind whipped the heavily falling snow into a frenzy making it hard for Lillian May Buxley to see more than dozen yards ahead.
A long heavy fur-lined coat wrapped tightly around her and woollen hat pulled over her head hiding her thick black wavy hair. A thick striped woollen scarf covered her face and snaked around her neck so that there was only a slit at the front, between it and the bright green bobble hat, for her see out of.
Lilly, as she preferred to be called, didn't like the cold at all. Born in the Great Metropolis, far away across the Atlantic, in England, where it only ever got really cold in the height of winter. The fog of steam ever present over the industrial heart of the British Empire, seemed to act as an insulation blanket over the city, keeping the heat in during the winter, but also preventing the glorious sunshine getting through in the summer.
Not like here, on the eastern seaboard of Canada.
Chesterfield Inlet was a small town built on an arid plateau on the western edge of the Hudson Bay.
A trading post, the town sported the only Zeppelin pylon for hundreds of miles. Not only did the loggers, miners, hunters and other hardy folk that made their living in the harsh mountainous and lake strewn land travel for days to get here and re-supply, but explorers, geologists, and the British Military came here, for whatever reasons they had for such an excursion.

Despite her dislike of the bitter chill, Lilly was grateful for the howling blizzard. No one would see her out here and she knew the place well enough, even under several feet of snow, to know where she was and in what direction she should be going.
The journey, which would normally only take ten minutes, took double that today.

Lilly stamped her feet on the porch of the large ramshackle cabin she had made her slow trek towards. Snow fell from both her heavy boots and her coat so that was quite a pile on the stained wooden planks.
Turning the handle she thrust the door open quickly and stepped through.

Inside the cabin was lit by numerous gas lamps, the wooden shutters drawn over the windows to protect them from the ferocious winds.
Tables, both square and round dotted the room and a long bar lined one wall.
It was early yet and so the tavern was fairly empty. Lilly smiled at two ageing and weather worn native Indians in the corner, who were sat silently contemplating life while gently sucking at the ends of their long pipes.
A fire blazed in the stone hearth, crackling and spitting as it ate into a fresh log thrown on by a young Indian boy who looked up at Lilly and gave her an embarrassed smile as she pulled the scarf down and her hat off, shaking her hair free.

“Mister White!” the young boy called towards the open door behind the bar.
Malcolm White was a very tall yet thick set black man, his head covered in a short cropping of black curls and dressed in a clean shirt and trousers. He didn't seem overly bothered by the cold that even permeated inside the bar despite the fire.

Lilly made her way over to the bar pulling furry mittens from her hands as she went.
White smiled, his pure white teeth in stark contrast to his almost ebony black skin.
“Miss Lilly!” he said delightedly as he placed the glass he had been cleaning on the shelf below the bar.
“Hi, Mal,” Lilly replied returning his smile.

“It's early in the day for you, isn't it?” White said genially. “Usual?” He reached for the brandy which he knew was Lilly's favoured tipple.

Lilly glanced across at the two old men in the corner, then in a low voice said, “I'm after something else.”

White's face changed. “Where?”
Again Lilly cast a furtive glance at the old men. “Er,” she hesitated.
“Don't mind them folks there Miss Lilly. Don't speak a word of English and are regulars here. They got no love for the authorities.”
“O-kay!” Lilly stretched the word out whilst she deliberated. “Xenotopia, please.”
The barman's expression relaxed, the tightness across his eyes leaving him and he smiled once more.
“I can do that.” He inclined his head towards the only other door in the bar area.
Lilly followed him across the bar and into the small passageway beyond. On either side were toilets for the patrons of the tavern. Opposite the door through which Lilly had just passed was another door. Heavy and locked and bearing a sign that merely stated 'Private'.

White unlocked the door, handing the key to Lilly.
“No one else here at the minute, girl. You go make yourself comfortable.”

Lilly squeezed passed the burly black man. Stairs led down to the cellar.
Here, White kept the stocks of beers and spirits for the bar upstairs, however at the far end of the cellar, illuminated by red tinted lamps were four single cot-beds. The sheets on each were clean and the beds made with hospital corners. There was a wooden chair alongside each bed.

Lilly stripped off her outside clothing and was pleased to find that it wasn't too cold down here, thanks to the small wood burner in the corner.
Perching on the edge of the bed Lilly straightened out her skirt that barely covered her knees, then began unbuckling the tall boots she had on.
A wry smile crept onto her face as she though how scandalised her mother would be if she could see her wearing such short skirts. Although the ankle length dresses and skirts of the Victorian era were still the norm in the cities and throughout the east coast of the Americas, this more practical form of dress was the fashion of the counter-culture in the frontiers.
She undid the lowest button of the tanned leather bodice she wore over her white blouse and started as she noticed Malcolm White standing before her.
He held out a folded square of brown paper.
She took it excitedly, then froze at his faint chuckle. “Er, how much do I...?”
“You pay me later, Miss Lilly,” White said with a friendly grin before turning away and diappearing from view behind the barrels of beer.

Lilly breathed in an out deeply for a few moments, calming herself and trying to make her mind as blank as possible. She needed to be open to what was about to happen to her and didn't want to resist in any way.
Laying back on the bed Lilly relaxed, staring blankly up at the dusty ceiling. She unfolded the paper and held the thin turquoise tab up to the light.
Placing it under her tongue Lilly let the tab dissolve. She waited.
The tab would kick in any moment, normally only taking a minute to take effect.

A laugh sounded from somewhere to her right, but on looking she saw the rough hewn wall of the cellar.
“Marty, hi!” said a man. There was no one there.
A door opened at the far end of the room, pouring a rectangle of light from within some of the crates of whiskey in the corner. The sound of hundreds of people talking, and random music, with no tune.
Lilly waited patiently for the transition from the Prime Reality to Etherspace to complete.

The dim light of the cellar finally gave way to the brightly lit foyer decorated in a classical style, like the theatres in the west-end of London she had seen pictures of.

She beamed. In the Scope once more...

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:44 am

Nestor Wade gave a derisive huff at the news that the scrawny, gap-toothed youth had just delivered.
“Bloody captain's worrying about nothing,” he grumbled and the youth, Jonah Brewer, nodded agreeably.
“You are not leaving already, Meester Wad?” said a simpering French accent.
Wade looked at the buxom woman who was sitting in the bed beside him, the sheets pulled up to cover herself, and a pouting expression etched on her round face. The muscular man with short cut hair and the scorpion tattoo on his right forearm grinned at her.
“Mister Wad,” Wade said softly, mimicking the woman's mispronunciation of his name, “is not going anywhere, my sweet. Got to get my money's worth, aren’t I?”
Brewer sniggered but his face dropped at the glare he received from Wade.
“Fuck off then Brewer,” Wade growled and waved a hand at him as though shooing away a fly. “Unless,” he added with a sarcastic tone, “that little pecker of yours is getting all hard thinking about watching me hump a half-crown's worth out of miss Lar-oo here!”
Brewer started as though slapped across the face. “Er, what do I tell the captain?”
“Like I give a damn! Don't tell him anything.”
Wade gave a grimace as he considered his own words and took in Brewers terrified face. “Tell him you couldn't find me.”
Brewer nodded vigorously.
“And don't let the door hit you on the way out!” he called as he turned his attention back to his companion.


Captain Lindsey Holt paced about the bridge like a cage bear. Holt was a thin man of average height
with a thick mane of hair brushed from left to right, light brown in colour except at the sides where it had turned silver white.
Jonah Brewer kept folding and unfolding his old cloth cap nervously in his hands as he watched the skipper pace.
“Damn their eyes, man!” Holt barked as he stopped to grab the ornate yet tarnished ship's wheel.
“And you don't have any idea where they could be?”
Brewer shook his head.
“And everyone else is back on board?”
“Well, sir, no,” Brewer said optimistically. “Buxley's missing too.”
Holt fixed the scrawny youth with an exasperated glare making him shrink back.
The captain was about to shout that it was more than likely that she would be with, their chief engineer, or under him if she had her way, wherever the chief engineer may be. But he restrained himself. Buxley had confided in him and he was blown if he was going to betray that confidence with one of his deck-hands. Especially not one who was the lap-dog of Nestor Wade.
Wade was a cocky bastard, and was more than a royal pain in the arse, but he had been on the crew for years and was a damned good pilot.
Now there were three of his essential crewmen missing; engineer, pilot and now the navigator.
It amused him actually that the very young woman, Holt recalled her last birthday being her twenty-third, was such a marvel when it came to orientation.
He was also quite amused by the fact that Wade had to take orders from her. Although Wade was a natural pilot, he was also illiterate and had no concept of map reading.

The door behind Brewer creaked on its hinges and both men stopped to look as a girl stepped in. she was seventeen, just a year younger than the younger man. Brewer gulped and pressed himself against the navigator's map table to give the girl the maximum room possible.
Her long blond hair rippled and bounced as she hopped across the deck towards her father.
Brewer caught the faint smell of lavender and let out a quiet sigh that fortunately for him was missed by both the girl and her father.
“Daddy?” she said in her Americanised accent. “Are we leaving?”
“That was the plan,” Holt answered unable to stop some of the bitterness entering his voice.
“What's wrong?” she asked perceptively.
Holt sighed placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. “It's nothing honey. We have a few crewmen missing and it's just holding us back.”
“But what's the rush?”
Holt shook his head dismissively. “I just want to get out of here before this weather gets any worse.” It was a lie.
“Oh, okay.”
The girl held her father's eyes and he knew she knew.
“Hu... Hu... Hello Miss Paige,” Brewer stuttered, grinning so widely that his rotten teeth were on display.
Paige turned to face the tall gangly youth who was brushing one side of his lank hair out of his eyes and grinning even wider.
Dressed in a long, flower patterned dress, Paige would have looked right at home on any of New York's fashionable streets, or even London. She was in complete contrast to Brewer, whose waist-coat, shirt and trousers were frayed, patched and rather grubby.
Paige's nose wrinkled in disgust, but she quickly forced a smile. Brewer didn't seem to have noticed.
“Oh, hello,” she said with a slight pause, then added, “Jonah!”
Jonah Brewer gave Paige the creeps. It was the way he stared at her, blatantly undressing her with his eyes.
Of course he was always pleasant around her, courteous almost to the point of fawning.
Holt fixed Brewer with an icy stare that rivalled the cold outside and the youth's grin faded.
“We've got to leave, Brewer. Get back out there and tell Wade I need him back here. Then go and find the other two.”
“Yes, skipper, right away sir,” Brewer mumbled the words catching in his throat as he tore his eyes away from Paige and his face blushed red.
Holt dropped into the chair in the centre of the bridge and let out a long sigh.
“Don't be angry father,” Paige said softly. “You told the crew they had four days shore leave. They'll be back once they know you need them.”
“Hmmm,” Holt moaned. “Plans change my dear, but not everyone likes it when they do.”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:37 pm

“Hi,” said a very attractive read haired girl in a tight black top with a large gold X emblazoned on the front and even tighter and very tiny pair of shiny golden shorts.
The woman smiled at the newcomer with a semi-friendly look in her eyes.
What the woman saw standing before her and staring around in amazement was another woman, this one with long black hair that flicked out dramatically from her face. She was wearing a tight black leather corset that thrust her breasts upwards, and a long skirt of black velvet, spilt at the front and flowing down to the floor in folds at the back, finished with a large black velvet bow at the small of her back. It was Victorian Chic. The thigh length leather boots with stiletto heel finished off the ensemble nicely and the woman gave an appreciative nod as she finished her appraisal.
Without saying so she preferred the newcomers look to the one she currently wore.
The newcomer started as she suddenly noticed the woman before her. “oh, sorry,” she said with an embarrassed giggle.
“Have you been to Xenotopia before?” the woman asked.
“Yes,” Lilly replied. She was still looking around at the ornately painted walls and the high domed ceiling of this ante-chamber.
“Oh!” the woman said, surprised then, “You have your mark?” She asked this with a smile that was a little warmer.
Lilly held out her left arm over which the woman placed a thick shiny brass ring, like an over sized bracelet. On the outside of the ring was a knurled black knob which the woman turned.
A blue glow illuminated the inside of the ring, causing an intricate symbol to appear on Lilly's forearm like a tattoo. After a moment a bell chimed within the ring and the glowing blue light turned a stark green.
“Welcome back, Miss Buxley. You have credit for two more visits. Enjoy the evening.” With that the woman removed the ring which disappeared and moved on to the form of a Roman gladiator who had just appeared in one of the comfortable chairs.

Lilly moved out of the ante-chamber, just behind a young couple who were discussing their desire to tell some minister or other to shove his job some place unpleasant.

The main hall was a huge chamber, very much like the Albert Hall in London, circular, opulently and classically styled with ornate pillars and a high vaulted ceiling, however there were gaudily coloured lights, a gigantic mirror ball, and loudspeakers fixed to the walls or hanging from the ceiling and although there were several rings of floors all looking in at the stage at the far end, there were no seats in the central area.
The place was crowded and noisy and Lilly guessed that there were several thousand people here all talking and laughing and drinking.
The din of the crowd was however being drowned out by the two hundred strong orchestra on the stage who were all going through their warm ups and instrument checks, playing odd notes at random times until it sounded more like torture than music.

Suddenly the noise from the orchestra faded away and the lights went out casting the large concert hall into absolute impenetrable darkness.
Instantly the crowd quietened, their voices reduced to hushed whispers.
Lilly's breath caught and she felt a rush of excitement. Someone in the darkness gave a shrill whistle, someone else clapped. This led to more whistles and claps and then cheers until the sound became a deafening roar.

Then the piano and violins started, playing one of Ennio Morricone's modern classics. A cornet, xylophones, bass, trombones, tubas, and a multitude of other instruments joined in, building the piece towards a crescendo.
As it neared its peak a bright spotlight shone onto an archway in the centre of the orchestra and four men dressed mostly in black with long hair came forward.

They were dressed not in the formal attire of the rest of the orchestra players, but were in t-shirts and black denims and heavy boots and all four sported various tattoos on their arms and even evident under their clothing.

The music around them flowed on to the end as the four men came to the front of the stage, three of them picking up strange looking guitars, and the last sitting himself behind a large set of drums.
As the classical piece ended the lights up in the ceiling flared to life covering the crowd in purples, reds, greens and blues and strobing whites.
One of the men began to play, plucking serene tuneful notes, backed by the violins, tinkling triangles and cornets.
Then the bass guitarist started up to much cheering from the crowd. Then the drummer started a steady beat with the bass drum to more roars of appreciation, all the time the classical orchestra in the background building up once more in harmony with the newer, more guttural sounds.

Next the tallest of the four, a man in his late twenties or early thirties with hair falling down over his shoulders and a friendly mutton chops beard began ripping out throaty chords and angry industrial riffs, all the time backed by the flowing melody of the orchestra.
Drummer and guitarists were playing frantically now, hands and arms a blur as they beat and strummed plucked out the tune.

Very similar to Mozart’s more aggressive classics, their music changed tempo throughout the piece, from grunting riffs to haunting melodies and back again.

All the while the coloured lights were shining and flashing and changing in harmony with the music.
Lilly moved through the bouncing crowd towards the front however she didn’t want to get too close. Close enough to watch the band and orchestra clearly but not close enough that the man at the front, playing guitar and not yet singing into the microphone could see her.

The first track slowed and came to an end in a massive uproar of claps, screams cheers and whistles.
There was nearly no pause as the group moved into the next track.
Powerful riffs, haunting violins, frantic staccato beats from the drums.
The lead man leaned into the microphone on its stand and said, “Who’s your Master?” in a Canadian accent.
The crowd cheered as the band moved into the song proper, the orchestra playing, the drums beating, the guitars wailing and growling, the bass blasting from the speakers with such force that that crowd could feel it hammering against their chests.
Lilly smiled, her foot stomping, her head nodding to the beat all the time watching the front-man as he sang into the mic.
One of the group of fans in front of Lilly tuned with a horrified expression and looked to his friends.
Lilly noticed that the man wore a t-shirt with the front-man’s image upon it and the band’s name; Etherica, above the image.
With looks of bitter disappointment the group closed in on each other in frantic discussion, shouting over the music but even this close Lilly couldn’t hear them.
Then they were gone, about a dozen of them all blinked out of existence.
Lilly knew they were all jacked in through cybernaughtic connection to the scope. Tab-jammers had a much slower and harder time leaving before the tab ran out.

The large gap that appeared in the crowd by their departure closed quickly but not before the singer, whose eyes had been drawn to the sudden space, had looked directly at Lilly’s smooth face.
They held eye contact even though the crowd had closed in like a tide.
Lilly allowed herself a delighted smile as without missing his cue for the nest line the corner of the singer’s mouth turned up.

Six thumping, grinding metal tracks later the front man announced there would be an intermission.
Lilly moved through the crowd heading for the bar, but now that the normal lights were on again the stared up as often as possible, taking in the grandeur of the place.
A hand grabbed her arm with enough force to turn her around but not enough to seem like an attack.
Lilly smiled into the emerald green eyes that glared at her.
It was the front man from the band.
“What are you doing here Lilly?” James MacLarren Hartfield asked in a reproachful tone.
“I wanted to watch you,” Lilly replied honestly.
“I told you not to,” Mac frowned at her. “I asked you to give me all your tabs.”
“And I did,” Lilly said, a hint of petulance creeping into her response.
Mac sighed. “Didn’t we discuss it not being a good idea you leaving yourself vulnerable?”
“I’m okay,” she said patronisingly. “I’m safe where I am.” Lilly tried to make her voice sound matter-of-fact. That she’d been caught here by Mac was disappointing, and she hated that he’d be both cross and possibly worried.
“I’m at White's,” she proclaimed. “He won't let anything happen to me.”
Mac shook his head. “White will look after you while you're at his place, but it's once you leave I'm worried about. Look, I've got to go back on. When your tab wears off stay at White's place, understand?”
Lilly nodded.
“Promise?” Mac asked looking more concerned than annoyed.
“Yes,” Lilly mumbled like a child who had just been told off.
Mac smiled at her. “As you are here, though, is it any good?”
“Hell, yeah! It's great. The music goes really well with the orchestra. And this venue is huge. There's so many people here!”
“Thanks. We were amazed when we got the call. Apparently one of the owners was at a gig we did in the Vancouver Spike. Gotta go!”

Lilly watched Etherica come back on stage. Now as the band and orchestra fired up once more she let herself go, letting herself feel the music and joining in with the enthusiastic crowd.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:39 pm

The snow was a blasted nuisance, the gale force winds just made the 'swear-word-in-place-of-an-adjective' a bit of an understatement.
The two brothers were just glad they were on horses and not in a steam car, or worse still, a zep-car.
The steam car would simply not have made it through the snow covered pass. A zep-car however, in this wind could have ended up anywhere but where they wanted to be.

Side by side the two men struggled to guide the horses through the snow. Having been travelling for over two days, they knew they had to be somewhere near their destination, but it was hard to tell in the terrible weather.
Suddenly one of the men was thrown from his horse at it's legs sank into an unseen ditch.
The fallen man let out a startled and then pained cry as he landed.
“Jon? Are you all right?” the second man called jumping down from his horse. The snow came up to chest height.
“It's okay,” Jon siad holding his chest. “I'm all right. Just winded by this fence post I landed on!”
Jon clambered upright revealing the round top to the post hidden, until he had landed upon it, under a foot of snow.
“Jon!” the man yelled over the howl of the wind. “There's a farm at the west end of the town. It's got a field where they keep horses surrounded by a fence. The road goes around the field and there's a drainage ditch alongside it. I think this must be it.”
The man rummaged under his coat bringing out a compass and consulting it. “We have to go in that direction,” the man shouted pointing off into the snow.
“All right then, Seb, you lead the way!” Jon called back, climbing up into the saddle with a pained grimace and holding his hand to his ribs again.
Soon they discovered the dark shape of a building looming out of the twilight before them.

The farmer was very surprised to see them out in such conditions but immediately roused the stable hands who had already called it a day.

Seb and Jon carried on through the snow on foot. It was easier going now as the townsfolk tended to clear the roadways of snow and so this blizzard had on laid knee deep.
“Where are we going?” Jon asked as they trudged on, puffing with the exertion of walking in the exagerated fashion people adopted when struggling through deep snow.
“The harbour. I've already arranged transport.”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:40 pm

The concert was finally over, Etherica's last track ringing in her ears, or echoing around her mind. Lilly was crushed amongst the throng near the front, who were still whistling and cheering and calling for more. But the lights had gone out, yet the crowd and Lilly found herself joining them, continued to chant.
Then the orchestra started up again, the lights flared into life and the band blasted into a huge, thumping explosion of a song.
“Thank you! You've been amazing! Good night!” Mac called into the mic at the end of the song.
The lights went out, then dimmer, less harsh lights came on around the walls.
It was over this time.

Lilly wandered through the crowd, listening to the excited buzz.
Suddenly Mac was in front of her. “Hey!” he said in greeting.
“Hmmm...” she smiled at him. “Not bad!”
“Thanks,” Mac said. “Thought you'd have gone by now. But as you're still here you might as well come with me to this after show thing I've got to go to.”
eyes widening like a child on Christmas morning she nodded.
“Only til your tab wears off though.”
“Okay,” Lilly conceded.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:07 pm

The horsemen moved steadily through the snow, following the churned up trail left by someone else.
The riders were all men, their hats low, collars and scarves high, and their coats thick.
Seven heavy, bulky shadows in the the gloom, the failing light making them like light grey silhouettes, ghosts moving through the world of the living.

The horseman in front wiped snow from his thick, wild, bushy beard. Without speaking he pointed to the churned up snow ahead of them.
Beside him another man, his face wrapped in a thick tartan scarf peered down and saw that the twin trails they had been following like the marks of a pair of gigantic snakes had come to a abrupt halt. There was a wide area where the smooth snow had been broken up. The second man imagined the snakes tussling, arguing about direction. A decision or a winner made the snakes turn aside. Looking harder both men could see the twin trails leading off again almost at ninety degrees from their previous direction.

With a wave of the bushy bearded man's hand the riders, who had paused momentarily as the two examined the trail moved off.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:10 pm

There was a knock at the door, a light tapping as though the person doing the knocking didn't really want to.
Nestor Wade tried to ignore it, but after after the first two attempts the knocker still hadn't got the message and gone away, Wade was getting annoyed.
With a huff he threw back the duvet, shoved the naked woman who straddled him to one side and stormed, equally as nude, to the door of his room.
There he turned the dial causing the ether lights to flare up brightly and yanked open the door to stand on all his naked and turgid glory before the person responsible for interrupting his copulation.

Jonah Brewer gasped in terror, firstly at the sight of Wade in the all-together, his manhood tumescent and jutting out like some sort of obscene weapon, and secondly at the murderous expression on Wade's face which only got worse once the man realised who it was doing the interrupting.

“What the bloody hell do you want?” Wade growled making no attempt to cover himself.

Brewer choked on the words at first, then they came out in a rush, “Skipper's not happy. Wants you back on board right away, boss.”
“I thought I told you to tell him you didn't know where I was?” Wade said in a harsh tone.
“I did boss!” Brewer's voice was pleading. “But the skipper didn't believe me. Sent me to come and get you then go looking for Hartfield and Buxley.”
this last bit caught Wade's attention. “Hartfield and Buxley aren't on board?”
“No, boss.”
Wade grinned, grabbed Brewers arm and dragged him inside.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:12 pm

The sounds of laughter drifted across the white landscape from an open rectangle of light that appeared in the gloom.
Jonathan nudged the man alongside him and poiinted in its direction as the light disappeared.
“That sounds like a pub, Seb. I'll but you a Scotch, or whatever passes for whiskey out here!”
“We don't have time Jon,” Sebastian replied.
“Oh, come on!” Jon protested, “You've come over here and pulled me out of a sticky situation. The least I can do for my brother is buy you a drink.”
Sebastian Reynolds paused in his trudge through the snow and turned to face Jonathan, placing a hand on each of the other man's shoulders. “Jon, you're a pain! But we really don't have time now. Once we're safe on board, then perhaps i'll have that drink, and gladly!”
Jon wouldn't be put off the idea though. “What's the rush? No one knows we're here, there's no one following us and they aren't going to be looking for us in this anyway!”
Seb's face hardened.
“There are people looking?” Jon's mischievous grin vanished.

Seb hadn't told his brother about the group he'd spotted as they left the mining town a few days ago. That was on the first day. The two had left a couple of false trails. Not that Jonathan had noticed, and it had thrown the men who followed, at least for long enough time to put a considerable distance between them.
However, Sebastian had a feeling that their many stops and one or two wrong turns may have cost them a lot of that head start.
He didn't want to hang around in a bar to find out just how small their lead had become.
“Yes, Jon, there are people following us. I have got to get you to a safe place.”
Jonathan looked both crestfallen and concerned in equal measure.

Moving on through knee deep snow Sebastian knew they were nearing the quay. The buildings were closer tigether and many were stores and there was a carpenters and next a chandler.

At last they came to the open white tundra of the waters of Hudson Bay, frozen solid and covered in snow. It looked like a large sheet of smooth white paper had been lain over the harbour.
Then what they had seen of the bay disappeared in a renewed flurry of snow.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:24 pm

“There!” Sebastian called over the wind, pointing to a long grey smear alongside the quay.
As they neared the dark shape, Jonathan began to make out features.
It looked like the hull of a long cylindrical ship. The bow arcing forward, it's knife like edge designed to cut through the waves with ease.
About two thirds the way down the flat upper deck of the hull a round fronted superstructure jutted up like a shark's fin with the upper point cut off.
Halfway between the bow and the fin was an old crane and a set of huge hatch-like doors in the deck to the fore and aft of it.
The vessel looked oddly familiar to Jonathan and it wasn't until he and his brother were nearly alongside the fin that he realised what he was seeing.
The vessel, now he knew, was sitting much too low in the water.
Like an iceberg, the majority of the hull would be underwater. This was not a ship after all but was in fact a submarine.
Jonathan had always considered joining the navy, especially as his friend, Sam Brocklesby had got himself convicted to service in the Royal Marines. However, despite his upper class background and good education, his dislike of discipline, or least discipline directed at him, had stopped him from fulfilling that desire. He had however gained much knowledge on the subject of the the Royal Navy.

As the Reich had marched across Europe in the early part of the century, Britain had made only rudimentary noises against the forces of Germany.
However, once the flag of the Reich could be seen all along the French coast and it became obvious that their domination of Europe was firm, Britain's armed forces began to ready themselves for an invasion many felt sure to come.

The Imperial war machine ramped up its production and amongst the might vessels of the Royal Navy were the Abyss Class Battle-Submarines, huge submersible warships equipped not only with torpedoes but heavily armoured and fitted with a massive triple barrelled nine-inch gun turret, capable of destroying whole fleets of ships and disappearing back beneath the waves.

Very few of the gargantuan submarines ever made it into service, in fact Jonathan could only name two. But at least two dozen of the things had been built.

The Reich's push into Europe and towards Britain halted at the coast and relations with the new European Order fell into an edgy truce.

Although many of the hulls were scrapped, some of them had been laid up, those most complete, so that they could be reactivated if it turned out that the Reich's push had merely paused and not ground to a halt.
But that was perhaps fifty years ago.

Jonathan could now make out the old deck ring where the guns would have sat, cleverly utilised for the base of the crane.
The old boat was looking the worse for wear, big sections of the armour plating were missing, revealing the pressure hull beneath. She looked as though she had been patched up many times and in some places as though the patches had been patched.
There were also some odd alterations around the mid section of the hull as though it's cylindrical diameter had been increased, but the Reynolds brother couldn't make out why.

The massive fin structure looked just like the front of a frigate's, although more rounded, but there were thick glass windows just like a ship's bridge that Jonathan hadn't expected to see on a submarine. Light poured out into the darkness from these windows like a row of glowing teeth.

Sebastian led his brother to the brow which had been swept clear of snow. They crossed onto the deck of the submarine and a large heavy pressure door opened in front of them, a man in dirty denim jeans and a grease smeared shirt, the sleeves rolled up to reveal arms covered in tattoos greeted them with a scowl. He carried a sawn-off shotgun in his hands.

“Oh!” he said, his scowl vanishing to be replaced with a congenial smile. “Mr Ambrose, welcome aboard again sir. Cap’n’s expectin’ you. Follow me.”
He turned and stepped back into the warm atmosphere within the submarine, closing the heavy door and sealing out the cold.
“Paul ain’t it?” Sebastian asked in a Bristolian accent that made Jonathan do a double take.
“Aye, sir.”
Paul was a heavily built man, his exposed arms rippled with chorded muscles.
He led the two men in through the heavy door and up two decks to the bridge.

Jonathan was surprised to see the insides panelled with a rich coloured wood. He’d been expecting to see bare steel, painted of course, but this seemed more opulent, or at least it had been opulent once.
Now though, on closer inspection, the varnish was rubbed away or peeling in places, there were chips and scrapes in the wood work, the carpet upon the treads of the steeply angled ladders were threadbare, and if he wasn’t very much mistaken there were a number of bullet holes in the bulkheads and minor fire damage on the bridge deck.

Paul walked onto the bridge itself without knocking. “Cap’n,” he said announcing his presence to a distracted Holt.
Holt turned a curious eye on his visitors, then recognising Sebastian he looked surprised. “Ah, right, thank you quartermaster,” he said to Paul then added, “Any sign of the others?”
Paul shook his head.
Sebastian could see the expression upon the captain’s face and knew he wasn’t happy.
“What is the problem, Captain Holt?”
Holt’s face reddened. “Well,” he said drawing out the word whilst obviously searching for the right thing to say. “We weren’t expecting you so soon.”
“I did call ahead.”
“Yes, but then the storm front settled in and we thought....”
“You didn’t think we’d come tonight?”
Holt looked embarrassed now. “Well, frankly no. You see my crew were given shore leave and not all of them have been located yet. I didn’t think I’d have this little time.”
Sebastian Reynolds paced over to the windows and stared out into the dark snowy night. He saw the reflection of his brother standing near the doorway and looking a little awkward.
“My apologies, captain, I have been remiss in my introductions,” Sebastian said changing the subject, “Allow me to present my brother, Jonathan.”
Jonathan came forward and shook the captain’s hand.
“A pleasure to have you aboard Mr Ambrose,” Holt said with enthusiasm.
“It’s Mr Reynolds,” Jonathan corrected and Sebastian silently kicked himself for not mentioning the alias to him.
Astutely Holt said, “Begging your pardon, sir, I thought Mr Ambrose said you were brothers?”

Sebastian moved closer to the two men, his voice quieter now. “I’m sorry captain but it was a necessary ruse when we left England and I saw no point in complicating matters. My brother however has the knack of making even the simplest things complex!” His voice had lost it’s west-country accent now.
He removed his thick glove so that he too could shake the captain’s hand. “A renewed greeting then. I am Sebastian Reynolds, Baron Roborough.
Holt’s eyebrows shot up his forehead. “Lord Roborough? I ...em!”
“I think we’re way past the need for formalities Holt, don’t you? Besides, time is pressing. I need to get my brother down to Toronto where we can meet up with his family, and then get back to England. We need him removed from this territory now as there have been people following whom I consider are prepared to keep him here by force. I’m not sure of our lead on them so it would suit me better for us to be off sooner rather than later.”
Holt nodded silently then started in surprise as he looked beyond the two fur coat clad gentlemen to see Wade standing silently in the doorway.
“Ah, you’re back!” Holt stated with renewed enthusiasm. “Where’ve you been?”
“Shore leave!” Wade replied derisively.
“Hmm, well now you are here get the witch ready for cast off will you.”

“Out of the way Brewer,” came another voice from outside the bridge, this one definitely a local accent.
Jonah Brewer stepped onto the bridge with a sneer fixed upon his oval face.
Baron Roborough noticed the look and thought it was a very poor imitation of the one Wade adopted when in the company of those he was trying to cow.
Brewer’s effort unfortunately just had the effect of making his already ugly face even worse.

Behind him came another man, tall, with long mousey brown hair tied back in a loose ponytail, and dressed in an emerald green waistcoat and white shirt both bearing smears of grease and small burn holes.
This man was well built, someone who worked very hard for a living and had the muscle structure to prove it. All except for his right arm which had been replaced by a large cybernaughtic limb.
The arm gave a whispered hiss of hydraulics as the man reached out to hold onto the door frame casually.
“You wanted me captain?” Mac Hartfield asked.
“Indeed I do. So that’s two of my missing crew members back at least!” Holt mocked indignantly.
“So how many more are missing?” Roborough asked in his quiet upper class tones which caused the newcomer to cast a quizzical look his direction.
“Just the navigator,” Holt announced, his voice betraying his annoyance. “Right pilot I want my boat ready to go. MR Hartfield, make preparations with the engine room for immediate departure. I don’t suppose Buxley was with you, wherever you happened to be?”
“No,” Mac said frowning. “Not exactly.”
“How do you mean?”
Hartfield scowled at Wade and seemed to be debating wheter to say anything or not. “We were at a concert together, in the scope.”
Wade grinned slyly. “Concert!” he mocked.
“I know where she is in the Prime though. I’ll go and get her.”
“No!” Holt barked. “I need the Witch ready to go. Where is she?”
“White’s.” Hartfield announced with narrowed eyes fixed on Wade.
“I’ll send someone to fetch her,” Holt said. “Now get this old girl ready.” This last was said with undisguised finality.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:29 pm

“Let’s not bother about Buxley, skipper,” Wade suggested, casting a look in Hertfield’s direction and struggling to hide a grin.
“Don’t even think about it,” responded the big man, clenching his hydraulic fist with a quiet hiss.
“I’m just saying,” Wade intoned with an indignant air of innocence. “I mean, if his Lordship here is so keen to get going, perhaps we should go. We managed before without her.”
Both Reynolds brothers cast a furtive glance at one another, knowing from his comment that he had obviously overheard their conversation.
Hartfied growled. “Shut up, Wade!” he said, his voice low and full of loathing.
“Mr Wade’s right, captain,” Brewer put in, fiddling with his cap nervously. “He don’t need Buxley.”
Wade glared at Brewer as though outraged that he had spoken, but said nothing.
“Captain!” Hartfield implored, “You’re not going to leave her?”
“Ah—ha!” Wade put in before Holt could reply. “You’re just worried as that little tart’s been lifting her skirts for you and now you won’t be gettin’ none of her sweet juicy peach!”
That was enough for the big Canadian who launched himself at Wade, his iron fist pulled back ready to strike.
Wade was incredibly fast, leaping backwards clear of Hartfield’s attack. A long wicked blade in his hand, held threateningly.
“Enough!” bellowed Holt, slamming his fist down on the chart table to emphasise his point.
Neither man looked at him but neither made any further move against the other.
Brewer gave a feeble whimper.
“Put that blade away, Wade,” Holt said sternly. “NOW!” he barked when Wade failed to react.
Reluctantly the cockney pilot did as asked.
Unimpressed by this behaviour, Sebastian wanted it over and his request for an expedient departure dealt with.
“I may not be an expert on these matters,” he said, “but I understand that a navigator is normally quite important.”
“I don’t need some skirt telling me how to drive my own goddamned boat!” Wade snapped.
Lord Roborough’s face hardened as he looked into Wade’s glaring eyes. “I don’t believe that’s the navigator’s role is it? I didn’t think she told you how, just where?”
“She could tell him how too if it came to it.!” Hartfield sneered.
“Mac!” Holt warned, though he knew his chief engineer was right, Lillian May Buxley was a good pilot.
“Who gives a damn what you think?” Wade spat, glaring first at Hartfield and then at Reynolds.
“Hold your tongue, Wade!” Holt gave another warning.
“It’s quite all right, captain.”Roborough said. “If Mr Wade has something to say, let him get it off his chest.” He turned to face Wade.

Wade just snorted and shook his head. “There you go again, giving your orders and your opinion where you’ve no right to. Oh yes you might be something special back in Blighty, but here, on my boat you’re just an interfering toff, and you certainly aint the friggin captain!”
Holt had had enough. “NO HE ISN’T!” he bellowed. “I AM.”
Then in a quieter yet no less angry voice he said, “I’ve given you my orders and if you want to see any of your pay, you’ll all do as you’re damn well told. That includes you Nestor Wade.”
Sebastian could see that Holt’s fury was at breaking point.

Jonathan had remained silent and out of the way throughout the argument. His shared glance with his brother conveyed his own displeasure at the aggressive Wade.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:33 pm

Hartfield nodded without another word and with a degree of reluctance left the bridge.
“And you two,” Hart barked at Wade and Brewer as they remained, Wade shaking with suppressed anger himself.
“Actually no, Wade carry on, Brewer I have a job for you.”
Wade cast a seething eye over the oter two men on the bridge like he was sizing them up, and both Reynolds brothers had the feeling he was plotting revenge.
Mumbling under his breath he stepped back out of the bridge.

Brewer looked nervous as he stood red in the face looking at Holt.
“Brewer, I want you to go to White’s and collect Buxley,” Holt said in a tone that brooked no argument.
“But captain, I ....” he couldn’t help himself. Brewer knew that Wade wouldn’t appreciate it if he was responsible for bringing Buxley back.
Holt knew it too, and so had deliberately chosen the irksome pilot’s lackey to go and fetch his leader’s “thorn in his side”.
“Don’t you bloody well argue with me Brewer. You’ve been given your instructions so get to it.”
Brewer screwed up his weasel-like face but with a resigned sigh, he shuffled out of the bridge.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:36 pm

“Do excuse me, Captain,” Roborough said heading for the door. “I’m starting to thaw out!”
“Right you are your lordship,” Holt said with an understanding nod.
“I think Mr Reynolds will suffice, captain,” Roborough said heading for the door.

Brewer was stood at the top of the ladder muttering to himself as Roborough stepped quietly through the doorway.
“Brewer!” Nestor Wade’s cockney accent called out from the deck below.
Brewer gave a start but then stood as though frozen to the spot.
“What did the captain want?” Wade inquired in a sickening tone.
Brewer’s shoulders sagged and he huffed like a schoolboy being forced to own up to something.
He started down the stairs to the nest deck and Roborough quickly made his way to the hatch, making sure he could hear what was being said without being seen himself.
“He only wants me to get Buxley!” Brewer sounded mortified.
“I bloody knew it!” Wade cursed.
“Right now listen ‘ere,” the cockney instructed. “You’ll have to go and get her. But don’t be nice, give her what for if you want. Hang on a minute, I got an idea.” He put his arm conspiratorially around Brewer.
“Pay attention, my old son, you need to do this right.” He began walking away, leading Brewer towards the hatch down to the main deck.
“Play this right and we might make some serious money, and pay that fuckin’ toff back too...”
The pair moved out of earshot and Roborough couldn’t get down below without getting seen.
“Bastard!” the Baron swore, swirling round for the ladder back up to the bridge.
“Jon, I’m going back out. You stay here,” he announced. “Captain, you need to be ready to go when I get back.”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:39 pm

Lilly moved through the crowd of the after-show party. The club’s owner always liked to mix with the performers and the more influential music industry types that haunted a place like this.
It was full of people she didn’t know, and by the sounds of many of the conversations she overheard, she wasn’t sure if she could be bothered to get to know them.
She’d bumped into James fairly soon but he’d said his tab was wearing off so he’d have a toilet break and take another.
That was an hour ago and he’d not returned. Not only that but s far she felt no sign of her own tab wearing off and she was becoming anxious as it should have worn off long ago.

Lilly had heard rumours about people who sometimes got stuck in the scope, their minds and consciousness forever wandering the unchartered plane. Although she’d heard the rumours, she’d not ever come across anyone who even knew of anyone who’d become lost.
Even so. There was that little nagging doubt now and she worried that the first person she ever came across in that position would be herself!
She tried to ignore her overly long stay, reassuring herself that it could just be down to her being tired and therefore her own body less able to resist the pull of the tab.
Sitting at the bar amused her for a bit and then Jase and Larson, two other members of the band found her and talked to her for a long time, but eventually they were pulled away to go and meet someone.
Lilly wandered through the house where the after show party was being held. It was nice, decorated in a colonial style with heavy Hindu influences.
Suddenly a strong hand folded around her bicep, gripping tight. She turned to look at a face of pure shadow, in fact there were no features to the avatar at all, it was like a three-dimensional silhouette.
More of these silhouettes folded out of the dark shadows.
Lilly pulled away but the hand gripped tightly.
“Let go!” Lilly said firmly, but the grip just became painfully tight.
One of the other shadows was beside her and grabbed her other arm whilst putting a hand over her mouth to muffle the scream she was about to issue.
They dragged her struggling form towards a door.
It opened as they neared it and Lilly saw a man standing there, his hair slicked back to look almost plastic.
He wore a dark suit and a fine silken cravat with a pin in its centre. The pin’s head was that of a snarling bear.
“Hello, Buxley,” the German accented voice said in English.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:25 pm

The horses whinnied as the men dismounted and lashed them to a rail outside a large wooden building with the word ‘tavern’ painted gaudily on a large sign on the roof.
The leading man stamped his feet on the veranda and brushed snow from his thick beard.
Pushing open the door he squinted at the brightly lit room within.
The muted sounds of conversation and laughter and music from a piano became clear now as he entered followed by the other men in his entourage.
All became hushed reducing to nothing as the men entered and the customers appraised the newcomers suspiciously.
New faces were nothing uncommon in this town these days, however the snow flecked men drew more attention than most in the form of speculation on what could have brought the men here in such grim weather.

As the group made their way to the bar without hostile action or even a hint of aggression the ‘locals’ started up their talk and music once more.

“Can I help you gents?” Malcolm White, the owner, asked with a flash of his brilliant white teeth.
“Whiskey, and for my men,” the bearded man said gruffly.
With a nod White set out seven glasses and lined them up, pouring amber liquid into each of them.
Beard looked around the bar. His quarry, Jonathan Reynolds, was not amongst the patrons.
“I’m looking for two Englishmen. They would have come into town about two hours ago, maybe less, but no more. You seen them barkeep?” the man’s voice sounded as though the words were coming from a deep pit and had to cross much gravel to get out. Its tone, far from friendly, implied that the man was in no mood for games.
“No one’s been in here, sir. No one I don’t know that is, and none of them’s English.”
The man said nothing, just handed the drinks along without his eyes off White.
White stared back. He had nothing to tell and nothing to hide from these men and he was damned if he’d let the bullish men intimidate him in his own tavern.

“Where would someone go if they were new in town?” the beard said at last.
“There’s the hotel down by the quay. Else there’s a dozen or so boarding houses in town. It’s quiet so most likely the hotel would be your best bet.” White’s reply was given curtly, mirroring the abrupt tones of beard.
The man said nothing more as he turned with his men to find tables, grabbing the half empty bottle as he went.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:34 pm

Knowing the vessel well from his week long journey from England, Sebastian Reynolds made his way quickly to number two deck and headed aft towards the engine room.
The big water-tight door was open and Reynolds stepped through. The engine room filled the after section of the vessel, from keel up to underside of the upper deck.
It was full of machinery, pipes, pumps, and a very large boiler-like contraption on the centre, around, above and below which all the other equipment was positioned.
The boiler had an ether-port in its centre, where unstable ether would be vented into the ‘fire-well’ to super heat the water in the pipes, turning it to steam which would drive the turbines, powering the motors and other machinery and bring the vessel to life.

Reynolds dodged the crewmen who were now busy checking oil levels, opening valves, engaging breakers and doing whatever else it was they did to get the Witch ready.
“Chief?” Roborough called to the long-haired engineer.
Hartfield turned to see the Englishman with a foot on the ladder to the engine room upper hatch. With a frown at the aristocrat, the man approached.
“I’m going out this way,” Reynolds called over the clatter of activity.
“What?” Hartfield replied, not because he hadn’t heard but because he didn’t understand.
“Holt has sent Brewer to go and get Lilly, but I don’t trust Wade not to have planned something. So I’m going to make sure he does it right.”
Hartfield looked concerned too. “Then I’ll come with you!” he stated.
“No,” Reynolds said calmly, “I really need this old girl ready to go as soon as I get back.”
Hartfield didn’t respond. Instead he stared hard into the Englishman’s eyes.
He saw resolution in the other man’s posture, the firm set of his jaw, the way Reynolds returned the piercing stare.
“Make sure Lilly’s ok,” he said.
With a nod, Reynolds clambered up the ladder and opened the hatch, Hartfield following him and closing it tight again.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:38 pm

“Hmph Hasphard!” Lilly screamed from behind the strong hand that held firmly ovr her mouth.
The door behind her slammed shut and the noise from the party was instantly gone.
“Indeed I am,” the German said with a grin. “In fact, my mother often called me so herself. She’s dead now!” There was a meaningful look in the man’s eyes. “I’m sure there’s a moral there somewhere.”
The man moved closer and at over six feet tall he towered above Lilly making her heart skip as it was flooded with adrenaline.
“it is very good to see you again,” he grinned even wider.
This close even his skin looked like plastic. It made her nervous even though her subconscious was telling her this was the scope and Eric Schimler could appear however he liked.

Suddenly the man produced a long needled syringe, brandishing it before Lilly’s scared eyes.
“The mind, my dear, is a very strong thing, whilst it is in control. But it can be broken. And once it is it’s so very hard to put back together.” Schimler jabbed the needle into her arm.
Lilly struggled but the shadows held her firm.

“That, dearest Lilly, is a little concoction of my own devising. It will prolong your stay here. It is a subconscious stimulus that tricks your mind into maintaining the link with the etherscope. You are stuck here for as long as I want you to be. For as long as it takes for me to break you, then I’ll send you back to Holt, with a little note telling him it was me and I can get to his crew any time I so wish.”

“Huck You!” Lilly snarled behind the hand, fighting to get free.
“I’m sorry? What was that?” the man asked mockingly, signalling for his shadows to let her speak.
“You heard – fuck you!” Lilly spat.
“Now, now, Miss Buxley, don’t go volunteering, that would take all the fun out of it!” He gave her an evil smile. “Good night, Lilly,” he added and with a flick of his fingers she slumped unconscious to the floor.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:41 pm

Hartfield dropped down onto the engine room floor after closing the hatch and turned to look at the other men in the room.
“I’ll get your coat, Mac,” one of the men said.
Harfield grinned.
“Yeah, we’ll get her ready, just don’t let any of Wade’s goons see you.”

MacLarren Hartfield climbed out onto the snow covered upper deck a few minutes later and could see Reynolds’ tracks leading off the side of the Witch to an icicle encrusted ladder on the quayside.
Damn it was cold!
Pulling his collar up and keeping his head down he hurried towards White’s, following Reynolds’ trail.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:01 pm

Jonah Brewer stumbled through the knee high snow, muttering to himself. He was not a happy man. He was fiercely loyal to Nestor Wade, and knew the man would be relying on him to do everything he could to stop Buxley getting aboard. But that would put him at odds with Captain Holt. Even though Brewer feared Wades wrath more there was a subconscious part of him tat told him that Holt was the true authority and he should obey.
What’s more, Wade had asked him to look out for a bunch of men who were after the Witch’s passengers and to lead them towards the Witch (for a price, of course!).
This, Wade had explained, would force Holt to take off early, leaving Buxley behind.

“What if I don’t find them?” Brewer asked aloud to no one. “What if I don’t? What do these men look like? Probably covered in snow if they’ve been out all bloody night following those damned toffs! Bloody Holt and bloody Reynoldses!” he yelled the last two insults.
So intent on his rhetoric was he, and with his head down against the wind, that Brewer didn’t notice the two heavily clad men standing before him until he walked into one of them.
“What the… ?” Brewer cursed as he stumbled backwards. He was about to get angry, then he saw the look in their eyes. Brewer knew that look. He was from the Southampton sewers and men like this all the time. These were tough men, meaner than a brown bear with a headache.

Unknown to Brewer the two men were downwind of the Englishman and heard his questions cast to the four winds.
“S… Sorry!” Brewer said meekly.
Neither man spoke. They looked from Brewer to one another and back again, neither quite believing their fortune.

“You looking for someone, little man?” one of them asked, his accent definitely from the southern American states.
There was something about the pair that made Brewer nervous and he backed away.
One of the men grabbed Brewer’s collar whilst the other pulled a rifle from his shoulder and pointed it at him.
“You know where Reynolds is?” the rifleman asked.
Brewer still couldn’t speak and could only manage a little whimper.
“Right, let’s see if the Ox can’t loosen that tongue,” the man said and Brewer was unceremoniously dragged up the hill towards the bar.

From the lee of a two storey house a shadow moved, becoming a figure that followed quickly along behind them.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:05 pm

Sumpter Oxley, otherwise known as The Ox or just plain Ox, looked up from his whiskey glass, surprised to see the men he’d only just sent out, coming back in again so soon.

The man with the rifle spoke quietly to the bearded Ox for a moment, then, with a nod from Ox he shoved Brewer into the chair opposite.
“You looking for me?” the O’s gruff voice asked.
Brewer was even more intimidated now. “No,” he said in a high pitched voice.
With a squeak like a stuck pig he fidgeted in the following silence, feeling like he needed to fill it. “I’m just here for Buxley.”
“Buxley?” Ox barked. “Who in hell’s Buxley?”
Malcolm White tensed behind the bar and now, seeing the scrawny features of Brewer he gritted his teeth in anger.
“Buxley? Just some bitch, that’s all.”
The man with the rifle cuffed him across the back of the head. “Lying little shit. Tell Ox what you was saying when you bumped into Luke. You were looking for someone that’s been out all night. Then you said Reynolds’ name.”
Brewer paled.
Ox leaned forward in his chair, his bushy beard curling on the table top.
“Well, speak to me you little shit, or I’ll have the boys here break your damned legs, and that’ll be just for starters.”
“Mr Wade said too look out for you when I was here getting Buxley,” Brewer said so quickly they became almost one long word.
“Why would this Mr Wade say a thing like that?” Ox said in a friendlier tone, changing tact now that Brewer seemed to be talking.
“Because he’s got some information for you, if you’re the ones looking for the Reynoldses.”
Ox’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “And what information would that be?”

“Ah well, see,” Brewer said growing in confidence now the threat of violence had subsided. “Mr Wade’s a businessman…”
Ox snorted a laugh that made Brewer shift uncomfortably.
“All right, rat-boy, you don’t if I call you rat-boy, do you? How much is Mr Wade wanting for this information.
Brewer sat up straighter, pulling his coat into tidier array to give him a little while longer to think.
“Well he said that a couple of toffs like them gots to be worth fifty quid to someone who was interested in where they was hiding.”
Ox’s eyes narrowed further as he visually pierced Brewer’s soul. “Fifty quid? That’s a hunnerd dollars? You think what your Mr Wade knows is worth a hunnerd dollars?”
Brewer shrugged and nodded.
“Why should I not just send my boys out looking and save me the money?”
“Cos no one in town knows where they’ve gone, ‘cept Mr Wade.”
Ox ran his fingers through his beard contemplatively.
Brewer grew nervous in the silence and felt he needed to fill it. “Mr Wade said he could pretty much hand them to you for another hundred dollars.”
“Did he now? Why wold he want to do that?”
“He don’t like them. Got a score to settle, he says.”
“And he’ll tell me where to find them and hand them over for two hundred bucks?” Ox said quietly.
Brewer nodded.
Ox shot across the table grabbing Brewer by the scruff of his coat and pressing his nose into the scrawny man’s. “For that money he’d better had, else your Mr Wade’ll be getting to meet the boys here.” He shoved Brewer back in his chair, the smaller man flailing his arms and knocking the whiskey bottle off the table.
One of Ox’s men smacked Brewer across the head again. “You clumsy fuck!”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:08 pm

Outside the rear of the tavern was partially buried under drift snow, but Baron Roborough Reynolds still managed to locate the hatch to the cellar.
The lock was simple to pick and Reynolds felt he could have done it blindfolded.
He cleared snow off the door and heaved it open.
Snow dropped in clumps from the frame as Reynolds stepped in and pulled the door closed.
It was dark on the steps inside the hatch but a warm glow illuminated the area below.
Slowly, Reynolds crept down the steps and looked about.
The cellar was fairly big, and he saw at once that there were two distinct halves to the room; the part where the barrels and crates of beer were stored and a part where tab-jammers could lay undisturbed.
Reynolds smiled at his luck as he approached the only person making use of the three small beds.

He was conscious that je didn’t want to scare the woman and bring attention on himself from the men in the bar above. He was also conscious that any moment Brewer may come down here to fetch the young woman.
Reynolds jumped as, just as he reached a hand out to touch the young woman there was a loud thump on the floor above.
Moments later, as the Englishman stood poised to withdraw his weapon and start shooting, something splashed onto his hat.
He backed away as a steady stream dripped from the ceiling.
Catching a drop he sniffed it – whiskey. Well at least it wasn’t blood!

He gave Lilly a gentle shake but got no response so the lifted her eyelid to check her pupils but her eyes were rolled back .
It happened to some when they were jamming, and Reynolds took it as a sign that she was still under.
Looking around quickly he found Lilly’s coat and hat on the chair beside the bed.

If he carried her out like this she’d freeze so he had to get her coat on at least.
Grabbing her shoulder he heaved her into a sitting position and struggling with getting her into the fur-lined coat.
Sweating in the comparatively warm atmosphere, Reynolds let Lilly slump back onto the bed and did up the buttons on the coat.
Then he looked t her bare feet and her exposed legs. Surely, thought he, she must have worn something else, but he could find nothing.
The door at the top of the stairs rattled but was found to be locked.
Reynolds remained still, ears straining.
“Keys, now!” he heard a muffled voice order from upstairs.
Quickly, and not caring for Lilly’s modesty the baron lifted the girl’s legs and shoved the boots on her.
He heard the key in the lock as he heaved Lilly up onto his shoulder, thankful to the giant von Stauffenberg for all those exercises he insisted upon.
Even so, the small, girly but dead-weight frame of Lillian May Buxley was more than enough to cause Reynolds an issue. He hoped she came out of the scope really soon.
On slightly wobbly legs, Sebastian Reynolds mounted the steps towards the outside hatch.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:17 pm

“All right then, Rat-Boy,” Ox said, “you’ll get your hunnerd dollars for tellin me where those two Englishmen are. Then if we decide we need help getting our hands on them, we’ll let your Mr Wade earn his money again.”
Ox pulled a worn leather wallet from inside his coat and placed two fifty dollar notes on the table, sliding them towards Brewer.
Jonah’s eyes widened at the sight of the green bills. A hundred dollars, fifty pounds was a lot of money, more than he normally had on his person.
Ox nodded his shaggy haired head at his men who began putting on coats and hats.

Brewer stood too, realising now that he had to earn his keep.
“Where are they then?” Ox growled impatiently.
Brewer was very aware of the rifles the men were carrying.
“The Waterwitch!” he squeaked.
“The what?” one of the men asked.
“The Waterwitch. It’s a boat down the quay. I’ll show you.”
“Indeed you will,” Ox remarked, showing the weaselly little man towards the door.

Malcolm White remained behind the bar, watching the shrew faced Brewer making his deal. It angered him that the man could sell his colleagues ‘down the river’ with such ease, though he knew the man’s propensity for self-preservation came from an experienced source.
White didn’t like Wade much either, though neither he nor Brewer had ever actually crossed him.
But that didn’t mean he had to like what he saw.
As the men stood, readying themselves for the weather outside and, by the looks of it, a fight, White breathed a sigh of relief that Brewer had forgotten why he was here.
Moments later he cursed his own bad ju-ju.

“So, who’s Buxley?” Ox asked once more.
“Shit!” Brewer exclaimed. “I plain forgot her.”
“Who is she?”
“Oh no one important.”
“Who is she?” This time Ox asked the question slowly, his words like the clamour of bricks tumbling over one another.
Brewer froze under the threat in the man’s tone, his face pale.
“Ju… Just a woman is all. But I’d better get her else the skipper’ll not be happy.”
“Your skipper must think she’s something special to send you out on a night like this.”
Brewer gave a squeak of a laugh. “Oh yeah,” he said conspiratorially. “He thinks she’s the best navigator ever lived. But Mr Wade don’t need her telling him how to fly his boat.”
Ox looked over at one of his men, a swarthy fellow with the top of his right ear missing. The man nodded back silently; a ship’s navigator to add to the leverage.
“I don’t see no women here, rat-boy, so where is she?”
“Oh, she’s riding the scope. She’ll be down the cellar probably.”

“Shut your mouth Brewer!” White snapped no longer able to stand by and listen to him give up his crew, especially little Lilly-May.

Ox turned slowly, his eyes boring into White’s. You go about your business, nigger!”
White Glared back at him, not flinching. “This placehere is my business. I don’t want the likes of you in it, so why don’t you and your men leave right now?”
He remained defiant, but in truth he was worried. These men meant business and looked more than capable of handling themselves.
Ox said nothing for a while, just stared hard ay White.
“Where’s the cellar?” he asked at last but White didn’t reply.
“Through that door, then the one in front of you,” Brewer said helpfully.
“Hal!” Ox instructed and the man with the missing chunk of ear strode across the room.
He tried the far door but it was locked.
Ox pulled back his coat revealing a huge chrome plated revolver nestling comfortably in a holster.
Right now the big hairy man resembled something straight out of the Old West.
“Keys now!” his deep, gravelly voice demanded.
“Unless you want to spend tomorrow burying your customers,” the American threatened more quietly.
Malcolm White looked at the patrons of his pub, other than the Americans there were about twenty people in here. Many of them were friends he’d known for years. Most were nearby neighbours.
Despite his fondness for Lilly he couldn’t risk injury to the other just to save her skin. The crew of the Waterwitch were friends, well most of them, but not to the point where he’d sacrifice half the town for them.
With a glare at Brewer, White reached up to a hook above the bar and threw a bunch of keys at Hal.

Pushing the door open slowly Hal drew his pistol and headed confidently down the stairs, followed immediately by two more of Ox’s people.
It took a moment for Hal’s eyes to adjust to the darker lighting down here, but he picked his way through the barrels and crates and saw the red-lit area beyond.

Two of the beds were neat and unused but the third was in some disarray, but there was no-one in it. There was a sudden clatter off to the right and Hal turned, his pistol ready, but he couldn’t see anything.
He moved quickly toward the corner in the wall, his companions in tow.
Hla came to a short set of steps at the top of which was a man struggling to lift a young unconscious woman up onto his shoulder.
“Hold it right there, mister!” Hal warned.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:25 pm

Lord Sebastian James Ambrose Reynolds couldn’t believe his luck when the three men had wlaked right past him. He didn’t think he’d be quite so lucky again so he’d tried to open the hatch door.
It was too heavy to do with Lilly in his arms so he’d had to drop her legs to the ground and ease the door open with one hand.
The wind had caught it though and thrown it open with a loud bang. It had made the Englishman jump and he had lost his grip on Lilly.
In the end he’d had to drag her up onto his shoulder and with unsteady legs step out over the upstand.
That’s when they caught him.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:51 pm

Reynolds froze at the American’s warning.
“Ox!” Hal bellowed. “You’d better get down here.”

Ox, who had been standing silently, his hand on his pistol waiting for Hal to return with some kicking screaming woman in tow, now cast a warning glare at Brewer.
“Keep an eye on rat-boy,” he instructed his remaining men as he strode for the door to the cellar. “And the nigger too,” he added upon seeing the murderous looks White was giving them.
The locals so far had kept out of this; would keep it that way too if they knew what was best for them the big yank thought.
Down in the cellar Ox was surprised to see Hal and the others with their weapons pointing at a stranger. That was until he realised that the stranger was carrying a young woman.

“Seems you got somethin’ I’m wanting there, mister,” Ox’s deep voice was calm, reasonable.
“Why don’t you come on back and put the little lady down?”

Reynolds gave a furtive glance over his shoulder but there was no way he was going to make it without getting shot, or worse, Lilly getting hit.
Reluctantly on shaking legs, paced back down the steps, wary of the guns pointing in his direction.
Luckily for him the men didn’t know who he was. If they did he’d be all the bait they needed to get to Jonathan.
Carefully he lowered Lilly to the hard floor when they instructed him to do so and backed away.
“So, who the hell are you then?” Ox rasped the question Reynolds had hoped they might ignore.
Reynolds didn’t answer, knowing his English accent would be a giveaway.
“You from the crew of this Waterwitch thing too?”
Still Reynolds didn’t answer which made Ox narrow his eyes, his anger rising.
Ox took a step towards the Englishman and Reynolds tensed, but then Ox stopped and seemed to change his mind. Instead he looked down at the unconscious form of Lilly, lying almost at his feet.
“Well you’re either crew or somethin’ more to her than that. Either way, Hal here’s mighty good at getting information outta people.”
The big bearded man crouched down to get a better look at the girl.
“Mighty pretty little thing, ain’t she?” he said lifting Lilly’s skirts and looking up her smooth slender legs. “Mighty pretty indeed.”
He looked up into Reynolds’ eyes but the peer didn’t flinch.
In his head, Reynolds had already pulled his pistol and in almost complete silence put a bullet in each man, but the gun was buried under several layers of clothing and there was no way he’d get it out before the men could react.
“You’re a cold one, ain’t ya?” Ox chuckled. “Don’t find many men’d stand by and watch another take to pawing at his woman without so much as a curse. Don’t reckon I’d be able to watch ‘em doin’ it to any woman under these circumstances neither.”
Ox stood. “You two take the girl up to rat-boy, Hal, bring our mute friend.”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:53 pm

Baron Roborough was led up the stairs at gunpoint following the men who carried Lilly between them.

Jonah Brewer’s mouth went dry when he saw the men carrying Lilly’s body. For a moment he thought she might be dead, and his heart flipped, both excited and nervous at the same time.
If she was dead then Wade would be very pleased, in fact, he might even tell Wade it was him that killed her.
But, and this oddly worried the weasel-like man more, Captain Holt would be very angry. He’d want revenge on whoever was responsible.

He’d likely gather the crew for a fight and there was a chance, a good chance, that Jonah Brewer and Nestor Wade might be amongst the attack party.
Which would mean either man stood a good chance of getting shot.
Brewer didn’t like getting shot; it had happened before...

...Mr Wade had taken a fancy to an Indian merchant’s daughter when they were in Mumbai. Brewer had been posted as look out.
The girl’s father had come home unexpectedly and Brewer had only just managed to slip ahead of him and warn Wade.
By the time Wade had got his clothes on, the girl’s father was at the bedroom door. Wade was already half way out the window, but Brewer had been mesmerised by the naked fourteen year old lying sobbing on the bed.
When the door burst open Wade had thrown himself out landing in the shrubbery beneath.
Brewer had been quick too, grabbing one of the large pillows from the bottom of the bed, and heaving it at the angry, armed father. It had been enough to knock the barrel of the shotgun aside so that it caught against the door frame and the man dropped if giving enough time for Brewer to get to the window.
Then there was a deafening retort and Jonah was lifted out of the window. He fell down into the shrubs below but the pain of the fall was nothing compared to the pain in his tattered backside.
The doctor on board the Witch had pulled forty-two lead pellets from the cheeks of Brewer’s arse...

... So now things were not looking at all rosey for Jonah, and he broke out in a sweat.

“This her?” Ox asked nodding at the slumbering form between the two men.
Brewer nodded back.
“Good. One navigator for one passenger, should be an easy choice.”

The door to the bar opened and an old bearded man shuffled in. He was busy talking to the man coming in behind him and didn’t notice the half dozen men standing there with their weapons drawn.
“Goddamit, Marcus,” he said, “If they put their taxes up any more I ain’t gonna afford it no more. How’s a man s’posed to earn himself a shilling if the Brits keep taking sixpence from every damned one?”
“It’s not just that, Dan,” Marcus said but he didn’t finish his sentence as he did notice the men with the guns.

“Come on in, gentlemen,” Ox said in a loud voice, waving the shiny pistol in his hand. “We ain’t got no quarrel with you now, so just go ahead and get yourself some drinks and let us go about our business unmolested and we’ll do the same with you.”

Old Dan furrowed his bushy brow as he examined the group but he didn’t recognise any of them so he shrugged and moved nonchalantly towards the bar.
Another three men, coated, hated and booted following Old Dan and Marcus in, stamping and shaking the snow from their shoulders.

Ox and his men watched as the men filed in, ignoring the curious and guarded looks they gave them. The last one in, a tall man with a handle-bar moustache, thick mutton-chops and long hair, closed the door and shut out the howling wind.
“Alright men, prepare to move out,” Ox ordered, then he came nearer to Brewer.
“Rat-boy,” he said getting the weasel-like man’s attention. “who’s this?” Ox pointed at Lord Sebastian Reynolds.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:34 am

The shock of seeing Lord Roborough made the words catch in Brewer’s throat so that they came out in a nervous squeak.
Ox’s pistol, chrome plated and heavy barrelled came to rest pressing against Brewer’s forehead.
“Who is he?”
“He’s... he’s...”
Something rolled across the floor and nudged Ox’s boot. He looked down to see what looked like a bean tin.

“He’s with me,” stated a man across the barroom. Ox saw the man who had come in last and shut the door.
He was tall and broad, his eyes narrowed in threat, he wore a big heavy coat and a broad rimmed hat.
But none of that really sank in. What ox was more interested in was the long double barrelled shotgun in his hands.
“He’s Reynolds,” Brewer finally got the words out and the pistol left his forehead swinging for the big man with the shotgun.

He was too slow.

James MacLarren Hartfield pulled the trigger on the old double-barrelled weapon. It bucked in his hands as pellets flew out of the barrel in a shroud of smoke and flame, blasting into Hal and knocking him sideways.
At the same instant the tin can at ox’s feet exploded. There was more noise and a massive shockwave rather than any sort of fireball, but it was enough to blast Brewer and Ox from their feet.
Moreover, it was the thick orange smoke that filled the room that Mac found of more use.
He grabbed a heavy table and pulled it onto its side to use as cover when Ox’s men finally reacted.

Reynolds used the distraction to rush forwards blindly into the smoke. He grabbed one of the men who held Lilly and slipped a knife extracted from the inside of his coat, into the man’s throat.
Reynolds didn’t stop to watch the man fall. He lunged forward, thrusting the knife high. It hit something in the thick orange gloop and there was a yelp of pain.

Gunshots sounded again.
There were yells within the barroom and chaos.
“Somebody find that bastard!” Ox’s voice boomed out.
People were coughing now, the thick smoke hard to breathe.

Reynolds crouched low, examining the floor. He could see a dark orangey silhouette of a person lying motionless on the floor.
Reaching out a hand he found a smooth, warm, bare leg. From there he found a boot, then another, and began dragging Lilly’s unconscious body back towards the cellar.

The shotgun boomed out again and something smashed across the bar.
Reynolds tried to hear where people were but it was no good, there was just too much noise, so he opted for speed instead to get himself and Lilly out of the firing line.

“Goddammit!” Ox roared, “To me! To me!”
Then there was another booming explosion, the shockwave visibly whipping like a tsunami through the orange smoke. And then the smoke became thicker and people began to choke.
Bent double, shuffling backwards dragging a body, his lungs were fit to burst. The first time he realised there was somebody behind him was when his posterior connected with them.
He twisted to get as good a look as he could in the fog. “I’ll give you a hand there mister,” Malcolm White said in a hoarse whisper.
White stepped past Reynolds, grabbed the girl around the waist and heaved her up onto his shoulder like she was one of his beer barrels.
“We’ll go out the back way,” he said leading Reynolds behind the bar.
“Mac!” White yelled seemingly randomly.

James Hartfield felt the bullet rip through his hair, tugging at the strands.
He put his hand to the side of his head but there was no wound.
He heard White’s voice call his name.
He knew the place well enough to know it came from behind the bar and recognised the tones of a man summoning a dog.
He jumped up letting both newly reloaded barrels go in the general direction of Ox’s men, then blindly turning he sprinted for the bar.
Its flat surface loomed out of the orange haze and he leapt up, throwing his legs up over it.
He hit something soft and fleshy and both he and the unknown other crashed unceremoniously through the open door to land in a tangled head on the floor. Orange smoke followed them into the room.

White kicked the door closed and awkwardly turned the key in the lock.
Hartfield looked up first at White then at Lilly and a grin broke across his face.
“Get some damned windows open,” came a muted bellow from inside the tavern.

“Excuse me!” came another muffled voice, this one from under Hartfield’s coat and the big man remembered his soft landing.
Reynolds staggered out from under him and the two looked carefully at one another.
“I believe I asked you to stay on the boat,” Reynolds quipped.
“Did you?” Hartfield grinned.
“Glad you didn’t,” the Lord Roborough replied.

“Reynolds, you son of a goat! You get back here now or I’ll start shootin’ these folks here…” It was Ox’s deep gravelly voice, the sentences broken by fits of coughing.

White, Reynolds and Hartfield exchanged glances, knowing the big American would do it too, were it not for the thick fog obscuring everything.

“Give her to me,” Mac said holding out his arms and taking Lilly from White.
“You give us a minute then you tell that fucker we’ve gone,” the big Canadian said with a sneer.
White was going to protest but then realised what Mac was doing. He was going to lead Ox and his men away from White’s customers.
The black man nodded his consent. “Look after her, and yourself, Mac.”
Reynolds gave the landlord a smile and grateful nod and moved to open the back door for Mac.
“I’ll see your place is fixed up,” Reynolds said.
White said nothing.
“He’s good for it!” Mac said as he stepped out into the cold.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:37 am

The wind seemed calmer than before and merely drove the snow into a chaotic flurry instead of lashing it into skin and eyes.
Darkness made seeing difficult and only the feint glow from the busier dock area of town gave the two men any sense of direction.
Mac nodded and yelled over the wind to head for the glow and headed himself in that direction.
Reynolds rummaged inside his heavy coat pulling a pistol from within and placing it in an outer pocket. He hefted the shotgun into a more comfortable position then just as he was about to follow Mac he flinched at a gunshot from within the pub.

It was too late now, there was very little he could do to help. Running after Hartfield took him away from the building, towards another.
Behind him an orange rectangle formed in the darkness and several coughing men stumbled out into the cold.
Reynolds couldn’t tell if these were Ox’s men or some of the locals.
Another gunshot from within the pub drew the baron’s attention. The silhouetted figures in the pub doorway hurried off into the black.

More figures emerged as Reynolds backed away. Now he could see that their posture was different, upright, less hasty, one even had a rifle in hand. Then the figure of Ox appeared ad Reynolds raised his shotgun.
A hand, hard and strong gripped his arm. “Not now,” Mac whispered. “They don’t know where we are. Let’s use that to our advantage.”
Reynolds knew the Canadian was right and was a little annoyed with himself at his gung-ho attitude.
After all, gung-ho was what he had friends like Commander von Stauffenberg and Lacotte for.

Hartfield led them out across the top of the town heading in the general direction of the zeppelin pylon.
His intention was to come at the quay from that direction, the opposite approach from which anyone coming from the pub would take, normally.

It was hard going and slow too and Reynolds was concerned that the Americans would beat them to the quayside and cut off their approach.
“We need to speed up,” he called to Hartfield. “Is there not a more direct route?”
“Yeah!” Hartfield said turning around to face the Englishman. “But it’ll take us across their path. You want to risk it?”

Reynolds didn’t get the chance to answer.
A bullet thwacked into the side of a house just beyond them and a fraction of a second later it was followed by the sound of the shot.
Both men turned to see shadows approaching.
Mac cursed. “I should have let you shoot the bastard!”
Ox hadn’t gone off blindly into the night searching for them. He had trackers on his team and he was using them now.
The baron quickly assessed his surroundings and saw a three-storey building not too far from them. It had strong looking doors, and bars over the windows.
He dashed across to the building, Hartfield along behind.

At the door Reynolds dropped to his knees and felt around the handle. There were two raised keys embossed on the plate between the handle itself and the keyhole. A Morgan & Prigg; good locks, heavy and complicated but not undoable.
He unbuttoned his coat so that he could get to his tools, extracting two long picks with hooked ends.
“What are you doing?” Hartfield hissed, looking quickly at Reynolds then back into the now empty darkness.
“Never mind,” Reynolds retorted. “You just keep an eye out and shoot anyone coming too close.”

“Well I’m buggered!" the baron muttered after less than a minute as the lock clicked.
Silently he eased the door open. There was no one inside so he entered and ushered Hartfield in.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:16 pm

Reynolds shut the door gently but it was still enough to rattle the keys hanging on a hook on the inside of the door.
Shaking his head in disbelief he used them to lock the door.
“What is this place?” he whispered.
“Constable’s office!” Hartfield said flatly. “Guess this is the first time anyone will have broken into it!”
Reynolds liked the irony. Searching in the complete blackness was going to be impossible so he took out his ether-comm and turned the button.
The small screen on the brass device turned a glowing sickly green colour and cast enough light to see by.
The baron grabbed a chair from behind the constable’s desk and wedged it under the handles of the door.
“Does the constable live here?” Reynolds suddenly inquired.
Hartfield nodded. “I think so.”
“Quietly then,” the Englishman suggested.
It was a statement made pointless by a sudden barrage of gunfire from out in the street. Bullets thwacked into the doors and blasted through the windows and inner shutters.

“What in the name of hell is going on?” came a gruff voice from the rear of the room.
Hartfield and Reynolds immediately turned to see the feint image of a man inside a caged area with greying hair and an unkempt beard. His eyes blinked rapidly, like a man suddenly awoke from sleep; which he was.

More shots were fired and the bullets thudded into the front of the building.
“Get down old timer!” Hartfield urged as a vase on the far wall shattered.

There were sounds of movement from upstairs now, hurried frantic scrapes on the floorboards.
Then sounds of footfalls on the stairs.
A door flew open and a figure bearing a lantern in one hand and a rifle in the other emerged.
Tall, in his mid-thirties, the man wore only boots and the red RCMP tunic over his winter long-johns. A days growth shadowed his jaw giving the man a sallow look.
His face showed his surprise at seeing two additional men in his office.
Seeing the shotgun in Reynolds’ hands he immediately came to a halt, his hands going out and up in a gesture of surrender.
“Relax, constable,” Reynolds said in clear English, laying on a thick aristocratic accent and bringing his own gun to point away from the Mountie.
More shots thudded into the building.
“What?!” was all the constable could muster.
“Long story,” Reynolds replied, shouting over the barrage.
“Needless to say. There are a whole bunch of yanks out there wanting to get hold of my neck, and theirs,” he indicated Hartfield and Buxley.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:45 pm

The constable frowned as another bullet pinged off the bars of the cell to the verbalised disgust of the jail’s occupant.
“All right, why would a group of Americans come all the way up here to get you?”
“They want to use me as leverage to get to my brother. I understand they believe him to owe their employer a debt.”
“And you thought you’d bust in here so they could shoot up my office, did you?”
“The door was unlocked,” Reynolds lied.
The constable’s brow furrowed deeper, he was as sure as it was night that he had locked up. “Well I’m not sure about this,” he said aloofly And marched to the main doors, holding the lantern aloft.
“But I do know I’m going to put an end to it.”
“Don’t be a fool man!” Reynolds scolded. “They aren’t going to be put off by you. In fact they’re likely to shoot the first person they see emerge from this place.”
“We’ll see about that!” the constable countered. “you three are to consider yourselves under arrest!”
“Yeah, okay!” Hartfield grunted derisively.
The constable grabbed the keys and unlocked the door, then slowly he pulled it open a crack and shouted, “HOLD YOUR FIRE!”
He then thrust the lamp out the door ahead of himself.
No shots sounded in response.
Confidently he pulled the door open and stepped out onto the veranda.
It was hard to see beyond the illuminated screen of falling snow. “Hello?” the constable shouted. “This is Constable Richely of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Is there someone in charge I might speak to?”
“What do you want, Mountie?” Ox’s gravelly voice called out from somewhere off in the darkness.
“Well, I want you to stop shooting up my house, for one!” Richley announced in a tone that said ‘isn’t that obvious?’.
“You hand us the Englishman and we’ll be on our way,” Ox said reasonably. Surely the Mountie would see the benefit in that?
“I’m afraid that will not be possible. You see, I placed them under arrest for breaking in to my property and as I am an officer of the law I am now duty bound to see them through due process.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Ox growled.

“They aren’t going for this,” Hartfield warned his countryman from inside the office. “You need to get your ass back in here!”
The constable ignored him.
“It means sir, that they cannot be released until Judge Gross has seen them, and that won’t be until tomorrow afternoon. If you have a legitimate grievance against these men then bring it to the court building tomorrow.” Richley said the words with a degree of finality, exercising his authority.

“Get in here, constable,” Reynolds now advised sternly.

“All right then constable!” Ox’s booming voice echoed into the building. “Here’s what we are going to do…”
With a nod Ox signalled to Cooper, one of his men.
Jefferson Cooper carried a long spencer rifle and could hit a silver dollar at a thousand yards.
This was just too easy for the marksman, even in the low visibility and high winds.

The sound of the shot rang in Hartfield’s ears just a fraction of a second before the sound of Richley’s body striking the front door did. The impact threw the door open wide and the constable’s corpse struck the wooden floor with a wet sounding thud.

“Shit!” the Canadian cursed.
More shots came in, the bullets thudding into the far wall or the wooden planking or into the policeman’s body.
Over the gunfire Reynolds caught the sounds of rapid footfalls.
“Shut the door,” he yelled at Mac.
The big Canadian reached for the policeman’s body to drag him in and clear of the door but a bullet ricocheted off the structure of his mechanical arm, forcing him to retreat behind the door.
With no other choice he shoved the door closed, pushing the lifeless body before it and out onto the veranda.
There wasn’t time to lock it before someone slammed into it, jarring it open again.
Reynolds was already there and pressed the twin barrels into the man’s ribs. He didn’t wait to see if the man got the message and pulled the trigger, blasting the man away in a haze of red.
Hartfield Slammed the door shut again and turned the key in the lock.
“I think we could do with some reinforcements,” the baron said retrieving his ether-comm and dialling his brother’s number.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:46 pm

Jonathan Reynolds was resting in the small cabin that captain Holt had allocated for him.
He was wondering where his brother, Sebastian, had got to. Surely it wouldn’t take this long to get some girl from a bar at the top of town.
Perhaps, the Englishman thought bitterly, his brother had stopped for a pint. The thought annoyed him. After all, it had been Seb who had said they didn’t have time for a beer earlier, and now here he was wasting time and doing exactly what Jonathan was wishing he could do. “Two faced bastard!” he grumbled aloud.
It was at that point that a muted chiming came to his ears.
At first he ignored it, writing it off as yet another odd sound amongst the many on board this strange vessel.
But the chiming persisted and held an odd familiarity to him.
Suddenly his mind cleared and he recognised the chime of his own ether-comm.
Flipping open the brass lid the image of his brother’s head floated above the miniature etherscope screen.
“Seb!” he said genuinely surprised.
“Jonathan, is Holt with you?” Lord Reynolds asked.
“Go and find him quickly.”
Jonathan struggled to understand his brother over the loud din coming from the ether-comm’s speakers.
“Sorry Seb, did you say find Holt? Can’t hear you over that god-awful racket. What is that?”
“That’ll be gunfire, Jonathan. And yes, get Holt right now.”
Another retort sounding over the device spurred Jonathan into action.
He sprinted along the passageway , bursting onto the bridge to see Holt in conversation with a young girl.
Both stared at him as he burst through the doorway and stood panting for breath. In the end Jonathan just handed the ether-comm to the captain.
Not used to such devices Holt said, “Erm… Hello?”
“Captain Holt!” came the crackly reply. “We have located Buxley but are pinned down by the Americans who seek my brother. They want to ransom me in exchange for Jonathan, I think. Could you send men to help?”
“Where are you?” Holt asked, incredulous.
“We’re in Richley’s office captain.” Hartfield grunted as he thrust the shotgun out a hole in the door and fired both barrels.
“It is, Reynolds replied. “Luckily for me!”
Holt held off any sort of reprimand until later. “I won’t risk sending a group of my men in the dark, Lord Reynolds, so I guess we’ll just have to all come and get you.”
“Thanks,” Reynolds said and flicked off the comm.

Holt handed the ether-comm back to Jonathan and immediately turned away from him bellowing, “Mr Gecko?”
“Aye, sir?” came a response from outside the bride.
Jonathan looked to see who might be coming.
Gecko wasn’t a big man, but his visage was probably more threatening. He was of average height, his dark hair cropped short at the sides and back and cut tight on top, a haircut more akin to the military than modern fashion. There was a tattoo that crept up his neck showing above the collar of the crisp white shirt he wore under a dark grey waistcoat. It was his eyes, of steel grey, Jonathan decided, that gave him an aura of a man not to be trifled with.
“Sound the general alarm and prepare to cast off,” Holt ordered.
“Aye, sir!” Gecko replied, crossing to a console at the rear of the bridge. With the flick of a switch a persistent ‘ding-ding’ sounded throughout the aging submarine.
Gecko retrieved a hand-set from the console and spoke into the mouthpiece. “General Alarm. General Alarm. All hands to your posts. Prepare to cast off.”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:47 pm

Jonathan Reynolds had not moved. He stared incredulously at Holt and then at the fearsome Gecko, trying to get his head around what was happening.
Eventually he could contain himself no longer as crewmen came onto the bridge and took positions at various stations.
He saw Nestor Wade step onto the bridge with a grin. “We off, captain?” the inquired cheerfully, noting the absence of a certain female navigator.
Holt was in no mood for Wade’s games. In fact Holt was down-right seething. Both Reynolds and Hartfield had left the vessel without permission and without his knowledge. The fact irked him.
“Just get to your post, Wade, and keep your mouth shut,” Holt growled.
Wade pulled a face but did as he was told, aware of Gecko’s penetrating gaze boring into the back of his skull. He slipped into the helmsman’s seat and got comfortable.

“Er, excuse me Captain Holt, might I have a word?” Jonathan called from his spot on the bridge deck.
“Not now Mr Reynolds,” Holt replied.
“But I must insist, sir!”
With a huff of annoyance Holt turned on the man. “Yes?” he barked.
“I don’t understand. You told my brother you were going to send everyone, yet you’re making plans to leave? What’s going on?”
“We are going to get your brother and my wayward crewmen back.” Hol;t said as though a patient parent explaining something to a dim-witted child.
“We are?” Wade asked in disbelief. “Thought we were running for it? Hell, if his brother decidied to get off I say we leave him here.”
“Wade!” Gecko warned from his position on the port side of the bridge.
“Naw!” Wade complained. “Way I see it, we’ve been paid to see Mr Reynolds here home safe. So we should do just that, sod anyone else.”
“ENOUGH!” Holt yelled, his anger boiling over. “This isn’t a goddamned democracy! You’ll bloody well do as you are told or you’ll get off my goddamned boat!”
“Is that so?” Wade muttered under his breath too quietly for anyone to hear.
He didn’t noticed Seth Gecko’s steady gaze as he mouthed the words.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:48 pm

“Seth,” Holt said, a little calmer. “They’re holed up in the constable’s office. When we get there I want you on the crane with the man-basket. Have a few men with rifles on deck too. They probably won’t be able to see much but if someone shoots at you then they should be able to give you enough covering fire to keep their heads down.

“I’m sorry!” Jonathan said, exasperation obvious in his voice. “Crane? Captain, they’re at the top of the hill. The crane won’t reach.”
“I know that thank you, Mr Reynolds.”
Holt gently shoved him aside as he went to look at a series of dials on the aft bulkhead. “That’s why we’re going to move closer.”
“Ha! Is everyone going mad? This is a submersible ship. They’re at the top of a hill. We can’t get any closer!” Jonathan was almost pleading for the captain to comprehend what he was saying to him.
Holt turned on him and Jonathan thought he was going to unleash another furious blast, but instead he had a smile, a grin, breaking out on the side of his mouth. “This isn’t just a submersible ship, Mr Reynolds, this is the Waterwitch!”
The way he said it made it sound as though that were the end of the argument.
Jonathan threw his arm out in frustration and was about to scream when a soft cool hand gently grabbed his.
The hand’s owner was the young girl the captain had been talking to when Jonathan had burst onto the bridge.
She smiled at him. “It’s okay, Mr Reynolds, relax. I gather this is your first time aboard the Witch?”
Reynolds nodded, struck dumb by the innocent beauty of the girl.
“Daddy knows what he is doing, and he’s just toying with you. But I won’t ruin the surprise, it’ll blow your mind. Why don’t you and I sit back here, out of the way, and just watch.” She led him to a stool next to a chart table, holding his hand reassuringly. “I’m Paige, by the way,” she added.
He looked at her properly. She had long dark hair, straight as a die. Her face was narrow with full lips and a mischievous glint in her hazel eyes.
She was thin, but Jonathan put that down to her youth rather than a lack of nourishment. Fifteen, sixteen tops, he placed her.
There was something familiar about her. “Do I know you?”
Paige Holt smiled at him, then self-consciously let go of his hand. She’d never dream of behaving in so forward a manner with a gentleman back home in London, yet here, on her father’s ship she felt comfortable enough to behave in any way she pleased.
“You do, sir,” she answered Jonathan’s question, going red in the face. “I work in your brother’s house in Knightsbridge. I am one of the maids.”
“Really?” Jonathan wondered why he didn’t recognise her.
“It’s okay,” she smiled as though reading his thoughts. “You came over to London last summer with your family and stayed with us. I guess I’m doing my job right if you don’t notice me.”
“All the same, I should at least have seen you and not to recognise you is almost shameful.”
Paige laughed. “I guess I look a little different now.”
She did. Back in London, when she was working she would wear her maids livery, her long hair tied up and away beneath a white cloth cap. Now she was dressed in trousers and a loose shirt , more akin to the ladies of western frontier towns
“Well I shall ensure I pay you more attention in the future, Miss Holt,” Jonathan apologised.
He looked at her for some time whilst the crew busied themselves. She brought home so many memories. His wife and children were in their home in Montreal. He’d been a fool to leave them there, he suddenly realised.
Of course, he could never have brought them up here, but this turned out to be a doomed venture anyway. One that could have cost him his life were it not for his brother’s timely arrival.
“How old are you?” he asked Paige.
Jonathan smiled. “I have a daughter, only a couple of years younger than you. I think you’d get on.”
“Miss Nicola, I know, sir. I’m sure we would get on but the staff aren’t allowed to mix with the guests like that, sir.”
“Nonsense! Who says, Sebastian?”
“No sir, Mrs Morris, the senior housekeeper.”
Jonathan said nothing more as he was interrupted by Gecko’s call of “We’re loose, captain!”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:49 pm

Captain Holt, instead of sitting in his chair, stood by the forward bridge windows and watched as two of his thirty-five strong crew wound the mooring lines around a pair of steel bollards in a figure of eight then tied them securely and locked the ends in place.
Once they were done he grabbed a communications hand-set and called the engine room. “O’Clare, I hope for your sake, and Hartfield’s that you’ve got my boat ready,” the captain said sternly.
“That we have sir!” came the crackly reply over the speaker mounted above the console.
Holt said nothing as he replaced the hand-set.
Moving now to his chair he perched on the edge, his hands together, elbows on his knees. “Take her up, Mr Gecko,” Holt told the first mate.
“Up?” Jonathan Reynolds asked in bewilderment. No one answered, but Paige just smiled at him.
Seth Gecko paced across the bridge to stand alongside the helmsman.
“Extend the bow planes.”
A crewman pulled a lever and at the forward end of the vessel the two huge paddle like fins that were stowed in an almost upright position hinged down, driven by huge pistons.
A light turned from red to green above the lever.
“Bow planes ready!” the crewman called.
“Open thrust ports,” Gecko called.
More levers were pulled and more lights went from red to green .
“Helmsman, hold her steady, thirty yards a minute lift,” Gecko instructed.
Wade grabbed a lever to his left and pulled it towards him a fraction.
From deep within the bowels of the submarine came a whooshing rumbling sound then a steady hum that seemed to be very slowly increasing in pitch. Shortly afterwards this was followd by a series of crunching noises that reminded Jonathan of rivets popping.
He cast a concerned look at Paige.
“It’s the ice breaking away from the hull. We’ve been here a while and it won’t want to let us go.”

“A little more lift please, Helm,” Gecko suggested.
The humming changed pitch again when Wade pulled the lever a little more.
There was a jolt as the ice finally let go and Jonathan felt the submarine rocking in the water.

Gecko looked out the windows into the black night, seeing only the flurrying snow flakes reflecting the lights of the bridge back at him. “Lights out!” Gecko ordered.
“I’ve got it,” Paige said, jumping down from her stool and darting over to the panel of switched by the door.

When the lights were out Jonathan expected to be plunged into absolute darkness, however, the various dials, indicators and panels remained lit so that the bridge seemed as though illuminated by not quite enough candles.
Gecko flicked a switch and huge search-lights came on at the bow, and more on the fin structure, lighting up the foredeck and the harbour beyond.

Unable to contain his curiosity now, Jonathan went to stand by the front windows.
He frowned because it looked as though the quayside was a lot lower than he expected.
Paige joined him and laughed at his dumbfounded expression.
“Are we… are we going up?” he almost whispered.
“Yes, Mr Reynolds, we are.”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:51 pm

Slowly, rocking slightly in the wind, the Waterwitch broke away from the surrounding ice-sheet and rose above the aging quay like some mythic dragon finally awoken from a long, deep slumber.
Huge chunks of ice fell away from her hull to splash into the freezing water.
The whole vessel hummed with contained power as she crawled skyward.
Seaweed and other marine growth hung from her keel like tassels on a curtain, dripping icy water which flew away on the wind and was ice itself before it hit the ground.
“You know where the constable’s place is Wade?” Holt asked thinking it a ridiculous question to ask the scoundrel.
“Aye, sir,” Wade replied sounding dejected.
Wade turned the wheel and at the same time pulled another lever.
An ether-port in the port side forward diving plane opened up, venting volatile ether into the atmosphere, causing thrust and pushing the bow to starboard. At the same time he pushed both feet forward on their pedals, opening the throttle on the engines at the rear of the sub, making the witch begin a tight turn to the right.

The town swept into view below and Wade moved the sub higher, clearing the taller hotel as the bow arced around.
He pushed the Witch forward following the line of the street that led up towards the top of the hill.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:53 pm

“We’ve got you pinned Reynolds,” Ox called out. “Don’t make this worse. You come on out now and we’ll let your big friend and the woman go.”
Hartfield looked over at Reynolds, who was sat with his back against the outer wall.
“What?” the baron asked.
“Just wondering if you were considering it?” Hatfield replied.
“I honestly wasn’t. I suppose you think me heartless? It would be the gentlemanly thing to do.” Reynolds broke open the shotgun and removed the two spent rounds.
“Good. I think it would be a damned stupid idea. Just wanted to see where we stood, is all.”
Reynolds shrugged. “Right now we’re better off than them. It’s a damn sight warmer in here than out there. They’ll be getting colder every minute and they’ll try getting in again, just because it’s better than sitting around in the snow. But this place is strong enough to hold them off for a bit so I say we stay put, but keep alert, and wait for Holt to come and get us. That’s where I stand, you’re welcome to join me.”
Hartfield grinned. “You’re all right, for a toff!”
“So where’d a baron learn to pick locks and sneak about so good?”
“Ah, well, that’s the million pound question! And not one I’m going to answer , I might add. You see, my title grants me some degree of privilege, one such instance being that my secrets are my own to keep!”
Again Hartfield grinned, pulling Lilly’s unconscious body closer and wrapping his arms around her. “I’m just glad for whatever reason you’ve had for acquiring such skills! Bloody hell, she’s cold.”
Reynolds peered around the gloomy room, the light fom upstairs shining down and out through the open door was barely enough to see by. He spotted a heavy fur coat and placed it over Lilly’s exposed legs.
He went upstairs and found the constable’s bedroom. It was warmer in here, what with the fire burning low in the fireplace.
“Bring her up here, Mac,” Reynolds called quietly down the stairs.
The drapes were pulled and the fire too low for any light to penetrate so Reynolds felt sure the men outside would not realise they’d moved away from the front doors.

Hartfield arrived with Lilly and placed her on the bed. “If they get in, we’ll have the devil’s own job holding them back.”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:12 pm

The world slowly came back into focus.
Bright light shone through the curtains bathing the room in a soft yellowish sheen.
The room was lightly decorated, bright white woodwork framing soft peach walls.
Lillian May Buxley rolled over on the bed, soft and sumptuous.
She sat up, wondering where she was. Had she dreamed about being kidnapped? If so, how had she come to this place? Which brought her back to her original question: where?
She looked down at herself as she moved and saw the long split-legged skirt open almost to her crotch.
“This is the scope?” she whispered. Lilly knew she didn’t actually own such a garment and only her avatar dressed this way.
Climbing off the bed she went to the only door in the room. It opened easily, leading to a short passageway with yet another door at the end.
Lilly moved along it, and the door behind her slammed shut. She turned and ran back but the door was locked.
Turning back to the far door she opened that one.

Lilly was in a round room with a dozen doors leading off from it, not including the one she’d just come through.

Only one other object occupied the room, a single throne-like chair of a red leather and dark stained wood.
The chair was on a circular raised dais and currently had its back to Lilly, but as she looked at it, it began to revolve, so that its occupant was revealed.

Eric Schimler’s avatar sat like a king of old in the ornate throne.
He fixed Lilly’s buxom form with a penetrating stare, but said nothing.

Lilly fidgeted uncomfortably but she did not move.

At last Schimler broke the silence. “Good day, Miss Buxley.”
“How the hell are you keeping me here, Eric?” Lilly blurted angrily.
With a nonchalant shrug Schimler answered replied. “Surely you need to be worrying less about the how, and more as to the why?”
Lilly returned the nonchalant shrug.
“Oh come now child, let’s not be so flippant. Let me explain.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Lilly said not wanting to plat along.
“Oh, but this isn’t for your benefit, my dear, it’s for theirs,” Schimler indicated the rounded lens mounted on the wall above the door which Lilly had come through.
She recognised the device as an ether-imager, allowing someone to watch what is happening in this part of the scope from outside the scope altogether.
“Who’s watching?” Lilly demanded, trying to keep the panic from her voice.
“Nobody, yet. But all this is being recorded and I will send it to Captain Holt, with my compliments. He’ll be getting a daily account of your progress.”
A smile broke out on the avatar’s plastic-like face.
“You see, Lilly, it was my intention to just subject you to random torture over a prolonged period until your mind broke, but I thought that would be just brash and un-gentlemanly.”
“Thanks,” Lilly was certainly not grateful, as her sarcasm laden tone implied.
“Well,” Schimler stretched the word out as though he was doing Lilly some massive favour that was not too much trouble. “You deserve at least some glimmer of hope that you could survive this ordeal unscathed. Hence here you are,” he waved his hands out wide indicating the room.

He looked at the lens. “You see, captain, behind one of these doors is an escape – a door generator that will open a gate to Royal Park in New London. However, behind the other eleven doors lays a good deal of unpleasantness for young miss Buxley here.”
Schimler grinned wickedly at Lilly.
“Oh, my dear Holt! You should see the odd colour Buxley’s face has gone. I didn’t think avatar’s could blush or blanch but apparently I was wrong. Don’t worry you’ll know how she gets on; I’ll be recording that too.”

“This is really a game of pure chance though. Once the door is closed, the destinations change randomly, so choosing the wrong door today doesn’t mean it will be the wrong door tomorrow!”

His attention back on Lilly he asked, “So my sweet, which door will it be?” The corners of Schimler’s mouth turned up as he revelled in the moment.
“I’m not playing your silly games, Eric, you sick bastard,” Lilly spat folding her arms in child-like defiance.

“Oh but you will, Lillian,” Schimler waved a hand and a glowing green screen appeared on the floor.
“Here are addresses, well street names really, of every borough of the Great Metropolis. Failure to comply with my rules means I send men to one of those streets, you get to pick which, where they will begin looking for children. Once they find one they will kill him or her, eventually.”
“You bastard!” Lilly spat. “Even you couldn’t be so heartless?”
“When it comes to holt and his crew, namely you at this juncture, I will do anything. So, are we going to pick a street for our first victim, or are we going to play the game? Refuse this and I’ll pick a street for you, and then a door too!”

“All right you fucker, I’ll play your damned game.”
Lilly’s jaw was set firm and she glanced at the lens, a beaten look in her eyes.
“Good girl! Pick a door.”
Lilly walked across the room to a door positioned at her three o’clock.
She opened the door to find another corridor similar to the one leading from the plush bedroom.
A glance at Schimler earned her a patronising smile from the German and he waved her inside.

The almost wax-like avatar turned to the recording lens. “You may want to look away, James. Although I hear Mr Wade may find this amusing!”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:08 am

It came from downhill, or so it at first appeared to Sumpter Oxley as he stood in the lee of a building, sheltering from the wind.
It was a glow, like the coming dawn, but hours too early.
His men were spread out thin, keeping a close eye on the constable’s office from all available angles just in case Reynolds tried to make a break for it.
Ox was a patient man and could wait a while longer.
Most of the townsfolk, it seemed, weren’t too keen on coming to investigate what all the shooting was about, although one old lady had barked out of her window for them to keep the noise down. “If you’re going to be shootin’ them guns, do it quietly,” she had said.
Luke, the man on the receiving end of that blast had told her he would.

The strange glow was becoming steadily brighter.
“What the?” Luke said beside him. He had a better view down the street.
Ox moved to the corner and peered around seeing that there were now three incredibly bright lights in the sky, lights that were moving towards them.
“Well what have we got here?” he muttered, then said louder, “Luke, go get Cooper.”
Luke nodded and sprinted off into the darkness.

Moments later he returned with Jefferson Cooper in tow.
“Yes, boss?” Cooper asked.
“I’m thinking they’ve sent a search party out lookin’ for Reynolds. Probably some kind of ornithopters I would guess. They must be pretty desperate to get hold of them sending them out in this weather. Take your time and pick your shots, but keep an eye on the jail; I don’t want them getting away.”
Cooper nodded, then scurried over to a frozen trough which looked like a good place to hunker down.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:10 am

James Hartfield noticed the increased light too. “That’s got to be the Witch,” he said.
“They’ll have the doors covered, I suggest we head up again, the roof if we can,” said Reynolds.
Hartfield nodded his consent and picked Lilly up gently. The back of her knee and calf muscle rested on his mechanical arm and it saddened him that he couldn’t feel the soft smooth skin touching his.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:12 am

“Dammit, Luke, I’ve waited in the cold long enough!” Ox said impatiently. “Charlie still got the dynamite?”
Luke shrugged but in the darkness Ox couldn’t see it so he added, “Yep!”
Ox sighed, Charlie lay dead on the pub floor, his clothes soaked in his own blood from a stab wound in his throat.
“Grab someone, head back there and get me them ‘splosive’s. kill anyone gets in your way, or even looks like they might.”

Those damned lights were getting brighter, casting an almost twilight glow over this part of town. With the snow coming in swirls and flurries whipped up by the wind it was threatening to be a white-out.

Lighting a cigar for a bit of warmth, Ox leaned in close to the wall and concentrated on the constables office.
He’d had no real dislike of either Reynolds brother, they were just another job, but things had changed. Ox’s men had suffered casualties at their hands and that couldn’t go unanswered. Yes, he’d hand over Mr Jonathan Reynolds to his employer, but this other one – he’d just have to die.

There was a sudden sporadic burst of gunfire from way off in the darkness, back in the direction of the pub.
“Sheeit!” Ox cursed, drawing out the word.

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:16 am

“We’ll be on the roof,” Lord Reynolds’ voice crackled over the ether-comm.
“I understand, we’ll be there shortly,” Holt said as the Waterwitch rocked in the high winds.
“Keep her steady, Mr Wade,” Holt said having dismissed Jonathan and his ether-comm with a wave of his hand.
Wade’s jaw clenched in annoyance at the captain’s comments, even though he knew there was nothing incorrect about them.
He was annoyed at everything right now from holt and his orders, to the very task they were undertaking. But he was the helmsman, and he’d be damned if he’d let anything seem too much for him so he gritted his teeth, clamped his mouth firmly shut and used his quite respectable skills to keep the floating behemoth in a straight line.

“I reckon we’re about there,” Mr Gecko called from his vantage point at the windows.
“Very good! All stop Mr Wade. Seth, get down to the crane and guide us in.”

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Re: Waterwitch

Post by Keeper » Fri May 04, 2012 9:36 pm

Sumpter’s jaw hung open as the gigantic hull loomed out of the snow swept darkness.
Dirigibles and zeppelins were nothing new to Oxley, but this? This was a ship, as far as he could tell, a ship floating almost majestically through the night sky.
He guessed his men must have been thinking the same thing as he’d not heard any shots, despite his orders to take out what he thought to be ornithopters. How could they hope to dent this thing?

Seth Gecko was sitting in the cab of the crane mounted on the forward hull of the Witch. He shifted uncomfortably on the freezing seat as he relayed orders and directions back to the helmsman.
With the Witch in position he lowered the box over the side, one of is men acting as banksman, guiding the crane hook over the side of the vessel and down towards the roof of the constable’s office.

The street and the rooftop were now illuminated by the massively powerful lamps from the Witch.
Ox considered ordering his men to shoot them out, but the added light also worked to his benefit.
Cooper now had a perfect view onto the roof and would be able to shoot anyone who emerged onto it.
Ox moved over to where Cooper was huddled.
“Coop!” he said getting the man’s attention. “Can you see the man driving that crane?”
“What about the one guiding it?”
“Wait ‘til you can see Reynolds on the roof then take that man out. After that do Reynolds’ friend if you got sight of him.”

There was a dorma window opening out onto the roof.
Hartfield opened it, sliding the sash upwards.
The wind howled in through the opening and Reynolds shivered, pulling his coat tighter.
James glanced out of the window as a shadow passed over it. The box-cage, a contraption similar to an elevator was slowly lowering down towards him. There was a loud thump as the cage hit the roof and then a scraping sound as it slid down the tiles.
The big Canadian cast a glance around again, looking for any sign of Ox’s men. He knew they were out there, and he knew they had a marksman with them. In fact, he was convinced that that marksman was right now beading up on him as he positioned himself with one leg either side of the sill.
When no shots came he was amazed.
“Okay, Seb, get ready with Lilly.”
Reynolds slipped his hands under the woman’s back and her legs and hoisted her up into his arms.
Hartfield grabbed the cage and pulled it in closer, hooking hi outside leg around the structure to hold it there so that he could have both arms free.

“Wait for it!” Ox whispered in Cooper’s ear as he watched Hartfield drag the young woman’s unconscious body out.
Then Reynolds appeared, reaching out and grabbing the cage to steady it.
“Now!” Ox roared.

The gunshot made both Reynolds and Hartfield flinch but the bullet never came near them, though they heard yelling from the vessel above.

Men appeared along the upper deck of the Witch, all of them armed.
Ox saw them and swore.
A ripple of gunfire echoed out across the sky as the men of the Witch fired towards Oxley’s position.

The two Americans hunkered down behind the trough, both very glad that its contents were frozen solid.

James Hartfield heaved Lilly into the cage, his mechanical arm making it look easy.

More shots rang out around the constables office as Ox’s remaining men fired on the witch.
The distraction was enough to get Cooper in position.

James McLarren Hartfield repositioned himself on the windowsill, ready to leap onto the cage which had now swung out away from the building as strong gusts caught the Waterwitch broadside on.
He waited, perched on the ledge for it to swing back. Glancing into the room Reynolds gave him a nod and Mac grabbed the frame determined to give himself as much leverage as possible.

Then his body jerked, and Reynolds saw red mist erupt from the big Canadian’s throat.
Leaning back as he was, Hartfield crashed into the room. His eyes were wide with shock and he struggled for breath as his lungs filled with blood.
Reynolds was beside him then, his hand pressing to the gaping wound. “Hold on!” he urged as he reached with his other hand for his ether-comm.
A cold steel hand gripped his and Reynolds stopped, looking into Mac’s eyes.
The pair of them both knew Mac was as good as dead.
Unable to push sufficient air through his ruined throat Hartfield mouthed the word “Lilly!”
Reynolds gave Mac a reassuring smile, “I will,” he said.
Again Mac mouthed, “Love her,”
Reynolds nodded. “I’ll tell her.”
A wry smile turned the corners of Hartfield’s mouth up and Reynolds wondered what that meant.
“It was an honour meeting you, Mr Hartfield,” the baron said with all honesty and he stayed there, gripping Mac’s flesh hand until he felt the man’s grip loosen and finally fall away.

Reynolds’ visage became one of vengeful wrath. “Bastards!” he snarled.


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