Tecumsah said, “Get her back to the ships and getting in a healing pod. I’ll head back to O’Douls. I want to see how many of these reliables come back after that cock up.”
Suresh grunted and headed off a side street with Nessa in tow. Tecumsah watched the burning Pig and Cow from a shadowed alley as two pumping trailers pulled up and started dousing the buildings with water. Their target was already steaming as if some fire suppression had acted. The attached market was blazing brightly even though no beams had been fired directly into it. Other humans had organized a line of buckets to throw on other houses where small fires were trying to start. They were remarkably cooperative and acted quickly in a crisis. If he understood the local history and science, they had reached the industrial age very quickly and were on the cusp of scientific inference without much help. He could understand why the senior races in the Guild feared Earth: very little would stay the same if they got out of this swamp. He straightened his broad flat hat and closed his coat to the light mist and headed to O’Douls to watch his potential partners.
At O’Doul’s a small number of the original fifteen returned. The barkeep pulled the sandwich board in and turned the closed sign out and ushered four angry drunks out onto the street. Tecumsah moved up to the alcove next to the bar and heard the shouting.
“Are they bloody well trying to burn the town down?”
“What the hell is going on?”
Finally Chester shouted, “Enough”
Tecumsah moved closer to the door and heard Cedric speak, “Miller and one of his flunkies started firing back. Sorry, we didn’t know that was going to happen.”
There was more shouting and then Chester shouted again, “Enough… did ‘ya think we’re going to take over without a fight? You got back…at least the smart ones did. Where are the others?”
There was a female voice, “Rob and Ronnie said they didn’t sign up to be shot at.”
“They always preferred picking on little guys.” There was laughter. “What about you? Cedric and I have to leave…for obvious reasons. We are heading to London and taking on a new target. We’ll be meeting some of Winifred Stanhope’s circle. Are you in?”
Two voices spoke up and said, “This is getting a bit more than we thought.”
Cedric spoke, “Sorry to hear that Willa, Farrell. I think you should leave.”
Tecumsah quickly ducked into an alley. The two came out and stopped on the landing of the bar. The glow of the fire and the crowd were finally waning. The man said, “Jesus Christ, I was told we were getting weapons. That is insanity. Even if we win, all we’ll have left is rubble.”
The woman spoke, “When we started, it was just to scare the government.” She paused, “That’s just bloody crazy.”
The man said, “I am probably going to stay low for awhile.”
The woman said, “I think I will be visiting my aunt in the north.”
They took a side street away from the main road. Tecumsah followed. At another crossed street they parted ways. Tecumsah followed the man for two houses. At a dark spot between houses and lights, Tecumsah rushed up and tackled the man harshly. As he landed, he held the man’s head and there was a sicking crunch. He looked down the road. The woman was still walking away. As he closed the distance, she turned into a house. As she started to walk up on the porch, he grabbed her from behind, covering her mouth and lifting her off the ground. His hand covered her mouth and nose. His second arm pushed into her belly pushing the air out. She struggled harshly kicking her boots and trying to make muffled screams. Eventually the kicks became weaker and then she slumped. Down the street was an abandoned house with an odd pond. He took her body to the house and dropped it inside. He ran and repeated the process with the man. So far as he could tell, no one had been on this lawn in over a year. The cool weather would hold the stench down and he would be long gone before the bodies were found.
Tecumsah returned to the bar, straightened his coat and hat and walked in. There were 11 left. He looked at Cedric and Chester, “This is your group?”
Cedric replied “The Dunstable brigade. London has more.”
Tecumsah said, “Good. Before we go, you need to deal with Rob and Ronnie. I have already dealt with the other two.”
Cedric’s face went wan, “Dealt with?”
Tecumsah said, “They knew too much just as Rob and Ronnie know too much. The barkeep who so annoyed you has more knowledge and capability than I expected. I want no loose ends here that might…jeopardize our ongoing relationship.”
Cedric stuttered, “What do you want us to do?”
Tecumsah smiled at Chester, “Can you explain it to him?”
Chester took a puff on his now small cigar, “Cedric. Quanah here has killed Willa and Farrell as a precaution.” The human winked at Tecumsah. “I think we are being given our first test. We are to deal with Rob and Ronnie in an equally expeditious fashion.” He waved to the group, “In fact, I’ll take volunteers for this small task. Tecumsah might even provide tools to help.” Emily, <>, <> and <> raised their hands. Cedric sat down as Chester smiled broadly, “That’s the can do spirit.” He looked at Tecumsah and said, “If you have some support for the team, I think the results will be far more satisfying.”
Tecumsah stood and headed to the door, “Meet me outside.” He looked back at the group, “I hope for your sakes this turns out better than our last venture.” He stepped outside and then explained how the hand beam guns worked to the group of four.
This section and the next are after the fight in front of the Pig and Cow. I am not great at describing deaths or killing people. I read and edited a friend’s first chapter of a mystery. Oh my, such gore in such loving detail. Not my style but I can admire the art.
I will have the aftermath from Stephan and friends tomorrow.