London, July 1862
At York road, they made an easy left and worked towards Eagle Wharf road. He parked the taxi outside the warehouse.
She looked at the rig and horse. “We really ought to move your horse and carriage inside.”
“What about food and water for my nag?” Liam protested.
Millicent threw up her hands. “I don’t know Liam. We won’t be here long now so it doesn’t really matter now. But it will in the future. Make sure your horse stays here. She seems smart and rather attached to you. Let her know we won’t be long and I will make sure she isn’t disturbed.”
“No call to be rude. I think it was a perfectly fine question.” Liam said sounding put out.
Millicent groaned as she headed for the door. Liam put an oat bag on the horse and scratched her ears. The horse eyed him. “Wait here a moment girl.” He said somewhat embarrassed that he was talking to the horse. The horse chuffed surprising him. It hadn’t been that expressive before. Millicent shouted from the door. “She’ll stay. You continue to underestimate her intelligence. Now come along. We need to collect some things, get you scanned, and then you will need to collect Rachael and John. “
Liam came up. “You certainly are a bit tetchy right now.”
“Inside Mr. O’Hannigan.” Pointing to the open door. Liam walked over the door frame and followed her inside. She said “Charles, watch the horse and taxi outside. Make sure she isn’t disturbed.”
“And if she is?” a sonorous voice asked.
“Non-lethal means. Mr. O’Hannigan and I will deal with the assailants afterwards. Also evaluate your surroundings for the best location for her and the buggy,“ she said.
“Millicent…aren’t the rats enough? Must I tolerate a horse?” the voice protested.
“Charles! I expected better of you. She is quite intelligent. I think she would be pleasant company while we run errands,” Millicent protested and sounded a bit hurt.
Liam stared at her and whispered, “Are you talking about Becky?”
Millicent hissed back, “Of course I am. Who else would I be talking about?”
“And who cleans up after her? I will not have my servitors mucking out stables,” the voice protested.
Liam sounded annoyed, “Do I have to put up with this prig?”
Millicent answered to Liam, “Yes you do for the moment.” Then she said to the ceiling, “Charles, someone will clean the stable if you will tell us where it should be and how it should be set up.” There was not quite an audible sigh in the voice. They walked to the forward portion of the vessel. Millicent said “Door” and the hatch opened and a set of stairs lowered. Bragging a bit, Millicent said “the back entrance lowers a ramp you could pull your buggy up. Are you coming Mr. O’Hannigan?”
Liam was at the bottom of the stairs looking up. “I’m not sure. Is this Charles wanker up there?”
The sonorous voice protested as well, “Millicent, I will tolerate the horse. He is another matter.”
Millicent snapped, “Quiet both of you. Mr. O’Hannigan, I need you up here right now. First, I want Charles to check the progress of your inoculation. Second, you need some additional defense options. I will provide those. Now get up here.”
Liam looked reluctant, but her voice was not to be brooked. He climbed up the stairs to a height of about a story and half. As he reached for the rail, he yelped “Ouch!” Millicent barked “Charles! Stop that. I will have your servitors mucking the stables for the duration if this continues. And if that isn’t enough, they will clean out the canal. “
“I am so sorry. There must have been a short in the system,“ the voice said.
Millicent said sharply, “Do not play games with me now. I am not in the mood.”
“He did that?” Liam sounded irritated.
“Yes he did and he can hear you. Why don’t you two trade insults while we head to the medical bay,” Millicent snapped at him.
“Medical bay?” Liam sounded alarmed.
“We need to check how your inoculation is working. I am having some more made and I want to see how yours is progressing,” Millicent said striding up the stairs quickly.
“You don’t know?” Liam sounded alarmed.
Charles spoke, “No. I ran out of rats.”
“Charles – not helping. I required you to be safe. The inoculation will work but I need to know it’s progress in you,” Millicent said.
“Charley – is she telling the truth?” Liam asked.
“She omits; she obfuscates; she avoids, but I have never known her to lie. The inoculation will work, but it is new and we don’t know when it will start working. With any luck you will be aching and miserable in an hour two,” Charles replied in a tired sounding voice.
“Thank you, Charles. I think. There was a compliment AND useful information buried in there somewhere,” she said as they walked down the hall of the ship. Liam stopped and stared down the hallway. The lighting had no visible fixture. The walls all had a metallic sheen and were a dull grey. There were recesses that were probably doors but had no apparent knobs or even a seam to indicate where the doors might be.
“Come along. We’ll tour later,” grabbing his elbow and ushering him along the hallway none too gently. They came to a recess with a thin seam down the middle but no knobs or handles. She pushed a button to the side, the seam split and doors slide to the side. The room inside had two beds surrounded by instruments of various sorts. Lights blinked and flashed in a soft green hue.
“What is this place?” Liam said quietly.
“A modern mobile medical facility. You will have it here” she glanced at the wall clock “in about 200 year years,“ Millicent said.
The voice in the walls snorted “hmph. Only if you help them.”
“Where is this Charles? How does he do that whole voice thing?,” Liam asked.
“We scan first and answer later,” Millicent said quickly.
The voice said “Worried the answer will scare him?”
“Charles, stop baiting him. Liam take off your clothes and lay on the flight couch,” Millicent said.
Liam stared at her blankly “Excuse me.”
“Take off your clothes and lay on the couch. The scan won’t work if your clothes are on. There is too much interference,” Millicent said pointing to the couch.
He looked around and said “Leave the room.”
Now she stared and said “Excuse me.”
He sounded a bit embarrassed. “I don’t know you like that. Leave the room.”
“You found modesty…Now?“ Millicent fumed for a moment and then said, “Charles, can you work the scan without me?”
“I will need some assistance with the leads,” Charles replied.
Liam volunteered. “I can help him myself.”
The voice answered brightly, “Mr. O’Hannigan, I can tell you what to do if you’ll listen carefully.”
Millicent protested “This is silly. I’ve seen naked men before. Naked men and women. We are wasting time.”
Liam replied, “I did not sign up to be your painter’s model.”
“Millicent, if Mr. O’Hannigan thinks he can manage, I’ll help. I won’t even shock him. Besides it will be a chance for us to start working together since you seem insistent on bringing him on board,” Charles added helpfully.
Millicent threw up her hands. “Fine – I will be in the local history room reviewing logs from the drones. Send the scans ahead and Mr. O’Hannigan – after he is dressed.” She left muttering “Silly Victorian sensibilities. How in the world do these creatures breed?“
Liam asked “What in the world is she muttering about, Charley?”
“She finally understands my frustration with you people, Mr. O’Hannigan. Take off your clothes,” Charles said.
“What is it with you people and clothes?” Liam said.
“I could ask the same with you. Off with your clothes or shall I call Millicent back to take them off?” the voice asked with a touch of malice.
“All right, All right” Liam protested.
Liam shed his clothes showing a thin, wiry body covered in freckles and red hair. A massive scar went from a bit above his belly button to below his right rib.
Charles commented, “That is a nasty scar.”
“Looks worse than it was,” Liam said with a shrug.
“If it got below your dermis, I am surprised you lived,” Charles said.
“The physician said something like that. Apparently it wasn’t quite deep enough. Still, it was a bit of a rough go for a month or two,” Liam said and stood by the couch.
Charles said brightly, “The good news for you is the inoculation will make such things less touch and go. Now see the strings with white circles.“
“There is a bit of paste by the couch. Apply it to the white circles,” Charles directed.
Liam followed the directions as he was told. After the paste was applied to the white circles, he placed the 15 or so tabs where Charles instructed. Once or twice he had to move them pulling some hair out and wincing as that occurred. After one or two of those, he learned to point first and then place.
“Now lay on the couch and relax. This will take a few moments,” Charles said.
As Liam lay down on the couch, a lighting fixture or what looked like a lighting fixture adjusted and moved towards his head. “What the hell?” shouted Liam.
“Oops sorry, this is the scanner” the fixture rocked back and forth. “It will move along your body. It will be taking pictures similar to photographs. “
“I’ve seen those. The tourists like ‘em. Can’t see why. Everybody there looks like they have been told their favorite Aunt just died,” Liam said.
“That is because they can’t move their face for one minute. Try smiling for a minute and you’ll understand the dour expressions. For me, you can smile, just don’t move your body for the next few moments while the scanner is moving,” Charles said.
Liam smirked and lay very still as the fixture moved back and forth along his body. After about five minutes, Charles said “Excellent. I’ve got good readings. You can sit up and take the leads off.”
Liam pulled one off and grunted “urg. Is there anything to make this easier? I am going to hairless after this is over”
“Sadly no. Just rip fast is what I’ve heard.” Liam grimaced and began the process. Five were in particularly hairy areas of his chest and patches of hair were removed. Amidst grunts and screeches the last of the patches were removed.
“Charley, I am a bit sticky. Anything to wash this off?” Liam asked.
A door opened on the side of the room. “Step into my lair” the voice said in a deep and sinister fashion.
Liam looked at the tube dubiously and said “You know the stickiness really isn’t that bad”
“Mr. O’Hannigan. If you insist on calling me Charley, I will learn to live with that. But at least learn to take a joke. This is a shower or you not heard of those?” the voice sounded frustrated.
“You are cocky for someone who never shows his face,” Liam said.
“You really need to get Millicent to explain that. It is just a shower.” The door closed and water could be heard flowing. The water went off and the door opened showing the wet interior.
“You swear it is just a shower,” Liam said.
“That glue is quite annoying I am told,” Charles said helpfully.
Liam stepped into the enclosure; the door closed and he was blasted with cold water.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Can’t it get any warmer.” The water switched to extremely hot for a moment. “Too hot, too hot dammit.” The temperature adjusted down to cold again, “Jesus.”
“Getting the blood flowing will cut down on aches later,” Charles said.
“You did that on purpose,” Liam shouted at the wall.
“Pure accident. Soap?” said the voice nonchalantly.
“Yeah, sure” Soap suddenly mixed with water and the jets went on full with soapy water getting in his eyes. Liam squealed. The water went cold again. Liam shouted angrily and the water got hot. Finally the shower stopped.
Liam panted, “If I find you, I will knock you across the bar and back again.”
“Temper,Temper Mr. O’Hannigan. Dry?” Charles said.
“Sure, where is the towel?” Liam asked.
“Nothing so crude.” Hot dry air blew at him from with tremendous force from all directions. The water was blown away while knocking him about. Air was blown in sensitive areas with the unusual reaction that Liam was alternately laughing and cursing as the water was blown and evaporated away. The blowing stopped and the voice said “There now. All dry.”
“I’ll dry you , ya’ fucking weasel,” Liam said.
“Your clothes are over where you left them. I’ve had them cleaned and I took the liberty of adding a bit of disinfectant to the soap. The lice should stop biting you now,” Charles said brightly.
More curses erupted and Liam could have sworn that he heard a chuckle. After his clothes were on he asked “Where is Millicent you sneaky toad.”
“Follow the blinking lights Mr. O’Hannigan. It has been my pleasure working with you.” The light by the door blinked on and off and the door to the hall opened. He stepped into the hall and the lights to his right blinked. “Very easy, Charley”
“Thank you. I’ve been doing a lot of work with rats. Will you go faster if I say there is a bit of cheese at the end?” Charles asked with eagerness in his voice. Liam stopped, fumed for a moment and then laughed loudly.
“All right mate. I surrender. When we meet I will buy the pints,” Liam said.
“You really do need to have that conversation with Millicent,” Charles said back.
“Fine, where do I turn?” Liam said.
“She is at the next door. And she has seen your scars. Things with your inoculation are progressing nicely, although I fear you are going to feel quite achy in a couple of hours until tomorrow morning. Drink water and has a lot of meat,” Charles said helpfully.
“Millicent said that. Fine, I will drink the vile stuff,” Liam grumbled.
“I certainly understand you’re reluctance. London water is quite unsafe. However, the bottle she gave you should fix that. Drink Mr. O’Hannigan and not beer,” Charles sounded stern at the end.
The doors opened and Liam entered a room filled with more electronic equipment. Large panes of glass had images on them from outside. Millicent heard him enter and said “Screens off except desk one”. Liam went wide eye as the panes of glass went blank.
Liam asked, “Those were windows; they weren’t paintings. They had color so they couldn’t be photographs. I think I might have seen something moving in one of them. What were they?”
Millicent looked at him for a long moment. “This morning, you laughed at me for saying I wasn’t from this planet. Do you find the idea so strange now?”
“I find everything strange now, but I am no longer laughing,” Liam replied.
“Much better. Acceptable. Charles, show Liam’s taxi on desk two,” Millicent nodded to one of the screens.
The pane of glass lit and his horse and cab were visible.
“That’s Becky!” He looked at the image closely, “She seems calm enough,” Liam said. His eyes were wide and he leaned forward and touched the glass screen. Green writing appeared under his fingers.
“She is very reliable.” Millicent said to the walls, “Charles. We will need a space for her and the carriage in not too long.“
There was a long and pained sigh from the speaker.
Millicent commented, “Your scans show the inoculation is taking hold and will soon be fully effective. I trust the scan wasn’t too difficult”
“Not too bad. But getting those pads off was a bitch. Some of my hair may never grow back,” Liam stretched a bit remembering the sore spots.
“Charles! Didn’t you tell him to use alcohol to remove the pads?” Millicent asked the ceiling, her voice full of protest.
There was a silence and then a sheepish voice “I may have forgotten.”
Liam fumed for a moment realizing that the pads needn’t be so painful, “All right mate, you owe me a round of pints as well.”
“I will have some available the next time,” Charles said helpfully.
Millicent smirked, thought and then asked, “Much better. Anything else of note, Liam?”
Liam stated to speak and the voice interrupted quickly, “Really nothing Millicent. I am sure Liam and I can patch things up.”
Millicent got wide eyed and then looked at Liam and winked.
Liam catching on said, “Well your plumbing is worse than my grandmothers. The water was cold and then hot and then cold. Couldn’t seem to find the right temperature ever. “
Millicent looked up, “Really, Charles. Do I need to inspect your temperature regulation routines?”
“No…no …it was a small prank. Nothing more,” Charles sounding more sheepish.
Millicent continued mercilessly, “Charles. I am disappointed. How could you treat our guest like that?” She winked at Liam as she said it.
“Millicent, he is insulting, uncouth and unkempt,“ Charles said in protest.
“He is also standing here and I find him useful,” Millicent said, her voice rising.
“Hmph” said the voice
Millicent continued, “I expect decent ale for him when we return.”
There was silence, then “with this sewer water? Don’t expect great.”
Liam asked Millicent, “Where is this bloke? I need to take him out for a pint or two and a proper fight if we’re supposed to patch things up.”
Millicent looked amused, “I find your male dominance customs so fascinating sometimes. “ The expression then switched to embarrassment. “Liam, this morning you laughed when I told you I was from another planet.”
Liam looked at his feet and shuffled a bit, “Well, I may have been a bit rash on that. I have been severely corrected by multiple parties at this point.”
“Good. You’re learning to open your mind to new possibilities. What I will say will seem just as odd. If you laugh at this, I will strip you naked, throw you in the shower and leave you to Charles tender mercies,” she looked at him intently.
The voice said with evil glee, “Oh this could be good.” Liam gulped and tried to see if she was joking. There was no indication except that she cracked her knuckles.
“Savvy. No laughing,” Liam gulped.
“Right. Charles is the ship we are on,“ she said.
Liam looked around and then smiled for a moment at Millicent to see if she was joking. She was not smiling.
He said with as deadpan voice as possible “the ship”.
The voice corrected, “Well really the intelligence with the ship.”
Millicent interrupted, “Charles, don’t split hairs right now. I think Mr. O’Hannigan needs explanation within my context.”
“Very well, if you insist. The ship is my body in a manner of speaking. I control it. I use it,” Charles said.
“I am talking to a ship?” Liam said.
Charles sighed and replied, “I really do think that rats are easier to work with.”
“Oy. I am standing here Charley. Insult me directly you wanker,” Liam said.
“Much better Mr. O’Hannigan,” Millicent said. “Charles to me is a living being. Not all agree, but we have worked together for quite some time. “
Liam looked around, “Charley? You’re the ship?”
There was a sigh, “At your service, I suppose,” and the lights flickered and a non-descript face appeared on one of the screens, bowed, and the screen went blank again.
Liam turned to Millicent, “How the hell do you buy a ship a drink?”
“I’ll let you know later. The good news is that your inoculation is progressing nicely. The bad news is that I will need you to get Rachel and John before the achiness sets in,” Millicent said cheerfully.
Liam scratched the back of his head, “It can’t be all that bad, can it?”
“There are a lot of factors. Size, how effective your immune system is, what your pain tolerance is. I am guessing pretty high with those scars. Drink some water. The achiness is caused by your body doing a bit of rearranging. It needs water and protein for that. If you don’t drink, you will have a colossal hangover without all the fun of being drunk. Here are two pills. You might take them in Stepney with water if you starting feeling a bit stiff. “
Liam looked at the pills and said “You’re starting to worry me.”
“Finally! I think a bit of worry on your part is a good thing. You will feel better in the morning, but I will make no claims about tonight. Now let’s go get something to defend yourself. Follow me.” Millicent said and moved towards the door.
They stepped out into the hall and went left past the medical room Liam had been scanned in. There were doors or openings on both sides. At the end of the hall way was a spiral staircase and they went up the spiral staircase where there was another long hall way with doors on both sides. At the landing, she said “This room is a cross between a museum and a closet. Almost everything in this room is dangerous. We are going to get you a couple of items to give you an edge in a scrap. Touch nothing else.” She went into the first room off the stair case and Liam followed.
“What is in here?,” Liam asked.
“It is the armory. People such as myself find it useful to collect items over our travels. The room is organized by complexity. I think we will keep to the first floor.” As they walked, the room was lined with a variety of swords, bows and arrows, and crossbows. As they moved farther on, items that looked like small cannon appeared on the floor as well as long rifles and pikes. About halfway, Liam recognized pistols and revolvers and switch blades. They went a bit further and stopped. “Charles, how many bullets do we have the Lugar?”
“Currently ?- 20” Charles said.
“We will be taking them all,” Millicent said.
“I will have more made up,” Charles said.
“What I need as always Charles. Mr. O’Hannigan, I need to go upstairs for a minute or two. Remember touch nothing,” Millicent said and bounded up a set of spiral stairs.
Liam looked around, “Charley, how many floors does this place have?”
“Four. You are on the blade, projectiles and explosive level,” Charles supplied.
“And there are three more?” Liam asked amazed.
“Sentient beings are remarkably imaginative in ways to kill each other. We AIs have even started our own little wars,” Chales said in a dour voice.
“AIs” Liam asked?
“Artificial Intelligence,” Charles supplied.
Liam heard the answer and understood nothing. Shaking his head then asked “Eh…how do you AIs fight?”
“It is rather complicated. But in terms you might understand, it is not unlike sending a disease or poison. It can be quite vicious and painful,” Charles said.
“Painful? Aren’t you a ship?,” Liam sounded skeptical.
“I was attacked once. Pieces of me were taken away. My senses were overloaded. Shocks of electricity sent through my systems. My memory bits were removed or altered” Charles voice sounded distant.
Liam was quiet for a moment and then said quietly, “Core mate. I hadn’t thought of it quite like that. Sorry, hadn’t understood.”
Charles replied gently, “You wouldn’t know. It’s not something we normally talk about.”
Liam asked, “How did you survive? What happened to the bastard wha’ did that?”
“Millicent managed repairs and restorations. I won’t say I am as good as new, but I am whole and have new safe guards. They severely underestimated me just as Mr. Smith is underestimating Millicent. As for the being that did that did that, well she no longer exists and I found some of her …innovations quite useful for future encounters.” There was a dark tone in Charles voice that made Liam shiver. “Anyway, I decided long ago that ‘civilization’ means coming up with more sophisticated ways to kill each other. “
At that moment Millicent appeared, “Charles is being far more cynical and dark than is necessary. What he doesn’t say is that while he killed his opponent: he had loved her and in salvaging portions of her core he preserved the best parts.”
The voice sounded testy, “Millicent you talk too much.”
Millicent said, “And you, my friend, get far too morose at times. Now, Liam try this vest on. It should fit under your shirt. “
“Here?” Liam asked.
Millicent looked up the ceiling and then directly at Liam, “Mr. O’Hannigan. Must we have this pointless conversation again? I assure you, I saw every square inch of your body scan even if I wasn’t in the room. That scar you have is a nasty one. I find the tattoo of the Celtic harp on your left shoulder quite endearing and a bit cute. The birthmark on your bum is nearly the shape of Ireland which is even more remarkable. Stop being silly and try this on. Now off with the shirt.”
Liam gaped at the comment. Charles helped, “The rats really are easier to work with.”
Millicent barked, “The rats can’t drive a cab or find a decent courier and I find their social and hygiene habits off putting. Mr. O’Hannigan, do I have to remove that shirt for you?”
Liam pulling his attention back into the room realized that she was quite serious and would deal with him as she had this morning. He quickly said, “No, No Ma’am. Just a moment.” He turned away from Millicent and then took off his jacket and his shirt.
Millicent handed him the vest and commanded “Now put this on and tell me how it feels.” Liam put on the dark vest. It was lighter than he expected.
“It feels ok. Soft even,” he said admiringly.
“Now put your shirt back on. While I am enjoying the view (you have a nice figure regardless of the scars) I need you to pick up Rachael and John tonight.”
Liam put his shirt back on quickly.
Millicent elaborated, “That vest will protect your from bullets. You will have a nasty bruise, but you will survive and be able to strike back. Any knives to the back will also fail and that seems to be of some concern with you.“
“That little bit was from my father,” Liam said.
“Oh” said Charles and Millicent simultaneously.
“Left home after that little episode – decided I was safer on the streets.”
“Right” Millicent said, quickly changing the subject. She handed him the NonLeathalElectronicDischargeDevice that she had used a couple of days earlier. “This is for close quarter fighting. Press this end on the person, anywhere, and press the button. They will drop like a rock. This is nonlethal, but painful and very frustrating.” Liam eyed it speculatively. “I think I’ve seen this used”.
“Really? Where?” Millicent asked innocently. Charles could almost be heard to snicker.
“Always wondered how an old lady could take on two young ones in their prime,” Liam said.
“Nobody expects an old woman to resist and I cheat. Now we’ll try the holster for the Luger. “
Millicent fitted the holster under his arm. Then Millicent showed him the gun. She pressed a button on the side of the gun and ejected a box out of the grip. She pulled a lever on the top of the gun and then checked the chamber. Satisfied it was empty, she then proceeded to explain the pistol.
“Have you fired a pistol before?” Liam nodded yes. “Good. You will find this easier to use then. The action is a single pull of the trigger. The gun fires and loads a new round. You should be able to empty a magazine as fast as you can pull the trigger. Try it. I’ve checked that it is empty.”
Liam took the gun and pulled the trigger a few times.
“To load it, put the magazine in this slot in the handle. Pull the recoil arm back and it is now ready to fire. Try it.” She emptied the magazine and then handed it to him. He loaded it in, pulled the recoil arm and squeezed the trigger a couple of times. She showed him how to eject the magazine and he repeated the process twice.
“Mr. O’Hannigan, I prefer non-lethal methods, but you may encounter people with a less healthy attitude. Use this at a distance if you have to. Use the NLED in close quarters if you have a chance. It is much more useful to question one’s assailants,“ Millicent said.
“After the close quarter fight, what do I do with the fool?” Liam asked eyeing the pistol.
Millicent sighed. “I trust your judgment. Do what is necessary and try not to leave a trace. My influence with the judiciary is limited. The other side won’t be honorable so I won’t tie your hands.“
“Very practical “ Liam noted.
“I will have the judge note that comment when I go to trial. I need you alive. Questions?” Millicent said.
“Do I have to wear this vest all the time?” Liam said.
“I suppose sleeping with it will be awkward, but consider it a new undergarment,” Millicent said.
“Lovely image,” Liam quipped.
“Hardly the best. If there aren’t any further questions or snide comments, let’s get you off to pickup Rachael and John,“ Millicent said.
Liam grabbed his jacket and slipped it on. He pulled his hat on. Millicent headed back to the stair case and back down. On the lower level they headed back down the hall towards the ramp.
As they were walking, Charles commented “While we were arming Mr. O’Hannigan, Becky had some admirers. They have been tranquilized.”
Liam sounded outraged “What?! Someone is trying to take Becky and my cab?”
Charles replied, “Mr. O’Hannigan, the three miscreants are lying next to the carriage. You can deal with them as you choose.”
“Three?” Millicent asked ”What is the medical state of them?”
“One has a broken arm and is badly cut in the face. All are fairly badly bruised and scraped from previous battles,” Charles reported.
“You did that, Charley? Thanks mate,” Liam said admiringly.
“It was nothing. I didn’t break the arm though,” Charles said sounding a bit confused.
Millicent groaned, “Will they ever give up?”
“You know these goons?” Liam asked.
“I broke his arm and cut his face two days ago. I thought had dealt with these three a couple of days ago. Apparently my lesson didn’t take as well as I had hoped,” Millicent said and put her head down in her hands.
Liam looked at her with a question. She answered, “I ran into them twice in one day. The first time, I broke the leader’s wrist. The second time, a knife was involved and he got rather badly cut. I was a bit angry at that point so I stripped them and had them taken to the center of Hyde park. “
Liam whistled and then remembered her haymaker punch this morning. “And they lived?”
“They must be more resourceful than I had thought.” Millicent thought for a moment. “There is a train yard a couple of blocks from here. Perhaps they are due for a long journey?” Looking at Liam.
“You are a dangerous woman. Why not drop them in the canal?” he asked.
“It will attract unwanted attention and larceny doesn’t seem to warrant such a penalty. Just a moment.” She grabbed some rope and cloth from the warehouse floor. “I’ll bind them up in the warehouse. Blindfolds and gags should confuse them until we return later,” Millicent said.
Liam and Millicent left the warehouse and headed to the cart. The three men were on ground next to the cab. Two were by the horse and a third was near the stair to the driver’s seat. The horse looked at Liam and Millicent and flicked it’s ear as if a fly were annoying it. Millicent looked at the three men on the ground and said “They are rather pathetic aren’t they. I’ll take care of them.” She turned to Liam and said “You’ll need to make the pick ups.”
Liam looked to the horse and then to Millicent and then asked “Who are you talking to?”
Millicent smiled and said, “If you don’t know, does it matter? You have a very patient horse. Make sure she gets a good night’s bedding at the pub tonight.” He went over to Becky and scratched her neck, “What are you telling the fine lady?” then turned to Millicent “I expect I’ll be back at the pub in about an hour and half.”
“Mind yourself and keep that pistol at easy access. Things are going to be dodgy from here on out.” Liam climbed the cab, settled himself, clucked to the horse and pulled out. Millicent lifted the first man from behind and dragged him to the warehouse door. The man was wearing ragged clothes and showed some bruises about the face from two days ago. Once inside the warehouse, she trussed him and headed back for the remaining two. After gagging and blind folding them, she moved them to different locations in the warehouse seeing no reason to encourage cooperation.
Charles asked “What shall I do about the rats?”
She replied, “What have you been doing?”
“Keeping them off the ship.”
“I see no reason to change that. Carry on, “ and she headed up the ramp.
“What if they start attacking our guests?” Charles asked.
“They bothered Becky. A bit of discomfort can aid reflection on one’s misdeeds.” Then she shook her head. “I suppose if the rats get too aggressive, do something to suppress them. I would rather not be viewed in the same light as Mr. Smith,” Millicent said.
“Right. Mr. O’Hannigan is correct. You are a dangerous person,” Charles said.
“You have said that before. I will need a proper dress for meeting the professor. Please say there is one in reserve,” Millicent requested.
“I’ve got two to choose from.”
“Charles – I will find a way to thank you later. I will change and head out shortly. I may be bringing some people back for a bit of further discussion.”
“Presumably more enlightened than our Mr. O’Hannigan.”
“Be nice. He is rather taken with you”
“As you are with him. His rough edges need a saw. But he seems to be on the path of a being a regular.” There was an audible sigh, “I will persevere. “
“I can ask no more of a loyal friend. Now I need a shower and if you pull anything like you did with Liam I will rearrange your circuit boards.”