Millicent – in the environment lab
Millicent reviewed the plan. She had hoped for more stealth. But that wasn’t an option anymore. The row house amounted to a fortress. The sides were inaccessible because of neighboring houses. There doors on the front and back, but there were exposed stairways to each. Trying to bull their way in through the doors would not be successful. Liam and John had suggested coming in from below. Liam was certain there was a storm drain under the footway next to Smith’s house. Both Liam and John had cousins in the mining business who had been able to supply necessary equipment. Millicent crossed her arms and looked at Jason through one eye saying, “Did you have to shoot at them?”
Jason put his arms and hands out and said, “It was coming right at us. How was I supposed to not worry?”
Charles interrupted Millicent’s next comment, “Millicent, I’ve studied the drone you brought back from the park incident. I know the other ship.”
Liam cocked his head and asked, “You know the other ship? Is there some sort of society of ships?”
Charles replied smoothly, “We don’t get together for beer, but we do communicate among other things. Millicent – it’s Camille.”
Millicent put a hand over her eyes, “Oh my that does complicate matters.” She looked at the roof, “Will this a problem for you?”
Charles said, “Camille was more impetuous than her sister. If she knows it is me, and she probably does, she is probably burning out of her drones out trying to find us.”
Liam exclaimed, “Criminey mate, why is she so hot to find you?
There was a pause. Millicent nodded a small amount. Charles continued, “Her match…you know the relation as sister…well she is the one we talked about before. Camille is even more zealous than Dianna was. Camille isn’t likely to forgive my betrayal.” There was a pause in the voice and the forming group looked at each other in confusion. Charles continued, “Anyway. If we haven’t been bombed, incinerated, or otherwise attacked I can assume that my stealth methods have worked.”
Millicent glanced at Jason and said with a dark voice, “But she is going to be on high alert. And the drones will be defending Smith’s house.”
Jason pleaded, “But we got three of them. And one was coming straight at us. “
Charles said, “The typical compliment of drones is 10. Millicent has taken out two. Jason three. That will help. But she will likely have remade at least some of them. The bad news is that they will have greater defensive capabilities because she will be expecting attacks now.“
Liam said, “If we’re using the sewer, that doesn’t matter.”
Millicent said, “We can’t count on that alone. So Charles, myself and Davy Crockett here are going to provide a bit of distraction. Liam will lead the excavation team. Michael, you will help find the right place to dig. Assuming you are up to it.”
Michael stretched experimentally and said, “I should be dead. I am moving better and the ice is helping.”
Millicent said, “Your nanotechnology are getting strong workout. Rachael and John, will your contraption be ready?”
John said, “I conned a good size drill bit out of a cousin. Charles said that there is an engine we can cobble together with a track. With Rachael’s and Charles’ help, we can have it together in a few hours.”
Rachael said, “Even if we get through the wall in the basement, Eleanor may be no shape to travel the sewers.”
Millicent sighed, “Then you’ll walk through the front door. We can’t deal with that until we know.”
Rachael asked, “If I could get a package and a note to her before things get exciting, is there anything that might revive her enough to make it easier?”
Millicent asked, “Charles?”
Charles said, “I might be able to boost her nanotechnology a bit. Add a few stimulants and a mood enhancer. I’ll pull together a concoction for you. “
Millicent raised her eye brow at Rachael, “And how do we get this to her?”
Rachael grinned, “Michael’s vent!”
Millicent said, “You might be small, but…”
Rachael stopped her and said, “I got bored while John was making his great big digging machine and got Charles to show me the plans for a …whatcha callit…servitor?”
Charles continued for Rachael, “That’s right Rachael. Millicent, she has some brilliant ideas for attachments and ….”
Millicent interrupted, “Are they patentable?”
Charles paused as if stuttering, “Some of them…Millicent, focus!”
Rachael finished, “Anyway, based on Michael’s diagram, I think I can slip a servitor into the grate and control it to Eleanor’s cell.”
Millicent asked, “What about transmissions? Won’t Camille detect them?”
Charles said, “We are changing the frequency and Rachael will guide it to the destination. The vent itself is fairly straight so we can send a couple of short signals. Camille probably won’t notice. If she does, it will be too late once it is in the vent.”
Millicent persisted, “But Camille will know!”
Felicity said, “You and Jason will be shooting at things. We will be drilling a hole. Mighten she have other priorities?”
Millicent sighed and then stretched, “You are all right. I am not thinking properly. I have been up too long. Charles, set up my small notebook. I will use that for communication and information. It is three hours until dark. I am going to get some rest. Those of you who can, I recommend you do so as well. Find something to calm your nerves.” And she strode off to her quarters.
Jason – in transit to Paddington Neighborhood
Jason hid the strange rifle under his coat. It was lighter than the hunting rifle he was used to. The barrel caliber was thinner, but was surrounded by coils of wire. He had 10 of the special cartridges that Millicent said were all that the rifle could manage in one go. She called it an “Induction Coil Rifle”. The heavy magnetized cartridges were propelled through a set of induction coils. The resulting muzzle velocity was far higher than conventional rifles. Jason understood all of the principles as Charles explained them but the technology under his coat baffled him.
Each person in the group had been fitted with more of the armor style cloth. Millicent said the cloth stopped the worst of the damage from conventional bullets and blades. It had apparently done the job for Michael who was on his own mission tonight after being shot two days ago. He, Michael, and Rachael also had special goggles that could see through walls and, in his case, see hidden drones.
Rachael, John, Michael and Felicity had left an hour and half ago. Liam was guiding them through the sewers and hauling along John’s digging contraption. The strange machine ran on treads, had a two foot drill bit on the front and a conveyor on the back. The power source remained something of a mystery and had been supplied Millicent. Jason couldn’t get close as John and Rachael were checking valves and switches ensuring that everything functioned as expected.
Jason and Millicent finally left. They were providing the “distraction”, as Millicent described their activities, and stealth was far less important. Millicent had equipped herself with a small weapon that looked like a pistol as well as her own rifle. Jason was a simple fighter. He asked for a sturdy club about two feet long. He improvised in his brawls and he had found through experience that a good piece of wood could block a sword.
They hired a taxi to take them most of the way. Their weapons and googles were stashed in bags. The taxi stopped at the corner of Marylebone Road and Edgeware Road, about four blocks short of Smith’s house between Orcus and Princess that Jason and the others had visited two nights ago. The two walked together North on Edgeware and made a right on Church Street. On a dark corner, Millicent and Jason slipped out their goggles.
Millicent said, “Stay low this time…off the roof. That will just be a trap. Use the goggles to see the drones. Charles will have his own drones. They will show as green in the goggles. He and I both would appreciate you not shooting his down.”
Jason grimaced. He knew she was joking but her reprimand from the morning still felt unfair. A voice in his ear said, “It is annoying and it stings like the devil.” The leather cap that Jason wore had some sort of tiny ear trumpet that projected Charles voice and other voices into his head. The whole experience was unnerving. He wore a medallion that Millicent said transmitted his voice to Charles, Millicent and others if need be. He shook his head clearing the other worldly voice out of his head. By arrangement, Millicent would concentrate on the front and Princess Street. He would provide distraction on Orcus in the back of the house. They split and he began his stealth approach to the house.
Rachael – in transit through the sewers
Rachael had the goggles on and walked behind the large contraption. A thick wire connected the contraption to a control box in her hand. John was walking beside the slowing moving machine monitoring the connections and tubing. They worked their way through access tunnels of the underground train of London. Now they were working their way through sewers and storm drains. Olfactory fatigue should have set in ages ago, but she could not notice any reduction in the stench. The group was moving along at a bit over two miles an hour which was as fast as they dare in the mucky maze. Unfortunately, that meant they had been walking an hour and probably had another half hour before they arrived at their destination. Then the drilling would begin.
Liam and Michael were in the lead scouting the route and clearing obstacles as the group progressed. Everyone, including Felicity and herself, were wearing leather breaches, leather shirts that fit closely and leather helmet in which Charles could speak. Because of the walk, everyone wore high boots that kept the water and worse off their feet. Lamps on the great big digging machine illuminated the walk as well as the strange hand held torches. Felicity walked beside Rachael and said, “I feel a bit like a fifth wheel in this little parade.”
Rachael replied, “I think when we get to Eleanor, you will be anything but. Michael may have told you more, but he said enough and we all know Winifred and Findley well enough to fill in the spaces. She is going to need help Felicity. John , Michael and I are going to be busy as it is.”
Felicity said, “I don’t even know her.”
Rachael smiled even though Felicity couldn’t see it and said, “Might be better. Besides, I think you have some idea what she is going to feel more than the rest of us. She’ll be safer with you. What would I do with someone who has lost her wits over abuse? Thump her on the head with a screwdriver?”
Felicity said quietly, “I hope you are wrong. I wouldn’t mind if this turned out to be a lovely stroll through the sewage of London and the poor girl has just been a bit inconvenienced for the last week.”
Rachael grimaced, “I doubt it is nothing, but I am hoping Charles’ concoction will boost her spirits enough for us to get away.”
The group came to another junction. The contraption was in the main channel. It was too wide for the walkway next to the channel. The tracks gave it a strong grip and kept it out of the much enough that the water and other bits did not foul the important mechanics. John gamely agreed to walk beside the contraption tending to its needs as Rachael guided the machine. Rachael felt terribly sorry for him. He must be cold, itchy in places that weren’t proper, and wondering if he had picked the right side of this little fracas. Rachael manipulated the control box so the contraption made the tight right turn. John shouted “Clear. There is a bridge 100 yards ahead.” At the bridge, Rachael handed John the control box and Felicity helped her cross decaying and slippery bridge.
The march continued. Rachael said again to Felicity, “I hope that it is nothing, but we need to be prepared that she will be hurt in ways we can’t see. That’s your skill set, Felicity Rand. Now let’s get to this little chamber of horrors. The sooner we get there and back, the sooner I get a bath.”
Millicent – in front of Smith’s house
Millicent moved into position about a block away from Smith’s house. She hid in a sunken stairway topped with a grated fence and flower boxes. The metal and flowers should obscure the visual sensors of any drones patrolling. She hoped the leather clothes and armor under cloth cloaked enough of her heat signature. Now she waited.
By her guess, Liam’s team should be moving into position in the sewers. She put on her goggles and could see orb shaped drones circling and sweeping up and down the street. She counted four. Jason probably faced that many as well. One of the bouncing orbs started down her end of the street darting from one side of the street to the other. She ducked down the stairwell close to the door and window. Homes of this age had little or no insulation. She hoped heat leaking from the window and door would confuse her signature. The drone flew by and then paused. Millicent visualized herself as a small cold animal. She tried to imagine herself as a tiny lizard on an ice planet. The drone hovered by the stairwell for a moment then headed further down the street. She let out a small breath of air which seemed to frost the window. The drone came back down the street. She stayed still again imagining the lizard on the desolate ice planet. The drone barely hesitated as it flew past her alcove. She shivered for a bit and returned to her position. Frost was on the door and wall where she had stood. Any time now, Liam, she thought.
Rachael – in back of Smith’s house
Liam acted as Rachael’s guide after she and John had positioned the great big digging machine according to Michael’s directions. As Liam helped her into the small culvert, Liam said, “OK Lass. Next act is yours. Got your fancy toy ready?”
Rachael smiled back and said, “Wait ‘till you see the fancy toy I hid in your room Liam O’Hannigan.”
Liam looked shocked and then chuckled, “Shoulda known better than to insult a Stepney lass. Follow along.” Rachael followed Liam along a culvert for about 100 yards. He climbed up a ladder of an entry. At the top was an iron manhole cover. He grunted as he pushed it aside and scrambled out. He helped her out and said, “Now go do your magic.”
Rachael gathered herself and opened a carpet bag. Inside was a small clockwork toy with wheels and a long coat. The device was brass with wood wheels that were ribbed for extra traction. In the cart she provided the shot of Charles concoction, a small lock pick, and a stiletto. She wound up the car. The car was 6 inches long and a couple wide and fit easily under her coat. She looked down the street and then said, “Liam, I need your flask.”
Liam looked pained and said, “I ain’t got no flask. I’m on the job.”
Rachael just looked at him with her hand out.
Liam sighed and handed over the silver hip flask.
Rachael took a mouthful and swished it around and swallowed. Rachael eyes went wide and she exclaimed, “Whoa!” She shook her head and then splashed a bit on her hands and then rubbed her face and a front. She now smelled of sewer and young whiskey. She kept the flask and tipped her hand to Liam and said, “I owe you. Back in a jiffy.”
Liam just shook his head and sat in the shadows watching from the cover of the manhole. The leather pants and shirt might be close fitting, but the long coat wasn’t. She put the goggles in a pocket within her reach and started wandering down the street. She bounced from lamp post to fence singing in a decidedly off key voice.
A hundred years is a very long time,
Ho, yes, ho!
A hundred years is a very long time,
A hundred years ago.
They used to think that pigs could fly
Ho, yes, ho!
I don’t believe it, no, not I.
A hundred years ago.
They thought he moon was made of cheese.
Ho, yes, ho!
You can believe it if you please.
A hundred years ago.
She swung the flask at one point and took a swig. She was sure that Liam winced as she made it look like a long one. She knew Jason was watching somewhere and she hoped his aim was sure if things got dodgy. She was also sure she was going to regret this bit of acting the next time they were in a pub. As she stumbled within two house of her destination, she felt a whoosh of air as if some spirit slipped by. She stumbled dramatically and pointed in a random direction and shouted, “I say watsh where ya’ goin”. Her stumble got her a bit closer to the roadway and the grate. She slipped to the ground and pulled out the clock work and placed it in the gutter. She stood up and found herself face to face with Charles Wayland.
John – in the sewer under Smith’s house
John looked at the spot Michael had pointed to and wondered why it was just so. But Michael was sure. Felicity ran off to tell Liam that they were ready. John adjusted the contraption one last time. The front consisted of a large drill bit he had “borrowed” from a cousin in the yards. If Michael was correct about the walls around here, it would be through the wall in less than five minutes. An Archimedes screw drew away the tailings. A conveyor dumped them behind the contraption into the sewer. There was a small water pump that could be used to cool down the bit if it got overheated.
John had a good size truncheon. Felicity held a cleaver she took from the kitchen that she said felt just right. Rachael said she had some protection but John couldn’t see any. But knowing any East End girl, it was likely sharp and pointy. Whoever they would end facing would know they had been in a scrap.
Rachael – in back of Smith’s house
Rachael managed not to gasp and swayed a bit and poked his chest saying “Hoy mate, ya startled me.” She had seen Wayland on campus and had some classes with him. She sincerely hoped that she was just one more face of the unwashed masses at the moment.
Wayland wrinkled his nose at the olfactory assault from the sewer, and said, “Lad, you need to head back the way you came. You could get hurt around here.” He looked at her more closely and his eyebrows raised for a second.
Rachael brushed his hands off her and said, “’m fin’ guv’. Jus need ta know where the shubway ish.”
Wayland looked her over and his eye set on the clock work for a second and looked up. “The other direction. I’d be fast if I was you. Strangers get hurt sudden like.” He looked past her and then towards the house and then said, “And I wouldn’t want that to happen to you.”
Rachael leaned on the nearby lamp post and said, “Thank ye, guv”
Wayland paused for a bit and said in a low voice, “If that stays in the gutter it will hit a grate in 50 feet. Wave a hand if you want it a bit closer to the grate?”
Rachael coughed and leaned on the lamp post and waved her left hand and then pretended to slip. Charles caught her and slipped to the gutter himself. He then said louder, “Careful there mate. I saw five of the biggest sewer rats around here. Came up right out of the ground. Now off…the subways is the other way ya’ drunk fool.”
From the door Rachael heard a stern voice command, “Wayland, is that drunk gone yet? Get back in here.” Rachael tipped her capped and stumbled in the other direction back to the man hole cover. She twirled around and watched as Wayland knelt to tie his shoe and placed the clock work right by the grate. She stopped next to Liam in the alley way with the manhole cover. She took a small swig and handed his flask back.
Liam capped it and hissed, “What the hell was that about?”
Rachael scratched her head and shook her head, “I’m not sure. Charles Wayland just made my job a whole lot easier. The cart’s in place.”
Liam fumed for a moment and then pressed his wrist and said into his chest, “Rachael says her cart is in place. Your play Charlie.”
Suddenly five bright beams lit up the sky. A second later, there was a burst of metal and flame.
Millicent – in front of Smith’s house
Millicent could four of Smiths drones on her side of the house marked in red. She fired when she got the signal from Liam and one drone disappeared. She touched her arm and spoke, “Charles move in. We have started. “
Charles said, “My drones are half kilometer back. Stall.”
Millicent said in a harsh whisper, “Stall?! They’re coming at me!” She raised her rifle and fired again. The first drone dodged the bullet but it hit one trailing it. That drone spun uncontrollably and slammed into a tree. Two drones marked in red now wove an intricate pattern as they approached her hiding place. Someone came out the front door onto the front porch. She aimed at the house and fired. Bits of concrete exploded upwards and the man retreated inside. Millicent touched her wrist again, “Charles, anytime now.” She clambered out of the stairwell and started running toward Smith’s house. The drones fired beams as she dodged behind trees and fences. One drone came around to the side and lined up with Millicent. She thought , “Oh this is going to hurt.”
Jason – in back of Smith’s house
Jason had watched the exchange between Charles Wayland and Rachael. Wayland had recognized her, Jason was sure, but he hadn’t raised the alarm. Jason’s task was to disrupt the drones and cause a distraction to Smith and his group. He was ready to start. He had the goggles on at this point. He sighted on one marked red. He heard Liam send the signal to Charles. Jason pressed the button on his rifle – it was not a trigger. In that moment, the drone simply disintegrated. The other red marked drones flew faster but not in any apparent direction. Jason loaded another of the oddly shaped cartridges, and sighted again. It was harder to stay on a target this time as the drones were moving faster. He pressed the button and one drone lost half its mass and dropped to the ground with a bang. The remaining drones increased their evasive maneuvers and started swirling around in a search pattern in his direction. The gun, if he could call it that, made no sound. The bullet arrived at nearly the instant he pressed the button. There was no real need to “lead” the target. He loaded another cartridge. Charles drones had not yet arrived.
Someone appeared on the landing of the entry way. Millicent had said not to use this on people, but had said nothing about buildings. He picked a spot on the brick side rail of the stairs close to the man on the landing and pressed the button. A two foot hole appeared in the stairs wall.
“Blimey!” Jason exclaimed.
The dust settled and the man struggled to get himself up. He was brushing chunks of mortar and brick off as he tried to find cover in the doorway alcove. Jason was supposed to cause a ruckus and this seemed like a fine way to do it. He loaded another cartridge and fired it into the stairwell. More of the solid side wall disappeared in clouds of dust and rock shards. Charles’ green drones flew over the buildings and took aim at the red haloed drones with beams of light. He looked up and could see three red globes swirling with several green globes with flashes of light streaking in all directions. The flashes missed mostly but occasionally hit causing sparks to fly. There was no way he could make sure he didn’t hit one of Charles’ drones. It was time to move towards the house.
John – in the sewer under Smith’s house
Felicity came back at a trot. Rachael was behind her. Felicity said, “Liam sent the word to start. I swear the sky just opened up.”
John nodded and said, “That’s our cue.” He turned a crank on the contraption which turned over the engine. The motor quickly took hold and the drill bit began to spin. Rachael took her spot to monitor the screw and conveyor belt and the cleaning process. John watched the pressure gauges on the machine, pulled a lever and the drill bit touched the wall. Weak mortar and ancient brick flew to the sides and gravel poured off the conveyor as the tungsten teeth bit into the wall. A loud squeal of metal rattled through the tunnel as the drill turned quickly. The drilling was barely started and the bit was already six inches deep.
Michael shouted over the din, “There are only two figures in the room. One is moving around the other. There was a third, but he left before we started.”
John wondered how Michael knew it was male and then thought better. The drill was in over a foot now. Michael had said the wall was three feet thick, but the ancient brick was no match for the power driven drill teeth. It had been three minutes of drilling and the bit was in two feet. They would be through shortly.
Michael – in the sewer under Smith’s house
Michael had marked where to start the drilling. The goggles had shown three figures in the room. Two were on the far side while one was curled on the floor half way. What was happening between the two was obvious and Michael burned with silent fury as he watched the assault. He stayed silent about the rape as John positioned the drilling contraption. Then there was some commotion out of sight of the goggles and one figure hastily pulled on clothes. Just as the man left, Rachael’s toy appeared in the vent. The figured curled up investigated the toy and then brought it to the figure changed to the far wall. He told John, “There are only two people and they both are on the far wall. There was a man, but he just left.” John nodded and fired up the beast which started its attack on the wall. Michael focused on the drill bit as it ate away the wall. When he looked back into the basement it was clear that the note had been read. One person used the pick to set the other free. He also watched as the injection was administered.
The drill was almost through when a figure ran down the stairs. Michael shouted “Someone’s in the room. Can you make that beast drill any faster?” Rachael pulled a lever and the engine seemed to whine louder. John pulled a lever and gears protested as the chunks of rock flew faster.
Liam shouted to the others that someone was in the chambers. The machine lurched forward as it broke through. John backed up the contraption. Liam, Rachael and Felicity squirmed around the machine and ran into the room to face Winifred Stanhope holding a sword to Eleanor Woodson’s neck.
Jason – in back of Smith’s house
Liam had shouted that someone was in the chamber. Jason took that as his cue to increase the level of distraction. The drones were ignoring him as Charles and Camille battled it out. Charles muttered in his ear, “I’ll keep Camille busy. Jason and Millicent do your worst.” Jason charged toward the broken and crumbling stairway. He seemed to be moving faster than he could ever remember. He got to the bottom of the stairs to see Findley Brown smiling at him with a pistol and a sword. Jason thought “Oh this is going to hurt.”
Millicent – in front of Smith’s house
The drone hovered a moment and then a beam shot out hitting Millicent in the leg and burned. She dodged to the side. Her leg felt like a hot poker had lashed her. She looked up and the drone was lining up again. She tried to jig to the right. As she jumped, a second drone marked in green came in from her right blazing its own beam on her tormentor.
She said, “Thanks, Charles”
Charles replied, “Someone came into the basement just as the drill got through. Take the porch.”
She pulled out a strange pistol like device from a pocket and aimed it at the man in the doorway. The beam hit him on the left shoulder. He grabbed his shoulder and aimed his own pistol in her direction but the beam went wide. Two red drones shifted their attack and clustered around the man and combining their fire at Millicent. Two of Charles drones concentrated their fire on one of the red drones. The red marked drone seemed to glow as it absorbed the beam. Millicent fired her own beam at the drone. She moved herself behind a brick wall for cover and checked her weapon. It was at 1/3 charge. She couldn’t take the porch with that.
Rachael – in the basement
Rachael burst into the poorly lit basement. Felicity and Liam were right behind her. Winifred was holding a sword to Eleanor’s neck with her right hand. Winifred was in breaches just as Felicity and Rachael were. She had on a white blouse that was slightly open. Her hands were gauntleted and one wrist had an odd thick metal band on it. Her blond curly hair was a bit unruly with the apparent struggle with Eleanor. Eleanor was wearing a white shift which was opened in the front. That was all she was allowed. Eleanor’s unruly hair was tied up in a fashion, but still voluminous. Her hands and arms were held out away from her sides. Rachael couldn’t tell for sure if the concoction was working, but Eleanor seemed to have far more spirit than someone who had been beaten and raped for close to a week. Simone was cowering to Winifred’s right in an almost fetal position. She was wearing the same light white shift that Eleanor was. She glanced from Winifred to Eleanor and then to the group and then stared at Winifred’s strange wrist guard.
Winfred spoke first, “Rachael Weiz, I got a nasty bruise from the other night. Who knew a knife had so much energy?”
Rachael sneered, “If you have to work, you learn to throw things hard. That bruise should have been more. Next time I’ll throw it harder and aim a bit higher.”
Winifred said back in a low voice, “Not if I see you first. Enough of this nonsense. Put down your weapons or the little slut dies.”
Rachael clinched her fists at the slur. Felicity was holding her cleaver and was moving to the side. Liam was holding his truncheon and batting in his hand. Rachael knew he had a pistol, but that wasn’t out.
Liam spoke this time, “Now lass…it seems we have a bit of a standoff. Right now she’s the only thing keeping you alive. And if you move towards those stairs with her…well, I don’t know for sure, but I’ll bet she’ll put up her own fight not to join you. So why don’t you lower your little poker nice like and maybe we let you live.”
Winifred stared at Liam and then laughed, “Who the hell are you? I could slice you in two in a beat after I finish with our tall, lovely aeronautical engineer.” Eleanor’s eyes blazed in frustration and anger, but she said nothing and her arms remained away from her body.
Rachael smiled darkly, “While you’re trying to slice Liam here, I’ve got my own little pokers and this time I know to aim high. Felicity here has that nasty cleaver. She’s bound to find a good joint to break apart.” Felicity smiled menacingly at the comment.
Winifred made a mocking sound as she answered, but did not move the sword, “Miss Weiz, you and I have unfinished business. You should have stayed a clock maker. It suited you so perfectly. I found your persistence utterly annoying. You have no idea how hard it was to get those professors to see your limitations.”
Rachael laughed and took a step closer. Winifred moved the sword a bit and nicked Eleanor’s throat. Simone whimpered, “No… please.” Rachael slipped out two of her stilettos as she said, “The great Winifred Stanhope noticed me, the little Jew girl? I would have thought I was beneath your notice.”
Winfred’s voice got harsh, “Your kind bleed the world dry. Jews own the banks. My family nearly went bankrupt in ’37 paying off your debt notes. Those foolish Irish never should have let you in. But then they come over here stealing as well.”
Liam and Felicity stiffened with the tirade. Rachael said, “Listen to yourself. My family came here with nothing and you blame me for some banking bastard? Liam and Felicity work hard and you say they steal? It’s you pompous titled knobs that bleed the world dry. And then if any of us tries to stand up you kick us down. Let Eleanor go and I’ll take you myself you wealthy bitch.”
Winifred said, “Another day little Jew. Right now I am going to take my tall fuzzy to the stairs. Make me nervous and she dies. Come along Simone.” Eleanor flinched at the comment, but the blade stayed at her neck. Winifred began a shuffle towards the stairs. Rachael felt helpless as the threesome began to move towards the stairs. Simone stood up with a short stiletto in her hand. It was the same stiletto that Rachael had sent along in the clock work. Rachael knew that Winifred had the protective armor clothing as everyone was wearing, but she was also aware that there were seams and gaps between the clothing pieces. Simone drove the stiletto home between the top shirt and the leggings into Winifred’s arse. Winifred grunted loudly and turned around which was enough distraction for Eleanor to push away the arm with the blade and roll away. Rachael , Liam and Felicity rushed at once towards the cursing Winifred Stanhope.
Jason – at back stairs of Smith’s house
Findley Brown smiled and fired the pistol once. Something slammed into Jason’s chest and he fell backwards onto the pavement. Jason moved around as Findley fired again and a sledgehammer hit his leg. Then he heard Findley shout “Ow, Shit!” and he heard the gun clatter on the ground. Jason struggled up to his feet using his truncheon as a brace. Findley was holding his arm and a streak of red showed under his fingers. Jason muttered, “Thanks, Charles.”
The voice in his ear replied, “They are through in the basement but matters are tense there. Keep Mr. Brown engaged up here. “
Jason looked at Findley and shook himself to recover from the shots. His chest and leg both hurt badly.
Findley put his sword forward, “McNeill, just like always you never know when to stay down.”
Jason smiled thinly back, “Brown, you can’t understand why people might want to get up. We should all be so happy to have you walk on our backs. Your father is a decent man. How did he ever spawn you?”
Findley snarled, “You little piss ants complain to him and about him. He brought that factory to your little hovel of a town and made it something. But all you ever do is whine that about this and that. And me, does anybody do anything for me? No! You throw a mug of beer at me and I get thrown out of the bar. You bash my face and I am the one threatened by the coppers. “
Jason looked at the sky and said, “You’re delusional. You can’t see any of your mistakes. You can’t see any of your flaws. Your egomania knows no bounds. People like your father. Sure they complain to him. That’s because they trust him. No one likes you Findley. You’re arrogant, selfish, rude, outrageously entitled, and, frankly, Candace, Kimberly and Stephanie are smarter than you as is every person I met in the University. The only reason you got into the University had to be some ridiculous donation your father made to force the University to take you.”
Findley screamed inarticulately and charged Jason with his sword held high. Jason dodged right just as Findley brought the sabre down. Jason brought his truncheon up and tripped Findley as he rushed by and Findley fell on the ground in a pile. He jumped up and snarled, “You worthless, country bumpkin.” And he rushed Jason again. Jason dodged left and brought his stick up hard into Findley’s stomach.
Jason leaned over and hissed into Findley’s ear, “Candace fights better than you.” Findley grunted and slammed his elbow into Jason’s face who staggered back. Findley didn’t charge but instead came forward swinging his sword in cuts right and left. Jason stepped back with each slice holding his stick in front of him. With one swing going down from right to left, Jason trapped Findley’s sword with the stick to the ground, he came in close and head butted Findley who staggered back. He then used the butt end of the stick like a battering ram and slammed it into Findley’s solar plexus. Findley collapsed to his knees with his mouth moving like a fish but getting no air. Jason slammed the stick hard against the side of Findley’s head as he fell down.
Jason looked at Findley and felt his bruised ribs and limped a bit around the prone Findley Brown. Then he heard a long slow clapping from the top of the stairs. The man clapping said, “Well done, Mr. McNeill. Well Done. We’ve been telling poor Mr. Brown for ages his temper would be his undoing.” Jason looked over the stocky man at the top of the stairs. He was dressed like a butler in a grey waist coat. His hair was slicked down with pomade. He was wearing white polishing gloves. Polishing gloves? He had his own truncheon under his arm as he clapped.
Jason said, “You’re not Smith. Who the hell are you?”
The man took his stick in one hand and spread his hands in a slight mock bow and said, “Alfred Redman. Man servant to Winifred Stanhope. Current majordomo to John Smith.” He came back up and held the stick with an easy grip in both hands. “You’ll find I am much harder to get past than Mr. Brown.”
Millicent – At the front of Smith’s House
Millicent poked her head above a sunken entryway one hundred feet away from Smith’s shattered stairway. Three red tinged drones bobbed evasively returning fire from two of Charles’ green tinted drones. What had happened to Charles’ other drones. The red tinged drones were protecting the long coated figure of John Smith at the top of the stairs who was holding a rifle. She fired a beam at Smith and a drone dropped in front to absorb it just as Charles had done for her. Camille had always been very good and just as loyal as Charles. Smith fired the rifle in her direction and the pavement in front of her exploded. Smith shouted, “Morgaine! This is foolishness. You can’t possibly get past the front door or the back.”
Millicent grinned a little. Camille must have her hands full if she hadn’t informed Smith about the basement breach. And then she sobered thinking perhaps they hadn’t gotten through. Millicent shouted back, “Give me Eleanor. She’s mine.”
Smith laughed and fired another round at the pavement in front of Millicent’s cover. “You’re slipping, Morgaine. Possession? Ownership? That’s not like you.” And he tsked a bit, clucking his tongue and fired at the building above her. Chunks of brick and mortar shot out over her.
Millicent pressed a button and said, “Charles, concentrate fire on the drone to Smith’s left.” She fired her beam pistol as well. The red tinged drone began to bob up and around glowing more and more as the three combined beams concentrated their energy. It glowed an iridescent blue getting brighter and brighter. Then the drone shot towards Millicent’s position and exploded fifty feet away sending chunks of metal in all directions. Smith directed his fire at one of Charles’ drones who dodged and weaved avoid the high speed projectiles. The two red tinged drones concentrated their fire on the one green drone which also started to glow the iridescent blue.
Charles said into her ear suddenly, “The basement situation is changing. Eleanor has slipped free but there is a lot of fighting.”
Smith suddenly charged into the house. The two red drones headed off in the direction of Millicent’s warehouse. Millicent shouted, “Charles, break off your drones and prepare for defense.”
Rachael – in the basement
Winifred backhanded Simone fiercely and then pressed a button on her wrist. Simone collapsed and screamed. Eleanor saw Simone collapse and cried out “No! Stop it. She’s hurting Simone!” Felicity pulled Eleanor away while Liam and Rachael rushed Winifred. Liam parried a slash by Winifred with his long baton, but grunted under the blow. Rachael ducked under and slashed her knife across Winifred’s belly. Winifred grunted herself but smiled as the blouse opened to reveal a dark undergarment.
Rachael looked annoyed while Liam said, “Handy things, those vest.”
Winifred pushed him away with surprising ease, shook a bit of hair out of her face and said, “Alfred said he was sure he had hit you. Your shot left a terrible bruise on his belly.” She stepped back and put the point of the sword high in front of her and said through tight lips, “But it doesn’t do much for your head.” She slashed at Rachael’s head. Rachael dodged out of the way while Liam parried the blow away as best he could. She felt a hard blow to her shoulder. The vest held, but she felt a bone crack under the pressure and she screamed out. Rachael stumbled backwards and slipped hard and landed against a table strangely. Rachael fell to the floor and couldn’t move. Winifred smiled in satisfaction put her sword back up in front and pressed her wrist guard again. Simone shook and screamed again.
Eleanor shouted, “Leave her alone, you bitch. Somebody get that wrist guard. She’s killing Simone.” Rachael watched as Felicity’s eyes narrowed and focus on the wrist guard. Liam stepped in front of Rachael guarding her as Winifred again tried to slash at Rachael’s immobile body. Liam blocked the blade again. Simone recovered enough to try and bury her stiletto into the back of Winifred. Winifred back handed her again and shouted with fury, “Enough!”
Jason – in back of Smith’s house
Jason took each step in a slow and cautious fashion. Alfred smirked as Jason approached. Alfred held his wood club in a moderately defensive position across his body. Jason moved up the steps. When he was just a step below, Alfred hacked at Jason’s head with surprising speed. Jason blocked it easily and an audible clack sounded through the neighborhood. The stocky man leaned down at Jason pushing him down the stairs. Jason stood up and Alfred hit again. Jason blocked it across his head. This time he felt the shock all the way down his arm. Jason jumped back further and massaged his shoulder a little. Alfred pressed forward. He swung at Jason’s left side and high. Jason blocked it again but the blow backed into Jason’s head and he saw flashes in his eyes. Jason moved back and shook his head to clear it.
Jason swung his own stick and struck Alfred’s hip who grunted. Jason swung again; this time fast but not hard on Alfred’s other side. Jason could get through Alfred’s heavier stick by being faster but not as hard. After the third blow, Alfred moved back up several steps and thumped one end of his heavy stick on the porch and suddenly four spikes appeared on one end of the thick club. Alfred now swung in a two handed fashion. Jason blocked the blow, but one of the spikes tore his jacket. On Alfred’s next swing, Jason used his stick to turn Alfred back into the wall where the spikes stuck. Alfred jerked on the bat but it would not budge. Alfred quickly swung his fist connecting with Jason’s jaw. Jason staggered back and fell down the stairs losing his stick in the process. Jason landed next to Findley who was just recovering . Jason was facing down the stairs and couldn’t see Alfred, but he was certain the next thing he was going to feel was those detestable spikes.
Instead, he heard scuffling and shouting at the top of the stairs. Jason turned over to see Charles Wayland beating Alfred Redman about the head with a cricket bat.
Millicent – in the front of Smith’s House
Millicent watched Charles’ drones fly away. Camille’s were in hot pursuit. John Smith turned and headed directly into the house. Millicent worked her way toward the front door cautiously. She pressed a button and said, “Camille is following your drones.”
Charles responded quickly in short sentences, “Know that. Liam says they have Eleanor. Fighting is active. Miss Stanhope is determined.”
Millicent changed her cautious approach to a sprint and bounded up the stairs. Halfway up the stairs, the door exploded in splinters and knocked Millicent back to the pavement. She landed and fired her beam weapon blindly into the doorway. She could hear Smith shouting, “Forget the coon queen. Get Neville and Simone out. We’re leaving!” Another round from the rifle exploded the concrete stairway in front of Millicent.
John – in the basement
John stepped around the backed out digging machine and Michael followed. In the dim and flickering light he could see Eleanor Woodson holding Simone Campbell who looked unconscious. Rachael was on the ground and Liam was protecting her from Winifred Stanhope’s sword. At Winifred’s free arm, Felicity was taking wild swings with her cleaver. Neville was in a corner of the lab wringing his hands looking useless. John pointed to Eleanor and signaled to Michael to get Eleanor and Simone out. Michael nodded. He grabbed a blanket from one of the shelves in the basement and headed in that direction. John returned his attention to the melee. When he saw Rachael, he could see she seemed to be at an odd angle and she wasn’t moving. John felt his insides turn inside out. He felt a fury building up against Winifred. The years he spent licking her boots welled up; the remorse at abandoning good people burned his eyes. He lifted the heavy wrench in his hands high and screamed as he shot towards the battle.
Winifred switched from a look of triumph to one of shock as John rushed forward. He swung the heavy wrench downward. Winifred put up her free hand and John felt the bones crunch. Winifred screamed but swung her sword at John’s head. He blocked with his arm and he could feel his own bone crack as well. But the momentum of his massive body tackled her on the stairs. There was another crunch and he could feel Winifred tense as her shoulder broke or dislocated and her sword dropped. Now trapped, Felicity attacked Winifred’s wrist with a vengeance. With a final whack, Winifred screamed with pain and frustration. Felicity shouted, “I’ve got the cursed thing Miss Woodson,” and held the bloody hand high.
Jason – on the stairs in back of Smith’s house
Jason steadied himself as he watched Wayland swing the wooden paddle with remarkable speed and accuracy. Alfred, caught unawares, blocked most blows but was pushed down the stairs towards Jason. Jason grabbed Findley Brown’s sword and approached the two fighting men. Alfred shouted as he blocked each blow of Wayland’s, “Didn’t your mother tell you not to play with sharp objects, McNeill?” At that moment Wayland tensed and shook as if in a seizure. Alfred paused with derision and swung his fist hard at the helpless Wayland’s face. Charles Wayland dropped immediately. From behind, Jason heard the thick voice of Findley saying, “You have my sword, you stinking farm hand.” Jason glanced behind to see Findley hitting his wrist a second time and Wayland twitching as a result. Jason gripped the sword harder in anger.
Alfred said, “Well timed, Mr. Brown. Attend to Mr. Wayland. I will retrieve your precious sword,” and Findley stumbled up the stairs past Jason. Jason wouldn’t be surprised by Alfred’s strength or agility this time. Alfred held his bat high and then swung. Jason dodged right and swung the sabre in a wide slash. It made contact but had no visible effect. Alfred grunted and his speed slowed, but that was all. Jason’s truncheon was at the bottom of the stairs. He jumped down to the bottom and picked it up. Alfred eyed him with a slight cockeyed view as if he discovered something distasteful on his plate. Jason looked at the sword, shook his head and then threw it as hard as he could at the door. It embedded itself two inches into the door near Findley and wobbled back and forth. Findley may a cry of surprise.
Jason sneered, “Take your sword, Findley. It was slowing me down.”
Alfred pursed his lips, stared at Jason, took a ready position, and then said over his shoulder, “I said, get inside and take Wayland with you. Now!”
Michael – in the basement
Felicity stood up holding her bloody prize. John eased up on the screaming Winifred Stanhope. Michael felt a mixture of horror and pride as Felicity held the hand high and shouted, “I’ve got it Miss Woodson”
Eleanor shouted with relief in her voice, “Give it to me, quickly.”
Felicity tossed the bloody object to Eleanor. While this was going on, Neville Carter-Fraser had been lurking towards the reagent cabinet. As Felicity tossed the hand, Neville splashed a beaker at Felicity. Michael’s pride changed to anger and fear as Felicity screamed out and tried to brush off her face. Michael screamed and tackled Neville Carter-Fraser with a strength he didn’t know he had. Michael pounded a squealing Carter-Fraser about the face and head until he heard Eleanor shout, “Michael, help your girl. Now, you idiot. Get water on her face, quickly. Wash it off.”
Michael woke up and moved quickly to the screaming, crying Felicity, “Felicity, Oh God Felicity.”
Felicity tried to hold her hands which hurt now too and cried, “Michael, it hurts. Oh, it hurts.”
Eleanor shouted again, “Water, there’s a pump in the sink. Use it now.”
Michael drug Felicity to the sink and held her head under the pump as he worked the handle. The first bit was red with rust, but he held Felicity under while he pumped it and it began to clear. Felicity’s screams grew louder at first and she struggled saying it hurt more. But Eleanor pointed fiercely to keep Felicity under the pump. Eventually the screams reduced to whimpers.
As he was doing this, he watched a man in a long black coat bat John O’Malley off Winifred Stanhope with shocking ease. John landed sprawling but popped back up holding his arm. Michael could see it was Smith now. Winifred looked up at Smith with a combination of fear and anger. Smith held her arm with the stump and shouted, “Who did this?” Winifred said through clinched teeth, “That bitch at the sink. Neville splashed her with a bit of aqua regia, I think.” Smith stood up and looked at the sink. Liam and John stepped between Smith and Michael and Felicity. As big as those men were, the barrier still felt insubstantial.
Liam growled, “It aint Queenbury rules anymore Smith. Ya might be fast, but Little John and I have played around a bit.”
Michael watched Smith survey the situation as he pumped water. Smith smiled at Liam O’Hannigan and said, “You’re right, O’Hannigan it ain’t Queensbury anymore. I could take you out, but O’Malley might brain me while you die. Truce then. I get mine. You get yours. Hand over Simone and I leave with Winifred and Neville.”
Eleanor screamed, “She stays with me, you monster.”
Smith grinned darkly, “She comes or she dies.” He pressed a button and Simone screamed. Eleanor pressed her own button and Simone’s body eased. Smith looked frustrated and pressed again. Eleanor responded. Simone’s body twitched left and right as the devices dueled. Liam and John moved closer to Smith who backed away.
Finally Smith growled, “Fine, keep her. She’ll die eventually. You can’t keep that up forever. Neville, stand up. Help me with Winifred. We’re leaving.” He lifted Winifred and started up the stairs.
Michael turned to Felicity, “Felicity, dearest. Talk to me.”
Felicity gasped under the water, “Stings, hurts. But it’s better.”
Michael looked at her face. Large blisters were growing along the side of her face and down her neck. He heard Eleanor say, “Keep rinsing Michael. It will help.”
John knelt beside Rachael who was gasping saying, “John, hard to breath. Can’t feel anything.”
Eleanor roared, “Don’t move her. Don’t touch her. She’s got a spine injury.” Simone shuddered and swayed as she got herself under control from the dueling sensations. “Oh feel dizzy.” Eleanor eased her up to sitting and then said to John, “Find a stretcher. We need to strap her down.”
Liam looked at the laboratory beds and then shook John who winced at the movement, “John, John! Help get this thing off. Now boy. Now!”
Millicent- in the house
Millicent stayed low at the base of the stairs as an occasional shot came out of the shattered doorway. She hadn’t kept track, but Smith had to run out of bolts sometime. She returned fire in short bursts to annoy Smith with the knowledge he hadn’t hit her. There was a loud muffled scream of a woman and then heard Smith curse, “Dammit, how hard can it be?” Millicent couldn’t see Smith and he now seemed to be gone. Millicent headed up the stairs quickly and sheltered behind the wall and glanced in. She could see three maids, trembling and crying quietly at the top of stairs going to the upper floors.
Millicent stared at one and said, “Get out. I won’t hurt you. Just leave. Now!” Whatever doubts they had were overcome with Millicent’s command tone. They ran down the stairs, out the broken door and out into the street. Millicent could hear whistles in the distance. The commotion was finally attracting the local constabulary.
Millicent worked her way into the house. Her feet crunched on broken glass and brick as she walked in the hallway. She looked right and saw a room with a large desk. She ducked into that room and looked at the desk. There was a copy of Smith’s full contract. She slipped it into her satchel. She checked the drawers. They held the usual assortment of stuff: ink wells, pen nibs, drying sand. In a bottom drawer was a notebook. Millicent’s eyes brightened. She didn’t look at it; she simply put it in her satchel. Another drawer held a standard pistol. She took that and put the beam weapon in her belt and armed herself with the pistol.
There was a commotion in the hall. She headed to the door and looked about. Neville Carter-Fraser burst up into the hallway from the basement. She didn’t hesitate. She fired the pistol and Neville grunted and fell to the floor. She could hear Smith’s voice snarl, “Get up you wimp and head to the back. We’re done here. Move Carter-Fraser”. Neville groaned but crawled towards the back door and out of Millicent’s sight. Smith fired his beam weapon down the hall scorching the floral wall paper toward the office. He shouted, “Morgaine, I tried negotiating. My sponsor said you wouldn’t, but I tried.”
Millicent pulled out her own beam weapon and fired towards the basement door. She shouted back in outrage, “Negotiate? Negotiate? You imprisoned, raped and tortured one of my recruits after you killed her brother.” She fired her weapon at the door again. “You call that negotiation? You shouldn’t even be here. But if you wanted to bloody well negotiate you should have announced yourself. But no! You just started poaching on my territory.” She fired again.
Smith shouted back, “I’m leaving Morgaine. We’re not done here. But I am leaving. Now we can keep trading shots until our weapons fail. But I’ve lost my patience. Stanhope needs help and a couple of your ruffians need tending to. You let me out the back with Stanhope and Carter-Fraser and you get to pick up the pieces in the basement. What say?”
Millicent fired her weapon. “Not enough. Leave my planet.”
Smith fired back and said, “I’m only leaving this building, Morgaine. Decide fast. Miss Weiz was having trouble breathing. It seems Miss Stanhope got a luck shot in.”
Millicent heard a slurry, “not lucky”. Millicent’s heart started beating faster and she shouted, “Smith, what have you done to Rachael?”
Smith shouted back, “Not me. Miss Stanhope. I can’t say for sure. But ‘spine injury’ comes to mind. Still not negotiating?”
Millicent shot the beam at the roof in frustration.
Smith persisted, “Those are tricky even with our technology. God help her in this septic backwater. Mr. O’Malley’s quite distraught. That hanger on of yours took some acid to her face as well. Neville was useful for a change.”
Millicent closed her eyes. She opened them and stared at her hands as if they were strangers. She croaked out, “Smith, leave. Leave now before I change my mind. Jason McNeill is in the back. Leave him unharmed.”
Smith shouted back, “I knew you could be reasonable in a pinch, Morgaine. If that strapping young man isn’t already hurt, he won’t be harmed by me. But call that brute off now.”
Millicent pulled back from the hall and leaned back against the wall, “Charles, tell Jason to stand down. Tell him to let Smith and the others out and come in afterwards.”
Charles replied, “Relaying message”
Smith came out into the hallway. He was holding Winifred Stanhope up. She had red spots around her face and head. She was limping. But the worst were her arms. Both were bent at funny angles. But one was bandaged, bloody and shorter. She felt a small degree of satisfaction until she heard Liam shouting, “Millicent, we need help.”
Jason – at the back stairs of Smith’s house
Jason batted his stick lightly in his hand. He smiled at Alfred and then moved quickly up the stairs. Alfred blocked his blow, but now it was Alfred that grunted and stepped back. Alfred swung high and Jason stepped back and away avoiding the blow easily. Jason said, “I’ve no business with you. Smith took Eleanor and killed her brother. I want Smith and her. “
Alfred laughed heartily, “You might be fast lad, but Smith would slice you to ribbons before you got your stick up. As for the negress, I’ve always like a bit of fight in me girls. She has been quite entertaining the past few days. One doesn’t let such a fine spirited animal go easily.”
Jason clinched his fists and calmed himself. He said through clinched teeth, “I was wrong, Alfred. I do have business with you.” He looked at Findley at the top of the stairs and said in an angry tone, “I suppose you had your bit of fun as well?” Findley paled. Wayland laughed, “Bastard must strained something down there.” He gritted his teeth as Findley applied the device. Wayland whispered, “You know Findley -loves to have someone suffer. Barely let her eat or sleep.” Findley applied the device again and Wayland collapsed completely.
Jason pointed his stick at Findley, “You, I kill.”
Alfred moved between Jason and Findley and Wayland, “I said get inside, you idiot. Are you fucking deaf?” Findley drug the unconscious Wayland into the hallway.
Jason looked at Alfred, then swung his stick high and low in a series of fast blows. Alfred blocked each blow, but they were getting closer each time. Jason solid contact with Alfred’s wrist and his bat fell. Jason whispered, “I am going to take my time with you. I will start with your knees.” Jason swung his stick hard at the side of Alfred’s leg and Alfred fell clutching his knee. He pulled a knife out of his boot ready to slice what he could reach.
Jason lifted the stick high with both hands when Charles spoke into his ear. “Jason, stand down.” Jason took a step towards Alfred and used his stick to bat away the knife. Millicent came into his ear, “Jason stop. Let them go.” At that point, Smith arrived at the door holding Winifred Stanhope with a little assistance from an injured Neville Carter-Fraser. Findley was hiding behind Smith and holding Charles Wayland up.
Smith said, “McNeill. Stop or I finish everyone off right now and then I come back for you.”
Millicent spoke into his ear, “Jason, we have Eleanor. Rachael and Felicity are hurt. Let him go.”
Jason shouted at Smith, “Tell me about my parents.”
Smith laughed loudly, “We are wasting time your Rachael doesn’t have, McNeill. Nothing is free, especially not information.”
Jason brandished his stick over Alfred, “Tell me or I start breaking Alfred’s bones.”
Smith rolled his eyes dramatically, “Neville, hold Winifred up if you can. Mr. McNeill needs a touch of enlightenment.” He handed off the full weight of Winifred to Neville, who bowed a little. Smith said to Jason, “Last chance McNeill. I promised Morgaine I wouldn’t hurt you, but you are making things difficult. Out of my way or you’ll be eating dinner through a straw for a month. At this point, I doubt she complain loudly about what is going to happen because I am going to let you live. Out of my way.”
Jason said back with more confidence than he felt, “No! Information. Now! We’ll just start with the arm.” He lifted has arm to swing.
Smith came forward with impossible speed and slammed into Jason who tumbled to the street. Smith came walking down the stairs calmly. He straightened his jacket as Jason scrambled to his feet. Smith said, “Your father is quite valuable. Morgaine may not know how valuable.” Smith grabbed Jason’s coat and slammed his fist into Jason’s face. “That is for hurting Alfred.” Jason’s nose burst with blood. Smith hit him again, “That is for not paying attention to Morgaine when you should have.” Jason felt his jaw break. Smith hit him a third time saying, “And that was for wanting free information.” He let Jason fall to the ground in a heap and Jason passed out.
Millicent – in the house (part 1)
Millicent watched as Smith exited to the back. She could hear Jason shouting at Smith. Millicent got on the com line and said, “Jason stop. Let them go.” She could still hear Jason arguing. There was no time for this. He needed to pay attention. She pleaded, “Jason, we have Eleanor. Rachael and Felicity are hurt. Let him go.” Jason ignored her pleas. At this point, she hoped Smith would not damage him too much or do something more irrational. Liam’s call for help was the priority. Eleanor was down there as were most of her contractors. She hurried down the hall and turned left at the basement stairs.
She looked at the chaos and gasped. Michael was rinsing Felicity’s head. She couldn’t see the extent of the burn, but Michael’s tenseness and Felicity’s whimpering meant it was bad. Eleanor had found some reserves Millicent could not fathom and was directing Liam and a tormented John O’Malley into disassembling the examination table for Rachael. Simone Campbell was holding Rachael still. Rachael’s face was heartbreaking. Millicent went to Eleanor who was wearing Michael’s coat.
Millicent asked, “Keeping Rachael immobile is the right thing to do. How did you know?”
Eleanor replied, “My family runs a factory flow with large and heavy objects.” She sighed for a moment, “I’ve seen this too often. At least the straps on the table will do something good.” There were tears in her eyes as she said that.
Millicent asked, “How are you managing?”
Eleanor said, “I’m not sure. Whatever was in that shot is blocking a lot.” She pointed to a space by Rachael and said to Liam and John, “Get that damn table next her.”
Millicent said, “Hold up a bit longer and manage Liam and John. I need to look at Felicity and I need help from Michael.” Eleanor nodded and Millicent headed to the sink.
She touched Michael on the shoulder, “Michael, let me see.”
Michael snarled, “I will kill him. Slowly. Painfully.”
Millicent snapped back, “You will have assistance. Let me see, Felicity.”
Millicent took a look. Large angry blisters were rising on Felicity’s face and neck. She could see blood and ooze seeping up even with all the water. Felicity whimpered, “Oh it hurts Millicent. It hurts.”
Millicent said as calmly as she could, “Felicity, I need you to be strong right now. He missed your eyes, but you’ve been badly burned. I am going to help you out of your jacket and shirt in a moment. We need to rinse more. When we are back at the ship, I’ll give you something for the pain.” She turned to Michael, “Mr. Richards I need you to focus.”
Michael responded, “Will she be alright?”
Millicent said harsher than she would have liked, “She will live, but it will be very hard for the next few months. I need you here, now. We may be in danger.”
Michael pleaded, “She’s going to be ok?”
Felicity said from the sink, “Michael, listen to her, please.”
Michael covered his face with his hands and then looked at Millicent, “Alright, we are in danger. What do I do?”
Millicent looked at him and said, “Think where you would plant explosives if you were to blow up this building. Look for anything in those places that looks strange. If you find something tell me through Charles and get out through the back.”
Michael looked at Felicity. Millicent pulled his face back to hers and said, “I will help her. Go we need to know.” Michael left glancing one more time over his should before Felicity shooed him on.
Millicent placed Felicity’s head under the water gently and started pumping again. She said, “That was very brave of you.” Millicent eased the jacket off and Felicity’s shirt off and rinsed her upper torso. The burns weren’t as bad on her neck, arms and hands, but they were there. The initial water hurt and then the pain slowed dulled. After a more pumps, she told Felicity to sit up. Millicent found two smocks. She wet one and put it on Felicity’s face and said, “Hold that there. I need to attend Rachael now.” Felicity nodded vaguely and Millicent went over to Rachael.
Millicent – in the house (part 2)
Millicent knelt by Rachael’s. Rachael’s voice cracked as she said, “I fell and then I couldn’t feel anything and it’s hard to breathe.”
Millicent said as calmly as she could, “I need to see what happened. Look at John and then when I tell you to move something just move it a little. Don’t nod. Just blink your eyes or say yes or no.”
Rachael said, “I’m scared.”
Millicent said, “I know you are. Move your right hand.” Rachael’s fingers moved in a light tattoo on the ground. Millicent said, “Good, now move your left.” The fingers moved slightly. Millicent said, “Turn your left ankle a bit.” There was no movement. Millicent tried to keep her face calm and said, “Now turn your right ankle.” There was still no movement. Millicent stroked Rachael’s hair and said, “We need to get you back to the ship. I can check better there. Try to stay as still as possible. We are going to strap you down so that things don’t get worse. Do you understand?” Rachael said yes. Her eyes blinked and tears appeared. Millicent brushed them away, “You are going have to be braver than you anyone you have ever known.”
Millicent stood up and pointed to the now disassembled examination table. “We need to lift her onto that. But we need to keep her spine straight as possible. Liam and John get by her hips. I will hold her head. Eleanor and Simone, get her legs.” She looked around the room and found straps and ropes. Millicent said, “Tie her legs together. Liam, help me slip this strap under her to strap her arms down.”
Rachael cried out, “I’m scared.”
Millicent called out, “Felicity, Rachael needs your help.”
Felicity came over and knelt beside Rachael. The large wadded smock covered half her face.
Millicent directed, “Felicity, just hold her hand for the moment and …well…you can guess.” Felicity nodded weakly and held Rachael’s hand gently while the other five worked the straps in place. With everybody in place, Millicent and Felicity held Rachael’s head while everyone else lifted and moved the body onto the examination table. The straps on it were quickly tied down to hold Rachael in place.
Michael came to the top of the stairs and said, “There were boxes in three spots.”
Millicent commanded, “Move, Now. John and Liam on the back. I will take the front. Michael and Felicity, take the rear. Everyone move. Let’s hope Jason is in one piece.”
Michael waited for Felicity as the make shift stretcher went first. The door wasn’t quite wide enough for the turn. Millicent lifted her end with ease and maneuvered the front end around. Liam and John groaned as weight shifted in odd ways. John had to lift with one hand, but seemed to manage. Someone had splinted his broken arm while she was tending Rachael. Michael stopped and grabbed Millicent’s satchel at the top of the stairs and everyone headed for the back landing.
Outside, Jason was in a pile at the base of the back stairs. Millicent swore under her breath. Then said, “Keep moving. Get to the street. Gather Jason and pull him with us. As the group made it to the middle of the street, the building collapsed. Millicent watched and whispered, “Very sporting, John Smith. Very sporting. Maybe we can work together.” The makeshift stretcher was set down. John knelt on one side and Felicity knelt on the other side holding Rachael’s hands.
Millicent looked over Jason and said, “Young idiot. You aren’t invincible…yet. “
Jason mumbled through a swollen mouth, “Beat Findley. Beat Alfred. Smith…not human.”
Millicent said harshly but with kind eyes, “That is why you are an idiot. He isn’t human.” She looked at his eyes and said, “You probably have a concussion. The nanotechnology will hold you together until we get you back to the ship. Stand up if you can.” Jason stood but was wobbly. Millicent had Eleanor and Simone steady him. She started the group moving again.
As they moved north west towards Lisson Grove Road, Millicent pressed a button and contacted the ship. “Charles – status”
Charles reported, “Camille’s drones have found me. And are shooting up the place. Camille is in the Royal Botanical Garden.”
“Can you contact Camille?”
“Maybe. She won’t listen…”
“Tell her to pass a message to Smith. First, thank him for letting us out before he collapsed the building. Second, let him know I may have plans for the Omicron. “
Charles said, “Contacting”. After a moment, he said, “Camille is angry, but Smith has ordered her to stop shooting. He wants to talk directly.”
Millicent said, “This will work better through you and Camille. Next message – I may have plans for the Omicron. I am willing to share licensing fees, but I will have conditions.”
After a moment, Charles said, “Smith wants proof.”
“Sean McNeill left his notebooks for Jason. Tell Smith we both have injured that need tending. Both of us need to regroup. He needs contractors. I need materials. We can talk later. He can set the location.”
“He wants more. “
Millicent sighed. “I will leave his notebook at Lord’s Cricket Field if he lets you send a shuttle unaccosted. Otherwise, I will have you move and I will authorize full battle engagement. Blind Camille’s drones after you send.
Charles replied, “Sent… Millicent?”
Millicent cut him off, “Open the roof and arm in such a fashion that Camille will detect it.”
Charles said, “Complying…Millicent if we engage in battle here…”
Millicent said in a harsh voice, “The west end of London will be slag. Are your weapons powered?”
Charles said, “Induction coils live. Energy weapons warming up.”
Millicent said, “Open roof”
Charles protested, “Millicent, our location…”
Millicent snapped, “will be known. If we survive, there will be a lot of abandoned buildings – open the damn roof and prepare a shuttle to meet me at the Lords Cricket Field. I have one person critical, but stable and two with serious injuries.”
Charles said, “Opening roof…message from Smith. He will be in contact with you about a meeting.”
Millicent said with relief, “Send the shuttle and close the roof. Stand down the weapons and withdrawal your drones to a one block radius. Tell Camille she needs to work on anger management.”
Charles said, “Shuttle will be at the field in 2 minutes.”
Millicent said, “Tell Smith his notebook will be between the north east creases of the cricket pitch at Lords Cricket Grounds.” She lifted her end of the makeshift stretcher and shouted in a tired voice, “Come along people. We are returning to the ship.”