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Story [Necroscope, RPF] Mary Formal and E-Branch

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Sith-I-5, Apr 15, 2015.

  1. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Purpose: Drabbles and background fanfic
    Character: Mary Formal
    Source:
    Torchwood, episode 'Greeks Bearing Gifts'
    Agency: E-Branch, British intelligence agency, staffed by psi-powered individuals.
    Former Status (RL): Character in RPF roleplaying game Intervention: Echoes in Eternity
    Former Status (RP): Pilot Officer with the Mercs.
    Current Status 2017 (RP): E-Branch agent, paired with Liz Merrick, seconded to SHIELD.
    Current Status (fics): E-Branch agent, and self-styled UNCLE agent.
    E-Branch, seconded to SHIELD with Liz Merrick - https://boards.theforce.net/threads...d-liz-merrick-agents-of-s-h-i-e-l-d.50049211/
    E-Branch, seconded to SHIELD, embedded with the A-Team
    E-Branch, working with Australian SAS (E-Branch: Invaders)
    - https://boards.theforce.net/threads/necroscope-rpf-mary-formal-and-e-branch.50029243/#post-52594926
    -- latest E-Branch chapter: https://boards.theforce.net/threads...al-and-e-branch.50029243/page-4#post-56301878

    E-Branch, historical, within Vampire Worlds 3



    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    After E-Branch. After SHIELD.
    Mary Formal, self-styled U.N.C.LE agent, infiltrates Torchwood,
    but Captain Jack Harkness has her teleporter
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  2. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    BABY

    Baby agent, that's what they call me.

    They being E-Branch, a sort of British secret service, composed of telepaths, empaths, pre-cogs, and other esoterically-powered humans that count as Espers. That last word being what the 'E' stands for.

    I'm not an Esper; but unbenownst to them, an extra-terrestrial refugee from the planet Arca.

    I have been in Britain since, what you locals call, Georgian times, hibernating fifty years at a time, waking, plucking human hearts from five victims to sustain myself, then hibernating again.

    This time though. I was detected.

    Captured.

    Threatened with incarceration. For committing Murder, apparently.

    Recruited.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  3. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2002
    I'm very interested in this! I don't think I've ever seen a fanfic/RPF crossover like this before; it's very exciting :D

    Would you mind putting your fandoms in brackets at the beginning of your title? It's easy for people looking through all our fandoms to catch sight of the ones they read :) Thanks!
     
  4. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    I don't know how to amend a thread title.
     
  5. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    CHILD

    "Alega-ma, Tanti." I hear from below, accompanied by tentative tug on my skirt.

    I glance from the remote orphanage's window showing grey Romanian skies and grassy slopes, down at one of my young charges, a thin toddler in shapeless white frock, thumb in mouth, waiting for me to pick her up.

    "Hold on," I smile, "let me break out the flamethrower."

    E-Branch trains me in handguns, crossbows, the flamethrower; surveillance, covert ops, and linguistics, gives me a passport, and copy of Romanian for Dummies.

    Cheers!

    None of that, except 'Dummies, perhaps, prepared me for assignment to a ******* orphanage.

    Nursemaid Undercover.
     
  6. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    I too am intrigued to see Fan Fic and RPF cross like this! I really like Mary so far, and am enjoying getting to know her. =D=

    (I just outlined how to edit a title in our conversation thread, too. :))
     
  7. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2002
    [face_laugh] I love the Dummies book :D
     
  8. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    This entry will provide words towards the Spring Word Race challenge.

    One-to-One


    The two women grabbed coffees, and took them into a small side office with a circular wooden table, and a pair of high-backed, wheeled, office chairs.

    Though Mary did not know it, in a few years, she would find herself in a gunfight against an office chair not unlike this one, and truth be told, she would probably prefer that to being in a formal meeting with Stela Cocojaru, staff manager.

    The first name meant “Star”, which the raven-haired young woman never tired of telling newcomers, or any visitors who expressed polite interest.

    “Hello, Mary.” Stela opened as she sat down, using her feet to pull herself closer to the table, while Mary set her own steaming white mug down on the table, and lowered herself onto the remaining chair.

    “Hey.”

    “So, you have been with us for a month, and it is time for our regular meeting to see how you are getting on.”

    While she spoke, Mary, who was snug in a black long-sleeved pullover and skirt, studied the native Romanian, who was in a black waistcoat, embroidered with yellow stitching, and random flower pattern, over a puffy-sleeved white blouse.

    Formal waited pensively for a question.

    “How are you getting on?”

    “Fine, fine.”

    “Settling in okay?”

    “Fine.”

    “And what are your responsibilities?”

    Mary forrowed her eyebrows slightly. “Shouldn’t you have this stuff written down?”

    “Everyone mucks in where needed, so there can be discrepancies between what a person should be doing, and what they end up doing on a day-to-day basis. You, Mary, will have a better idea of your daily activities, than the notes I wrote down weeks ago.”

    The Arcateenian undercover sighed audibly, then inhaled. “Okay, let’s see. I am responsible for five of the children, various ages; though I am supposed to remain approachable to any of the pupils.”

    The orphanage known as “The Refuge” had somewhere under a hundred junior residents, from babies up to older teenagers.

    She had no idea if any of the kids moved on from the orphanage, perhaps into further education, or work training, or frag forbid, work. From what she gathered, to successive Romanian government, “infrastructure” was simply an interesting word with four syllables.

    She had heard via a British colleague’s Blackadder dvd, that the Germans had no word for “fluffy”, and wondered if the Romanians similarly had no word for “infrastructure”.

    Mary continued, “I also support the teachers in teaching English to the students.”

    “Yesss…” Mary caught the other’s pause, as if she were applying dramatic weight, “…about that.”

    “About what?” Formal opened her eyes wider in innocence.

    “Helping out with their English. A couple of the teachers have noticed that the children, when asked how they are doing, have stopped using the normal positives, like ‘fine’, ‘yes’, and ‘okay’, even when those words would be most apt.”

    Formal narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know what you mean.” She paused. “Seriously, what does ‘apt’ mean?” She knew what it meant; but in the moment, she recalled Colonel Jack O’Neill of Stargate SG-1 making a similar argument to that Goa’uld with the pointy black beard. “I need to get out more,” she murmured, more to herself than anyone.

    “Do not change the subject.” Stela’s face and tone turned serious. “When asked if they are okay, some of the children are responding, ‘Spectrum is Green’. Occasionally they shorten it to-”

    “S-I-G.” Mary supplied, flashing a grin as she grew more amused with the situation.

    “Why would you teach them that? They cannot go out into the world, meet prospective employers, going on about spectrum being green.”

    She had been bored, and had decided to practice one of the lessons she had learned from E-Branch. Specifically, the dissemination of mis-information.
    Compared to home, where the Arcateenian young were compelled to join their parents in compulsory worship at continent-sized temples and churches, getting human children to say those three words did not sound too bad to her.

    She could not for the life of her, understand why Stela was on the verge of throwing her dolly out of the pram.
    “Mary, sorry to say this, but if you continue to be disruptive, I shall have no option but to let you go, cancel your work visa, and send you back to England.”

    Mary stared, then threw both hands up in surrender. “No need! I won’t do it again. I’ll stop with the phrases, and just teach what you and the teachers say to.”

    If working for E-Branch kept her out of prison, and they wanted her here, for whatever reason; then she had better not rock the boat.

    She took out a metaphorical trowel and laid it on thick. “I am very, very sorry, and will not do it again, Miss Cocojaru.” She knew that saying Stela’s last name might help lighten the mood, and even pronounced the ‘j’ as a ‘y’ in that weird way the locals liked.

    She was cheered to see the other woman managing a smile of her own.

    Very good,” Stela squeed, showing a little bit of a grin, “most people cannot pronounce my name. It would certainly be a shame to send home the only one of you that can get my name right.”

    I’m not even from this planet, and I can get your name right. Formal thought to herself. What’s the big fragging deal? Still, she was benefitting because many of the non-Romanians working at The Refuge were linguistic morons.

    “Is there anything else, Miss Cocojaru?” She wanted this encounter ended before she gave into her own base desires and leaned over the table to punch her hand through the *****’* chest. That would end this meeting real quick, wouldn’t it.

    “Well, since you have apologised, you can call me ‘Stela’ again.”

    “Stela.”

    “So, is there anything bothering you, Mary? Any stresses or discomforts that you have found working here?”

    “This meeting with you hasn’t made it into my top ten of experiences.” And I haven’t eaten this month.

    She had used the canteen with the rest of the staff, breakfast, lunch, dinner, various foodstuffs on the moulded plastic trays, but none of the fare could sustain her properly, like a still beating human heart.

    But she could not afford to do that here, inside the orphanage. It would turn this room into a charnel house, traumatise the children, and screw up the arrangement with E-Branch.

    “Well, I am sorry.” Stela’s tones cut through Mary’s silent mis-givings. “The matter had to be raised.”

    “I understand.” Formal nodded her agreement.

    “So, meet again in a month’s time?” Stela took her first sip from her likely cold drink, and rose from the chair as it got wheeled back by the pressure at the back of her knees.

    “Looking forward to it already.” Pushed back on her chair and put her hands on the desk to help push herself up into standing position.

    Stela clutched her papers to her chest as she backed from the table. “I shall send you an invite.”

    Just GO, WILL YOU! Mary thought fiercely, wishing for once, she was the psionic Power that E-Branch clearly thought she was.

    She would sooo burn this woman to a crisp.

    END
     
  9. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2002
    I love the intro lines :D Very funny! I particularly enjoyed her wishing that she could burn Stela to a crisp :p
     
  10. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    The last line was a ringer for me too. :p An excellent update. =D=
     
  11. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Thank you both for the feedback. Glad you like it so far.
     
  12. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    More words for the Spring Word Count Race

    A lot of this information is from Brian Lumley's Necroscope series

    History Lesson

    A few days later, Mary found herself in another apparent one-to-one meeting, but with one of the women that she liked a bit better than Stela.

    She followed Zekintha Foener, "Zek" for short, into the secure file room, a window-less room in the administration wing, far from where the kids were.

    Along with the usual circular table and wheeled office chairs, there was a grey metal filing cabinet in one corner.

    Zek was a slim, blonde-haired woman, given to homespun, earthy colours and fashions, while Mary had a bright, lemon-coloured sweater of thick wool to keep out the chill Romanian weather.

    The longer she went without feeding, she had discovered, the more susceptible to cold weather, she became.

    Mary looked down at Zek's manicured fingers, no coloured nails, as they tapped a small pile of fullscap file folders that she had pulled out of the cabinet, green and manila shades.

    "Seems E-Branch were unable to find any school or college records for our Baby Agent." Foener opened with, as she made herself comfortable.

    Again with the 'Baby Agent' thing, Formal thought, taking a sip from her white coffee mug, and looked at the other over it. "Maybe there was a fire."

    "Maybe. Maybe." The other woman, who Mary knew was a respected E-Branch telepath, looked dubious. None of the telepaths could read the Arcateenian's mind, for which she was grateful. She doubted the secret of her extra-terrestrial origins would have remained secret for that long, if that was not the case. "So, we are here for a history lesson, mixed in with an essence of geo-politics."

    Mary felt herself flare. "I'm not one of the kids!"

    "For the next hour, you are. Or however long this takes. And it is fairly unlikely that any of the children will get taught all of what I am about to tell you. Some of it, I hope they never learn."

    "Alright, go ahead then."

    "What do you know of the Cold War, Mary?"

    Formal inhaled and sighed, collecting in her mind what she had learned about that. It was true, displaying the visage of a young adult human for the two centuries she had been on Earth, she had had no formal education, but had been around the block enough to learn enough not to stand out from the crowd.

    "Since about the 1960s, the West, led by the United States; and the East, led by the Soviet Union, have had a general opposing of values and cultures, culminating in a build up of nuclear arsenals over the years, to ward the other side off from being the first to attack."

    Zek nodded. "Mutually assured destruction."

    Mary narrowed her eyes at the other woman. What did any of this have to do with running an orphanage?

    "But it all started a little bit earlier," Foener explained, "just after the end of World War 2. More recently, in the Nineties, the Soviets initiated a project to counter the US' Star Wars programme-"

    "What, like a Russian Battlestar Galactica?" Mary quipped, the ghost of a smile crossing her face.

    "Not the Star Wars film!" Zek exclaimed. She then sighed and visibly calmed herself, continuing, "The Star Wars programme, or Strategic Defence Initiative, was a bold plan to put laser-armed satellites around the planet, that could shoot down Soviet ballistic missiles before they could strike Western targets."

    "Oh wow. That would unbalance the arms race." Mary realised.

    "Indeed. Hence the Russians rushing to catch up. In the Perchorsk Mountains in the Urals, they built and tested their own laser-type weapon. But, there was an accident."

    "Accident." Mary echoed.

    Zek's face dropped, and her voice hushed. "The heat was so great that it melted rock and personnel alike. It also opened an inter-dimensional fissure to a parallel world."

    Mary's eyes and mouth widened. "Get out of town!" She exclaimed.

    "Place separated by a mountain range of its own. One half perpetually bathed by the sun called Sunside, and the other in perpetual night, called Starside." Zek paused for several moments. "The Russians, after stabilising the situation at Perchorsk, sent an exploratory team through the Gate."

    Formal detected Zek's emphasis on the word 'gate', that gave it the capital 'G'. She was reeling; this landlocked civilisation that had barely developed space travel, had discovered a frakking parallel dimension!

    Such stuff as science fiction was made of.

    "The team found out two things, fairly quickly."

    "Oh yeah?" Mary peered at the other. "What?"

    "The Gate was only one way. From Earth to Starside. No obvious way back. And Vampires are real."

    Mary's office chair rolled into the wall behind her as she stood up in shock, glaring down at Zek. "WHAT?! Frak off! Vampires are real?" She suddenly calmed as a thought occurred to her. "Hold on, how do we know?" She tapped one fingernail on the desk between them. "You said the trip was one way. How do we know what the team discovered."

    "You're a bright girl." Foener smiled up at her. "You carved through all that to the salient point of this lesson."

    "And?"

    "There was already another Gate. One way, from Starside to Earth. The source of our historical vampire legends and myths."

    Mary realised her eyes were spending a lot of the time getting narrowed, this morning, as she narrowed them again to regard the senior E-Branch operative.

    Some things were settling into place, matching up.

    Vampires were real, eh?

    All that training in using crossbows, flamethrowers, handguns with silver ammunition. Wooden bullets. Starting to make a bit of drokking sense, now.

    "If-if anyone-" Mary stumbled over her reaction, "wr-writes a b-book about my life, there will be a l-lot of italics usage he-hereabouts." Her left index finger transcribed a circle above the desk. "It's here isn't it? I know past performance is no indication of future performance, but based on my luck since encountering you people, if there is a location on Earth that this Starside gate goes to, it's here, isn't it?"

    "Right beneath us." Zek acknowledged.

    Mary shook her head, and face-palmed. "Damn."

    "Tributary underground river through the hillside. E-Branch built The Refuge above it, so that we could continue to monitor it, and we use the orphanage as a cover. The children do not know anything about it." She glared up at Mary. "And you are not going to tell them."

    "They have a right to know!" The newest agent countered hotly, "Right before we load them on a coach, and send them far away. Whose stupid idea was it to build an ******* orphanage above a route for vampires to enter our world?" It was not lost on her that she had referred to her adopted planet as "our world." Had she tacitly agreed to help E-Branch out with this? "Why not an arms depot? Then when one comes through, you set the timer, and run like buggery!"

    "Why not an arms depot?" Zek's turn to paraphrase, "Oh, I dunno. Perhaps when the British government asked the Romanian government, 'can we build an arms depot on your land', planning permission was refused?" She emphasised her retort with a bit of arm waving. "Plus, if we did blow this arms depot of yours, the inter-dimensional route would still be here, just a bit wider, and easier to climb out off. And where would we monitor for the next intrusion from?"

    Mary had no answer.

    Still glaring, Zek continued after a pause. "On their side, the Wamphyri-"

    "The what?"

    The telepath waved a dismissive hand. "What they call a Great Vampire on Starside. Our versions, apart from maybe Dracula, are poor, weak, cousins. Trust me, you do not wish to meet a Wamphyri."

    "I'm not exactly looking forward to meeting a vampire!"

    "Anyway, as I was saying, on their side, they fear the Gate that comes here. There is no-one rushing to come through. Given their evil excesses, one wonders how you would annoy them, but if you did that, and got banished from Starside, one option would be to get sent through the Romanian Gate, and arrive in the sump beneath the Refuge."

    Zek rose from the table, pushing her chair back. "So, Agent Formal, now that you've been brought up to date, you up for a tour of the parts of the Refuge that you have not yet seen?" She grinned, "Unless you need to..."

    "What, change my underwear? Hold on, let me check." Mary paused for effect. "I'm fine." She sidestepped from the doorway out of the file room. "After you."

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  13. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2002
    Yikes! That would be quite a surprise. I quite liked the story of how the Gate was created; very interesting!
     
    Sith-I-5 likes this.
  14. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Location: ‘The Refuge’ Orphanage, Romania. 1990s


    Mary and Zek arrived at the secure room which served as the Armoury.

    It was in the Administration wing, where the children were not permitted, and the local civilian staff would have needed a key to enter.

    Mary had been here a few weeks, so did not know what had prompted the other woman to open up about the real purpose of the childrens’ home in which both of them worked, and the threat currently facing E-Branch.

    “Are we expecting-" She started to query, then let go a bit of excited squeeing as she grabbed a heavy stainless steel automatic handgun off the rack of dis-similar weapons, racked back the slide along the barrel to confirm there was no slug inside, then did a bit of play-aiming with it in a double-handed grip.

    "You alright?" Zek queried from behind her, and pointedly kicking the door shut with the heel of her boot, so no-one in the hallway saw what was in here. "You sound like you've got a slow puncture."

    "I cannot believe you have one of these!"

    "What. A gun? What does the word 'Armoury' mean where you live?"

    "Company went out of business in 1986. It's a Bren Ten, Zek. Sonny used one of these."

    "Okay." Foener looked blank.

    "Sonny Crockett? Miami Vice?"

    "Okay."

    Mary shook her head. "Philistine." She used the heel of her other hand to jam a 15-slug clip of silver bullets into the hollow hand-grip, and racked the slide again, feeding the first one into the barrel. “And another thing,” She continued, “if the films and myths are true, shouldn’t we be saving the silver bullets for werewolves?”

    “Silver is poisonous to vampire flesh. .” Zek responded, stepping next to her, and looking over the assorted weapons, “They can heal most wounds, but something hit or damaged by silver will have to be sloughed off.”

    Mary audibly gagged when she visualised what that meant, putting hand over her mouth. “Uh, gross.”

    “They’re also not fond of garlic.” Zek reminded, pointing to the side of the room, where crossbows, both metal and plastic, and Olde Worlde wooden-stocked ones, were racked alongside dozens of feather fletched arrows and quarrels. “If you have time during an emergency, you can dip the tips of your arrows in garlic oil.”

    The veteran operative watched as Mary picked a holster that would need latching round the top of her thigh, and hitched up her skirt to tie the thing in place.
    “You can try wear it like that, if you want, but vampires are fast. So you need to be able to get to your sidearm faster. With that heavy thing, I would recommend a shoulder holster. Plus, you don’t want your gun getting tangled up in your skirt at a vital moment.”

    Mary hesitated, thinking. “Mm.”

    Zek got her own handgun, a snubnosed black 6.35mm Beretta 418 automatic, racking in a clip, and expertly clipped an abbreviated holster to the back of her own skirt’s waistband, and slid the gun in it. After a pause, she slid the holster, holding the black moulded thing in her palm, and showing it to the new recruit.

    "Pancake holster. Made of a material called Kydex. K-Y-D-E-X. Two varieties. IWB for inside waistband. OWB for outside waistband. This is obviously-"

    "Outside waistband." Mary finished. She proceeded with the thigh holster, intending to get a second sidearm for her waistband. She eyed Zek's choice critically. "Shouldn't imagine much stopping power with that little thing."

    "Getting the silver into the vamp is the important thing. More important than blowing it away."

    Formal lowered her skirt, patting and pushing it back into place, looking down to see if the weapon made a visible bulge. There was a heavy metallic clatter as the Bren slipped down her leg and hit the floor. "Damn it." She muttered in annoyance, squatting down to collect it.

    "That was never staying on your leg. That's not even a gun. That's a space station."

    Mary checked the dropped weapon over for damage, careful not to point it at either herself or Zek. "Surely there must be some way of keeping it in place."

    "How about an actual belt, with straps hanging down your leg to either your holster, or what is called a platform; which in turn can hold holsters or other things. A split skirt with the vent on that side would be better to give you quick access to it" Foener dropped to her knees beside the rookie agent, grapping a different set of webbing from a nearby shelf, and lifting the near side of Mary's skirts, while the other looked down at her, pensively. "Hold still." Zek instructed. "Actually, be easier if you take the skirt off for a moment. Give me room to work."

    To be continued...

    Thanks to Wikipedia for Miami Vice and James Bond' gun info
    .

    Thanks also to @Sarchet , for holster-information.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  15. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Location: ‘The Refuge’ Orphanage, Romania. 1990s

    Suitably “gunned up”, the two women made their way to a discrete door of very thick metal, that led to a spiral metal staircase, winding down under the Refuge.

    Mary gritted her teeth as she followed Zek down, the staircase not as immobile as she would have preferred, the structure wobbling slightly with each footfall.

    clank clank clank clank

    Each footfall against the bare metal of the steps, echoed across the interior abyss that opened up beneath her.

    There was an expanse of metal and stone flooring at least two storeys below, well lit by the fluorescent lights pinned to the ceiling now above her, which was under the ground floor of the orphanage.

    The place was a little damp, which was oxidising the bare metal of the railing, so even as she slid her palm down it to secure herself, she had to be careful not to catch her fingers on the rust flakes. The forearm of her sweater kept catching though. If for some bizarre reason she was unable to find her way back up, she could follow the clumps of lemon wool left on the bannister.

    “Well, this is charming.” She opined to the back of Zek’s head. The other woman did not respond, and Mary bit her tongue, silently enduring the mental torture of the descent until the soles of her shoes planted themselves to the worn grey paving stones at the base of the staircase.
    She immediately started examining her left sleeve to evaluate the damage.

    Zek looked around the sparsely laid out place, then looked back at her. “You okay?”

    “No!” The Arcateenian shivered, partly from the chill, partly from the feel of this place. She glanced at the bolted metal trapdoor in the centre of the floor. It had more in common with a metal drain cover on an urban street, than something that should be inside what was essentially a basement. The trapdoor was flanked by two light-brown, knee-high cylinders of concrete, with metal access hatches of their own. “You?”

    Foener looked grim. “I’m not exactly fond of the place either, but I have come down here a lot. You get used to it.”

    Formal did not want to be around here long enough to ‘get used to it’.

    “Okay, the tour.” Zek indicated the two abbreviated vertical pipes. "Ladders inside each allowed workers to climb down into the sump, for maintenance, etc." She turned and pointed off to a shadowed alcove to Mary’s right. “Telephone direct to the E-Branch control room upstairs, and to the telephone beneath us in the underground tunnel.”

    "Not London?" Mary queried. "What if we get attacked?"

    Zek rolled eyes. "Remember what the 'E' in E-Branch signifies. If we get attacked, believe me, they'll know." She pointed to the set of rusting man-height metal lockers. "Waterproofs to change into for descending into the drain.”

    “Which we are not going to do.” Formal emphasised, glaring at the human.

    “Which we are not going to do.” Zek confirmed.

    Mary breathed a sigh of relief.

    “Beneath us, as well as the telephone, are the manually operated levers to set off the charges, that will bring this place down on top of any invading Wamphyri.”

    The Arcateenian narrowed her eyes at her East German colleague –you heard a lot of accents in two hundred years – “Wouldn’t that have the same effect as my idea, how did you put it? Make the inter-dimensional walkway a bit wider, and easier to climb out off?”

    Foener paused, thinking about it. “Actually, yes.”

    Formal crossed her arms defensively. “Well, next time you go self-righteously flapping your arms at me like the Next Karate Kid-” She referred to the recent one with the girl, which her E-Branch mentor at the school in Cambridge, England, had taken her to see; as reward for getting her certificate for Bronze Water Safety, “-I’m not going to automatically assume that you know what you are talking about.”

    Zek clutched at her own breast. “Oh, that hurts.”

    “I should think so too; that was a **** film.”

    Both of them snickered at the shared experience and opinion.

    “Let’s get out of here.” The telepath led the way back to the rickety staircase, while Mary wished she had the freedom to change back to her natural form, so she could just float back up to ground level, rather than climb the rusty death trap.
    This was going to be worse than the descent.

    "You should bring Mihail down here, with watercolours and a pad. He's quite the artist." Formal took a breath and grabbed at the rough railing to start pulling herself up. "Show new agents an artist's impression, and then only come down here in an emergency."

    "He's nine."

    "Still a good artist."

    To be continued…
     
  16. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Placeholder
     
  17. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Adventure in Australia

    Disclaimer: None of this is mine. I’m just inserting my npc into the events of Brian Lumley’s E-Branch: Invaders, to provide background for the RP character.

    [​IMG]

    Looking out through the darkened lenses of her sunglasses, hot breeze whipping her short blonde hair around, Mary sat in the back of the uncomfortable, bouncing jeep, while her driving companions, Jake Cutter and Liz Merrick sat up front, bickering like a married couple. Occasionally, to change things up a bit, they treated each other to long silences. Again like a married couple.

    On either side of the dirt road that they sped along, the Australian sun baked down on parched orangey-red desert plains and parched hills.

    If the jeep broke down out here, they were frakked.

    Well, the two up ahead would be, certainly. What with the human reliance on water. She would probably survive a bit longer.

    Both were in check shirts and jeans, while she had paired a black camisole top with straps and a lace modesty panel, with a citrus-coloured ra-ra miniskirt and black kneeboots. To use the jargon of women who knew what they were talking about, she had "accessorised" with a small downward-pointing yellow triangle badge with rounded points, pinned into the left breast of the lace panel, the number 22 stencilled in black on it.

    While at The Refuge in Romania, she had helped the children make their own badges, to induct them into the fictional United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, or U.N.C.L.E.; and if Liz or Jake bothered to press her on the matter, and for as long as they believed her lying arse, she would further clarify that she was just a junior field agent with UNCLE's Section III: Enforcement and Intelligence.

    Liz, though a young woman like Mary herself looked, was a rookie E-Branch operative, and a telepath. She was five-seven, comparable in height to Mary; black-brown hair normally long and free-flowing, but today rubber-banded into a ponytail so as not to blind everyone in the jeep; and less endowed in the breast department. When pressed, she described herself as willow-waisted, though Mary had no idea what that meant.

    Jake was the new guy. A mane of brown hair that would be wild and unkempt if he did not keep it tied back in a single braided pigtail. His nose was broken, high on the bridge, scars on the left side of his thin face, and taller than both females at six-two.

    Formal had noticed that the head of E-Branch, Ben Trask, and several members, were standoffish around Jake, and she had no idea why.

    Given that she had sufficient clearance now to know all about the Branch's primary mission, the location and extermination of vampires around the planet Earth, she was at a loss why no-one was explaining what the deal with Jake was.

    Still, it was nice not to be the newbie for once.

    ****

    A couple of hours later, thoroughly sick for the forty-fifth time over, of the way the synthetic seats stuck to the back of her thighs, she felt herself fall forward and her face bounce hard off the seat in front as the jeep skidded unexpectedly to a halt.

    “I told you,” Liz predictably chided from the front and right, half turning in her seat, “wear your seatbelt!”

    “You’re noth the bothh of me.” Mary lisped through mashed lips, tasting a tinge of blood. Her own words sounded stupid to her as well, but she just hadn’t abided the idea of being strapped in for hours on this uncomfortable ride, with the baking seat sticking to her exposed shoulder blades.

    Merrick ignored her response. “Are you okay?”

    “I’ll live.”

    Liz punched Jake on the arm for snickering, which he ignored, looking out his side of the vehicle at a rough home-made wooden sign, evidently intended for the few road travellers crazy enough to come through here.

    Eventually, both women followed his gaze.

    The sign read: Bruce’ Gas Station. See the Creechur

    “So what do you girls think?” Jake asked, without looking around.

    "Can I have an ice cream?" Formal quipped, hand above her eyes to shade them from the bright sun baking this part of the desert.

    "I very much doubt we'll find ice cream out here," Liz smiled grimly, "much more likely to find beers. Not necessarily cold, either." She un-snapped her seatbelt and stood up to lean on the roll bar topping the dusty windscreen, and gaze at the distant shack with their binoculars. "I say we check it out."

    "Okay." Jake fired up the engine and jerked the Land Rover forward, plumping Liz back into her seat. "Seatbelts on, both of you."

    This time, Mary obeyed, pulling her seatbelt diagonally down from her left shoulder to her right hip, and fumbling for the catch, while Merrick looked between the front seats to check on her.

    "Look, I'm drokking doing it," she complained. "Eyes front."

    The day noticeably approached evening as they drove down the bumpy track towards the rough-looking shack at the base of a hill that advertised itself as having gasoline.
    Another home-made wooden sign at the left of the structure, mentioned the mis-spelt "creechur".

    Jake skidded the Land Rover sideways into a halt, thirty metres short of the shadowed doorway.

    Mary wasted no time releasing her seatbelt, but stayed in the vehicle, looking round at their surroundings. So long after they had left the town of Wiluna, it was like an alien landscape out here.
    Alien enough during the day, but long shadows were starting to form, making it seem differently strange again.

    "What can I do for you folks?" A thick Australian accent called from the shadowed storefront, its owner as yet unseen, "Gas is it?"

    "Yes, please!" Jake called back for them.

    "And beers if you have them."

    "Ah, Poms is it?" The voice used the traditional Aussie term for the British. "Yes, we have beers. Come on inside."

    "Sounds friendly enough." Merrick commented.

    Mary looked at her companion. "Yeah." She picked up her shapeless cloth gymbag from the seat beside her, and pulled it over her neck, settling the thing under her arm.
    She opened the door and climbed out, glad to stretch her legs.

    The other two disembarked as well, slamming their doors. The three of them approached the shack, with Formal doing the most to keep an eye on their surroundings.

    Yup. They were definitely losing the light.

    They entered the doorway, finding the interior a simple affair.

    A plank of wood formed a counter, behind which the bearded proprietor, face tanned and wrinkled by the sun and hard living, stood.
    "Wide choice of beers as long as you like Fosters." He grinned, selecting three green bottles from the row on a shelf behind him, and putting them on the counter, using an opener to pop the caps off. "That's my favourite, and as I'm the one who mainly drinks them..." He trailed off, offering the bottles.

    Formal noted that both she and Jake had clocked the beaded curtain behind the counter.

    "So what brings you folks out here?" The man asked, while Mary observed Cutter trying a mouthful of his beer before she tried hers, and when she did she was surprised to find the warm liquid wasn't flat, but fully carbonated.

    She took a refreshing gulp of the liquid as Jake answered that one. "We are out here to see the lakes."

    "That will be met with disappointment."

    That was a pun, she knew. There was an actual Lake Disappointment.

    "So, what about this creature then?" Liz asked, "Can I still see it?"

    "Of course, just you follow Old Bruce." The proprietor grabbed one of those gas lantern things with a flame inside the glass. "Just you coming, Miss?"

    Jake hesitated, and Mary could see that he was reluctant to split himself from Liz.

    I didn't know you cared. She thought to herself. "I'll go with her."

    "Come on then." Old Bruce shuffled between them, and stepped out into the now light blue sky, heading down the trail at the side of the shack.

    Mary walked beside Merrick over the rough terrain, and after several minutes, could see ahead of them, a sun-bleached wooden barn.

    "There's no trees around here." She pointed out. "Think he had to import the wood?"

    "No idea."

    Bruce unlocked the shack door, and opened it wide, revealing an ominously black interior.

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  18. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Australia Adventure - continued


    Mary noted the proprietor step behind her team-mate, then looked on in surprise as he planted a hairy hand on Liz' back, and gave her a heavy shove that sent her into the darkness, the woman audibly sprawling.

    Old Bruce rounded on her, grabbing her left wrist with his right hand, and tugged hard to bring her to the doorway, but Formal dug her leading foot in and leaned back, stopping her momentum, but she did not miss the amount of strength that he was applying.

    "Hey!" Liz Merrick called from inside the barn. Sounded annoyed.

    "Ah, a tough one are you?" Bruce enquired, glaring into her eyes. "You thought Old Bruce didn't recognise you?"

    Mary stared, trying to get her head around the man's statement. "I'm sorry, you know me?"

    Looking past his snarling face, she could see the dirt-covered form of Merrick reaching the doorway, looking dazed as she supported herself with a hand on the wall edge.

    "We never talked; you always were a snooty bitch, hanging about with the teachers."

    Mary's gaze flicked back to him, barely seeing the back of his free hand drawing back, and then, everything went black.

    ****

    pow!

    The noise of the discharged weapon in the closed space brought Mary back to full consciousness, where her senses were assaulted on several fronts - the feel of a bruise on the side of her chin, rough ground or soil scratching at her back from whatever she was laying on; the place fragging stunk, almost to the point that she could not breathe.
    Thank heaven for the nose plugs that the three of them had been ordered to wear.

    She was also experiencing the high-pitched whine of tinnitus.

    What the hell, had that ******* boxed her ears as well?!

    She was stretched out on the floor of the barn, and sensed movement from beyond her feet, something running right to left and jiggling at the door there, and breathing heavily.

    Mary could see nothing in the darkness, and was laying there dealing with the tinnitus, as well as the weight on her chest, which she was unsure if that meant a heart condition, or cancer, or...her right hand padded over her chest to investigate, encountering her bag, which must have been tossed on top of her.

    She quickly rifled blindly through it, getting her fingers round the butt of her chrome-plated Bren Ten automatic, and pulled it out, ready to use, as soon as she had a target.

    "Who-who is that?" Liz voice came out of the stygian blackness from the direction of the door rattling.

    "It's me." Mary reassured from the floor.

    "Oh, Mary. Thank God." Liz' voice gushed, "Help me get out of here!"

    "Liz!" Jake's voice sounded muffled, clearly coming from outside the barn, very likely right outside. "Stand back!"

    "Wait up, Girlie." A ominous voice from Mary's right sounded out of the darkness, followed by an anonymous, but close-sounding screeel of un-oiled metal.

    pow!

    The flash that illuminated the barn interior in momentary yellow, which darkened instantly, had showed her Liz half turned with her arm stretched back to aim her pistol at a set of wall-to-wall vertical bars like those of an old-style jail in a Western, and a silhouette coming through them, eyes glowing a sickly sulphurous yellow.

    Despite everything going to blackness, she had gotten enough of a fix in her mind to aim her Bren, and fired off a shot of her own at the creature's torso, the largest mass as she had been taught in Basic Training.

    Boom!

    The momentary flash showed the vampire, for that was what was stalking Liz Merrick, thrown back through the bars onto a collection of moving shadows.

    "Frag!" Mary rolled towards her colleague and came up onto her knees, then forced herself up into a standing position, although she was swaying slightly. She faced the bars while behind her, the door was flung open, and she could hear Jake excitedly giving Liz his news.

    "This is it! This is the place!"

    "You think I don't know that?!" Merrick retorted, voice high in hysteria.

    "I'm fine, if anybody's asking." Mary called back to them, gun aimed at the gathering shadows beyond the bars.

    "Come on, back to the car!" Jake ordered.

    Formal took a step back, turned and ran like hell, trailing the other two over the sand and into the night.
    There was some moonlight, so in comparison with the barn it seemed fairly lit up, and the three navigated fairly easily towards their Land Rover, only for Jake and Liz to pull up short, swearing.

    Mary slowed to a stop, and glanced back towards the See the Creechur barn, only to see about five silhouettes ambling zombie-like across the landscape. "Don't stop, keep going." She turned to join the others, peering past them. "Oh crap."

    Twenty metres ahead of them, the Land Rover was occupied already. Two vampire males, basically black silhouettes with glowing eyes, one seated, one standing like a World War Two Army General.

    "Oh, we're in deep trouble here." Liz panted, bending over panting with her hands on the thighs of her jeans.

    "You girls head north to the road," Jake suggested, "I will try to lead this lot out into the desert. The others will have heard our distress signals and already be on their way."

    Mary had other ideas, gauging the Land Rover to be within range of her weapon. Her Bren was heavier than the Browning and Baby Browning that her team-mates packed. "Liz, go north. I'll get our car back." She stepped forward past the other two, raising her weapon. "Fire in the hole."

    Boom!

    The standing vamp's head exploded, basically going from a headed silhouette to an unheaded one, falling into the lap of the seated one, who quickly put the Rover into gear, ploughing up a spray of sand as he accelerated it after Jake, who, with Liz, had run off.

    "Ah, crap." Holding her gun up to the sky, Mary glanced around to see if she had the anonymity for a shapeshift back to her Arcateenian form, where she would be able to blur after the departing vehicle, but the five vampires that had trailed them from the barn, were still following, and had line-of sight on her. "Dammit."

    She ran off after the vehicle, tracking it via the red lamps at the back. Because of the rough terrain, it had little chance of getting up much head of speed.

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  19. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Australian Adventure - continued


    She was forced to forget about the bouncing rear lights of the Land Rover for a wee moment when an unseen shape loomed fast out of the darkness to her right and did a fair approximation of a rugby tackle into her right hip, less breaking her balance than lifting her off the ground and sub-ballistically changing her heading like a Tron light cycle!

    Mary gritted her teeth in pain as her arm ground painfully against the dark gravel beneath them, momentarily enveloped in choking dust and dessicated earth.

    They fought, rolling across the ground, she desperately trying to hold onto the Bren and make sure she did not get bitten; her barrel-chested, mesomorph attacker trying to turn her onto her back, losing purchase on her wrists and her top half as she tried to combine backtracking on her bum with kicking him in the face.

    He was barely visible in the dark, a handy cloud in the otherwise cloudless sky covering the vital moonglow off, but the sulphurous yellow eyes, larger and more bulbous than most humans, let her know where he was.

    Then she was on her back, kicking at him with raised legs, when he managed to be on his knees between the V of her raised knees, his dead-chilled hands roughly pushing her thighs aside and hard to the ground.

    The tactical change caught her out, but she switched gears, resisting with all her might, thankful that he was not doing this with Liz, for with his vampire strength, there'd likely be a couple of wet snaps, a lot of screaming and the poor telepath beached like a whale with dislocated hips.

    Backtracking from him, she could feel the back of her ra-ra skirt taut under her backside, pulling at her waist, then he managed to get his right knee over her left thigh, pinning it to the ground in the arch between his own knee and his foot.

    This was a familiar judo position, easy to counter, but a friendly bout that could be tapped out off was a far different affair from this battle to the dea-

    "Looks likes I have meself a Sheila!" The happy vampire spoke for the first time, betraying a thick Australian accent. "C'mon, get your rat out!"

    She had no idea what the hell that meant, but in their physical closeness, she got the sense that he was reaching over her torso, now that he had her pinned."I have a boyfriend!" She blurted. A lie.

    He chuckled at that, "What makes you think I gives a rat's arse?"

    "I don't know!" Mary heard her own voice rise in panic. Being in close physical contact increased the risk ten-fold. "I just threw it in there."

    "Coincidentally, that's my plan too!"

    What a charmer!

    Just then, the moon cleared the cloud cover, providing welcome illumination, and showing his healthy tuft of unruly silver hair above the silhouette of his face, which likely meant that he was a blonde.

    Holding the Bren in her right hand out of his reach, she sat up forcefully, slapped aside his grasping hand with her left one, and got a good grip of the hair she had spotted, then, leaning to her right as much as she could with her left leg pinned, allowed him to push her right knee to the floor, then she put the outside of her right boot to the ground, placed her boot to his left knee, which was supporting half his weight, and shot her right leg straight to push his left knee back, while pulling on his head, doing her best to control where he fell snarling, just to the side of her, on his chest and face, while she was on her side, facing his right shoulder.

    She would not be able to hold him for long, and shooting him would not be a good idea, for getting drenched in a vampire thrall's pathogen-engorged blood risked her getting waxed by E-Branch just as easily as if she'd rolled into base camp with a vampire bite.

    Instead, another idea occurred to her.

    Bringing the gun forward, she nosed the stainless steel barrel down behind the nape of his neck, then under the back of his t-shirt or whatever he was wearing, getting the entire gun and her right fist inside the back of his top, then one-handedly jettisoned a silver-jacketed bullet from the barrel.

    She remembered her lessons from the Refuge; silver was like acid to these things, and sure enough, it was his turn to start screaming, trying reach behind himself and buck her off with the same intensity that she had been trying to do to him earlier.

    Mary deftly extricated herself from under him, scooting clear while covering him with the gun.

    The sound of a gunshot echoed over the dunes. Quieter than her Bren, or Jake's Browning.

    That was Liz! She hoped the woman wasn't in any danger.

    Rising to her feet, and stepping clear, Mary glanced around to see if she had any immediate threats, then discharged her weapon into the back of the vamp's head, calming him down forever.

    She ran off in the direction that she had heard the gunshot come from, and topped a rise to spot Liz and Jake climbing into the now empty Land Rover, the vehicle facing away from her.

    "Hold on!" She called, half running, half skipping down the hill, to avoid coming a cropper on the sliding sands, and jumping into the back seat as Jake gunned the engine, driving them the hell out of there.

    "Hunter One from Zero One. Is that you down there?" sounded from under the dashboard.

    A bright white light pierced the night sky from up there somewhere, sweeping over the desert in front of the car as Jake reached for the handheld microphone on its curly green wire.
    "Hunter One here. Where the hell have you been?" Cutter demanded hotly. "Anything behind us and moving is a threat."

    "Copy that."

    Cocking her head as she held on inside the crazily bouncing vehicle, Formal spotted the roar of an approaching aircraft.

    "Stop!" Merrick called as the car topped another rise.

    "Feeling bloodthirsty?" Jake countered, as he turned the wheel and stepped on the brakes, the car's rear stepping out to the right and skidding a short distance, Formal sliding across the back seat to bang into the corner as the car stopped at an angle.

    Sitting up, she discovered the car's position afforded the three of them a view back into the valley that they had just driven from, where the moonlight showed almost twenty bipedal silhouettes trailing across the valley floor.

    On foot, the E-Branch agents would have been run to ground eventually.

    Mary caught lozenge-shaped black objects falling from under the swooping aircraft as it passed over the valley, and climbed for sky, leaving in it's wake, dark silence, and then a moment later, billowing yellow-white fire that spread and expanded all across the ground, mercilessly swallowing up the dark striding figures, stark against the brightness surrounding them.

    Mary could feel the intense heat, and hear the anguished shrieks from here.

    The whup-whup of a pair of transport helicopters swooped over the Land Rover, their search beams momentarily dazzling the trio, then descended into the next valley, several hundred metres ahead.

    Jake Cutter turned to watch them land. "We better go report in."

    ****

    Mary watched, with a touch of envy, the special forces folk get into their bio-hazard gear, and don gas masks.

    As they spread out and moved slowly into the charred area where the incendaries had been dropped, she commented, "That's what we should be wearing, if we're going up against vampires."

    There was no response from the other two, and she turned to see that they had caught up with the bald, operational and E-Branch leader, Ben Trask; his tall and lantern-jawed second-in-command, Ian Goodly, and a rotund man in a suit whom she had not yet encountered.

    The stranger was throwing a wobbly, physically as well as figuratively, about the man-made firestorm earlier.

    "What was that, napalm?" He raged at the calm-looking Goodly. "But in any case, what does it matter? What happened here tonight was sheer murder!"

    Murder? She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. Surely everybody on this op had been briefed.
    She wandered over to join Liz and Jake, just as the former asked her question for her: "Who is he?"

    "He's supposed to be our local liaison officer for the Western Desert Region." Trask answered with his own frown. "A handful of top men in the Aussie Government know what we're doing, just how important our work is. Even so, they couldn't simply let us loose, give us carte blanche to get on with things."

    "Another observer!" Jake exclaimed.

    "Another?"

    Jake nodded to Mary. "First this U.N.C.L.E. chick, and now him."

    Trask regarded her coolly for a long silent moment, as she dodged his gaze and silently pantomimed the innocent whistling trope behind her team-mates' backs. "Sure. But whether we want Ms Formal and Mr Miller or not, we've got them, and maybe the best way to keep them quiet will be to let them see for themselves something of what's going on."

    "Well, he's seen it," Jake growled, "but he isn't quiet."

    "He hasn't seen everything." Trask's face was grim. He looked to Liz. "What do you think?"

    Liz closed her eyes and stood still. Her forehead furrowed, and Mary guessed the girl was using her telepathy. "The worst of them, the 'old man', Bruce Trennier? - is still alive."

    Mary narrowed her eyes at hearing the surname. Ring of familiarity.

    "Alive, afraid, and angry." Liz continued. "He's still very dangerous, very clever too. Despite that he tries to hide his thoughts, maybe because of it, I know he's there."

    When Liz went on to mention 'mindsmog', Mary nodded to herself, remembering the description of the mental fog that vampires used to conceal their thoughts and presence, in the files at the...the Refuge. "Hold on." She cut in, frowning without really knowing why.

    Trask, Jake and Liz all looked at her, the telepath opening her eyes at the interruption.

    The Arcateenian looked off into space. "There was a guy at the Refuge named Trennier. And this Brucie said he knew me." She focussed on Trask, the bald sixty year-old's expression, positively hangdog now, a feeling of worry growing inside her as she put the clues together.

    This frakker knew me, she thought, ignoring Trask' saying to stay focussed on the matter at hand. worked at the orphanage, and is now a vampire. She looked up at her boss. "Did the Refuge get attacked?"

    Trask just looked at her, while her mind ran away with the possibilities.

    "Oh Christ. The kids?"

    "We have a job to do." Trask ground out. He turned over to where Goodly had the liaison coralled. "Mr Miller! If you will please accompany me? I hope to be able to answer some of your questions..."


    To be continued
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2020
  20. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Note: my only material relates to Mary Formal, and a bit of amended dialogue. The rest is copyrighted to Brian Lumley, author of E-Branch: Invaders.

    Australian Adventure - continued


    By unspoken agreement, or perhaps spoken while she had been watching the troops who had gone ahead, Trask's group proceeded to follow the first team in three groupings: first, a line of four heavily armed special agents; then a few metres behind them, Trask, Goodly, Miller; then, behind probably because they were drokking exhausted, herself, Liz and Jake.

    The lone pump ahead was gone, blue flame geysering into the night sky, fed from an underground storage tank.

    The only real liaison, Mr Miller, was still raging loudly now that he had the ear of Trask: "Do you think there can ever really be an answer to this, Mr Trask? Good Lord, Man! But who gave you the authority do such as this? I mean--- Look!"

    She looked where he pointed - a cluster of charred rocks, and poking up from them, a forearm and hand, but burned down to the bone, and, and, still twitching, twig fingers bizarrely grasping at air.

    "You there," Trask caught the attention of a soldier wearing a flamethrower's tank on his back, "you missed something."

    The hazmat-suited soldier toddled back over, and directed liquid yellow flame into the centre of the rocks, targetting something other than the arm, but Mary did not have the angle to see what it was.

    Beyond them, the blue flame shrank into itself as it, she guessed, exhausted the underground tank, plunging the night back into darkness for a moment, then belched a final fireball that rolled up the cliffside to dissipate near the top.

    Miller bent over, hands on knees, and brought up the carrots. And not just the carrots.

    Eventually he straightened, wiping his mouth with a limp-looking hankerchief, while Ben Trask watched him, unsympathetically.

    "You better stay here." Trask conceded, then looked towards Mary, Jake and Liz. "You two stay with him. But make sure he gets a good look at it...if anything happens."

    Feeling ignored by the Boss Man, despite his unexpected cooperation with her U.N.C.L.E. fib, Mary glanced at her driving companions, now flanking Miller.

    They ought to be safe back here. She thought, then checked on Trask and Goodly, proceeding back to the shack, noting that both had produced wicked-looking machine-pistols from somewhere. And my kids are dead.

    Nobody had confirmed her suspicions about Romania, but she knew. She knew.

    She put on a burst of speed, though less than a jog, to join them, opening her shoulder bag to pull the Bren.

    Trask's team moved through the special forces soldiers performing clean-up on the casualties of the incendiary bombs, and found that a second half team of agents had put out the fire at the barn where she and Liz had been trapped. The agents pulled the front entrance, and aimed weapons and torch-beams into the darkness.

    Trask glanced over at Goodly, shouting, "What do you think? Do we burn him out?"

    "There's more than just him, Ben."

    "But can we handle them?"

    Mary kept a double-hand grip on her Bren, at the moment pointed down. Despite the thick smoke this close to the burning shacks, she was near enough to the pre-cog to see his tentative shrug. "I am not foreseeing any casualties, if that's what you mean. But it won't be pretty."

    "It never is." Trask turned and instructed their resident telepath to relay to the vamps that they were going to bring the mine shafts down around their ears.

    Mary could see, even from here, Liz' eyes closed in silent strained concentration, while Mr Miller enquired as to what was going on, then the dark-haired woman visibly relaxed. She'd either shat herself, or-

    "They're coming." Goodly warned.

    The Arcateenian looked back around, eyeing the structures warily. She took several steps to her left, giving her clear fields of fire on the main shack and the barn. If the vampires were in mine shafts, those two structures were all that she was aware off.

    There was tense silence, punctuated by the crackling of burning timbers and brush, and the brief whoosh of discharged flamethrowers. She looked round. Apart from the soldiers, still doing their thing with the first thralls to get incinerated, everyone else was still, not moving, not making a sound.

    "How many?" Ben wanted to know.

    "Three of them." Ian Goodly yelped. "On their way to hell. And one other who looks like he was born there! That'll be Bruce Trennier. And Ben, they're coming now!"

    "Good. I hate long waits," she muttered, smiling to herself and aiming the Bren at the shack where Bruce kept his beer bottles. It had occurred to her that if the surviving vampires were in the barn, they would encounter the agents that had gone inside. As long as she heard no shouts or gunfire, she could concentrate on one building.

    Three... indistinct silhouettes seemed to just appear in front of the shack, flowing across the landscape wreathed in grey vapour, their arms stretched in front of them. Some distance between their flying wedge and the E-Branch posse, but they were coming inexorably closer, with no-one doing anything.

    Mary Formal took aim on the centre figure, almost invisible against the dark blue background, flicked the safety off, and put one in his head, the back of the skull and brain matter flying back.

    This prompted the other personnel to open up, raking the three with automatic weapons fire, the flanking pair staggering nearer against multiple impacts, while the one she had shot, stopped and dropped to his knees.

    A horizontal lance of liquid flame crossed from somewhere to her right, lighting him and the night, up; and serving to highlight his fellow creatures of the night, which kept on coming, which was odd.

    "Everybody is using silver, right?" Mary wondered aloud. "Why, how, are they still moving towards us?"

    "Trennier is using them as shields." Ian Goodly fired a short burst at the nearest thrall. "Must be using his will to keep them coming."

    Trask called for everyone to target the vampire's legs, cut them down before they got too close, and everyone switched gears, but still they kept coming in their hypnotic shamble, closing the distance to forty or so, feet.

    Trask called to a man on his right, one of the special agents; Formal noticed his bandolier shift as something was plucked off it.

    Trask called, "Down!" as an now-obvious grenade arced into the rapidly shrinking gap between the E-Branchers and Trennier's human vampire shields.

    Goodly caught her round the waist and bore her to the ground, a second before a brilliant flash, and an echo that bounced off the valley walls.

    Mary awoke to the impacts of sod and pebbles raining down on and around her, but closed her eyes and gritted her teeth against the piercing ringing in her ears, and the man's weight on her, then opened them again to check her form, that she had not shape-shifted back to her natural glowing blue Arcan form, like she had in the explosion in that Russian Consulate in Istanbul, back in the Sixties.

    That had been a far larger explosion, of course.

    What she could see of herself, not blocked by Ian's still unconscious form, she was fine.
    She could feel the gentle inflation and deflation of his chest, to show that he was still breathing.

    Flickering light beyond his head returned her focus to the matter at hand: one of the thralls, burning fitfully, was down on his knees, with his arms blown away at the shoulders! At best, he was going to have difficulty getting back to his feet.

    The other...a blackened fleshy lump, shuddering and steaming.

    Trennier was exposed! Staggering on bent legs, hands and fingers elongating unnaturally, and his face now that of a snarling, charred, wolf's muzzle! He limped and shuffled through E-Branch's line; which was her first clue that it was not just her and Ian that had not coped well with the blast.

    Mary strained to push Ian off her, then switched tack to rolling him off to the side; she'd fought a vampire to a standstill; ought not to be this bloody hard!

    Then she was free, sitting up to see, level with her, Ben Trask on all fours next to their flamethrower operator, struggling to wrestle the equipment free of the unconscious man, while to her right, a clear route to Jake, Miller and Liz, was Bruce Trennier.
    As she watched, behind the vampire now, ridged, black bat ears were growing up from his steaming skull.

    Liz, seperated by several metres from Jake and the now-screaming Miller, was on the ground, scrambling on her backside to evade the looming near-Lord.

    "You, woman...thought caster? You thought to fool me?"

    Oh crap. He is targeting her! Formal scrabbled around her for her sidearm. It could not have gotten far.

    "You even taunted me. Very well, you will die with me."

    "Leave her alone, Brucie!" She yelled, sweeping her gaze across the fire-dotted, smoke-wreathed, battlefield.

    What the heck had been in that grenade? She wondered. You tended not to think of the Australian armed forces as having powerful weapons, but that grenade had not only levelled the playing field, it had levelled the players. EVERYBODY, almost, was down.

    Trennier was the only one walking, Jake the only one standing, Ben, her, Liz, Miller, still on the ground, no use to anyone just yet.
    No wait!
    Jake was running to Liz, grabbing her up by the waist to pull her away from the vampire, making it a few steps and then tripping over to sprawl in the dirt...only, they didn't.

    Her arms up in exasperation over the closeness of the failed rescue attempt, Mary could only gawp in shocked amazement as the pair vanished before her eyes!

    Movement and grunts from an unexpected quarter, grabbed her attention and she glanced over: Jake and Liz sprawling in the dirt, at least fifty feet from where they had been.

    A cry of triumph from Trask, then the audible roar of flammable liquid crossed the night to strike the robbed Trennier in the back, instantly wreathing the mewling, dancing creature in a vortex of fire.
    He sat heavily on the ground, but still did not succumb. One last effort to outlast the flames:

    Purple tendrils burst through his naked torso, his clothing long since burnt and floated away on the breeze, and squirted liquid onto the fires to douse them, but Trask kept up with the flamethrower, till the searchers of the barn emerged, and their flame operator took over.

    Within an hour, most of it was over, save for explosive and thermite charges being set inside the mine-shafts.

    End of Operation
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  21. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Note: my only material relates to Mary Formal, and any amended dialogue. The rest is copyrighted to Brian Lumley, author of E-Branch: Invaders (which is regretful, as he really went to town on the dialogue, here).

    Australian Adventure - Day Two


    How was that for an alarm clock?

    It was still dark when she had been awoken by the loud and getting louder whup-whup-whup of an arriving chopper, probably one of their jet-copters.

    It had been a late night for her. Decontamination shower after the operation, not as bad as Liz and Jake's, since her nose plugs had not come out.

    Some fierce Gypsy-type dressed in tanned Crocodile Dundee togs, had packed them off for the full deal - shower with something garlic-related, injections, some horrid garlic-derived drink, and all the while, the Gypsy standing close by, fingering his machete.

    She, Liz and Jake had been at their jeep in camp, when the Gypsy, Lardis Lidesci had arrived by chopper. The other two leaning on the Land Rover's left side, while she had been inside, her legs up along the back seat.
    Mary had instinctively opened the vehicle's right-side rear passenger door upon spying the man, and walked away, innocent as you like.

    She had the feeling he would be able to tell, somehow, that she wasn't human, and given what they were doing out here, that was not a revelation she wanted to be making, or have made for her.

    * * * *
    An hour, ninety minutes, later, and she was packed into Trask's tent with several other people, and at last, in her head, she had an idea of where she fitted in the food chain.

    Everyone in the tent was E-Branch, but only Trask, Goodly, Liz, and Jake were Espers. Eight men were in combat fatigues, but not the Australian special forces blokes that had cleaned up the fire-bombed vampire remains last night.
    These men were E-Branch agents or special agents.

    There were another two, technicians. One, she did not yet know; the other, Harvey, who mainly manned the Ops Truck, a large eighteen wheeler articulated lorry emblazoned with Castlemaine XXXX on the outside, but filled with enough communications equipment to give them worldwide comms, and a direct visual link with London HQ.

    Well, she was not an esper, despite her abilities. And no-one seemed to refer to any of the Espers as "agents". "Operatives", occassionally, but not "agents". Although she had thought the words to be synonymous. Also, she was not one of the two technicians, the team's computer and comms experts.

    Ergo, she, Mary, was an E-Branch agent. Must be.

    She noticed Jake, his arms crossed, and muscles bulging under his shirt sleeves, looking curiously back at her from the row in front. Probably about to tell her that she had spilled egg down her red-caped, light-blue Supergirl nightshirt.
    I'm a messy pup; get over it.


    "Why are you here?" He whispered between two people to her.

    Okay, perhaps not.

    She had some line ready, about the U.N.C.L.E. having complete access, when Trask, sitting on a folding camp table whose thin legs were audibly creaking under his weight, started addressing his audience.

    "I won't make a meal of this, and as soon as we are through here, I want you all packing up. I want us out of here A.S.A.P."

    She knew by now that the real liaison, Mr Miller, had done a runner in one of the jeeps. Her jeep in fact.
    The news had initially brought a smile to her, thinking that she could slip out of camp, shapeshift back into her normal form, and zip off in pursuit. There was a candidate for her monthly feed, though there was a lot of blubber to get her hand through.

    The update that the man had a three to three-and-a-half hour head start brought her up short. Too much of a lead.

    "Ops Truck and vehicles: strip them of everything important to us because we are leaving them behind. Our next target is too far away that we can simply drive to it.It was possible we could have stayed just as we are now, but something has come up. Our Aussie friends will have to follow on behind us, but as the brawn behind the brains, as it were-"

    Mary smiled at being included on the "brains" side, even if only by association.

    "-time is a luxury we've just run out of. So...what's the big hurry, eh?"

    She assumed the question was rhetorical, so did not raise her hand.

    "Well, you all know about our Mr Miller. But you don't know all about him. To recap: Miller's some kind of nut who believes in friendly aliens."

    Hey!

    "And despite that he's seen the enemy pretty close up, he thinks that we are the butchers. He thinks that the work that we did last night was a completely unjustified pre-emptive strike against a landing party of explorers from outer space, and that they only turned nasty in order to survive. He has even written books on the ettiquete of first contact. So obviously, in Miller's warped perceptions, we are obviously lacking in manners."

    Despite there being some home truths in what this human was saying, both in respect of Miller and E-Branch, this sounded to Mary more like character assassination, than an actual proper briefing.

    "It doesn't matter that 'our' aliens are stinking, murderous, vampires from a parallel world; Miller's mania would never accept that. He doesn't believe a word I've said to him - probably doesn't even believe they're vampires - but he does believe he can talk to them."

    She reckoned he'd have to be a bit more measured than the uncontrolled hysteria that she had seen of him, here.

    "Well, that in itself would not be a problem. His own people can look after him. Lock him up or do whatever necessary to make him look like an idiot - which he is - if Miller should start babbling his 'crazy stories' about our work to the press our other sensationalist outlets. So when I found out he'd made a run for it, in a way I was pleased."

    Me too.

    The table creaked again under the bald leader as he shifted his position. "But that was before I discovered what he had taken with him."

    Their Land Rover, as far as she knew. Probably necessary if he did not want to walk through the desert.

    "People, last night, our locators up at London HQ, headed up by David Chung, found us a new target. They found a hitherto unsuspected patch of mindsmog on the other side of the Australian continent. It was only there for a moment - someone's mental shield slipped, shall we say? - but it was the real thing, the unmistakable signature of a Lord of the Wamphyri."

    "Oh crap." Formal muttered, her folded arms falling to her side.

    "I'm talking about a Lord, yes. And what we have to remember is that the Thing we went up against last night, Bruce Trennier, that was a mere lieutenant - someone in thrall to a Lord - left behind by his maker and master for whatever reason."

    Trask paused, while the audience was silent.

    "Okay, this mindsmog, it was detected at the same time, I mean precisely the same time, that we were dealing with Trennier. Now, we know that many of the Wamphyri had the power of telepathic contact with their thralls even over great distances, so it is possible, indeed probable, that Trennier's unknown master 'felt' his lieutenant's death, and it so surprised or startled him that he let his guard down, if only for a moment. He might even have done it deliberately, try to establish better connection with Trennier to find out what was happening. As for our people in London, they were lucky."

    Not to be out here, listening to this!

    "Someone happened to be looking in the right place at the right time, and that's when they detected the evil 'aura' of a Great Vampire." Trask took a deep breath, and exhaled. "Of course, Chung forwarded this information to me, to have it intercepted by Peter bloody Miller! And now I couldn't give a damn about him speaking to the press or anyone else for that matter. But I do care that he could be on the way to deliver a warning to one of the worst threats that the world has ever faced...a warning that we are on our way to destroy it!"

    Mary ran the fingers of her right hand back through her hair. Oh well, this is going to be a clusterfrag.

    The grouping was dismissed soon after that, with Trask holding back Liz and Jake for some matter of import.

    Mary headed for her tent to get dressed. She had a vehicle to visit with a screwdriver, and a two-way radio to remove from under the dashboard.

    She had liked to feel that she and the two junior espers were a team, but she was seeing increasingly since, that their short term paths lay in a different direction to her own. She was only good for grunt work with the rest of the agents.

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2020
  22. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Note: my only material relates to Mary Formal, descriptions of Trask's explanation, and any amended dialogue. The rest is copyrighted to Brian Lumley.

    Australian Adventure - Day Two


    Mary paired with an agent named Ben Broomhall, to dis-assemble and take down the decontamination shower, carrying poles and panels across the camp, and packing into boxes for road transport.

    After the hot, sweaty work, she took a shower, and, towelling her hair dry rather than letting the unrelenting sun cook it into a mess, she repaired to the Ops Truck, which was the only air-conditioned place in camp.

    Pulling open the thick entrance door, and stepping up into the eighteen-wheeler artic', she found that she was not the first to come up with the idea - Liz Merrick and Ian Goodly were there first, with the pre-cog seated with the black-fatigued Duty Officer (D.O.) Jimmy Harvey, before the bank of communications equipment.

    Mary joined Liz, standing outside the work area, just enjoying the chilled air blasting across her shoulders and back of her neck.

    When Ben Trask entered half-an-hour later, with Jake in tow, what she was starting to regard as a critical mass of espers, and of course, the D.O. had to be here anyway, generally meant something of import beyond her pay grade was about to be discussed or revealed.

    She sighed. "I'll go."

    "Don't worry. You can stay." Trask advised as he moved to sit on the white horseshoe-shaped desk encompassing Ian and the D.O. "I have to speak to Jake, and I cannot think of any reason to leave anyone out. Ian, if I miss out some important detail, you'll be here to correct me. And Liz, there may be the odd tidbit of information that's new to you too."

    He launched into a briefing about a situation in Russia regarding the Perchorsk Gate, with elements that he had admitted were both confirmed facts, and unconfirmed information that the espers in London had managed to scry using their esoteric powers.
    As with the last briefing, there was some of his unique brand of character assassination in there as well.

    Two successive Army Generals, a Turkur Tzonov and a Mikhail somebody, whose name had not been as memorable, had taken military teams through the Perchorsk Gate to the parallel world in search of gold, that was apparently very plentiful there, but not considered of any value to the people there.

    Russia was, of course, almost bankrupt. Unable to pay its military, or afford to decommission its nuclear submarines properly, which was a side matter that E-Branch tracked.

    Formal could see the draw of gold. If you could go to Starside, get the stuff, and bring it back, you could buy quite a lot of wealth and power, or if you were the patriotic type, help the Russian finances.

    However, if she had been told there was gold "in them thar hills", she expected her response would have been, What, them thar hills where all the vampires live? Frag that!

    She was the wrong person to ask, perhaps, not caring too much about gold in the first place.

    Trask elaborated on two things of interest, the first of general interest, the second almost unbelievable, which was going some, considering what she had learned since being conscripted.

    She already knew about the Perchorsk Gate, of course, the Russian route into Starside, or back from there, the route one-way in each direction.

    The waters from a nearby hydro-electric dam had been diverted into the Perchorsk Valley where the base was, following the accident, flooding the subterranean facility to seal it off, and due to the wierd way that the Earth, Starside, the Russian and Romanian Gates interacted, the flood waters flowed through the Russian Gate, created a lake in the parallel world, then doubled-back to flood the sump under the Romanian Refuge.

    The Arcateenian straightened as she heard this, pricking up her ears. Although she had heard about what had ultimately befallen her old colleagues and the children at the orphanage, perhaps Trask's rambling monologue was going to encompass what had actually happened.
    She desperately hoped so.

    Amazing though that while I worked there, the waters bubbling beneath the floors and powering our lights, was from the Perchorsk Mountains in Russia, via a parallel world!

    E-Branch reckoned that this Mikhail fella, under the cover of retrieving lead from the material at the mountain facility, had drained the waters from the lower levels, in order to regain access to the Gate.
    This had a knock on effect of unblocking the two Gates on Starside, which had been hidden under the lake created there.

    Straying, nay, driving across the line into disbelief like a speeding car crashing the US-Mexican border, E-Branch's ally from Starside, the junior Necroscope, Nathan Keogh, had somehow shifted the axis of that very planet, disrupting the wormhole link, and bathing the shadowed mountain range where the Wamphyri kept their aeries in the first sunlight it had seen for millennia.

    Nature always abounds, and that planet's axis had been naturally reversing into its former position, melting Starside's equivalent of the ice caps, and defrosting a trio of long-exiled Wamphyri and their few vampire thralls that had been forced to freeze themselves to wait out the aeons.

    These three Great Vampires, Malanari the Mind, Schwartz the Suck, and the rare Lady of the Wamphyri, Vavara had returned to Starside as the only vampires left after the Necroscope had waged a successful war against the Wamphyri.

    Raiding the Szagny - the Gypsy's of that world that were the only human population left after a planet-wide cataclysm - to capture prisoners to vampirise, and/or metamorphise into warrior beasts and flyers - the three had encountered Mikhail's expeditionary force, marching up from the re-opened Starside Gate, and fallen upon them.

    They had found out about Earth, an infinitely more bountiful hunting ground, and come through the Romanian route under the Refuge.

    Mary's hand came up to cover her mouth to stifle a sob. My goodness!

    Here, Trask faltered, revealing something that she had not been aware off: he and her best friend there, the telepath Zek Feoner, had been lovers, and gotten married.

    A distance relationship, she had been in Romania, while he was in London, England.

    For apparently only the second time ever, Zek had communicated her crisis telephathically to him while he slept, so that he had experienced what was befalling her and the Refuge as if he was there, except...he had not known if it was only a dream or real.

    Ben had awoken and driven in a panic to the Office, where he had found that, alerted by their individual powers that something was going on, somewhere, other E-Branch personnel were also converging on the London HQ that night, as had the Necroscope, Nathan Keogh, teleporting in via his route through the Möbius Continuum, full of news from Starside, of the battle between the Wamphyri and the forces of General Mikhail Suvurov.

    Mary peered aside at Jake now, recalling his apparent teleport of Liz from the path of the flaming undead Bruce Trennier during the last throes of last night's operation.

    Had that been the same thing?

    The files she had access to, had been thin on the ground regarding information on the original Necroscope, Harry Keogh, but there were indications the man possessed multiple psionic abilities, while everyone else in the branch had just a single power.

    Ben, his voice halting and radiating emotional distress as he tried to talk, fell silent after describing some of his 'dream'.

    A crackle from the radio preceded a tinny voice. "Bird One to base...ETA, twenty to twenty-five minutes, over."

    "Roger, out." The D.O. responded into his handset.

    "I suppose I better finish it." Trask, his voice robotic, continued,
    "Zek's final moment, yes....for that was when she knew it was over, when that bastard thing Malinari trapped her wrists in his freezing cold hand, and smiled his dreadful smile at her. Smiled at her, inclined his head, and began reading her like a book."

    Of course, the vampires are particularly skilled at telepathy.

    "But every page as he absorbed it was torn out, discarded, went fluttering into oblivion."

    Formal wondered if his 'dream' had included that graphical tidbit.

    "In my nightmare I saw his face. Handsome, yes, but a vacant sort of beauty, superficial, cosmetic. Lord Malinari looked as he will himself to look, young but not too young, dark but not too dark, thirsty and...and no way to hide it. Greedy for knowledge and the power it would bring. Zek's knowledge, which she would not give him without a fight.
    All she could do was look at Trennier, sprawled on the floor in his own blood, his face alternating between light and dark, illumination and shadow, as her torch rolled back and forth nearby.
    "

    He went on to explain that the Great Vampire, Malinari the Mind, was in imminent danger of learning all about E-Branch from the doomed Zek, and in a desperate attempt to prevent that, Zek had telepathed to him the existence of the bomb that under the Refuge, and exaggerated the explosion that it would produce. In a fit of anger, Malinari had taken the operative and thrown her head-first down into the sump access pipe through which he, his arm stretched up the inside of Trennier's body like a grotesque puppet-master, and his cohorts, had ascended out of the underground river into the Refuge' basement area.

    At this point, Trask broke down, stopped speaking, and walked out, a momentary blast of heat coming into the air-conditioned truck.

    "Did, did you hear the helicopter?" Ian Goodly asked after a moment.

    What helicopter? She wondered. Sure, the one whose arrival had roused her that morning, had gone off again, taking its visitor back to where he came from. It was still fifteen minutes out, surely.

    "Ben will want to see it down, and...and maybe talk to the pilot."

    Ohhh, he's covering for Trask. She chided herself silently for taking so long to work that out.
    Next instance though, she was thinking, Is that it?

    As harrowing and horrifying as his dream had been, and she had no doubt that it described the reality of what had befallen the E-Branch-operated orphanage in Romania, still, they only knew what had happened to Zek and Bruce Trennier. What about the children? The other staff? Had that Cocajaru woman still worked there?

    "Ian? Can you finish it?"

    This from Jake. Mary flashed him a grateful look. She could have kissed him, but, she felt that Liz was already holding a torch in that direction.

    Ian straightened in his chair. "After that, there was no holding Nathan. His father, Harry Keogh, had owed Zek favours. And Nathan himself was in her debt...not only was she a friend, one who had fought alongside him in Starside, but she had been involved in his discovery of the Möbius Continuum. No less than Ben, Nathan knew that he would not rest until he - until they - were sure. Not sure that Zek was dead, for all of us knew that by then, but sure that she would never be undead."

    Ian recounted the events with a fresh energy that Ben had been lacking. It was obvious that he felt no less horror of the events, but unlike Trask, he had not been personally invested with one of the casualties to quite the same degree.

    "And so we armed ourselves, and Nathan took us to the Refuge. But a refuge no longer, for now it was a charnel house... Ben, myself, Chung, Lardis - huh! Try keeping the Old Lidesci out of it; he'd loved Zek dearly - Nathan took us along the Möbius route to Radujevac. It was some two hours, maybe two-and-a-half, since Ben had come awake from his nightmare. More than enough time for the...the slaughter of the staff and children. From what we saw, twenty minutes would have been enough."

    And that was it. That was what she had needed to know.

    "Those poor kids," Goodly breathed, "and the people who looked after them; their torn, sometimes shrivelled bodies were already cold. They had been dead before Ben had driven his car even halfway to HQ. And I believe that seeing that for himself - that knowing there was nothing he could have done - was the only thing that kept him sane."

    Mary wiped hard at the tears running down her face. She did not want to break down in front of the others.

    "There were no survivors. Thirty-six kids and eight staff, dead or...disappeared."

    Mary peered at Goodly, her interest piqued.

    "Gone from us, anyway. For you see, we knew only too well that the ones who weren't there...that they weren't survivors either. And certainly they'd have been better off dead. For they were now undead, or if not now, then soon. There was no other explanation for their absence; unless they had simply been taken as food, for later. But if that was the case, why only adults, when the children had been murdered out of hand and left behind?"

    "Who," She ventured, "who was taken?"

    "The missing staff. three of them - or rather two of the, since last night - were Denise Karalambos, a paediatrician from Athens; Andre Corner, a psychiatric specialist from London; and someone who isn't any longer a problem; Bruce Trennier, the engineer. As for why they were singled out, there are theories but we can't be sure. Trennier, as we've seen, found favour as a lieutenant. Perhaps the others are similarly situated"

    "Excuse me." Mary had heard enough. More than enough. Six months was a tiny chunk of her time alive, to be sure, but forty youngsters and grown-ups that she had known and gotten involved with....snuffed out.

    Goodly paused while she followed Trask out into the heat, her arms and legs taking the brunt of the sun's wrath. The back of her neck too..

    * * * *

    Mary now had time and space to grieve.

    Chopper One, the larger jet-copter than the returned Bird One, had departed, taking Trask, Liz, Goodly, Lardis, and the technicians, Jimmy Harvey, and Paul Arenson, on the first leg of their trip across the continent, to the other side of Australia.

    Their journey time was expected to be five hours.

    She had packed her clothes and accessories into her soft grey-and-pink sports bag, and it was sitting alongside the luggage of the remaining E-Branch personnel, waiting for Chopper Two to complete its maintenance routine, and refueling.

    She sat in a deck chair and crossed her legs, lifting an open beer bottle to her lips, and sucking down the chilled liquid.

    Several dozen metres away, the articulated Ops Truck threw up a billowing cloud of sand as it steered towards what qualified for a road out here.
    The agents assigned to ride in it, would be on the road for four days before rendezvousing with the personnel who had gone by air.

    The Australian special forces, taking down the camp around her, including her tent, she had no idea what their ETA was for meeting up with E-Branch.
    Unless the Wamphyri saw them coming, it was unlikely anyone would make any move before the entire force had reformed.

    She took another swig, waiting for the alcohol to help her cope.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  23. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    This is good stuff. It's been quite a while since I've seen anybody reference Necroscope, a truly underrated series. You've shown a tremendous grasp on the material here, and better yet, the rare skill of being able to integrate new material seamlessly with the old. Not even George Lucas can do that :p

    Nice work!
     
  24. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Hi Exeter!

    Good to meet someone else who knows about the Necroscope series, and thank you for the feedback.
     
  25. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002

    Note: Most other characters and environment created by Brian Lumley

    Australian Adventure - Day Three

    The morning sun was blazing into the upper floor dormitory at the Brisbane safe house, when Formal got up and dressed for breakfast.

    Her idea of "dressing for breakfast" was not to do it at all.

    Wearing again, the Supergirl nightshirt of the previous morning - sleeveless, lighter than Superman blue number that came down to mid-thigh, with a red cape on the back, red-and-yellow 'S' pentagon peaked over her chest - and off-white ankle socks, she shrugged into her shoulder holster, slid the Bren in, picked up her compact gun-cleaning kit, and trotted between the two rows of fourteen beds, off towards the stairs.

    "Don't go going down those stairs in just your socks." Called Ian Goodly from beyond an open door, where she could see him in white vest and undershorts, cleaning his teeth.

    She hated being told what to do, like a youngster, seeing as she was two-and-a-half times their maximum lifespan, and still going strong; but the man was their pre-cog. He could tell the future.

    She about-faced without a word, and headed back for her combat boots.

    The second Jetcopter had brought her and the last three E-Branch personnel, plus the Australian military commanders, into a small Brisbane airstrip belonging to the city's high society who had their own planes.

    Landing at the international airport was considered to be too high profile.

    Always on the lookout to score a live human heart, she had rubber-necked out of the second of the two black limousines that had picked them up, looking for hospitals and red light districts, and it had been after dark by time they had rolled through an opening iron gate to the ugly two-storey dwelling fronted by a large plain garden, that was to serve as their base for the time being.

    "What a dump." One of the other agents had opined on stepping out into the warm, grasshopper chirping night.

    "It might not look like much, Kid," She had quoted Star Wars, "but she's got it where it counts."

    Her second quote within several hours came when she tugged open the heavy man-sized polished metal refrigerator door, and the light hit her face.
    "My God, that's a big-" She started to say, then stopped herself. She couldn't use that quote; she worked for the Establishment now. She couldn't be seen to be showing them up, thought the woman standing in the kitchen in her nightwear. "That's not a fridge, that's a space station."

    She took a tall carton of mango and orange fruit juice from the inside of the door, leaned her weight on the door to close it, then clopped away to find a clean glass.

    [​IMG]

    Liz Merrick (black), Mary Formal (blue)


    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2020