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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
    @pronker - Thank you, very, very much for looking in and reading again, after so long. It is very much appreciated.

    I tried to look up your Citroen D, but could not find one. Was it a DS, or a Dyane?

    I will try to get the next update done a bit faster. The nightmare does get worse...
     
  2. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    You're certainly welcome! :) Good fic is like an interest bearing account and makes me feel rich. I'm glad to follow along.

    Welp, like Aragorn, this car goes by many names. We always just called it a D.

    @Sith-I-5 gets worse [face_nail_biting]
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  3. Emperor Ferus

    Emperor Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Even if I'm not familiar with the given franchise, you've always been good at portraying interpersonal relationships between characters that gets me to root for them @Sith-I-5 . Mary and Liz especially in this case.

    Also great job describing the scene of Ashfield Girls, down to the activities, the background characters, and the physical appearance.

    Another highlight for me was the Mordor exchange between Mary and Bygraves (I also went back to read your previous chapter), great work.
     
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  4. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    @Emperor Ferus - Thank you very much for reading and reviewing two chapters, and pointing out which bits that you liked.

    Yeah, I am really invested in Liz and Mary as I write more about them, expanding on what their creators had already written. For Liz, only her university course and the summer 'psychometry(?)' project that brought her to E-Branch's attention, were mentioned; leaving her school years as an open goal for me to boot material into; and I drew on one of my own school gyms to help the scene out.

    I love the research that goes into making this a real environment for my characters.

    @pronker - Although there is worse to come, it turns out that I managed to turn out a new chapter without getting to it!
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
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  5. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Note: characters, and dream environment created by Brian Lumley. Liz' experiences within the dream, adapted by me.

    Australian Adventure – Day Five, 1am to 2am (night)


    Dreamland continued

    Oh, that's cute. Liz Merrick thought, upon discovering an interesting-looking steering wheel for the benefit of the front seat passenger. It was a circle of hardened black rubber, as normal, except instead of three arms connecting it to the central steering column, there was just one. An old driving school car, with an extra steering wheel for the teacher. Her gaze traveled over to her right, to find that there was no second steering wheel. Her gaze returned to the area above her knees. Why on earth would there be just the one steer- Merrick snapped her head up, staring out at the now faint sign for the nightclub with the faintly pretentious name. It wasn't being pretentious! We're not in England! This is France, or at the very least, some place that drives on the opposite side of the road.

    Her realisation that this might be France, coupled with Jake's troubles with the Sicilian mob in Marseilles, suddenly clued her into what was going on!

    This was a dream, or at least Jake's dream. Trask had instructed her to spy on him while he slept, for some purpose that the E-Branch head refused to divulge.

    Shivering a bit with being soaked through, she nodded to herself, remembering that she had been in one of Jake's night-time adventures before, when he had been wading waist deep in the freezing black waters of that sump under the Romanian Refuge. Waters that Trask had recently revealed as having originated within the Russian Urals, fed through their dimensional Gate to the vampire world of Starside, and then diverted back through Starside's own Gate to an underground river beneath the Refuge.

    Liz remembered trying to speak to Jake there, asking after the side of the conversation that she couldn't hear, and finding herself shut out of his head as Jake's mental shields had instantly locked down!

    She nodded to herself, that explaining her reluctance to call after him earlier, when he was on his way out of the gym........ Waaaiiit a second!

    Increasingly hunched over with the cold, her arms wrapped around herself so that she could try to rub some warmth into her biceps and forearms, the telepath straightened up in the driver seat, her hands falling into her lap.

    When she had relayed to Ben and Ian that she could only 'hear' Jake's side of the conversation, Ian had immediately understood what she meant, surmising that as a telepath, she could hear Jake because he was alive, but that she couldn't hear whom he was chatting to, because, well, they must have passed on, and be using Deadspeak!

    Merrick had not given any further thought to whomever or whatever he had been explaining netball attire, and offering Kleenexes to, back in the gym, but perhaps that had been someone conversing in Deadspeak. Zek Foener, or, or that other name that Jake had mentioned the last time. Korath?

    A tired and annoyed grunt from behind the car, reminded her that she needed to be spending less time thinking, and more time doing.

    Now realising that the passenger seat was next to her, rather than under her as intended, she looked over at the dashboard in front of it, trying to see the glove compartment. If there was going to be a first aid kit in the car, it was either going to be in there, or in the boot behind the car.

    Her gaze swept across the area as far as the inside of the other door, then back towards herself without finding anything, the failure furrowing her eyebrows in confusion. Starting the cycle again, she paused, staring into a deeper darkness than that surrounding it. There was a general cave impression, a hollow area for loose papers, and probably the logbook.

    "Chevron One encoded." Liz murmured to herself as she rolled onto her right hip and gingerly poked a hand into what an over-active imagination was visualising as a mis-shapen stargate, probably made of inferior material, and subjected to too many unauthorised offworld activations.

    When nothing adverse happened to her initial probe, she swiped it around, defining the size and shape of at least the near sides of the hole that she had found. "Che-chevron Two encoded."

    Huh. Well, apparently, The car had been designed by people who did not recognise the existence of momentum, bumps in the road, or gravity! Wouldn't the stuff just fall out?!

    "How big were the ******* gloves that you were designed for?" She quietly queried. Was this car owned by Mickey Mouse? Had Jake nicked it from the staff car park at EuroDisney?

    She leaned across the central manual gearbox, behind the gearstick, her right elbow sinking into the dark cushion, as she noticed in time, the forgotten spike next to her forearm, when the glint caught her eye.

    She plucked it up with her left hand, closing her fist gingerly around the sharp points of the geometric shape, and knuckling her sodden hair out of her face. "Che-chevron Three, en-encoded."

    She dropped her right shoulder onto the cushion, so that she could shoot that arm into the hole and explore it more fully, relief flooding through her as she quickly encountered a rough-textured package. She brought it out, and found in what street-lighting that came through the windshield, that it was a zippered scarlet lozenge-shaped kit with a white cross on top. The discovery of the first aid kit brought a smile to her face, and her homage to Stargate SG-1 to a close.

    The now familiar sound of a head being sapped, came through the rear windscreen. "That's for not going to Weight Watchers!" Jake's annoyed tone announced, him sounding as sapped as the poor Fiat driver.

    "Jesus, Jake. You are a nasty piece of work when someone kills your girlfriend." That was clearly what this was about. Not just some vendetta against Fiat drivers, or even more trivial than that, people driving over wet cobbles. Ooh, that had to drive somebody mad.

    Pushing herself back up into a sitting position with her prize, and glancing up the street, Liz wondered about the lack of traffic coming down here, given how long it was taking Jake to get this man into the open boot. Still, it was his dream. So what if they were discovered? This would all disappear when he woke up.
    But still, couldn't he have dreamed up a fork-lift?

    Liz Merrick didn't know if she was mentally slower in her dream state, but it literally just occurred to her that rather than relying on whatever illumination she could get from the street furniture outside, didn't automobiles often came with their own interior lighting, up near the rear-view mirror.

    She reached up, fingers probing that area of the ceiling for a couple of seconds, and switched it on, smiling as she was bathed in the comforting white light. Nice.

    Of course, Jake might wonder why the light was on, but since the former Para', clearly had not already detected her hobbling unsteadily through his crime scene, this probably wouldn't give her away.

    Merrick turned round to eye the space between the front seats, shook her head at her chances of fitting through there, and reluctantly eased herself out the car into the rain again, leaving the spike on the seat that she had just vacated as a present for Jake, hopped enough so that she could open the rear door and toss her damaged trainer onto the back seat, turning around to lower herself onto the seat, swinging both knees in after her.

    She pressed her good foot into the footwell and slid herself across the back seat, more towards the middle, closing the door as best she could. She couldn't seal it properly, of course, as Jake would hear that, and she had to trust that he wasn't going to drive off with his car doors swinging wildly like a latter day Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

    She zipped open the medikit and placed the two open halves to the right of her hip, carefully pawing through the tightly packed contents looking for sterile gloves to begin her ministrations with, but couldn't seem to find any, to her initial disappointment.

    Liz listed off to herself, what she would be needing: Alright then, we need alcohol or disinfectant; tweezers, then padding to wrap things up with.

    For a dream, this was admittedly a lot of faff.

    Liz pulled out the tweezers, a plastic blue affair that she momentarily thought could double as emergency chopsticks if this turned into a camping adventure with 'boil in a bag' rice meals on offer; several small sachets of "alcohol prep pads", scissors, conforming bandage; a small plastic pack containing the gloves that she couldn't find a moment ago.

    Of course they would have been in here. Then her eyes widened as she pulled out a larger white plastic sachet, referring to itself as an emergency foil blanket! Absolutely no way!

    Dressed as she was, the weather as it was, she had been trying to brave out that she had been losing body heat, and trying to suppress the shaking with increasing violence.

    So this she tore open first, flapping and unfolding the massive foil layer and pulling it around her shoulders, trying to bring it around herself like a sparkly tent. If Jake Cutter couldn't see her in this, then there was something wrong with him. Not that being the vehicular enforcement arm of Weight Watchers was painting him in a particularly positive light to begin with.

    Aaaaah. She was feeling some warmth in her arms at least.

    The car shifted from the back as Jake reached it, and tried to get his victim into the boot. Didn't sound successful.

    As she started to retain some of her body heat, she was able to deal with her foot a bit more professionally, bringing it up to her lap, taking off the sock and pulling the thin gloves over the fingers of both hands.

    She wiped an alcohol pad around the wound area on the bottom of her foot - it was right in the arch -both to clean it and to see what she was doing; then used the tweezers to hold the puncture wound open as she dripped more alcohol from three, one at a time, alcohol prep pads into the wound, hissing softly at the pain that that caused.

    Liz twisted slightly to her right to open a gauze pad, laying that carefully across the wound. She then got the bandage, used the scissors to cut a generous length, considering she was only bandaging her foot, and not rappelling down the north face of the Eiger.

    She reluctantly sealed the bandage with a small safety pin, then spotted adhesive tape in the kit, so used that instead and pulled the safety pin out, securing it shut.

    Merrick pulled the bag that the blanket had come in, over her foot, to protect it from the blood-soaked sock that she rolled over it next; then gingerly put her foot down, hissing again at the feeling in her knee, which seemed to have adopted the new angle as its new favourite position, and didn't want to go back to the normal style, feeling that it was so yesterday.
    Then she started tidying up the detritus of her first aid, crumpled packs and content, collecting them into a pile, and was trying to squeeze the bandage roll back into its packaging, when the car dipped on its' rear suspension, this time, staying dipped, and a moment later, she heard the Necroscope sigh, "Finally" and slam the boot closed.

    She watched him trudge past the outside of the car, to her left, open his door, step in and sit heavily onto the drivers' seat in front of her, or at least try to.

    Biting the back of her gloved hand to keep quiet, this time failed spectacularly, as his "AAAaaaaooww!" shriek as he 'found' the spike and Polaris'd up into the ceiling, had her mirth erupt past her hand-


    Burnished steel shutters slammed shut in front of her, cutting off her view of the car!

    -and suddenly she was back in her bed, cackling insanely into her pillow like Gotham City's Clown King of Crime...


    To be continued...

    Notes.

    Polaris - British submarine-launched nuke. Often used for stock footage of missiles erupting from the sea.

    Stargate - interstellar method of travel in the show, Stargate SG-1.

    Thanks to Amazon France, where I found a 120 piece first aid kit, then had to find the equivalent kit on UK Amazon, as Google Translate wasn't bringing up English words that I could use.
    I was very disappointed that French medikits seemed to have so much English wording.

    Weight Watchers - dietary, calorie-counting organisation in the UK.

    Pair of Youtube vids watched to research the interior of a Citroen 2CV.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2020
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  6. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Citroens offer a smoother ride than any other car I've been in because of their suspension, but she might not be considering this at the moment, especially since her owwie is paining her.:_|

    Truly terrifying to consider this!![face_worried] One lousy snitched cinnamon roll and they descend!

    and so the dream ends with a deserved gigglesnort.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
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  7. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Cheers for continuing to read and provide feedback.

    Liz has never ridden in a Citreon before, and her critique is aimed at the parcel shelf, when she is used to glove compartments that can be sealed with a hatch.

    I felt uncomfortable using the "militant wing" line, as I had used it before in an earlier E-Branch tale, featuring Mary and former beau, Ian Goodly. I might re-edit it to the Outreach programme of Weight Watchers. Or create come internal fanon that Liz learned the term off Ian at some point.

    Wee-ell, this part of the dream, at any rate. I was torn between separating the dream into two, having established that Liz vocalising within Jake's dream, would get her ejected; and just carrying it on seamlessly, as I think the original in the book, was done.

    I had definite trouble, describing Jake bouncing off the seat into the ceiling; couldn't find the right words. [face_plain]

    Started the new chapter, this afternoon. 300 word in. :cool:
     
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  8. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Note: characters, dream environment, and Jake's speech created by Brian Lumley. 'Real world', and Liz' experiences within the dream, are mine.

    Australian Adventure – Day Five, 1am to 2am (night)


    Liz' bed, Mary's lap - Brisbane safe house

    Talking about the dream experience, seemed to have calmed Liz down, the Arcateenian noticing a decrease in the younger operative's sniffling and shaking.

    "Not hearing anything about a face." She pointed out gently, still stroking Merrick's hair, as she had been continuing to do throughout the debrief. At the point that she noticed that she was still doing that, she ceased and moved the hand round Liz' far shoulder.

    "Oh, that was just the first chapter."

    "Chapter?" Mary echoed tersely.

    The sheet under Liz' chin rippled upwards, as her hand tried to find a way through the covers, then she went, "Shhh, will you keep your voice down?"

    Mary lowered her voice. "
    Sorry. So, chapters?" She could feel Merrick's hair shifting against her chest as she nodded.

    "Jake has very powerful mental shields, and he can lock me out very effectively. But when he's asleep, they kind of relax after a bit. When I get thrown out, I can't get back immediately, but after a little bit, he relaxes, his shields drop, and if I gently probe, I can get back in."

    "And he only ejects you when you speak to him, or otherwise vocalise."

    "So far. If he hears me, anyway. He didn't react to seeing me playing netball...well he reacted, but not to me. I was just part of his dream."

    "Well, he dreams about you; that's progress."

    "Why would that be progress?"

    "You wore that nice black skirt-suit at that last briefing. I assume that that was to get his attention."

    "My jeans were in the wash!"

    "Sure."

    "They were!"

    "Who brings denims to Austr-" Formal paused to frown, something having occurred to her. "Hang on a mo', was your foot still injured when you woke up?"

    "No, thankfully. That was one of the first things that I checked, after I'd calmed down a bit." Liz admitted. "My foot was fine."

    "So you won't be getting the chance to play nursemaid, tomorrow morning, and dab iodine onto his arse, then. Bet you're gutted." Mary felt Liz elbow her under the covers. "Ow."

    "Serve you right."

    "So, you said, multiple chapters. You went back into the dream?"

    Liz hesitated, then nodded reluctantly. "Yeah."

    Mary was contemplating telling her that she did not have to speak about it, while at the same time, not wanting her friend bottling up whatever had shaken her up like that, when Liz jumped into it with both feet.

    "I figured I would experiment with some lucid dreaming, bending some of it to my will. I wanted to be dressed in something warmer, and have night-vision goggles when I got in there."

    ****

    Dreamland


    Liz had found herself in the back seat of the Citroen, once again, still swathed in aluminium foil like a chicken ready for the oven.

    Glancing out of the windows, it was clear they were no longer in the cobbled street any more. In fact, if she were any judge, Jake had driven them onto the set of Robin of Sherwood, thin-trunked trees of some description on both sides, and behind the car, with nothing in front but a rough pathway curving down a hill to a distant motorway. She could see the bright white headlights and crimson brake lights of occasional traffic.

    First things first, she brought her right foot up onto her left thigh, and frowned momentarily at what she was wearing now.

    Her plimsoll from before, had been replaced by a patent leather cherry-red t-bar shoe, a central strap running from the rounded toe area, over the bridge of her foot, meeting a perpendicular strap that crossed over from her instep, to a buckle on the far side of the shoe. Cute rain or teardrop shapes had been cut into the scarlet leather over her toes.

    "What the heck is going on here?" She murmured with a frown. She hadn't worn this sort of shoe since she was twelve. Ashfield had allowed First and Second Year girls to wear them in black. Although if older children wanted to wear them into their teenage years, she doubted the school would have made a federal case out of it.

    [​IMG]
    Liz and her 'dream' shoes

    Once the surprise had worn off, Liz smiled down at the shiny red footwear, thinking nostalgically that it looked quite cute with the white sock. If she could pull off wearing it here, she might look into getting a pair when she got back to England.

    Shrugging, and figuring that Jake's dreams worked in mysterious ways, Merrick grasped the heel to lever the thing off her foot, and peeled the bobby sock off as well. Her foot was free of dressings and injury; the sock was clean too, no caked blood, not even any whiff from an hour's netball practice.

    "Well, thank Heaven for small mercies." She thought, then snapped her gaze up, confirming that she was alone in the car.

    She checked the seat cushions on either side of her, finding none of the detritus from the first aid kit. Either Jake had tidied up, or the dream had done some resetting, like it had with her foot.

    Unfortunately, under the blanket, she was still in her inadequate P.E. kit, and there were no night-vision goggles. Though in an unusual sop to her desires, she found a cluster of olive-green plastic tubes, the thickness of standard candles, nestled so close to her right buttock, that she was almost sitting on them.

    Leaning slightly to her left, Merrick hooked fingers under the meagre collection, and brought them up, then settled back onto the seat. The triangle formed by her raised leg, turned her skirt into a helpful hammock for what she now recognised as chemical lights of the sort that you waved at raves, or could use to attract the attention of inquisitive Tyrannosaurus Rex, should you not have a goat handy..

    You hold both ends, and snap them in half. Chemical lights, not goats. And while the light's shape would reform, whatever that was inside the opaque tube would have broken to create a short-lived but bright green-yellow glow.

    "Very interesting."

    Replacing her sock, opening the shoe and buckling it back on, Liz grabbed the lights, slid along the seat, and stepped out onto the dry country soil. It wasn't muddy, meaning that if Jake's dream was working in a linear fashion, they had driven far enough out of the city to get away from the bad weather. Or, being a dream, he had simply skipped to someplace else, and brought the car with him.

    Either way, she planned to give the T-bar shoes a test run here. Granted, this wasn't real, but if they were comfortable, and worked out alright on the hillside, that would go a long way to making them the subject of a shopping trip.
    Ghosts and gadgets, was a consistent E-Branch refrain. And now she was adopting Jake's dreams as an unpaid fashion guru.

    She snapped the first of the light-rods, and used the resulting illumination to first admire the twin curved glows reflecting off her toecaps, then waved them slowly around to detect the drag marks leading from the car, and up towards a nearby incline. Dream Jake must have muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger. If she was lucky, maybe he'd get all hot and take his shirt off.

    Purely because Ben Trask had assigned her to investigate what Jake got up to at night, and not in any way because she wanted to get some Female Gaze out of this, she held the lit rod down towards the floor, and trudged after the drag marks, the light yellow-green light reflected in dozens of places on her covering.

    The E-Branch operative was puffing by time she reached the top of the rise, stopping a couple of metres short of where the treed land levelled out into a bit of a plateau, having to lay a hand upon the rough white and brown bark of an adjacent tree for support as she bent over to catch her breath. With a deep breath, she straightened up and continued on to the flat path.

    The smells of the country, were driven away by that of intense sweat and fear, which matched with what she discovered about thirty metres in front of her.

    She heard a soft whumph, and then there were the yellow and blue flames of a small campfire visible through the trees, helping her to zero in on her colleague, or at least an earlier version by a matter of months.

    Jake's voice floated out of the twilight: "You don't remember me, do you?"

    Someone or something, went, "Umph?"

    "But I'll bet you remember the girl. That night at Castellano's place? The Russian girl, Natasha?"

    Liz spotted the two ropes lassoed around the trunk of a sapling, about eight feet up, and down near the ground, and following them diagonally, found the captive suspended in a rather simple cat's cradle between two trees, with Jake standing just beyond.

    Ookay! She thought, wheeling around and half-stumbling, half skidding, back down to the car.
    Trask doesn't need to know any more than THIS!

    It was only minutes after she scrambled into the back seat and slammed the door, that Jake reached the car as well, climbing in the front, and starting the ignition, counting as he did so, "Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty..."

    The car set off down the track, with Jake still counting as he gingerly steered and slid the car down the rough pathway.

    With no warning, all the surfaces facing her, from the trees ahead and to either side of them, to the backs of the front seat headrests, lit up orange, and she brought her left knee up onto the back seat so that she could twist enough to see out of the rear window, a yellow-orange fireball climbing into the sky, an invisible shockwave pushing dust and leaves down the hillside till it rocked the car forward, Jake frantically having to apply opposite lock to the steering wheel as the rear stepped out and slid sideways towards the trees on the right.

    Splodge!

    A pizza hit the back window, Liz rearing back with its' sudden arrival, and taking a few seconds to re-focus on the pink and yellow thing as it sagged down the glass, then fervently wishing that she hadn't.


    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
  9. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    I'm awfully glad you include this in your fic.:cool:

    Action galore and it seems Liz can shape her dreams, albeit not perfectly.
     
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  10. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Thank you for continuing to read and provide feedback.

    I got about 45 minutes of pleasant reading through TVTropes, just from you highlighting the Female Gaze in your review.

    So, much appreciated. :)

    Good to know, that out of my two regular reviewers, there is an audience for that.
     
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  11. Emperor Ferus

    Emperor Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Your usual quality is at work here, especially the scene description.
    Aptly captures the dynamics between Mary and Liz (not familiar with their canon counterparts).
    More funny jokes that capture the characters’ senses of humor, the goat as T-Rex bait joke is particularly hilarious.

    Look forward to more.
     
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  12. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Thank you for reading and reviewing, @Emperor Ferus - especially in your less than ideal circumstances, and for your kind words elsewhere, regarding the red shoes segment. :)

    Edit: I love that style of shoe. For my time at Infants and Junior School, both boys and girls had them, though colour coordinated between the sexes.
    Patent leather (eg. shiny) black or red for girls, a dull blue or brown for boys.
    I remember I could run fast across the playground, in mine.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
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  13. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Note: characters, and Jake's speech (almost word for word) created by Brian Lumley. Everything else, is mine.

    Australian Adventure – Day Five, 2am to 2:40 (night)


    Mary hugged her friend tighter as Liz finished her debrief with shuddering words, knowing that the 'pizza' in question had been the face that had distressed the young telepath to begin with.

    "There, there." Mary murmured as she stroked Liz' hair, and hugged her under the covers.

    "It...it was a face."

    "I know. But memory or not, you know it couldn't have really happened that way, right?" The Arcan hoped that pointing this out, would make things better; easier for Liz to get over it.

    Merrick tried to pull away, and turned her head under Mary's chin in an attempt to look at her. "I was there!"

    "Yeah, I know. But according to you, the man was suspended upside-down, and facing away from where Jake had parked the car, isn't that right?"

    "Y-yes."

    She felt Liz' hair moving under her jaw as the younger woman nodded. "So given where Jake put that plastic explosive..." She paused to suppress a smirk. "...the blast ought to have pushed it into the ground. Unless his face trained at Top Gun, I don't see how it decelerated in the short distance between his head and the earth, sufficient to pull up and out of the blast area, and curve over the trees to hit the car."

    There was no response to that.

    "So I get that it happened in Jake's nightmare, but there is no way those exact circumstances played out in real life. Now, you calm yourself and get some sleep; you can stay on Auntie Mary's lap until then."

    Liz took a deep breath and exhaled, whispering. "I'll give it t-twenty minutes, th-then go back in."

    "I think you have done enough snooping for one night, don't you?"

    "Trask said-"

    "Frag Trask!" This f-word was one that Formal had adopted to avoid using the other one, and she recalled feeling quite annoyed, from years back, when Anne-Marie English back at Headquarters, had considered 'frag' to still be offensive, because it meant the same as the other word, or was being used in the same context. Mad *****.

    As far as she was aware, that had been her only dis-agreement with the older-looking eco-path.

    "You are going to sleep, right now; and if Ben Trask has a problem with that, you can send him to me."

    "Jake didn't ask for any of this. He feels that he is all alone. I need to know what is going on in his head, not just Trask; I need to know."

    "Okay, if you are sure."

    "I'm sure." Liz snuggled the side of her face into Mary's neck like an affectionate cat. "Thanks."

    She then shuffled forward off Mary's lap, so that the blonde woman could press her fists into the mattress to push herself to the edge of the bed, to extricate from their tryst, if that was the right term.

    Mary explained that her legs needed their circulation back, otherwise she risked falling over when she tried to get to the door.

    "No hurry. Jake is still awake; feels like he was as disturbed as I was, by what hit his rear window."

    The young telepath lay down behind Mary, initially complaining that her pillow was still damp.

    "When I can walk again, I'll get you a fresh pillowcase from the linen closet."

    "Or, I can just flip it over and sleep on the dry side."

    Once she felt able to, Mary headed to the door, and leaving her friend with an open invitation to come over if she got scared again, returned to her bed, and climbed in next to her warrant officer.

    ****

    SUNDAY - 9AM


    Agent Formal hadn't expected to get drawn into Liz' debrief with Ben Trask and Ian Goodly, and she especially hadn't expected the taciturn head of E-Branch to come looking for her after breakfast, as she was helping the kids break down their fort, and openly ask her if she was Liz' Auntie Mary.

    Frowning up at him, the Arcan had risen up off her knees, adjusted herself, patted one of the ratings on the head, and joined Trask in heading out into the morning sunshine, and walking round the side of the house, towards the back garden.

    "So, Liz has covered the carjacking, but then, as she got to the subsequent adventure in the woods, she had trouble getting through it, and commented that it shouldn't be that hard for her as you had already helped her through it once." Ben explained as he walked slightly ahead, kind of twisting his shoulders to round the corner of the house, bringing them round the back, where yesterday's barbecue had taken place.

    The lawn wasn't pristine, but it looked okay.

    "And she told you, I was her 'auntie'?" She found that hard to believe.

    Ben tapped a finger to his temple. "My Talent, Mary. I could tell she was holding something back, as she told us how you had comforted her, and I insisted she tell us everything."

    An SAS soldier had been posted at the near end to prevent anyone going into the garden, and despite the t-shirt and shorts, it was clear from his posture and expression, that was his role.

    "G'day!" He greeted upon seeing her with Trask.

    "G'day, she smiled back, putting her hand above her eyes to help her see past him, that in the far corner before the white exterior wall, were four of the white plastic garden chairs, and a kind of bench, a blocky white thing that reminded her of several unused staples, still stuck together.

    The small figures of Liz and Ian were out there, with the former looking as distressed as described.

    Formal sighed. "Right, let me get a blanket and some tissues."

    "Okay, don't be long." Ben turned to the digger. "Agent Formal can come over and join us. No-one else, for now."

    "Sir."

    Ben headed over to join the others, whilst the Arcan wheeled around and moved back inside to get what she needed.

    A few minutes later, when she had crunched across the grass with her bundle, she was surprised to find Merrick in that daring, for her, black business suit, fingers knotting up the corner of the wrap skirt's silk-lined flap.

    Thinking that this was another attempt to attract their necroscope's attention, Mary ventured, "Round Two?"

    Liz' wet face turned up to her, and nodded. "Yeah." It didn't sound to Mary, that the rookie operative was thinking of the same type of second go.

    Handing over the crushed handful of paper towels, Mary exchanged nods with Ian, then checked behind herself as she approached the bench, ran her now free hand down the back of her kilt to keep it in place and sat down on it, hissing as she found the whitewashed concrete cold against the back of her thighs, almost uncomfortably so.

    She met Liz' gaze and patted her lap in invitation, causing Liz to hesitate and flash glances to Ian and Ben in the adjacent chairs.

    "C'mon," she prompted gently, "if I'm being your Auntie Mary, then we are doing this properly. Besides, you'll be a useful counter-weight in case I forget where I'm sitting, and try to lean back."

    That broke the ice, enough to have everyone smirking, and Liz hopping onto her lap with the blanket wrapped around them both. They re-arranged a bit to get some blanket under Mary to insulate her from the chilly bench.

    Once everyone was comfortable, and Mary had coo'ed, shushed and hugged Liz enough to reassure her that she was safe and supported, they got through the Jake's camping tutorial, using 'good German brandy' and the kicked-together pile of the un-named gangster's clothing to make a fire; his skill with ropes and knots-

    "I have trouble, just tying my shoe laces." Ian had commented in awe.

    "No-one is surprised."

    -a fist-sized lump of plastic explosive, shaped into a carrot, wires stuck into it, and Liz wheeling away from the sight, as Jake had moved behind the gagged victim.

    And then, Liz moved onto what was for Mary, virgin territory; what had transpired after she had let herself out of Liz' bedroom:

    Scanning passively, Liz had sensed that Jake was still awake next door, tossing and turning.
    That was fine with her, as it gave her some time to recover; it wasn't immediately back to the coal face.

    It was another forty minutes by her wristwatch, before she felt Jake settle down and relax enough to fall asleep.

    Initially thinking that Jake would have to learn how to keep his mind shields up whilst he was asleep, it had occurred to her that with the general rule to respect people's privacy within E-Branch, who even knew if Liz herself, or any of the others, kept their own shields up after their heads hit the pillow.

    Sensing that Jake was starting to drift off, she too had tried to relax, snuggling into the dry side of her pillow, and shut her eyes.

    ****
    Dreamland

    Liz found herself in a long, brightly-lit corridor with grey concrete floors and walls. Looking up, the ceiling had a line of strip lighting going away from her, and she could see barred doors at intersections along the corridor, identifying this as a prison setting, or at the very least, a facility that had to be secure for some reason.

    Mindful of the last dream, she looked down to see if she was still dressed for P.E., and was surprised to see that she was not!

    Now, she was in a navy blue skirtsuit, that started with a single-breasted jacket, whose notched lapels dove into a deep V, with two buttons to close it, below the swell of her chest. She had a light blue open-necked blouse underneath. The hem of a navy blue pencil skirt, ended an inch above her bare knees. She didn't feel as if she was wearing any socks.

    She kicked her left leg up and held it up, finding that she was bare-legged and wearing a dark-blue variant on those cute t-barred school sandals, the pale-white of her foot, stark against the central shaft and cross-strap. There were darker creases of wear across the central strap at the bend in her foot, showing that these shoes at least, weren't new. She had done some walking in them.

    She twisted her foot and admired the appearance, then her gaze drifted down to something on her chest, reflecting the light. Odd.
    She dropped her foot down, so she could investigate this new thing.

    Spying a plastic ID tag clipped to the edge of her left lapel, she flipped it up to see, upside-down, the letters 'F.B.I.' in blue.

    Okaayy." She thought. Very Clarice Starling. This reminded her of that Silence of the Lambs heroine.

    The sounds of keys in a lock behind her, turned her around, to see a thick black security door with a porthole, a few metres away, opening towards her, revealing Jake Cutter swaggering along in a dark brown business suit, with white shirt and dark tie; and, like her, an FBI laminate clipped to his breast pocket.

    Standing over Jake by about half a foot, a uniformed guard pulling his chained keys out of the door lock.

    Merrick side-stepped out of their way without saying anything.

    "Stay to the left. Yours is the cell with the chair in front of it."

    Liz shot a glance along the corridor, spying that a simple fold up chair had appeared about thirty metres away, facing the left wall.

    Cutter passed her on the left, staying by that wall as instructed. She spotted the back of the dream necroscope's head for the first time, learning that in his world, the vaunted Federal Bureau of Investigation were going to sign off on him retaining his ponytail.

    Yeah, ri-

    "THE RIGHT!" Screamed the guard behind her, making her jump! "I MEANT, STAY TO THE RIGHT!"

    She did a double-take back to the guard's desperate face, though he was still by the door; then back to Jake, whose lapel had been grabbed by the fist of whomever was behind a thick ventilated plastic or glass barrier inserted into the left side, the cell that it served, unlit or shadowed, so that she could not see who the arm belonged to. It was smeared in black, as if the inmate was restoring a motorcycle in there.

    Cutter thumped and chopped on the fist till it released him, and jumped over to the opposite wall, expressing his displeasure to the guard: "Jeez, Man!"

    "Sorry, Agent. My bad. Knock on the door when you are ready to leave."

    Your bad? Liz shook her head incredulously at the hilariously incompetent guard, whilst he slammed the barrier and locked it.

    She skipped more to the right than she already was, her shoulder now brushing that wall. She followed her hard-breathing team-mate to the chair that squealed slightly as it took his weight, and took up a position behind his left shoulder.

    The cell he was looking into, was lit in bleach white, and furnished with unkempt bed, table, chair, sink, an aluminium WC, and dominating the diorama, an over-sized ironing board with headrest and straps, standing up at an angle; separated from them by a thick plastic window with circular holes the size of tennis balls. This had Hannibal Lector written all over it. Which explained their FBI getup.

    Place looked empty, and she could see no obvious way for any normal sized patient to conceal themselves.

    "I know you're there." Jake stated. "So why do you hold back? If you've got something to say, get it said."

    Fool me once. It did sound like he was talking to her, however she had learned by now to give it a pause before opening her trap.

    "That didn't stop you the last time. When you spoke to me after my nightmare."

    The telepath frowned. She couldn't imagine a nightmare worse than the one she had just walked, and yes, sometimes hobbled through. Was he referring to that?
    She had yelled incoherently when she had checked the car's rear window. For him to call that 'speaking to him', sounded generous.

    "You seem to have enjoyed spying on me," he continued, "as if you had approved of what you had seen, of what you had done. Or perhaps you got carried away, and broke your silence in error, when I wasn't supposed to know you were there."

    She felt the urge to step in front of him and respond to his apparent goading, rise and swell within her, and raised her right hand to punctuate her move a diagonal motion, when a further thought occurred to her.

    "Oh, you were speaking to yourself, were you? Deadspeak?"

    Oh crap! She stepped back, hitting the wall behind her. Even as she felt something dig into the small of her back, and swept her hands under her blazer to feel what it was, she knew that she had almost blown this. He was having another of his one-sided conversations.

    Her fingertips transmitted the plasticky feel, and outlined the shape of a pancake holster, clipped onto rear of her skirt's tight waistband. Obviously she had had to give up her sidearm at the front desk.

    "In which case, you are as new to it as I am. For a thought is as good as the spoken word, Korath, to such as you and I."

    There it was again. That word, 'korath'. She had heard it aboard the jetcopter that had brought her, Jake, and the team, out of the Gibson Desert.

    Or is that meant to be a name? She wondered, prompting her to start checking for pockets, hoping her blazer came with a notepad and pen. Skirts hardly ever had pockets, so she didn't bother checking there.
    She needed to take note of that name, and hope that that helped her remember when she woke up.

    "-was it you said? That together we would make a very fine pair?"

    Liz raised an eyebrow, momentarily. She felt like she was scoring primo intelligence!
    She stuck her right index finger into her breast pocket, to find it sliding over the smooth material...no breast pocket! Her school blazer had one, why not this? Or was it style over function again?

    She had to run her hands down the clothing to find two slim slashes at her hip level, that needed exploring.

    "What exactly did you mean by that? That we are alike in some ways? No, I don't think so. Or did you perhaps mean that you would like to team up with me?"

    Liz continued to listen to this, having abandoned her search for something to write on, and wondering if she could generate what she needed on the fly.

    Jake's words though. If this was Deadspeak, then it sounded like he could be recruiting someone to work with him, but in what fashion?

    Take the original Necroscope, Harry Keogh. Getting the dead to help him, had run the gamut of sitting at the graveside of a deceased schoolmaster, to get assistance with maths homework; to literally calling the re-animated corpses of long-frozen Tartars out of the ground, to help assault a nearby Russian military base.

    So where on that grisly spectrum was Jake sitting right now, with these one-sided discussions of his.

    A chill ran up her spine. Thank goodness that he is on our side.

    "So close that he killed you?"

    Okay, that exchange seemed to have taken a wild turn.

    "He had good reason? Is that what you are saying? Yet when Harry questioned you, you said it was just Malinari's nature. You were there to be used, so he used you."

    Ooh, red flag. Jake was chatting to something that knew their target. One of the three Vampire Lords that had come through from Starside, Malinari the Mind.

    "So why do you mention this to me now?" Cutter questioned. "When you withheld it from Harry?"

    Did this mean that Harry did not always have the full picture, or the correct information? If he could be lied to, even with his Powers.

    Unless she was mis-interpreting this, it humanised Harry a bit. He could be fallible.

    "Something you have," her seated partner mused, "which could benefit me, but not Harry....... So what's the difference? Why would you help me and not him?"

    "While I'm alive." Jake breathed in realisation, not saying anything for a few seconds, either because he was still processing, or because Kevin was clarifying his position at length.

    No, not 'Kevin'; 'Korath'! She corrected herself. Oh please don't say that I'm going to have trouble remembering the name, I cannot write it down.

    "You're instrument of revenge? And that's all you would expect out of such an arrangement, huh? All you would want for yourself?"

    Well that nixes that idea. She thought, pensively, thinking of her Hail Mary idea of speaking to Jake, crashing out of the dream, rushing around the safe house to find something to write on; or, y'know, hailing Mary, giving her the name 'Karen', then waiting twenty minutes to come back in. No, there was useful intelligence to overhear; she didn't want to miss a moment of it, let alone, twenty minutes.

    "What more indeed..... Ah, and now we get to it."

    Liz re-focused on her partner, positioning herself behind his chair, and as he was leaning forward towards the security glass, eager but cautious, she curled her fingers around the chair's upper framing.

    "A word game? Is that what this is? The devious nature of vampires? For here I find myself bargaining, all caught up in it, beginning to go with it...when as yet, I don't even know what is on offer!"

    Oh Jake. She felt for him, the deviousness of vampires being well known to her, to everyone in E-Branch.

    Jake fell silent, however it was clear from his posture that he was listening to something, and being told it at length

    "The making? Imbued of his arts? Wa-woah." Jake had either stumbled on something of import, or had reason to describe the sound of a police car arriving on scene.
    He raised a finger in query. "Are you saying that you have Malinari's skills?"

    "Or on occasion, a not so small grievance." Jake fell into his listening pose again, then sat up and back with such force that she found her fingers trapped between his back and the chair! She could only roll her eyes down at him, whilst trying to tug them free.

    "I th-think...I think it's time you were out of here! Either you or me, b-but one of-of us h-has to go!" Jake definitely sounded less assured than she had ever heard him, even counting when he reminisced about Natasha.

    "How can you be sure that it is Malinari in the mountains? What can you know of that?" Leaning forward again, and releasing her hands, Cutter's inquisitive tone switched to one of aggrieved exasperation at whatever the vampire responded with: "But you still haven't told me what you want! Not everything that you want. And until you do, I'm not going to be signing any blank cheques, Korath."

    Korath, that was it! She was more than a little suspicious that considering all that she remembered and relayed to her peers, that this thing's name that was proving so elusive, like trying to capture a greased piglet. She wasn't quite sure that had been her go-to subject.

    Sensing the winding down of this dream sequence, the telepath went for a wander, wiggling her liberated digits as she stepped away to Jake's right, exploring the rest of the whitewashed hallway. She was curious to see if there were other cells besides the one where Jake had had to fight off that grabby hand.

    Liz frowned. Though she could hear what Dream Jake was saying, she kind of felt that she could almost sense, feel, or maybe hear what he was thinking too, like listening to two different radio channels.

    She felt like Jake was worried about Korath taking advantage if he let him in. With good reason, was the way she figured it.

    "Such as? You have already told us these things, to both myself and Harry."

    Keeping her ears open to overhear as much as she could, she left his side to go explore the other cells. Perhaps they would have some kind of writing implements within.

    Jake's side of the conversation got a bit vague, or more vague anyway, so she had no idea what the two were talking about, apart from Korath having gotten sneaky, in the necroscope's opinion.

    She stopped at another thick plastic screen, with the same holes and food slot of the cell entrance where her team-mate was sitting.

    A luxurious set of red curtains were draped on the other side of the security barrier, with Liz wanting to peek beyond them, but reluctant to step closer.

    "Not at all times!" Jake exclaimed, several metres from her by now. "When we started this conversation, you were happy with 'rarely,' or 'infrequently,' when nothing else was intruding on my time. So how come you arrive at being on hand 'at all times'?"

    She glanced back at her fellow rookie. She looked back the cell, taking a careful step towards it, ready to back off if an arm shot thrust out towards her.

    "And how would I do that? I mean, call for you?"

    That sounded dangerous. Unfortunately she couldn't say anything to him without compromising her mission.

    "What, like rubbing the lamp to call out the genie?"

    Ooh, Alladin, she smiled, taking another step, her nose almost up to the security screen. She poked a finger through, shifting the curtain.

    "And what happens when I have had my three wishes, eh?"

    Sensible question. Merrick thought. When that genie in Arabian Nights had completed the three wishes, it had gotten freed from the lamp, and she remembered that the little girl version of her, had thought it grossly unfair whenever that scenario did not play out. However, with vampires, regardless of their state, you did not want them freed. Holy ****, is Karen negotiating for her freedom? Korath, dammit. His freedom.

    "They were a formula."

    In her Mind's Eye, she was getting a glimpse of an incomprehensible avalanche of luminous green numbers against a dark background, falling out of sight, too fast to be focussed on. The visual was short-lived, fading as Jake continued.

    "They were the numbers that govern all space and time. Harry's gateway to the Moebius Continuum. But do I remember it?" He paused, looking away from Karl's cell, in her direction, but not quite at her. "I'll never forget them. Like looking at creation itself. But I'll never be able to duplicate them." Jake paused, listening. "But how? You said yourself, that numbers were practically unknown in your world. Wait a second, his photographic memory, that's what you got from him? And that is why he killed you, because he knew that one day, you would know as much as him."

    Jake's tone turned cagey. "But there is something else. The secret that Harry Keogh was searching for, or in your own words, 'the crux of the matter', which is probably more important than all the rest put together. The Wamphyri - Malinari and the others - they have been here some time now, but it seems they have achieved very little. So, like the Necroscope before me, I am asking you: what are they up to, Korath?"

    Liz frowned to herself, placed a finger in her mouth to moisten it, then smeared the letter 'K' on the cell door, then as her partner continued, repeated the actions to get the full name written.

    "You were one of theirs, and so you must know."

    She was writing the top part of the 'T', and wondering what Ben Trask would make of her ingenuity when she told him about it. No matter how indistinct, being able to see the name, rather than just hearing it, might anchor it in her memory.

    "I'll keep that in mind. But for now, leave me be. There is something I must do before I awake, or all this has been for nothing."

    Liz stepped back from the cell, wiping her finger on her jacket. She was looking around the doorway to see if there were any controls to open it, intending to check out what has beyond the velour drapes.

    Liz- The telepathic greeting stunned her, drawing her from her task to stare open-mouthed, back down the white corridor at the latest necroscope. Jake had addressed her.

    -if you are there, and I think you probably are, try to remember this name: Korath. If it's possible, you might even write it down.

    She glanced at what she had literally just done.

    But in any case, remember it. And tomorrow, remind me of it. It could be very important.

    And with that, she felt a whole lot better about her spying on him, that she was here in his moment of need.

    She looked up. Things were getting brighter, indistinct, the prison corridor fading around her.

    ****
    Reality - Safe House Gardens

    Liz Merrick took in a shuddering breath, looking over at the men. "So what do we think?"

    Goodly had slid down in his chair, still laughing silently, his eyes shut. On hearing her query, he opened them. "I loved where your fingers got trapped."

    "Not that bit!" She snapped. "About telling Jake about Karen!"

    "Korath." Formal hadn't intended to participate in the debrief, but she couldn't resist. She refocussed on her hands, noticing that she had been plaiting Merrick's dark tresses, and unsure what to do now. Untangle it and take the green bow out, or leave it till her team-mate noticed.

    "Very interesting." Ben mused. "Our boy is talking to vampires. Harry did as well, so that isn't a show stopper. So what do you all think? And Mary, this includes you now."

    To be continued...

    Notes. I visualised a prison visiting room with phone, for Jake's chat, and this scene is based on Silence of the Lambs; the original and superior, IMO, Manhunter; and a parody scene in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  14. Emperor Ferus

    Emperor Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Good work. Very chilling.
     
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  15. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Thank you for reading, @Emperor Ferus

    What did you find chilling? I'm probably too close to the material to tell.
    Edit: Ah, I see it now. I was thinking about the Dreamland part of the post.
    @pronker - the update is ready for you. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
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  16. Emperor Ferus

    Emperor Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    It was the Dreamland part in particular, specifically the exchange between Liz and Jake.
     
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  17. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    It's a nice snippet here and, I suppose, this was in the original source? Very clever to re-animate Tartars in their animus towards Russians.[face_skull]

    What a world she lives in! [face_nail_biting]

    Now this is clever because it opens up the scene ...

    I especially liked her fumbling along here because the area of dreams and the mind just seems so nebulous to navigate, and she's doing pretty darn well inside it ...

    Nicely done to help herself in one of the layers of the mind traveling she's attempting ... :qui:

    {}{}{}
    Random thought to relate as I fought ants at the breakfast table this morning ... 'It draws ants' comment from Archer. 8-}
     
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  18. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Hi @pronker , thank you very much for reading, and highlighting bits that you liked.

    Yes, the schoolmaster and Tartar assistance were in the source material.

    That Zek Foener woman who was Trask's late gjrlfriend, was a reluctant member of Russian E-Branch, and stationed in that base. Harry let her leave before it all went down.

    I got the Korath name wrong, was thinking about a Total Annihilation unit called a Krogoth; then decided to work my lapse into the narrative.

    Glad you liked how Liz remembered the name in the end.
     
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  19. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Note: characters and situations created by Brian Lumley. Everything else, is mine.


    Australian Adventure – Day Five, 9:30am


    Formal leaned past her temporary niece to stare excitedly at Trask.
    "Me, really?"

    Lounging in his garden chair alongside Ian, her boss looked uncomfortable with either his choice, or her reaction. "Well, for the moment. Till I change my mind, anyway."

    Ian Goodly piped up then. "So we are sure that this 'Korath' is a name, right?"

    "And not just Jake speaking in tongues?" She leaned into Mary's reassuring hand stroking down her back. "I certainly got the impression that he was referring to the occupant of that cell as that."

    "And I suppose we can have London run the..." Mary tailed off, staring up past Liz' face into the leafy fruit-laden branches of one of the trees providing shade to their chosen spot.

    Some of the fruit visible through the leaves were clear oranges, but others were dark and lumpy, as if mis-shapen by some kind of mould.

    The Arcan was not sure why the sight had thrown her off her game like this.

    The conversation continued without her, with Ian reminding, "Well we don't want Jake agreeing to let this vampire full access to his head. Remember what happened to Trevor Jordan?"

    "He was before my time, but the Wamphyri he was after, completely took over his mind." Merrick focussed on Trask. "That was why my second helicopter survey took me away from the mountains, wasn't it? So that Malinari didn't sense me nearby a second time, and try that with me."

    Ben nodded. "That you detected a backup nest, was just a lucky coincidence."

    "Jake shied away from, as he put it, writing any blank cheques to this Korath. Though that did sound dependent on Korath spelling out just what he wanted in return for his cooperation."

    Feeling Liz shift her position on her lap, brought Mary back from her momentary nature appreciation, and she hugged Merrick a bit more securely, lest she slide off her knees.

    "We don't want Jake giving it any access to his head. For a start, it would be the end of him, either at Korath's hand, or ours. I don't care what this dead vampire brings to the table, I won't suffer him to silently infiltrate E-Branch, even if it is not his intention."

    "Y-you'd kill Jake?"

    Mary recalled the briefing where Ben had announced that he would do just that, and reminded her of it. "Anyone gets infected, they die, remember?"

    "Good to see that someone listens to the briefings." Ian put in.

    "But what about the Moebius Continuum? Helping Jake with the numbers seemed to be part of the deal."

    "We can get him a maths tutor. Photographic memory or no, that has to be better than someone for whom numbers don't even feature in their culture."

    "Or maybe he could do like Harry, and get help from a deceased schoolmaster."

    Liz tried to raise a finger, but everyone just saw the side of her blanket bulge slightly. "That could be a problem. When Jake last spoke to Zek-"

    Mary shot a glance up past Liz shoulder, into her face. "Wait, Jake has been speaking to Zek?" She looked over at the gloomy-looking Ben Trask.

    "Yep."

    "I got the impression that the Great Majority were deciding on whether to communicate with Jake, or not. Something to do with Harry."

    Everyone present knew that the Great Majority were the name that the networked dead of the world had for themselves. In their own minds, whatever they did in life, they continued to do after they had passed.
    Harry, contacting the first few that he had, had unintentionally introduced those forever isolated presences to the concept of Deadspeak, their own form of telepathy, and after helping Harry, sadly saying goodbye and consigning themselves back to their own thoughts, some, or maybe just one, must have reached out to friends, relatives, heroes; and once tentative responses were received, knowledge of this newfound ability, spread across the globe like wildfire.

    At least, that was how they imagined it happened.

    One day, a teenage Harry was sitting near a gravestone with a sandwich, can of 7UP, and an open exercise book, getting one-to-one tutelage on his trigonometry, and the next.....the next time he had been in a bind, pre-calculators in the classroom and obviously pre-internet, the deceased schoolmaster had hissed dubiously at the long division working, well probably not long division, admitted that he was in over his head, and kicked Harry upstairs to a mate that he had made, since their last chat: German mathematician and theoretical astronomer, August Ferdinand Möbius, 1790 to 1868.

    A mate that you have made? Young Harry must have thought back in amazement.

    Yeah, been busy since we last spoke. Everyone who has ever passed on, from the troglodyte of prehistory, to, hang on a sec'. EVERYONE, that kid I was telling you about, he's here. Say 'hi'.

    HI, HARRY!

    Harry? You alright there, son?

    The point was, the world's dead owed Harry. They loved the Necroscope.
    They hadn't exactly been chuffed when he had discovered necromancy, but they hadn't actually cut off all communications until-

    "-he got infected." Ben realised aloud. "The original Necroscope became a vampire, and the Great Majority shunned him. I'm not sure why, but they could not bare to have a vampire in their midst. With Jake Cutter being the new necroscope, chosen by Harry himself, they must be considering a few years down the line. Do they want to take a new necroscope into their hearts, only to have him turn into a vampire later. All the potential harm that he could do to them?"

    "Harry ran away to Starside, before he could do any damage here. There is no guarantee that Jake would make the same decision."

    "We can't tell Jake about Korath." Ian interrupted soberly, sitting up in his chair, explaining as attention turned to him. "Think about it, he'll know that Liz has been spying on him. It'll compromise her ability to do so in the future."

    "But he asked me to remind him. It could help him out."

    "Or it could be a counter-measure that he, or along with this Korath, has cooked up to see if anyone was listening in."

    "If it is, that is pretty fiendish."

    "We are dealing with vampires." Ben reminded, perhaps unnecessarily. "Fiendish is sort of their middle name."

    "Look sorry," Mary apologised up front, turned to face the house, inserted thumb and forefinger into her mouth, and blew saliva over the fleshy part between the digits. Driving past any embarrassment, she quickly asked if anyone knew how to whistle.

    Ian stepped up, sending a piercing whistle across to the digger guarding their meeting, the soldier turning to see their waves, and huffing over the parched lawn towards them.

    "G'day." He greeted with a nod.

    Mary pointed up into the tree. "What's up with that diseased black fruit? Is that a fungus?"

    Ben scowled at her, whilst the trooper stepped into an angle where he could see through the leaves. "Oh, that's not fungus; those are bats."

    "Bats!" Ben and Mary both exclaimed, the latter sitting forward so hard that the blanket-cocooned telepath almost slipped off her knees, Mary having to scrabble over the cozy blankie to save her.

    "What're you two sheeeeilas doing?"

    That the frowning man had either changed the emphasis on, or the word itself, was not lost on either woman, but the reason for it was far from clear, and they had other fish to fry.

    "The bats," Formal tersely reminded, still pointing a finger up into the tree. "Shouldn't they be in a cave somewhere?"

    "Not in Oz. We sees them all the time in trees, in the cities."

    "Whoa whoa whoa!" Trask was sitting back in his chair, a finger raised as he regarded the soldier sternly. "Mission such as ours, target such as ours; you don't let us hold a meeting about it, near to a tree with ******* BATS in it! Come on, back inside."

    The clearly annoyed head of E-Branch rose out of the lawn chair and stalked past the SAS man towards the back of the house, while Formal patted Liz' bottom through the blanket, and asked her to get up.

    Halfway along the hundred yards to the poured grey concrete of the patio, Ben turned to address them. "Remember, no mention at all of 'Korath', or Jake's night-time activities."

    "Can I still talk to him?" Liz asked, daintily twirling free of the blanket as Mary tried to roll it up without dragging it over the lawn.

    "Up to you, as much as you trust yourself. Just keep things natural."

    "Don't force the Force."

    "A bird in the hand, equals two in the bush." Ian chimed in as he kept out of the girls' way.

    ****
    Meetings and organising continued throughout the day.

    Diggers returned to the temporary site outside the city, where the trucks had been parked, auditing their equipment - guns, ammunition, flamethrowers.

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
    pronker and Emperor Ferus like this.
  20. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Finally caught up reading the funny adventures
     
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  21. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Good to see you again!

    I thought I had lost you as a reader.
     
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  22. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    @earlybird-obi-wan - was there anything that stood out to you during your catching up?

    Anything that you particularly enjoyed?
     
  23. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    I love the interaction between the characters Mary and Liz
     
  24. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Interesting exposition here and I like how even dead, folks do have their problems.[face_alien]
     
  25. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Glad to hear that you are enjoying their support network; it really helps me out when I get feedback on what readers liked.
    And often times, it helps me to enjoy that part of my writing, more.

    Thank you, @pronker , it felt good, working the Great Majority into the prose, even if they could not get any more 'background'.

    I have question for you both.

    Thus far, the POV (point of view) has been firmly Mary's in the real world, with Liz taking the lead in the dreams.

    I am stuck as to whose POV to follow, when we get to the finale, as there is a two-prong mission, with the ladies on separate parts.