Battleshed Diaries

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Warehouse: part three


A gunshot. Lady Felicity promptly drew her 'daughters' from concealed holsters secured within her plain lilac skirt. The custom-made Italian pearl handled pistols glinted dully in the diffuse light. She picked up her pace, turning into a grim lane behind the old warehouse. At the other end there was uproar. The Peer's wolfhound was ensnared in a frenzied confrontation with strangely attired assailants. The sounds of the animal's growls and sonorous barks reverberated down the soot-slick brick walls. Lady Felicity started forward but a strange shimmering in the air ahead caused her to check her stride. Then, a stocky, vaguely human form began to coalesce out of the very air.

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She was mesmerised by an unearthly apparition forming and solidifying before her like a feculent emissary from the grave. A human cadaver, swathed in a decaying shroud festered into existence. It slowly twitched its bulbous head towards Lady Felicity, its features veiled by ragged strips of crusted linen leaving only a fleshless, discoloured lower jaw and bottomless black pits for eyes. It exuded a swell of intangible despair carried on the stink of rot, subjugating Lady Felicity's mind with an unremitting terror. Only her innate instinct for survival propelled her gelid legs into motion as she recoiled, unable to tear her eyes from the miscreation's forbidding coercion. She frantically clung to an ember of conviction, tried to raise her pistols, but an overwhelming perception of ceaseless dread leeched control from her body. She stumbled awkwardly, barely able to stay on her feet as the mummified priest advanced upon her.
    She faltered again as her heels connected with a scatter of unseen debris on the wet cobbles. She fell heavily on her side, the rigid frame of her Magneto-static bodice dug painfully into her ribs. But she somehow managed to keep hold of her pistols as she clambered back to her feet, her skirt dripping and befouled. The monstrous apparition continued to relentlessly gain on her with a ponderous, rhythmic gait, its funereal gaze exuding violence and hate. Lady Felicity dimly sensed the corner of the warehouse and the alleyway just over her shoulder. Her heart hammered in her chest. The urge to flee, escape this living torment in the alley is irresistible but an instinctive buttress of obduracy, like a beacon of resistance, fleetingly prevails. She raised her pistols and squeezed the triggers.
    Hot casings ejected from their chambers as her fraught, trembling shots mostly went wide, smacking into the surrounding walls, expelling gouts of fragmented brick and dust. Some penetrated the undead priest leaving small, charred holes in their wake but it continued its remorseless pursuit without pause, bereft of any pain or feeling. Her flare of resistance is snuffed out, leaving a ceaseless impression of surging terror. Lady Felicity, using the last vestiges of her resolve, lurched away as she fled the nightmare at her back.

 Unseen and unheard in the uppermost level of the warehouse, the resurrected Pharaoh, Akhenaton, watched impatiently as the Egyptologist, Abir, untied the gag and restraints binding the slumped form of professor Donald Belfry-Chuffnell. As his gag is removed, his muffled protests transform into an outburst of spluttering and vigorous coughing whilst the professor breathlessly gulped air into his deprived lungs.
      "Get him up," commanded Akhenaton. Abir moved to help the struggling professor to his feet. The professor's rheumy gaze flitted between the two exotic gentlemen standing before him with a look of total bewilderment.
      "What the devil is going on? Who...who are you people?" he gasped.
      "Bring him," Akhenaton coolly instructed Abir, turning towards the rusting metal stairs, ignoring the professor's protests.
      "I...I demand an explanation, Sir!" wheezed the professor, shrugging off Abir.
      "Do you hear me, Sir! Do you speak English? Are you from the authorities?" The professor resolved another fit of coughing before continuing.
      "Where are you people taking me? I need to-" the professor suddenly clamped up mid- sentence as Akhenaton masterfully conjured an arcane lattice of compulsion over the professor's confused mind. The professor's eyes took on a glazed, absent look as he stared into the middle distance as if he was considering an invisible vista. Akhenaton continued to the top of the stairs. Detached sounds of disturbance rode the cool, musty draft sighing up from the warehouse's lower levels. Akhenaton paused and looked quizzically back at Abir.
      "Do we have company?"
      "Yes my King. Men were seen approaching. I have sent the priest to help deter any interruptions. It is of little matter, my King."
      "Then we will continue. Bring the professor."
When they reached the ground floor the commotion outside became more intent. Feral barks intermingled with anxious shouts and distinctive Arabic curses. Akhenaton strode over to a large grime-stained window and peered outside. Rain dribbled down the outside of the glass but he could just about make out a red-jacked soldier indecisively pointing a rifle, and more men approaching beyond. And there was some sort of ferocious cur attacking his acolytes. Akhenaton's face knotted with irritation. His vexation diffused the spell controlling professor Chuffnell. The professor started to struggle and protest again but Abir produced a small knife and pressed it hard against the professor's soiled white lab coat.
      "Please, you do as I say, yes?" instructed Abir in heavily accented English, pressing the knife even more forcibly into the scientist's back. The professor winced and stopped struggling.
      "Do as I say. It will be better for you," continued Abir. Akhenaton nodded in satisfaction and replied in Egyptian Arabic to Abir.
      "Good. Clear a Path of Shadows and take our guest from this place. I will deal with those fools outside." With that, Akhenaton gestured towards the the warehouse doors. Abir released the point of the knife from the professor's back but his cautionary look cowed the scientist into submission. Abir went to the doors and after a brief effort he shifted the locking bar to release them in a scrape of resisting metal and wood. They slowly moved apart a few inches, weak light and a swirl of rain- leaden air spilled into the warehouse. With another subtle motion from Akhenaton, Abir resumed his position with his knife at the scientists back and prodded him to start moving.
    As the warehouse doors swung slowly apart and they exited into the pouring rain, the intruders outside appeared to be completely unaware of Akhenaton, Abir and the subdued professors presence, so intent were they on a fierce clash between one of their number and a Servant of Ra. Their man was holding a long knife in one hand and wielding some sort of heavy brass instrument in the other which he was using to brutally bludgeon the acolyte. Akhenaton calmly signalled for Abir to continue whilst the Pharaoh harnessed his innate talent to project fear, as if wielding a weapon, and stalked towards the nearest of the intruders.
    Akhenaton was only a few paces away before the British officer in the ostentatious scarlet tunic became aware of the Pharaoh's approach. The officer half turned, his momentary look of surprise almost immediately replaced by a mien of intense dread lashed the officer. Whatever the officer thought he saw - his eyes wide with terror and blood draining from his face - it caused him to flinch back in utter trepidation. He almost dropped his rifle as he impulsively retreated from a terrifying hallucinatory manifestation.
    Akhenaton then shifted his attention to a muscular Indian who was struggling to raise a hefty Gatling machine gun. A shrill whining noise accompanied the rapidly increasing rotation of the weapon's multiple barrels. But as Akhenaton once again expressed his mastery of the Mystical Powers, Mohan Singh's mind was suddenly clouded with a thug of confusion. He released the small finger lever on the Gatling gun, disengaging the weapon's mechanism, inexplicably unable to reconcile his intent to aim the weapon at the strange enemy and the persuasive compulsion to lower it instead.

Keeping his distance from the unfolding ambuscade, Lord Curr squinted through the damp misted aperture of the Monocular Targeting Array attached to his large calibre Holland & Holland hunting rifle. Through the luminous cross hairs he was earnestly tracking the sudden onrush of a knife wielding woman in ebony and fuchsia silently bearing down on an unsuspecting Burton Cartwright. The Peer has little time to gauge the shot. He squeezed the trigger, the heavy rifle kicking back with a loud, sharp crack and a haze of smoke. The bullet thrums an inch or two wide of the woman, disappearing into the buildings across the street. Damn it!


Burton Cartwright flinched at the sound of the heavy round ripping through the air close by, turning just in time to raise his rifle in defence before a woman is upon him with a wild, unnerving scream. An exotic but cruel looking serpentine blade flashes before it strikes the rifle's metal trigger guard with a dull clang and slices viciously up along the outside of Cartwright's exposed hand, ripping into his sleeve. Cartwright snatches his rifle away and quickly recoils, his initial shock of the ambush - and from a women too! - is quickly replaced by mounting gall and a natural, street-born cunning nurtured from hard lessons in the squalid back streets of industrial Newcastle.
    He knew he could simply shoot the mad woman but some stunted sense of pride kept his finger off the trigger. He would not shoot a woman if he could help it. Even a raver such as this. He could easily pacify her without recourse to putting a bullet in her belly. But he was not above a quick beating where it was needed.
      His phonic tic caused him to issue a short, guttural sniff as he insolently switched his grip on his rifle, and using it like a club, swung it in a brutal arc at the screeching harpy before him. But the woman is quick and the knife, seemingly impossibly inadequate against the weight of the rifle, checks its impact with an unnatural ease and strength. Cartwright can feel the tingle of blood running freely from the deep cut along his hand but there is no pain. Just a rapidly growing numbness. He clumsily fends off more feints and lunges from the manic woman who seemed to be shouting curses in some foreign tongue. But Cartwright's movements were becoming laboured, weaker. As if strength was pouring from his limbs, replaced by a sensation of pervading lethargy.
    The woman appeared to smirk as she cautiously reigned in her assault. Cartwright could barely heft the weight of his rifle. He grunted with confounded exertion. The weapon felt as if it had been suddenly transmuted to solid granite. His arms were shorn of all strength. Then he experienced an overwhelming tide of drowsiness. He reels, the woman wavering in his vision. He feels intangible, his consciousness a flux of mute serenity spilling towards a perpetual horizon. Then the surreal intuition shatters, replaced by the ominous visage of the mad woman leering down at him with a look of fanatical malice as she points her poisoned blade between his eyes.

To be continued in The Warehouse: conclusion... 

The Warehouse: part 1
The Warehouse: part 2

The Warehouse pdf (complete)

The Super Weapon campaign