The Buccaneer Chronicles:
By Karen Dunn (Despite Interference by Keith Dunn, Andy Simpkins, Adam J Purcell and Tony Gallichan)
Chapter Nineteen - The Storm
“The shield came down easily enough but the Ship seemed ill at ease when we left, taking its time to open the doors and almost growling at Mac when he bellowed at it. I asked him about it as we hit the forest but he just shrugged.
“The forest is silent and it’s bothering us all - except Mac. The slayers are jittery and I think Conor would have bolted by now if Rafe weren’t here.
“I feel like I’m in a dodgy horror film where some one says ‘Gosh, aren’t the birds and animals of these deep, dark woods quiet?’ just as some hairy monster leaps from the trees and tears their throat out. It’s that kind of feeling - as if the forest is holding its breath and hiding so that no one will harm it.
“I know the vamps must be at the village by now and I asked Mac if Blanche and the rest will be OK - if Cre’at’s aim is good - if the serum will last. He snapped at me to concentrate on the task at hand.
“I’m beginning to wonder why I keep trusting the guy. And I’m hoping I won’t be the next person on the Ship to be kept awake by nightmares.”
Conor’s trembling call brought them all to a halt and Colin pulled his revolver from its holster as Rafe crept towards the entrance to Stackmore’s lair.
After a moment, the slayer waved them over.
As they moved forward, Colin caught a glimpse of Mac pulling something from the holdall and slipping it into his pockets, “What was that?”
The Timelord glanced at him, before scrunching the empty bag into a ball and tucking it into a bush, “Insurance.”
Colin stared at the empty bag before following the slayers and the man he was no longer sure was a friend into the cavern.
As Mac made to move on, Rafe stopped him with a hand on the shoulder. Reaching into his jacket he pulled out the stubby Dalek gun that had been confiscated after Eleanor’s death.
He handed it to the Timelord, “You’ll need this.”
Macfadyan took the gun with a brisk nod and they stepped into the gloom.
“He is here! And what has he done? Oh, wonderful! His mind is in turmoil and he’s letting so much through. Such betrayal! And all because he has to win. Let the battle come to me - I relish it!”
The darkness as they hit the first passage was as stifling as the air and as unnerving as the silence. There was not so much as a whisper of life and Colin’s quiet “I don’t think he’s here” echoed around them like the loudest fanfare.
Macfadyan shot a glare at the soldier and crept further along the passage to the point where it blossomed into the cavern chamber.
The ghost of flames from the huge open fire danced along the walls and ceiling but there was no sign of the vampires who had been sleeping so restlessly the last time he was here.
The foursome stepped warily into the chamber and Mac glanced across at the grand chair that still stood in front of the fire - and the vampire Lord who merely smiled at him and raised a glass of what Colin dearly hoped was red wine.
Macfadyan raised the Dalek gun and trained it on the vampire’s heart
Stackmore’s grin widened as he deliberately showed off his fangs, “Is that any way to greet a friend?”
“Who ever said we were friends?”
“Two people so alike could never be anything but,” Stackmore’s gaze settled on Colin and the slayers, “You know the value of pawns, as do I, and you have no fear of making sacrifices to achieve your aims.”
Colin’s grip tightened on his revolver, “What does he mean?”
Stackmore chuckled as Macfadyan snapped, “Ignore him!”
“You haven’t told them, have you?”
“Told us what?”
“That this is a fight you can’t win.”
Rafe scowled, “Every fight is winnable - and we outnumber you.”
“Maybe, but the price of betrayal will outweigh any victory you may claim.”
Colin cocked the revolver and aimed it at Stackmore, “Enough!”
The smile was steady, just this side of smug, “Our friends are dying.”
“Your friends, my friends - there will be no winners because of him.”
As one, the three men glanced at Macfadyan - and in that second of indecision, Stackmore threw his goblet into the fire where it shattered into a thousand pieces.
The flames exploded from the hearth with a roar and six figures dropped soundless from the cavern walls where they had been hidden in flickering shadows.
They growled long and low at the intruders, their limbs straining to leap at exposed throats and pounding hearts.
Colin and the slayers crouched low, their weapons drawn as Stackmore laughed at Macfadyan, “Pawns are fun to sacrifice, Timelord, but if you crave victory you save your best for the killing blow” His gaze flicked to the six beasts quivering before him, “The Timelord will not be touched.”
With a wave of their master’s hand, the six vampires were free to attack and hurled themselves at the feast before them.
“I am concerned. There are far more of the undead creatures than Manfadyen predicted and, although the people of the town are fighting well, I fear we cannot win.
“I have brought down 25 of the creatures and I am aware that the serum Macfadyan prepared is running low.
“He informed me it would be more than enough, ignoring my suggestion that we needed more.
“Blanche once told me that it is better to have too many cookies than allow one person to go hungry. She said it was a good outlook to have in life. I think she was right and Macfadyan was wrong.
“I think that he has left us in the middle of a battle with not enough weapons.
“I think people will die here today and that it will be his fault.”
Ignoring the internal bleep that told him he was nearing the end of his usefulness, Cre’at fired a dart into the neck of a vampire as it prepared to sink its teeth into a screaming woman.
The creature dropped like a stone and the woman smiled a frightened smile at the Sot'm before grabbing up the shovel that was serving as a weapon and throwing herself back into the fray.
Aware of a need to protect her, Cre’at scanned the square in search of Blanche, spotting her as she stood side by side with Marco outside the Kings Cruelty, shouting encouragement and swinging wildly at the vamps as they swarmed around her.
Cre’at pootled across to her, firing another precious dart into the back of the creature that had scaled the roof and was ready to drop down on the unsuspecting pair, * Blanche. *
She spun round as the vamp crashed unconscious to the ground next to her, and beamed at her hovering friend, “Thanks, mate.”
* Blanche. *
A frantic scream from across the square saw Marco leave her side and sprint to the aid of a weaponless man who was fighting desperately to keep the lethal talons and teeth of a creature twice his size away from his throat.
As Blanche made to dart after him, the dagger drawn, Cre’at zipped down in front of her, * The serum is almost gone. *
* The serum is almost gone. *
Her frantic gaze darted from the Sot'm to Marco and back again. There were still more vampires conscious than they could safely handle, “But we’re not done…Mac said there would be enough…”
* He was mistaken. *
Her face clouded, “You mean he lied.”
The Sot'm gave a sad burble and fired one more dart, taking down a vamp in mid-leap and watching, emotionless, as it crashed to the ground.
Blanche’s hand tightened on the hilt of the dagger and she let out a long breath that fogged before her in the cold air, “How many of those things do you have left?”
* One more. *
Just for a second she looked terrified, then, squaring her shoulders she glared at the fighting figures around her and growled, “Then make it a good one. And when you’re done, find Mac and make damned sure he knows what he’s responsible for.”
* I shall. *
* Yes, Blanche? *
“Take care of yourself.”
Then she was gone, charging after Marco with a dagger she had never used held tight in her hand.
Cre’at used his final dart to take down a creature that came within inches of tearing her back with its claws, then pootled off into the forest to find the Timelord.
He wondered if he would ever see her again. He had a large store of hot chocolate for when nightmares struck and he doubted Captain Curtis would appreciate his efforts as much as she did.