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Beneath the Old Quarter

Image-1 (10).png“I’ve discovered I’m not so hot on this whole superhero profession any more,” said Emerson, slowing his stride then stopping altogether to take deep, rapid  breaths that were only marginally shy of gasps. “I had no idea all this physical exertion was one of the job requirements. Squire, Petra, you two go on ahead; I’ll wait here until I catch my breath.”

“The tunnels aren’t safe,” said the Squire.

“Petra can stay back with me in case anything threatening approaches,” said Emerson. “She’s pretty good with the bat.”

“Thanks, Sir Sir,” said Petra. “But, as fun as hanging back in a dark tunnel with you sounds, I’d rather follow the Squire into some action,”

“Sisters, carry him!” the Squire called out.

“Wait—” Emerson protested. “I think I can make it.”

“Hold on!” the Squire, cut in quite suddenly with an urgent whisper. He held up his hand and continued to speak in hushed tones. “Someone is moving in the tunnel not far ahead.”

“I see them!” said Petra, forgetting to lower her voice. She pointed with her bat at two lone figures, illuminated like silhouettes against the faint and ubiquitous glow that characterized much of the east end’s subterranean realm. “See ‘em up there?”

The two figures, alerted to the group’s approach, turned and ran in the opposite direction. “TOBIAS!” the Squire called out, but the two figures did not stop until they were once more out of sight.

“Marching against them with an army of cannibalistic ghouls probably isn’t the best way to enter into a parlee,” Emerson pointed out.

“Good point,” said the Squire. “We’ll take two of them with us and leave the rest behind.” The Squire then turned to his Dunsany brood.  “Sisters, remain out of sight but within calling distance.” He then returned his focus to Emerson and Petra. “Come on, we can still catch Tobias.”


.Image-1 (9).pngThe interior of the vessel was dark, the explosion presumably having rendered inoperable whatever system was used to power the ship; but the creatures of the Dunsany, though visually impaired in daylight, were well equipped for seeing in near total darkness. Thomas looked about. It appeared they had entered just above the main control room. About a dozen Martians, all resembling humans but for their bright red skin and olive green blood, lay dead on the floor.

“This ship is small,” hissed Leviticus, looking about for any potential threats. “How could this be an invasion? Where is their army?”

“They would be on the lower deck,” said Tars the Thark. “It is likely they have been pressed into service. If any of them survived the explosion and are of my race they will celebrate us as liberators.

“I see a ramp over there,” Leviticus pointed across the room. “See how it curves around the perimeter of the room and down to another level.”

“This one was their leader,” said Tars, who was kneeling beside one of the bodies. “The Jeddak of Helium. I will not honour his corpse by uttering his name. He was vile in life and deserves no sympathy.” The Thark then bent down and removed the curious headset the Jeddak had been wearing and a handheld remote which the Martian tyrant had been holding in his hand. He raised the two devices so the others could see. “Most curious,” said Tars, handing the controls to Thomas. “This is not unlike the equipment used by our engineers to control factory automata.”

A shuffling sound, like bare feet sliding over smooth but dusty cement, seemed to come from the side of the room with the ramp. Thomas listened for a moment, trying to determine the nature of the sound’s source when he was interrupted by a call from above.

“Prince Thomas!” Mortimer called from the top hatch, “Tobias and I have returned from our reconnaissance. The Usurper and his friends are approaching from the west. The sisters are with them.”

“Take Tobias and return to them; we need time; engage with the pretender and his allies,” said Thomas, distracted by a gurgling sound approaching from the ramp. “Leviticus, Möbius, Bob, come with me. It sounds as though the dynamite left a few survivors.”


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