51

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

COL. ADRIANNA HAZARD, AUGUST 16, 2007

Arabella had returned to her quarters after seeing Walter, Tuskgee, and Roger apprehend Ignatieff's spy. It would not have been wise for her to follow them, knowing what was coming next. From the living quarters of the ship nobody could hear the screams of agony coming from the tortured man, but Arabella could feel each one as it sent shivers down her spine. That man would die soon, and it was giving her thrills matched only by a night of mortal pleasures. Whilst in the throes of ecstasy, memories came back to Arabella that she wished would have stayed buried.

A young Count Nicholas, ambassador from Russia at the Convention of Peking, wooing her after the meetings were over. Numerous Chinese men dying at his hands, the same terrible pleasures racking her body. Whispers in the night, asking her for control over death.

A hot pain coursed through Arabella's hand as she slammed her fist into the wall. Luckily, the hard wood paneling did not dent. The uncomfortable distraction worked and she busied herself checking for broken bones. Upon finding none, she sat on the edge of the bed, regaining her usual calm demeanour.

As she made for the doorway, one thought stayed with her: Valkyries remain alone, lest a mortal discover their power over death and try to take it.

52

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

MRFATS

Isaac sat, nervously staring at Pierre. "Unfortunately, that much I cannot answer. However I what I do know is the machine is old. Rather, it was. The device built around it is advanced technology, but I do not know much about it. It is actually more of a structure. It is large, the outside covered with strange symbols, carved deep into the slightly rusted, burnt metal exterior. The interior appeared to be constructed from stone, varying in colors and shape, with more symbols. Inside is what I remember vividly. It held a chair, that seemed strange, with flora growing as if out of the very structure into the chair, then outward into the walls again. I wish I could tell you more, but I do  remember a panel. It had dusty levers, buttons and the like. A few seemed to carry numbers, others various letters from ancient languages."
Isaac stared at Pierre, his eyes filled with a sorrowful, mourning gaze. "I apologize, Mr. Dupre, but that is all I can inform you about the device, I'm afraid." With that, he escorted Pierre out of his room and closed the door.

In the interrogation room

Walter stared at the man. Roger and Tusk stood back, it had seemed Walter had taken initiative. The man was now badly bruised, a few minor cuts and just the slightest hint of blood ran down the side of his lip. Walter seemed to grow more impatient. He was weary of this game, having preferred to engage in intellectual, rather than physical torture. It would seem that this man would not respond to physical stimuli, so he would resort to psychological means. "Look here, and understand what I will divulge to you now." Walter leaned forward, his voice barely a whisper. "I do not know why, nor do I care for the reason you joined forces with Ignatieff. I notice that you carry very few items that a regular saboteur, even one in cognito would carry. Seems he sent you to die. Or, was it simply a death wish?" Walter smiled, knowing this man would respond one of only a few ways. Unfortunately, he was unresponsive, even to this initial attempt. "Zere is nozink you can zay to me, to make me tock, en fakt, it woult be far simplar if you just kilt me now. I vill say zis again. You cannot make me tock."

Walter sighed, did it have to come to that? "Mr. Woolf, Mr. Smythe. Please, if you would leave the room for 3 minutes. No more, no less. Do not enter no matter what you hear, however compelled you may be to open that door. Stay there, until nigh but 3 minutes past. Tusk and Roger nodded, a bit puzzled but left. Tusk walked over to Walter for a moment. "Mr. Bennet if you intend to-" Walter looked at Tusk "I assure you Mr. Woolf that I have no intention to kill this man. Leave this to me." Tusk nodded his head and exited the room. Walter smiled at the now unnerved and injured man. "Vat..vat are you doink? Very vell, go aheat. Kill me."

Walter smiled at the man, an empty, cold smile that made the man even more nervous than Walter's previous gaze. "Oh no. I have no intention to kill you." He began to roll up his sleeves, and the man's eyes grew wide, as Walter approached him...

The screams, the horrid, terrified cries of a man who loses his sanity. Those howls were heard throughout the ship. The crew were uneasy , and it seemed all but those in their quarters heard the man's cries. When 3 minutes had past, Roger and Tusk entered to find Walter fixing his pants, his waistcoat now closed and secured over his shirt. "Z-Ztay avay! Kee-keep zat...zat man...Keep him avay! He...he is not...how could he....how..it iz not pozible...." The man was terrified out of his wits, unable to speak in complete sentences. It appeared as though whatever Walter had done, had robbed the man of his sanity..Tusk shuddered at the look of the man, and stared at Walter. Walter looked at him and smiled, the same warm, kind smile they had all seen. "But, what had this man seen? What could Walter have shown him, what could he have done?" Tusk thought. For now, it would seem the interrogation had ended and the man would no longer be capable of providing information. Walter seemed quite on top of that, however.

"It would seem, that Ignatieff wishes to possess the time machine. His desire is nothing less that world conquest. Unfortunately the man truly knew nothing more, save the instructions he had been given prior to entry aboard the ship. The device is broken, I had a crewman bring it to me." He motioned to the table. Roger and Tusk looked at Walter, unsure of what to say. "I think perhaps we should check the rest of the crew, or perhaps the few who recently joined. We would not want any more intrusions, or saboteurs." Tusk said, breaking the silence.

Some time later
They had searched the crew, they had checked their information, and spoken to each man individually. With the three of them at work it had only taken two hours. After all, there were only so many crew members. Everyone else seemed fine. "Well, this certainly has been a busy night. Would anyone care for a drink, perhaps a smoke? I could surely use one." Walter said. "I for one could use a drink, but no smoking thank you." Tusk said. Roger, happy to oblige, said "Yes, I would enjoy a smoke as well. Come, let us relax for a while." With that, the three walked toward the lounge.

53

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

HAC

The three comrades sat relaxing in the comfort of the lounge. Roger went to the sideboard and poured himself a Scotch, then returned and sat with the two others. He took a silver case from his pocket, and lit a cheroot. The slender cigar gave off a pleasant aroma. Roger offered them around.
Looking at Walter he said..
"I suppose old chap, it would be amiss and crass to enquire as to your ah, skills? You achieved more than I could have with my more, ah, direct approach?. I have some small tricks of the mind, you have seen me use the  iddhividha Tibetan methods to move at incredible speed, and I can also do this..."
  Roger's cheroot seemd to move by itself, and hang in front of him. He took a few puffs, the cheroot held as if in an invisible arm.
"That, My dear Walter, is called "Astral Hands", as described in the Vissuddhimagga, the Path to Perfection. I have only mastered the powers of physical transformation, the first level of the six levels of the Vissuddhimagga. My masters said that until I purged my thoughts of greif and vengeance, I could not progress past that level. There are one or two other feats that are within my grasp. I must say, though, that I have never seen or heard the like of what you
seem to have done. My masters spoke of the possibility of such things, but only in whispers."
  Roger put the cheroot down, and then picked it up in his real hand.
"Forgive me for being forward, and if you do not deem to answer, be assured, I would not offend you for the world, but
my curiousity really seems to have the better of me"

Roger took a drink, and looked across to Walter..

54

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

MRFATS

Walter smiled, he knew it would come up at some point. "Well, it was not what I can do, rather it is what I am. Not many like me you know. Especially not as well designed. Well, parts of me." He looked at Tusk, who sat rather silently in a chair adjacent to Roger's. "If you would permit me." Walter rolled up one sleeve, then the other. Finally, he rolled up a pant leg. "My limbs, are what would scare a man so. Rather that they are not real, and the poor fellow observed with his own eyes, that which I had created. Some people just cannot handle the realization." With that, Walter turned his right arm, and with a pop, the limb rested in his left hand. He me moved it about as if to show it was not real, the brass knob fitting on the end glistening in the light. Roger and Tusk stared in amazement. "They function flawlessly, now to the point where one would not easily realize they are not my own. In fact, Mr. Smythe the only portion of my body still made from flesh, bone and other tissue is the torso, as well as my head." his eyes seemed distant, almost full of regret and pain. He snapped to attention quite suddenly and smiled. "I suppose we all have our secrets. My limbs were destroyed in an accident, at my laboratory quite a long time ago. They gain motion through the subtle electrical impulses generated by the remainder of my body, and power is generated separately in each limb. If one would look closely, one would notice the ancient markings adorning the surface, and also the machinations inside. The flesh and such is my own, covering each limb, immaculately recreated to give the perception these are my real limbs."

With that, Walter rolled his sleeve down, and reattached his right arm. I was not simply hired for my intellect, but my vast knowledge of science including creation of mechanical limbs, something rarely heard of. I am sure, however that two well traveled gentleman such as yourself know of such things?
Tusk was astounded, the motion, the complete range that his limbs gave him. If he had not told them..they would never have known. He chose to be honest rather than inform them of some other capability he might have. It explained his sudden absences, his apparent necessity for sleep. They would have to be fairly well maintained, although he had not been excusing himself as much, if at all lately.

55

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

COL. ADRIANNA HAZARD, AUGUST 17, 2007

During Walter's speech, Arabella had come through the open doors leading to the deck and taken a seat next to her fellow travellers after mixing a drink. She sipped it, then spoke:

"Astral hands, you say, Roger? Hmmmm... Nice to finally have an explanation for the odd phenomenon Walter and I witnessed out on the deck just a few nights ago," she paused for a while, almost seeming to have lost her train of thought, then continued. "I presume you gentlemen have been very successful in interrogating the spy Nicholas sent to track us with."

The three nodded.

"Therefore, we are as safe as a group of people attempting to thwart his plans could be, then?"

56

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

CHICAR

Meanwhile...

'' Are you sastified, sir'' said the valet

'' More than it look'' answer Pierre

''Beautiful,sir. Now do you mind than i escort you to your quarter ?"

'' Do it  mon brave"

It wasn't said explicitely, but Isaac's answer was the proof than the doubt of Pierre was funded. It was indoubtaly ''their'' design.

Pierre though '' Poor Mina, she is probably the only ''underworlder'' to don't be able to recognise R'leyian design. Too bad than his initiation about ''his ancestors's'' creators might be has costed his soul. So Niko has finally realised his father's dream afterall. Infortunaly for us, he also put his paternal's madness in a new level''

Arrived in his quarter, Pierre take a worth-it nap in waiting of further development.

57

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

HAC

Quote from: Col. Adrianna Hazard on August 17, 2007, 07:35:19 AM

"Astral hands, you say, Roger? Hmmmm... Nice to finally have an explanation for the odd phenomenon Walter and I witnessed out on the deck just a few nights ago," .......
"Therefore, we are as safe as a group of people attempting to thwart his plans could be, then?"
Roger stood and bowed...
"Good evening Miss Arabella. Yes, I suppose that does explain my little trick. One must practice, and it is a pleasant distraction to smoke and exercise at the same time. I am limited in what I can do with my ah, extra arms, as it were, I have only the reach and strength with them that I have with my real arms, My guru, though, was able to reach across a room, and lift a hundred weight with ease. I have found this a useful trick, though, I have used it to open locks and such, as wel as untie my bonds on one occassion.  I was explaining to these tow gentleman that I was only able to master the
first level, Physical Transformations, of the Path to Perfection. My master had fully acheived this and was had the power of translocation, celestial hearing, and the ability to discern ones true nature and past lives. As I said, I have a few other
tricks that are useful. I'd be most pleased to demonstrate, if you are at all curious.  "
  Roger paused and sipped his drink..
"But then, my dear Miss Arabella, we all here seem to have our little secrets and skills, would you not agree? Indeed, it is these skills and abilities that make us the band most aptly suited to counter Ignatieff. I would wonder what yours are?.. But that is presumptuous, forgive me. As to your question, yes, I beleive that we are relatively safe for the present. Knowing the Count, I would say he would prefer to allow us to do "the heavy lifting" and  thus  most of the dangerous bits of discovery for him. I daresay that he plans some spectacular denouement for us. He does love the dramatic touch."
  Roger looked around at the group and lit another cheroot..

58

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

COL. ADRIANNA HAZARD, AUGUST 18, 2007

Arabella's face had been quite nondescript during most of Roger's speech, but a shadow seemed to pass over it upon mention of Ignatieff.

"Yes, Nicholas always did enjoy theatrics..." she replied, falling silent for a moment and staring into her glass. Soon enough she collected her thoughts and her usual cool, calm mannerisms had returned. She again turned to Roger and spoke.

"Other tricks you say? I would be quite interested in learning more about those, if you are willing to divulge your secrets," Arabella said. "As for my own abilities, I suppose it is time I explained a few things. Now that I have lived some weeks alongside all of you, I have come to the conclusion that it will not only be safe, but necessary to disclose information about myself to you," she paused to take a sip of her drink, then continued. "As I have mentioned previously, I have a supernatural power over death. I did not elaborate at the time just how much power, nor how it came about. I shall do so now."

The three men remained silent, waiting for her to continue. At that moment, Miss Murray entered the room and sat down.

"I think I'd better hear this as well," Mina said.

"Certainly," replied Arabella, who then continued to speak. "I assume you are all familiar with the term 'Valkyrie' - an ancient race of beings, now thought to be only Norse myths. I assure you, they are as real as Roger's Astral Hands - not seen by many, but those who have witnessed their power know it isn't a dream. I am a Valkyrie, or, to be more specific, a vaetter-maiden, meaning I am half mortal. Alvitr is my Valkyrie name, and any of you who have some deep knowledge of Norse mythology may recognize it. As such, I am part of a race of godlike beings who control the fates of humans. I know when those near me are going to die, and I could choose to prevent that from happening though I am really not supposed to. The ability to end a life is also within my grasp," she turned to Roger yet again. "With your extensive weapon knowledge and training, you no doubt have noticed I do not carry any means of personal protection, despite being a woman who tends to wander through less-than-desirable parts of town."

He nodded to show his agreement but let her continue.

"That is because I do not require any. This body contains a surprising amount of strength, not to mention the ability to kill on a whim. Being a battle maiden of mythology has its advantages," she smirked. "Now you can truly appreciate the reasons our adversary had for becoming involved with me all those years ago, as well as understand my ageless longevity."

59

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

HAC

Roger arose, and bowed deeply on one knee.

"My Lady, I am honored to meet the All-Wise one of the  Völundarkviða... Shield maiden and lover to the great Volund, whom we English call Wayland the Smith, Warrior Maiden and favored of Odin, and norn-weaver of the threads of war. I salute you, ancient and noble  Lady"

  Roger straightend up and quoted:

Maidens flew from the south
through the dark wood,
alvitr the young
future to fulfil.
There on the seashore
they sat to rest,
maids from the south,
spun expensive linen

One of them
Egil held in his arms,
a fair maiden,
in a shining embrace.
Another was Svanhvít,
who pulled off her swan plumage,
but the third
their sister
embraced the white
neck of Völund.

My teachers spoke of ancient beings such as you, and you would be pleased to know there is still a shrine to you in Shiaben Gompa"

Roger looked at the assembled group.

"As for my tricks, I would be happy to share them with you all. I feel that the shared knowledge of our skills will be a formidable weapon to hold at Ignatieff's throat..
  For myself, I posess not only Astral Hands, but also Speed of the Hawk, which some of you have also seen. That is the ability to move at such speed, that I appear as a blur to those around me. I also can do this -"

Roger paused, and they looked at him , as his face changed. It was still Roger, but he looked ancient and dark and withered, an old man of the deserts..
"...within limits, I can change the external appearance of my body, but I cannot change its size"
Roger blinked, and his features became his own.
"I also have the ability to harden my skin, to be as iron. As I am not one of those who is chosen for the Path of perfection, each of my skills is limited to a degree. My Astral Hands have the reach and strength of my own arms. My Speed of the Hawk, can only be used for short durations, and can fatigue me greatly. My Transformation of Face will not alter my body size, or its general shape, nor will my voice be changed, and the Iron Skin, while useful, causes me to be very limited in motion, almost to immobility, indeed, breathing is very hard to do in that state. My Tibetan Masters also taught me meditation, and  they gave me this as well, five years of very hard time it took, too.."

Roger holds up his right arm, and pulls back the sleeve to reveal a scar, burned into the inside of his arm in the shape of a dragon..

"There is a matching scar on the other arm. It is the mark of initiation after passing the final tests of the Chinese fighting monks who derived the martial art of "quong-fu" - useful to one who's trade often includes violence"

Roger paused again and took a sip of his drink..

"My other skills are that of my trade, soldier and spy. I am a passable lockpick, and a master of disguise. I am a decent horseman and bladesman, and a crack shot. At M15, Mycroft Holmes himself said I had the makings of a master thief. Even though he was jesting, from him that was high praise.. So there you have it."

Roger raised his glass to Arabella in a toast.
"Your humble servant, Madame"

He looked over at the others...
"So that leaves Miss Mina, Tusk, and Elisabeth for their stories.., Ah, and Isaac, as well. This promises to be a most amazing evening"...

60

Re: The Peril of Power 2: "Red Cloud on the Horizon"

MRFATS

Isaac had stepped in, just to hear the very end and stood silent. He had rested behind the door to hear Walter explicitly state he was not completely human. Now, there was Arabella, and she was not human either? He did not know how to react, he had seen his fair share of strange, horrific and wonderful things, but never had he seen a Valkryie or an automaton, functional and partially human.

Walter smiled, and exhaled smoke from the pipe he had produced from his pocket. "Well, this is certainly the group of very interesting people now is it not? The Valkryie. I had heard stories, but never have I seen one. Your beauty was said to be exquisite, the Wise Father having chosen only the very best. It seems he was correct in his choice." Looking into the eyes of Arabella, he inhaled deeply from the pipe. "My limbs are equipped with various items,such as a small explosive device. Do not worry" he said as he stared at the rather worried expressions that seemed to pass as he mentioned that. "My limbs now are simply mechanical appendages, however they are quite strong, able to withstand a bullet, become reattached at several places. They also happen to be magnetic.

Turning to Mina, he inquired "Miss Murray, I presume we shall arrive at the island soon?" She nodded. "Very well, I feel we should all prepare, I daresay this shall not be a simple venture and it would be useful if we were all well prepared for a great battle. Of course, that would be after we hear from Miss Murray and Mrs. and Mr. Woolf."