Chapter 52 - Siege
"Get everyone out of the Gatehouse !!!"
, Tobias shouted as he leaped onto the curtain wall battlements behind the stables. Loki rushed to
comply while Sarah raced into the Hall with Cpr and Annie hard on her heels.
, she yelled, making LC drop her tankard onto the sleeping form of Phoebe. The dog leaped into the air, barking and growling
while simultaneously attempting to shake the cider from her fur. LC muttered imprecations as she slipped on the puddle and almost fell, while Asala
ran out of the kitchen and almost tripped over the angry hound.
Pantha stood calmly while pandemonium reigned. "We all know what to do", she said, "And where to go". She walked quickly to the corner where she
kept her belongings and selected her own weapon while Sarah loosened Caledonia's scabbard and checked her own brace of pistols.
"Very fetching Lara, I must say", LadyCool said as she rummaged through her own kit. Sarah stuck out her tongue at LC then turned to Pantha. "Where
do you want Annie and Cpr ?", she asked.
Pantha checked the safety of her SA80; "Can you get on the roof ?", she asked, "Those bows will definitely be useful"
Cpr12r grinned, "Consider it done", he said and in a flash had left the Hall, bow in hand and quiver strapped on his back.
"Take the solar windows", Pantha said as Annie turned to follow her companion, "It'll be easier than trying to climb with that foot of yours".
Annie nodded and hobbled across the floor towards the courtyard and the steps leading to the solar.
"Trust the fecking pixy to miss all the work", LadyCool muttered as she strapped on her pistols and tied her hair into blue pigtails, "By the time
he gets back, it'll all be over".
The door opened and Erisian rushed in, her face white with worry. "Anything for me ?", she asked, forcing the fear away and heading to where Pantha
was directing the defence.
"You were pretty good with a rifle, so Tobias tells me", Pantha said picking up a weapon and handing it to Eris, "Didn't you shoot an Azraelite
off one of the walls that time in Warwick ?"
Erisian nodded, checked the rifle and smiled grimly.
"South Tower curtain wall, please", Pantha said. Erisian nodded seriously and left the hall.
Pantha took a deep breath, hefted her weapon and strode towards the door, "Lets get it done", she said then stepped into the courtyard.
"What do you mean, they're just sitting there ?", Pantha asked as Tobias dropped off the curtain wall and trotted over to where she was talking
"When I buggered Eris out of the Gatehouse I had a look out the windows", Loki explained,"I expected to be shot at at least, but nothing. They're
just sitting around just outside the moat".
"Must be waiting for something", Tobias said as he scanned the castle defences, "Or someone
"They're Corporates right ?", LadyCool asked.
"Yes. Mercenaries plus a few squaddies probably for backup. They
don't look happy I'll say that for them"
"Then why are they here then ?", LC asked angrily, "Why didn't they say 'sod the corporations' and bugger off like you did ?"
"Feck knows", Tobias replied, "Maybe some of them really believe
in the Corporate way of life"
"Nutters if you ask me", came LC's reply, "But then again it's not really that different from Bush's wars. "Even though many troops knew the
wars were immoral, they still fought because of a sense of honour. Although why they would fight for a gob#e like Bush is beyond me".
"True", Tobias replied, "The people I worked with in REME were the most honourable bunch of buggers around. We had the idea that 'you joined,
so you fight'
and so we did. Some died for the poodle and his lies, but when the Corporates took over, that was it. We'd fight for the country
even with an arsehole like Blair in charge, but for the greedy CEO's of McDogturds and Wal Fart ? - No fecking chance. Thing is", he continued,
"There are always some bad apples. Just because most of my old compadres gave the Corporates the V-sign doesn't mean that every
A lot just got seconded to Corporate Mercenary squads. Some even left
the army and joined the Corporates. Probably thought it would improve
their career prospects."
LC shook her head in despair at what people would do for an ideology, even a warped one such as the New World Order. "I'm off to North Tower then",
she said, "Asala should be there by now and ..."
One of the men standing on the battlements behind the stable yelled, pointing desperately towards a small speck in the sky. It
was small, not one of the standard black helicopters but definitely heading in their direction. The castle defenders numbered around fifty, with
another twenty or so huddled in the hall or watching from the courtyard as the helicopter moved closer, eventually hovering about a hundred yards in
front of the Gatehouse.
"Loki", Tobias said quickly, "See if you can get a closer look. I want to know whos in that bird".
Loki nodded and pelted across the courtyard into the gatehouse. The two men guarding the heavily locked gate watched in interest as he charged up the
stairs, then disappeared from view.
"How many are out there ?", Sarah asked as she fingered the hilt of her sword.
"I reckon about two hundred all told", Tobias replied. "They've got us circled, but that means they're spread quite widely apart. It may give us
an advantage, that is if they don't get any reinforcements".
"Which is highly improbable, given that they're waiting around, isn't it ?"
Tobias sighed and nodded. Sarah looked grave, slipped Caledonia
from its scabbard and watched the reflection of the afternoon sun glint from
"I wonder what these swords really do", she said pensively. "I mean, they're nice and all but aren't they supposed to be magickal ?"
"Feck knows", came the reply, "But we could certainly do with some magick right now"
"Magick, my arse !"
Tobias and Sarah turned at the voice, smiles playing on their faces as they watched Fingal and Ravenna cross the courtyard. "I'd say a Mass for our
victory", the old priest said, handing round a bottle of 'Best Pixyland', "But those buggers out there would probably interrupt it. Fecking
Ravenna put her arm through Fingals and smiled sadly. With her hair tied up in a pony tail, she looked more like a High School Valedictorian than the
female version of Indiana Jones, but the sword at one side and holstered pistol on the other gave the lie to that illusion. "Do you have any idea
what they're up to ?", she asked as Sarah replaced Caledonia
into its scabbard.
"Bugger all", Tobias replied, "Loki's in the Gatehouse seeing what's up with that chopper. Other than that, I guess all we can do is wait".
LadyCool and Asala stood inside the top floor of North Tower watching through the windows as the helicopter touched down on the other side of the
Gatehouse. "I didn't think we'd get found out this
early", LC said quietly. "I expected the Corporations to have bigger fish to fry".
"Me too", Asla replied, checking her pistol and ensuring that she had sufficient ammunition.
"You don't like this fighting stuff do you ?", LC asked, fiddling with the small Victorian parasol she carried as a good luck charm. "You never
liked it even when it was just the two of us and Sarah"
Asala sighed. "Just because I don't like fighting doesn't mean I can't". She reholstered the pistol and turned back to the window. "Yes, I'd
rather help people or cook or just hang about talking but we can't do that now, not until everything's back to normal. If that ever happens. So I do
what I need to do to survive, just like everyone else. We're in this thing together and whatever happens, we'll do it together"
"Just like the Musketeers", LC said raising her parasol like a sword, "One for all"
"And all for one"
. Asala smiled.
Loki moved closer to the window overlooking the moat and opened it slightly. Balancing his directional microphone on the window sill, he began his
vigil. A hundred yards or so beyond, the helicopter touched down softly, the pilot shutting down the engine almost as soon as he landed. It was
smaller than the normal Corporate helicopter and had been painted black and rose-gold with a large Ankh emblazoned on the fuselage.
Loki watched as the door opened and a small swarthy-looking man alighted, lowered the steps and offered his hand to whoever was still inside. A small
hand reached out and took his own dark one and he moved slowly backwards, helping his companion down the steps to the ground.
The woman who stepped from the aircraft was dressed in a white gown which looked for all the earth like that of an ancient Egyptian priestess.
However, it being the middle of winter, her clothes had been tailored to take the cold into consideration and appeared to Loki to be made of some
shiny material he had never seen before. Around her shoulders a short wollen cloak hung down her back while her head was covered by a hood from which
the occasional wisp of wavy black hair protruded. Nevertheless, it wasn't the woman's appearance that shocked Loki, but the nasty looking snake that
hung around her shoulders. The cobra, which Loki guessed was about five feet long, hissed angrily at being taken into the wintery air. Slowly the
woman disentangled herself from her reptilian companion and handed it to the dark man. "Too cold", she said in an imperious manner, and watched as
he returned the snake to the warmth of the chopper.
"Feck me, it's Cleopatra !", Loki muttered to himself as the woman strode from the helicopter towards a Corporate Hummer standing fifty or so feet
away. The Mercenary standing beside the vehicle was concentrating on a map stretched across the bonnet and didn't realise he was being addressed
until he was spun forcibly around by the small Egyptian manservant.
"Who the f..." The soldier began then seemed to recognise the woman. "I'm ... er ... sorry ... ma'am, but ... I ... "
The woman sighed; "I am not
a ma'am", she said coldly. "Neither do I require your apologies. I am a priestess of Isis. You may refer to me
with either the title 'Priestess' or as 'Isis', this being the name each of us is given once accepted into the mysteries".
The mercenary swallowed; "Yes ... ma' ... er ... Priestess ... Isis"
Isis shook her head in annoyance. "Who is in charge of this debacle ?", she asked.
The mercenary straightened. "That would be me ... Priestess", he replied, hastily adding the title.
"So he's not here yet ?"
"No Priestess. I believe he plans to arrive after dusk"
Isis glowered at the soldier, "He invites
a member of the Temple of Isis to witness what he calls his 'greatest triumph' and yet cannot do
me the most basic courtesy of being here to welcome me. Tell me, why should I wait ? ... why should I not leave right now and return to the Temple
The mercenary shivered visibly, knowing exactly what would happen to him
if she left. "Would you allow me the honour of caring for your needs
"You need not worry", Isis said, "Bad manners or not, I wouldn't miss this
for the world. When his little foible
fails utterly - and
mark my words, it will
fail - He and his acolytes will be cast aside. Once that is done, the Temple of Isis will be one step closer to being
the chosen religion." She looked into the mercenary's bloodshot eyes and smiled, "Make sure you choose the right side"
"So who do you think they're waiting for ?", Tobias asked Loki after he had returned to the courtyard to give his report.
"No idea", came the reply, "Whoever it is, Cleo
doesn't think much of him. She's waiting for him to feck up so that she can take his
place. Something about the chosen religion or some such crap".
"Didn't Asala mention something about a One World Religion ?", Ravenna asked, "Blair was talking about that wasn't he ?"
"It's not much of a surprise", Tobias explained. "The NWO, Illuminati or whatever the buggers call themselves have always planned for one. I just
didn't expect it to be a contest
"I remember the pixy saying something about the One World Religion a few months ago", Fingal said. "Something about the 'cult of self' or
something like that. He said that many people may call
themselves Christians and go to church every week, likewise they could call themselves
Jews and visit the synagogue, or Muslims and attend the Mosque - but inside do they truly believe ?"
"Feck knows", Loki replied.
"Yes, some do, at least in Pisky's eyes", the priest continued, "He said that the average person doesn't truly follow Christ, Jehovah or Allah.
They follow the cult of self. The religion of negativity. The ideas that allow corrupt governments to kill innocents indiscriminately. To sacrifice
their own young to boost their personal coffers. The I'm OK, Jack
mindset that allows people in the most advanced countries of the world to be
homeless and starving."
"So the pixy thinks that the One World Religion is just Luciferic thought masquerading as positive religions ?" Tobias asked.
"Yes", Fingal replied, "And he's not the only one. But from what Loki just said, it looks as if there may be some kind of competition within the
ranks. Whoever this Isis
was talking about it's obvious that there's animosity between the camps."
"A religious war inside the NWO could be just what we need to take the heat off us", Tobias said. "But for now we need to prepare for the worst
while hoping for the best. Where's Coleman ?"
"He took over in the Gatehouse when I came out here", Loki answered, "He's watching Cleo in case she slips up and gives us a hint as to who she's
"I don't think we've got much longer to wait", Sarah said pointing to a pinprick of light in the rapidly darkening sky, "If I'm not mistaken,
that's our man."
And with that, they all turned to watch as the helicopter ranged ever closer.