The wooden chair creaked in protest as Dr. Llwellyn pulled it out for Angela. She sat down, cautiously watching the stern, bald figure of Peter Fitzcarin across the table from her. He was dressed much as he was before, other than a peppering of fresh blood stains on his woolen coat and a strange jagged tear along one sleeve. The dark halo of a bruise had slowly begun to materialize as a purplish-black smear under his right eye.
Slowly, the shopkeeper drummed his calloused fingers on the rough wooden table. “I’m glad ya saw fit ta accept my invitation, eh?” He said casually in his Canadian accent. Peter glanced around the room a moment, “where’s yer partner?”
“Oh, he sends his most … fondest … regards,” Thorias replied, then smiled. “However, at the moment he’s a bit, shall we say, indisposed?”
The shopkeeper nodded, “fine enough then, we’ll just have longer to chat.” His fingers stopped the relentless drumming. “Ya gave me and the boys quite a chase. Setting up one of yer own ta ambush us was clever, but we managed none the less. Put two of me men in the hospice when he threw them around like a rag doll. We owe ya for that.”
Angela glanced at the doctor, worried. Thorias frowned. “We’ve nothing to do with that, Sirrah …”
Peter held up a hand to interrupt. “Save the story. Once we chased off yer goon, we followed him here. Then what to our surprise do we see? Yer lot headin’ in the back door, right after the thug ya sent slipped in an upstairs window. Surprised the ape actually fit his seven foot tall bulk through. In any case, release the girl and come quietly while we wait for the Intrepid to make port. Yer caught. Don’t be stupid about this.”
Dr. Llwellyn leaned forward with a small grimace as his wounds throbbed slightly, “pardon? Did you say ‘seven feet’? And ‘ape’?”
Fitzcarin scowled, “don’t play games with me. Two of the boys are badly hurt cause a’ him. Ya know full well how big that ape is, and who he is! Just like the lot of ya are responsible for all the kidnappings going on!”
“Sirrah Fitzcarin, you must listen!” the doctor said earnestly, “we are in terrible danger! That person you described attacked us as well. Barely a half hour ago, he attacked us, eager to steal young Angela and her servitor there. We need to leave here immediately!”
“He was … a monster!” Angela exclaimed, glancing around wide-eyed in alarm. “He beat Sirrah Wilkerson and the doctor very badly. We have to get away before he realizes we’re here! We’re not safe!”
The shopkeeper barked out a harsh laugh, before he replied. “Ha! That’s a load ‘a rubbish if I ever heard it! If I was even of a mind to believe anything yer sayin’, it can’t have happened.” Peter stood and stretched. “So, lets get goin’, the dock master’s got a nice cell waitin’ for ya, ‘doctor’.”
“We were really attacked!” Angela shouted.
Thorias glared at the orc, “If you would just listen a moment …!”
“Let them have their say, Señor!” Rosalita added angrily from at the bar.
Peter angrily slammed his bruised and cut hands on the table, “That’s enough! Ya can’t have been attacked! At that moment, the bugger was tossing us about like a storm tossing a dingy against some rocks! It’s impossible he could be in two places at once, eh? So, if it really happened, then where’s yer proof? Where is it?”
Abruptly, wood exploded and a man screamed from the top of the second floor. A young man, beaten till he was a bloody mess, bounced down the stairs, coming to a rest on the floor. Seconds after, a door, ripped from its hinges, sailed through the air, and crashed into the bar.
“Madre de Dios!” Rosalita said in shock, easing up to survey the damage.
Peter jumped back from the table, while Thorias painfully pushed up from his chair to put himself between the stairs and Angela. “There’s your proof, you hard-headed curmudgeon!”
On cue, the seven foot tall, broad-shouldered monster of a man bounded down the stairs. Dressed in ragged tatters of a brown woolen coat, shredded trousers and torn shirt, his clothes were a tailor’s nightmare come to life. The giant’s blond hair, a tangled greasy mess, looked long orphaned by any comb or brush. With the jagged locks running wild atop his head, matched with his piercing ice-blue eyes, he radiated an unsettling, demented air.
“That’s how we both have experienced a near-death beating by one of these beasts,” the doctor said in a brittle voice. “There are two of them.”
“How can you tell?” Peter demanded.
“The other one had dark hair,” Angela said in shaky voice, “a blue coat and was bleeding where the doctor shot him. This one’s not hurt at all.”
Like a mad bull, the Fomorian landed with a bound at the foot of the stairs. He reached for the unconscious body of the young man that lay there. Rosalita snatched up the closest thing at hand – a broom – and proceeded to clobber the beast with the heavy wooden handle. However, the Formorian promptly backhanded her across the jaw, swatting her away like a fly.
Thorias’ LeMat revolver was in his hand in an instant. Swiftly, he aimed and fired in one smooth motion, quietly reeling from pain as the recoil rattled his already tender wound. The bullet struck the wooden floor at the Fomorian’s feet with a small explosion of splinters. Behind him, Peter pulled his own revolver, took aim and fired, but narrowly missed.
Spinning around, the blond giant snatched a table next to him and hurled it in the direction of the two shooters. Thorias dove to one side, Peter to the other, while Angela quickly ducked down low with the servitor. The table sailed past, right where they would have been, to crash into another table and chairs not too far away.
The doctor instinctively gasped from the ache of his wounds while he slowly got back to his feet, revolver at the ready. Peter did the same. Across the table from the two, Angela backed away, clutching the clockwork monkey to her protectively. Moving with nervous care, she dragged a nearby chair, placing it between her and the Fomorian. At the guttural scrape of sliding wood, the large man turned toward the sound, eyes narrowed. The giant snarled at her at first, then smiled slowly.
“Ah, ist the fraulein,” the giant rasped with a German accent. He paused, considering the girl a moment, out in the open as she was. With a victorious sneer, he lunged forward. “Give me the servitor!”
“No!” She snapped back.
“Angela! Find Tonks!” the doctor shouted. Stepping back, he aimed, then fired twice. However, the Fomorian was waiting, and the giant threw himself aside, then squatted down beside a table. When the beast stood back up, he held the table by the legs, using it like a large, round shield.
At the front door, two of Fitzcarin’s men burst through, hoping to catch the Fomorian off guard. Unfortunately, they were the ones caught, as the giant snatched up first one chair and then another, flinging them at the guards the moment they both appeared. The first man was battered against the wall, where he slumped to the floor. His partner took the brunt of the chair thrown at him to the chest, the force of which promptly knocked him back out the front door.
While Angela raced around behind Peter and Thorias to sprint for the stairs, the doctor stepped back until he was standing next to the shopkeeper.
“How are you on proof?” the doctor quickly asked.
“I’m feelin’ rather convinced at the moment,” Peter replied, wincing from a bruise on his arm.
“Capital!” the doctor said, shoving one of the tables, sending it crashing onto its side. Immediately, the feeling of white hot knives lanced through his chest from his ribs. He leaned on the table, and the room spun drunkenly around him. Taking a deep breath, he blinked as the light-headed moment dripped away from his mind.
“What’s wrong?” Peter asked quickly.
“Nothing,” the doctor snapped back quickly. “Nothing of concern for now. Help me brace the table with a chair.” Following his words, Dr. Llwellyn slammed a chair under one of the exposed table legs, forming a crude barricade.
“That won’t stop the likes of him!” Peter said, alarmed, before taking another shot at the Fomorian. The bullet slammed into the meat of the giant’s right shoulder, causing him to howl like a wounded ape before spinning around to face the two men.
“No, but it might slow his assault,” Thorias replied, backing away, “and we could use all the advantage we can find. Before, I had a pit at my disposal. At this moment, we’re a touch shy of such equipment.”
The doctor and Peter managed to each fire off a shot, both of which embedded into the table, ripping splinters yet sparing the Fomorian. With a triumphant laugh, the giant rushed forward, crashing and tripping over tables and chairs.
“He can’t follow both of us!” Peter exclaimed as he ran for the left side of the room.
“Good point, look for anything heavy to trip him with, something to get him off his feet!” The doctor replied, running for the side of the room that housed the bar.
The blond Fomorian stumbled over their makeshift barricade, then barreled forward. However, instead of chasing either Peter or Thorias, the giant stopped and sniffed the air. Immediately, he turned for the stairs!
“What? Where’s he going, eh?” Fitzcarin asked confused.
“Blood and sand!” The doctor swore bitterly, “he’s onto Angela’s scent!” Taking swift aim, the doctor fired. Instantly the bullet hammered into the Fomorian’s left rear hip. The same place he had shot the Fomorian in the warehouse.
The giant bellowed in pain, stumbled and collapsed. He glanced behind him with an ugly, evil look. Dr. Llwellyn noticed a movement at the front door, where Angela suddenly appeared and waved frantically. The doctor smiled.
“Ah, so do I have your attention?” The doctor said cheerily. “Brilliant! I suppose we all have our soft spots. Well, consider this: if you try and accost that girl, I’ve at least one more bullet, and you’ve a fresh side to your posterior!”
“I’ll kill you!” The Fomorian shouted as he rushed forward in a terrifying blur of speed, ignoring the bleeding wound in his hip.
Across the room, Fitzcarin fired once, then twice, but both bullets just missed their mark. Thorias, however, held his ground until the last moment, then threw himself aside.
Unable to stop, the giant man crashed into the bar, his right shoulder bearing the brunt of the blow. The entire building shuddered with the impact, then was still. With a dazed groan the blond Fomorian looked up and into the angry, burning dark Spanish eyes of Rosalita.
Abruptly, she bashed an iron skillet across the man’s nose and jaw with a ferocious snarl. She was rewarded with a crunch followed by a howl of pain as the Fomorian fell backwards from the woman. He grabbed his nose with one hand to staunch the flow of blood, and with the other he swung at the air in an attempt to keep the angry Spanish lady at bay.
Heady with victory, Rosalita raced around the demolished bar, brandishing her iron club. No more than two steps away from the bar, Peter Fitzcarin halted her advance, scooping her up as he and Thorias ran for the front door.
“What? No!” Rosalita yelled in rage, “he destroyed my place! That peasant will answer for that!”
“And he will, Doña Alvares, he will,” Thorias replied, panting slightly from the exertion. “Right now we need to head outside.”
“Why?” the proprietor demanded.
“The young girl’s waving like a loon, it must mean something,” Peter replied.
“It means we’ve a plan,” the doctor explained. “At least I’ve the hope of one.”
The trio burst through the front door and into the street. There, Angela gestured for them to join her off to the side. As the group came within arm’s reach, she thrust the clockwork monkey out at Dr. Llwellyn, who instinctively took hold of it.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Thorias asked, confused, staring in surprise at the monkey he held at arms length, who stared back at the doctor in turn.
“Our plan!” the young girl replied quickly. With a painful snap and shiver, she transformed into her brown fur-covered werewolf form.
“Whose plan?” the doctor asked.
That very moment, the Fomorian, blood streaming from his nose, screamed in rage as he tore out of the front door. He stopped on the street, glancing around; a near insane rage burning in his eyes.
“Sirrah Wilkerson’s!” the young werewolf replied in her rough voice, leaping up to bound off the wall and careen onto the back of the Fomorian. The moment she landed, her claws dug in, ripping into both wool coat and cotton shirt to reach the broad muscular back of the giant.
The large man screamed in pain, then in rage, as he swung first left, then right. Desperately, he reached around behind him to try and grab the girl. Angela, however, was too small and quick, and she deftly avoided the Formorian’s attempts to touch her.
“Sirrah Wilkerson!” Angela yelled in almost a howl. “Now!”
“Backs to the building, and be ready to duck,” Thorias said matter-of-factly.
“What for?” Peter asked confused.
“I don’t know,” the doctor replied, “it’s one of Ian’s plans. Best to be prepared.”
Rosa shoved her way free of Fitzcarin’s grip. “The doctor is right, Señor. I know this from experience.”
Just then the air was filled with the sound of metal crashing, like an avalanche of gears and parts sliding off a tin roof. From around the corner, just out of sight, came a giant skeletal Clockwork Augmentations Suit, running at top speed with Ian Tonks Wilkerson at the controls! On seeing the Fomorian, he grinned wolfishly and pumped his legs harder. Sparks flew from the backpack and the device raced along at a terrifying speed!
“Hey!” Tonks yelled, ramming a mechanical shoulder into the giant. As he struck, Angela leaped away, first bounding off the side of the boarding house, then onto the street in a flutter of her blue dress as it gathered around her.
Visibly shaken by the blow, the Fomorian staggered back, gasping for air. He shook his head, yelled, then swung a massive fist at the CASS and its pilot. Tonks shoved a metal arm up to block the punch, then responded with one of his own across the point of the giant’s chin.
The giant’s eyes rolled as he staggered backwards and slumped to his knees in a daze.
“Now, lads!” Tonks yelled.
From around the corner, four men raced into view, each carrying the end of a stout net. They tore around the CASS and hurled the net over the Fomorian, just as the giant lurched forward emptying the contents of his stomach onto the ice cold road. The brackish, oil-dark bile pooled on the ground under the stricken giant.
The net fell down around the giant, but he ignored it. He visibly shivered, mumbling in between violent moments of being sick. Immediately, painfully, he began to change.
“My … word …” Dr. Llwellyn said in astonishment, holstering his revolver. The doctor walked forward slowly, cradling the monkey against his undamaged side. The simian-like clockwork wrapped its tail loosely about the Welshman’s arm, and chittered curiously.
Rosalita walked close behind the doctor, equally amazed. “What is wrong with him?”
“I couldn’t begin to say,” Peter said in a hushed tone. “I’ve never seen the like before.”
They stepped between the four men who stood still in shock. Under the net, in a under a minute, was not the giant, ape-like Fomorian. Instead, it was an average-sized man with tangled blonde hair, dressed in the rags of clothing. As the man slumped over onto his side unconscious, a set of small bottles, each filled with a yellowish fluid, tumbled out onto the road.
Dr. Llwellyn quickly knelt down and checked the man’s pulse. It was thin and weak, but present. He glanced over his shoulder to the others.
“Quickly, I need a place to work,” the doctor said. “This man’s life depends on it.”
Peter thought for a moment, “If it’ll get me answers, I know just the place.”
“Answers? I should say so,” Dr. Llwellyn replied. “I think we’re all due.”