Author Topic: Merovingia: A Somewhat Overdue Excerpt from "Between The Threads"  (Read 2370 times)


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(Author's note:This is an excerpt from Between the Threads, and is intended to showcase Merovingia Harper-Chen and her mutual nemeses Commodore Jaisen Dreyfuss and his cousin (referred to as his "niece" in the Duckpond RP; as will become apparent, the two thought of the relationship both ways) Irene Cross, for purposes of character explanation.

Meri has just finished healing up after being nearly burned to annihilation by Dreyfuss via his whitefire power over Shanghai Harbor, and has raised a crew of undead with which to pursue and attempt to bring down Dreyfuss and his ship.

Apologies for  spelling and grammatical errors; I always intended to edit this thing, but time and other projects got in the way. I'm mildly surprised that the book survived the site move and the other shakeups. Thanks, Mods!).

The arrival of the St. Elmo at Kathmandu was relatively uneventful. so too was the refueling and the forage trip to the city's market for supplies for the return trip to England, save for a trackside fortune teller at the railway station who took one look at Dreyfuss and Irene standing on the platform waiting for the Special Express to the Aerodrome and airdock, and started prophesying at the top of her lungs that "The Bright Ones will come again, and other "apparent arrant" nonsense, as Irene put it.

Neither saw the slight, furtive form that watched their departure from the cool shadows beside the ticket kiosk, and then bought a ticket for the next Special Express; Nor did they mark the takeoff of a dirty little tramp semirigid ship just after the St. Elmo's Liftoff later that evening. It was not until their execution of a traverse of the Caucasus Mountains (in order to avoid a massive stormfront that spanned the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey) that they noticed the ship in the moonlit upper air a good distance behind -- but closing fast.

What would have looked like a suspended-ship blimp that had seen better days was revealed as a gunship of the old 'flying frigate' type, the gunports open and guns protruding as sudden lightning from the storm they were skirting threw weird light and shadows over both ships Dreyfuss had climbed through the inside of gunboat and envelope, up to the observation deck atop the ship, and saw through his spyglass that the envelope and rigging of the 'tramp' was swarming with strangely-moving and untethered would-be boarders, waving swords and smallarms. Bloody idiots, he swore to himself, Nobody's Boarded that way in a hundred years or more. He stepped over to the speaking tube rack and blew into the direct tube to the bridge. "Ishmael here," the Captain answered.

"Cap'n Ishmael, we have sword-waving company off starboard stern, about a mile and closing," Dreyfuss said. "I'll give 'em a warnin' shot with the deck gun. if they answer in kind, speed up, turn the broadside to 'em and give'em a good salvo in the face, will you?"

"Aye, Commodore Sir. Awaiting outcome of warning shot." Dreyfuss strode over to the ammo chute, and waited for the round that was coming up; he could hear and feel the munitions lift laboring away. A quiet squeal of metal on metal, and the ammo hatch opened, depositing the twopounder's brass cartridge in the hopper. Dreyfuss picked up the shell and carried it over to the deck gun, levered open the breech, loaded in the round, and shut the breech, and then aimed the gun at the pirate (apparently) vessel , which had gotten a bit closer in the interim, such that Dreyfuss could see the would-be boarderswithout the spyglass, and read the ship's particulars on the stained and patched canvas of her envelope: SS Demeter. He noticed with a start that some of the boarders looked like they were not only not tethered to the envelope of the Demeter, but actually floating above or alongside it! He shuddered and told himself that it was just a trick of the light, and aimed at the enemy ship, and then just ahead of it, cocked the firing mechanism, and fired the gun. The round passed within a hairsbreadth of the nose of the Demeter's envelope, and then blew a chunk out of a rockface far below.

The boarders of the Demeter Jeered loudly, egging Dreyfuss on to "make another shot, maybe you'll hit us this time," etc., and several other imprecations in Hindi, several Chinese dialects, and a few too obscure to identify. The pirate vessel rose in altitude and then returned a single shot that WHOOOSHHH'd  past Dreyfuss and over the nose of the St. Elmo's envelope, and struck a cliff on the other side -- and smashed to fragments, obviously a stone ball. "!-- Stone ball?!" Dreyfuss yelled in surprise as Ismael gunned the engines and the twin cetrifugal ducted fans drove the St. Elmo far ahead of the Pirate craft, and then turned to starboard as ordered, and opened up with all seven half-turretted casemates, the automatic guns' staccato reports deafening to hear, even up on the obs deck. The Demeter seemed to vanish for a moment in the midst of a cloud of cordite, flame, and shrapnel.

Dreyfuss yelled in triumph -- but the cry died in his throat as the Demeter pushed ahead and the cloud of debris and smoke cleared away. There was damage to the Demeter, no doubt; gaping holes in hull and envelope, and dismembered bodies littered the craft... and then the bodies began to move, and the Demeter came on again at great speed. There in the bows of teh suspended frigate stood a figure that Dreyfuss was loath to behold: Merovingia Harper-Chen, healed and in new robes, two katanas in her hands, screaming something barely intellible at him as the Demeter advanced: You're DOOMED Commodore! I'm Coming for YOU! Dreyfuss opened up the bridge tube again, and shouted down, "Get Irene and Jock up here in full battle kit, pronto! And make sure Tim's heavily armed and stays in the engine room just in case! We're about to be boarded! He fired teh deck gun again at the oncoming vessel, and scord hits that should have sunk her, but on she came, anyway. He heard teh others pound up teh stairway and out on deck, an he yanked out his saber and the Paterson, adn called out,"Now for it! HAVE AT 'EM!"

It was impossible, but the Demeter, blasted apart and her envelope full of holes, her stacks holed and spreading smoke more that shunting it away, her engines spouting steam from a hundred leaks, came on like a courser overtaking a farm cob, though the wind of the St. Elmo's passage nearly ripped Dreyfuss' Peaked cap off as he grabbed one of the boarding grapnels from the rack on the stair house, as did Irene and Jock, and ran pell-mell down the deck and leapt the railing, the reels spinning and shrieking like railway carriage wheels on an incredibly-tight turn in the track.

He began to swing the grapnel in the familiar old way, and as the Demeter hove in close and bullets and other missiles pelted the St. Elmo's aeroarmor around him, he, Irene, and Jock all threw their lines and yanked down hard when they struck. The grapnels dug in hard; they'd have to cut the lines to cast off, but that didn't matter now, as the fiends began to drop from above. Dreyfuss fired the paterson 'til the cylinder was empty; Irene unloaded both of her colts twice, switching the cylinders in a frantic rush, as jock and Dreyfuss covered, Jock with a spanner and his peppermill, and Dreyfuss with saber and occasional blats of whitefire.

The vampires were mostly of a low level; had to be, since the whitefire blasted them back to life and then to pieces, and they died and fell away from simple lead bullets, or when the saber or the spanner took off their heads. Captain Ishmael apparently finally noticed the grapnel telltales, and stopped hauling in the lines. Then Irene's pistols were spent, and there was no time to reload, as a fresh wave of fiends dropped from above -- and for the second time in a month Dreyfuss faced Miss Harper-Chen, she with her two long swords, and Dreyfuss with his saber and newly-reacquired Bowie knife.

Irene and Jock nearly disappeared under a rush of blood-thralls, and Dreyfuss and Merovingia closed. There began a rush of swordplay almost too fast for the eye to follow, as Merovingia spun her swords and fairly danced in her efforts to cut Dreyfuss down. He didn't spare a glance for Irene or Jock; he couldn't, not with Merovingia pressing so hard. he bled from a dozen minor, nearly-inconsequential wounds, and impossibly, Merovingia found the time to lick the blood from one blade while she slashed away at Dreyfuss with the other. Irene screamed in rage, then; Dreyfuss could spare no time to look, but he roared, "KEEP FIGHTIN'! REMEMBER YOU CAN'T DIE!"

"DON'T BLOODY REMIND ME!!" he heard her shout back, her voice a bewildering mixture of rage and almost ecstatic joy.

"Oh? Whats...this? --uh!" Merovingia grunted as Dreyfuss got in a telling hit that nonetheless healed up just in time to keep him from hacking that limb off. "Nice try, Dreyf, you've got quite an arm! Is your little niece already tainted? My, my, you don't protect your women very well, do you?"

"She's my ... cousin, you --bloodsucking ---harridan!" Dreyfuss shot back, "And she's plenty capable of defendin' herself, or hadn't you --NOTICED!" he yelled as he drove the saber halfway to the hilt in the middle of his opponent's chest. Merovingia screamed-- and then spat blood as she pulled herself off of the blade.

"Fool..." she panted, as Dreyfuss callously came for her, saber descending swiftly. "Old, AH! fool," she spat as he nearly took her in the neck, "...can't kill me...yet...I'm already --UH! Oh, you know..."

Dreyfuss' Blade sang as he gave a further cut with the saber, a blow to the head, and for the second time, Merovingia Harper-Chen fell and slid away off of the envelope of the St. Elmo, falling through the clouds below. He murmured almost to himself, "Dead?" He remembered how hard it had been to kill Brian, and how His separated alter ego had finally been the only one who could do it.

With the departure of their leader, the other vampires lost their will to fight; some even fell apart, as if Harper-Chen's fighting spirit, or perhaps her consciousness, were all that kept them whole -- but others stayed together, and swarmed back aboard their impossibly- tattered sip -- which had begun to sink, straining on the three grapnel lines that held her close. "CUT 'EM!" Jock yelled to Irene, who was standing dazed after the sudden cessation of the onslaught. "CUT THE GRAPNEL LINES!"

Jock and Irene's swords severed the connections to the tenacious derelict, and it began to fall, slowly catching more and more aflame as it descended, finally disappearing into the cloud cover below, lighting it from underneath, and then that light slowly fading away below and behind.

"Well, I'll say one thing for you, Unc," Irene said saucily, "life with you and Jock sure isn't boring!"

"I'll take that as a compliment." Dreyfuss was tired, and his stomach rumbled. "Let's go down and see what we can scare up for a late supper, shall we? Then, on to Dartmoor."

(Author's note: it was at the moment that Meri fell form the St. Elmo that she fell into the wormhole and disappeared from her home world - thus, her connection to her vampire horde was cut off and they were lost).
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 04:04:24 am by MWBailey »
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