Forty Days and Forty Nights
Running the Hellstorm Club
So, apparently because I’m good at paperwork and at interrogating people, I’ve been put in temporary charge of the Hellstorm Club while I work out whether Viscountess Winsgate should be cleared for Active Duty again. Oh, this doesn’t sound like it’s going to bite me in the ass.
I’ve cleared Winsgate. She attempted to hand me her resignation, but I refused. That’ll be something for the next ACTUAL Head of the Hellstorm Club to deal with. She seemed darkly amused at this which, coupled with her suggestion I might soon meet the Knights of the Round Table, does not help my sense of worry.
Well, if I’ve got to get this place sorted for the next person I might as well do it right and try and find some replacements for the handful of Agents they’ve lost recently.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ve been considering recruiting lately, so there isn’t a handy-dandy shortlist file. And the easiest to locate potentially extra-mortal bloodlines have probably already been tapped for the JCTTF Project. I fear this calls for Research.
I guess this also means that I’m the one in charge of making sure the tigers that guard Jack the Ripper get fed on a regular basis. I’d best fetch Giles and get that done, I’m not sure anyone’s remembered for a while.
Aaaaaaand now Jack’s introduced himself as an Emmerich and is looking forwards to having lots of lovely conversations with me. He asked whether I was in charge, which makes me rather glad I’m not. He didn’t seem too convinced by my answer, though…
And because my day can’t get any worse, Giles has just given me a letter, addressed to me at the Hellstorm Club.
It’s from the Royal House of Windsor.
Inspector Fleming, you are called to stand before the Knights of the Round Table on the 20th July at 10:30 to be read in on your roll as Acting Head of the Hellstorm Club. You are to present yourself at the Houses of Parliament, where you will be met by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. Failure to attend will be considered High Treason."
Finally managed to get somewhere with the bloody Ant Computer. By which I mean I managed to print out the Hellstorm Club’s budget statements. They do not make pretty reading: there’s been a massive payment to Namman PLC as consultancy fees and Phibes was spending money like it was going out of fashion. They were supposed to be cutting back on things, but it looks like no-one’s got around to organising that yet. Could be because a few of them are now dead / in disgrace. Maybe.
That was an interesting meeting. By which I mean, oh dear god.
I was escorted into a part of the Houses of Parliament I don’t think is quite connected to reality in the same way as the rest of it, down a veeeeeeeery long and impressive corridor to a nice large room, where Blackrod abandoned me to the tender mercies of whoever happened to be inside.
An audience with the Queen, Prince Phillip and the Knights of the Round Table. What fun.
The ‘Table’ had twelve seats, of which two were empty. I vaguely recognised the man in incredibly heavy armour next to the Queen, I think I saw him coming out of December’s office at some point. Chester Cannon was there, as well as Thaddeus Wilberforce (otherwise known as Sir September of Dept Q), the Prime Minister, Sir Henry Gabriel Gilmour (a highly respected lawyer, I believe Phibes’ will was managed by him).
There was also a woman with a strong familial resemblance to Cap, and a man who I had to look past two or three times before I actually managed to notice him, quite the handy talent.
Anyway, the Queen had summoned me to deal with the matter of the Hellstorm Club. Given it had suffered some detrimental circumstances it needed ‘strong hands’ to bring it back, ‘untainted by previous association’. Even though my lineage is ‘iffy’, I’d apparently passed the screening process that had been going on for the last two weeks or so and therefore I was going to be the one in charge of fixing up the mess. On pain of death, obviously.
The Queen was kind enough to give me her seal, so I could act with Her Authority, but apparently it also meant she could call down the ‘Hammer of Thor’ on me from anywhere, so I’d best be careful.
My options were to accept or be thrown in the Tower as a traitor. What a choice.
Aaaaaand then she had me kneel, tapped me on the shoulders with a sword, hit me with a gauntlet and announced that I was now a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
At least she gave me a cool dirk to go with it.
I had a quick meeting with December before returning to the Hellstorm Club to really get set into the paperwork, requesting a days leave at some point to recruit the couple of new members I’d need to get the Hellstorm Club up and running again. She was fine with it, which is good seeing as this was partly her idea….
And then I returned to the Hellstorm Club to find a message from Viscountess Winsgate challenging me to a duel. For fuck’s sake. I guess I’d best let her beat me up tomorrow, get it out of the way.
We met in the Hellstorm Club’s training room for our duel. Apparently the Viscountess is obliged by her god to only bend her knee to those she deems worthy, and to only find those worthy who can beat her in a duel. Good to know.
We agreed to duel to first blood with sabres.
It was an interesting duel, given we pretty much exactly mirrored each other as we struck. She pretty much took out one of my kidneys, and I’m pretty sure I did the same amount of damage back. Still, it was a draw, so she’s agreed to work with me rather than plot my defeat, so I’m going to call that a mental victory.
Winsgate’s actually alright to talk to once she’s decided you’re not scum. We sat and had a lovely chat and cup of Giles’ finest tea while we patched ourselves / each other up. As long as she gets to lead the Strike Team, she’s happy leaving admin and management stuff to me. Not my favourite role, but if it’ll work then I’m game.
Then Mikey arrived ranting and raving about vigil brands and other nonsense. He did bring a doctor who helped tidy up our not-so-brilliant attempts at bandaging the holes we’d left in each other, so I guess that’s okay. Giles let him know about the Knighthood, though, so I imagine I’ll be fielding that one for a while. Asha’s going to have SO. MUCH. FUN.
I’ve got to head back to Midgard Base for a trip to Skye, so’ve left Winsgate the current list of potential recruits, asking her to have a read through and let me know if she thinks any of them would be suitable for the Hellstorm Strike Team she’ll be leading.
My return from Scotland didn’t go quite so well. Asha was SLIGHTLY miffed about me nearly getting myself killed without telling her. Only a little bit. Lots. Whoops. The fact she’s just finished up running the numbers for a nuclear attack on London is possibly not helping things.
She’s not started taking the mickey out of the Knighthood yet, beyond agreeing that my Mother is going to be happy. I should really start worrying now.
She’s going to be even less pleased now. She wanted to know if ‘my’ library had any books on Phoenix care in it. I was REALLY good, gave her the EXACT location of the books within the very confusing library… and then completely forgot to mention the part where you have to go for a swim-and-decontamination. Shit.
I’ve kept up my research on potential recruits, and have finally drawn up my 7-step plan for completing my first mission from the Queen and avoiding being hit by lightning:
1) Check Winsgate is okay with staying on (COMPLETE)
2) Check Winch and Ageast are okay with staying on
3) Ask Giles if he would like to officially join
4) Get Winsgate’s evaluation of Reggie re: adding him as a combat operative
5) Recruit 2 Combat specialists Winsgate would be happy leading (Reggie might be one of them)
6) Recruit 1 very competent medic, because extra-mortal healing powers are sorely needed.
7) If Giles turns down position, recruit admin expert. If Winch/Ageast turn down position, recruit engineering expert. If Winsgate changes her mind, recruit combat expert.
Now to hope I can ACTUALLY find some recruits which fit the bills…
Recruitment seems to have been something of a success, given I’ve found people to fill each of the roles I was after and all the ‘Old Guard’ I asked decided to stay on. Introducing:
Reggie: Walking Tank. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but packs enough blunt force that it really doesn’t matter. As long as he’s happy enough to punch whatever I or Winsgate points him at then we’re golden.
AFO Kirit Patel: Markswoman with a Bloody Big Gun. A bit cheesed off that she wasn’t picked for Tora Team, hopefully this anti-material packing sniper will help us drop any big and nasties that we decide to pick a fight with. Comes with a recommendation from SFO Inspector Asha Brandt.
Squadron Leader Paul Lowe: Combat Medic. He only missed out on being called up under the original JCTTF formation because he was MIA behind enemy lines after his medevac chopper went down. The fact he spent the time keeping the rebel cell which rescued him up and running proves he’s too good an asset to leave under ‘mortal’ command.
Sophronia ‘Ronnie’ Kostas: K0nstant1ne. I also managed to find a computer expert (read: white hat hacker) of unusual skill who hadn’t been swept up by JCTTF 14. (This might be because she was in prison). Still, if she can run the Great Ant Computer then I’ll be glad to have her.
Despite the recent JCTTF power grab by Strike Team Raguel, the Hellstorm Club remains entirely under my independent control as it was an appointment direct from the Queen. Apparently Raguel can’t touch that. Yet.