Date: March 17, 2015. Time: 1300. Location: Somewhere in southern Ireland
St. Patrick's Day. A day celebrated the world over by flooding any drinking establishment with even a cursory chance of being "Irish" or at least the one with the most plastic green decor, and indulging in a pint of the finest ale, stout, or whiskey that happy hour prices advertise.
Nowhere was this more true then in the United States, where generations of Irish immigrants took the once venerated holiday and turned it into shit show filled shenanigans. From Boston to New York to middle of nowhere middle America, people lined up to not remember what they did. If America was #1 with the St. Pats binge drinking crew the Irish capital of Dublin was a close second. Tourists would flood the streets looking for the traditional St. Patrick's Day celebration totally unaware that tradition meant church. Instead they'd get what they really wanted, sloppy drunk on cheap, yet still overpriced, green drinks.
Those days are long gone now.
The streets of Dublin, and all of Ireland in fact, were torn asunder by the flesh eating mobs that took the small nation by storm.
The Queen had tried to assist her Irish citizens, mobilizing all her forces. However, as history had taught the world, when it came to the defense of the United Kingdom what really happened was England was kept safe while everyone else was essentially on their own. In Ireland the survivors rallied together rising up to protect neighborhoods, then single blocks, then a street, and finally a single building. As the numbers of citizens dwindled the numbers in the horde grew. In the end THEY won. The current population of the Emerald Isle is unknown, at least it is to the five who have been defending and protecting a relic from another time. A relic from another place.
The Hooligans are a small highly specialized unit of Irish Army Rangers tasked with safeguarding the Stargate. A passage to other worlds. The only one in all of Europe and one of only a handful around the world. With the potential power of the Stargate it had always amazed the members of the unit that the totality of the British military hadn't come and taken control of it. Instead the five hand picked mission specialists were all that kept it from falling into the wrong hands. Whose those would be they had come to question as of late.
It has been six years since Idaho. Five since the fall of London and Dublin. Four and a half since everything went belly up. The Hooligans; Dublin, Castor, Brimstone, Scáthach, and Gunna had been on site from the beginning watching the world fall. They had stood their ground admirably as the personnel of the small Stargate complex began turning. It was no easy task to eliminate the very people they were assigned to protect but the horde had caught them off guard. The battle took them to the outer doors of the room holding the Stargate. The ensuing battle became one of many "last stands" the Hooligans amassed over the intervening years. After the smoked had cleared and the bodies counted, 295 personnel along with 371 civilians had been disposed of.
Several more assaults had occurred with diminishing numbers each time. For the last year they hadn't seen a single zombie, nor anything or anyone else. They talked about abandoning their posts and going out into the real world but there was no good reason other then curiosity. They had more then enough supplies, especially after raiding the small village 10km from the base.
So they stayed and waited, for what they weren't sure.
"Really? Blood sausage?"
"Damn right. My gran made the best damn blood sausage in the U.K. What about you?" Gunna takes a swig of water from his canteen, he already knew the answer, 'fish & chips.' They've had this conversation hundreds of times since it all started, 'what food would you have if you could have anything?'
"Chicken Tikka Masala."
Gunna spits his water across the room choking as he tried to speak. For three years the answer was always the same. "Wh-what the..."
"Yup. Chicken Tikka Masala. There's this Indian place Kashmir, in Galway, best damn Chicken Tikka Masala probably on the planet."
"I'm just messin' with ya. Fish & chips of course." The fiery redhead lets out a small laugh, "You should see the look on your face. It's like you've seen a ghost." Scáthach’s smile slowly disappears as she realizes that Gunna not only isn't laughing but is looking right past her.
The cottage they are in is typical for the area. Small, 2 floors, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, a small eat-in kitchen and living room on the first floor. The living room includes a couch covered in a gaudy floral pattern, facing a small fireplace with a flatscreen TV mounted above the mantel. A couple of cushion covered chairs sit off to the side facing each other currently occupied by Scáthach and Gunna. Gunna's chair also facing the grimy double window. That looks out onto the derelict street. Scathach slowly turns in her chair. Her jaw drops. Time slows as the two try to process what is heading there way.
The two soldiers have been coming to the cottage for years. It sits nearly in the center of the small village 10km from the Stargate base, it is the only town within 25km. Connected to the base by an underground passage the cottage was always planned as an emergency escape route should something happen at the facility. After the first battle at the station the team commander, Dublin decided that the cottage would be a good look out for zombie hordes or attackers making their way towards the base. Since then the shifts have been a week at a time, overlapping, so that while one person is leaving the next is on their way.
Two years ago all they'd seen was the random zombie straggler. One watcher would walk out, dispatch, and dispose of it. This became little more then routine. For the last year even that routine has faded. The village had no survivors. In its pervious life it had been an elaborate ruse. The village really being housing for all the Stargate staff. Positioned at such a distance to allow those at home to escape or defend their world from an extraterrestrial event. Now the Hooligans were all that remained.
That was until today.
Outside the window coming methodically down the street were people they had hoped to never encounter. Before the fall there had been numerous briefings on the actions and movements of those coming down the street. The afternoon sun glinted off the midnight black helmets. The red face masks identifying their ranks. Iron Grenadier Troopers. A platoon of Destro's finest soldiers were a mere 4 small village blocks away and they weren't alone. Supporting the Iron Grenadiers was a Razorback, a large piece of armor with an intense amount of firepower, the missile racks at the ready, an officer in a blackened mask different from the rest controlling the turret. It barely made it down the narrow village street but it was carefully making its way toward the two Hooligans’ current location.
It took mere seconds for the realization to set it, the Stargate was going to come under siege. They jumped into action grabbing weapons and gear, Gunna snatching his radio, "I'm calling it in."
"Hardline coms only. We don't know if they're listening." Scáthach responded.
“Roger that.” Grabbing the hardline, a phone right out of the 1960's with a single direct line to the watch station. He impatiently held it to his ears, three blocks away now, he knew back at the watch room a red light was flashing and a tone was squelching. "C'mon. C'mon."
"Anything." Scáthach asks her meticulously kept sniper rifle pointed down range in the direction of the Razorback, the officer in her sights.
"Does it sound like it.” The tension in the room threatening to spill out. At the fourth ring, "Hey what's up." The lackadaisical voice of Brimstone on the other end.
"We have a level one threat. Repeat. Level one threat. Over." Two and a half blocks.
Hearing the message brings Brimstone forward in his seat, "Received. Level one threat." He immediately enters several commands into the computer in front of him and hears the foot falls of the other Hooligans coming to the watch room. "Count. Over."
"Platoon. 2 squad trooper. 2 squad heavy. Armor present. Razorback." Two blocks. The IGs suddenly stop the officer barking orders from atop the imposing armor. Teams of two begin kicking in doors and doing full top to bottom sweeps.
"What's going on out there...?" The silence from Gunna puts Brimstone on Edge. Dublin and Castor listening in.
"Door to door. We're bugging out." With that Gunna slams the phone down on the receiver. Hearing the call, Scáthach immediately turns towards the basement door. The two waste no time getting downstairs, flipping a switch, and watching the furnace slide to the side revealing a set of dimly lit stairs heading to the corridor connecting to the Stargate operations center. They head down before the furnace has fully moved and flip another switch sliding it back into place. Before its settled back they are already on the sled, a one-time use quick extraction vehicle utilizing combined pulley and air booster systems designed to let them cover the 10km in minutes. Scáthach hits the power button which releases a quick hiss of air, then the release. The force of acceleration pushing them against the barely padded backrests.
They come to a quick stop at the end of the long tunnel. Waiting for them are Dublin and Castor. Meanwhile Brimstone continues monitoring the long range sensors.
“Update." Dublin asks strain clear in his voice.
Gunna is first to respond, “They showed up out of nowhere. Then started kicking in doors. One platoon. Two squads of IG Troopers and it looked like 2 squads of IG Heavies. Most definitely heading this way.”
“Don’t forget the nasty looking’ Razorback manned by Darklon.” Scáthach adds.
“Yeah I was trying to not think about that.”
“Darklon? Shit.” is all Dublin could say. They all know the odds are not in their favor. Dublin stands tall, “Activate all perimeter defensive measures. Prepare to defend the Bonn. Castor prep the auto-destruct. We can’t let the Stargate fall into Darklon’s hands.” Without another word the Hooligans set about readying their defenses. The Stargate had remained dormant for years. All those trained in its operation having been turned into mindless flesh eaters. No one on the other side was trying to come through either. Nonetheless the possibility of it falling into the wrong hands, someone like Darklon and the Iron Grenadiers, was unimaginable. Castor set to work readying a self destruct mechanism that would go off in one of two circumstances, either all the Hooligan’s biometric scanners would register them as dead or if any one of the Hooligans entered their personal code. Either method would have the same results. Setting off a chain reaction explosion starting at the Stargate and then each relevant system in turn. In two minutes all that would be left is a crater and scarred earth.
Brimstone called out from the workstation, “Perimeter sensors are going off line one at a time.”
Dublin immediately headed over, “What do you mean?”
“I mean it looks like they know where all our tech is and they’re disabling it as they reach it.”
“How far out are they?”
“If I’m right they’ve come through the village completely and are approximately 9 klicks out.”
“Shit.” Doing some quick calculations in his head, “We have less then 3 hours before it lights up. Do what you have to do to. Pray to whatever god you hold dear.”
The Hooligans set out, readying magazines, cleaning and checking spotless weapons. Going over in their heads how they want to die. The minutes tick away in silence. Dublin replacing Brimstone at the console, watching as each sensor array goes off line marking the ever encroaching enemy forces. One by one the other Hooligans gather behind him, watching over his shoulders. 7 klicks. 6 klicks. 5 klicks. 4 klicks. 3. 2. 1. “They’re less then 30 minutes out. It’s almost time. You all know what you have to do. Hold you position as long as you can. They’ll be in range of our remaining automatic defenses any minutes, but if it goes anything like it has, they already know where they are and will disable them. Leaving just us. You all know what’s at stake here.” Heads slowly nod in agreement. “I want you all to know it’s been an honor serving with you.”
“Same here sir.” Castor.
“Never would have made this long without ya sir.” Gunna.
“It’s been an honor to serve by your side sir.” Scáthach.
“Sir… We have a bigger problem.” Brimstone’s tone and voice gets everyone’s attention. “Look at the readouts.” They all turn. The monitors for the Stargate were off the charts. The video feed showed that somehow the gate was turning, aligning, preparing to open. Then the all too familiar sound, fwoosh, the liquid like surface propelled forwards then settled back, it’s surface glimmering.
Dublin could only muster, “Bloody fuckin’ ‘ell.”
Date: September 14, 2013. Time: 1847. Location: Castle Destro, Scotland.
All around devastation. Once a bastion of strength and power, Castle Destro, lies in ruins. Gathered among the rubble huddle masses of people. Former citizens of the outlying towns now refuges. All looking to the Laird and his personal army, the Iron Grenadiers, for safety. All requiring food, water, shelter. All requiring round the clock protection. All stretching the Lairds great store of supplies thin. All expecting him to save them. To lead them from their darkest hour. He almost had. For exactly three years he had provided. Since his first meeting with the Queen, when Her Majesty appealed to his sense of loyalty and national pride, he provided. People looked to him with pride in their eyes, proud to have been loyal to Clan Destro. For three years they lived in relative prosperity. Food and water a plenty. Safety in the form of mighty walls, centuries old. The weapons of the Iron Grenadiers always at the ready, prepared to locate, isolate, and eradicate any undead who became too large a threat. Granted the fortress was surrounded and the moans of the dead bleated out into the ethos night and day. But the Laird countered this with music and white noise technology. While it wasn't perfect it created an aura of safety that the people ate up. No longer was religion the opiate for the masses, now Clan Destro was.
The day following the third anniversary of protection Castle Destro fell. Overrun and overwhelmed the Iron Grenadiers fought valiantly. The refugees were led to the many tunnels and caves below the castle where they hid in fear for the duration of the siege. Ammunition ran low, weapons over-heated, high technology began to fail. Yet they fought on. Each soldier having had been issued a saber at the earliest onset of the attack. A weapon reserved for dress uniforms and special occasions brought back to serve its originally intended purpose. The Grenadiers had found themselves hacking and cleaving the undead. No one who had witnessed the battle could ever claim that they didn't fight well. Nor could they speak of Laird Destro in tones other than in awe. He waded into battle sidearm blazing and then saber slashing. He alone permanently removed dozens of THEM from the battle. He also saw to it to release those IGs who had been infected by the curse himself. The battle raged for days. Grenadiers holding their ground as long as possible they would have succeeded were it not for an arrant blast from a high-grade plasma-rifle. The single shot caused a fire that burnt the ancient building to the ground. In the end the militaristic might of the Iron Grenadiers was no match for an enemy with no needs.
You may ask yourself how a structure of stone hundreds of years old burns. The answer is the stone does not. However the interior structures of wood do. As do the accumulated accouterments of hundreds of years, pairings, wall hangings, furniture, etc. All burst into flames. The IGs could have extinguished the fire, they had been trained for just such an emergency, but their forces were being overrun by undead. They could not divide their forces from the main battle. As the first ceiling beam came down with a crash so to did the supported wall leading to a change link of calamity. Now a blackened pile of stone remains. The people look no longer with pride. The light in their eyes has been extinguished. Now their eyes are filled with hopelessness and desperation. They still cling to Laird Destro but no longer are they willing to work, to help assist in the raising of crops, gathering of wood for the fires. Now they sit and watch. Expecting salvation to come from the steel masked man.
The Iron Grenadiers were able to stop the riot of rotting flesh and were set to work to try and create a semblance of protective structure around the grounds of the once mighty castle. The first order of business was the removal and disposal of the dead. The former undead burned in massive heaps far enough away from the castle grounds to prevent contamination. The Iron Grenadiers who passed who were not cleansed were ensured their death via lead. They, being honorable men and women, were buried in the Clan McCullen cemetery. Their internment the final act of respect from a grateful Laird.
While the removal of the dead was a priority so too was the establishment of a secure perimeter within which Destro could marshal his forces while providing the necessary protection for the refugees. Rubble was piled along the boundary to create an established line of defense, a jagged wall upon which gunnery stations are established every 10 feet. Razor wire was stretched between each position. Beyond the wall sensors were staked in the ground. The sensors relay signals to the tech tent raised within the castle courtyard who in turn are able to sound the call to battle should the invisible barrier be breached. Between the sensors and the wall, wooden stakes are set as distance markers for the sharpshooters and snipers of which there is one stationed in every other gunnery nest the along with a Grenadier rifleman.
Having created a perimeter a temporary camp is established. Tents for the refugees are erected as are quarters for the troops. Guard towers are erected within the camp allowing the Grenadiers a clear view of the surrounding landscape and allowing them to watch over those seeking asylum. A constant watch is kept. Should one of THEM enter the compound… The results…
It is here we find Laird Destro in deep concentration. Surveying the scene. His men, the refugees, the former home of his ancestors. As he looks out over the scorched earth a Captain of the Guard approaches.
"Yes, what is it?"
"A message from the Queen."
"It awaits permission to enter sir."
"What do you mean… 'it'?"
"Laird, it is not human, at least not entirely. It dropped from the sky. When it landed, what looked like a helicopter blade folded away into its hat." The Captain drops his gaze as he speaks the last words. Unable to believe what he saw nor what he said. He fears his Laird will think him crazy, but he is not.
"Well see to it that it be brought forth immediately."
"Yes my Laird…" The Captain lets his words trail off afraid to voice his concern. With a sharp salute the Captain makes his way through the rubble strewn grounds to what used to be the main gate and leads the thing to the Laird. For several minutes Destro is left alone to await his visitor, whatever it may be. He enters the tent that has become his quarters and ready room. He is alone within the canvas walls. He takes his place at the heavy oak throne saved from the blaze by his loyal troops. He gathers himself and patiently waits. He doesn't have long. The Captain of the Guard enters and announces a visitor sent by the Queen. The thing enters followed by a squad of Iron Grenadiers all ready to ensure the safety of the Laird. He looks like a man but it is readily apparent that he is something more. His grey suit is impeccable, not a spot or wrinkle to be seen. His posture arrow straight. His eyes, slightly hidden behind a low fedora, glow an eerie red.
The thing stops steps from the throne, bows before the Laird. "Laird Destro, greetings from Her Majesty." The voice sounds normal enough but even there, there is a hint of something else, something electronic.
"Thank you. I have seen you before. The day the Queen first came to Castle Destro. You were in her entourage."
"Correct you are. Nothing escapes your attention Laird."
"My Captain claims to have seen you perform something remarkable upon your arrival."
"You mean his claims of the 'a helicopter blade folded away into its hat."
"You heard him?"
"I hear everything Laird. And your Captain is not mistaken. I am not a man. At least not now. I am the next level of man. I am the perfect combination of man and machine. You see Laird, after the… successes of the Robocop Project in the United States, the Kingdom set out to create their own. A creation that combined the intellect and emotion of a man with the resilience and power of a machine. Using plans acquired from OCS, Stark Enterprises, and Skynet, the Majesty's best men set out to create me. Once I was an Inspector for Scotland Yard. I was killed in the line of duty by a group of Middle Eastern terrorists. Based on my prior aptitude, loyalty, and service I was chosen to be the recipient of the honor of being reborn, much to the surprise and elation of my dear niece and dog. That's enough about me however.
Today I have been sent to deliver a message to you Laird Destro. One of grave importance to you and your men."
"Please proceed Inspector… I'm sorry I don't know your name"
"Much to my chagrin my men have taken to calling me Gadget. Inspector Gadget."
Date: August 14, 2013. Time: 10:34 am. Location: Castle Destro, Scotland.
"Laird THEY have broken through!"
- I knew this day would come. After the attack by that traitorous Snake I knew it was only a matter of time. The reinforcing of the walls was bound to fail. But still… I had hope. Now…
"Laird? What should we do?"
"Have all the civilians been moved inside?"
"Then prepare to protect the Castle from invaders." The loyal Iron Grenadier Captain salutes his commander, his Laird, and turns to lead his forces. "Captain." The man turns, his face hidden under the armored helm and faceplate of his uniform, a welcome protection for his face shows fear at the tone which Laird Destro uttered that single word. "See to it that you do a better job than last time."
"Yes Laird." This time he takes a low bow before he turns away. He was the Captain of the Guard on duty during the last raid on Castle Destro. It was his responsibility to ensure the safety of his Laird and those who sought sanctuary behind the centuries old walls. It was he who failed to notice that their security camera footage was being looped. It was his fault for the loss of civilian lives and heavy casualties to the Iron Grenadiers. But it had been his first failure in a long career of successes. With the near eradication of his valuable IG ranks Destro was forced to keep him on, rather than have him executed, as was the punishment. He was however given charge of recruiting a new member for the IGs for each lost in the battle. He has yet to fully replenish the ranks. Those who have joined have had to undergo a shorter training period due to the current circumstances. He knows that this time, failure will not be tolerated. The men who survived the Cobra attack started a pool, taking bets on how he'll be executed if he fails again. So far the best odds are that he'll be fed to THEM then after turning get a bullet between the eyes. Even with this happening behind his back the men follow his orders and respond as they have been trained.
The Captain makes his way through the castle checking positions and ensuring each entrance receives extra fortification. The civilians have been moved to the lower levels of the Castle where, should THEY get in, the civilians could at least escape the Castle, however their escape would dump them into "No Man's Land" outside the walls. Better than dying in a hole in the ground. At least they'll have a chance. He shakes his head, it won't come to that. He will do his job, or die trying.
"Get that door secured. Move those barricades. Double ammo packs for every Grenadier. Prepare to repel assault." His orders are snapped off in quick succession. For each Grenadier there are two new soldiers. The vets leading the newbies. Their perfect calm in the face of impending doom helps to calm the nerves of the newest. Each door and window has one of these teams. Two men on while one recharges magazines ready to switch off should either Grenadier need a break.
The moans from outside grow in volume even through the meters thick stone walls. Then it begins. The staccato of rifle fire as roof top snipers begin picking off THEM one by one. Next comes the sounds of the heavy Grenadiers. Armed with a state-of-the-art MARS Industries "Smart Gun." Firing 600 case-less high explosive rounds at 120 RPM these Grenadiers with their BFGs should take out anything. Thing that makes these guys special, or crazy, is that they are on the ground, right outside the castle, facing THEM head on. Sure they're wearing advanced armor and uniforms of bite proof fabric but the estimated count of THEM stood at 45,000 while there are littel more than a handful of Heavies. 45,000 blood thirsty beasts versus 50 IG Heavies.
The last sound, the one that makes the new recruits break out in a cold sweat. The one the Captain fears the most comes at last. The pounding. It takes over an hour for THEM to break the lines outside. But THEY are relentless. The pounding comes as does the moaning. They had grown accustomed to it over time but it was far off. Now right outside the doors or windows, a certain chilling element is added to the sound. Every IG inside the Castle is on edge. Waiting, hoping, praying that their barrier will hold. Keeping them out. Time passes, whether it's minutes or hours no one knows. Nor do they care. They just wait.
The Captain was sure to reserve his place at the main entrance to the Castle. There with his two recruits and a second team of 3 he waits. Watching for any sign of fatigue in the great oak and armored doors from the incessant pounding coming from outside. They still hear the snipers and heavies. The sniper fire is slow, steady, like a metronome. The heavy's fire is loud and unstoppable. Only the Captain can hear what's really happening though. How the heavies are being overrun by THEM. How they continue to hold their ground and fire making little headway in the battle against the undead as they create draggers and shamblers. Their weapons being meant for taking out armored units rather than head shots against the walking dead. The Captain hears it all. Then he hears a scream. One of the heavies has gone down. THEY quickly cover him. Somehow they get through the armor, through a weakness in the plating. The Captain listens to the gristly sounds of a heavy being eaten alive. He doesn't here the Heavy call for help. No plea for mercy. In fact through the screams the Captain hears the Heavy's weapon still firing. Even looking imminent death in the face the IG tries to protect his Laird.
From a top the east tower of the Castle, Destro watches the destruction below. His snipers never miss, each shot drops one of THEM forever. He watches the heavies unload thousands of rounds into the swarming mass. Some of THEM go down, but more often they get back up, or worse crawl. He watches his men overrun, he is proud of them as they hold their positions and continue to repel the undead. He hears the first scream as one falls and is torn apart. He had prepared for that eventuality. Each Heavy Grenadier's helmet has been equipped with a small explosive device that will terminate the threat. Destro types a code into his wrist com, from the Castle rooftop little more than a "pop" is heard. The heavy has been neutralized.
The battle is not going in his favor. His men fight valiantly. They knew the risks. One by one they go down. The sounds of moaning now louder than that of weapons fire. The snipers continue their barrage but there are just too many of THEM.
"Hold your positions men. THEY must not enter the Castle." His snipers keep firing with rhythmic precision. With a turn Destro turns and walks through a doorway and down a spiral staircase leading to the first level. "Captain!"
"Yes Laird." The Captain remains at his post watching the door. Watching it bow under the force and constant blows of the undead without. As he and Destro watch, the doors give. An arm shoots through a crack in the door. One of the new IGs takes aim and fires. "Hold you fire! Hold your fire!" The Captain shouts out his orders to the astonishment of his men and Destro.
"Explain yourself Captain!"
"Laird, it is a single crack, the barrier is holding, by firing we will do more damage to the integrity of the doors. We should focus on reinforcing them." The Captain's sound logic and cool demeanor help to reassure Destro that he is in control of the current situation and that his advice should be headed.
"You heard your Captain, reinforce those doors." The new IGs scramble to grab whatever they can to support the doors and prevent THEM from getting in while the veteran IGs hold their aim steady waiting to take their shots if necessary. In minutes the door gap is covered, heavy planks left by the side for just this instance secured in place by large gauge screws.
The IGs retake their positions when radios start squawking to life… a voice shouts over the sounds of breaking glass and moaning.
- "They're through. Repeat they're through. South corridor, windows 3 and 4. Engaging fire." -
"Captain see to it that a squad of Grenadiers is sent to assist in the…"
"Already done my Laird. Squad Airth have already been pulled from reserves."
Once again the conversation is cut short as more reports come over the radio at various areas around the Castle.
- "They're everywhere!" -
- "Where the hell are they coming from." -
- "Secure your positions! Gaaahhhhh!" -
More panicked voices come over the coms, the new Grenadiers lack the discipline of the veterans. Their fear fills the air.
"Captain…" The Captain looks at his Larid only to see him aiming his sidearm at the main doors. Before he can turn and see Destro fires. The Iron Grenadiers follow suit, smoke chokes the air, a normal man would be able to neither see, hear, nor breathe. But these are Iron Grenadiers. Their helms along with internal coms are also equipped with various high tech instrumentation allowing them to see and breathe despite the growing smoke as well as offering protection for their hearing as the blasts of high powered rifles echos through the Castle.
Destro makes each shot count, taking one of THEM with him with each squeeze of the trigger. He now begins to regret his decision to send a majority of his forces to aid the Queen. Generals Mayhem and Voltar leading a Brigade of Iron Grenadiers in the securing of the British mainland. His newest Colonel, Col. Darklon, missing in action along with a Company of Destro's finest Iron Grenadiers. He left himself with a single company to protect his home. Yes he regrets that decision. Greatly.
Date: August 13, 2010. Time: 0900. Location: Castle Destro, Scotland.
"Laird. They have arrived."
"Very good. Give me a moment."
The black clad Iron Grenadier snaps off an unseen salute. Standing at the open balcony, back to the now shut door, stands a man who for years played both sides of the field of battle. For decades his family made millions on the blood of others. "Good" or "bad" mattered not to the Laird. All that mattered was green. That was before THEM. Looking out from the balcony he takes in all, acre upon acre of well manicured gardens. Hedges older than he, hide the thick grey stone walls. Walls that have stood silent sentry to his family's estate for generations. A team of specialists toil at the labors of growing plants in the rocky soil. From the distance can be heard the bells of the church. A wedding?
Destro shakes his head. His vision clears. The squalid conditions of the refugee camp spread before him. Gone are the hedges, burned months ago. Gone are the gardens, trampled as the masses of the village sought safety within the walls. All that is left is mud and stone. From opposite the walls he can hear THEM. Their always present moans filling the air. And the stench. Human feces and decaying flesh.
"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow"
At that thought he abruptly shuts the tall glass doors and turns. As he approaches the door to the hall they open as if by magic. No. Not magic. Just well trained guards hearing their grand leader's approach. As he steps into the hall several Iron Grenadiers step up to take their places.
"Step aside. I have nothing to fear within the walls of my ancestral home."
Without a word they fall in behind the iron masked man. He takes it all in. The communication terminals erected under hundred year old portraits of Lairds past. The flurry of activity as his men coordinate with troopers in the field. He takes it all in. He knows he must do what comes next. It should be no different than any other business deal. Yet he is uneasy.
He steps into the large receiving chamber. The room he reserved only for the most respectable of guests. Needless to say Cobra Commander had never seen this room. There seated at the right of his minor throne. They rise as he enters out of respect. They're coming to him. To him. Oh how the tides of turned. There. That's what he needed. They need HIM. They came to HIM. More importantly SHE came to HIM. His smile does not show. The iron a welcome compatriot at this moment.
"Laird Destro. I present Her Majesty The Queen."
With a deep bow he takes her hand.
"Your Majesty welcome to Castle Destro. It is an honor…"
"Let's cut the pleasantries and get to business."
That one words cuts off the Prince.
"Laird Destro please accept my apologies on behalf of my son. He means no disrespect. It appears the stress of our current predicament has caused him to forget himself."
"I of course accept. How can I, a poor Laird, be of assistance to Her Majesty?"
"Shall we start with tea?"
"Of course." With a look a butler appears tea at hand. "Your Majesty. Earl Grey. Cream two lumps."
"My you are quite prepared."
Destro bows at the shoulder. Her Majesty sits, as do her entourage, the single exception being a man in long grey trench coat, fedora pulled low over eyes. Eyes that seem to glow red. As Destro sits he discretly taps a small hidden button upon his throne. Several more Iron Grenadiers enter the room and take positions.
"The tea is excellent Laird Destro."
"Thank you your Majesty. Again I must ask how a simple Laird can be of assistance to Her Majesty."
"Very well. As you know the last year has not been a good one for our great islands. Our people are suffering. Our forces are doing the best they can. Nigel has been leading the Night Men but we are only able to secure small areas and then only for a short period of time."
"I am very aware of the issues plaguing our fair lands your Majesty. As you see I have offered refuge to any who can make it my walls. As of late few make it to the walls of Castle Destro alive."
"Yes we saw the horde as we flew in. We also know that your Iron Grenadiers have suffered no losses. In fact our information states that your army is growing. That's why we have come. That's why I have come. Laird Destro, the Kingdom of Great Britain needs your Iron Grenadiers to assist in the protection of her people."