February 13, 2010

Billie's Journal

Scotland, day eleven

Chad was hitting the booze hard last night while we discussed what to do with the deck and looks rough this morning. We finally agreed with Amelia that she should hold onto the deck for now, although the rest of the team seem disappointed, especially Zero.

Amelia has agreed to stay here at Loch Ness and will try to make contact with the spirit of the glen. She gives us the number to her satellite phone and asks us to keep her up-to-date as events unfold.

We give her some of our hiking gear, then pack the rest into the Landrover and start off on our journey to Glencoe. The road is pretty bad in places and we have to stop a couple of times to let Chad throw up when the bumpy ride gets too much for his hangover.

We arrive in Glencoe late in the evening. The village on our maps is nothing more than a ruin, leaving only the fenced off fort as a destination. I try the intercom at the gate, but some flunky brushes me off. Finlay has better luck. He can go in alone. The rest of us have to wait outside. After a good half hour, we are invited in. I never learnt to drive a car, or at least don't remember and none of the others have a licence either, so we have to let the dogbrain drive us up the hill to the parking.

We stash our guns in the car and enter to a positively frosty welcome. Over a meal of leftovers, Finlay explains that they only let us stay when he mentioned the organic chips. It seems like the fort is run by Ian MacDonald's brother, the father of two of the boys killed in the attack that also took the lives of Morag MacDonald and possibly also Quicksilver. However, it seems that this guy doesn't know Quicksilver and is unaware of any relationship between him and Morag. Great another dead end. Or perhaps not, as it seems that Finlay did finally manage to get us a meet with Ian MacDonald.

The fort is austere and authentically furnished at least as far as I can tell. It could all be Ikea for all I know. The walls though are the real thing, thick stone that Father O'Reilly says have a real presence in the astral unlike the drywall in mordern buildings. We are shown to a couple of rooms. I settle in with Zero and then around midnight when everything is quiet I sneak out to take a look around. Unfortunately one of the clansmen is stationed out in the hallway. Pulling the threadbare nightdress tighter around me. I let him show me to the bathroom. So much for sneaking around for a look.

On the way back, I spot movement out the corner of my eye on the floor below. I stop to look but see nothing. The guard hussles me along. I tell him I thought I saw a woman moving about but he just shrugs and says it was probably the cook. As we get to the bedroom door I hear a voice and look around. Nothing, but the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end.

The guard more or less orders me back to bed, but I see movement again and point it out to him. He gets angry and grabs my arm, telling me that I am in trouble now and he is taking me to see the chief. I can't break his grip so am forced to follow him down the stairs.

At the bottom, a ghostly figure appears before me. I recoil in surprise and she is gone. It was like looking into a mirror. The guard pulls me on and then she is there again. This time I reach out and we touch fingers.

A shock runs through me and then I am stumbling forward. The guard has let me go and is standing with his gun drawn, muttering in a strange language which Finlay later tells me was Gaelic. Finlay and Zero are looking at me with concern and asking if I am okay. Zero explains that she was waiting for me to come back from my scouting expedition when she heard a shout. When she came out of the room she saw me floating about half a meter off the ground but I looked different, more like Morag than myself. She said I was talking about the night I was killed, no the night Morag was killed. Something about Quicksilver being shot and his eyes watching over her always.

Well the whole fort is up by now. Several of the staff saw me floating off the ground in addition to the guard. Father O'Reilly checks me out with his magic eyes and says I seem to be okay. I feel a little lightheaded and Zero helps me back to bed.

Scotland, day twelve

Next morning things are possibly even more tense, but the ghost seems to have convinced the MacDonalds that we are on the level. Father O'Reilly explains that something is keeping Morag's spirit from moving on. To Heaven, I guess.

We convince the chief to let us take a look in her room, even though he claims the police already searched it. However, after about thirty minutes, I discover a small gap between the family crest on her four poster bed and the headboard. I manage to tease the hidden object out with my fingertips but not before one of the MacDonalds spots me. It's another one of the organic chips.

Zero comes up with a line about it being some old, obsolete tech which the MacDonalds seem to buy. They actually seem more disappointed that this is not what is keeping Morag from moving on, even if we suspect that it really is. So we agree to stay another night and see if Father O'Reilly can put her spirit to rest.

In the meantime, Zero decks into the Edinburgh police system after first creating a false trail to the Campbell's network. She finds some autopsy files on the dead attackers but nothing else. I take a look through the files. There is something strange in the toxicology report, but it's beyond my limited medical knowledge. It gives me a bad feeling. Something to follow up but first we need to talk to the ghost.

Sure enough about midnight that night, the ghost turns up. I touch it and then it's gone. And apparently so was I, at least for a short while. Father O'Reilly says that he was able to find out a little more from her but not a lot. She confirmed that she was here with Quicksilver but also claimed that the killers were here for him and not her. The plot thickens.

Scotland, day twelve

After a decent breakfast, we leave for Pitlochrie. The chief has been in contact with Ian MacDonald and he is expecting us there. The morning starts foggy and doesnt really clear up that much by midday. Then through a break in the mist, we spot trouble. A military helicopter is heading in our direction and it looks armed for bear. I shout a warning to Finlay and he floors the gas heading down the valley towards the treeline.

The first burst of gunfire misses. I take Finlay's SMG and return fire, but I am not familiar with the weapon and the bumpy road doesnt help my aim. Finlay manages to avoid a second attack but on the third pass, the pilot's aim is true.

Bullets rip through the unarmored body of the car. I wince as one clips me and hear others cry out as well. We are nearly to the trees and I think we are going to make it okay when the next burst rips into the side and I hear Zero cry in pain. Finlay manages to keep the car under control and we pile out grabbing what gear we can.

We run further into the woods as more bullets tear into the ground around the abandoned car. Taking cover, Father O'Reilly says a prayer to close his wounds while I try to bandage a bleeding Zero. She pushes me away telling me she will live and that she needs a minute to set up her satellite connection to call for help.

A burst of gunfire from Finlay signals that we dont have time. Several figures are moving through the woods with military precision and if the returning fire is to be believed, they are armed with military hardware too. I drop behind a tree and risk a look. These guys are wearing combat armor and are all sporting automatic weapons. I snap off a shot from my revolver and am rewarded with a yelp of pain and a burst of gunfire.

While Finlay lays down suppressing fire, Chad closes on the hostiles. He almost makes it when suddenly another gunman appears and cuts him down with a burst from his assault rifle. Finlay returns fire and catches the gunman square in the chest, dropping him. The others take cover and open up. I feel a bullet tug at the long coat, but it doesn't penetrate.

Then I hear Father O'Reilly curse. Not a good sign from a man of the cloth. Pain builds in my head then snaps off as if cut. I wipe blood from my nose. Seems like the bad guys have a mage. Not good. I snap off a couple of shots at one of the gunmen. While both hit, it doesn't look like they did much damage as he immediately returns fire sending me ducking for cover.

The enemy mage steps out of cover, a ball of energy flickering into being in his hands which explodes in a shockwave towards us. I feel it wash over me and hear O'Reilly grunt as he blocks the spell from harming us. Finlay snaps off a burst at the mage, the padre slams a spell into him and I finish him off with a shot that punches through his shield and forehead. Two down.

Unfortunately the other gunmen are still out there and when I try for another shot, one of them catches me with a burst. I feel a burning pain in my side and drop back. Zero is still trying to get her satellite link up, but she suddenly stops what she is doing, pulls out her pistol and fires a shot off to the side. Her shot is true, catching one of the gunmen who was trying to flank us clean between the eyes.

Finlay catches one of the others with a burst and the last tries to withdraw. I reload and catch him with a shot which slows him down long enough for the padre to hit him with a stun bolt that takes him out.

As the helicopter circles above, we quickly check and strip the bodies while the padre does what he can for Chad.

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