March 14, 2010

Billie's Journal

Scotland, day twelve continued

While the padre fights to save Chad's life with his magic, I patch up the rest of us as best I can without a medkit. I cut up one of Zero's silk tops and my secretary blouse for bandages so at least we won't bleed out. My wounds hurt like hell and my vision is bloodshot but I'm not dead. Neither is Chad according to the padre although he is still unconscious and the padre is too exhausted from saving him to be able to heal anyone else.

Having finally got the satellite link working, Zero is unable to contact the McDonald's castle. Mainly because we don't actually have a number to call. Instead she calls Amelia and advises her to lie low for a bit. She then works her own brand of magic on the landrover and, amazingly, gets it going again.

We load Chad and the hit-team's gear in the back and head on to Pitlochrie. The padre sleeps while Zero and I take turns keeping Finlay company and awake as he drives us through the dark. We arrive early morning in Pitlochrie and pull off the road near the McDonald's estate for a short rest.

The padre is feeling better and manages to heal the worst of our injuries but can do no more for Chad, who needs to be hospitalized and soon. So, at ten in the morning, we drive up to the estate entrance and Finlay announces our arrival. The gates swing open and we drive slowly up the long driveway, our car giving out just as we reach the welcoming committee.

There are at least a half dozen heavily armed and armored scots waiting for us. They are courteous but clear that we should leave our weapons in the car. Then after ensuring that they will get help for Chad, we are led in to the house.

Ian MacDonald is waiting in the sitting room by an open fire. He looks to be mid-forties with a grey moustache and salt and pepper hair. He is a big man and obviously still fit, but his face is hard as granite.

He gestures for us to sit in overstuffed chairs and sofas next to the fire. I sink slowly into one with a hiss of pain.

He asks what happened to us and we tell him about the ambush. I add that I think the same hitmen may have been behind the attack on the castle and when he asks why I show him the toxicology reports Zero lifted from the police database.

He passes the information to one of his lackeys with an angry comment about someone not doing their job properly. I don't catch it as the pain is making it hard to stay focused on the conversation. Finally, Zero convinces him that Quicksilver's ghost may be trapped in his system and he dismisses us.

Back outside one of the staff tells us that the landrover isn't going to get us very far. The pool of oil under it backs him up. We shift our gear to a minibus and they give us a lift to village's only hotel. It's small, quiet and old but well-maintained. I soak in the bath until the local doctor arrives to patch me up properly. He give me some antibiotics and painkillers and I go to bed even though it's still early afternoon.

Scotland, day thirteen

I spend most of the day in bed, recovering from my wounds. The doctor comes by to check on me and I chew on painkillers and antibiotics, washed down with single malt.

Zero drops by to check on me. She tells me that she has been back into the datastore where she first saw Quicksilver's ghost. This time she was there with two Transys deckers and they all saw the ghost asking to be taken to Amelia.

She also has an idea on how to do that. She believes that if Amelia hooks up the biodeck to the matrix, that she can lead the ghost into it. She is planning to try it tomorrow, if she can get McDonald to agree to let her into the system again.

Scotland, day fourteen

Feeling a bit better today, but that could just be the drugs and the booze.

Zero went back into the matrix and managed to lead the ghost out and into the deck. She then flatlined for a moment and when she logged out, she told us that the ghost was growing up in the deck. It told her some stuff about birth and heaven, apparently to do with star signs. Amelia said she would look into it and calls us later that evening with good news. She has found the fourth chip.

Zero tells her not to try to do anything with it but to wait for her. Finlay persuades the hotel owner to lend us his car and we head out for Edinburgh.

Scotland, day fifteen

We seem to spend all our time in the damn car these days. We drive trhough the night to Edinburgh, and after a short rest meet up with Amelia in an upscale bar. We all look like hell, but no-one bothers us. Zero puts the last chip in place and decks in. This time she meets an adult Quicksilver. Seems he didn't know that he was dead. Apparently he now wants us to take us to Morag. Hell, might as well see this through to the end, so it's back in the car.

Amelia comes along and spells Finlay for the driving which is good because it takes us the rest of the day and all night.

Scotland, day sixteen

James McDonald is not too happy to see us again. He keeps us waiting, I guess while he checks with Ian, before letting us in. He is wary of us trying to 'exorcise' Morag and only relents after a tense video conference with his brother in which we have to more or less come clean about everything that's been going on. And especially where we have been the last two days.

We unload our gear into our rooms, guns included and rest until shortly before midnight. Zero sets up in Morag's bedroom and decks in. Just as her system flatlines, Finlay lets out a curse and all hell breaks loose.

The whole castle shakes as high explosives rip open the main doors. Sounds of heavy fighting break out below and I run up to our room for the gun bags. On my way back I spot one of the McDonalds with a shotgun and an ancient Webley Bear rifle which I persuade him to lend to me.

I pass out the rest of the weapons just as the first shots echo up the stairwell. The padre turns Finlay invisible and he heads down the stairs to scout.

I keep a bead on the stairs and am awarded by two gunmen coming into view. The big gun has a fell of a kick but I manage to clip one and the scot hits the other with the shotgun. The padre launches a volley of magical beams at them and they return fire at him. Guess they don't like mages either. My second shot takes out the one I winged and the scot deals with the other, but more are coming.

There are still sounds of fighting below and then we hear Finlay cry out. The padre curses something about magically active mages being the only ones that could have spotted Finlay and slumps into a trance.

Distracted, I let the next gunmen get the drop on us. These ones play it smart laying down covering fire. I hear a grunt from the clansman as he tries to get off a shot, while I maneuver for position. The gunman spots me as I draw a bead on him but my shot hits him squarely in the chest and knocks him back, dead.

Unfortunately I now spot the mage behind him. He gestures at me as I frantically work the rifle's bolt action, gritting my teeth against the incoming spell. Nothing happens and the mage looks surprised as it washes over me with no effect. His expression stays like that as the big gun takes off the back of his head.

That makes me public enemy number one. Bullets chew into the old oak bannister, my armor and least one of my plastic-reinforced bones. No serious damage but it still hurts like hell. I snap off a round in return and am rewarded with a cry of pain.

They are focusing on me now and the bannister is disintegrating under their fire. I roll away as it collapses but feel more bullets hitting me and can taste blood in my mouth. I fire off a last shot but it goes wide, then drop prone to reload. Over the sounds of fighting I swear that I can hear more choppers coming. I just hope it's the fraggin' cavalry.

The clansman gets off another good shot taking one of them down but his victory cry is cut short when a burst catches him in the throat and practically rips off his head.

I crawl towards the padre shouting for him to wake up just as the head and shoulders of a troll appear on the stairs. I curse in salish, something about his mother. It's enough to get his attention. The bannister protects me but only just. I get off a shot, but while it rips a chunk out of his side, he seems barely to notice it. Great a troll on combat drugs.

The padre's eyes open and he struggles to focus his magics on the troll. Guess the troll figures him for the bigger problem so it's next bursts go in his direction. With much cursing and swearing the padre rolls and tumbles across the landing, miraculously unscathed.

I decide I have had enough of this shit and my next shot strikes true. It rips through bone, muscles and arteries in the troll's gun arm and he tumbles slowly back down the stairs spraying blood around him.

From below I can hear more fighting, but it's a scottish accent shouting the orders. I slump back, cradling the big gun in my arms. The shooting stops and armored clansmen appear on the stairs. Ian McDonald is in their midst, giving orders.

Then a funny thing happens. Now remember I was shot up pretty bad, but the others recount it pretty much as I remember. From out of the walls of the castle come a whole tribe of ghosts. Men and women, old and young. Last to join them are Quicksilver and Morag. So Zero did it. Then the oldest and gnarliest of the ghosts steps forward and locks his eyes on Ian McDonald. There is a pause and then the ghost turns away. A light appears above us and the ghosts stream into it, with Quicksilver, Morag and the old wizened scot last to leave. Then it fades to black.

Scotland, day eighty

It takes me over a month to recover. Ian McDonald puts us up in the private wing of a hospital and spares no expense on treatment. Finlay was badly hurt, part of one arm totally flayed open. They replaced it with a biotech one. I heard that stuff was bad for adepts, but he's not talking about it.

Bringing Morag and Quicksilver together in the deck also took it's toll on Zero, but the new cyberware they gave her seems to be keeping her happy. The padre came through it all unscathed and even Chad is back on his feet and asking for bananas.

We are flying back to Seattle tomorrow. Ian McDonald has arranged flights on his corp's own semi-ballistic plane. I won't be sorry to leave and have a few question to ask Sherrif when I get back...

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