Knights of Albion

Issue 4 (Volume II) - extended volume

Haunted by the past

What could possibly go wrong?

With the door to the bunker responding to one of their own, the Knights of Albion venture inside, placing a call to the Shard to warn them that something might be about to happen. Little did they know how right they were, or how troublesome it would be.

pantha_redeux_by_monkitty.jpgWith a grind of disused machinery the door opened at Catseye’s touch, a strange blue-green glow of energy permeating it. With the team all safely inside and without instruction the door irised closed, and despite the pounding of Lady Britannia’s Asgardian fist, it remained sealed. As they searched for a way to escape this sudden but not unexpected trap, a voice came scratchily over some kind of internal speaker.

“Good afternoon. Can I confirm please that you are the Knights of Albion? I’ll need a security code as well, if I could trouble you.” As mystified as his comrades it was Jeremiah who responded first, confirming their presence and offering the most basic security code he knew. A few tense seconds pause and the voice returned. “Very good. I’m Agent Brown, and honestly I don’t quite know how you managed to even get into this place. It’s supposed to be abandoned and sealed.” Catseye offered up her own involvement and excited the voice confirmed “Catseye? Oh this is very helpful indeed!” A verbal code played out through the speaker, and in a daze, Catseye suddenly responded in kind… much to the confusion and alarm of her team-mates. More codes followed, and in a burst of unexplainable growth the petite cat-woman bulged with muscles, and a new, dangerously feral light shone in her eyes.

The other Knights had only a moment to absorb the sight, as they were on the spot plunged into darkness. A darkness broken by the low, rolling growl of the monstrous looking predator in their midst.

Quick thinking, the Engineer donned his trusty energy goggles and discovered a clear view of the now hulking Catseye, with the same blue-green energy pooling and dripping from her. He had no real chance to offer a warning before the feral creature tore into the wall, ripping the speaker unit free with a snarl; Catseye was apparently aware that ‘someone’ in that place had done this to her, and the experience was clearly not appreciated. Unsatisfied with this vandalism, she bolted for the inner door, night vision having no problems, apparently, with the darkness still engulfing the group. maxresdefault.jpg

The door, much as the first had, responded to our enraged and transformed heroes presence, and easily opened to admit her, snapping shut on the cat-creatures heels before the wash of light could lure the rest of the Knights into the room beyond. Untroubled by doors, walls or potential traps, Paul T. Geist set off in hot pursuit, only to discover that his own modest ‘foot speed’ was not enough to keep up with the mad-cat dash of Catseye’s new form. He trailed on across a room strobing red with security lights and into corridors beyond, halting before he became horribly lost in what looked to be a maze of twists and turns.

In the entry-way and somewhat hampered by the darkness, the Engineer battled the door controls to free the rest of them to take up pursuit. Disgruntled by the lack of action, Britannia suggested “Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to open the outside door and just leave here in here? She’s gone kind of crazy.” Neither the Engineer nor Serpentine Spectre offered more than a cold stare, lost in the dark, as they continued to struggle with the unusual format of the security concealed behind the door panel.

By the time the door was irising open once more, the bleat of intruder alarms was growing tiresome. The room beyond was an open affair, with a desk and a door beyond… and computer controlled turrets swinging to bear on the doorway. The heroes wasted no time; moving immediately to engage the rapidly tracking turrets as Watkins barrelled toward the far door. Wise to the trick of opening it now, he was hard at work in seconds as Britannia and the Serpentine Spectre made short work of the laser defences.

The alarm shut off at last, and the engineer completed his work on the door beyond when the team’s communicators stuttered to life, popping and hissing. “Knights of Albion? Knights of Albion, come in please! This is Agent Day at the Shard! Please report!” The worried voice was not familiar, and after their interaction with ‘Agent Brown’ the team was not in a trusting mood. Calling on Day to confirm his identity by code, they relaxed only when it proved to be one they knew.

Day explained he had been handed the urgent task of contacting them when previously inert security systems reported an intrusion at the very base they were investigating; a base dismantled and closed off in the days of Black Air! A slow and laborious code entry allowed him remote access to the centre and its security, to speed the groups search for their missing friend.

Meanwhile, his prisoner in hand, Blue Bolt was contacted by the Shard himself, alerted to the sudden break in radio communications by his team. The security guard was quickly turned over as he moved out at top speed, arriving at the old facility minutes after departing the site… held for precious seconds at the sealed outer door before it was released long enough for him to rejoin the others.

Agent Day had spent the time trawling through archived plans and had the map of the facility to hand. With a direction from Watkin’s goggles, and the dire warning that there were energy signatures showing the base restoring its own functions, the team moved out post haste. Winding corridors passed in a blur with the distant agent clearing their path of sealed doors, until they chanced across one which had not opened with the general command. Like several rooms before it, the door was labelled; the Armoury.

Cautious in case of more security, the Knights decided to investigate and discovered (after more tinkering with the door) that the room beyond had not been cleared as the records claimed. Rack upon rack of weapons stood beyond, of a design familiar only vaguely even to the engineer. They were of a style with others he had disassembled for MI13 in the lab, and the report of this brought alarm into Day’s voice. Agreeing between them to leave the room closed and seal it against other intruders, they moved on. With the door locked behind them, they waited for Day’s next instruction… but nothing came.

Calling with growing alarm for a response, it was with a shock that the next voice to answer was the panicking Barry; the man always on the spot in the Shards phone exchange. With relief, he explained that the Shard had been trying to contact them since their radio’s went dark… when the doors had first closed on them! In hurried conference they confirmed there was an agent Day employed by the agency… but she was out on holiday. Barry confirmed that an old security alert at their location had been sounded, and that it looked like someone had been feeding commands through old Black Air filters to control it.

To add to the team’s concerns, Barry added that there must be a second group in the facility with them; the Engineers energy detecting lenses confirmed it, and they were engaging with the feral Catseye! Urged on by the renewed and recognisable contact and hurled through the corridors at breakneck pace in a Blue Bolt brand toboggan, they crashed onto the scene to discover mysterious suited men and robots tangling with their comrade. The men carried rifles of an immediately familiar design, the closed off armory having been full of them. dfe14d08228ce5f43039617fd15d0f06.jpg Catseye, still a hulking and rage-filled creature, was struggling to break free of some kind of magical binding, while simultaneously attempting to tear free the throat of one of the battle-robots that awakened with the rest of the base.

In the swirling melee that followed, the weapons of these mysterious men proved to be energy rifles, powered by the pervasive blue-green force the Engineer had seen all through the base. The men were easily enough subdued by the team, only the robot causing any real problems for their well drilled coordination. Recognising their imminent defeat, one of the mystery men in black called for a retreat, abandoning their ‘prize’ for now.

A flash of that same light later and the men were gone, even those incapacitated by the Knights in the fight. With not a trace remaining, the feral Catseye turned a murderous stare on her team mates, before the rage drained away almost as fast as it had come. Dazed and confused, the unnaturally bulked cat-woman managed to ask “What’s going on here? Where are we..?” Whatever energy had driven her this far seemed to run out, and with her eyes rolled back she collapsed toward the floor. With the Blue Bolt to cushion her, she wafted in the waiting arms of the Engineer but before anyone could celebrate the facility belatedly responded to their battle.

Critical security breach detected. Facility termination in effect. All personnel please evacuate. You have five minutes to comply before sanitising begins” echoed out form an automated and obviously badly aged alert message.

Wasting no time, the Blue Bolt ferried the team back to the surface door as they regretfully abandoned the mysterious armoury, the unknown energy source, and whatever secrets the old base might have held. A check of the area confirmed that even the men in black were long gone, and no one was at risk. On the five minute mark exactly, a deep subterranean rumble marked the end of the base and its hill; the ‘sanitising’ brought the rock and dirt cap down with it, and sank the whole hill several feet.

In the few short minutes of their return flight to the Shard, Catseye returned to herself with the promise that she would do her best to explain at least some of the strange trouble the team had just escaped. But that might have to wait…

To Be Continued…


stealthH NikMak

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