The Assembler

Chapter 30 - Assault with a Deadly Parasol

Jean G Hontz

@copyright 2009 all rights reserved

“Do you always beat up on men attempting to save you?” asked a slightly breezy voice, it’s owner no doubt still in pain from the below the belt umbrella hit.

Emmie struggled and finally her captor set her free. She whirled around her umbrella again at the ready.

“Kevyn!” she said, her mouth dropping open.

Rory managed a somewhat sickly smile. “In the bruised flesh. Are you always this stubborn and don’t you ever listen?”

“Yes. No, but I do listen when things are explained to me! If you had I might have agreed to fall in with your plans but so far as I knew you had no intention of rescuing Ned so I...”

“So you were going to go rescue him yourself,” Rory finished for her.

“Yes.” Emmie bit her lip. Put that way made it sound a bit grandiose, but still, no one seemed to want to DO anything!

“And if you went charging in there, waving that parasol...”

“Umbrella,” Emmie corrected.

“Fine, umbrella around then what? How will you deal with men who have guns?” Rory demanded.

Emmie looked shocked. “Guns? This is England!”

Emmie turned as she heard noises behind her. It was Sergeant Lumm with Cyril and Margot.

Margot put her hands on her hips. “Just where did you think you were going without me!”

“Or me!” Cyril demanded.

“Where’s father?” Margot asked, looking around. “He was right behind us.”

“Bloody hell, Lady Emiline. Lumm, keep them all here, even if you have to sit on Lady Emiline.” Rory rushed off to find out where his last recalcitrant protectee was.

He rounded the corner and was about to rush into the hotel when he heard weapons fire. He paled. Septimus was in there and only had Dr Finigal with him. “Damn that woman to hell,” Rory cursed and more threw himself at the main entry to the lobby than entered it. Lucky he did so as weapons fire erupted aimed in his direction. He dove to land on the marble floor, sliding across it on his stomach. Bits of marble danced up around him as bullets came close but thankfully missed by a bit.

His slide brought him to the main desk which he then scrambled to hide behind. There he found Septimus and Dr Finigal. “Are you two hurt?” Rory asked.

Septimus shook his head no. Dr Finigal, his glasses hanging off one ear, one lens broken, was ashen and just stared at Rory as if he were mad. “Of course I’m hurt!” Finigal huffed. “I did not sign on to be shot at!”

“Just keep your head down,” Rory advised as he peeped around the corner, hoping against hope that Lumm could keep the others out of the lobby.

Rory tried to peep around the edge of the desk. As he did so he was relieved to hear police whistles approaching. Thank God. Surely whoever this was would run.

And then police, both in uniform and in plain clothes rushed into the lobby. There was a quick burst of gunfire and then what sounded like a herd of running footsteps. There was a lot of shouting and ear-splitting police whistles then the herd headed for the door apparently chasing off the attackers.

Rory cautiously peeked around the edge of the lobby desk again.

A bobbie who was peeking around in the opposite direction jumped when he came eye to eye and nose to nose with Rory.

“Ah, thanks for coming to the rescue,” Rory said cheerily.

The bobbie fought to find a word or two in his frozen brain.

“Are they gone? Flushed them out? Sent them packing?” Rory asked.

“Oh... Oh.. Aye, sir. Run off toward the park. We’ll round them up, don't you worry.”

“Did you happen to see a Sergeant Lumm with several people in the alleyway just past the building?”

“Dunno, sir, do I?” the bobbie asked. “Been a bit busy, I ‘ave.”

“Aye, that you have. Come on Septimus, Finigal. Let’s go see if poor Lumm is conscious or if Lady Emiline has attacked him with her parasol too.”

“I don’t belong here,” Finigal muttered. “I’m an expert in ciphers! I don't do spy stuff!”

“I’ll leave you here alone then, shall I?” Rory asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh. Wait,” Finigal said and did his best to arrange his broken glasses on his nose and one ear.

“Come on, no time to lose. If they’re attacking us chances are they're attacking wherever it is Ned and his machine are. The question is, exactly where that might be.”

The three hurried out of the hotel and found Lumm hanging onto Emmie for dear life. She was trying to poke him with the business end of the umbrella.

“Lady Emiline, stop it,” Rory roared.

She stopped it, if only because anyone raising his voice to her was such a shock.

“Thank you, sir,” said a grateful Lumm, leaning over to rub a knee she'd apparently kicked.

“Who were those guys?” Cyril wanted to know.

“Same as those after us in Bermuda, I’d say,” Margot replied.

“Indeed. Hired by the African Consortium is what we’re thinking. They’re a sort of international mercenary army for hire. I wish we’d captured one, so we could interrogate him to find out if he had any idea where your Ned might be,” Rory muttered grouchily.

At that moment a giant boom went off, making everything stop in London. Even the pigeons stopped to look round.

Rory and his chickens hurried out into the street. They looked round and saw a giant fireball bloom off to the west.

“Ned!” Emmie screamed and started to head toward the explosion. Rory caught her though and hung on. “Wait. We’ll get there quicker this way.”

Rory led her through a series of alleyways and side streets always checking their bearings by looking up at the dark cloud and now flames the leapt up into the London early morning sky. They could hear police whistles and fire engine horns ringing, the sounds getting louder as Rory led them, Emmie’s hand securely in his own, the others pelting along behind them, toward the chaos.

Finally, when none of them thought they could run one more step they came out onto an open square. From there they could see what was left of the building where the explosion had taken place. Nothing. Only smoking ruins which had collapsed in on themselves. Firetrucks were pumping water onto the wreckage in an effort to contain the fire and stop it from spreading.

Emmie, frozen, took in the disaster. They didn't have to tell her that anyone caught inside when the building blew, would not have survived.

Emmie paled, then collapsed. Rory caught her before she hit the pavement.

 

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