Monday September 5th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the plan of attack.

Had fun on our outing today, right up until it was time to eat lunch. The arrival of the army of yellow jackets, attracted by our food, served to put a damper on things.

We managed to get some food in us without anybody getting stung and then headed for home not long after that, as Miles was in need of a nap.

Only one local order to deal with tomorrow, so I'm hoping to get some stuff done around the house in the morning.


"They're closing in on our location, sir."

"I'm aware of that, soldier."

"They'll be here within minutes."

"What did I just say?"

"Right. Sorry, sir."

"Don't worry about it. You're about to have plenty of opportunities to make up for that misstep."

"I will not let you down, sir."

"I highly suggest that you do not."

"Yes sir. So... what's our plan?"

"Plan? What plan?"


Greg said...

I had to look yellow jackets up to discover that they were wasps! I had no idea that anyone called them anything other than wasps, so that was a (minor) revelation. I can see why you'd leave if they were around though; they're very... waspish :)
Have I seen this commanding officer, before and recently? I'm sure I recognise his laissez-faire attitude to the people in his command, though it's clearly working to keep him alive. I like him, but I'm refusing to like his subordinate on the grounds that he's clearly just cannon-fodder....

Having to split mine again as I hit the character limit (sigh).

Plan of attack
"Ten minutes is a little short," said David. The reluctance in his voice was plain; he enjoyed watching his friend study crime scenes and reach deductions and conclusions that seemed so far our of reach for ordinary folk. "Though I'm sure if you mentioned to the train master who you are–"
"Ah no," said Ernest. He looked solemn. "I really do wish to travel as incognito as possible for now as I am sure that there is a mystery of sorts awaiting us at the funeral. Oh, don't look at me like that David! You know as well as I that I barely knew the man. I think I might have played croquet against him once at Wimbledon before they gave the common over to football, but that's the extent of it. You must have surmised that I was being sent on this journey, rather than electing to go."
The silence was eloquent enough, though David did rally a little: "I've been a little preoccupied myself, Ernest," he said at last. "I really didn't think much about it, let alone think it through. Now you point it, though–"
"It's obvious, yes," said Ernest. "My fault, I think. I should remember that what is obvious to one – for example, your sterling analysis of the magical attack just now – is a mystery to others."
The train lurched as the engine engaged and the carriages started to move, and David sat down on the bench opposite his companion. "And now we are too late," he said. "The train is departing."
"I'm not sure we are," said Ernest. He leaned back and set one ankle on the other knee, crossing his legs dextrously. His eyes lifted to the ceiling as though beseeching some invisible entity. "Let me think: why would the station porter be attacked?"
"Well, any number of reasons, surely," said David. "Perhaps he's having an affair with someone else's wife? Or sister."
"Or brother, mother, dog or housekeeper," said Ernest. "Though this list may indicate that we are prejudiced against people who enjoy the intimate company of inanimate objects. Either way, the point I wish to reach is that a station porter is unlikely to have an enemy who is rich enough to afford the services of a Magician."
"Quite. And anyone rich enough to afford such services could request... perhaps voodoo? Is that practiced still?"
David turned pink. "There are certain esoterica," he said, stressing the word, "that are covered as electives, and yes, the law of contagion is quite clear and effective in these matters."
"So wouldn't it have been cheaper, easier, and more effective to have hexed him into drowning in his own bathtub?"
"Hex is a sensitive term," said David stiffly. He was still pink.
"Forgive me, forgive me old chap. I'm chasing ideas and not listening to how I'm phrasing them. But still, the principle is sound, no? There are better ways to have attacked the porter magically?"
"Yes, Ernest. Most definitely."
"So... then the porter probably wasn't the intended target. The spell was cast from a distance away, it was intended to act subtly -- by causing choking in someone eating or drinking, would anyone immediately suspect magic?"

Greg said...

"Unlikely," said David, recovering a little. "The human throat qua throat is a delicate and complex anatomical struct–"
"Yes," interrupted Ernest. "Might you tell me later? So, someone probably on the train was targetted, and the porter was unlucky enough to be in the way. This suggests a Magician of low rank, does it not?"
"Oh yes," said David. "No graduand would be so careless."
"And now I think upon it, the porter did look oddly familiar," said Ernest. "He reminded me a lot of the Captain of the 4th Lancers, who will undoubtedly be on this train because the Lancers have recently been deployed in France so he will have come via London to attend the funeral, which he would most certainly do given that the deceased was his Commander-in-Europe. So we have a likely target, and a reasonable description of the attacker... yes, I think we have discerned the plan of attack, David. Do you have a transmission pad, please?"
David reached once again into his unusually capacious bag and quickly produced an A4 pad of paper and a plain looking pencil.
"You amaze me, Ernest," he said, watching as his friend wrote on the pad in quick, caligraphic strokes. "Do you have a name for the attacker as well?"
"Hugo Slant," said Ernest. He signed his name at the bottom of the note and the pad glowed briefly orange, then the top page disintegrated into whirling sparkles of light. In the offices of Sergeant Caparison in London a similar pad, linked by the law of contagion, neatly replicated the message instantly. "But I think you must have concluded the same yourself already."

Marc said...

Greg - they are miserable things to deal with. Remarkably persistent too.

Um, maybe? I don't know, it's been so long since I wrote *this* that I can't clearly recall anything I wrote before it. I think you might be right though.

I do so enjoy reading the dialogue between these two. If I promise to do a theme week relatively soon will you promise to feature these two in your week's story?

Greg said...

Yes :)