Division 47 The High King's Abomination
By Joanna E Sears
© Monster Zoo Enterprises
A/N: Hylbian Celtic language derivative.
He had the dream again. The dream that had haunted his sleep for years. He'd been plagued by visions of the monster since infancy.
The Ravenor! They had called it by that name for centuries. Many had tried to rid the valley of the monster. But still it stalked, devouring their livestock and sometimes if someone was particularly lax? The Beast would feast on Manflesh.
It was big! A lot bigger than he'd expected, and man! What a stench. Even from ten feet away its fetid breath was nauseating. His stomach churned, all the hackles on the back of his neck stood up. His heart thundered in his chest. Every part of his rational mind, screamed at him to run. He stood his ground!
"I have to hold fast! I have to stand!" he repeated to himself. "I have to protect the others.
This is my destiny. They can't harm it. Only I have the power to destroy this beast."
He glanced around. There she was Air Singer. Beside her stood Silver Star! Guardian of the
Bloodline, and behind him hovered the healer. To his right, an arrow notched to his bow, was the Bowman from the beyond the Eastern Sea. Sitting back in the long grass, Percy whined fearfully. He could sense they were all praying for him to come safely through the ordeal and dispatch the Beast to the Dark Nether World where its kind belonged.
He raised the intricately etched steel! It sang as he raised it above his head. The hum seemed to enrage the ungodly, creature. It gave an almighty roar and rushed at him. He was engulfed by it. Its stinking breath depriving him of oxygen. Its talons closed about his throat. He fought, struggled, pushed his way through the suffocating fur that filled his mouth and blocked his nose.
He jerked awake gasping and clawing. It was a few seconds before he realized the monster's fur was his own hair. It had come loose from its normal braid and wound itself around his face, filling his mouth and blocking his nose. He scrabbled at the matting pulling it from his throat and out of his nostrils.
Oliver stared aghast at Director Burleigh. He then gave an overly loud, brittle laugh
"This is a joke right? Bill! Please tell me you're joking." Burleigh shook his head.
"I'm sorry Oliver I have to insist. Your squad needs the skills and connections he has."
"His connections be damned," Oliver blustered. "He's a spoiled indolent celebrity!"
Burleigh grimaced inwardly acknowledging Oliver had a point, but aloud said.
"I admit he is a little self-important but his connections and knowledge, outweigh this minor
"Flaw! Flaw!" Oliver spat. "There is no way in Hell I am lumbering my hard working team with that lazy, good for nothing loafer."
"That is an erroneous statement and you know it. Despite your personal opinion of your brother."
"Half-brother!" The Director ignored the correction.
"Whatever personal views you hold about your brother the fact remains he has faithfully served this country on numerous occasions."
"I have no proof of these so called assignments. All I know is what I see on the television and They make it pretty clear he's a playboy." Director William Burleigh decided it was time to assert his superior rank and position.
"The matter is not up for discussion Agent Walingham. The decision has already been made.
You are the Operations Chief of Division 47 I expect you to ensure his smooth integration into your Squad."
Jasper Walingham was waiting for him just inside the Marbled Portico. Oliver eyed his younger half-brother, his attitude did not mirror the elegant facade. He was leaning insolently against a carved column and as Oliver approached he made a great show of swigging from a beer bottle. Oliver snatched it from him and emptying the contents down a drain chucked the glass into a nearby trash can.
"Hey!" Jasper protested. The senior Walingham scowled - the last thing he needed to be lumbered with, was a recalcitrant wastrel.
"What you on your own time is your own business but when you're on mine there's no drinking and no smoking." Jason reluctantly straightened up as his brother moved passed him.An almost imperceptible flick of the senior's eyes told him he was to follow. He sighed loudly and scuffing his feet in a petulant manner stomped after him.Oliver Walingham positioned himself behind a very imposing desk then regarded the younger man with a distinctly frosty gaze.
"I don't want you!" he growled
"It's not your decision." Oliver scowled double.
"Well don't think I'm going to be lenient with you Jasper. If you foul up I'll treat you exactly the same as I would any other member of my team."
"Anthony! My name is Anthony!"
"And just what's wrong with the title our father gifted you with?"
"You know very well my cover has to be maintained."
"Pah!" Oliver spat. "What sort of cover is writing lurid horror stories, for the titillation of simple minded peasants and low bred wannabe celebrities?"
"The sort of cover that gets one of this country's most celebrated author invited to a lot of high society parties and functions. Events you couldn't even gate crash," his brother spat back bristling at the insult.
Oliver inhaled and set aside his innate jealousy of the younger brother his father had always favored he stood up. There was a job to be done. A mystery to unravel. The enemy's spies were infiltrating the Government to an even higher level. Oliver put his loyalty to the State above everything.
"Come on I'll introduce to the team and then we have to assign you some transport."
"I already have several cars including a Ferrari."
"I'm sure you have but they are of no use to this unit. You will use what I select for you." Tony sighed loudly but thought it prudent not to argue. Although he could imagine just what sort of old rust bucket his brother would choose. He shuddered as he envisioned driving something with less street cred than a fifty year old wheelbarrow. As he strode towards the door of his study Oliver paused and instructed his brother
"Henceforth no one is to know we are related and outside of these headquarters you will address me as Arachis at all times. Is that understood?" Tony nodded obediently, but inwardly sneered
"How typical of you brother, to give yourself some meaningless fancy title?"
Oliver led Tony out of a different door to the one he had entered through. It opened out into a spacious squad room. The younger Walingham noted it was pretty full. Oliver pulled a silver whistle from his pocket and blew it hard. Instantly all activity stopped and every Agent stood up. Tony groaned silently. His brother was a regular dictator even his troops were conditioned to jump on his command. Oliver's strident voice interrupted his thoughts
"Okay! Listen up people. We have a new Agent joining us today," he indicated his brother. "This is Anthony Marlowe the Liaison from the Director's Office." Oliver then began pointing out people to Tony. "Meet your new Co-workers. Alice Stuart, Samantha Fischer,
Thomas Kynd, Martin Stanley and Rhys Ap Pryderi." A third young woman entered from another room. Oliver's finger swung around and landed on her. "And that's Tangle"
"Tangle? Is that a nickname?" Oliver ignored the question saying only
"If you know what's good for you, you won't upset her. She is a Wind Chanter." Tony had heard of Wind Chanters but had never expected to meet one. They were incredibly rare. Oliver was no longer interested in him. He had turned and spoken to Stanley
"Martin is there any news from the ADU arrived yet?"
"Yes sir! The item will be delivered at two pm."
"Good!" Oliver gave a rare smile then picking up a very fat file turned to his brother and slapped it into his hands. "Read this! I want you up to speed by this afternoon."
He gaped in surprise but Oliver was already striding back towards his Private Office. Tony felt someone touch his arm. The woman Alice gave him a sort of awkward smile then indicated a space on the other side of the room.
"Why don't you take over that cubicle?" She suddenly flashed him a grin. "It will keep you out of Oliver's sight for a while." Tony gave her a grateful smile as she added "He's not normally so abrupt. He's just a little peeved at being ordered to take a Liaison from the DIC. Oliver is used to running things his way."
Tony refrained from telling her that Oliver had loathed him from the very moment of his birth and had made his life a living hell, when they'd been children. Tony scowled as he recalled the amount of times his older brother had either stolen or broken his toys. In the end his father had grown so sick of Oliver's attitude he'd packed him off to Military School.
Martin waited until their leader closed his office door then signaled to the established team members glancing round to ensure the newcomer was occupied he drew his friends into a group and pointing to the far cubicle softly asked.
"Do you know who that guy is?" the others shook their heads. "He is Anthony Marlowe the writer." Mouths dropped then Samantha whispered
"The Anthony Marlowe?" Martin nodded "Author of the Wandering Skald Series?" Martin nodded a second time.
"And I'll tell you what else he is."
"The boss's younger half-brother." Eyes widened in surprise.
"Blimey!" Muttered Tom. "No wonder Ollie's miffed. Marlowe's reputed to be a billionaire."
"Yeah!" Agreed Rhys. "Who would want their richer more successful sibling around rubbing their wealth in your face?"
Tony frowned at the file then opened his briefcase and extracted his Laptop. Using the local
Wi-Fi he logged onto his home site and ran a search on a particular name as he'd suspected, he had researched the same myth a year before. Suddenly a shadow loomed over him.
"You are not here to surf the net at our expense! You are here to work!" his brother roared.
Tony looked up completely unperturbed and replied.
"I'm not surfing I'm checking your facts," Oliver scowled "And since you're standing beside me you can read them for yourself. I don't know where you get your information but it's false." He waved to his personnel machine. "See for yourself. The language you identify as
Arkadian is in fact an early form of Cuniform or as you would probably know it Babylonian."
Oliver did lean over to read the text. His eyes scanned down it then realizing his brother had made a valid point hrumped and growled
"In future use the base computers yours is not logged into or protected by our firewall. Anyone can access it. Those are classified files." Tony shrugged
"I have top level protection thank you. I have worked for the NSA." Oliver scowled and ran a disparaging eye over his younger brother
"What the hell are you wearing? In future you'll wear a suit like every other member of my squad and get a damn haircut. I'm not having a bloody hippy in my office." Tony rose and stepped a little closer to the bigger man.
"I am not a member of your squad I am a Liaison. I only answer to Director Burleigh and he doesn't have a problem with the way I dress or the length of my hair." Oliver growled loudly then strode away. Tony allowed himself a small smile of satisfaction as he got one over on his brother.
It had been a long time since he had tasted the flesh of man. He raised his head to the wind and sniffed. The scent was fresh. He followed it. Rarely did he approach this close, to the human tracks he had learned long ago that the smoke belching machines, they controlled, were dangerous. He had survived the encounter with the one of them. But now was wary of getting close. But this one was still, a female leaned over it. The Beast licked his lips
The human was young, succulent. But then he heard another sound. A second Belcher was coming. He drew back, into the sheltering safety of the trees quickening his pace he sought his sanctuary far from the tramps of men. Hunger gnawed at his belly. His eyes searched the leaf litter, seeking, listening. Suddenly his hairy arm shot down. He gorged on the creature but at the same time, grew wrathful that he should be forced to such. Lowered to feeding on rats and vermin. He who was had once been exalted and fed on Knightly Flesh. His red eyes glowed as he remembered the old times then shook his shaggy mane. Angry thoughts crowded his mind
Thoughts of those who had betrayed their sacred trust. He recalled the family that had murdered his twin and defiled his mother, only he survived. Smuggled to safety after Camlannis by loyal Orkney. He raised his head again. A new smell drifted on the breeze. More men, many they numbered. But not so many as to be a threat to him. Only one could threaten him. Only he who carried Wayland's Weapon. The creature gave a guttural laugh at his own imagination. It was like Orkney, a relic of a bygone age. Even if it did still exist. None would know of its power. No! He was safe Hylbian like the other six forged by Wayland the Smith was no more. Secretly over the many centuries he had sought out and destroyed the Weapons of the Gods. Only Hylbian eluded him. He caught the scent again. Tonight he would eat. Eat well! Choice morsels, fit for his kind. He pulled his lips back into a grotesque parody of a smile. He would enjoy the chase. Relish their fear as he ensnared them. Revel in their terror, as he devoured them one by one.
For over an hour Tony studied the file and made notes then suddenly! Oliver strode out of his private office and blew his whistle. Tony looked round all the other squad members as automatically stood up, he didn't. Oliver glared at him for several seconds, but Tony refused to be intimidated. At length his older brother got the message and decided to let the insubordination slide-for now. Instead he announced.
"People drop whatever you are doing close all files and label them as pending."
"Why?" Martin asked
"I have just received information from Director Burleigh. A joint military contingent on a training exercise in Wisconsin has been attacked. Three have been killed and four are missing, because there have long been rumours of strange disappearances in the area this latest incident is being designated a SNO and passed into our Jurisdiction. Although we'll be working with three teams of investigators from the services concerned." Tony frowned he'd never heard the term SNO before but refrained from questioning his brother. He decided to pump Alice for the information later. Oliver was still issuing instructions "I want all of you to go home and pack enough gear for a week away," he again turned his attention to Tony "By gear I mean sturdy hiking boots and outdoor clothing." He gave a nod inwardly grinning. He enjoyed camping and had some pretty fancy equipment including a top of the range five thousand dollar, multi-roomed tent. "I need you all back here by one pm. The Air-force has put one of its transports at our disposal, to get us out to the site." Tony spoke
"I have my own plane. I'll meet you there."
"No you won't! You are part of this Division now and will travel as one of us." Tony had
travelled on an Air-Force transport once before. Cold and bloody uncomfortable, was what he remembered most about that journey. He was not prepared to go through that again.
"The Airfield where my plane is stored is closer to where I live than here. It makes no sense for me to come all the way back here when," Oliver cut him off
"You are travelling with us so quit arguing," he spun on his heel and stalked back to his office, effectively ending the conversation. Tony packed away his laptop and headed for his home on the more affluent side of town. On the way he used his car phone to call his personal pilot and have him file a flight plan for the nearest landing strip to Freemont in Wisconsin. "I'll be with you by twelve and want to be in the air by half past the hour."
"I'm sorry sir," the disembodied voice on the other end of the line replied. "But this Airfield has just received an order from the Civil Aviation Authority. All planes are ground until next week pending a formal inspection of flight worthiness." Tony growled under his breath, he guessed his brother was flexing his muscles. Half of him was tempted to drive to Wisconsin but that would swallow up the rest of the day and half the night. Tony sighed he didn't really want to arrive tired and unfit for the mission so he gave in and headed home to pack. Once within his secluded mansion Tony surveyed his vast array of camping equipment. He was tempted to take one of his larger more comfortable tents, but knew his brother of old. The last thing Tony wanted was to be forced into sharing so he opted for a one person tent. An easy to carry and assemble canvas. A fleece lined sleeping bag and quick erect camp-bed joined the tent. Next on his list was a comfortable pair of boots. He had recently purchased a new pair of hikers but they weren't fully worn in. If he was going to be forced to trek out for miles Tony wanted footwear that wouldn't end up blistering his feet. He groaned as he swapped his trendy slacks for a pair of more hardwearing Jeans. A thick cotton shirt, woollen sweater and waxed waterproof coat replaced, his smart about town jacket. Three further shirts, sweaters and socks were stuffed into his bag. He didn't bother packing a full shaving kit. Instead he placed a small case containing his cordless electric razor into his rucksack. Finally Tony turned his thoughts to the need for a weapon. He owned several guns but doubted his brother would allow him to carry one.
It didn't matter anyway Tony had something far more impressive. He lifted up Hylbian marvelling as the late morning sun glinted along its length. He gave a low laugh. This was one of the few things Oliver hadn't ever been able to take from him. Tony had inherited the blade from his Maternal Grandfather. No matter how often his brother had screeched and yelled, their joint father had never given into him. Hylbian was a gift from a family who were not related to him Oliver had no claim to it. Tony slid the shining blade back into its sheath. It had taken him many years of training to learn to wield the sword. He half smiled as he recalled his Grandfather insisting the sword had once had a much older name than Hylbian. Tony no longer believed the old man's wild tales of Mythical Kings and Chivalric battles. He had, had Hylbian examined by an expert who had reckoned it was probably a Victorian replica, of an early Medieval Sword. Whatever its true origins? Tony liked the feel of it swinging against his hip. Plus of course it was going to annoy the hell out of his brother.
"If you're going to subject me to a five hour flight on a stinking cargo plane I am going to have some fun at your expense Olive Oyl?" He spoke aloud to his empty room but the remarks were directed at his brother. Tony chuckled he'd about been about ten, when he'd learned that the easiest way to make his brother go away was to use the nickname in front of his friends. He had one last thing to pack, like Hylbian, Percy was old. His fur was yellow with age and his left eye was missing. It hadn't been that way when it had been passed down to him. Tony scowled. Oliver had gouged out the eye with a screwdriver. Tony had never forgiven the spiteful act. Once he was old enough he'd paid a very competent Seamstress a substantial amount of money to make the tatty old toy an eye patch and a little pirate suit. Which helped to protect it from any further damage. Now he slid the small toy in to a leather pouch swinging from the right side of his belt. In some ways he gained more courage from his inanimate little pal than he did from his sword. His thoughts wandered freely as he again thought of his adored Grandfather, his mother's father. A month before Tony had been in France and had taken the time to visit Chartres Cathedral. His grandfather had twice said that the great Pavement Maze Mosaic on the floor was in reality the key to finding his way through the Labyrinth. To this day Tony had never understood the reference. The literature he bought from the Cathedral Gift Shop declared the swirling pattern, a representation of Christ's journey to the cross. Medieval pilgrims walked it as an act of devotion to their faith. Tony gave a long sigh and put his thoughts of happier times aside. Leaning down he hauled his rucksack from the bed and lugged it down to his car.
He made a point of being back at the office exactly on time. His brother scowled as he saw what swung at his left hip. Tony met his eyes and challenged.
"Are you going to issue me with a gun?" Oliver growled
"No! You're a Liaison not a full Agent."
"Then I 'm exercising the right to bear my own weapon." Oliver knew he didn't have cause to refuse or confiscate the sword but the look on Tony's face told him, his brother was wearing the weapon to rile him. He chose not to rise to the bait instead he began marshalling his team out to a fleet of cars. Tony was careful not to get into the front one. He figured that was his brother's and he did not want to ride with him. Oliver didn't want Tony with him anyway so was content to let him ride in the third car with Tom and Rhys. Tony saw the gleaming metal bow in the trunk as Rhys opened it to put his backpack inside. The other man grinned. "My ancestors were Welsh. Archery is in my blood."
The journey out to the airport was relatively short. Tony was surprised that they actually went to the main one. He was conscious of a lot of people staring at them then someone recognised him. Within seconds he was surrounded by dozens of admiring fans all clamouring for his autograph. He saw his brother's face darken but was actually grateful to him for once. Oliver pushed aside the horde of adoring girls and smiling through gritted teeth said.
"I'm sorry Ladies but Mr Marlowe has a plane to catch." He dragged him bodily away. Tony made a great show of looking back at the crowd and blowing kisses that made several women swoon. Rhys grinned at Tom amused, having Marlowe around was sure going to liven things up and maybe, just maybe he could make the boss chill out occasionally?
The whole team agreed on one thing Oliver Walingham was a martinet. Martin thought it was probably a remnant of his Military Style Education and upbringing.
Tony stared up at the transport plane in horror it was even worse than he was expecting
"Are you sure this thing is even air worthy?" he griped at his brother
"Shut up and get on board," Oliver gave him a sharp shove. "We've already wasted half an hour getting through those pathetic simpering females you attracted." Tony bit back the retort that sprang to his lips and reluctantly climbed the steps. Once on board a young Ensign directed him and the others down a gangway to a line of benches. Tony looked back and noted his brother heading forward in to a more comfortable section clearly designed for officers
"I see our so called illustrious leader has reserved himself a decent seat." Oliver overheard the caustic remark he didn't look round but his face flamed red.
Tony was glad of the thick jacket and gloves he'd donned before leaving home. The flight lived up to his expectations in every respect. It was cold bumpy and he was sure he was sitting on a nail plus he couldn't quite squash the fear that worse was to come.
The plane carrying the Oliver and his team landed at a small airstrip, on the outskirts of
Racine. Tony spotted the hotel almost at once. The Hampton Inn certainly looked plush. But his hopes, of a free berth, within its walls were soon dashed. Oliver led the way across the field to where a fleet of Army Trucks stood waiting. Biting his tongue, against making a complaint that would probably get him publically reprimanded Tony scrambled up into the back of the third one in line. The woman Alice made it up and into the interior before him. But now he finally had a chance to ask what the term SNO meant?
"Didn't Director Burleigh explain it to you?" she seemed surprised.
"Not really! I think he had a hard enough job getting me to agree to work with Oliver. He has a bit of reputation." Alice gave no indication that she knew the two men were brothers instead she explained. "SNO is an Acronym. It stands for Supernatural Occurrences! Basically anything that falls outside the realm of normal criminal activity gets sent out to us in Dallas."
"So how many cases have you solved?"
"Since I've been with the squad about seventy but Martin reckons Oliver's cracked over four hundred." Tony couldn't help but be impressed, although part of him was annoyed. It was just typical of 'Olive Oyl' to copy him. Even as a kid Oliver had made a point of the claiming glory for his achievements. For his older brother to go into the same line of work as him just reinforced Tony's opinion that Oliver was a cheating copycat with no mind of his own." Naturally he did not vocalise his thoughts but decided that as soon as he got home he was going to have Director Burleigh re-assign him to different unit. Preferably one at least five hundred miles away from his brother. His reverie was interrupted by the truck jolting to a stop.