#23in13 – Chapter 6 – What Has Gone Before, Part 3

As an aside before we continue…  This is a post for 23 in 2013, a project detailed here.  It’s my NaNoWriMo project from 2012, a year I failed to complete the 50,000 words.  It’s also the first draft – there will be typos, inconsistencies, mis-named characters and all of the other things that plague a first draft.  The comments are there both for you lovely readers to post words of encouragement, point out “but he said… in the last chapter, that contradicts…” and keep me straight, and for me to bash ideas around.  File this one under Urban Fantasy | Edinburgh | Parallel Worlds, as they might one day say on Angry Robot.

If you missed anything earlier, they’re here – come back when you’ve read it…


At first glance they could be standard-issue teenagers, white hoodies, baggy jeans, trainers. There’s ten of them, each pair carrying a large wooden crate between them. At second glance they move wrong, their legs appear to have a few too many joints. They took a convoluted route through the closes and alleyways, working towards where the Museum of Scotland stands on Chambers street. For the most part they stay in Prime, occasionally dipping in to other Aspects to avoid larger groups of people. Their pace never varied, uphill or down.

At the end of the street they cross into the Frozen North, now moving directly towards the bleak fortress standing where the museum buildings would be. They move without fear of interception, the few guards around watching them pass with bored disinterest. Not the first time these ten have been through here.

Once inside the fortress they walked steadily to the main hall, depositing the crates on one of the huge trestle tables that ran the length of the room. Like Darkwater’s palace, the building is positively medieval inside, a huge open fire burning at the far end of the hall.

“Right on time,” rumbled Murdoch from his vantage point next to the fire.

One of the ten produces a crowbar and begins to open the first crate as Murdoch strolls towards them. Inside, packed in a cocoon of foam balls, a slender, cruel rifle. Large enough for Murdoch to wield comfortably, far too large for a normal man. Murdoch lifted it almost reverentially from the packing, hefting it in his large hands.

“zzz – Payment – on – delivery – zzz” whirred one of the ten in a flat, artificial voice. Murdoch trained the rifle on it, took aim, pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.

“zzz – Power – cells – on – payment – zzz” If a robot could indicate smugness in it’s tone of voice, this one would have.

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