Hordes of Doggerland Part 7

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By mappalazarou
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Time was counting down in the midst of the Vertigo Core.
CJ danced a terminal sombre with Kazumi as she rounded the Iron Angel. The generators hummed around them, making the whole silo tremble. Visions of those abandoned walkways on the giant derelict out in deep space on her last Cantina night shift came to mind. Boris, as she had called it then, bore a design almost identical to this one. Only that Boris had been crafted from the finest and strongest metals. This ‘copy’, if you could call it that, was built from scrap. It barely hung together over its rusty exoskeleton. Compared to the original it was just an echo, and echoes always tended to run dry after a small while. CJ slashed against its swords fluently. These amateur blades had nothing on Kazumi. They were just wooden toys whereas Kazumi was more than just a sword. She was a part of CJ herself, being the finest tuned instrument in her armoury and, for a long time, on the Cantina.
Boris Mk II pushed back and outdrew both in one violent sweep, but CJ readily rebounded off both of them and then kicked him hard in the chest. He collapsed backwards. His armour sparked and his synthetic limbs twitched as his gaunt casing buckled into a broken mass. She stood over him and, from left hand to right, beat his weapons away.
“Disappointing,” she said miserably and watched him struggle under the weight of just one foot, “I’ve fought your kind before. Only last time it put up more of a brawl.” As the synthetic moved to grab her CJ held its arms in place with her knees and then sliced through the thick wiring of its neck. The head gradually subsided and the body fell still. The power had been severed almost completely. But somehow the gadgets and gizmos on the facial setup still rattled with desperate activity. She picked it up and held it out like a trophy. It was like looking into the eyes of an old bowling ball, an old bowling ball which, she thought, had been so inconveniently programmed to kill her.
“Let’s see what you’re made of,” she said and then twisted away the facemask. Underneath laid a set of corroded circuit boards and disks. It was a basic put-together but she recognised which of them would surrender most easily to a sharp tug. A holodisk fell free of the tangle. The second closest snapped and then she bowled the head away powerlessly into the shadows. CJ returned to the console between the generators and inserted the holodisk. It was old technology, sixties in origin of course like everything else down here, but seemed to run the device just fine. The Countess had obviously fused many of the city’s systems with her higher knowledge. The monitor came to life with colours and images.
The silo above continued to shudder as the generators crushed the remainder of the city’s raw power together, but everything had fallen calm again. It was just as she liked it. Here she was, right in the heart of Valculga’s cave, and the sea was calm. Funny old world, she thought.  
CJ started pushing buttons.
The colours on the screen blurred together and sharpened, at first forming code, and then it reformed into densely pixelated faces. Pixelated ‘human’ faces to be exact. Pixelated ‘human’ faces wearing surgical masks. She recognised some of them, vaguely. They were just as Susie had described.
These were Bathory’s clowns. The scene was clear. It was a recording from the Iron Angels’ personal memory bank. This was the particular creation of this Iron Angel. CJ watched.
“The design is perfect,” commented one of the surgeons as they adjusted the synthetic’s facemask into place, “too bad our current tech can’t keep up with Bathory’s ideas.”
“This wasn’t Bathory’s idea,” interjected another surgeon, a woman, who appeared by his side, “these designs came from the Countess herself.”
“And they’re not called Iron Angels,” said the woman again, “that’s just what Bathory calls them.”
“Oh,” said the first, “so what are they?”
“Foot soldiers,” she said, “from an army which won’t be put together for another fifty-odd-years iif things go as planned.”
The first surgeon laughed and rolled his eyes.
“Is this another one of your conspiracy theories?”
The woman surgeon just stared at him, before disappearing off-screen.
“We live in an underwater city. I’m way beyond conspiracy theories, brother.”
The first surgeon merely shrugged and continued his work. There were sparks, and the footage ended. The scene transformed. CJ could see a large dark hall. Beams of light burned down into the darkness from overhead. There were pods lined up along each side, each big enough to fit a whole person inside. Some of them, CJ observed, were already occupied.
The same surgeons gathered around Boris Mk 2 again with interest.
“It’s ready for service,” said the first, “time to power up the body.”
The female surgeon was doing something to the Iron Angel’s metal skull, rewiring presumably. CJ watched.
“I’ve reprogrammed it to seek out specific undesirables,” she said after she stepped back, “the League of Iron have agreed on a serious culling of the populace. Shades Alley is getting full and the city cannot provide for the hundreds that are being pumped out of Celestial Heights every month. Koch is fanatical. He needs to slow his research down. Doggerland is almost full.”
“What’s it all for?”
“You mean Koch’s research?”
“Well,” she said. “This one League meeting I attended suggested that all of Koch’s experiments have been leading up to something big, one patient in particular, who has the power and strength of all of them combined.”
The first stroked his furry chin.
“So we’re all just ... rejected specimens? I feel I should be insulted.”
“You know what we are,” she added. “You’ve worked in the labs upstairs. You know where we all come from. It’s almost tragic that the League lets the rest of the population believe that they came from the surface. Unfair almost, but they needed something to live for as Koch once said. He also said that without motivation, the copies would just shut down. It’s why they all follow the League’s order without question. It’s the promise of, one day, being allowed to venture up to the surface.”
The first surgeon nodded with a reluctant understanding.
“Still,” he continued and then powered up the android’s exoskeleton. Various digits appeared onscreen, “it was a good idea. At least the people on the surface won’t come investigating. Whoever’s idea it was to return the abducted folks back to where they came from, well, that was damn genius.”
Copies? CJ thought. Something stung inside.
Copies ...?
“We kept a data print of all of them,” said the female surgeon, “We didn’t need the originals anymore. There was one who gave Koch’s team a bit of trouble though. We had to keep her original in cryo-stasis. Her copy is currently running amok in the city, hiding out in the Blue Lagoon with the others I believe.”
“Oh,” said the first again as the screen shuddered and then rose. “He’s awake. Hello IA009. Are you with us?”
The Iron Angel nodded vacantly.
“Good,” he said. “We have a little mission for you.”
That was when the screen went dead. Various ideas crossed CJ’s mind. Not a one of them was good.
CJ turned to see two mutants knuckle into the chamber behind her. They stopped as they spotted her moving away from the generators. She clutched Kazumi in both hands.
“Just bring it!” She roared. They would’ve have heard her too if not for the generators violently exploding. The room rattled and the blast reached out across the tunnels. Torrents of fire spiralled out and consumed them.
Fires blasted out all over Doggerland as the Vertigo Core started to give way. The lights died. The power died. The ocean forced its way through the most vulnerable crevices and made a new home by spreading out the flaming wreckages, spilling them out over the fresh fires and unleashing a gush of smouldering rubble throughout the shattering hallways. The generator room was the first to be overcome. It happened within just a few seconds, water everywhere, rubble everywhere, and more incoming.
And CJ was nowhere in sight.


Crumbling, all of it, crumbling into the abyss.
The foundations of the great city were lost in a shroud of dust. It rolled over the towers and rose up like damp heat, blanketing the dark veil of ocean above and filling the space like the darkest storm clouds. Above them, high above them, the tides on the surface of the North Sea were thrashing like never before. It was like the seas were filling in Dogger Bank all over again, separating the British Isles forever from the mainland. The maelstrom was an open mouth into Hell, and now its off-switch had been destroyed. Its watery jaws unleashed a fearsome splash-back and, for a few short seconds, it was actually raining upwards. The black sky reacted furiously. Lashes of lightning stabbed the waves as the rush of water suddenly forced itself the other way. It twisted. It turned. It was ripping through the whole ocean now, tearing a terrible sinkhole in the world.  And it was getting bigger.  
And down below, when the upper levels of Doggerland finally stabilised.
“What are you, exactly?” asked the Countess. The quake had stopped, for the moment. The rumble of the city had sunken into a high-pitched squeal as the metal scaffolding within Doggerland’s walls trembled to an abrupt halt. Several sections had been lost within minutes. The Countess had observed the destruction safely from the office window. The Bathory Courts were just high enough to have survived the explosions unscathed. She showed only a mild interest.
The white light meanwhile had faded.
Behind her Laski was returned to normal. He lay on Bathory’s desk.
The only new sensation he could feel was the gaping hole in his front cover. It was glistening with ancient power. The Countess returned to him and then tickled at the energy playfully with her fingers. She took some mental notes as the hole almost closed around her fingertips.
“I asked you a question.”
“I’m a Prisian,” Laski answered and then remembered the various revelations of his previous adventures, “well, actually, I think that’s up for debate.”
“A what?”
“Prisian. It’s a subspecies of Time Lord,” he proudly declared, “until we all got exiled to Kryson III for refusing to fight in the Time War and then proceeded to mutilate our humanoid bodies into synthetic Krybots. Long story short, I got exiled by my people and was saved by a group of renegade time-travellers. You may have heard of the Cantina crew. I’ve been travelling with them ever since. That makes me the last Prisian. Although, having said that, recently my past has come into question. It doesn’t help that every time I go into hibernation I end up forgetting most of the events of the previous cycle, if you will. Anyway, in case you were wondering, not all Prisians look like me. The other Prisians must have imprisoned me within this form. This book, as you perceive it, is actually my prison. I’m almost certain that I’m pretty handsome underneath these pages.”
Laski exhaled.
The Countess looked into the empty space above him, as if calculating, and then shrugged. “OK then.”
Sometimes it was just better to be honest.
“I’m called Laski,” said Laski.
“I’m called the Countess,” said the Countess.
“Did you kill Susie’s daughter?” asked the Prisian as bluntly as anything.
She stared into the cover as the hole glowed and then squeezed itself shut. The book was back to how it originally was, without a blemish or bloodstain on it. It was certainly mystical, sentient or otherwise. Laski fluttered impatiently.
The Countess merely cocked her head, a silent answer.
“No?” said Laski. “Curious. The others were convinced that you would.”
“The others are all dead,” she told him. “The League of Iron I mean. But this is bigger than them. They were small fish.”  
“Small fish,” Laski echoed. He watched as she opened her mouth to say something, but then just turned away and returned to a seat across from him. This was Bathory’s office. It seemed that the Countess had adopted it as her own, although perhaps it always had been hers. Bathory had once been a servant to the Countess after all. She had hidden in the shadows for a long time, and now here she was.
“I am curious though,” Laski filled the silence, “what were you waiting for?”
The Countess crossed her legs as she was dwarfed by Bathory’s huge chair. Bathory’s blood was already dry. “Were you hiding?”
“Hiding?” she said.
“You went undercover, got Susie to buy your trust and then even helped bring down the League of Iron, and then you betrayed Susie and took the baby for yourself. What for though I wonder? What’s all this about? Was it all part of some big plan?” Laski used the following calm to think about it some more, but nothing seemed to join up. “Because I’m having such a hard time trying to piece this one together. The Countess chases someone back through time, gets stuck in the twenty-first century, comes to Doggerland, forces together a brutal society and then ... disappears? And all for what?”
The Countess was looking at her boots now. They were made of dirty, splotchy leather. She had obviously had them a long time. Laski finally took the moment to absorb her whole appearance, which was a surprising one at that. Laski had expected a tall, posh-looking woman clad in one of Doggerland’s best dresses. Royalty or something similar, but the Countess was actually far, far from it.
She was covered in old gristly straps, rough cut around her bare skin, enclosing her body in a submissive unbreakable corset. The cold didn’t seem to bother her much although her skin faintly bristled. Her hair was short, a dirtying sort of blonde, and she had deep filth marks under each eye. Laski couldn’t tell whether or not they were actually bruises. She was a full human, no doubt about that and not at all alike to her monstrous hordes of Doggerland, but there was a certain fire in her eyes.
She had seen battle, and tragedy. Laski feared both on the same day. He had seen this once before.
“Elle’s real,” the Countess finally remarked. “She wasn’t just some random disguise I cooked up.”
“I know,” said Laski. “Elle, well, the real Elle appeared to Susie before. Did you know about that?”
The Countess nodded and then lifted up the short sword she had used to strike Susie down. The blade glinted in the candlelight, which made the triangle pattern on it shine.
“This is the Spirit Edge. I was given it by somebody upon my forced conscription into the military. It’s got me through a lot of battles. They say that the blade synchronises itself with the soul of its master, which makes it deadlier out on the battlefield. When I wield this sword it’s like I’m swinging an extra limb.”
Thoughts of CJ and Kazumi came to Laski’s mind, but he said nothing. The Countess continued.
“I like to speak to my targets when I’ve struck them down, and get into their minds. It makes it more personal for me. My targets are individuals after all. They’re not animals. They’re people, with lives. Often enough, after we battle, they speak of my past as if they have lived it themselves. The last thing they see is my past. The sword shows it to them during their final breaths, so that they know their murderer and know why they have died. It’s a curious design, granted. It’s certainly a supernatural one. It’s rare too. There aren’t many swords out there like it, crafted from a dead form of obsidian crystal.” She broke for a second and glance at Laski with interest.
“It’s curious that you should survive the Spirit Edge, Laski. That shell of yours must be made of something quite powerful. Something very alien no doubt,” she remarked. “So tell me, Prisian. What did you experience when it struck you?”
Laski grumbled an answer. He had always hated bad guys (or girls) with a secret weapon. The Iron Angel on the Chronos had its armour, the Krybots had their relentless hunger, the Jester and his clan had their heartless resolve. And the Countess ... Well, she had history. Only history wasn’t history to Laski. Her history was the future. The Countess was from the future.
“Well for one,” he confessed, “it bloody hurt. But you’re right. I did see something, a whole something actually, very detailed. It was some kind of mining colony out on the fringes, full of working class folk. There were a lot of people and a great big town built into the rock. It was definitely underground, and it wasn’t Earth. I think I saw Elle’s childhood, or a part of it.”
The Countess suddenly broke into a white hot gaze.
Laski could tell from her eyes that, out of all of her victims, none of them had experienced this particular dream before. In a weird way she actually looked kind of ... repentant. It was hard for Laski to believe that this woman, who had built this terrible world under the sea and then helped to butcher her own cruel regime, was actually completely human.
“But you’re not Elle,” he said.
“Describe it to me please, Laski.”
Laski found himself unable to resist.
“Some kind of rocky suburb, a town in a large cavern with lots of people like I said. There was this miner called Decimus. Elle’s father, presumably. And then Elle herself. And Shaft T15, I think. It had been long abandoned. Elle was there with a friend. No, more than a friend. Someone special. The kind of someone you never really forget. The kind of someone who still comes to mind years later.”
The Countess nodded on his every word, as if was all coming back to her.
“The memories were strong,” Laski added. “But I don’t understand. If that sword belongs to you then why was I reliving Elle’s memories? Is that sword hers? Did you steal it?”
“I’m not a thief,” said the Countess, “well not anymore...”
After a moment Laski farted another revelation.
“Ooooh,” he said with genuine astonishment. He half-expected her to smile, but she didn’t. The Countess seemed too caught up in her memories. She was staring off into space, filling the emptiness with the characters of her past, with Decimus, with Elle.
The Spirit Edge shined.
And then the Countess stood up, Spirit Edge in tow, and came back over to the book-Prisian life form which had fallen into her possession. Her eyes were aglow. Bathory, Valculga, Koch, One-Shoe, King, Susie, CJ and the rest ... They didn’t seem important anymore. None of them. Everything Laski had just said topped the list. She needed more.
“No,” Laski soon realised what she was about to do, because he knew that deep down, everyone wanted to relive a piece of their past. “No, no! Wait! Just wait! Last time it well hurt!””
She regarded Laski lightly and then impaled him again.
The Spirit Edge sparked with an electrifying burst. He yelped as the wound violently reopened, and was cast down into a deepening cascade of the Countess’s memories. It reminded him of the Time Vortex. It was multicoloured, a different shade for each era of her life hued together into one great big shadowy mixture. The initial agony of the blade soon melted away and he felt his fingers and toes retake their shape. His limbs stretched right out.
It was as if he had just been woken from a sickening nightmare and was stretching every muscle. He even did that deafening yawn, the first of a new day. It felt liberating. It felt like he was being freed of all of his Prisian chains. His joints and knuckles cracked together and then snapped apart, and then the blinding light at the end of the swirling multihued burrow devoured everything in sight.
The universe found its footing again. Meanwhile Laski had already tapped down onto the floor of the next memory, where he waited. Shapes came forth. Characters solidified.
And he was back there. The mining colony.
“Terra,” he heard the Countess’s whisper. “It’s called Terra.”


The lights in the small laboratory had gone off, but the secondary generator in Bathory’s storage room had been waiting years to take over. Those down in the Vertigo Core, or what now used to be the Vertigo Core, were old and exhausting their power anyway.
Koch passed by a series of workbenches and ignored Bathory’s layout of chemicals and testing apparatus as he settled into her lab. She had been trying to recreate his experiments in her final hours, probably sensing the fall of Celestial Heights to Valculga. She should’ve spent more time rebuilding her own defences, he thought to himself. The Bathory Courts had been easy to overcome, especially with Susie’s help. She had been vital. He was pleased that she had survived her encounter with the Countess.
Meanwhile he wagered that Celestial Heights had become a mess of debris and ruin thanks to Valculga’s short-lived rule. It was in no state for use. It needed to be thoroughly remade.
Koch returned his attention to a hive of fleshy growths on the far side of the lab. They floated in different sized casings, filled with water and fed by tubes. Some of them had faces. Some of them just had air holes. Koch shook his head. These must have been Bathory’s first in her attempts to replicate the subjects of his own research. How much she had failed, he noted as he made his way over to the power supply. The creatures were just mounds of flesh anyway. They were essentially brain-dead, so it was painless for him to just pull the plug. Bubbles escaped from whatever hybrid organs made up their lungs as the casings emptied their contents and the tubes retracted. The mounds each dropped into a lifeless heap.
Koch scratched his chin and then turned to face his newest subject.
Susie lay on the only bed available, restrained and completely comatose. The Spirit Edge hadn’t struck her. It had instead become impaled into the book which was conveniently hidden in her breast pocket. Whatever it had been made from was exceptionally strong. Koch had so wished to get his hands on the item, but the Countess had confiscated it for personal use. The impact on Susie was enough to knock her out cold however. She lay there, dormant. Across from her, half-exposed through a body sack, was Nurse Bathory.
Pity, Koch mused. You actually came quite close before we got you.
Bathory’s pincer-like fingers hung over the side of the table limply like a selection of rusted surgical knives. Koch finally looked away and salvaged a clean needle from somewhere. He came to Susie and took some blood, unhooking one of her hands from the bonds. Susie flinched slightly as the needle went deep.
Koch poured the sample into a tube, turned back around and then hung it up by lights.
“Now,” he thought aloud, “I just need a sample from the infant.”  
His thought process was interrupted by the sound of velcro ripping apart, but before he could even muster the patience to turn around ... Susie walloped him upside the head. He fell quickly, knocking aside all of his instruments. There was crash of glass and metal.
Susie snapped her other arm free and then charged herself upright. Koch spun onto his knees, utterly dazed by the thump. Susie gripped his neck between her thighs, locked him in and squeezed like a vice. She groaned as she pushed all of her muscle into her legs, crushing his neck.
Blood filled his eyes. The fire in the Countess’s eyes had nothing on the inferno which raged behind Susie’s. Koch choked as he tried to call out for help. He scratched her legs with his long nails as the veins in his face prepared to burst. He had resurrected once already. If he was going to again Susie wanted to make sure he thought twice about it.
She focused everything on wringing him dead.
“S-Su..” he tried. She was red in the face and his various escapes attempts only made her squeeze harder. She was twice as strong as any anaconda. Koch fingered the various objects by his knees, and then scraped up something. Susie screamed out as he pierced it into her leg. There was a roasting kind of pain here, Susie would remember later on, and then a sharp continuous twinge as something injected itself into her blood. She tried to shake it free, whatever it was. But soon enough it started to take effect.
She slammed back hard onto the bed, still wide-awake, as her whole body fell into a shamble. The old man sucked in four barrels full of air.
Everything slowed right down again. All Susie could think about now was ...
“Where is she?”
Koch wheezed, and then looked up and spluttered. She had almost done it. She had almost actually killed him. “Who?”
Susie waited.
“She’s safe,” said Koch as he clambered back onto his feet and rested on the table beside Bathory’s corpse. He grabbed a nearby inhaler to help his breathing. “S-She’s very safe, very s-safe.”
“She’s alive?”
The old man tilted his head back and drank the air. It was cool, refreshing. “She’s alive.”
Susie closed her eyes as the rest of the drug started to flood her system. “What does your master plan to do to her?”
“Not even I would wager a guess,” Koch admitted. “I’m as surprised as anyone she’s allowed the baby to survive. It makes no sense to me why she would, unless she’s already aware of the paradox. It wouldn’t surprise me. The Countess is brilliant.”  
“The paradox,” Susie mumbled and then started to drool.
“Either that or the baby is more important to her than she’ll care to admit. The Countess comes from the future remember? Rumour has it that your baby grows up to be the woman whom the Countess was chasing all over Time. Rumour has it that your baby will become a great enemy of the Countess in the future, so much of an enemy that she’ll hunt her throughout the whole of Time and Space.”
“Only she got trapped h-h-here,” Susie helplessly burbled as her head dropped to one side, “she got trapped here, on Earth, now, in this time...” She drifted off again, just as something started to beep. It was coming from a small terminal on the other side of the lab. Koch recollected his strength and then staggered over to the console.
King’s face filled the screen.
“Shades Alley is destroyed,” he declared. “Flooded no less!”
Koch scratched his beard. “Yes, I know. The Vertigo Core just went up in flames too. Thankfully the city’s power supply had already been rerouted. The integrity of Doggerland has been almost severely compromised but we just need to wait for the foundations to properly stabilise. We prepared for this, King. It was bound to happen sooner or later, what with all of the riots.”
King acknowledged this.
“At least it’s dealt with whatever was left of Valculga’s followers. In the meantime you look like Hell, Profesoor Koch.”
“I’ve got a somewhat over-excitable new patient to deal with. I just discovered how much she likes to use her legs.”
King took this a different way to as expected. He raised his eyebrows judgementally.
“Not like that.” Koch defended himself. “She tried to kill me, that’s all.”
But King was grinning madly. For someone who had been banished from the League of Iron he sure had some pretty focused composure. “Well you better prepare the red carpet because I’m on my way.”
“Yes. There.”
Straight away Koch was bemused.
“But we can’t have your men squandering about this place. The Courts are essentially Doggerland’s royal palace. This is where the Countess just made her grand return to her people. It’s no place for ... well, your type.”
“My type just took this city, Professor. Doggerland belongs to the people now. The League of Iron has fallen, my friend. Weren’t you watching? In fact all that remains of their government is you. The men, well, most of them feel like they missed out on a little well-deserved retribution. I intend to deliver it to them.”
“I already paid a heavy price for serving the League.”
King smiled again.
“Not heavy enough. You’re still alive.”
Koch stood his ground however. It wasn’t as if King was right here.
“Valculga had me assassinated. Remember that?”
“Koch, that wasn’t your punishment. That was always going to happen. That was part of the plan. Just one little execution, that’s all I’m asking for. A public one in the Blue Moon Plaza for everyone to see, an example of what happens when you defy the Countess. You can resurrect straight after. I won’t intervene. I promise. You did it before. I’m sure she’d allow that anyway.”
“I had planned for Valculga’s attack, King...”
“Then make new plans,” King told him, “this isn’t like before. Everything is different now. So be a good sport and prepare the Courts for my arrival. Tell her ladyship that I will be with her shortly.”
And with that King severed the connection.
Koch fell back into the nearest seat in a deep contemplation.
He put his fingers together and prioritised his thoughts.
“I don’t like where this headed,” he said to himself. “We shouldn’t have brought that mad man onboard. He’ll rain destruction down on us all. There’s a reason he was exiled. There’s a reason he was banished to that god-forsaken alley.”
Back across the lab, unknown to anyone, Susie was still listening...
Koch at last stood again, this time with finality in his stance. “The Countess,” he clenched his fists with determination. “She’ll know what to do. She always knows what to do.”
With that he disappeared out of the lab and somewhere into the Courts.
Susie managed to nudge her head to one side to watch him leave, and then inhaled slowly. The drug made her feel nauseous, as if she was constantly going to throw up. Usually she’d bend forward and preferably over a wash bowl or a sink. The effects of the drug however were offering her no such luxury. Strangely as the quiet gathered on the room like a winter cold Susie was certain she could hear the words of a man’s voice. It was calling. It didn’t belong to King or Koch or anyone else she had met thus far, but it sounded dangerously familiar. It was younger, full of energy, and calling across a long distance. It was calling to her, something about France, and then it was gone again.
Something close-by rattled and snapped her out of it. It sounded like a rattlesnake, something shaking, clattering softly. It stopped and was followed by a sharp folding of fabric. Susie tried not to believe her eyes as the moving object came into focus.
Bathory’s body bag sat up.
The pincer-like fingers flexed in and out like a cat’s claws.
And then the zip came down.
It hadn’t been too long nut the blood had set. She was painted in it, and her head hung to her shoulder like it had been pinned there by a crossbow dart. The gash along her throat was wide like a second mouth, with various small bones poking out like jagged teeth. The nurse moved in stiff shudders and trembles. Rigor Mortis had already begun. Her surgical mask flapped by her cheek, exposing her grotesque jaws. Her eyes were out of focus, but not quite black anymore. They were greying, congealing in their waterless sockets.
Susie was thankful then, because even if she could move she wouldn’t have. Fear drilled its way through her, through all of her.
Bathory didn’t even look her way. Thank whatever God happened to be watching.
The nurse shifted her body around, groaning under her breath upon each hard movement and then dropped off the table. She collapsed into a mound, and then lurched upright again and headed gradually for the door. She moaned and grunted like a dying farm animal. The smell, Susie felt her stomach cringe. Oh the smell…
Bathory disappeared, back into her Courts.
“Oh,” Susie spoke very quietly, “well today just keeps getting better and better. First mutants, then thieves and rapists, and would-be kings, traitorous countesses and now ... zombies!”
Was this the resurrection Koch had spoken of perhaps? Is this what had happened to him after his assassination? Susie thought otherwise. No, she thought to herself, sensing another dark presence at work. This is something else.
Laski returns in the much anticipated seventh chapter in the Doggerland saga. With the dramatic return of the Countess, things have reached their bleakest in the secret city under the sea. The League of Iron has officially disbanded due to the deaths of three of its members, and the people work to reclaim what is rightfully theirs under the new leadership of King.
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