Space 1889 When Worlds Collide

Act 1, Scene 3: Doing the Lambeth Walk

In which our heroes lose their way but gain a new ally

Our heroes stagger from the cacophony and bloodshed of Battersea Park Pump House, carrying both the living and the fallen into the rain soaked park. With the Park’s attending Bobbies already approaching, alerted by a quick-thinking walker, McGee sprints back inside to dispose of the remains of the creatures, hurling them into the furnaces and quickly bringing them up to power again. Both Rutherford and Hall head the police off before they can enter the Pump House, and spinning a tale of dangerous machinery and sabotage, they placate the officers’ suspicions and are soon considered heroes for their actions. The incapacitated workers are revived and corroborate the story of masked intruders attacking them at first light.

While dealing with the authorities, our heroes see a young woman expertly cross the police line, the officers manning it oblivious to her passing. Approaching the party, she introduces herself simply as ‘Felice’ stating that the Admiral has heard of the incident at Battersea and requests they return immediately to report on the progress of their investigation. Despite intense suspicion from Rutherford regarding Felice and her claims to be on Explorers’ Society business, the heroes make their return.

The Admiral is beside himself with worry over the dark course the investigation appears to be taking – even more so over the deaths of Wolseley and Doctor Jones. Having heard a summary of what the heroes have discovered so far, he reaffirms the urgency in locating the missing Walters. While the party continue their investigation, he will see to the funeral arrangements for their fallen comrades arranging the ceremonies to take place in two days’ time at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. Considering the recent attempts on their lives, Rutherford proposes taking additional security precautions, a suggestion agreed upon by the Admiral, who excuses himself to write some telegrams and call in some favours.

Exhausted by the morning’s terrible events, the group refresh themselves at the Explorers’ Society. Rutherford briefly retires to write some private letters relating to the demise of Lieutenant Wolseley before departing to speak with Miss Clarke, the unfortunate young lady whose personal letters are now in the hands of the nefarious Mickey Drabble. Accompanied by Chief McGee, the detective travels to Bayswater and secures a description of Drabble from the terrified young lady. Perhaps this description will prove useful in tracking down the gutless blackmailer?

At this point, the investigators consider their next steps, postulating that perhaps attempting to ambush Drabble when he next contacts Miss Clarke would be their best course of action. Overlooking possible clues discovered previously at the pump house, the team instead choose to investigate the Beggar’s Luck public house on the Old Kent Road; allegedly the headquarters of Drabble’s villainous empire.

With Rutherford once again adopting the guise of Tom Fink, our heroes approach the pub intent upon finding Drabble. However, in a moment of surprising caution, the party choose to take up position around the pub to monitor comings and goings.

McGee casually saunters towards the entrance of the pub, but hearing sombre music from within enquires of a local as to the source of the music only to discover the pub is holding a wake for those men killed during the attack in Lambeth. Quickly realising that he would be likely to be recognised, particularly by the unfortunate cab driver, McGee retreats and Rutherford leaps into action.

Working the room while keeping a low profile, the nervous Rutherford learns that Drabble has not been seen at the pub since the day before and despite Felice monitoring the establishment for several hours later there is no sign of the villain. In the words of Usher Hall, ‘its best not to start trouble at a wake’ and the group choose to retreat rather than cause further confrontation.

Once regrouped at the Society, our protagonists spend many hours debating their next course of action. Finally, in the wee hours of the night Ellerson recalls the white dust observed outside the pump house and the team quickly depart for Rutherford’s laboratory where it is identified as clay dust – most likely from the Royal Doulton potteries down on the river at Lambeth.

While Rutherford examines the dust, Ellerson begins to experiment with the hand devices wielded by the sinister intruders and though he fails to crack the secret to their use, does postulate the theory that they are mentally activated and resolves to explore their use further. Felice, a keen martial artist, joins Ellerson in examining the devices and takes one with which to experiment later.

Arriving at the river in Lambeth, the group spare no time searching the approaches to the factory and discover further signs of recent activity near the bank of the river and following the stairs down to the mud below approach the pottery’s docks, usually employed to unload clay from river barges, but now being used for more sinister purposes.

Rutherford, Felice and Hall stealthily approach the only door into the docks, but when Rutherford tries the door he alerts one of Drabble’s men inside. The man opens the door, expecting another of the local street urchins but is shocked to be confronted by Felice, who in one swift strike renders him senseless.

Rutherford attempts to sneak into the docks, but clattering over an unseen pile of boxes, his movement alerts another guard. However, the guard has little time to confront the detective as Chief McGee charges towards him with a bellow, but misjudges the distance to his target and completely misses the guard. With a loud splash, McGee disappears into the filthy water beside the barge.

Clearly confused by this sudden and unusual attack, the guard moves to peer into the water, but is stunned by the ever-silent Felice with a strike to the back of his head. As the man is knocked towards the edge of the barge, Chief McGee springs from the water and wrapping his arms around the man’s chest attempts to drag him into the water. Felice once again assaults the man, and McGee quickly drags the now unconscious villain into the inky water.

Now alerted, the remaining guards draw weapons and ready their attack while McGee pulls himself from the water. Usher Hall breaks into a sprint with the intention of charging the nearby door down but misjudges the strength of the obstacle and is repulsed leaving the door to shake violently in its frame. Rolling his eyes, Rutherford steps past the stunned Hall and opens the door, only to be confronted by two further guards – alerted to the danger but Hall’s failed charge.

Meanwhile, Ellerson demonstrates his new-found speed and sprints effortlessly across the docks. Whipping out a pistol he confronts the nearest guard. Despite the pistol pointing at him, the guard closes the distance between the two and a melee ensues.

With Felice at his side, Rutherford begins a desperate fight with the two guards and despite receiving an accidental strike from his new colleague in the midst of battle, the two are eventually able to overcome their foes. Out in the main docks, Hall, in a moment of heroism, leaps across to Ellerson’s aid and raining punches down upon his opponent is eventually able to subdue the man, holding him for later questioning. While the Chief and another guard trade seemingly ineffectual blows with one another, Ellerson intercepts the last guard; a man armed with a deadly looking rifle and once again attempts to intimidate the man with his pistol. Though momentarily unsure, the man finally raises his weapon and fires a shot wide of the archaeologist who returns fire. The bullet passes clean through the band of the man’s top hat and after a moment of stunned surprise the man collapses to the ground as a stream of blood begins to pour from beneath his hat. Horrified at his own actions, Ellerson falls insensible for a moment before composing himself once more.

Finally, having sparred with his opponent for too long, McGee finally feints and breaching the man’s guard knocks him unconscious with a single punch and sends him hurtling into the water.

With their immediate foes subdued, our heroes discover the gagged and bound form of Figgis, the Night Watchman of the docks. Releasing the unfortunate Figgis, they discover that Drabble and his croneys have been using the sewers beyond the docks as a base of operations for the last few days, bringing with them a bound figure who they dragged into the sewers only yesterday. Thankful for rescue, Figgis offers to call the authorities while the team head further into the darkness on the trail of Drabble and Walters.

Comments

The night watchman said there were a dozen or so men in there? Seems like we can just send in the Chief to deal with that lot whilst the rest of us can crack on with other stuff. Hall, might I interest you in my world-renowned series of lectures in Advanced Door-Handle Operation?

 

Depends if there’s any water nearby for him to dive into.

 

My unorthodox tactic worked surprisingly well.

Degriz

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