Revenge of the Brotherhood (Book 3 in the Tom & Laura Series)

BOOK: Revenge of the Brotherhood (Book 3 in the Tom & Laura Series)
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Revenge of the Brotherhood

 

(Book 3 in the Tom & Laura Series)

 

By

 

John Booth

 

It is July 1861. Nearly a year has passed since Lord McBride was killed in an atomic blast in the Highlands of Scotland.

 

The treason he committed has been covered up for the good of the British Empire and those who saved the Empire have been punished for their actions. Tom and Laura have been split up and sent in different directions, Tom into the Army overseas while Laura is held under house arrest.

 

The rest of the team has scattered. Cam is in Austria being the spy she always wanted to be while Dougal McBride’s has betrayed his friends and vanished. Daisy is with Laura trying to protect her from the Army. Arnold has become a servant for the newly retired Trelawney.

 

There is danger in the offing. The Brotherhood is planning a major operation, and this time Sir Ernest Trelawney appears to be out of the game.

 

With Red Indian raids, rebellions, magic warfare, electric tanks and flying machines, Tom & Laura are going to have their work cut out just to stay alive.

Revenge of the Brotherhood

 

(Book 3 in the Tom & Laura Series)

 

Copyright ©2012 John Booth.

 

Second electronic edition published by John Booth Enterprises Limited

 

Cover Design by Maria K

 

Edited by Diane Nelson (
PubRight Manuscript Services
)

 

John Booth asserts the moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner
 
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Available on Kindle by the Same Author

 

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The Magic Series (Anthology)

 

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Visit the author’s web page
Scrawls in the Dust

 

Index

1.
           
Tuesday 23rd July 1861

2.
           
Plans

3.
           
Hubris

4.
           
Progressions

5.
           
Flight

6.
           
Incidents

7.
           
Disaster

8.
           
Diversions

9.
           
Talents

10.
         
Death

11.
         
Plots

12.
         
Escape

13.
         
Flight

14.
         
Wakening

15.
         
Chase

16.
         
Journeys

17.
         
Storms

18.
         
Lost

19.
         
Resolutions

20.
         
Perils

21.
         
Murders

22.
         
Deceit

23.
         
Hobsgate

24.
         
The Wedding

25.
         
Confusion

26.
         
Revelations

27.
         
Resolutions

1.
  
Tuesday 23rd July 1861

 

Ever since the Empire reestablished control of the Northern Territories of the North American continent in the 1812-1816 war we have been in a state of near war with the United States of America. It is likely this state of affairs will continue for some time, at least until they can find a way to neutralize the threat of our Spellbinders.

 

However, they are a growing people with ambitions to colonize a whole continent and border disputes between the USA and the British Empire have been a source of friction in recent times. While Her Majesty’s government can rightly claim that territories such as Kansas were never part of the treaty signed in 1818, it is hardly reasonable to annex so much land at a time when relationships were otherwise improving.

 

Let us hope that the Empire will not use its overwhelming superiority in technology and magic to expand our spheres of interest into land that we have no conceivable use for and could not provide soldiers in sufficient numbers to hold should this cold war ever increase in intensity to become a fighting one.

 

-Editorial in the Empire Times, May 6
th
1861

 

Lieutenant Thomas Merlin Carter – Healer Grade 3, Royal Army—stared from his railway carriage at the flat American landscape beyond.
 
Since he left New York nearly two weeks previously he had seen many kinds of scenery, but this was by far the most boring. It could have been Norfolk in England except that Norfolk was rarely so hot.

He had a map, but he was off the well annotated areas into a land labeled ‘Disputed’. The railway track he travelled on was not shown. The guard who guided him to the carriage said the track was three years old and used to carry heavy equipment to where it ended. Someone had added to the map a meandering river in pencil, a lot of forest and a dot signifying his destination. The label below the dot read LTAF1.

He was the only passenger on the train. The rest of it was devoted to carrying goods on flat open wagons. However, as the cargo was cloaked in rope tied canvas, he had no idea what they carried. He read his orders for the hundredth time and wondered where he was going and why.

His orders consisted of nothing more than a series of travel instructions. Travel Warrants had taken him from London to Liverpool, from Liverpool to New York, and then across the American continent to the west. The last leg took him south to a land in the middle of nowhere called Kansas. His instructions were to report to the commander of LTAF1 the moment he arrived.

The train began to slow. Tom stuck his head out of the window and gasped with shock at what he saw ahead. He sat back on the seat and wondered if he was dreaming. The train entered the station and ornate iron and glass surrounded the train. The air temperature dropped as though it had entered an ice house. Despite the sun blazing down through the glass building it was tens of degrees cooler inside.

Tom reached for the pistol at his belt and fumbled with the clasp holding the leather cover in place. His heart beat so fast he was sure he would faint.
‘This place cannot be here. It was vaporized by the largest explosion in history.’

He reached out of the window for the handle and swung the carriage door open before moving as far back as he could to avoid being seen. A shadow crossed the carriage window and then a man stood framed in the door. With the sunlight behind him it was difficult for Tom to make him out. He raised his pistol in preparation to shoot.

“Tom, I know I lied to the Royal Commission, but I would’na have thought you’d shoot me over it.”

Tom recognized the voice at once, and he eased his finger away from the trigger. However, he still felt wary.

“Lord McBride? When I saw the station I thought your father had come back from the dead. It is the twin of the one at Glen Russell.”

Dougal McBride stepped into the carriage and considered Tom’s words. “It was built to my father’s instructions, though here we use river water to cool the station down. However, it is smaller than the station at Glen Russell.”

“What is this place?” Tom asked as he uncocked and holstered his gun. He offered Dougal his hand.

Dougal grinned and took it, giving a firm squeeze.

“Welcome to Lighter Than Air Factory One. This was one of my late father’s secret projects for the Empire. They asked me to take charge of it and here I am.”

“And why am I here?”

Dougal looked furtive and stepped to the door of the carriage checking that nobody was listening. Then he brought his mouth close to Tom’s ear to whisper. “I think we both want to find a way to rescue Daisy and Laura and this is our best chance.”

 

Laura Young, the Empire’s youngest Class A Spellbinder, searched through the new underwear she had just been given. The army checked everything they gave her, but they still made the occasional mistake.

“Aha.”

Having spotted what she was looking for, she took a tiny seam cutter from her pocket and carefully removed the linen label from a pair of bloomers. Someone had missed it and she could have some fun. She pricked her thumb with the end of the cutter and a small globule of blood formed. Holding her thumb in the air she stepped to the window.

Her window was at the top of the three story barracks and she had an excellent view of the parade ground. Captain Trentwood, her jailer and the commander of the barracks, stood rigidly as he tortured his men with yet another unnecessary inspection.

Laura grinned. The seam cutter tip served one further use as the nib of a pen. The ideal gift for a Spellbinder deprived of the tools of her trade. She dipped the tip of the cutter in the blood and painstakingly wrote on the label. There was not much room, so she had to write the bind very small.

“You act like a man with a pencil permanently stuffed up your arse. Let us see what you look like when you have a real one rammed up there,” she whispered with deep satisfaction.

“Laura, what are you up to?”

Laura jumped and guiltily hid label and cutter in her hands before turning around to greet her friend.

“Gosh, I was miles away, Daisy. I thought you were going to the kitchens to complain about the food?”

Daisy Drew looked suspiciously at Laura’s clenched hands, which were slowly dropping to her pockets.

“I hope you have not been…”

A pained scream sounded from the parade ground and Daisy stepped to the window. Laura turned to look with her and the two girls hung out of the window to identify the source of the sound. Not that Laura had any problem in knowing where to look.

A hundred men stood to rigid attention while Captain Trentwood rolled in curled up agony on the ground. He uttered another pained scream, but not a man at attention moved to assist him.

“What did you do?” Daisy asked in shock. Despite her stern tone Laura could tell that Daisy was trying hard to stifle a laugh.

“It was your fault,” Laura replied in an aggrieved tone. “You gave me the idea.”

“What? To kill the man? Though I agree the world would be a better place without him.”

“You said he walked and talked as though he had a pencil up his…” Laura avoided using the rude word by replacing it with a polite cough.

Daisy spun to face her friend, outrage fighting with amusement on her face. “You didn’t do what I think you did. If he can prove it was you he will have us both whipped.”

Laura took another look out of the window. “He will have to get Sergeant Jones to do it for him. I don’t think he is going to be in a fit state. Have you noticed how no one is rushing to help him?”

“Give me the bind.” Daisy held her hand out.

“It will not last much longer. Blood doesn’t have the strength of ink.”

“Now, Laura.”

“You have been no fun since your promotion.” Laura felt in her pocket and took out the label. It was already hot and she handled it by the edges.

She dropped it well away from Daisy’s hand and it burst into flames on the way to the floor. Daisy stamped on it and then used her handkerchief to remove all signs of burning. She took the remains to the window and let the wind blow them and the handkerchief away.

“He will be up here in less than a minute. Is there anything you need to hide?”

Laura nodded.

“Just turn around.”

Daisy turned and Laura hid the cutter outside the window in a hole she’d made in the mortar.

“And for your information, being appointed your official babysitter is not my idea of a promotion,” Daisy told her sternly.

Laura was about to reply when the door flew open, smashing against the wall. Captain Trentwood stood staring at Laura, his face red with rage. Laura moved back as he strode towards her.

Daisy stepped in front of him.

“Does the Captain have a reason for approaching the Empire’s most important magical asset?” Her words were calculated to stop him, but they had little effect. He pushed her to one side, knocking her to the ground.

Laura’s eyes grew cold and she stepped forward. She was a good six inches shorter than the man so she had to look up to meet his gaze.

“You made me look a fool in front of my men,” he said, clenching his fists and yet somehow not striking her. It was clear from his eyes that he wanted to.

“Nature did that long before I had a chance.”

“I will have you stripped naked and whipped in front of the men.”

Daisy was back on her feet. “And I will report you to Sir Anthony Baxter within the hour, should you dare to try.”

“Do you know what she did? She…” Words failed the Captain.

Daisy’s voice grew harder.

“And your proof? She has no tools. Can you show me the remnants of the bind? If she wrote on her clothes, where are the burn marks? If she wrote on the walls there would be traces. Where is your evidence, Captain?”

Captain Trentwood looked wildly around the room. There was no smell of burning to detect as the air had cleared. There were no marks he could see.

“This is not over,” the Captain said before striding from the room.

“Whoever accepted the money for his commission should be shot,” Laura said angrily, a look of contempt on her face.

“Laura, you cannot keep doing these things. The War Department already considers you a liability because you refuse to use your powers for them. They will not put up with such antics for much longer.”

Laura turned back to the window, so her friend would not see her tears.

“And if I do what they want, will they bring Tom back to me?”

Daisy said nothing, as they both knew the army would certainly not.

 

Arnold Tomkins sneaked a look around the pillar. He felt a fool hiding in a church, but his orders were clear. Follow Miss Mann and find out what she was up to. Since she had refused to let him come with her, he was forced into creeping around after her.

“You can just come out from behind that pillar right now, Arnold. I can sense your embarrassment from all the way over here, you are radiating so strongly.”

Shamefaced at being caught, Arnold stepped away from the pillar as though he had been inspecting it. Miss Mann had a bemused looking vicar with her. Arnold felt it was time to display a touch of sophistication.

“Sir Ernest asked me to come and find you. He would like to see you soonest.”

Belinda Mann hid a smile. Arnold’s heart was in the right place, but he was a terrible secret agent by anybody’s standards.

“Well then, I shall go to Sir Ernest at once and ask him why he wants to see me.”

Arnold blushed and Belinda decided to take pity on him.

“Don’t worry, I will not tell. We are both fully aware that you have to do what MM3 orders you to. Now you are here, you can help me choose flowers for the wedding.”

Arnold groaned. He had been appointed Sir Ernest Trelawney’s aide by the Department of Military Magic after Sir Ernest was forced to resign. He was supposed to be a gift, paid for by a grateful country, in recompense for the years of service Sir Ernest had given. But everybody knew it was simply a way of keeping Sir Ernest under close surveillance. Spies never fully retire and they know too much.

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