Previously, on Primeval:
“The future. Helen Cutter’s last frontier.”
* * * * * * *
For the Eyes Alone of James Lester, Minister of MI7, [additional ranks and titles refrained from]
At last, the completion of the foiling of the attempted insurrection of Oliver Leek. Based upon available evidence my people have gathered and compiled, Leek’s aims were nothing less than regicide, replacing Our Royals with himself.
In more calming news, planning proceeds apace where my upcoming marriage is concerned. Thank you for confirming your RSVP, James.
Sincerely, Mary Nicol, Minister of MI5 & MI6, [additional ranks & titles refrained from]
Location: MI7 Eastern Stables:
“Welcome, Detective Chief Inspector Ross Tanner,” she said, “Welcome. I’d advise you not to have a seat, not just yet. Also, I’ll not be calling you Ross,” telling, not asking ‘if that’s all right with you.’
“What is this place?” Tanner asked. Here they were, in a run-down barn whose stall walls had all been removed; abandoned by the Special Forces soldiers who’d escorted him – their hands on his upper arms the whole way, ‘We do this with everyone, sir, its policy,’ they’d said; and just waiting. Waiting.
And this Mack woman smelled strongly of fish. They’d met before, going over the formalities and assurances at the region’s largest fish market; now that made sense; or more sense, at least. “Hold this,” she said, thrusting a wadded something at him.
“What is it?”
“A safety net,” Mack replied, and, with a sigh, dropped the sweat-laden hankerchief on his right hand when he didn’t make a move to take it. “As we said over the phone and at the gate, Detective, we already know about your condition – the Azoor – that’s why you’re here.”
“Yeah, about that, what’re we doing out here?”
“Calling home your saviors,” said with a note of pride in her voice.
“I don’t hear dogs,” Tanner said.
“Well you wouldn’t expect to.”
“Good to know.”
“Then how are these surgeons of yours hunting?”
“Nature, red in tooth and claw,” Meghan quoted. “Or in their case, red in brain and limb.”
“I don’t follow.”
He saw the blue-grey blur before he heard the clicking sounds. “Culaich,” Meghan said, identifying it; anybody with good vision could identify them, but she erred on the side of caution, considering the DCI’s condition. “We use them for locating victims underneath rubble, and for hunting down criminals in regions where the terrain is too uneven for people.”
“Chasing down,” Tanner corrected.
“Oh no,” she said with morbid amusement, however brief. “’Hunting’ is the right word, Detective. If you didn’t have my sweat on your hand right now, you’d be dead.”
Horror stories about culaich came to Tanner’s mind; the guy who’d taught him to be a cop, had had two personal tales of what culaich could do if a culaich-master didn’t reach them in time. “Thanks,” Tanner said.
“Everything I say, is said for a reason, Detective,” Meghan said. “Would it help if I were to tell you honestly that our success rate is sufficiently high enough that I’m confident in offering it to you?”
“You want me to walk around with one of these?” Tanner asked, dumbfounded and insulted simultaneously. “Thanks but no, I’ve already got me a guide dog.”
He could practically see – and hear – the smile on her face just from her voice: “Not a companion, Detective. As a correction.”
“Humankind has a kind of echolocation already – some blind people use it to avoid obstacles. I’m giving you the opportunity to wield an advanced form of the system. “What I’m offering you, Detective, is the opportunity to never be dependent upon daylight again. Like my friends here, you could see things visible to your colleagues and things that they cannot.”
“Not the emotions themselves, but how they manifest – a knotted stomach, a faster heartbeat, and so on. What do you say?”
“Wouldn’t it me noticeable, me having faces like them?” And if he could see the swollen and crinkled features, Tanner didn’t doubt that Elvis and the boys would have no trouble spotting it.
“A clever question, to which the answer is firmly no. Surgery would place a sonar organ into the skull, leaving no scars.”
“You’d take out my eyes?”
“Unnecessary, but if you’d rather we removed them during the process, that can be done.”
“If not in my eye sockets, where would this – ‘sonar organ’? – go?”
“Again, also your choice. There’s the reliable frontal lobe – the forehead – or the nose itself, though that would leave you breathing through your mouth for the rest of your life.”
Tanner’s phone rang.
“Go ahead, Detective, I don’t take things like that personally.”
“Appreciated,” Tanner said and answered his phone. “What? You’re sure? Yeah, Elvis, I’ll be there as soon as I can. Right,” and, as he hung up, he considered accepting her offer right here and now – it would no doubt help immensely, given what had just happened and he couldn’t really afford hand-holding right now, no matter whose hands they were.
Before he could say anything, “Take some time, Detective Chief Inspector Tanner,” Meghan said. “Solve a case or two. When you’ve reached a decision, you have my number.”
“And what if I’ve decided to go through with it?”
“The surgery will take a week, followed by recovery.”
Damn. “Maybe later, then.”
“I look forwards to it.”
Location: MI7 Western Granary:
In medieval times, the site had been a granary, and none of the heads of MI7 had ever felt a change of name was in order.
Anne Button was the MI7 agent in charge of this outpost where the Ministry bred the beasts that were so vital to security and upkeep.
She’d seen horror today – cululaich torn apart, nestling culaich bitten in two. And, with the culaich adults – all five of them on-site – released and roaming the corridors in pursuit of the invaders, Anne was willing to be a casualty of friendly fire but only so long as it took out all the invaders as well. She’d already phoned for a CRC (clean-up response crew) to head to the Granary.
She was still in shock from what she’d just seen. Never before had the culaich stopped in mid-charge without being explicitly instructed to do so. And the stink…Anne knew that it wasn’t from her, couldn’t be from the culaich. That left only the invaders. Invaders from – where? – with stone tools and adzes in their hands.
Not one of the culaich had been willing to move towards her, not even to save her from the invaders. The blue-grey predators had remained rooted to the ground even when the invaders had charged towards them, gutting them with savagery.
Anne watched, unable to do anything, as the invaders came for her next.
Dictionary entry: culaich : semi-wild predatory creature endemic to MI7 service. Eyes are tiny when noticeable at all. Enlarged cranium suggests a large measure of intelligence, however the UK Government has steadfastly refused to release the results of intelligence tests performed upon culaich.
. Cululaich: human handlers of culaich.
Rare is the major British city which does not have at least one cululaich. Equally rare are the cululaich who run more than two culaich, as it is almost impossible to obtain an exemption from the Numbers Safety Act (whose contents are a National Secret even now)
Related: kulu - slang: a stink, a foul and noxious odor.
Location: Throne Room, Buckingham Palace, England, United Kingdom:
“And in closing,” Oliver Leek said to the royal clerk, as he sat upon the King’s throne, “I intend to release Scotland so that it may become fully independent. Like my other declarations.” They couldn’t be called ‘demands,’ he knew, because that sounded, well, forceful. “This is not for negotiation.”
As the clerk affixed the titles that Leek had earlier said he wanted, the head of Leek’s personal private army – the new Royal Guard now, much-reduced in number as they were – said, “Sire, the soldier David Solomon, as you requested.”
“Let him come forward, Howard,” Leek said. Howard was one of those who had survived the initial – and failed – coup. This second coup, thanks to Howard (and of course Leek himself), had succeeded. “David Solomon,” Leek said, rising from the throne. “Welcome. Please, come forward.”
The soldier did so, stopping and bowing before he got too close.
“We’ll have none of that,” he was told, as Leek’s hands drew him back up. “You’ve done a splendid job through your career. Why, you could have progressed even further if it hadn’t been for some interference in the upper echelons, I’d say – eh?”
“I couldn’t say, your Majesty,” Solomon said.
“And modest,” Leek said complementing him. “But be honest now,” grinning, “your King desires it.”
“I’ve suspected, sire, from time to time. But I never had any evidence, so I never said anything, even to my mum.”
“Modest and can keep silent. Excellent. The perfect man for my first act of royal fiat.”
David frowned and promptly wiped the expression from his face before King Leek could see it. “Majesty?”
“Oh nothing major, I assure you. Just a little tidying up – there’s a little hidey-hole of latter-day Guy Fawkes, and I’d like you to take them into custody before they do our country any damage. And when you set out on this mission, you’ll do so a full Admiral.”
“Isn’t that a naval title? I mean -”
“Oh it was. But I’m giving it to you anyway.”
“Thank you, sire.” What else could one say?
“Take whomever you need for this job, and whatever tools and arms you think necessary, Admiral Solomon.”
David puffed up a little with pride at the title, even if it wasn’t a standard Army one. “Thank you, your Majesty.”
Leek shrugged. “Go, then. I leave the Fawkes(es) in your capable hands.” As the young man was leaving, “Oh, and David.”
“Do well and it could be Sir David.”
After the newly-made Admiral was gone, the King was informed that, “That last bit may have been a bit much.”
Leek waved that piece of advice off. “As I understand it, my decree makes it so if I say it’s so, Mr. Bull.”
“And that is correct,” John replied. “But if you rush to accomplish too many things in too short a time, that plays into your enemies hands. You know why.”
“Because they’ll say it means even I don’t expect me to stay in power for very long.”
Leek’s advisor nodded. “Work with Parliament. Offer a stipend to the surviving -”
“Your name aside, Mr. Bull, the former royal family is my concern, not yours.”
“Then be concerned, Leek. In public. It’ll sway the fence-sitters in Parliament. Because if Queen Margaret does not survive the wounds she received in your little coup, succession falls to -”
“I know,” Leek snapped.
John Bull chuckled.
“Heavy lies the crown,” Leek quoted. “What else could you have said there?”
“You know me well, Leek. As you know your country.”
“Leave me. And on your way out, have them send in Prime Minister Owen – I want a word with him.”
He’s already one of your partisans. What more will you ask of him?
Dictionary entry: bloodul : means there is blood everywhere. Derived from ‘bloodful.’ Regional variations include ‘bl”dl’ & ‘ludful’ & ‘bloodu.’
Meghan Mack leaned against her office wall, sinking slowly down until her bum was perched on the heels of her trainers; her eyes kept open by force of will, lest she see the horror imprinted on her eyelids.
Most days, Meghan would relish puzzles like that – if you see a scene with your eyes clamped shut, does that mean the event was burned into your lids when you’d reflexively shut your eyes; or is it etched into your retinas, and the eyelids simply reflect? - but not today. Not after Anne and Thom and the others had been…
You couldn’t say ‘cut down’ because it didn’t describe the carnage even halfway. ‘Butchered’ implied conscious thought, possibly deliberate intent, save with ‘massacred.’
Clicks and chirps bounced about her room, tasting Meghan’s mood. “Bloodu, boys,” Meghan said morosely, “pure bloodu.” But at least you weren’t behind it. None of the culaich had done it – which left no candidates that could have carried out the… ‘the mess’ for want of a better word.
But that left one unsavory question: what *had* Leek used in his failed attempt?
The comm box on Mack’s desk gave a brief hum before Sir James’ voice came through: “A word, if you would, Dr. Mack. My office, now. Come alone.”
Come alone – meaning she wasn’t supposed to put on a show of what her culaich could do.
Dr Mack – as she wasn’t possessed of anything more than a Bachelors Degree, Sir James’ use of the title meant either that he was in an exceptionally good mood (unlikely in the wake of recent events) or – or he had a low-odds-survival job for her to handle.
“I’ll be back shortly,” Meghan said to her boys before she left, double-bolting the door behind her. As the comm’ed message had omitted anything about a car coming to pick her up, which meant that the meeting was down the hall in the room used by visiting anyones of high rank. i.e., Lester.
She knocked once on the door – and, not as it had not been fully shut, the door opened on its own. “Ah, Doctor Mack, please, come in,” Sir James Lester said. “Sit.”
Meghan obeyed; even working in the rarefied air of the ARC, a cuculaich here was no different from a trainee in Kenya or Borneo: you were there to listen and to obey.
Sir James’ office was just slightly different today: the only seat Meghan could take was facing two seated guests. One was a fetching man whose jeans and jacket could not and did not disguise the air of military Meghan sensed in him; as the saying went, it was hard to hide things from a cululain, even one without their beasts. With him was – Meghan hoped and prayed she didn’t start babbling like a nut, if she was here to speak at all, to either guest.
“This, Doctor, is Ryan,” Sir James said. “A captain, I understand; is that correct?”
“It is, sir,” Ryan said.
“And I trust our distinguished guest requires no introduction.”
Most definitely not! Every schoolchild in the Empire knew the face of the Benefactor. Meghan felt a small chill at the fact that the Benefactor didn’t appear to have aged appreciably since that famous photo with Churchill, circa 1944 at the War’s end. In that photo, as on every other occasion, the Benefactor had always carried the air of being angry just under her calm surface. “No sir,” Mack replied. To the Benefactor herself, Meghan said, “It’s an honour to meet you, ma’am – your Ladyship,” Meghan corrected herself.
“These things happen,” the Benefactor said, giving the definite impression of brushing away the slight. “You’re here to run Oliver Leek to ground,” she told Meghan.
I’m what? I thought he was dead. Killed when he had tried to use wild beasts to instate a new Roman Empire or somesuch plot.
“Her Honor,” Sir James said in an aside, “is aware of what happened in the Historic Site.”
There, Meghan had been called in to verify that a cululain had not been responsible for the carnage strewn about in three dimensions.
“Yes, that was unfortunate,” the Benefactor remarked. Not dryly, not blasé…just not about to bend over for a ha’penny – which suggested that her mind was busy mulling over matters of greater import. Her face was too culain-like for Meghan’s comfort; the difference was that culain’s didn’t have eyes for staring into your soul and finding you wanting.
She’d be likely to tell you how your heart tastes, Meghan thought with an inner shiver.
“And Lester here will accompany you both.”
“What luck I have,” Sir James said, clearly slightly discomfited.
The Benefactor gave a smile. “My late husband often remarked on my generosity.”
Meghan nearly fell out of her chair – the woman had been married? It was a running joke, and true, that 9/10ths of the cululains would give both nuts for a date with the woman who’d made their profession possible, who had advised MI-5 and -6 and the Royal Family. Who the hell was the saint she’d wed?
“As well as all of the above,” the Benefactor added, “I will be joining you.”
“You are certain?” Sir James asked.
Even apolitical Meghan could grasp the implications: if anything happened to the Benefactor, if the woman so much as got the sniffles, their heads would be on pikes!
“Never let it be said my patriotism wavers,” the Benefactor stated firmly.
“No one would ever say such a thing,” Meghan assured her.
“You haven’t told her,” the Benefactor said to Lester. To Meghan, “It happened not long ago today. Leek tried again, and this time he was successful.”
The lot of them were all seated in the van, Lester and Helen debating the sequence of stops that needed to be made. Meanwhile, Ryan was still dealing with his surprise – shock even, one might say – at seeing women like Meghan handling the beasts that had killed him.
He frowned when he half-heard something on the car speakers. “Wait a minute,” Ryan said, reaching over to turn the radio up:
“…with Governor Hugh to guide the newborn Republic Of Scotland through the birthing pangs many in the Continental and International communities are expecting now that Scotland is no longer bound by the Act Of Union to England.”
“Well, seems Leek’s been a busy boy,” Lester said.
Helen’s determination hardened further. I didn’t go through all the hard work of shaping this reality, for it to become Leek’s playground.
Just before the Hound had shown up, Taylor had thrust a pocket notebook into Helen’s hands. ‘Don’t lose this,’ she’d said. ‘There’s no paradox involved, but even still, don’t lose it. And run.’ Taylor’s parents didn’t even exist in this outcome of history – and yet, and yet Helen felt distinct unease, as though there was something very plain and obvious which she was overlooking again. ‘Don’t worry about me,’ Taylor had said. ‘I know exactly what I’m doing.’ Staying behind. Sticking it out with the Leeches.