HER MAJESTYS IMPERIAL MONSTER HUNTERS

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					         HER MAJESTY'S IMPERIAL MONSTER HUNTERS
                A Short Story Of Adventure, Mystery And Doom, In Eighteen Parts

                            Part I – In which Things of Note are observed

The figure turned up his collar against the rain, and squinted into the turbulent sky. He knew that
somewhere, in the quiet above the cloud layer, hung Her Majesty's Airship Perfidious Albion. He could
feel it waiting there, watching, like some ancient reptilian predator. He smiled to himself, remembering
that it was he who was the monster.

Uncoiling his mind and sending forth a probing tentacle of thought, he felt for the presence of his
hunters:

       Captain Spaulding, redoubtable commander of the HMA Perfidious Albion, would be on the
       bridge, as always. At this hour he would have taken off his military jacket, and loosened his
       collar. His feet would be up on the navigation console, a slim volume of poetry - or pornography
       - in his lap.

       Nearby, in his little book-filled corner, the one they called "The Half-Witt" would be scribbling
       in his ledgers, always scribbling, black ink staining his fingers like some sort of skin disease.
       Once, a long time ago, this man, Tore, had been a Danish super-model, playboy and master-spy.
       But an unplanned encounter with a werewolf had left his mind and body shattered. Finally, Doc
       'Lab Rat' Kate had no choice but to graft the remains of Zombie Wittgenstein's brain into his
       blasted skull.

Focusing his mind, the dark figure attuned himself to the vibration of air molecules on the bridge.

       "What do you make of this King Mantis fellow?" the Captain was asking.

       The Half-Witt looked up. "The world consists of independent atomic facts - existing states of
       affairs - out of which larger facts are built" he opined.

       "Nicely put, old chap" said Captain S, "Professor Y certainly seems quite taken with him."

       "Those we cannot so analyse cannot be meaningfully discussed" suggested the Half-Witt.

       "Yabbering 'bout me again, cobber?" asked Perfidious Albion's security chief, bounding onto the
       deck. He was antipodean in origin, though he was now in semi-voluntary exile from his native
       land. He had been a child star; the little boy with the pet great white shark in Bitey the Bush
       Shark ("What is it Bitey? Someone caught in a rip-tide again? And you've brought me one of his
       limbs? Oh crikey, Bitey!"). In an effort to escape his freckle-faced past, he joined the murky
       underworld of mercenaries and hitmen, before winding up in the employ of Her Majesty's
       Imperial Monster Hunters.

       "Evening, Bulya," said the Captain, "What brings you to the bridge at this hour?"

       The Australian took out a pocket-watch-like device from his waistcoat pocket, "Prof Y's dinky-di
       psionic-detectorisor is pinging like a good 'un"



                                               -Page 1 of 41-
       "Someone's spying on us?" asked the Captain, sitting up.

       Bulya showed the electro-mechanical display to Captain S, "Fair dinkum, stands out like a shag
       on a rock, so it does. I s'pose that figjam Zen-Ben's accounted for?"

       "He's in the levitation chamber, meditating."

       "He'll go blind. Fella's got kangaroos loose in the top paddock as it is."

       "No," said Captain Spaulding, "This is coming from outside the ship. Some form of monstrous
       intelligence. I'd better consult with our colonial colleagues."

Smiling to himself, the monstrous intelligence recalled his psychic tendrils and wiped the rain out of his
eye. Yes, he thought, it was time to visit the New World. The land of opportunities. He had business
there. Terrible business.



                               Part II – In which a Rolodex is deployed

       “Senator, there's some ... um ... people here to see you.” said The Honourable Christopher W.
       Richeson's secretary, over the intercom.

       “Dammit Nina, I said I'm busy. Do you think these budget reports are going to review
       themselves?”

       “Now now, old chap, no need to get shirty with the hired help.” said Captain Spaulding, breezily
       entering the senator's office. Bulya followed a little way behind, scanning the room for hidden
       assailants, cleavage, or assailants with cleavage.

       “Spaulding, Bulya,” said the senator, coldly, “I sincerely hope this is a social call.”

       “'Fraid not old chap,” said the Captain, “We're on Her Majesty's business.”

       “Then I can't help you. I gave all that up, remember?”

       “Give it up, ya ocker? Defending reality ain't something ya can just go walkabout from.” said
       Bulya, pushing past the Captain.

       The senator sighed. “It's not like when I was an idealistic young lawyer; torts by day, vampire
       slaying by night. I have responsibilities. I ... fight different monsters now.” he said.

       “Never trust a rorting polly.” muttered Bulya.

       “Chris,” said Captain S, sitting on the edge of the desk, “This is big. We need your contacts. The
       current administration isn't sympathetic to our aims. Just give us a name.”

       The senator sighed again, unlocked the drawer of his desk, and brought out a battered Rolodex.
       “My contacts are years out of date,” he said, “But what do you need?”



                                                -Page 2 of 41-
       “A psychic,” said the Captain, “A powerful one.”

       “What about your tame monk?” asked the Senator, flicking through the cards.

       “Tame monkey, more like.” said Bulya, “He doesn't know Christmas from Bourke Street.”

       The senator pushed a card across the desk. “Here. He's ... an artist.” he said, “I can't promise he'll
       help you, but he's the second most powerful psychic on our books.”

       “The second, ya wowser? What about the first?” asked Bulya.

       “The first would be Justin Cognito, 'The Amazing Thinking Man'. He vanished into a hostile psi-
       rift over a decade ago.”

       “Aye, that'd be right. The fella we need's only in another bloody dimension.”

       Spaulding took the card, “I'm sure this other chap will be fine. Many thanks Senator, we won't
       forget it.”

       The Captain stood up. “Come on, Bulya, we're off to ...” he checked the card, “Georgia. I'm sure
       it'll be charming. They call it 'The Peach State', you know.”

       “Is that 'cos it looks like a furry arse?” asked Bulya.

       “Hmm,” said Captain S, “Possible, but unlikely. Anyhow, we'll drop in for a quick spot of tea at
       the laboratory first, I think. I hope you remember where we parked the airship.”

       Senator Richeson watched them go. He closed and locked the door, and walked over to the dusty
       black telephone in the corner. Lifting the receiver to his mouth he said “Code D. We have a
       probable code D.”

In the darkened motel room, the figure furrowed his brow. Remarkably, the senator's mind was somehow
warded from his gaze.

The room was silent save for the hiss of distant freeway traffic, and the snap and crunch of the Gray
Wolf feasting on the night porter's bones. The figure turned his eye towards the Wolf. At some point in
the meal she had shifted back to her human form; a dark-haired woman, swathed in blood, tattoos and
shadow.

“Your friend is late.” said the man.



                   Part III – In which the Nationality of Wittgenstein is established

       Bulya shifted nervously as the elevator dropped. The Half-Witt gazed passively at the LED
       numerals showing how far below ground they were.

       “You don't like the Laboratory much, do you, Bulya, old chap?” asked Captain Spaulding.



                                                -Page 3 of 41-
       “Sexy sheilas in lab coats?” replied the Australian, “What's not to like?”

       “Oh,” said the Captain, “I just thought that after last time, you know, with the attack ferrets, you
       might be a little worried.”

       “All I'm saying,” said Bulya, with feeling, “Is that if your going ta genetically engineer cyber-
       enhanced combat ferrets, you could at least teach the deranged little fuckers the difference
       between friend and foe. Have you got any idea what it's like having some feral bastard going for
       ya donger?”

       The Captain was prevented from replying by the -ping- that signalled the elevator's arrival at the
       subterranean laboratory.

       They were met by the pretty Doctor Kate, the 'Lab Rat', so called because she rarely left the deep
       tunnels of the Laboratory. (Also, because she had a long hairless tail, though everyone pretended
       not to notice.)

       “Morning Captain, Bulya,” said Doc Kate, “And hello again Half-Witt. How's the old brain
       holding up?”

       “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen” replied the Half-Witt, with a
       quiet smile.

       “I still think it was somewhat dangerous to give the poor fellow the brain of an undead German
       philosopher.” said Captain Spaulding.

       “Wittgenstein was Austrian, Captain S.” Kate pointed out.

       “Oh, that's all right then,” said the Captain, “No one dangerous ever came out of Austria.”

       “I'm dangerous.” said Bulya. The Captain gave him a withering look.

       “The Professor wanted to see you as soon as you arrived.” said Kate, gesturing towards a golf
       cart.

       “It ain't that far to walk is it, cobber?” asked Bulya.

       “No,” said Kate, “but the carts came free with the whole subterranean lair package, so it seems a
       shame not to use them.”

The one-eyed man called his consciousness back to the motel room, where the Grey Wolf was pacing
back and forth excitedly.

“He's almost here,” she said, “Almost here.”

The wind rattled the trash cans in the motel parking lot.

       The cart threaded it's way through the Laboratory, Kate at the wheel. Bulya keenly observed the
       Lab's other workers; Professor Y didn't hate all men, but -apart from her butler- she made sure
       only women were employed in her secret laboratory. Bulya always meant to ask why, but kept


                                                 -Page 4 of 41-
getting distracted.

There was a blood-curdling roar from a nearby room. An eight-foot tall creature, all deformed
flesh and twisted metal, hammered on a thick glass partition, multiple toothy mouths snapping
uselessly against the glass.

“What the devil is that?” asked the Captain.

“One of our failures,” said Kate, ruefully, “We thought we'd try and engineer an amalgam of
various creatures, to make a kind of super fighting machine. We got the idea from Buffy season
four. We tried to form the perfect entity; part human, part demon, and part robot, with the
adaptability and intelligence of a human, the strength of a demon, and the emotional detachment
of a robot.”

“But it didn't work?”

“Nah,” said Kate, “It just ended up a sort of monster mash.”



                        Part IV – In which Biscuits are available

In the Laboratory control room, the gigantic view-screen showed a vast insectile visage. As her
guests arrived, Professor Y turned off the view-screen.

“That the pervy young cockie ya pashing on, Professor?” asked Bulya, diplomatically.

“The fellow's name is King Mantis.” said Captain Spaulding.

“The fellow's name cannot actually be pronounced by human tongue,” the Professor said,
smiling, “But I call him Mr Schmoopy-pants.”

“Strewth,” exclaimed Bulya, “You're grinning like a shot fox. We'll be knee deep in ankle-biters
before the week is out.”

“I don't know,” said Professor, “I'm a sexy super scientist, he's an ancient insect god. A sexy
ancient insect god, sure, but other than that what do we have in common?”

“Ah, she'll be right,” said Bulya, “I once went with this sheila, she used to do this weird thing
with soap...”

“Washing,” said Captain S, “It's called washing.”

“Yeah,” said Bulya, dubiously, “You'd be surprised at what you can get used to.”

“Anyway,” said Professor Y, “I suspect you didn't come here to talk about my love life. Can I
offer you a cup of tea?”

Spaulding nodded.



                                        -Page 5 of 41-
“I'm dry as a nun's nasty.” admitted Bulya.

“Kibu,” called Professor Y.

“Yes, milady?” said the butler, who had been spookily standing unnoticed until that point.

“Please fetch some tea for our guests,” instructed Professor Y.

“Of course, milady,” said the estimable Kibu, “And if I could be forgiven for making so bold,
maybe I could take the liberty of pressing the young gentlemen to a biscuit.”

“What?” asked the Professor.

“A biscuit, milady, a sweet hard-baked comestible.” said Kibu, with just the faintest hint of
condescension, “From the Latin bis coctus, 'twice cooked', unless I very much mistake myself.
The good sirs may wish to 'dunk' one into their respective teas, provided that the most excellent
gentlemen do not have some objection to a soggy biscuit.”

“Oh, you mean cookies,” said Professor Y, “Sure, bring some cookies.”

“Fruitcake?” enquired Kibu, “Perhaps milady would deign to authorise the disbursement of
fruitcake to her honoured guests...”

“Kibu,” interrupted Professor Y, “Bring whatever you think best.”

“Very good, milady.” said Kibu, “I hope I do not appear immodest if I assure milady that in
weighty matters such as the provision of adequate refection to gentlemen of good standing, I may
be relied upon to exercise the very best of my judgement.”

Professor Y chose not to reply, instead she looked over to the Half-Witt. He was walking around
the perimeter of the control room, muttering to himself.

“What's he doing?” she asked the Captain.

“I rather think he's examining the motivational posters.” said Captain S. The walls of the control
room were lined with uplifting images and inspiring platitudes (“You don't have to be a mad
scientist to work here. We have mad lab assistants too.”).

Bulya walked over to the mumbling half-dead Austrian/Danish philosopher/hero. “Nah, mates,”
he called back, “He's counting them.”

He turned back to the Half-Witt, “What number you up to, ya galah?”

“Fifteen thousand, six hundred and seventy-two.” announced the Half-Witt.

Bulya gazed at the wall. “Oh yeah,” he said, “Poster #15672 is a good 'un.”

Pausing in the control room doorway, Kibu looked back towards the monster hunters. He checked
his concealed pistol was still in place. Soon, he thought, my time will come, and I will have my
revenge.


                                        -Page 6 of 41-
The motel room door creaked and squealed under the strain. Reluctantly, the dark figure drew back from
the mind of the so-called butler, and returned his attention to his surroundings. The wooden door buckled
and bulged like a sackful of weasels fighting. Tendrils crept forth along the skirting-boards and under the
carpets. The floorboards flexed and rolled like an ocean swell. Then the door shattered into a thousand
shards and splinters. The dark figure raised his arm in front of his face, protecting his good eye.



                              Part V – In which some Names are Named

The creature reached in through the shattered doorway, and tore out most of the back wall of the motel
room. Bowing its massive head the ambulatory tree crawled awkwardly into the remains of the room.
The Gray Wolf gave a yelp of joy.

The creature was vast and ancient. His bark was thick and rough, criss-crossed with vines and creepers.
Shaggy sheets of moss hung from his craggy brow. He was accompanied by a rich and earthy smell. The
few pieces of wooden furniture in the room twisted and strained in sympathy, sending forth shoots and
tendrils.

The one-eyed man brushed the splinters off his hat. “You're late.” he remarked, “Plus, the motel will
probably add the cost of that wall to our bill. Or they would, if the Wolf hadn't consumed the staff.”

“I left the lungs,” said Gray Wolf, “Too chewy.”

“Late?” boomed the tree, “I travel at my own pace. Be thankful I am here at all. What do you want, old
man?”.

“I want to give you the world,” said the man, with an expansive gesture, “And all you have to do is help
me remove some of the vermin. The Wolf will explain the details. I need to keep an eye on our
enemies.”

“I shouldn't have thought you had an eye to spare,” rumbled the tree.

“You should read your poetry,” said the man, pulling his broad-brimmed hat down, “I know much, and
see more.”

       In the control room, tea had been served. Also, biscuits, fruitcake and cucumber sandwiches.

       “... so Professor,” the Captain was saying, “You can see why your help would be most
       appreciated.”

       “Is this ... monstrous intelligence really so powerful?” asked Professor Y.

       “Rather,” said the Captain, “Your excellent psi-detectoriser finally ceased pinging somewhere in
       the middle of the Atlantic. We thought that meant we'd escaped our enemy's gaze.”

       “Turns out the bloody batteries had only gone.” said Bulya.

       “So it could be watching us now?” said the Professor.


                                               -Page 7 of 41-
“Distinctly possible, I'm afraid.” said Captain S, sipping his tea.

“So any suspects?” asked Professor Y, “The guy from R'lyeh?”

“Our agent in deep cover would have let us know. Anyway, every time the be-tentacled chap so
much as turns over in his sleep we get waves of irritated octopodes, angry lobsters and furious
fish.”

“Okay. What about the Big D?” asked the Professor, pointing downward.

“The erstwhile Reverend Thomas keeps an eye on him.” said the Captain.

“I thought Tom was busy with his church and pornography business?” asked the Professor.

“Oh, the infernal realm is actual rather quiet these days. Most of the devil's usual work has been
outsourced to human contractors. And as for fomenting war and hatred, well the darned fellow's
somehow tricked the chaps on the other side into doing that for him.”

“Right.” said Professor Y. “So, what about one of the Greeks? Ares? Hades?”

“Master Yo would have informed us of any activity there.” said the Captain.

“Yeah,” said Bulya, “Providing the hoon wasn't too busy playing the sly wombat with some
barely-legal sheila, that is.”

“Just out of interest, Captain,” said the Professor, “Are there any of your team that aren't sexual
deviants?”

“Says the sheila rootin' a blowie” muttered Bulya.

“Please can we attend to the matter at hand?” said the Captain, “Professor, are you prepared to
help us? It will almost certainly be dangerous.”

“Of course we'll help.” said Professor Y, “We've got some new toys that might be of some use.
They're a bit twitchy though. We'd better come with you. Besides, it might be fun to have us
'sheilas' along.”

“Yeah, and stingrays might make great diving buddies.” said Bulya, under his breath.



                        Part VI – In which Women are explained

The HMA Perfidious Albion tracked low over an expansive Georgia ranch.

“Who is this sooky ratbag anyway?” asked Bulya, peering down through one of the airship's large
observation ports.

From the command console, Captain Spauding replied “People call him Naxuul.”


                                         -Page 8 of 41-
       “The artist Naxuul? Don't come the raw prawn.” exclaimed Bulya.

       “Apparently. Have you heard of the chap?”

       “I reckon. I caught his retrospective at the Modern. I was rapt. The fella fair knows how to
       engage the viewer in a desituationalised subdialectic which counterpoints materialist notions of
       mythopoetical totality.”

       There was a moments silence as everyone on the bridge looked at Bulya.

       “What?” he said, “A bloke can't occasionally take a break from wrestling crocs?”

Back in the motel room, which now resembled a forest that just dimly remembered being a motel room,
the one-eyed man rubbed his brow. Calling the Gray Wolf to his side, he said “The time has come to to
move against our enemies.”

“Let me bite them.” said the Gray Wolf.

“I shall vanquish them by magic,” said the one-eyed man, “But you may deal with any survivors. But be
wary Gray one, they are weak, but they may still try to harm you.”

“Then they can bite me!” snarled the Wolf.

       Captain Spaulding, Professor Y and Bulya walked up the drive towards the front entrance of the
       ranch.

       “Are ya sure it's safe leaving the Half-Witt in charge of the airship?” asked Bulya, “Bloke's not
       really the full quid.”

       “Bulya, old chap,” said the Captain, “What do you imagine he's going to do? Telephone
       Heidegger and Nietzsche and go off, um, cruising for chicks?”

       “Anyway,” said the Professor, “Kate's there as well.”

       “Oh yeah,” said Bulya, “Rat-girl and zombie-boy. Bonza.”

       The three monster-hunters entered the well appointed lobby. They were met by a female security
       guard, who hurried towards them, shaking her head. She wore a leather cat-suit and knee-length
       boots. Guns and batons hung from her belt, and her eyes were hidden behind mirror-shades. The
       overall effect of the ensemble was only slightly ruined by the large pair of Mickey Mouse ears
       that she wore atop her head.

       “The master isn't receiving any visitors today.” she said, firmly.

       “My dear lady,” said Captain Spaulding, “We are here on a matter of the utmost importance.”

       “Master says no visitors today.” said the guards-woman, with an air of finality.

       The three monster-hunters moved away from the reception desk.


                                               -Page 9 of 41-
       “We could fight our way in.” suggested Professor Y.

       “This is a British operation, my dear,” explained the Captain, “We Brits only fight when it's
       absolutely necessary that America doesn't take all of the blame.”

       “Nah,” says Bulya, “Ya should use some of that Spaulding charm. Seduce her, man.”

       “Seduce her man?” said Captain Spaulding, “Well ... Oh, I see what you mean. Um. Bulya, old
       chap, could we pretend for a second that the seduction of ladyfolk is not a forte of mine?”

       “Na worries,” said Bulya, taking the Captain by the elbow and leading him away from the
       Professor, “Luckily I'm an expert with the sheilas. Only thing is, you mustn't let them know that
       your onto 'em, or they'll might never let you have a root.”

       “However would I survive?” muttered the Captain.

       “Right,” said Bulya, “Listen, there's three things that every normal sheila wants; shoes, chocolate
       and ... well, lets not worry about the third thing now, you don't look like much of a linguist.”

       “Okay...” said the Captain.

       “So,” continued Bulya, “Do we have any nice ladies shoes aboard the Perfidious Albion?”

       “Oh, of course,” said the Captain, “As a state-of-the-art monster-hunter airship, we have a fully
       stocked footwear department.”

       “Really? 'Cos I never...”

       “No, not really,” said the Captain, with some irritation, “I was being sarcastic.”

       “Yeah, well there's no need to be sarky, mate. A fella's only tryin' to help. What about some
       chokkie, then?”

       “Actually, there might be some in the galley. That nice fellow Kibu made sure we were very
       well-stocked with a variety of provisions.”

       “Ripper!” said Bulya.

The one-eyed man wondered, not for the first time, if he hadn't over-estimated his enemy.



                           Part VII – In which the Male Nude is celebrated

       The Captain, the Professor, and Bulya walked towards the artist's studio, down a long, broad
       corridor full of marble statuary. The guards-woman walked a little way ahead, occasionally
       pausing to eat another chocolate.

       “Anyone notice anything rather odd about these statues?” said Captain S.


                                               -Page 10 of 41-
“Yeah,” said Bulya, “They're all blokes in the nuddy. Plenty of doodles, but no white pointers or
mappa tassies to be seen.”

“Hmm,” said Captain Spaulding, “I'd assumed that was a natural aesthetic choice. I meant:
anything weird?”

Bulya thought for a second, “Yeah, they're all wearing eye-patches.”

“Precisely.” said the Captain, “Jolly well done, Bulya, old chap. I'm surprised you didn't notice
that, Professor.”

“Um ... I wasn't looking at their heads,” said the Professor, “Er, but what do the eye-patches
signify?”

“Maybe the fella's got a thing for pirates?” suggested Bulya.

The monster hunters emerged into an airy studio. The ceiling and one wall were entirely glass,
allowing a splendid view over a peach orchard. The walls of the room were lined with paintings
and drawings of naked masculinity. A man in long-johns and a bowler hat sat at a Queen Anne
desk.

“You must be the artist, Naxuul.” said Spaulding, extending his hand.

“I'm sorry master,” said the guards-woman, “they had chocolate.”

“Don't worry, Mrs. P, I foresaw their arrival,” the man said, standing, “And, yes, Captain
Spaulding I am Naxuul, the artist.”

“How did you know?” said Bulya, then “Oh, yeah, psychic.”

“Very pleased to meet you Mr Naxuul...” said the Captain.

“Just 'Naxuul',” said Naxuul, “And don't bother explaining why you're here. I already know.”

“Then...” began Captain Spaulding.

“No, Captain,” said Naxuul, “I will not help you probe the mind of this monstrous intelligence.
Already I can feel it, him, at the edges of my mind, and I will not risk angering him.”

“That...” started the Captain.

“No, Captain, I have foreseen the consequences of helping you; great personal danger.”

“What about ...” said the Professor.

“No, Professor, I cannot foresee what happens if I do not help you. That future is clouded.”

“Maybe...” said Professor Y.



                                       -Page 11 of 41-
“Yes, Professor,” said Naxuul, “Maybe because there is no such future. Very well, it seems I
must assist you, you have persuaded me.”

“Yeah,” said Bulya, “Real persuasive yabberin' there folks.”

“There is, however,” Naxuul continued, “A necessary condition.”

“Go on, my good fellow.” said the Captain.

“My mental powers are at their strongest when I'm engaged in my artistic endeavours.” explained
Naxuul.

“Then get scribblin', cobber.” suggested Bulya.

Naxuul gestured around him, “You see my subject. The male nude.”

“Sorry, old chap,” said Captain Spaulding, “But no can do. None of my team are going to disrobe
just so you...”.

“Mind me daks.” said Bulya, handing the Captain a pair of trousers.

“Bulya!” said Captain Spaulding, “What the devil are you doing?”

“No worries, Cap'n,” said Bulya, flinging off his vest, “I've spent more hours than a fella can
count runnin' around in a pair of budgie smugglers that dint leave much to the 'magination.”

“Oh.” said the Captain, “Um. You had better avert your eyes Professor Y.”

“Don't worry,” she said, “As a scientist ... I'm ... I'm ... trained ... to ... um ... objectively ... ulp ...
objectively ... observe ... er ... stuff ... sorry, what?”

Naxuul picked up a sketch book and pencil.

“Reckon you're going to need a bigger pad.” said Bulya, cockily.

Captain Spaulding sighed. Professor Y sighed as well, though possibly for different reasons.

Meanwhile Naxuul was drawing, his pencil flying over the pad.

“I see a tree that walks,” said Naxuul, “I see a man who is not a man. Here is a wolf that talks.
There is a single eye ... and it sees us”

There were heavy footfalls from the corridor. Captain Spaulding quickly walked over to the
doors, opened them slightly, then slammed them shut again, bracing against them.

“We could be in a spot of bother here.” he commented.

A marble fist punched through the door.




                                            -Page 12 of 41-
                  Part VIII – In which our Heroes take up Art Criticism

Spaulding drew his service revolver, firing several shots through the door.

“Bulya,” he called, “Get Mr Naxuul somewhere safe. And for the love of god, put some pants on.
Professor, are you armed?”

Professor Y answered by shooting a gout of flame past the Captain.

“Mini flame-thrower,” she explained.

“I appreciate the sentiment, Professor,” said the Captain, backing away from the flaming doors,
“But I rather think that rock beats fire.”

The statues broke through the doors. Their marble bodies creaked as they lumbered into the
room, animated by arcane forces.

“This sculpture seems a little too ready to engage with the viewer.” observed Captain Spaulding,
“You wouldn't happen to have some sort of super acid squirt gun, would you Professor?”

“In my other jacket.” said the Professor.

“I've got a really big knife.” said Bulya.

“Unless,” said Captain Spaulding, firing at the closest statue, “It's +5 versus golems, I don't think
that's going to be much help, old chap.”

Despite having had most of its head shot off, the lead statue was still advancing on the monster-
hunters. Captain Spaulding lowered his aim, and blew its leg off at the knee. It tumbled to the
floor, a brittle arm snapping off. The other statues stepped over it, and continued forward
remorselessly.

The monster-hunters found themselves backing towards the corner of the studio. Captain
Spaulding had run out of bullets. The far wall had caught fire, and the smoke was beginning to
spread.

“Oh, bother.” said the Captain.

Then the statues froze in mid-step. The Captain looked around.

“It's Naxuul,” said the Professor, “He's stopping them telekinetically, I think.”

Naxuul sat on the floor, next to the Queen Anne desk. The strain was obvious on his face.

“Not ... sure ... how ... long ... I ... can ... hold ... them.” he shatnered.

“Right,” said the Captain, “Then we need a plan. Professor, do you have any gizmos that might
be helpful in this sort of situation.”



                                           -Page 13 of 41-
“I didn't imagine that I'd end up being surrounded by a bunch of naked rock-hard men.” said
Professor Y.

“What she means is,” said Bulya, “She didn't imagine she'd want to escape.”

“I did manage to send a distress call to Kate on the Perfidious Albion, though.” continued the
Professor, kicking Bulya in the shin.

The airship could be made out through the blacked glass roof of the studio, hovering low over the
house. The statues were moving again now, but slowly, like they were running through molasses,
or participating in some bizarre synchronised walking-against-the-wind display of mine-artistry.

“I'm not sure the Albion can be much help, I'm afraid.” said the Captain.

“Well, there's one thing they might do,” said the Professor, “But its rather kill or cure. Or cure,
then kill. Or, kill and then kill some more.”

Before the Captain could query this, two things happened. Firstly, Naxuul's mind gave out, and
he slumped over unconscious, the statues springing immediately back to full speed. Secondly, the
glass roof crashed in, as the unholy amalgam 'monster mash' dropped from the airship into the
studio.

Two statues were immediately crushed beneath its cloven hooves and metal-clad tentacles. A
third was shattered by a flick of the creatures scorpion-like tail. The monster-hunters scrambled
behind the desk for cover. The remaining statues turned as one to attack this new threat.

“I thought that ... thing ... was something of a failure, Professor.” said the Captain.

“It was,” said the Professor, “It won't survive very long outside the lab. And, more importantly,
it's only imprinted with our most basic friend-or-foe recognition protocol. So when it runs out of
statues...”

            Part IX – In which Matters of a Sartorial Nature are discussed

The monster-mash bellowed, and smashed one of the statues with a massive clawed limb.

“Strewth,” said Bulya, “So y'reckon it'll go after us next, Prof?”

“As I say,” said the Professor, “The friend-or-foe recognition protocol is, um, basic. The same
level as the cyber-ferrets.”

There was a crash, as a statue was flung though the window.

“The same as the ferrets?” said Bulya, “Those little bastards nearly tore me apart!”

“Yes,” said Captain Spaulding, “I jolly well had to climb a filing cabinet to avoid them. They
didn't seem have to any sense of friend or foe at all.”

“Yes, they did,” said the Professor, sounding embarrassed, “Just our basic protocol. Minimal.
Considering the lab environment. Sufficient”


                                         -Page 14 of 41-
       “In sentences please, my dear woman,” said Captain Spaulding, “How does this thing tell friend
       from enemy?”

       “Er...” said the Professor.

       “Quickly please, Professor.” said the Captain.

       “Boys are bad. Girls are good.” said Professor Y, quietly.

       There was a crash as the creature sent a statue spiralling through the window.

       “Oh, that be right,” said Bulya, “I knew the bloody liberated sheilas would do for me in the end.”

       “You do realise that we,” the Captain gestured around, “Are men? I should have thought Bulya's
       little show-and-tell made that rather obvious.”

       “It wasn't little!” protested Bulya.

       “The basic protocol is just a stop-gap,” said the Professor, defensively, “We don't have any men
       in the lab, remember.”

       “Still,” said the Captain, “I do rather wish that you'd installed a more nuanced approach to gender
       issues in the creature. Never mind, though, I dare say we'll find some jolly clever solution to our
       predicament.”

       “We could make dresses out of the curtains.” suggested Bulya.

       “Bulya, my dear chap,” said the Captain, “I fear you have misunderstood the term 'clever' and,
       indeed, 'solution'.”

       “No, Captain,” said the Professor, “That might just work.”

       “What?” said the Captain.

       “The creature was originally human, which means that its view of gender is still based on the
       default cultural assumptions it grew up with. Now, the creature's not too bright, so it's just
       possible...”

       “Bulya,” said the Captain, “Do you really think you can make three dresses out of those curtains
       before the creature's finished destroying the statues?”

       Bulya brandished his really big knife. “My auntie Timmy was the only transvestite in Woop
       Woop county. I reckon I can make a dress out of anything.”

       Naxuul stirred, temporarily regaining conciousness. “What's happening?” he asked.

       “Probably best you don't know, old chap,” said the Captain.

The one-eyed man frowned. Still, he thought, they'll be dead soon enough.


                                              -Page 15 of 41-
“Come, Tree,” he said, standing, “It is time we were moving. Call your armies. I have some property to
retrieve.”

       “Right,” said Captain Spaulding, as the creature bit the last statue in two, “That's the last of them.
       Is everyone ready?”

       Spaulding, Bulya and the unconcious Naxuul were wearing rough-hewn dresses made of red
       velour.

       “Reckon.” said Bulya, “Though maybe I should have gone for something in an A-line? Y'know,
       to complement me body shape?”

       “I'm pretending mine's a kilt,” said the Captain, “What about Mr Naxuul?”

       “Poor fella's all tuckered out,” said Bulya, “Me and the Prof will have to support him.”

       “Right then.” said the Captain, “Professor, you're sure we won't be given away by the fact that us
       chaps have hairy legs and stubble?”

       The Professor gave an apologetic I-don't-know shrug.

       “Na worries, Captain,” said Bulya, “It'll probably just think we're feminists. Ow! Captain!
       Professor Y is hitting me”

       “Professor, please don't hit Bulya,” sighed the Captain, “Bulya, please don't be dissing the
       sisterhood.”

       The monster-hunters, supporting Naxuul, stood up from behind the desk. The monster-mash
       pointed several bleary eyes at them, peering suspiciously through the gathering smoke.

       “Okay.” whispered the Captain, “Slowly edge towards the window.”

       The creature snorted and stamped a clawed foot.

       “Look, mate,” said Bulya to the creature, “We're sheilas ain't we? We're wearin' dresses ain't we?
       And we like flowers and cushions and crap like that. So no need to bother with us, eh? There's a
       good, um, hideous abomination.”

       The creature gave a sigh, and lay down amongst the flames and broken statues. The monster-
       hunters climbed gingerly out of the shattered window.

       “Right,” said the Captain, “Jolly good show, everyone. Now let's get to some open ground where
       the airship can pick us up.”

       “Er, Captain,” said Bulya, pointing, “Reckon the Perfidious Albion's got other ideas. Pity no one
       warned you about leaving zombie-boy and rat-girl in charge, eh?”

       Indeed, the airship was heading away at considerable speed.



                                               -Page 16 of 41-
“What?” said Naxuul, dazed, “Why am I wearing a dress? Is my house on fire? Where's your
airship going? You people are so weird.”

“Dash it all,” said the Captain, “We don't seem to be having much luck today.”

An eerie howl sounded from the other side of the estate, soon joined by several others. It was
coming closer.

“What's that?” asked the Professor.

“If we're really fortunate,” said Captain Spaulding, “It's a pack of homicidal wolves.”

“And if we're not?”

“It's a pack of homicidal werewolves.”



                          Part X – In which there are Peaches

“Right,” said Bulya, as the baying got closer, “I reckon we need to do a harold.”

“What?” said the Professor.

“Harold Holt, bolt. Y'know, hoof it.”

“Yes,” said the Captain, “Some form of tactical withdrawal is probably in order. Mr Naxuul,
where's the closest road?”

Naxuul pointed through the peach orchard. The group set-off through the trees at a brisk pace.
They soon found the going difficult however.

“Is it just me,” asked the Captain, “Or do these trees seem unusually, um, assertive?”

A branch grabbed at the Captain's arm. Twigs clawed at Professor Y's hair.

“I reckon they're auditioning for an Evil Dead remake.” said Bulya. He had his knife out, and was
chopping at the trees as they tried to close up in front of the monster-hunters.

“Professor?” said the Captain.

“Way ahead of you, Captain,” she said, having already drawn the mini-flamer. She sprayed a
wide arc of flame around the group.

“Whee!” she said, “Cleanse with fire!”

“Thank you, Professor,” said the Captain, “but I'm not really sure my eyebrows needed
cleansing.”

“Oops. Sorry, Captain, my bad!”


                                         -Page 17 of 41-
Now the trees seemed to be trying desperately to back away from the group, but they were sadly
held back by their root systems. The monster-hunters, and a still bemused Naxuul, made good
progress through the orchard. Professor Y brought up the rear of the group, spraying flames
behind them.

“Ha!” she said, “I am the burninator!”

The group emerged from the orchard, climbed a small wooden fence and stood on the grassy
road-side, catching their breath. Behind them the orchard blazed, filling the air with the delicious
smell of baked peaches.

“The wolves will have to detour around the fire,” said Captain Spaulding, “Jolly nice work with
that flame-thrower, Professor.”

“It's out of gas now though.” said the Professor, sadly.

“Never mind,” said the Captain, “With a bit of luck we'll be able to commandeer a vehicle before
the wolves get to us.”

“We've got Buckley's,” commented Bulya, “The way our luck is going.”

As if summoned, a Volkswagen Camper van trundled around the corner. It had been
enthusiastically but inexpertly painted with, among other things; a unicorn running across a
rainbow, a surfing Jesus, busty frolicking cat-girls, Darth Vader, a smiling sunflower, and
Cthulhu smoking a pipe. The words “Kitty Wagon” had been stencilled on the side.

“Hello there girls,” said the driver, pulling over beside the group, “Um, whoa. Captain
Spaulding ... this is kind of a new look for you, isn't it?”

“Hello Reverend,” said the Captain, as the group piled into the van, “Jolly good to see you. I take
it you picked up our distress call and came to help?”

“No,” said Reverend Tom, “I just saw four chixxors hitching and thought one of them's bound to
be grateful enough to ... um ... I mean ... yeah, the distress call thing, that was it. Reverend Tom
to the rescue!”

With the monster-hunters and Naxuul safely in the van, the Reverend Tom began to drive off at a
sedate pace.

“So what are you doing in this part of the country, Tom?” asked the Professor.

“Oh you know, Prof,” said Tom, breezily, “I thought I'd take my ministry on the road. See the
country. Spread the love. Avoid those restraining orders. There are sinners everywhere, you
know, and many of them are hawt and uninhibited.”

From behind there was a chorus of howling, as the wolves rounded the orchard, and spied their
prey. They began sprinting towards the departing van, the fearsome Gray Wolf in the lead.

“Tom, old chap,” said the Captain, “Can this contraption go any faster?”


                                         -Page 18 of 41-
       “Yeah, don't worry Captain,” said the Reverend, putting his foot down, “This baby goes all the
       way up to eleven!”

       “Jolly good.” said the Captain.

       “Yup,” continued Tom, “Eleven miles an hour, here we come!”

       The Captain sighed.



                      Part XI – In which we learn Something about Mustalids

Leaving his wolves to deal with the Captain's band, the one-eyed man swung his attention backwards in
time to the bridge of the HMA Perfidious Albion. He wanted to know where it was going.

       Doctor Kate was peering out of an observation port.

       “Direct hit!” she reported, “I hope the monster-mash doesn't do more harm than good. Maybe this
       was a bad idea”

       “Sceptical doubts purport to take place within a framework of rational debate,” observed the
       Half-Witt, from the command console, “but by doubting too much, they undermine rationality
       itself, and so undermine the very basis for doubt.”

       “In other words,” said Kate, “I shouldn't second-guess myself so much, huh? You're probably
       right. Okay, better circle around, and stand ready to assist the team.”

       “Sir, milady,” said Kibu, causing them both to jump, “If is not too terribly impertinent, could I
       possibly commit the gross impropriety of imposing on sir and madam's most valuable time for a
       moment or two?”

       “Um, hi, Kibu,” said Kate, “We are actually rather busy. And we don't need any tea or anything.”

       “I assure madam,” said Kibu, “That I would not dream of disturbing, interrupting or otherwise
       inconveniencing your most excellent selves were it not a matter that will, unfortunately, not
       brook the slightness delay.”

       “Very well, Kibu.” said Kate, “Go ahead.”

       “I fear,” said Kibu, “That I must now take command of this vessel.”

       Kate and the Half-Witt looked at Kibu; he had a small but efficient looking pistol trained on both
       of them.

       “If you sadly elect not to move away from the controls this very instant,” said Kibu, “I will
       SHOOT YOU IN THE GOD-DAMN FACE!”

       The monster-hunters moved away from the controls. Kibu moved to the helm control panel, and


                                              -Page 19 of 41-
threw the throttle over to full-speed-ahead.

“Kibu,” said Kate, “What are you doing? What's wrong?”

“You stupid, stupid, ferret-loving rat-girl,” said Kibu, venomously, “Did you suppose I enjoyed
waiting hand and foot on you and the slutty Professor? Bringing you tea, making sandwiches,
cleaning up ferret poo.”

“But...” began Kate.

“I was biding my time. In fact, foolish little Katie, I'm not Kibu at all,” he tore off a latex mask,
revealing an unfamiliar face, “I am RICAS.”

“Who?” said Kate.

“Ricas,” said Ricas/Kibu, also removing his wig, “The great Ricas! The master criminal! The
Napoleon of crime!”

“I'll take your word for it,” said Kate, “But I don't recognise you.”

“Of course not!” said Ricas, “My appearance is a closely guarded secret. Not even the FBI know
what I look like.”

“Oh,” said Kate, “Then why the disguise?”

“What?” said Ricas.

“Why wear an uncomfortable disguise for all that time, if no-one could have recognised you
anyway?” asked Kate, “Seems rather stu...”

“DON'T CALL ME STUPID!” screamed Ricas. The Half-Witt took advantage of his distraction
by bolting for the door. Ricas fired at him, twice, but Half-Witt was too fast, and the bullets
pinged harmlessly off the bulkhead.

Ricas took a moment to gather his composure.

“Not very heroic, was it?” he observed, “Running away, leaving you to my tender mercies.
Wasn't it T.S. Elliot who said 'When danger reared its ugly head / He bravely turned his tail and
fled.'”

Kate thought for a moment. “No,” she said, “I think that was Monty Python.”

“DO NOT CONTRADICT ME!” shouted Ricas, “I'm cleverer than you. Otherwise how else
could I have outwitted you? You thought I was just a butler. But now I've got possession of a
state-of-the-art monster-hunter airship, fully-stocked with all your high-tech gadgets, gizmos, and
inventions. Have you any idea how much a rogue nation will pay for this stuff? And as for you,
my foolish little rat-girl...”

There was a distant tapping sound.



                                         -Page 20 of 41-
       “What's that?” asked Ricas. Kate said nothing.

       The tapping intensified; it was a sort of rapid metallic pattering.

       Ricas pointed his gun at the hatchway. “What is that?” he asked again, “It's like little metal
       claws ... oh no, the Half-Witt released them!”

       The pair of cyber-ferrets raced into the room, squeaking excitedly. Ricas fired wildly at them, but
       hit only the floor, control panels and one of the observation ports. The ferrets swarmed up him,
       biting and clawing. Ricas flailed uselessly, staggering and spinning away from the command
       console, screaming, falling back towards the observation port.

       Kate ran over to the command console, and grabbed the Captain's spare gun from where it was
       taped beneath the console. She called to the ferrets, and they jumped off Ricas and bounded back
       to her, gambolling around her ankles.

       Ricas regained his balance. He touched his torn face, snarled, and raised his pistol towards Kate.

       Kate shot him in the chest, and he staggered back, falling through the shattered observation port,
       and plunging to Earth.

       “That will be all, Kibu,” said Kate, quietly, lowering the gun. The ferrets yipped with the natural
       excitement all mustalids feel when they've helped to defenestrate a master criminal.

The one-eyed man sighed, and turned his attention back to the Volkswagen van. The wolves were almost
upon it, he noted with satisfaction.



                      Part XII – In which matters of Vehicular Insurance arise

       The wolves were almost upon the van, snapping at the rear bumper. The VW's engine was
       making a lot of noise, but not achieving a proportionate level of speed.

       Bulya was looking out of the van's rear window.

       “Reckon that gray one is the same dingo that did for Tore,” said Bulya, “But it's hard for a fella to
       tell. There's like other slightly different gray wolves, and more than one she-wolf.”

       “Tom, old fellow,” said Captain Spaulding, “You wouldn't happen to have a gun or two lying
       about the place, would you?”

       “Captain,” said Tom, “You do realise that the idea that all Americans are gun-fondling loons is
       just a dumb stereotype? Like the silly idea that Brits are all refined tea-swilling types, or
       Australians are crocodile-wrestling bushwhackers?”

       “Oh, of course, my good chap,” said Captain Spaulding.

       “I reckon.” agreed Bulya.



                                               -Page 21 of 41-
“Good,” said the Reverend Tom, “Well that being clearly understood, you'll find an arms cache
in the big cupboard on the left. Underneath the camera equipment and the manacles.”

Bulya dived for the cupboard. “Guns!” he said, “Lots of guns! You beauty!”

“Captain; revolver,” he said, throwing the Captain a large handgun.

“Much obliged,” said Spaulding.

“Professor, do ya want a big one or a small one? Don't answer that, reckon I can guess.” Bulya
said, passing Professor Y a shotgun.

“Naxuul, can you...” Bulya began.

“Shoot? I'm an artist not a hitman.” said Naxuul.

“Yeah?” said Bulya, handing him a small pistol, “Well keep the shooty end pointed away from
us, mate.”

Bulya grabbed a machine pistol and kicked out the rear window, opening fire with a incoherent
yell. The others leaned out of the van's windows, and also began firing. The lead wolves fell back
with much yelping and howling, but there were other wolves keen to take their places. Some were
even biting at the rear wheels.

“Er, Captain,” said Tom, “Looks like we've got wood.”

“What?” said the Captain.

“Sorry, bad choice of words,” said Tom, pointed up the road, “But there appears to be a small
forest on the road.”

Indeed, it did seem that a nearby copse had relocated itself onto the tarmac, and was now waving
aggressively at the approaching camper van.

“Bother.” said Captain Spaulding.

“Yeah,” said Tom, “And when we hit them, my insurance company is never going to believe 'a
tree jumped out at me'.”

“Her Majesty's Government will reimburse you for any damages, Tom,” said the Captain.

“Yeah,” said Bulya, “I'm sure her Maj can run to the three or four dollars this thing cost.”

“I fear,” continued the Captain, “That being eaten by wolves might pose a more serious problem
than dealing with your insurers.”

There was a clunk from the roof of the van.

“Oh, what fresh hell is this?” exclaimed the Captain.



                                       -Page 22 of 41-
Bulya peered up through the camper's cloudy plastic skylight.

“Ripper!” he said, “It's only the Albion, and they've dropped us a line.”

“Excellent!” said Captain Spaulding, “Professor, how would you characterise this vehicle's
structural integrity?”

The Professor dubiously prodded the wall of the van. “It appears to be mostly iron-three-oxide –
not a material traditionally valued for its tensile strength. In technical terms; it's a piece of shit.”

“Hey!” said Tom, “The bodywork may be a little corroded, but there's plenty of layers of good
strong paint holding it together.”

“Well,” said the Captain, “I don't suppose we have much choice. Bulya?”

Bulya bashed out the skylight, and pulled the hook and line inside. He cast about for something to
attach it to.

“Under the carpet there,” said Tom, “There's a D-ring bolted to the floor. That's pretty secure.”

“Why...? No never mind.” said the Professor.

Bulya clipped the hook to the D-ring and gave the line a sharp tug.

The van had almost reached the trees. The wolves were running alongside, and trying to leap
through the rear window, although Professor Y and the Captain did a good job of putting down
the most persistent ones. Naxuul, not so much.

The line went taut. The van made a noise like a sad whale. For a second it looked as if nothing
else was going to happen. Then van lifted an inch off the floor. The wheels span against thin air
and the engine raced. Tom killed it. The camper van continued to rise.

“Not going to clear the trees.” said Tom.

Behind them, the Gray Wolf made a last leap at the rear window. She changed form mid jump,
and grabbed on to the empty window frame with her bare hands. The van spun violently. She
locked eyes with Bulya, bared her teeth, and began to pull herself through the window.

Professor Y smacked her in the chin with the shotgun butt, and the Gray Wolf fell away.

“I feel I ought to say something witty.” said the Professor.

Bulya thought for a moment. “How about 'Butt out, sister!'” he suggested.

“Good one,” said the Professor, “We'll pretend I said that.”

“Wow,” said Tom, who had been watching in the rear-view mirror, “That must be the first time
I've ever been glad that a nekkid chick hasn't climbed into the van.”

Then there was much snapping, cracking and scraping from beneath the van, as it just barely


                                         -Page 23 of 41-
       cleared the tree-tops, breaking off several branches as it did so, and leaving its exhaust pipe
       behind. And then they were over, and free. The van turned sedately as it floated serenely over the
       Georgia countryside, gradually ascending into the heavens. The howling of the wolf pack was
       soon left behind.

       “Crickey!” exclaimed Bulya, “I didn't think very much of Georgia. The Peach State? The
       Werewolf and Evil Tree State'd be closer to the mark.”

       Eventually, the van was winched into one of the Perfidious Albion's cargo bays. As the bay doors
       closed beneath them, the team climbed out. Kate and the Half-Witt were there to meet them.

       “Captain!” said Kate, “Nice dress.”

       “I'll be bloody glad to get out of this one.” said Bulya.

       “Professor,” hissed Naxuul to the Professor, “Would you try and think a little more quietly,
       please?”

       “Is everything all right Half-Witt, Doctor K?” asked the Captain, “Why did you leave in such a
       hurry?”

       “Would you believe,” said Kate, “That the butler did it?”




                              Part XIII – In which there is much Talking

The one-eyed man shook his head, amazed that the monster-hunters still lived. He was travelling in the
branches of the Tree-being, surrounded by a small army of similarly mobile vegetation. The Gray Wolf
had slunk back with her tail between her legs. He would have to deal with the monster-hunters
personally, he thought.

       Back on the bridge, and back in trousers, Captain Spaulding was addressing the team.

       “So,” the Captain was saying, “It's fair to say our trip wasn't a total success.”

       “You burned my house down!” Naxuul pointed out, “Destroyed my artwork! Then more-or-less
       kidnapped me!”

       “Not, as I say, a total success,” admitted the Captain, “I'm afraid we'll need...”

       “Me to psi-probe that ... thing again? No way.” said Naxuul. Bulya, who was already half-way
       towards unbuckling his trousers, shrugged and stopped. Kate, noticing, shot a puzzled look at the
       Professor, who whispered, “Every time he hears the word probe, Bulya drops his pants.”

       “Anyhow,” said Bulya, apparently remembering something, “I reckon it's probably for the best. I
       don't like to knock, Nax, but you're really not much of an artist.” Bulya pulled out the
       sketchbook, and flipped it open. “I mean, I wasn't wearin' a hat, and I reckon I've got two eyes...”



                                               -Page 24 of 41-
“Bulya!” interrupted the Captain, “You took the sketchbook? Jolly good work. Pass it here,
there's a good chap.”

The Captain examined it intently.

“Right,” said Captain Spaulding, “Progress! I believe Mr Naxuul has drawn the likeness of the
monstrous intelligence that we face.”

“Well?” said Reverend Tom, “What or who is it?”

“You probably know the chap as Odin,” said the Captain, “Though he sometimes goes by the
aliases Wotan, Woden, Othinn, Alfadir, Allfather, etcetera.”

“Wait,” said Tom, “Odin? The Norse god of, um, stuff? He's not a bad god, is he?”

“He's a complex fellow,” explained Captain Spaulding, “God of poetry and wisdom but also
battle and death. We're probably only dealing with one of his aspects.”

“An inner process stands in need of outward criteria.” suggested the Half-Witt.

Bulya was looking at the sketchbook again. “Judging by this,” he said, “This is the aspect of a
grey-hair with a gutful of piss. Enough with the exposition, Cap'n. What does this mongrel want,
and how can we stop him?”

“He wants his spear,” said Naxuul, in a dazed manner, “He's going to fetch his spear.”

“Bravo, Mr Naxuul!” said the Captain, “His spear, Gungnir, “The Unwavering One”, always hit
its target, and can be used to start wars.”

“I think we've probably got enough wars.” suggested the Professor.

“Quite,” said the Captain, “I rather think we ought to prevent him from retrieving it. Now if I
could just remember...”

“But how are we going to stop a god?” asked the Reverend Tom.

“We could call The Unruly One.” suggested the Professor.

“Now, now,” said Spaulding, “There's no need to go overboard, Professor. We are only dealing
with one rogue god, after all. It would be a bad show to invoke The Unruly One for every little
problem.”

“You're only saying that 'cos she goosed you last time we summoned her.” suggested Bulya.

“That's as may be,” said the Captain, “Nonetheless, I'm sure this is something that we can deal
with without supernatural assistance.”

“What's your plan then, Captain?” asked Tom.

“As it happens,” explained Captain Spaulding, “The Professor and Doctor Kate have developed


                                       -Page 25 of 41-
something that might prove rather useful: Project Nietzsche.”

“What's 'Project Nietzsche'?” asked Tom.

“You're not meant to know about that, Captain.” said the Professor.

“What's 'Project Nietzsche'?” repeated Tom.

“Gott ist tot.” quoth the Half-Witt.

“Could someone please tell me what 'Project Nietzsche' is?” said Tom.

“Weaponized atheism.” explained Professor Y.




                    Part XIV – In which Science and Religion collide

“Weaponized atheism?” exclaimed the Reverend Tom.

“Yeah,” said the Professor, “We extracted samples of atheism from Dawkins, Blackham and
those guys. We filtered, purified and concentrated it, before processing it into an aerosol
dispersible particulate.”

“Holy dooley!” said Bulya, “You invented a god-repellent spray?”

“Well, it's not actually been tested on any gods,” admitted the Professor.

“Gods are quite hard to keep in a laboratory scenario,” explained Doctor Kate, “But we did try it
on some very devout mice.”

“The idea was,” said the Professor, “If you were worried that, just to pluck an example from thin
air, government policy was being unduly influenced by religious ideas, one could sneak into the
Whitehouse, spray around some God-Be-Gone, and the problem is sorted.”

“I don't like that idea,” said the Reverend, “Religion provides a valuable tool for exploiting...,
ahem, I mean religion provides valuable counsel to those who have lost their way.”

“Actually,” said the Professor, “We also began to think it was a bad idea. Especially when a
government contact asked if we could make a version that only targeted certain religions. So we
buried the project.”

“But you did bring a container of Project Nietzsche with you on this trip?” said the Captain, “Just
in case?”

“Yes.” said the Professor, “There's a canister of Project Nietzsche in one of the equipment
lockers.”

“Good girl!” said the Captain, “You may yet get a chance to test Project Nietzsche on an actual


                                        -Page 26 of 41-
god.”

“If was are going to use it,” suggest Tom, “Could we possibly come up with a snappier name for
it? I'm already tired with saying 'Project Nietzsche' every five seconds.”

“Like what, dear chap?”

“Like 'Project N'? Or just 'Pro N'.” suggested Tom, “Fighting god with ProN has a certain ring to
it.”

“Leaving aside that vital question,” said Buyla, “Aren't you larrikins forgettin' something? We
can't use this spray if we can't find the bludger, and we don't know where he is, or where he's
going. We can't go fossicking up'n'down the whole country 'til we find the freckle.”

“Quite right, Bulya,” said the Captain, “Which is why I've been trying to remember where I've
heard Gungnir mentioned recently.”

Everyone waited expectantly while the Captain thought. He hurried over to the Half-Witt's book-
lined area, and pulled out one of the filing cabinet drawers. He began taking out manilla folders,
discarding them until he found the one he sought.

“Aha!” he said, “Here it is. One of Deep One's reports from a couple of year's ago. The spear is
apparently in the possession of a relatively harmless dagonic cult; 'The Order of the Coelacanth'”

“What are they doing with Odin's spear?” asked the Professor.

“Oh, they think it's the Spear of Destiny.” said Captain Spaulding with a chuckle.

“The noobs!” exclaimed Tom.

“I'm a bit surprised that you left a powerful magic artefact with a bunch of cultists.” said
Professor Y.

“Oh,” said the Captain, “It's probably rather safer that they have it than it be in government
hands. You can't imagine the dreadful row I had with our Prime Minister when he wanted to send
Excalibur to Iraq. I was frightfully close to slapping the fellow.”

“I almost slapped him too,” recalled Bulya, “No particular reason...”

“Besides,” continued the Captain, scanning the report, “This 'Order of the Coelacanth' aren't all
that dangerous. Originally their activities focused on delivering the country to their dark aquatic
masters, but nowadays they've mellowed somewhat.”

“What do they do nowadays?” asked Kate.

“Mostly watch import cartoons.” said Captain Spaulding.

“And we know where these cultists are, right?” said Tom.

“Oh yes, old chap,” said the Captain, “They have a small compound just outside [ location


                                        -Page 27 of 41-
       redacted for security reasons ].”

       “[ Location redacted ]?” asked the Professor, “In [ state redacted ]?”

       “That's right,” said Captain Spaulding, “They call it 'The [ characterisation redacted ] State'.”

       “Is that because [ witticism redacted ]?” suggested Bulya. Everyone laughed.

       “Good one, Bulya,” said the Captain, “Highly amusing. [ Witticism redacted ] indeed!”




                                 Part XV – In which a Plot is hatched

       The High Priestess of The Order of the Coelacanth was on her reclining throne watching the
       original video animation Hades Battle Admiral Iota and brushing her hair. The door of the
       sanctum flew open and a young man, the foremost Knight of the Order, hurried in. The order
       operated a hierarchical structure for its warriors, with each knight being denoted by their rank,
       rank 1 being above rank 2. This young man was Rank-0.

       “Trees!” he said breathlessly, “Bloody thousands of them. Marching towards the compound”

       “Trees marching towards the compound?” exclaimed the High Priestess of The Order of the
       Coelacanth, whose closest acolytes called her Coeli, “What is this, the last act of Macbeth?”

       (Although, in point of fact, she had never seen nor read Macbeth, though she had enjoyed
       Magical Dagger Adventure Witch Police which had refreshed Shakespeare's tired old story by
       setting it in a Tokyo police precinct in 2108AD, with a cast of cat-girls.)

Odin withdrew his gaze from the sanctum. Travelling by tree was comfortable enough, but not very fast.
Odin wished that Sleipnir, his eight-legged horse was here, even if the damn thing did cost a fortune in
farrier's bills. Already, the Perfidious Albion hung above the compound, a black shape in the evening
sky. The monster-hunters would have the advantage of preparation, he reflected. He would have to make
do with the advantage of being an immortal god and peerless warrior who could observe their every
move. Accordingly, he directed his mind towards the bridge of the airship.

       “Bulya, my good fellow,” Captain Spaulding was asking, “Do we still have those anti-stab vests
       we wore when we had that spot of bother with those sword-demons underneath Calcutta?”

       “Reckon so, Cap'n,” said Bulya, “Why? Some sort of plan forming in the old noggin?”

       “Look,” said Naxuul, “I'm not sure what to make of all this nonsense about gods and spears and
       such. But that intelligence is very scary, and he's watching us now! And you may be a bunch of
       weirdos, perverts and Australians, but you're going to get killed if you try and take him by
       surprise.”

       “Good point, Mr Naxuul,” said the Captain, “So does he...”

       “Read our minds?” predicted Naxuul, “Well, he could, but I think we're a bit too, um, limited for


                                               -Page 28 of 41-
       him to comprehend. So he usually just watches and listens.”

       “So could you...” began the Captain.

       “Block him out? Probably, but not indefinably.” said Naxuul.

       “Or...” said the Captain.

       “Or even present a false image? Psi-camouflage? Maybe, just maybe, but not for very long.” said
       Naxuul.

       “Very well.” said the Captain, “Thank you, Mr Naxuul. If you could block him out now, I'll
       explain the plan to everyone.”

       “Okay.” said Naxuul.

Odin felt his gaze slide off the airship. Angrily he sent it back, but found that it again glanced off the psi-
shield Naxuul had erected. Damn them, Odin thought, I don't remember mortals being this tricky. Still,
what were they going to do, kill him? Odin laughed. He smashed his mind against the psi-shield until
eventually it collapsed.

       “Right,” Captain Spaulding was saying, “So to recap: nothing too complicated. Bulya and the
       Professor will fight a delaying action, while myself, the Half-Witt and Reverend Tom go for the
       spear. Kate will mind the airship. Naxuul, as a civilian, will sit this one out.”

       “Actually,” said the Professor, “He already seems to be out.” She nodded towards Naxuul's
       unconscious form.

       “Well spotted, Professor,” said the Captain, “Ixnay ethay anplay alktay, everyone.”

Simpletons, thought Odin. He directed his intelligence back toward the compound.

       The Knights of The Order of the Coelacanth were nervous. They had always faced a high rate of
       attrition; not due to any conflict, but simply because the young men of the order tended to find
       girlfriends sooner or later. Standing about a windy compound waiting for the inevitable
       Investigator raid soon paled in comparison to making out. Certainly, they were not enough of
       them to hold back the advancing trees, and now people were abseiling from the mysterious
       airship that had turned up a while back. Several of the Knights quietly chose patrol routes that
       would take them to the nearest bar. Rank-0, on the other hand, lead a small cadre of Knights
       against the aerial invaders.

       Captain Spaulding, Half-Witt and Reverend Tom hurried across the compound. The group of
       Knights blocked their path, Rank-0 at their head.

       “You'll have to excuse us chaps,” said Captain Spaulding, “we're in rather a hurry.”

       Rank-0 shook his head.

       “Let me handle this Captain,” said Reverend Tom, stepping to the fore, “I have some experience
       with heathens.”


                                                -Page 29 of 41-
Rank-0 and Tom faced off against each other.

“I warn you,” said Tom, striking a vaguely martial pose, “I learned my kung fu from watching
Bruce Lee movies.”

“Yeah?” said Rank-0, leaping twenty feet into the air, “I learned mine from Dragonball-Z!”

“Bugger.” said Tom.



                    Part XVI – In which a hidden Truth is revealed

Two of the remaining Knights of The Order of the Coelacanth, Rank-1a and Rank-1b, charged
the Captain and the Half-Witt. A third knight, hung back uncertainly.

The Captain, almost apologetically, engaged the first Knight in fisticuffs so sporting that the
Marquis of Queensbury himself would probably have advised a swift knee to the bollocks
instead. The Half-Witt, on the other hand, fought the second Knight with the cold precision of an
analytic philosopher. The two Knights were rapidly rendered unconscious, and the third Knight,
Rank-2b, decided not to take arms against a sea of troubles.

The Captain and the Half-Witt turned, watching Reverend Tom and Rank-0 fighting noisily and
energetically, but without much signs of actual contact.

“I rather think,” said the Captain, “That this is what young people call a 'shark versus bear'
situation. I suggest we leave them to it.”

Half-Witt and the Captain made their way over to the small and rather ramshackle prefabricated
Temple of Doom that stood in the centre of the compound. Bursting into the inner sanctum,
Captain Spaulding was forced to stop rather abruptly to prevent himself running directly into the
spear Gungnir. The High Priestess of The Order of the Coelacanth, who held the spear, looked
rather angry.

“Ah!” said the Captain, wondering if he should have brought chocolate, “There's no need for
aggression, my good woman, um, priestess is it?”

“High priestess” said Coeli, coldly.

“Of course,” said the Captain, “I should have guessed. And I am Captain Spaulding, and this is
my colleague the Half-Witt.”

“And who is...” Coeli began.

“Ssh!” said the Captain, putting a finger to his lips, “I'm afraid we don't have time to observe all
the proper niceties. Long story short: we need that spear.”

“The Spear of Destiny?” said Coeli, “The spear that will herald the final victory of our aquatic
overlords?”


                                        -Page 30 of 41-
       “It's not the Spear of Destiny, young lady,” said the Captain, firmly, “It's a completely different
       magical spear. But we're prepared to offer a jolly good deal, and give you an even more sought
       out artefact in its place.”

       Now Coeli was not all that attached to the spear. It was difficult to dust, and tended to fall over at
       the slightest provocation. She indicated the she would hear the Captain's offer, and the Half-Witt
       reached into his knapsack.

       “Behold,” said Captain Spaulding, “A holy grail!”

       “A holy grail?” queried Coeli, “Shouldn't that be the holy grail?”

       “Well,” said Spaulding, “There are eleven of them. Eleven genuine ones that is, goodness knows
       how many fakes.”

       “Eleven?” said Coeli.

       “Oh yes,” said the Captain, “As I'm sure you know, the grail is the cup used by JC at the last
       supper. Trouble is, some jolly clever chap nipped back – time-travel, don't you know – and posed
       as an over-attentive waiter, forever changing Big-J's cup. Upshot is; eleven holy grails. Simon the
       Impeccable* writes about it in his gospel: of course, the Council of Nicaea had to suppress the
       whole business.”

       Coeli thought about it. She had always wanted a holy grail.

       “You've got yourself a deal,” she said.

       “Good show!” said the Captain, handing her the grail, and receiving the spear in return. To the
       Half-Witt he said, “I'll just let the others know.”

Odin followed the message up to the airship.

       Doctor Kate stood at the command console, watching the panels intensely. A rocket-propelled-
       grenade launcher sat by the shattered observation port. There was no sign of Naxuul.

The coward was probably hiding, thought Odin, as he tracked the Captain's message down to Bulya and
the Professor.

       Bulya and Professor Y were almost directly below the Perfidious Albion, and had a fair amount
       of that vessel's armoury arrayed around them.

* A short excerpt from The Gospel of Simon the Impeccable:
       And again the servant did approach the Lord, saying unto him 'Lord, your cup doth have a little
       smudge upon it, let me fetch you another'. And the Lord spoke thusly: “Nay, I will keep this cup,
       for thou have already deprived me of several cups. Now go from here and bring me some more
       bread.”. And Peter did also say “And a side of onion rings.” And the servant did say to the Lord,
       “Lord, observe how Judas doth juggle most expertly.” And as Our Lord looked at Judas, who did
       not juggle, the servant did swiftly take away the Lord's cup. At this the Lord was most angry,
       saying unto the servant: “I hath not finished with that cup, for it doth still contain nearly one
       quarter of a cup of wine therein. If thou believest thou art getting a tip, thou art greatly mistaken.”

                                                 -Page 31 of 41-
       “Right,” said Bulya, “That's the Captain's signal.”

       The grassy area outside the compound contained several wooden picnic tables, presumably for
       the cultists to use when the weather was warm and they weren't too busy arranging for the victory
       of their aquatic gods. It was at one of these tables that Bulya and Professor Y now prepared to
       make their stand. In front of them, the line of hostile trees grew ever nearer.



                               Part XVII – In which a Warranty is voided

       Bulya and the Professor opened fire. Bulya was using a minigun with incendiary rounds, while
       Professor Y fired a lab-built laser rifle. The end result was a lot of flammage, as the smaller trees
       and bushes at the front of the pack started to go up in smoke. But other trees took their places;
       Bulya and the Professor were slowing them down, but they were not holding them back.

       “There's the mongrel!” shouted Bulya, nodding at the largest tree-being, “Concentrate your fire!”

Seated in the branches of the largest tree-being, Odin was not greatly concerned by the bullets that
whipped by, nor by the glittering of the laser rifle. Nonetheless, he turned to the tree-being and said
“Destroy them!”.

“A 'please' wouldn't go amiss.” rumbled the tree, as it picked up a boulder the size of a small car, and
taking a moment to aim, bowled it at the Professor and Bulya.

       The boulder flew out of the smoke and gathering darkness, skipping along the ground.

       Bulya and the Professor saw immediately that they didn't have time to get out of its path, instead
       they silently reached across and joined hands.

       The boulder caught a small tussock, and flew into the air, spinning over the picnic table and the
       two monster-hunter's heads, close enough to knock Bulya's hat off.

       “Whew!” said Bulya, snatching his hand back, “I mean, I reckoned that would prob'ly happen.”

       Professor Y looked cross. She took out her cellphone.

       “That was too close,” she said, dialling, “I'm calling King Mantis.”

       “Typical,” said Bulya, “Bloody feminists. First sign of trouble and they're on the blower to their
       boyfriends.”

       “I'm not sure this is really the first sign of trouble.” said the Professor.

Disinterestedly, Odin's mind followed the path of the boulder.

       At the edge of the compound, the Reverend Tom and Rank-0 were still fighting.

       “Iron Badger Punch!” shouted Rank-0, launching a complicated looking attack.


                                                 -Page 32 of 41-
       “Twelve Gongs Beneficent Defence!” countered Reverend Tom.

       “Harmonious Whispering Starfall Thunder Attack!” yelled Rank-0.

       “Er, really big rock.” said Tom.

       “What?” said Rank-0, “I don't think I know that one. But don't you mean 'Magnificent Stone
       Prana' or...”

       Tom grabbed him by his collar and yanked Rank-0 out of the way, as the boulder flew by and
       smashed into the dormitory hut.

       “No.” said Tom, breathlessly, “I mean really big god-damn rock.”

Odin directed his attention back at Bulya and the Professor.

       Around them, the air began to darken. Bulya swatted at a few flies that swooped around his head.
       A drowsy buzzing surrounded them. Out of the darkness, a swarm of insects coalesced; locusts,
       beetles, wasps. They swirled around the monster-hunters, then raced off towards the trees.

       Each tree that the swarm encountered was engulfed in biting, chewing mandibles. Its leaves were
       stripped from it, its bark was bored into, its flesh was chewed and pulped. Soon the trees began
       the break and flee, and trees being the pack vegetables that they are, soon this had turned into a
       fully fledged arboreal rout.

Odin found himself being lowered to the ground.

“Time for me to make like a tree,” boomed the tree-being, “and go.”

“Leaf.” said Odin, rolling his eye, “Make like a tree and leaf.”

“I intend to.” rumbled the tree, turning and ambling off. Odin sighed. The Gray Wolf stood beside him
again, and he skritched her head.

“Come on,” he said, “Let's finish this.”

       The swarm abandoned the retreating trees and zig-zagged back to Professor Y and Bulya. The
       cloud of insects became more and more compact, until it condensed into a human form standing
       next to them.

       “King Mantis, I presume,” said Bulya, extending a hand, “Good onya fella, you're a braver man
       than me.”

       King Mantis looked perfectly human now, although there was still something subtly insectile
       about his manner.

       “Oh,” he said, glancing towards the departing trees, “I was in no danger.”

       “I didn't mean that,” said Bulya, “I meant dating the Professor.”


                                               -Page 33 of 41-
       The King Mantis nodded solemnly, and turned to Professor Y.

       “I have insect related things to attend to,” he said, “But I will see you later, yes?”

       “Yes, Mr Schmoopy-pants.” said the Professor.

       The King Mantis leaned in and kissed her.

       “Later, Mrs Snuggle-baps.” he said. Then he dissolved into several thousand kinds of insect;
       beetles, flies, bees and grubs, which scattered in all directions.

       “Yuck” said Bulya.

       “His 'turn into bugs' trick can be a bit disconcerting at first.” said the Professor.

       “Nah,” said Bulya, “I meant Schmoopy-pants and Snuggle-baps. Yuck”

       Professor Y was about to reply, when the Gray Wolf leapt out of the darkness, landed squarely on
       the picnic table, and tried to bite the Professor's throat out.

       “Hey,” said Bulya, pushing the Professor out of the way of the Wolf's teeth, “No bitches at the
       table!”

       The Gray Wolf leapt off the table and circled around them. Bulya drew his really big knife.

       “I'll deal with this, Prof,” said Bulya, “You stay and give Doc the signal.” Bulya charged towards
       the Gray Wolf. “Come on then, ya mangy dingo!”

       “Be careful,” said Professor Y, “Don't forget that powder...”

       There was much growling and snapping and slashing and swearing, and Professor Y soon lost
       track of Bulya and the Wolf in the darkness. She turned to face the other way. She could see a
       grey figure approaching out of the night. She waited until Odin was in the correct spot, then
       signalled to Kate on the Albion, hovering above.

Odin paused. What was she doing, he wondered?

Then a Volkswagen Camper Van dropped onto his head.

There was a short moment of stillness. The van rocked slightly. Then it exploded into ten thousand
pieces; hubcaps, fender, and shards of metal spinning away into the darkness. Professor Y took cover
behind the table as several bits of burning van embedded themselves in it.

Odin brushed off his broad-brimmed hat. His laughter boomed out across the night.

“Is that really the best you can do?” he said.




                                                 -Page 34 of 41-
                             Part XVIII – In which Things come to an End

Professor Y fired the laser rifle at Odin, but the beam scattered off his robes, having no more effect than
a moonbeam would have done. Odin toyed with the idea of killing the Professor, but reflected that she'd
be dead soon enough anyway. Instead he ignored her, walking past her towards the compound. Odin
wondered how the Gray Wolf fared.

       Bulya spun around. The Wolf had disappeared into the darkness again, and was circling him,
       making use of the fact that she had night vision whereas he did not.

       The Wolf charged out of the night. Bulya turned and knocked her away awkwardly, receiving a
       long deep scratch on his arm for his trouble.

       “Aw, give a bloke a fair go!” said Bulya, as the Wolf bounded away into the darkness again.
       Belatedly he remembered the powder that the Doc had given him, and fished the sachet out of his
       pocket.

       As the Wolf charged again, he tore the sachet open with his teeth and flung the powder into her
       face, before diving out of the way.

       The Wolf stumbled, changing back into her human form. She sneezed.

       “Wolfsbane and silver” said Bulya, reading the sachet, “You're just a sheila now.”

       “I can still bite your head off, and rip your heart out.” she growled.

       “Yeah,” said Bulya, ruefully, “Like I said: a sheila.”

       The Gray Wolf leapt at him, snarling.

Odin continued into the compound, observing now that Captain Spaulding and the Reverend Tom were
walking towards him. Neither side hurried. There was no sign of the Half-Witt. Odin saw that the
Captain carried the spear Gungnir.

They met in the compound's central courtyard, halting a little way apart.

“Captain,” boomed Odin, “You have something of mine.”

“Yes,” said Captain Spaulding, “And it must remain so. We can't have you starting any more wars.”

Odin laughed, “I didn't plan to. Gungnir always hits its target, you know...”

The Captain nodded.

“Even,” continued Odin, “When aimed against something abstract, such as the very idea of humanity. I
am a god, and with my spear I can murder concepts as easily as you might kill a rabbit.”

“But why?” asked the Captain, “You've never been an enemy to mankind.”



                                               -Page 35 of 41-
“Pshaw,” said Odin, “There are no men left! Just women who have never picked up an axe, and who
hope to die of old age. My people are long gone. And yet still you mortals bother me with prayers and
invocations; 'help me pass my exams, Odin', 'Odin, help me give up smoking'. I wait for Ragnarok, the
fate of the gods, but I would wait in silence.”

“Sheesh,” muttered Tom, “Go sit in a library or something.”

“So, Captain,” said Odin, “I will be needing that spear.”

The Captain hefted the spear, and flung it directly at Odin. It was an excellent throw, striking Odin
squarely in the upper chest. And bouncing off. Odin caught it, and laughed.

“Nice throw, Captain. Unfortunately, while the spear always hits its target, it doesn't necessary injure
them. Had you been a god, or even a giant, you might have done some damage.”

Odin smiled, deciding to check on the Wolf before he killed these people.

       Blood was dripping into one of Bulya's eyes from a cut on his forehead. He had lost his knife a
       while back. The Wolf girl was too fast for him.

       She charged in again, teeth snapping for his neck. Bulya flung her away, but she skidded to a halt
       then bounded back at him knocking him to the ground. He twisted to keep her from clawing his
       face off, trying to grab her wrists, trying to pin her. But she was too strong for him, and knocked
       his hands aside, again darting in to try to bite out his throat. Bulya felt her teeth on his neck. But,
       to Bulya's surprise, she merely nipped him.

       Bulya and the Wolf girl gazed at one another, nose to nose. They were both breathing heavily,
       scratched and bruised, covered in mud and sweat, twigs and dry leaves. Bulya became concious
       of her warm, muscular body pressed against his.

       “Bite me.” she whispered, urgently.

       She moved in again, pulling him close and softly biting his shoulder. Bulya responded in kind,
       gently nibbling the Wolf girl's ear. She made a low sound halfway between a moan and a growl,
       and wriggled, her hands reaching for the buckle of Bulya's belt. Bulya wondered about the
       feasibility of getting some sort of quick-release buckle.

Odin winced, pulling his conciousness back to the compound. He felt strangely dizzy. The hand and arm
that held the spear tingled and burned.

“What did you do?” he boomed.

“While you were being distracted by Volkswagens and Insect gods,” said the Captain, “We coated the
spear with half a canister of Project Nietzsche.”

“Volkswagens?” muttered Reverend Tom, puzzled.

“Clever,” said Odin, “It has weakened me ... a little. Perhaps that will be some consolation in the
afterlife, Captain.”



                                                -Page 36 of 41-
He flung the spear hard at Captain Spaulding. The spear leapt across the courtyard towards him, then
suddenly slowed, decelerating sharply. Finally, it came to a stop, just quivering in the air, about a foot
from the Captain's chest. Then Gungnir, the unwavering one, wavered. It flipped around, like a compass
needle turning to point North.

“What?” said Odin.

Captain Spaulding wobbled, then flickered, then vanished, as the psi-camouflage collapsed. In his place
stood the Half-Witt and Naxuul. Naxuul looked pale, and had a nosebleed.

“Where's...?” began Odin.

Then the spear snapped forward, back across the courtyard. It struck Odin in chest, and having been
thrown by a god, was not deflected but instead transfixed him, a clear foot of the spear emerging from
his back. Odin gasped.

“I'm directly behind you, my good fellow.” said the real Captain, from the other side of the courtyard.

Odin spun around.

“Well played, Captain.” said Odin, gasping and trying to pull out the spear, “But I have been pierced by
this spear before. It hurts, but it will not stop me from destroying you all.”

“Mmm,” said the Captain, “Except when Gungnir pierced you before, it wasn't coated with half a
canister of Project Nietzsche, was it, old bean?”

Odin staggered, his vision blurry. He could feel the Project N in his blood, burning. He could just about
make it out of here, he realised.

“Very well,” he said, taking a few steps across the courtyard, “You've won this round. But when I
return ... wait. Half a canister?”

Captain Spaulding nodded. There was a -crump- from the Albion, as Kate fired the rocket-propelled-
grenade containing the other half of the canister of Project N. It exploded at Odin's feet, engulfing him in
a cloud of atheistic smoke. Odin dropped to his knees, screaming. His flesh began to dissolve, boiling
away in billows of purple smoke. The was a great thunderclap and a burst of blinding light, then Odin
was gone, and only a few greasy wisps of smoke remained.

“RPGs for teh win!” shouted Reverend Tom.

As the last wisps of smoke dispersed, the spear Gungnir pulled free and whipped across the courtyard. It
struck Captain Spaulding in the chest and lifted him off his feet, slamming him into the wooden wall of
one of the cabins.

Professor Y, who had been following Odin at a safe distance, was the first to reach the Captain, with
Tom, the Half-Witt and Naxuul close behind.

“It always hits its target,” said the Captain through gritted teeth. “But doesn't always injure,” he
continued, pulling the spear out of the anti-stab vest that he was wearing beneath his shirt. “Although
one does rather feel like one's been kicked in the ribs.”


                                               -Page 37 of 41-
Captain Spaulding paused to catch his breath.

“Jolly good job, everyone,” said the Captain, “Although you didn't get my voice exactly right, Mr Half-
Witt. You made me sound rather stuffy, and a little pompous.”

“Language sets everyone the same traps;” said the Half-Witt, “It is an immense network of easily
accessible wrong turnings.”

“Quite so, old chap.” agreed the Captain, “Now, is everyone all right? I don't see Bulya.”

“He was fighting that Gray Wolf,” said the Professor, “I hope he's not hurt.”

“No worries, cobbers.” said Bulya, emerging from the darkness. He was limping, dishevelled and
scratched. He'd found his really big knife at the edge of the compound, and was putting back into its
sheath.

“Ah, Bulya,” said the Captain, “I imagine you used your mighty weapon to get the better of that
ferocious animal?”

“You might say that, Captain,” smirked Bulya, “You might very well say that.”

“Right then everyone,” said the Captain, pulling out his communicator, “I think we've all earned a spot
of tea. And maybe a hob-nob. Katie, lower the winch, please. Come along. Oh, and could someone tell
the Reverend what we did with his van.”

“Wha...?” said Reverend Tom.

The High Priest of The Order of the Coelacanth and the Rank-0 Knight of The Order of the Coelacanth
watched the monster-hunters depart. The compound was deserted now, and partially demolished.

“I don't think our dark aquatic masters will approve of this.” said the High Priestess.

“We should probably start rebuilding.” said Rank-0.

“Yeah,” said Coeli, “Or we could go inside and watch the new episodes of Exploding Space Princess
Hoshiko. There's probably an unnecessary and poorly unexplained shower scene.”

“Rock!” said Rank-0.

                                                  Epilogue

The black telephone rang in Senator Richeson's office. He walked over and lifted the handset.

“Yes, sir,” he said, “A false alarm ... Yes, a close run thing ... They are a resourceful group, aren't
they? ... I quite agree, we will have to dispose of them before we make our move ... Yes, KH-L2K, I
completely understand the need for secrecy ... Rest assured, I will set things in motion.”

Senator Richeson replaced the handset, sighed, and poured himself a whiskey.



                                                -Page 38 of 41-
                                                THE END
                                            Acknowledgements

             Thanks to Halfwit for kicking off the whole Doomers as Monster Hunters idea.

  Thanks to the denizens of the Chatty Thread of Doom, for allowing me to mess with their characters,
particularly those that I wrote as baddies, monsters, or Australians. Special thanks to those that fell out of
 airships, boiled away, or similarly suffered fates worse than death (it that latter category, extraordinary
                    thanks to Graywolf, for service above and beyond the call of duty.)

    Additional thanks to everyone who's offered kind words and encouragement. It's been great fun!



                               Appendix – Some Miscellaneous Questions

Q: What was going on with the statues having eyepatches?

       A: In the story, Naxuul's delicate psychic mind was picking up 'interference' from the one-eyed
       man. But I forgot to put in a line explaining this. In an 'extra-textual' sense, it was a pirate
       reference.

Q: Why has a state-of-the-art monster-hunter airship only got three crew?

       A: Government cut backs.

Q: What was the [redacted] stuff about?

       A: Obviously, I can't give away the location of one of the Holy Grails, even if there are eleven of
       them. This, and other sensitive information was redacted.

Q: Why did the Perfidious Albion have a Holy Grail anyway?

       A: Standard issue on state-of-the-art monster-hunter airships.

Q: Okay, how did The Order of the Coelacanth get Odin's Spear?

       A: eBay.

Q: Why didn't the monster-hunters follow the plan they discussed?

       A: The real plan was discussed prior to Naxuul allowing the shield to drop.

Q: Who won the fight between Rank-0 and Tom?

       A: The fight was abandoned due to really big rock. Tom and Rank-0 shook hands afterwards.

Q: Does Bulya really have a massive weapon?

       A: [Answer Redacted]


                                                -Page 39 of 41-
                                             Deleted Content

This is a bit from Part V, (in the laboratory control room) that I wasn't sure worked (I'm still not), and
broke up the flow. But here it is anyway:

       Captain Spaulding noticed a patch on the control room wall that had obviously been repainted
       recently.

       “What happened there, Professor?” he asked, “Experiment gone awry?”

       “Not exactly,” said Professor Y, “We were trying out a logo.”

       “A logo?” asked the Captain.

       “Yeah,” said the Professor, “All the best secret facilities have them: Black Mesa has that odd
       lump in a circle thing, Professor Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters has that X thing. I
       thought we ought to have something similar for this lab.”

       The Captain nodded.

       “So, this was what we came up with,” continued the Professor, pulling a laptop over, and
       showing the following symbol to the Captain:

                                                        (Y)
       “We had it painted on the wall. Then Kate noticed that it looks a bit funny...” said the Professor.

       “Funny?” said the Captain.

       “I reckon,” said Bulya, drawing a shape in the air, “Looks a bit, y'know, womanly...”

       “I don't follow, old chap.” said the Captain.

       “Strewth, Cap'n,” said Bulya, “Doesn't it remind you of anything?”

       “I'm pretty sure I've never seen anything like it in my life, old chap.” said the Captain.




                                               -Page 40 of 41-
                                   Extra Special Bonus Content

Some dirty Doomer limericks:-

      There was a hot babe named Unruley,                      There was a young kh_l2k,
      Who needed a spanking, yes, truly.                       Who didn't give that much away,
      So she ordered mankind,                                  He stared at Gray's boobies,
      To caress her behind,                                    But so do most newbies,
      Did they mind? No, not unduly.                           'Cos she won't put those puppies away.

      There was a young sharkboy named Bulya,                  There once was a wolf called graey,
      Whose manhood looked rather peculi-ya,                   Completely different from Gray,
      He showed it to Gray,                                    'Cos this one's a chap,
      Who said “Put it away,                                   And won't sit on your lap,
      I like ya, but I ain't gonna screw ya.”                  No matter how much you pay.

      There was a young hottie named Kate,                     There was a hot babe named Yttrai
      Whose libido was most hard to sate,                      Who often explained with a sigh,
      When hubby was sore,                                     How she surely did hanker,
      And she still wanted more,                               For some fella to spank 'er:
      She sighed “I'll just [redacted].”                       Well, I may know a suitable guy...

      There was a young wolf-girl named Gray,                  There was a young Mantisking,
      Who did love a roll in the hay,                          Whose praises Yttrai did sing,
      So when Vikings attack,                                  Till one fateful day,
      She'd lie on her back,                                   He fainted away;
      And beg them to please have their way.                   Well, exhaustion's a terrible thing.

      There was a young stud called Yo Master,                 There was a young chap called The Ent,
      Whose love life was a disaster,                          When Gray called, well, off he went,
      He yearns for Michelle,                                  He said "It's all good,
      When he thinks of her, well -                            'Cos I've always got wood,
      Let's just say his hand moves much faster!               But I must admit now that I'm spent”.

      There was a young Viking named Benjy,                    There was a young Wit, name of Haf,
      Whose spear was remarkably bendy,                        Of whom Graywolf said, with a laugh,
      He said, “Though it flops,                               "Though he seems meek and mild,
      All floppiness stops,                                    In bed he's just wild,
      When Graywolf takes hold of the end-y.”                  And he's hung like a god-damn giraffe!"

      There once was a Monster called Mash,                    One should never call Graywolf a bitch,
      Who never had quite enough cash,                         You'd make her right eyebrow twitch,
      "Should I perhaps seek employ,                           Then she'd rip out your heart,
      As a high class rent boy?                                And that's just for a start,
      Nah, I guess that would be a bit rash"                   Cos you don't want to piss off a witch.




                                             -Page 41 of 41-

				
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