Undead's Gamble

It's the year 1998, but not as we know it. It's a world that runs on steam and not oil. It's a world where several cultural aspects have stayed the same since the late 1800s. It's a world where vampires, werewolves and zombies are more than creatures of fairy tales and horror stories, and they are increasing in numbers.
The vampire Nathan Archer lives as an inventor of various intricate trinkers and deadly gadgets, which he sells to the highest bidder on the black market.
The human Abigail Integra Jones is a rookie agent of the Secret Intelligence Service, and she is tasked with finding the reason for the sudden rise in undead beings.
Wether it is by the hands of destiny or chance, these two are cast together and must stop the group behind this secret plot, or soon, Europe will be overrun with creatures of the night before it's populace even realizes it.

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2. The Gears Keep Turning

Chapter 1.

The Gears Keep Turning

 

 

 

 

 

10.26 a.m., March 2nd, 1998

London's Copper-Gear Elementary School, England

Nathan Archer

 

"And it is without further ado, I present Nathan Archer, a personal friend and expert on Operation Foxley." Hugo was always so polite. He called me an expert when in truth, it was him who was LBX, the mastermind behind Foxley.

Up until now, I had been leaning up against the door with the bag on my shoulder. While smiling, I fully entered the room. It was lit bright with synthetic light that simulated the sun. It had a bronze/copper shade to it, with there being different devices made of those metals everywhere.

The students were all dressed in the latest fashion and with matching accessories. Rich kids. Young adults, just at the age where they thought they knew everything. Same age I joined the army.

I walked up and shook Hugo's hand. He might look old and feeble, but he could probably still pack a punch.

While peering out at the bored faces of the pupils, I put the bag on the table, and removed my jacket so I was standing in a white shirt with a red tie and black waist coat. I rolled up my sleeves to reveal my tattoos, and even though some of the kids looked like they were about to fall into a coma and others looked like they already were, the ink on my arms alerted most of them to the fact that I wasn't just an ordinary teacher.

"Can any of you tell me what this is?" I asked the youngsters and unveiled the scoped Karabiner rifle.

The first one to answer was a hansom young man in the third row. "A gun."

"And your name is?"

He smiled while looking cocky as hell. "Anthony Stonem."

"Well Tony, from now on, your name is Captain Obvious" I said while reducing the size of his ego by one third. "This, children, isn't just any gun." I took the rifle and took aim at some invisible target in the horizon. "This is a Karabiner 98 Kurtz rifle, and an exact replica of the rifle used during the assassination of Adolf Hitler." I put the rifle down on the table. A small smirk reached both mine and Hugo's faces, because we both knew that I wasn't showing them a replica.

"Can anyone of you tell me what the turning point of World War II was?" I asked them and leaned up against the table.

"D-day?"

"Hitlers assassination?"

"The Blitz!"

I smirked again. Not because these kids got it wrong, but because everyone got it wrong. I strolled to the front of the desk and sat on it. "The blueprints for Foxley had been underway since early '43. The task of planning was left to an SOE officer codenamed LBX. He concluded that utilizing a sniper would have the largest chance of success."

For dramatic effect, I started walking around the classroom while delivering my monologue. "The plan however, met resistance, mainly from the head of the Secret Intelligence Service, Major General Sir Stewart Graham Menzies. That however changed when he was killed!"

While still telling them it, I remembered the day when it changed. Nazi sympathizers and undercover SS agents ambushed Menzies' car. After that, the SIS was out for blood and in full support of Foxley.

"Girls, are you listening?" I asked as I was behind two girls. A blond and a brunette, both with long curly hair. They were giggling at a sketch that the blond was making of me. The girl had real talent there, and apparently I wasn't bad looking.

"That's not bad, but are my eyebrows that big?" I asked them and placed one of my long and strong fingers on one of the drawn eyebrow. In truth the sketch was a perfect reproduction of my grim look; the high cheekbones, the rough skin, a small scar on my left cheek, scruffy beard, my dark hair and my eyes. They were also the only thing on the drawing with color. The dark green pupils stood out on the weak yellow paper and in between the black lines. That one had a future.

They gasped as they noticed I was standing behind them."That ain't half bad, but try and pay attention, girls." They blushed as I started to walk again. After that, most of the kids listened to what I was saying. Some of them even looked very interested during my very detailed story of how a sniper-spotter team, consisting of an English marksman and a Polish POW, codenamed Hawk and Dove, had been dropped by parachute into Germany, and stealthily infiltrated the forests surrounding the Berghof, Hitler's personal summer home.

"After shooting, from a distance of half a mile, one of the most powerful men in Europe, Hawk and Dove were hunted by an entire battalion through the forests. They were missing for three months and it was assumed they were KIA. However, in October, Hawk made his way back to London. Unfortunately, Dove was killed in action only two days after." I looked down into the floor and remembered how those beasts had ripped his body apart.

Hugo stepped forward. "Nathan here has studied very intensely what Hawk and Dove went through, so far as to reenact it in the right location. But kids, these two brave men had no idea what their actions caused because they were on the run."

I smiled again. "Hugo here, he however knows the consequences of the assassination" I said and stepped back and sat myself down on the chair behind the desk, and let Hugo tell them about the months after the 13th, about how the Nazi generals had all begun claiming leadership, about how Germany was almost cast into civil war while being at war with everyone else.

I didn't listen much for the rest of the class. Instead I found a piece of paper and began to make a sketch. Like the blond,

I had a talent. I rarely used it for art though. I used it for schematics and blueprints which I then turned into intricate pieces of machinery.

When the bell rang, I was brought out of my trance. I looked at my golden pocket watch. Hugo had rambled on about the German Civil War for a good half hour.

I leaned back and folded my hands behind my head as the kids were all shoving to get out first. "Oi! Blondie," I called to the girl who had made the sketch of me. She and her brunette friend were just about the exit the classroom. She nervously walked over to me while her cheeks took on a light red colour. Hugo was at the door, talking to a woman.

"Yes, sir?" she asked. She held a folder close to her chest. It was a kind of folder that probably contained hundreds of sketches, and from her stand, she was shy about showing them to anyone.

"Why are you so shy about your art?" I asked her.

"I- I'm not, sir" she answered while holding the folder a little closer to herself.

A light chuckle escaped my mouth. "It's okay. Most artists are. At first."

Her rosy lips pulled out to reveal a beautiful smile. "What do you know about art?" She forgot the sir. I chuckled again.

My fingers lifted up the sketch I had been working on: a portrait of her. "Wanna trade?"

She gasped. I had copied her style, right down to only colouring in the shining, blue eyes.

“Uhm... Sure.” She fumbled a little with her hands while opening the folder. She kept it very close while it was open, like a door to her soul. After withdrawing a single piece of paper, the door closed again.

She handed me the sketch and expected mine. “Artists always sign their work” I said and held mine up towards her.

“See?” My finger was pointing to the lower right corner where it said: N. Archer 1998 

I gave her the sketch back and gave her my pencil. She hesitated for a moment, then signed it E.D. Jones.

Her lips once again pulled into a smile when I gave her the portrait I had made of her. There was a certain spring in her step when she left the classroom.

A small chuckle left my mouth as I stood up and took my jacket from the chair and put it on. The woman that Hugo was talking to started to approach me.

“Hugo ol’ boy, can I get the contact information for a Miss Jones?” I asked before either of the approaching people managed to say anything. My eyes quickly studied the woman. Tall and beautiful, but she didn't want to show it, which is why she wore a minimal amount of make-up and her dark red hair was pulled into a know. She was dressed in a stiff suit and with a long skirt, both in black. She wanted to be seen as a businesswoman or (the more likely of the two) as a teacher and not as a object of sexual desire. Her pose was one that signaled a position of power. I glanced at Hugo and he showed her respect, and Hugo only show respect if it’s earned.

“We can not in good conscience just hand over privileged information about our students like that, Mr. Archer” she said in a her clear voice while she reached out to shake my hand. A smile crept its way onto my face as I reached out for it and then planted a kiss on it. Her eyes tightened by a fraction of an inch when my cold skin touched hers, but her smile also widened by that much. “Call me Nathan, misses?”

“It’s Miss Richardson, Mr Archer.”

“If you insist” I said as I made a slight shrug. She looked with fascination at my hand.

She looked like she was about to say something but was considering weather or not to dare. “When were you born Mr Archer?” she asked flat-out then.

I glanced once more at Hugo, who, like me, was not grinning, though his was a little more subtle. “A bold question Miss Richardson. If I tell you, then what do I get?” My smile was as crooked as my soul when the question left my lips.

“Well, the matter of Miss Jones’s contact information might be up for debate.” Most people would be afraid of a person if they even suspected someone of being a vampire, but some of the more intelligent people would occasionally realize that most vampires still in existence, were quite civilized creatures since they were able to blend, seamlessly, into the population.

I looked like I was considering it, but in truth I had already decided. I could easily track the girl to where she lived, but this would be much more fun. “I was born on the 24th of March, in the year 1900” I said. A quick widening of her pupils gave me a hint to what she was thinking.

“I though your retelling of Foxley was a little vivid.” Something was in the air. I could almost smell the pheromones. That reaction wasn't uncommon for the few women who knew what I was. I would blame fantasy writers. During the last couple of decades, the belief that vampires was a thing of the past had greatly romanticised the idea of courting or being courted by a vampire. I didn't mind, though, so I wont blame them.

“Your much too kind miss.” The air grew thicker. It wasn’t something a human would smell. They would sense it on a subconscious level, but I could smell it. It was as if a pure dose ecstasy was being pumped into my veins. My heart would start beating uncontrollably if it could. The smell was even better than blood.

She licked her lips. She preferred not to wear make-up, but she didn’t shy away from using a dark red lipstick that matched her hair. “Uhm, Professor Thatcher,” she turned towards Hugo, “Would you mind if I borrowed your friend for an hour or two? I think we have a lot to discuss.” Her pupils were dilated. The most popular situations where pupil dilation occurred would be when you're high from the use of recreational drugs, under emotional stress or (my favorite) when sexually aroused. Though the last one could be counted under emotional stress.

I winked at Hugo without Miss Richardson noticing. He shook his head a little while smirking. “As long as you can have him back in one piece.” He made a quick and elegant bow before Miss Richardson and then reached out for my hand.

“Nathan.”

“Hugo” I said and shook his hand. “Dinner?”

“Tomorrow?”

“The Royal?”

“At seven?”

“I’ll order a table.”

I let go of Hugo’s hand and he walked away while smiling. I made a mental note so I would remember to order us a table and turned towards Miss Richardson again.

“Come with me” she quickly said and started to walk.

“Yes, mam.” In a second I had snatched the rifle on the table, stuffed it back into the bag and caught up to her.

“So for how long have you known Professor Thatcher, Mr Archer?”

“Still Mr Archer?” I asked. She looked at me with a smirk. “Fine. Hugo and me met 55 years ago.”

“I suspected as much.” She was intelligent, that much was clear about her. The one natural thing about herself that she flaunted around without being scared of the repercussions.

We chitchatted while walking through the school. I made sure not to walk in the small rays of sunshine that might penetrate the clouds and the windows. We finally reached her office on the fourth floor.

The door was almost eight feet tall and made out of thick mahogany wood. I opened the door and stepped aside. “After you Miss Richardson.”

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