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1930s Quentin-Harper Prequel

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:49 pm
by Nairobi Zanzibar Bombay
Greetings all,

Thought I might post this bit of pulp I began last year.

I found some papers that contained the family history of Nicholas Quentin-Harper from the Seventh Scroll.
Apparently his ancestors had some adventures of their own...

Do let me know what you think.

As the august sun sunk hotly into the Indian Ocean, a battered old freighter ran westward toward the coast of British Somalia.

The Captain, a scabrous old Arab, dressed in a shabby woolen jumper, stepped from the wheelhouse, and lifted his wrinkle creased face to the sky. Somewhere far above, an airplane engine throbbed dully. The sound was almost drowned out by the sounds of the small freighter as she sailed on, the dark smoke from the single stack, contrasting her frothy wake.

“Racing the sun, my friend.” The Captain thought idly, glad that the harbor was close at hand. “Two hours more to Berbera.”
The 1500 or so nautical miles from Karachi had been odd, but uneventful. His hold was full of scrap metal, bound for African buyers, his deck stacked with extra cargo, and four well-paying passengers filled his two cramped cabins.
Two white men came along with the cumbersome deck cargo, extra kit packed away carefully, and the other two were quite mysterious. Some kind of ancient holy-man, and a young acolyte who served him.
The white men walked around the ship, maps under their arms, tales of hunting and exploration drifting on the winds, while the others stayed in their tiny cabin. Once a day the acolyte would emerge, prepare a modest meal in the galley, before retreating to the cabin once more.
The Arab’s crewmen reported hearing the hypnotic drone of the priest almost constantly through the thin walls.

Turning away from the wind the Captain shook a cigarette from a battered pack, and struck a match. He cupped the cigarette and lit it, puffing quickly. Tossing the spent match aft, he glanced eastward.
The Captain stared for a moment, then his jaw gaped and the lit cigarette fell from his lips.

Bursting back into the wheel house, the Captain rang the telegraph wildly and left it at “Ahead Full”, before snapping open the speaking tube, and yelling into it.

Below the oil-stained engineer rolled his eyes at his assistant, and mopped his sweating brow with a handful of cotton waste. He leaned close to the squawking tube and listened.
After a moment of disbelief, he shouted at his waiting assistant. The assistant stammered something, and the engineer lashed out at him with a corded arm, before running to the coal bunker, shovel a blur.

Thick, dark smoke suddenly plumed from the rust covered stack, and little puffs of steam escaped from loose fittings. The ship bucked once, then leaned sickly to port, as the helm came hard over. A spout of water suddenly exploded near the ship’s side.

The wild surging turn of the ship caused the large wooden crates on the deck to shift in their ropes. Crewman scrambled over the crates to secure them. They cursed and swore as they cinched and retied the knots. A hatchway swung open on the mid-deck and two white men emerged into the twilight of the sinking sun. One wore a blue jacket and tropical weight white trousers, while the second wore working attire of a khaki shirt, sleeves rolled above the elbow, and a heavy pair of brown corduroys.

“What the deuce is going on?!” shouted the first. The second shrugged in bewilderment.
“Those monkeys better not harm our aeroplanes” the first muttered, moving toward the working-men, then grabbing wildly at the rail as the ship came hard-over again. The second, knit his brows briefly, then strode to the portside railing. He looked back past the ship’s stern, and saw a flash of reflected sunlight from the deckhouse of a huge old sail-assisted yacht, riding low in the water, and charging toward them.
She flew a long black swallow-tailed banner covered with red and black markings from her mast. As he watched, two powered long boats pulled away from the yacht, making noisily for the freighters’ rounded stern.
There was a puff of smoke followed by the dull report of a small deck gun. He ducked back reflexively, pressing flat against the iron bulkhead. Another explosive geyser of water bloomed by the ship, this time much closer. The deck crew was splashed with water, and began to jump off the packing crates, making for the deckhouse.
“George, forget the planes!” shouted the second, running toward the hatch. George slashed the water off of himself, and half-slipped, following after.

George tumbled into the Mate’s cabin on the heel of some jabbering crewmembers, and saw his companion snapping open the door of the ship’s armoury.

“What’s in there, Rollo?” George asked quickly, glancing out the grimy porthole at the approaching sail..
Raleigh Cole Halliburton snorted in disgust, as he extracted an old Lee-Metford rifle, red with rust. “Just these.” Halliburton spat.
The small door from the bridge was thrust open, and filled by the agitated bulk of the Captain.
“Quentin-Harper, the jackals have descended on us! They must have gotten wind of your cargo. We must stop and give it to them, or we will be murdered!”

“Gotten wind, eh, Captain Karim? Couldn’t have been from one of your worthless crewmen, could it?” “It does not matter where they heard, They know! We must give them what they want!” George stepped closer to the captain, gritting. “If this ship heaves to, the pirates will be the least of your bloody concerns.” Karim stood his ground for a moment, facing the Englishman. Another shell landed close by, showering the bridge with water. “Get your monkeys to dump out that scrap iron, and put the spurs to this heap.” Quentin-Harper said sternly.
Halliburton looked on, large hands braced against the bulkhead.
Karim glowered, and Quenton-Harper stared back coolly. Just then, the speaking tube erupted in a shout and after a moment, Karim broke away, moving to answer.

Smiling grimly, Halliburton passed the rifle to a crewman, before pounding down the corridor to the shared cabin. George pushed past the crewmen, and followed Halliburton, steadying himself as the ship rolled again.

Halliburton dragged his sea-bag out from beneath his spartan bunk, and threw it down on the lumpy mattress. Reaching inside, he withdrew a well used, but serviceable brown leather sam brown belt and holster. The patina-ed leather had molded itself perfectly to the pistol within over its’ years of use, and George could see the outline of a Mauser Broomhandle pistol. Halliburton quickly strapped the belt on, and placed a stripper of ammo in his trouser pocket, as the ship turned again. Raleigh quickly drew the pistol from his holster, chambering a round. George had seen the beautiful pistol before, in many a hard scrape, but never got used to the ornate filigree on the deep bluing, nor the yellowed, buttery Ivory of the grip. It seemed far too opulent for his usually, utilitarian, friend. Quenton-Harper tucked a Webley MKV into his trouser pocket, as Halliburton dug to the bottom of his valise.
“Come on, Georgie, let’s get your Christmas Cracker out, shall we?” Halliburton mugged, tossing a set of keys to George while looping the mausers’ lanyard over his neck. One of George’s eyebrows shot up as he sneered. “Jolly good, Rollo.”

From the bridge, Karim shouted commands to his crew. Some quickly opened the hold, while others swung the deck crane into place. After a moment, a large net of scrap metal was hoisted aloft, before being hauled over the edge of the deck. The mate yanked back on the release lever, and tons of metal splashed overboard.

As Raleigh and George raced toward the deck, they passed the cabin of the other passengers. George had heard some kind of chanting coming out of the passengers porthole, but had never thought to find out what kind of priests the men were. The priests’ hatch was closed ,and dogged shut.

On the bridge, Karim cringed: each splash of discarded metal was another hole torn in his purse. “Shaitan take you!” he bellowed at the yacht, which now, no longer gained on the speeding freighter. The speaking tube erupted again. Karim listened closely, before shouting back “Keep up full steam, we’ll hold together! We’re outrunning them!”

As Quenton-Harper and Halliburton emerged once again on deck, they were nearly bowled over by a low-flying seaplane that skimmed the deck, before rolling into a high-performance turn.
The Arab and Indian crewmen shrieked in horror, and sought cover.
Righting itself, ruddy sunlight flashed brilliantly on the sleek biplane.

“What, was that some kind of racing plane? What’s he doing out here?” George asked, picking himself up, and making for the crates. “I don’t know, but he’s coming back round.” Halliburton said, unfastening the flap of his holster.

Karim responded to the fly-by, and turned the freighter hard-over again, back toward the pursuers. Halliburton looked over the rail, as the plane flashed-by the yacht, which turned towards the old freighter, firing again.

George had just unlocked the hasp of the long narrow crate before him, when a blinding flash exploded on the bridge, just at the base of the smokestack. The stack fell over the side like a tree, and hung from a web of guy-wires and rope, attached to the superstructure. Halliburton stood, and looked back at the yacht, seeing another long boat hit the water nearby, and a dozen or so crewmen clamber aboard. George righted himself, and opened the crate, extracting a cloth-wrapped oblong.

Screaming, Karim lurched from the shattered doorway of the bridge, gripping his ruined face and fell noisily down the companionway.
Steam and black smoke erupted from the ruined stack, and the freighter began to loose headway.

The plane made for the freighter again, just above the wave-tops. George and Raleigh were each reaching for more items in the crate, when they heard a terrible sound. Raleigh looked up at the speeding plane in surprise as twin Vickers machine-guns chattered and flashed above the bi-planes’ upper wing.

Across the narrowing gap in the water, another long boat was lowered from the yacht, and began to cross to the stern of the wounded freighter. George whipped the canvas covering off the Lewis Gun, as Raleigh checked the disk of the large, flat magazine. “There’s only one loaded magazine, Georgie!” Halliburton said as they tucked themselves in behind the crated aeroplanes. George smiled grimly and flipped down the bipod of the Lewis gun, and sighting it toward the lead longboat. A few turbaned Sikhs gathered themselves up, and made for the railing, throwing packing crates down for cover. The longboat began to fire on the crippled freighter, a ragged cacophony of small arms. Halliburton scanned the skies for the plane, but saw nothing in the approaching dusk.

“You wogs, shove over, I’m gonna try for the longboat!” George shouted, chambering a round.

One of the Sikhs cast a withering look back at George, then scattered quickly, as the Lewis Gun was sighted past them. George gently squeezed the trigger, loosing a burst of .303 bullets towards the approaching longboat. The longboat checked its’ course slightly, before continuing its’ approach.
The freighter was barely moving now, its momentum turning her in a circle as the wrecked stack acted like a huge rudder.
Crewmen found cover across the deck and superstructure and began firing. George shifted his position, and prepared for a second shot, as another blast echoed across the water from the yacht. The Sikhs hissed a curse as the round fell short, and soaked them with water.

The biplane rounded on the freighter, and lined up a course from stern to bow, pushing down into a dive. Halliburton heard the growl of the motor, and drew his pistol, “Here he comes, George!” he said, aiming down the long barrel of the machine-pistol. George jumped to his feet, and planted the bipod of the Lewis Gun on the cable spool of the ships’ main winch. The plane rose slightly to clear the freighters stern, then nosed over to rake the decks. Raleigh snapped off three rapid shots, as George fired a long, lifting burst that tore into the planes left wing. The Sikhs at the rail shouted, and George and Raleigh looked over to see the longboat nosing in closely. One of the Sikhs cried out and fell suddenly in a pool of blood. Raleigh pounded to the rail and fired quickly at the boat, hitting the helmsman. The longboat turned suddenly, spoiling the attackers’ aim, and allowed George a moment to sweep the long boat, back to front, with horrific results. Raleigh emptied the Mauser into the boat, seeing three more pirates slump to the now crimson deck. Halliburton reloaded quickly, and looked up to see the yacht fire its’ gun again.

To Be Continued.......

Best Regards,

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:10 pm
by Nefer
Thanks for re-lighting the fan-fic flame!! This story will be my breakfast tea entertainment, I'll post up as soon as I read it!

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:25 pm
by Nairobi Zanzibar Bombay
Cheers, Nefer.

Lemme know. ;)

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:49 am
by Bee
Please keep posting up this fan fic!

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 4:18 pm
by Nefer
Very action packed - ! Well written, and good hook!

Only suggestion - its a little hard to tell which character is speaking... I had to re-read a lot to figure out who was saying what.

Keep posting!

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 7:39 pm
by i_heart_nefie
Wow, that's really great! :)

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:55 am
by Nairobi Zanzibar Bombay
Nefer, thanks for the tip. I believe some of the confusions came from the re-formatting that happened when the document transistioned from WORD to text.
I'll keep my eye on it this time.

This is the last of my pre-loaded stuff, I'll have to catch up with my writing from now on.

Another page....

The shell burst just above the winch mast, and rained hot metal shrapnel across the deck. Halliburton was thrown to the rail, and George staggered. Several gas drums on the deck began to leak, the aviation gas spreading across the deck in polychromatic swirls. George went down on one knee, and Raleigh saw deep red blood begin to color George’s white trousers.
“My leg!” George sighed, grabbing his thigh with one hand. Halliburton whipped off his gun-belt, leaving the pistol to dangle from the lanyard, and lashed the belt quickly around George’s leg, above the seeping gash. The plane passed over again slower now, a thin stream of vapor emitting from the damaged wing.

A few crewmen suddenly ran to the other rail and began to fire downwards, at something in the darkening sea. There was a ragged report of small arms fire. Crewmen stumbled back, clutching wounds or throwing down weapons. George grabbed the belts end, cinching it tight. “It’s nearly empty!” he gritted, pushing the butt near Raleigh. Halliburton tucked his pistol into his waistband, and snatched up the heavy Lewis Gun. He crossed quickly to the side rail, and slapped the barrel down across it. Below him, a long boat seethed with attackers. Two grappling irons swung into the air, clanging down by his feet, scrapping for purchase. Halliburton, aimed straight-down, and squeezed the trigger. The Lewis Gun roared loudly and punched bullets wetly through the boats’ floor, along with three attackers. The others reacted quickly firing up at the now empty gun, or clambering up the taut lines of the grappling hooks. Raleigh leapt back from the rail, drawing his mauser.
The first pirate up the rope actually had a large dagger in his mouth. Halliburton gave him two rounds to the chest, sending the attacker back to the longboat. A pistol appeared next, firing wildly, to clear the deck. Raleigh jumped from the ricocheting rounds and turned for the ladder to the bridge.

The plane settled into the water, and taxied toward the center of the fighting, motor revving.

Halliburton threw himself down on the deck of the bridge, and lined up a shot on the marauders. One, then two, pirates fell noisily near George, who grabbed at the revolver snagged in his pocket. George saw Raleigh reloading and aiming, as more attackers swarmed over the rail.

The plane slowed and drifted up next to the now motionless freighter. The pilot unbuckled, then climbed onto the wing of the plane, using it as a boarding ramp to the ship.

The deck of the ship was awash with attackers, some went from crewman to crewman taking weapons, and putting the crew face-down on the deck, while others broke open the crates on the deck with their rifle butts or crowbars.

From his vantage point, Raleigh saw a Pirate kick the pistol away from George, and draw back a scimitar to skewer George against one of the crates

Re: 1930s Quentin-Harper Prequel

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:26 am
by redhead9
Please continue I was captivated

Re: 1930s Quentin-Harper Prequel

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:41 am
by Twoscoops
Well written and enjoyable. I was slightly confused early on as you teased us that something was about to go very wrong and when it did it took a while to figure out what was happening.