Sei sulla pagina 1di 10


Episode One: The Forgotten Fort



A Madmans Predictions
Hear me, my people! Gather round and listen! From beyond the skies
the invaders came, a world full of rapacious beings who called
themselves Earthmen, but we call red devils.
Few paid heed to the street prophets rants as they passed him.
The red devils have returned, spreading like a dirty plague among
the planets, carrying their prejudice and belligerence with them.
Too late our leaders discovered the Earthmen would not be satisfied
with simple trade but desired conquest, tyranny, and enslavement on
the guise of civilising the heathen. Too late they realised the
violent power the Earthmen had advanced rifles, cannons capable
of ranges far longer than our own, and rapid firing guns that could
tear us apart from long distance.
A uniformed British sergeant watched the prophet with his arms
folded. Oblivious, the preacher continued.
They stole our flying technology and placed in ships clad in metal,
powered by foul-smelling fuels from resources squandered as
cavalierly as our long-lost ancestors. Now, they manoeuvre around
us, ignoring us like we ignore the durge fly, confident in their
might and fearing only each other. But in the hills and back streets
one can feel the resentment building. The Ground Cleansers ranks
are swelling and the Cult of the Worm is labouring toward the
surface. I hear a messiah is arising who will rally our people and
splash our sands with the Earthmens blood!
I think you need to come with me. The sergeant said, grabbing the
prophets shoulder. As he was dragged away, he continued to scream
his sermon.
Listen my people, and harken to my words look for the Red Sands!

A Sinister Plot
The dim lighting was intentional, not negligent. These were not
people who wanted to be noticed or identified, not even by each
The soft patter of cold London rain knocked faintly on the roof.
Around the oblong, dark oak table the masked individuals appeared
alert but relaxed in their seats. All eyes focussed on the hooded
figure poised on a slightly elevated chair at the head of the table,
the closest thing to a throne in a room of equals.
Are you positive of your information, Hyperion? inquired the Hooded
One in an articulate British accent.
Yes, my friend. Our victim was completely ignorant of the value of
what he knew. We made certain he would never reveal this information
to anyone else. The grotesquely masked Hyperion reported with hints
of French affectation. The veiled lady to his right nodded in
Then I am needed on Mars. Lord and Lady Hyperion, I believe you
both have a meeting in Libya. You know how to proceed afterwards.
Crius, Oceanus, you are to prolong our operations here on Earth.
Coeus, if you could spare a few moments to see to the situation on
Venus, I would appreciate it. The time of the Red Sands is nigh. The
Brotherhood of Luxor shall prevail!
With that, the mastermind known only as Kronos stood and glided out
of the door.

The Explorers Society

Well gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the
Explorers Society.
Professor Alfred Bottoms was looking over his new initiates, offering
them fine brandy and fragrant cigars. McPherson took a heavy swig
as if it was water.
In all the time I served the Engineers, Ive never drank anything
that good. He said.
And Id like to thank the lady for getting us out of the lockup in
Bombay and paying for the voyage back to London. Cutter remarked.
Its the least I could offer. Emily Farnsworth said with a faint
Miss Farnsworth is the finest adventuress Ive worked with.
Professor Bottoms commented, And I believe it was your comrade
Ballantine who mentioned you.
Ballantine said nothing, but raised his brandy glass in response to
the comment.
Well, I trust that once the initiation is completed, I heard of
some interesting ancient ruins in the Punjab region. Cutter said.

Professor Bottoms glanced at Cutter as he pulled a large book from

the shelf.
You can follow that up in good time. He said, But for now, I have
another task for you in Libya.
He placed the book on the table and opened it, turning to a page on
Egyptian antiquities.
The Scroll of Anubis was recently discovered in a tomb near the
border between Egypt and Libya. Well, my daughter Esmeralda has a
theory that it may be something of an extra-terrestrial nature. I
had arranged to have it sent to her lodgings in Syrtis Major.
The Crown colony on Mars? Ballantine asked.
Yes. Unfortunately, I have been informed that an unidentified party
has stolen the Scroll from the museum in Cairo. One of my contacts
made the suggestion that the thieves crossed the border to elude
British authorities. If that is the case, then they would have to
stop over at an outpost operated by the French Foreign Legion; Fort
Libya is not French territory. Emily said, Are the Ottomans aware
of the Legions presence?

I dont know. But I must warn you that time is of the essence. Not
long after I learned of this, my contact was found dead in his hotel
room. Hed been strangled.
Sounds like








Whatever secrets the Scroll holds could be very dangerous in the

wrong hands. Ive made all the arrangements for travel and gear. I
understand that the three of you have had military experience as
sergeants in the Royal Engineers, so you shouldnt have any trouble
dealing with any problems encountered. You leave tonight.
The long-time friends finished their drinks and stood up.

Trouble in the Desert

That all happened three weeks ago. Now, the sharp crack of rifles
and the frenzied howls of bandits were the only prevalent sounds.
Their camels had been shot and were left behind, with most of their
gear. In their haste, Cutter had managed to take a Martini-Henry and
sixteen bullets. Emily had managed to procure a Webley revolver, a
knife, and a full canteen of water. Huddled amongst a cluster of
rocks, their goal was in sight. Emily could see Fort Oublis looming
stone walls and the glint of rifles lining the battlements.
If we could get in there, we could shelter from those raiders.
Ballantine stated.
Angry chaps, from the looks of them. Cutter remarked, firing at
one of the raiders.
How do we get inside? McPherson asked.
Look there. Emily replied, pointing at a knotted rope hanging from
a parapet to the ground. Several Legionnaires were positioned on the
wall, but none were firing.

Try climbing that rope and youll be a very enticing target for
some Bedouins jezail. McPherson warned.
Ive got the rifle. Cutter reminded them, I can cover you from
here. Perhaps if those lazy French decide to join the fight, they
could cover me as I climb.
Just make those shots count. Ballantine said. Cutter nodded,
shooting at another raider in his sight. Emily ran towards the rope,
closely followed by McPherson and Ballantine. As they ran, more
raiders emerge and pursued. Cutter fired again, scoring a hit. Some
of the raiders took cover and returned fire. The others went for the
rest of the party.

It looks like they dont want us to get in the fort. McPherson

Well, were sitting ducks out here. Emily replied, handing him the
revolver. She began to climb the rope. Ballantine prepared to follow
suit, but hesitated. McPherson smirked at him as he aimed at the
Emily had reached the top of the wall in no time. Scrambling over,
she was overcome by the stench of decomposition and unprepared for
what was waiting.
Die, scum! A hoarse voice croaked.

A bayonetted rifle lunged forward, tearing her jacket but narrowly

missing her torso. It was wielded by crazed legionnaire with
bloodshot eyes and angry red splotches on his skin. He appeared to
be gravely wounded, but continued to attack.

Emily gripped her knife tightly and slashed forwards. The blade cut
through her assailants shoulder, but he seemed indifferent to it.
He thrust his rifle forwards. She jumped back to avoid the bayonet
and stumbled. The legionnaire prepared to deliver the killing blow.
She grabbed the barrel and wrenched it aside. The bayonet struck the
stone next to her. The legionnaire growled. She thrust her knife
into the side of his neck. He fell limp. Emily pushed forward, trying
to wrench the body off her when she heard more screams coming from
around the interior of the fort.
McPherson and Ballantine had scaled the wall, while Cutter was
following close behind. Ballantine helped pull the body off the top
Emily while they looked around. Dead legionnaires had been propped
up against the battlements. Another two were charging along the wall
towards them.
Look out! McPherson cried. He fired a shot at the first one. The
legionnaire fell backwards, but was still moving. Ballantine grabbed
the dead legionnaires rifle, a bolt-action Lebel, and procured a
handful of cartridges from the pockets in the threadbare blue tunic.
The other legionnaire had closed the distance before he could load,
but McPherson put him down with a shot to the head.

Emily had scrambled to her feet and was helping Cutter over the wall.
Lose the rope! He shouted frantically. Peering over the
battlements, she could see a larger band of raiders approaching.
Running over to her dead assailant, she pulled the knife out and
began sawing at the rope. Cutter pulled it over the parapet so the
raiders couldnt utilise it. As they crouched, they could see another
three deranged legionnaires approaching. With a synchronised volley,
they dispatched the first two. McPherson charged the last one,
stabbing him in the leg with the bayonet and knocking him over the
side. With the legionnaires dispatched, the courtyard had fallen
eerily quiet.

Secrets of a Fort Forgotten

As they proceeded down the ramps, Emily was breathing heavily.
In all my travels I have never killed a man. She stammered.
You did what you had to do. Ballantine replied, Its not something
you get used to.
Id say he didnt have long. Cutter argued.
I beg your pardon? Emily said.
Looking at the bodies, they all have red splotches on their faces.
He explained, Perhaps they were afflicted with the same malady, and
it has a fatal outcome.
McPherson had removed the cover off the top of the well. Sniffing,
he reeled back. Judging from the stench, Id say theres a body in
there. He reported.
So, nobody cares if we die of thirst out here. Cutter stated.

Emily watched them talk and wandered into the barracks. Inside was
a shambles. Torn blankets and personal effects lay strewn across the
floor. A makeshift barricade of overturned beds lay in the centre
of the room. A satchel lay amongst the debris on the floor. She
opened it to find a journal. The inside cover identified the owner
as Sergeant Drummond. As she skimmed through the pages, she glanced
back at the barricade and aimed her rifle. She stepped closer, her
eyes down the sights. Another deranged legionnaire burst out from
his hiding place, only to be dispatched with a lucky shot. Ballantine
charged into the room, followed by the others.
Sorry, he said, The raiders are at the gate.
Im sure it will hold. She replied, You dont have to worry about
me. But you should see this.

The three glanced at the journal. Most of it was a record of the

humdrum military lifestyle they were all too familiar with.
Im surprised youd be interested in this. Cutter remarked.
Go to the last entries. She replied.
Cutter skipped a few pages and read them closely.
It seems that everything started a week ago. He reported. A French
couple visited the fort and met privately with Captain Winter and
Lieutenant Dubois.
They must be the senior staff. Emily commented.

Well, this couple left in the night. Apparently Dubois and a quarter
of the command left with them.
A desertion? McPherson asked, What did the captain do?
Nothing. Bedouins raided that morning, and the garrison was
afflicted by a mysterious illness. Those who died were placed along
the walls to try and discourage the raiders. But that seemed to make
everyones fevers worse.
He put the journal down. That was the last entry. He said.
Did anybody check the captains office? She asked.

Returning to the courtyard, the sound of hammering on the gates

continued. Emily checked the door to the commandants office to find
it locked. Searching her pockets, she unearthed a set of lock picks.
Its something I picked up on my travels. She told her companions.
McPherson strolled over and kicked the door in. She watched, feeling
disappointed yet amused. Shots rang out, prompting everyone to take
cover. Peering in, McPherson could see a deranged officer firing his
revolver at them. As the hammer fell on empty chambers, he charged
them with his sabre. Cutter thrust his rifle forwards. The bayonet
entered the officers side. He swung. Cutter held the rifle to block
the swing. Ballantine swung his own rifle, bring the butt down on
the captains head. He hit the ground, but continued to attack.
McPherson struck him again. This time he didnt get back up.

Emily wandered into the office. Inside the desk drawer was Captain
Winters journal.
What did you find? Ballantine asked.
It just says the same things as Drummonds journal. She replied,
looking closer. Hold on. Here it says that Dubois had returned from
a long patrol near the border and brought with him a scroll case.
And Drummond claimed he deserted. Cutter remarked as he entered
the office.
Theres a little more to it. Emily continued, Winter took charge
of the scroll after Dubois refused to say where it came from. That
was when a couple, Monsieur and Madame Bourgeois, visited a week
ago. They asked to see the scroll, and when they opened the case, a
pile of blood red sand came out of it.
Maybe it had been sealed for preservation. Ballantine suggested.
Probably. Winter tried to take the scroll case from Monsieur
Bourgeois when someone struck him from behind.

She stopped reading and pointed at the floor. The case must have
landed there when he dropped it.
And Dubois and the others left with the couple. Cutter interrupted.
They must have taken the case with them.
They did. Judging from the notes, the captain believes that they
also poisoned the well, as the contagion struck the men after
breakfast. He wanted to lead an expedition when the Bedouins raided.
And the rest, we know.

Cutter held his head in his hand in despair. As he looked to the

ground, he caught another glimpse of where the case had been dropped.
Amidst the dust and tiny stone fragments lay a small, broken corner
of the scroll case. Picking it up, he examined it and noticed several
strange glyphs. He handed over to Emily.
Well, at least were not leaving this place empty-handed. She said.
Were not leaving at all. Cutter replied.

They could see Captain Winter scrambling to his feet and run to the
gates. Pulling them open, he was overwhelmed by the raiders outside.
Finishing him off, they began to pour into the fort.
Quick! To the stables! Emily yelled.
Opening the doors, they were knocked back when they flew open. Two
horses afflicted with same malady charged out into the courtyard.

Will Emily Farnsworth and the Sergeants Three escape

from Fort Oubli? And what clues lie in the glyphs they
recovered? Find out next time in The Princess of Thoth

Interessi correlati