Cold Welcome

The Aquamarine docked smoothly with the squat landing platform at Morks bend. Westley Corbet peered over the rails at the empty platform below. Strange that there should be no welcoming committee. The odd family that ran this outpost were a source of great intrigue back at the city and he had to admit to being somewhat disappointed to find them missing.

He exchanged a look with Tully who shrugged nonplussed as he too noted the empty platform. The airship came in slowly alongside the landing barriers and at the Captains orders docking clamps were lowered into place. A low rumbled from the Maelstrom above was the only sound to be heard.

Diana and her entourage began to emerge onto the deck once the vessel came to a halt. The girl running over to join her own confused stare to their own.

"Where is everyone?" she asked in a low voice.

"Damned if I know." Corbet replied and then calling over to Tully, "How long can you wait?"

"As long as you need me." Tully replied with a doubtful glance to the sky above that was threatening to birth another storm.

Westley told of several of his men to follow as he disembarked. "The rest of you remain on aboard until we know what is going on down there." he called out.

"I am coming with you." Diana barked.

"Out of the question." Westley replied turning to dismiss her.

"Do not turn your back on me." her voice was strangely amplfied and accompanied by a low whining sound that ended in a sudden burst of sonic power that tore through a stack of crates on the platform reducing them to splinters."

"Fuck me." Tully cursed from up above and Westley whirled to face the Montclaire girl and her fury filled eyes.

"I am not a child." she growled, "I am coming." the fur lined ball of muscle she called a dog trotted out in front of her then and began its own low growl bearing blunt white teeth.

"Fine!" Westley replied throwing his hands in the air in resignation.

They made their way to the lift mechanism and one of Westleys men threw the lever to lower them to the ground. The platform shook with a sudden jolt of movement and then they were on their way. The yard below was empty. As they came to a halt the four guards fanned out and checked the surrounding area.

"Signs of a fire fight." one of them called back, "Several days old."

"Blood stains over here." called another.

"Area secure sir." Came a third voice after several more minutes.

"Lets go." Westley murmured, he did not like this. He did not like it at all. "We head for the Station Office." he called out receiving a "Yes Sir." from one of the men.

As they walked he pulled out a side arm from his inner jacket and noted with satisfaction that Diana held her Elesian device at the ready. Major Boogie marched at their side with his ears and tail standing on end.

"What is that smell?" Diana complained after a moment as they approached a low penned in area. One of the men peered over the wall and promptly vomited.

"What is it?" Westley called over.

"Pigs sir. Or at least whats left of em." came the croaked reply. They hurried past the pens avoiding the sight ans smell as best they were able, but the smell of death and rot followed them until they rounded onto the Station Yard at which point a whole new level of horror vied for their attention.

Beneath a suspended tarp that veiled the macabre scene from the above the earth was pin pricked with iron rails driven deep into the earth. The ground was stained crimson with blood and gore and the stench of the pigs was as nothing to overwhelming odour of the bodies. At least twenty of them stripped and defiled, and every one of them impaled by iron.

Diana screamed and turned away dropping to her knees, while Westley fought the urge to empty his stomach. Grabbing a cloth from his pocket he covered his face and moved closer to the scene. Who could have done this? He could see from the tanned skin and snatched of uniform strewn around the ground that these had been Elesian soldiers. Perhaps the entire squad left here to guard Morks Bend.

He was about to turn when the eyes of one of the nearest men fluttered open. He gasped, his breath coming in a rattle. Westley stared in horror as he saw the man writhe on the metal spike than had been thrust into his lower abdomen only to emerge from the rear of his left shoulder. It appeared as if he had been thrown down onto the spike with force.

" me." the man gasped.

"Two of you go get more men from the ship and you two," he pointed to the remaining soldier, "Help me get this man down." and so they set about the frantic work of saving the Elesians life.

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