Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ok (for a Noob)

Hi Muse,

Thanks for the info on Creature #I859623-42. You wouldn't believe what happened last Friday night! Well actually you're one of the few people who WOULD believe it..

Have attached my spiel on the caper.


Friday July 18, 2008
The Agency
Staff Kitchen #2 (the one with the seemingly unlimited cache of M&Ms)

First tea for the day; strong, one sugar and a dash of soy milk. As I stirred my tea into a milky vortex, a colleague called from the hallway, "McWraaaaiiiith, the Director is looking for yoouuuuu."

That usually means one of a few things;
  • His wireless has dropped out
  • His Blackberry refuses to sync with Exchange
  • Or there's ectoplasmic residue that wants cleaning up

So you can imagine my surprise when I was told that he needed the file on dragons, and he needed it yesterday. Unfortunately I'm not a Time Agent so yesterday was out of the question.

I returned to my desk, tea in hand, and quickly browsed to "G:\Research & Surveillance\Mythical Creatures\Dragons", printed the contents and left it with the Director to peruse. Damn lucky I updated that file last week, I thought.

Apparently the radar boffins had picked up a dragon-shaped blob in our airspace. So over the course of the day, I monitored the emergency services dispatches, trawled news articles and filtered through mountains of internet traffic to see if we could get a lead on the creature's whereabouts. Then, at about 15:00 I found something solid. A local pilot had been coming in to land his Cessna when he noticed he was being tailed by what appeared to be a flying reptile.

Upon hearing the news, the office exploded into action and the Director sent a couple of Agents to check it out. I remained at my desk, listening in for more frantic calls to Triple-0.

At 16:13 I eavesdroped on a call to the Fire Department. A very confused woman was calling because the roof of her house had erupted into flames for no apparent reason. Sounded a bit dragon-y to me..

SUV #4 (The one with the new prototype heat-seeking missiles)

I hope I'm getting overtime for this, I thought. Driving into the mountains on a freezing Friday night to investigate a possible dragon sighting deserves some form of compensation.

Now the Agency wouldn't normally let me off my chain without someone accompanying, but an exception was made on account of us being short-staffed. Apparently there was a workshop on that evening for the new 500-Series Proton Packs, and all Field Agents had to attend.

My instructions were simple however;
  • Find the house
  • Take some readings
  • Bag any evidence
How hard could it be? Dragons don't stick around long so I was assured with reasonable certainty that I would not be meeting one.


Standing on the scorched roof of the house, I took a moment to admire the view. Thousands of tiny lights hugged the coastline below and twinkled in the clear winter night. Frak, it's beautiful up here. I rubbed my gloved hands together trying to keep the cold away, then I remembered what I had come here for.

Pulling off my backpack, I grabbed my torch and scanned the tiles around me. They were utterly blackened by the fire, some broken and a few missing altogether. How on earth are they going to explain this mess to the insurance company?

I scanned a little further down near the gutter and saw something interesting. Carefully sliding down the apex of the roof, I came to a stop right near the object. It was about 10cm in diameter and looked remarkably like the scales that young dragons periodically shed during a growth spurt.

I quickly slipped it into a plastic evidence bag and marked the outside with the date, time, locale and in very large letters underneath, "FOUND BY MARMALADE MCWRAITH (ALL BY HERSELF)."

Suddenly there was a loud crash behind me. I was knocked onto my arse and had I not found a handhold where a tile had once been, I'm sure I would have fallen completely off the roof. Bits of scorched tile rained down and I squeezed my eyes shut. I knew I should have worn my steampunk goggles..

When the tile and ash stopped falling, looked up to see a dragon a few feet away, staring intently at the torch I was miraculously still holding with my free hand. I felt suddenly very ill-prepared. The files Muse sent said 'approach with extreme caution' but what if the dragon approached you? How the frak was I supposed to avoid becoming barbequed when I had nowhere to go but 2 storeys down to my death?

I weighed up the options; death by fire or death by fall? They both sucked..
How about Option 3: kick arse and live. Sounded good to me.

I let the torch slide off the roof and into the darkness below. My cunning plan worked and the dragon leapt off to follow it, showering me in bits of broken tile again. Oh hell, my new trench coat, ruined. I heard the dragon hit the ground and I looked down to see it pushing the torch around, a bit like a dog with a chew toy.

With not a moment to lose, I scrambled for my pack and extracted a NFDDD (Noise Flash Dragon Diversionary Device), pulled the pin and dropped it over the edge. I hit the deck and shielded my eyes from the flash but my ears weren't so lucky. The bang sounded like thor the god of thunder had just used his hammer on my head.

The smoke cleared below and I could see the dragon laying there completely stunned out of its scaley little skull. It probably wouldn't be getting up for a bit and the chemicals in the NFDDD would render it completely unable to spit fire for a few hours at least.

Time to call it in. Just as I hit speed dial on my phone, the driveway to the property lit up with the headlights of two SUVs and a truck that I hadn't even noticed was there.

A suited figure got out of one of the SUVs and came towards the building.
"For God's sake McWraith, get off the roof." It was Agent Bayne and he was his usual pissy self. What the hell was he doing here?

I slung my backpack over my shoulder, and took my time getting down on account of my shaking hands. If they saw at least I could put it down to the cold. Of course they had everything under control when I hit terra firma. The dragon was in some kind of net and was being hauled into the back of a truck. No doubt he'd be released in a more unpopulated realm.

"I thought you guys had a workshop? The 500-Series?" I asked Bayne incredulously.

"Nope, just a ruse," he said with that stupid smirk he always wears when he knows you've been pwned. "The boss wanted to see how you'd do."

"Good God, I could have been fried!"

"Relax McWraith, it was perfectly safe." He was enjoying this, the sick son of a ...
"We had a bazooka on him the whole time."

I was not reassured by that statement and I shot him a death glare.

He chuckled and gave me an encouraging slap on the shoulder before sauntering off, but I waited for the parting shot. "You did ok.. for a Noob."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just Another Day In Camden Town


Here is the background information you requested on Creature #I859623-42.

Have you reason to believe it is headed in your direction?

Your friend, as always,

CREATURE #I859623-42

Appearance: Difficult to determine colouring - highly adaptable camouflage abilities. Reptilian in nature; most likely some type of dragon (probably Class D). Quite small, possibly a fledgling, however has at least partially-developed pyro-control. (NB: Approach with extreme caution.)

Origin: We believe it may have entered via the same interdimensional portal used by #I814673-42 - the parasitic creature currently resident in the hair of Ms A. Winehouse of North London.


Our radar team had been tracking the creature for several hours, however, it was proving to be quite elusive. My belief is that it was initially attracted by the high concentration of animal flesh at London Zoo, or perhaps it had somehow gotten wind of the combined celebrity wealth concealed within nearby Primrose Hill. Fortunately for the future of B-grade British films and irritating pop music everywhere, #I859623-42 (affectionately nicknamed 'Pete' by the head of my Tabloid Relations Department) was distracted en route by the cacophony of smells which emanates from Camden Market on a Saturday afternoon.

Paranormal activity in and around Camden is difficult to detect at the best of times. The signs are usually quite subtle - goths begin to shift uneasily on their 10-inch soles, mohawks stand a little more on end, someone orders a caramel mochaccino and winds up with a cafe latte....However, there was no mistaking this event for the aftermath of somebody's bad trip.

I was sitting in my favourite spot, watching an oddly-matched couple across the lock try to swallow one another's lips. The first two gusts of wind were barely noticeable; the third was so strong it blew me back into my chair, stirring the water below into small white caps and blowing Kissing Man's toupee IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. So.....not a naturally-forming air current. My eyes were automatically tracking one possible flight path and I soon saw it against the darkening sky - a patch of cloud that wasn't moving the way Nature intended.

I must admit that part of me was very excited. Dragon lore is something of a hobby of mine, although previous encounters have proven a headache to explain and have often left me wishing for one of Will Smith's flashy-thingys.

I watched the dragon alight on top of a nearby building and disappear again into the background as it folded its wings. It occurred to me at this point that I was ill-equipped to deal with a dragon on my own, comparatively small though it may be.

As it turned out, I was spared the need. Before I had time to scramble for my phone, the Hawley Arms pub and several of the surrounding market stalls were ablaze. Shortly thereafter, the creature took wing again, heading north at top speed.

As I sit now and analyse events, its behaviour seems strange. Dragons do not usually throw fire unless hunting. This being the case, I am forced to wonder why it didn't stay around to finish its meal. I have concluded that the creature was frightened off by something, which strengthens my latest theory - my studies have led me to believe that different dragons (or, at least, different dragon families) use slightly varying chemical combinations to produce their flames. I hypothesise that the smell of burning alcohol within the pub produced the scent of another dragon or dragons, confusing 'Pete' and, accordingly, he retreated.

Due to the pub's location, it has been relatively easy to explain away the blaze by starting the usual half-baked rumours and conspiracy theories about secret gangs and shadowy figures in the dusk. However, we have been unable to locate #I859623-42 or track its flight path out of London and there have been no reported UFO sightings which might give us an indication as to its whereabouts. All appropriate international agencies have been alerted.

Special Agent Muse de Mented
Camden Town, London, United Kingdom
9 February 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Flatmates: Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Kill 'Em

I live in a huge, dilapidated house with a bunch of flatmates..

They think I live here just for the cheap rent but actually I was put here to monitor the active rift that sits just under the thin bitumen crust on the road outside. They also think I like taking out the bins every night but I've found it's the only discreet way of taking daily readings.

I usually creep out quite late with a PKE Meter hidden in my dressing gown. Most nights the readings are next to nothing and I find myself wishing for a bit of action, or even a faint ectoplasmic trail. There's been nothing for a while which makes me think we're overdue for something really diabolical.

My flatties however are completely oblivious. They drive over the rift when they back out of the driveway every morning and barely register that we have more road works in our street than the whole state combined.

They have their own disasters to cope with inside the house though. Steaks are sometimes left on the stove until they catch on fire, ancient electrical wiring tries to burn us to death in our sleep and my personal favourite, the bath that overflows through the floor and into the bottom storey apartment (thankfully not mine!).

The latest trouble however has to do with a plant.. and it's all their fault.

A couple of months ago I picked up a plant from a market stall thinking it was just a regular Dionaea Muscipula (Venus Fly Trap). I should have known however not to buy anything from a market situated near an area of high paranormal activity.

I came home from a late night meeting to discover that my flatmates had thought it funny to feed my plant pieces of marinated lamb kebab. What the frak? I was sure it was going to die. It's supposed to eat fat juicy flys not marinated lamb.

So the following day I took it into the office to keep it away from my silly flatmates and feed it some proper food. I grabbed a freshly swatted fly with tweasers and gently pushed it into one of its traps when suddenly it did something strange. It spat it out.

A faulty reflex I thought. I tried another. It spat it out again. I started to get seriously weirded out. I picked up the fly with tweasers and began to approach the plant again when I heard a tiny squeeky voice. "We like the lamb."

I looked around the office to see if I was alone. "Helloooo?", I called gingerly. It wouldn't be the first time a practical joke was played but how would any of my colleagues know about the lamb? Joke or not, I also couldn't have anyone seeing me talking to a plant.

I bent down closer to the plant to study it. Nothing abnormal that I could see. Then one of the traps began to move and the squeeky little voice was there again, but impatient this time. "Yesssssss?"

Frak. I own a talking plant.. with attitude.

"Ugh.. you.... talk?", I whispered in amazement.

The talking trap twisted a little, as if smiling wryly. "Hey, we've got a genius here guys." All the other traps laughed in unison sounding like a crowd of kids on helium.

I leaned back in my chair in stunned silence for a moment as the cackling died down.

Another of the traps spoke up, "You got any more of that lamb? Tastes way better than flys."

Smart-Arse Trap spoke up again, "Yeah I'll have mine medium rare!" Another piped up over the fresh eruption of laughter, "And I'll have a Jacob's Creek Merlot. Vintage 1999!"

And so the heckling continues each morning, as does the cooking of lamb kebabs. Despite the jibes, we (the traps and me) have some good witty banter and I've come to know each of them for their quirks. One likes to quote Space Core Directives out of context, one likes Shakespeare and the three traps at the back can sing some wicked harmonies.

Even the Smart-Arse has toned down his routine a little, at least until after I feed him..

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Everyone Freaks Out The First Time

Time to introduce another character to this circus..

After some persuasion, my dear friend Muse will be contributing to this blog when her busy schedule allows. We've practically been best buddies since we were 12 and spent most of our teenage years watching the X-Files and dreaming of saving humanity from extraterrestrial threats.

So we felt it was fate when we both scored jobs here at the Agency. However, two years ago, Muse got a lucky break and transferred to London where she has studied hard and risen in the ranks to become a full agent. This year she has been assigned to patrol the London Borough of Camden, but more on that in a later post.

First though is an account of our first mission together.
(Muse - Thanks for your input with this. The details are a little fuzzy after 9 months!)

Saturday September 29, 2007
55° 56′ 58.4″ N, 3° 9′ 37.04″ W
Edinburgh, United Kingdom

"Are you sure he's going to come down here?", I asked while nervously clutching a steel bar with sweaty hands. There was no answer from the agent beside me, just a look of steely concentration in the direction of the alley's entrance that sloped up the cold stone steps above us. We crouched down in the shadows and waited.

I silently chanted a mantra in my head as I was terrified that, when the moment came, I would forget what I was supposed to do. Remove the head. Destroy the brain. Remove the head. Destroy the brain.

I felt an unnaturally cold breeze on my face as if Death himself had walked past and, when I looked up, I saw a silhouette against the late afternoon sun at the top of the steps. It appeared to be a tall, slim man but something was odd about the way he was standing. It was an awkward pose, head cocked to one side and arms suspended stiffly away from his torso.

Suddenly breaking the silence, Agent de Mented called in a low, taunting voice: "Cmon, Haggis Head...or are we too much for you? Hey - did anyone ever tell you that your mother was an English spy?"

The tall, slim gentleman turned and lurched forward down the alley at an angle I was sure would send him tumbling toward us. But he managed to keep his footing despite the rigor mortis giving him obvious trouble in the knees.

More of his features came into view as he slowly staggered down the stairs and I was struck by a sudden thought. This man was somebody's son, brother, lover.. and now I was going to crack him over the head with a steel bar. I consoled myself that his spirit had long departed, and what we saw before us now was just a decomposing husk. Better he was dead (properly dead this time), than let him continue his all-you-can-eat brain buffet.

When he came into range I quickly sent a sharp side kick into his knee. To my horror I heard the crunch of bone and saw that his knee was now bent in a way that God had not intended. He quickly lost his balance, face-planted into the stone steps and tumbled a few feet past us.

Now, I don't mean to be graphic here but I feel the need to point out that with zombies, parts just fall off. They are, after all, decomposing bodies. And the trail of mess this guy left made me feel physically ill. I must have visibly paled, or perhaps it was due to the fact that I dropped the steel bar of death, but my dear friend stepped in and finished the job.

An elegant silver blade was suddenly in her left hand, slid out from some hidden pocket of her backpack (I still don't know how she smuggled it through airport security). The blade was an unusual shape, two-edged at the hilt, like a dagger, but narrowing into a long, thin spike at the tip - and it was SHARP. It was polished so brightly that I could almost do my makeup in it and, even in the dim light of the alley, it had an otherworldly shine.

Stepping over the zombie's....unmentionables....Muse made quick work with the blade, using it as a small sword to cut off the head, then like a poker to....well, I won't go there, but let's just say I have a good story to discourage any future child of mine from picking its nose.

I picked up my steel bar - not that I would need it now, but it made me feel a little more safe to hold it again. "Sorry.. I was lame".

My friend just grinned up at me. "You brought him down, and that's all I needed," she said. "Don't worry about it - everybody panics on their first go." She wiped the blade clean and held it up for me to see. "A handy little gift from Gazza. Real, hardened silver." (Gareth "Gazza" Van Helsing is Agent de Mented's mentor. I've always found him a bit odd, but maybe that's just because he's about ten years older than God but still running around after the undead.) "It's more effective on vampires and warewolves, of course, but it does the job with zombies."

Before long the cleanup crew from the Edinburgh Office arrived in Hazmat suits, and what was left of Mr Tall Slim Gentleman was scooped into a bodybag and taken away. As we were ushered away from the scene, the Tabloid Relations Crew went into gear and quickly spun a story about a chemical leak from a nearby shop to the local media.

After we'd cleaned ourselves up, we headed down to The Last Drop Tavern for a well deserved glass of wine but for some reason the chunky steak & guinness pie didn't seem all that appealing..