Journal of Jackson Brandy June 2203.
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The expedition was going to be funded by a certain government department, I was informed. I didn't like the sound of that. Politics tended to lead to trouble. However, I preferred possible danger on this quest to certain death at the hands of a number of fathers and husbands who had trust issues. As was the case with all Albion men, I had done National Service in the Army. This meant that I could handle firearms and myself. Seems to me that either the Library or the Advisory had a hand in this. They both had the power and the money but there had to be a damn good reason for spending it on another expedition. Oh yes, there have been others, none of them has ever been seen again. As to Pixie Malone, well I had a brief encounter with her about a year ago and still have a scar to show for it. Yes we shagged but no it was not uneventful. When I reached the dockside, I focussed my attention on a lass called Jenny Cringe. Very prim, good posture, her hair cut business-like short.
* * *
Flack and Jenny Cringe, office clerk to Cringe, Cringe and Carbuncle watched their skidder pull into the dock. The skidder was a type of ship suitable for travel across ice, mud or water. The 'Lady Jane' had seen years of experience. Flack noticed several gouges along the hull and wondered whether the inheritance was worth the risk. But he was torn by a conflicting emotion, the thirst for knowledge and the need for money to continue his career as an inventor. The two were joined by eight others that they had already become acquainted with in the last four weeks. Jenny sidled away from the one called Brandy. He didn't just undress women with his eyes, he undressed them slowly and it made her distinctly uncomfortable. He seemed offended but she wasn't that bothered. Trachun Teror and Squid were the only armed men in the group but Jenny had her suspicions regarding a crate marked 'Kitchen Utensils'. She ran an eye over the rest of the group, a grizzled older man, seemed from his posture to be an ex-career military type, one of the other three women she knew by reputation, Pixie Malone. The other she didn't know although there was something vaguely familiar about her and the last member of the group was completely unknown to her.
“Well, are you lot gonna stand there all frigging day?” The skidder's pilot had emerged and was glaring at them from his one good eye. The other was encased in black metal and glass. It appeared to be a navigational device. The one called Sarge nodded to him affably,
“Good idea Popeye, gets everyone on your side from the start.”
“Bloody hell, Joe, what you doing here?”
“How ya doing Jack?”
Sarge went over to him, they hugged for a second and Sarge turned to the group,
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Jack 'Popeye' Smith. He's a complete and utter bastard and knows the Atlantic like the back of his hand. What's worse is he's also my brother.”
They all muttered greetings to Smith as they climbed aboard the 'Lady Jane'. Smith growled a response before adjusting his eyepiece and looking out to the Atlantic ice-fields. As he stood on the bridge, Sarge said,
“How's mum then?”
“Oh same old, same old. She was pissed off at you for not remembering her birthday.”
“Ach, she's always annoyed at me about something.”
“Yeah, but all the same Joe. You never seem to remember.”
The Sarge gave his younger brother an exasperated look,
“All right already, I'll send her something when we get back.”
They both fell silent, each knowing the words 'if we get back' would have been more appropriate.
Teror and Trachun were packing their gear into bunk-side boxes when the third 'volunteer' poked his head around the cabin door,
“Oi, do you know who that was?”
“Who what was?” asked Teror.
“Sarge, the pilot's brother.”
“Go on then, amaze us.”
“Sergeant Josef Smith, the Bilford Hill battle.” Squid told them. Teror gaped,
“That Sergeant Smith? What's he doing here then? We got no damn choice, but no bugger would go on one of these expeditions without good reason.”
“Come to that, what about the others?”
“Pixie Malone for a start, she's kinda cute, what's her story?”
A voice said,
“Cute she might be, safe is what she ain't.”
The voice's owner stepped in,
“I still have the scars from when we had a little, erm, fling as you might say.”
“Hi Jackson, you got any little secrets?”
Brandy scowled at them.
"Why do you want to know?"
In five hundred years time, most of us will be forgotten dust. But Hitler will still be remembered, God loves irony.