I stared at the screen as London's death drew ever so slightly nearer. I looked quickly back at Dame Daphne, who was giggling uncontrollably and had, somehow, managed to get a little party started with some scientists and even a few guards. I sighed. At least it distracted some people. Harry shouted out to me and I turned. A man with an RPG was aiming at my cover. I was pinned down. There was nothing I could do. Suddenly, the man stumbled backwards in a red mist. I turned to see Lady Lucinda, Dame Bebelia, Sir Jimothy, Sir Gregory and a somehow-Gatling-gun-wielding Sir Fitzwellington.The RPG fired, not at me but at the floor its owner was standing on. As guards were tossed around like ragdolls, Myself and the team moved up, closer to the control room. I looked at the countdown: 3:45. There was a good chance we wouldn't make it. It was now about 17 guards against seven. Sir Fitzwellington was suppressing the enemy with his ridiculously large turret, Sir Gregory was using a Tommy gun. Dame Bebelia was attacking a scientist with her mobile and Sir Jimothy was sitting as a muffin on the floor, squealing vengefully.I picked him up and hurled him behind the enemy's line of defence. As he began to gun down those who were hiding from our fire, we quickly moved up and killed the remaining guards. Dame Bebelia had now joined Dame Daphne's shockingly large party, someone had even brought a stereo.
We reached the door marked CONTROL ROOM, and I kicked it down and we surged through, weapons at the ready. But to my dismay, we were in a cavernous room, surrounded by hundreds of guards and Foebots. On a podium stood Dr Arsehole and Lord Twattington Nastiness, and another person, who was sitting on an obsidian throne. I could not see his face, but his eyes were glowing. The room got suddenly colder. Dr Arsehole seemed to be in some sort of high tech suit of armour, while Lord Twattington wore black army fatigues and a black jacket and boots. Lord Twattington began to clap. The hundreds of guards did the same, so that the ground rumbled and I felt like I was in an arena. I turned to the others. "Stay close" I shouted, over the din. We went back to back, weapons at the ready. The man in the chair raised his hand. The clapping stopped immediately. Then they all raised their weapons and took aim. I frantically tried to think of something. Then I remembered. The explosives in the Power Room. The PasandaJet. I slipped my hand into my coat pocket. I felt the detonator in my pocket. A slight smile flickered across my face as I pressed the remote in my other pocket. It said HOMING. I applied pressure to the detonator, but before I could, The north wall exploded.
Through the dust came a few hundred fully kitted soldiers with GREGGS stamped on their jackets. I pressed the detonator as they began to shoot at the guards, as I knew the Greggs soldiers had night vision goggles. The explosion rumbled through the building and shook dust from the ceiling. The lights abruptly cut out and as I felt a vibration in my other pocket I pulled out the PasandaJet's remote. It said two words: IMPACT IMMINENT. I charged into the others and herded them into a corner as the PasandaJet crashed through the wall and exploded. Heat washed over my face, but we were alive, and the countdown had been stopped. The PasandaJet's explosion had uncovered a secret door to the real control room. I made my way toward it, keeping low and avoiding the crossfire. Sir Fitzwellington had run out of ammo, so he pulled out his Pheifer and shot a man through the wall on the way. Sir Jimothy, Sir Fitzwellington and I reached the control room, but I heard a shout and turned back. Dr Arsehole had flown down and hit Lady Lucinda. I pulled out my Colt and aimed a shot at Dr Arsehole, but it simply deflected off his armour. He turned and fired a small missile at me. I dived out of the way and it hit the already weak corridor to the real Control Room and the passage collapsed, leaving Sir Jimothy and Sir Fitzwellington on the other side. Sir Gregory crashed into Dr Arsehole and they went rolling away, I went to go after them and Lucinda followed. I engaged in a firefight with a few Foebots, which was brief, but almost crashed into a Greggs soldier, he turned to me and pulled off his gas mask.
It was Mexican Gregory! "I thought it was time to bring in the cavalry Sir Tarquin." He shouted, in fluent English. Mexican Gregory worked for Greggs! "I need you to help me get in there!" I shouted back, pointing at the collapsed tunnel to The Control Room. He nodded, "That's where we need to be!" I pointed at Dr Arsehole and Sir Gregory. "I need to help him!" I yelled, and ran over to them. Sir Gregory had managed to pull off Dr Arsehole's helmet and was now pounding him in the face with it. I took aim at Dr Arsehole's face, but before I could, someone smashed into me and my Colt went spinning away across the floor. I turned to see Lord Twattington. He smashed me in the jaw and I fell back. I jumped up as quick as possible, jaw aching and returned the favour. He stumbled back then dropped low and charged into me. In the corner of my eye I saw Sir Gregory get smashed into the wall and Dr Arsehole pummelling him. I sidestepped Twattington and two footed him into a group of grappling soldiers. I ran toward Dr Arsehole who span round and kicked me in the chest, sending my flying. His suit had given him great strength. Worse, Twattington was back. I batted him away and turned to see Dr Arsehole beating Sir Gregory. "I. AM. A. BETTER. BASSIST. THAN. YOU!" he was screaming, and with every word hitting Gregory. Suddenly, with lightning fast speed. Gregory caught his fist and bent it back, causing it to crunch sickeningly. Dr Arsehole howled in pain and buckled at the knee as Sir Gregory stood over him, nose bloodied and hair rippling.
"No." He replied. "You're just an ARSEHOLE!" And with that kicked him in the face.
Dr Arsehole was out cold. I had watched for too long. Twattington smacked me in the face with an iron bar. My jaw broke and I faceplanted the floor. He raised the bar again, but I dimly heard a roar and watched as Sir Fitzwellington erupted from the rubble and charged at Lord Twattington. Darkness was pooling around the edges of my vision but I saw Lord Twattington fly into the air, his back bent in a horrific manner. Then Fitzwellington was standing over me with a needle. He stabbed it in and a few seconds later I felt a great deal better - adrenaline shot. Sir Fitzwellington was saying they had a back up generator and that we had less than two minutes to stop the ICQM (Inter Continental Quorn Missile). I clambered to my feet and we along with Sir Gregory and Mexican Gregory all headed for the cleared passage. I heard a bellow and looked up to see the shadowed man land next to me and kick me into the rubble. It was The Janitor! But as I watched, he grew taller and no longer white, he was pure darkness, with eyes full of fire and hate.
He batted away Sir Gregory and punted Sir Fitzwellington into the wall, turned to me and picked up a rock. With new found strength I pushed myself up and slammed into The Foe. Mexican Gregory shot at him, but the bullets simply merged into him. The Foe, once again batted me down, but this time stood over me and spoke, his voice like gravel in a blender. "There is no escape! Don't make me destroy you. Tarquin, you do not yet realize your importance. You've only begun to discover your power! Join me, and I will complete your training! With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict, and bring order to the galaxy!" "I'll never join you!" I replied angrily. "If only you knew the power of the Dark Side. Tuna Mayo never told you what happened to your father." He rumbled. "He told me enough! He told me YOU killed him!" I shouted.
"No. I am your father." He replied.
I was shocked. "No. No! That's not true! THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!" "Search your feelings, you know it to be true!" He urged. "NOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!" I screamed. "Tarquin! You can destroy The Emperor! He has foreseen this! It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son! Come with me. It is the only way." He claimed. I felt behind me Fitzwellington's Pheifer. I grabbed it and swung it round at The Foe, and fired. He went flying through the room and hit the wall on the other side. I helped the other two up and we staggered towards the control room. On our way we found Sir Jimothy lying unconscious under some rubble. I turned to Mexican Gregory and told him to look after Sir Jimothy. The battle was over, the Greggs soldiers had won the day, but the missile was to be launched in under a minute! We ran into the room and found the launch console had been sabotaged! I swore loudly.
We had close to 40 seconds left. Sir Gregory ran off before I could ask him where he was going.
30 seconds. I desperately tried to hack the launch programme while Fitzwellington tried to cut the power.
20 seconds. I finally reached the mainframe and tapped in a code I hoped would work.
15 seconds. The computer flashed up with ACCESS DENIED - MAINFRAME AUTOLOCK IN OPERATION. That was it. There was nothing we could do.
10 seconds. I watched helplessly as the ICQM began to heat its engine. 9...8...7...6, the rockets flared into life...4...3...2...1.
With a deafening rumble, the ICQM lifted off.
I clung for dear life as the missile sped upwards. Bloody lucky I had those magnetic gloves, else I'd be buggered. As the missile adjusted course slightly, I began climbing up it and found the little hatch. I ripped it off and looked inside. There, beneath a tangle of wires, a button marked as SELF DESTRUCT glistened. I waited until we were above the sea and reached for the button. I couldn't hesitate - 7,500,000 lives hung in the balance. Sir Tarquin or Sir Fitzwellington wouldn't dwell on this. This was the ultimate sacrifice. And I was glad to make it. "Come on, Sir Gregory!" I yelled to myself. "Are you a man or a mouse?" I slammed my fist on the button. As the ICQM exploded, my last thoughts were about sheep, the afterlife and my beloved bass.
Fitzwellington and I watched in disbelief as in the distance, the ICQM blew apart, over the sea. All around us, cheers erupted and people were screaming and hugging. I suddenly didn't feel so good. I realised where Sir Gregory had gone. He had sacrificed himself to save London from a vegetarian induced death. A Greggs soldier ran up to me and told me that Harry was asking for me. I ran to where Harry was lying. There was a pool of blood around him and he was very pale. "Damn Lord Twattington got me. Didn't see him, he looked dead. Shot me with this." He lifted up my Colt. I felt terrible. First Gregory, now Harry. "I'm so sorry old chap." I croaked. And I was. He laughed, a horrible scraping laugh, unlike his usual. "Don't be you bloody fool. Just promise me... promise me... you'll..." he was fading away. "you'll... get.. the bugger...for.. me..." his eyes slowly closed, and his head gently fell back.
I stood up and watched them take the body away. London was safe. The Foe had been stopped (The Janitor's body was found, but no sign of The Foe), Dr Arsehole had been arrested. Subways was under new management, it emerged that the ex CEO had resigned and disappeared. A representative from Greggs arrived a few hours later, thanking us for all we'd done. Dame Daphne had decided Venice was a great place to live, and moved in with an Italian pot head, leaving yet another vacancy on the team. I walked over to Lucinda, who had been knocked unconscious during the final stages of the battle. "You were invaluable today, Lucinda. We have two vacancies on the team. I want you to fill one." I told her. She nodded. "I think it's time for me to return. I certainly can't stay in Venice. Not after this." I left her to be attended to by the medics and walked over to Sir Fitzwellington. I slipped on my dusty gloves and my battered fedora, and sat down next to him. He spoke first. "Sir Gregory saved London. We stopped The Foe. Dr Arsehole is incapacitated. We're heroes of the catering world. So why do I feel we somehow failed?" I didn't speak for a moment. "Sir Gregory's dead. Harry's dead. Dame Daphne's moving to Venice and Lord Twattington escaped. To me, that doesn't equal success. That's shabby, old boy." Fitzwellington gave a sly smile. "7,500,000 lives have been saved. That's not too shabby, is it?" he replied. "No... not too shabby. Come on. Let's get the others and go home." I said, getting to me feet. "Home?" Fitzwellington mused, "Where's home?" "The HQ." I said.
That night we said our goodbyes to Dame Daphne, and then wished Dame Bebelia, lady Lucinda and Sir Jimothy good luck (they had decided to go travelling together) then headed toward the Lamb Mariner. We set sail and waved to the others until they were engulfed by the horizon.
We reached London a day later. Headed to my lock up and retrieved my Jag XK120 (Fitzwellington's Rolls was still in Russia) and floored it to Pasanda HQ. There was a sombre silence in the HQ. And sadly, we made our way to the sitting room and sat down, exhausted, to find someone else sitting there, sipping Smoked Earl Grey.
It was Sir Gregory.
He looked up as we came in. "Morning. How was the journey back? Don't worry, I put the kettle on for you, and Fitzwellington, I've requested your car be retrieved and returned to HQ. Tarquin, we're very low on milk." We were astounded, then delighted. "But how?" I asked, in disbelief. "How did you..." "Survive? Good question. Honestly? I don't think I did. I did die. But, then I came back. I just woke up in an alleyway in East London. Scared the shit out of some tramp."
For one moment, one golden moment, the three of us sat there and bantered, laughed, joked and relaxed.
If only it could've lasted.