Empire Of Steam: Chapter 09

Chapter Nine: Preparing The Facility

 

It was after the visit of Sir George Walker that Sir Edward Monk decided that he would not be able to direct the war to come from his mansion. All of those in power knew who he was, and where he lived. When he was finally ready for his revenge against those who had failed him he would have to find somewhere else to be; otherwise those who ruled the land would simply send their forces against his mansion, and his vengeance would be over before it even began. He needed somewhere where he would be safe, from where he could direct his vengeance against Harley Street and all the other fakers.

It was obvious to Sir Edward that there was only one place where he could hide where he might be safe from discovery, and that was the facility which he had had constructed for chemical experiments. It was the obvious choice.

Few people knew about the existence of the place, beyond himself and his chauffeur. The architects of the place had been paid well, with clauses in the contract which had bound them to secrecy. Monk was not sure if the builders would feel that they would have to honour those clauses forever. Once Monk’s vengeance started they might reconsider their loyalty. But Monk did not need forever for his vengeance. He only needed the time required to utterly destroy those who had betrayed him. What happened after that was not his concern. He did not care about the future.

He almost wished that he was in ancient times. Then he could have had the builders murdered in order to keep secret the existence of the facility. But this was the nineteenth century. You could no longer do things like that. Besides, the builders were not guilty of anything except being an inconvenience. They had not preyed on him while Eliza had been dying.

He would simply have to trust to the idea that by the rime that any of them decided to betray his confidence it would already be too late.

 

Monk summoned his automobile. He wanted a second look at the place, now that he had decided to use it as his base of operations. But he had to be careful. No one must know where he was going.

The day was fine. There was no rain or any indication that there would be. In fact that storm had cleared the air, leaving the weather feeling pleasant and fresh.

The roof was not on the steam car when Johnson pulled up in front of the front doors of the mansion. Sir Edward wandered down to the waiting automobile.

Sir Edward Monk climbed into the back of his Mark Three steam car. Johnson closed the door, and got into the front of the vehicle.

“Where to, sir?”

“To the facility – the copse of trees where you took me before.” Sir Edward Monk said. “You recall how to get there?”

“Of course, sir.”

“There is one thing, Johnson.”

“What is it, sir?”

“You must never tell any soul about this visit, not even those who are dear to you.” Monk knew that Johnson was not married. But that was about as much as Monk knew concerning Johnson’s family. Monk had no idea whether Johnson had any brothers or sisters, or whether the chauffeur’s parents were still alive.

“Sir?”

“You must swear, on all that you hold holy, that you will not reveal this trip to anyone, and that you will never reveal the location of the facility. You must swear, Johnson.”

Johnson did not say anything for a few moments. He turned, and looked at his employer sitting on the white leather seats. Johnson frowned, then shrugged his shoulders.

“I swear.” he said. “I swear by all that I hold holy.”

“Good man. That’s all. You may drive, Johnson.”

Sir Edward Monk settled back into the seats of the steamer, as Johnson drove down the drive to the gates of the mansion’s grounds. There was a slight pause as Johnson opened the gates; and then closed them behind the automobile. But there were no more pauses then, as Johnson drove them, again, to that isolated little copse of trees.

Sir Edward closed his eyes as the steamer rattled down England’s country roads. He liked the feeling of the wind on his face. He liked the way that the air ruffled his grey hair. There was something calming bout it, as though the breeze was trying to soothe all of his troubles away. Perhaps when this was all over he should go and live somewhere windy.

When this was all over… He had never considered what might come after his campaign. He discovered that he did not care. Tomorrow was another country. There was no future, only now.

They passed a few other automobile on the journey. All of them were ones made by Monk. He smiled to see that fact, and that they had not gone for some Stanley Steamer. He had done this country proud, as far as he was concerned.

When they approached the turning for the track which ended at the copse of trees Monk ordered Johnson not to turn into the track if there was anybody else about on the road. But there was nobody else about, and Johnson was able to turn straight off the main road. Even so, though, Monk could not help feeling a little paranoia. He had the feeling that he was being watched, even though nobody else was there. It was a feeling which persisted even when they reached the trees at the end of the track.

 

It did not take as long, this time, for Sir Edward Monk to find the metal door set into the hill, in the copse of trees. He did not go straight into the facility, though, but first looked around, behind him, to make sure that he was alone in the little wood. He wanted to make sure that nobody was watching him – not even Johnson. Despite what Johnson had said Monk found that he did not entirely trust his chauffeur.

Perhaps when he went down into the facility, at the start of the war, he should take Johnson with him. Yes, he thought, he would have to do that. Johnson knew where the place was. He trusted Johnson. But he could not risk his chauffeur being interrogated by the authorities.

Monk wondered if any other of his servants should be brought to this facility. Perhaps he should bring his cook, so that he could have her prepare his food? Chambermaids to deal with the bed which he would need. Scullery maids…

No, he thought, he would not involve any of his other servants in his great revenge; it was not out of any desire to protect his staff, but simply because he was not sure that he could trust them.

No, it would only be him and Johnson who would be going below: something which Monk did not intend to tell Johnson until the last possible moment.

 

Once more Monk went down into the darkness, the lantern in his hands. Once more he used his map to find his way.

This time, though, he was not wandering pointlessly through what felt like a tomb. He had a purpose for this visit.

He went to where the generator was, and examined the machine. It looked a simple enough piece of technology, as far as he was concerned. He should easily be able to operate it by himself.

He would need fuel, though, for the generator. A couple of month’s worth would easily be enough. Could he risk it being delivered to the facility? He supposed that he had no choice. At the very least it would have to be delivered close enough so that somebody like Johnson might be able to manhandle it down the concrete steps.

It was yet another problem. But the point of problems was that they could be overcome. If he had never tried to confront problems which arose then he would never have become one of the wealthiest men in the British Empire.

Between him and Johnson they would resolve all of the problems. Johnson would have to carry down everything which the two of them might need on the days and weeks ahead. Monk almost wished that he had designed some elevator for the facility. Everything would have to be carried down those concrete steps, perhaps even assembled once taken sown inside, like the difference engines had been. But Sir Edward Monk was sure that Johnson would manage.

He would need some way in which to contact his soldiers. Sir Edward had heard of some device called a Tesla transmitter. He had not seen one. But, if it was to be believed, a Tesla transmitter could send voices across the ether, without the need for wires, to be picked up by another Tesla transmitter miles away. If the device worked as it was supposed to then he would require one for the facility, and one for whichever general he chose to lead his army.

There would have to be an aerial, he supposed. But it could be hidden in the copse of trees. They would only find the aerial if they found the door.

 

The place would need beds for Johnson and himself. For a second Sir Edward Monk envisioned Johnson struggling with a full-sized bed down the concrete steps. Then he dismissed the idea as an impossibility.

They would have to use camp beds. Sir Edward understood that such items could be purchased. He supposed that he could put up with such discomfort for a short period of time. It would be a necessary sacrifice.

He wandered around the rest of the complex to see what else he and Johnson would need. Water was not a problem. But they would need a food, and a lot of it. Monk could see that Johnson would have to make a lot of shopping trips in the next few days. But they had a little time. It would be days – weeks – before he had enough weapons of war to be sure that he could achieve his vengeance. And there was still the small matter of finding people to operate them. That was yet one more problem needing solving.

He wandered around the concrete rooms, mentally filling them with his mind. a bedroom in this chamber, a place to store food in another. Perhaps he could have communication equipment in a third (he would have to install it himself). He could put books in a fourth, as he saw no need to divest himself of all the trappings of civilisation. He would be spending a long time down here, in the concrete dark, and a few books would help him pass the time until his vengeance was complete.

Oh, he would have loved to have been in the lead land ironclad which stormed Harley Street. He would have loved to have rolled over the screaming doctors, crushing them beneath the caterpillar tracks of his machine. But he was an old man, not a warrior. As long as his revenge was done, that was the important thing, he told himself. He did not need to be there in person. He would be able to imagine everything in his mind’s eye.

 

Eventually he realised that he must have spent hours wandering around the place. Johnson would be wondering what had happened to him.

He walked back up and out into the light again, making his way back to the automobile. He climbed into the back of the vehicle.

“Home, sir?” Johnson asked, starting up the steamer.

“No, I think not.” Sir Edward Monk said. “I think that we need to go shopping, Johnson. I think that we have a lot of shopping to do.”

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