“You guys have a lab?” Marion asked.
“Yup. A super secret lab,” de Lavoir added.
Marion and Grant were being given a tour of the fort. Although the Indians kept giving them menacing looks, the French were awesome hosts. They fed them, gave them clean clothes, and were now giving them a tour.
“I don’t want to seem ungrateful,” Grant said. “But, if it is so secret, why are you showing it to us?”
Marchand responded. “Your main army is going to be here pretty soon and we are not equipped to defend against so large a force. So we’re going to have to blow the fort.”
“Again, you know, great, just great. But you’re going to show us your secret experiments?” Grant continued in another seemingly misguided attempt to suck at his job.
de Lavoir smiled. “We are planning to execute you. So we might as well show off first.”
“Ah. It all makes sense now. Lead on.” Grant actually seemed bolstered by this news. Marion didn’t get this guy. But what he did get was the idea that this secret experiment situation was clearly very important and, once he learned about it, he was going to have to find a way to get out of here and quickly. Maybe he’d take Grant. The guy was a knot-tying wizard after all.
They entered a large domed chamber. It was filled with a greenish light that cast a peculiar pall on everything in the room. There were a number of tables and cabinets and a huge assortment of strange devices that Marion did not recognize. There were odd smoke and strange sounds coming from various parts of the room. Oh yeah. There was also a huge white hairy monster, apparently asleep, strapped to a giant table. A few French scientists were lurking about and a rather larger number of Indians. One Indian in particular seemed to be running the show. They approached him with Marchand.
“This is Guyasuta,” Marchand introduced them. “He is our lead scientist in the field of uh-”
“Creepy shit,” offered the surprisingly articulate Guyasuta.
“Of course,” Marion said. “We have a similar division but it is not my area of expertise. I wonder, Guyasuta, if you would be kind enough to explain what it is you do.”
“Let me start you off, Francis,” Marchand said. Uh, Francis; he hated that name. “You, meaning the British, may have noticed as we did when we arrived in this new world that there were a few things different here than back in Europe.”
“I suppose,” said Grant. “But what do you mean specifically?”
“Specifically I guess you could say all of the fucking monsters,” said Marchand. “Werewolves, zombies, succubae, vampires-”
“Wait a minute; I’ve never seen any vampires,” said an incredulous Marion.
“Well, I haven’t either, but let’s be honest-”
“Now now, Frenchie,” said Grant. “Let’s not jump to conclusions. I’m pretty sure vampires are just made up.”
“Didn’t you think wyverns were made up?”
“Yeah but then one ate my horse so I know they’re real. But I’ve never seen a vampire and I don’t know anyone who has.”
“Fine,” Marchand conceded. “No vampires. But still plenty of weird things, that, let’s face it, we just don’t have across the pond.”
“So your point?”
“Well, since we didn’t want to just accept this as a regular thing, we decided to do some research. And, as it turns out, Guyasuta has been working on this for quite some time now. He has discovered a number of interesting facts. Guyasuta, if you don’t mind.”
“Gentlemen. As the good general made clear, these beasts seem exclusive to North America. Now being a native to North America-”
“See,” said Grant.
“Shhh,” Marion cut in.
“I can tell you with great confidence that these beasts have only been around for the last 200 years.”
“You have records that go back two hundred years,” asked Marion.
“Of course. We’re not savages.”
Marion had to admit this guy seemed to have it together. He also spoke flawless English and probably French as well. To top it off, he had remarkably good posture.
“Over the past two hundred years, the number of beasts and their levels of aggression have increased. In fact, they seem drawn to conflict. Wars bring them out in droves. That is why there are so many. We are still trying to figure out where they came from and how to get rid of them, but it seems as if this beast,” he indicated the huge white hairy monster on the table, “may somehow be a sort of leader. Or a catalyst. He may, in a way, spawn the creatures.”
“So he, like, gives birth to them?” Grant started to turn an unpleasant mauve.
“Not exactly. It’s more as if, when he wants creatures, they appear. It has to do with some kind of mystical energy that is within him. Or at least that is our best guess. It’s possible that he is just another random monster.”
“How did you capture it? And if you think he is producing monsters, no matter how he is doing it, why don’t you kill him?” Marion asked.
“He attacked a large war party all by himself. We were lucky enough to be equipped with a large amount of poisoned arrows. After three to four hundred hits, he went down. He killed about eighty of us first, though.”
“He’s a lot stronger than any of the other creatures we’ve encountered. I mean, a lot stronger. Like a kabillion times.”
Kabillion, wondered Marion. This guy’s speech patterns were out of whack.
“As to why we don’t kill him, we hope to study him. Learn from him. Uncover the mystery of these beasts.” Guyasuta paused. “Also we can’t. We have mangled the hell out of this guy and he just keeps healing himself. We burned him, poisoned him, and chopped him into dozens of small pieces. He just heals himself. It’s pretty annoying.”
“So how do you keep him sedated?” Marion was the only one paying attention now. Grant had become distracted by a tube that was producing bubbles and Marchand and de Lavoir had moved to the windows and seemed all twitter-pated about something.
“We’ve been pumping poison into him nonstop. The funny thing is, even if your army wasn’t coming, we were going to have to do something. Because we’re about out of poison. I guess we were just going to have to drop him off somewhere in the woods and run before he woke up. Now I think we’ll leave him here. Maybe when we blow up the fort, he’ll get trapped in the debris and won’t get out. But probably not.”
“Who exactly are these guys,” de Lavoir asked, pointing out the window.
“I’m not sure but it looks like they want to shoot somebody,” said Marchand.
“We should pack up our notes,” said Guyasuta.
“We need to give the order to retreat,” said Marchand.
“Grrrr,” said the big white hairy monster.
“Shit,” said everybody.
“You see, this kind of thing is not cool,” Boone said. He was referring to the number of Scottish heads that had been placed on spikes, which were lining the outside of the walls of Fort Duquesne.
“Oh no,” squealed Revere. “Do you think it’s vampires?”
“No,” sighed Boone. “It’s probably just the Indians who killed them and put them here as a warning.”
“I don’t know. I heard that Vlad Tepes guy did this sort of thing and he was a vampire.”
“He was not a vampire,” Fraser stepped in. “That is just part of the legend.” He nodded toward the heads on sticks.
“I’m not buying it. There are vampires around. What the hell, man? George Washington promised me there were no vampires! I thought he couldn’t lie.”
“You need to stop believing all these crazy fairy tales. Vampires aren’t real; Washington can lie. These stories you hear as a kid aren’t true. You should know that. Oops, heads up. Zombie.” Boone quickly dispatched it with a sword thrust. There did not appear to be any more.
The British force was in luck. Although here they sat, directly in the sights of Fort Duquesne’s cannons, it was clear that they were unmanned. In fact, the fort seemed pretty much deserted. It was quite possible that they had decided to abandon it, fearing that they could not defend it. It was odd, though, that they would leave it intact.
“I feel like this may be a trap,” said Washington. “I want the main force to move back from the fort. There is a good chance it is rigged to explode. Bouquet-”
“The Swiss guy,” asked soldier number 248.
“Yes, the Swiss guy,” continued Washington. “He wants a small team of six men to enter the fort and see if there is anything that can be salvaged, or if there is a giant pile of explosives about to go off, or perhaps a huge army waiting to kill us. So who volunteers?”
“I do, sir.” Fraser, of course.
“Kiss ass,” said Boone. Sadly, this was mistaken for him volunteering.
The rest of the party was rounded out by soldier number 248, some guy named Dave, and two others whom we care nothing about.
“Go with God, gentlemen, and remember that your sacrifice here today may mean that you saved the lives of hundreds. That you helped capture a key fort in our charge for victory and that you shall be remembered as heroes.” So spoke George Washington.
“He seems pretty convinced we’re going to die,” Boone said.
“Aren’t you?” Fraser asked.
“Yeah, but damn it; why do I have to die with you?”
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Genre – Alternate History
Rating – PG13