Somewhere beneath London, October 22nd, 1946.
“Must we do this Agent? We've existed for barely a month; I doubt anyone is even interested in spying on us." Director Blackmore sighed softly, rubbing his temples with his one good hand while his gaze set itself on the intercom box jutting out above the elevator controls. “You should know as well as anyone director that we need to stick to procedure." The Director grunted 'This is ridiculous' before composing himself. “Very well...Ahem... 'The World is a dark place.'" He hated the code phrase, whoever dreamed it up read far too many pulp magazines. “Who will protect the world from darkness?" The husky tones of the female office worker downstairs asked, repeating her part of the code. The director with a firm, snapping tone replied. “We will." and just like that the elevator doors slid open.
Stepping inside the haggard old war veteran punched the button with the hook that replaced his right hand. Ever since Market Garden he had never been the same. A mortar shell had seen short work of his left leg and the itchy wooden replacement left him with both a loud walk and an awkward limp. Likewise, a German rifle bullet had seen the need to amputate his right hand, and his own unfortunate habits had lost him his eye as well. Still...The director was a man of duty who valued his service above all other things and when the opportunity to take control of the nation’s biggest secret came along he all but hopped at the idea.
The Elevator disgorged the director in a large, circular hallway that was so far Spartan in decoration. “Since a wee bairn, Ma name is wully bruwn, and since a wis a weever, a dwelt in Maxwelton, but nu av joined the sodjars, and tae perth am gawn away, fur tae join that halin' regiment, the gallant forty twa." A strong voice tinged with a Scottish accent rang out and the Director all but walked into the giant Celtic bruiser who was lugging a trio of ammo crates over his shoulder. Upon seeing the officer the man snapped to attention, stamping his foot and saluting. “Private Churchill, ready and able, Boss!" The Director nodded, his craggy features never once showing a smile. “Back to work private." The Scot barked. “Ah’ Wance! Sur!" When the director was out of sight he shot a glare at the man’s back and smirked. " Poofy En'lish cunt." Before carrying on his way.
The director made his way across the hall, passing by the underground train station that would soon be bringing in the first of the field operatives. The private rail line had cost almost as much as the rest of the rail lines in the country combined. Heavily policed and constantly maintained, it would soon see considerable use to transport the most dangerous creatures and relics to the safe vault of Spookhouse for research, storage and...If possible, destruction.
The director’s journey took him past the research labs where Doctor Christmas was still working away on her latest projects, eagerly waiting subjects brought in by the field agents. His feet eventually took him into a large briefing room where rows of chairs, small desks attached to the side had been left. A thick, heavy projector had been placed in the middle of the room where another of the agents, one of the technical support staff for the new fashioned communications array stood by, loading 40 MM film into the machine. The Director surveyed the room, scratching his bald, scarred scalp with his hook. Today history would be made.
The train roared through underground tunnels, belching thick black smoke that escaped through vents in the roof but often flooded the carriages with the stink of coal dust. The tunnels flitted by, lunatic shadows thrown across the wall by the coming and going of the train. Sparks flew high every time the driver leaned into the brakes and the passengers might be forgiven for imagining sliding down the throat of some mechanical metal beast as they plunged into the unknown.
Each agent would for security purposes be secured in a single, cell like room with thinly padded benches and a collection of files to read, but little else. Smoking and eating were forbidden, making it a very, very uncomfortable train ride from London’s underground to the hidden HQ of Spookhouse. The train bucked and rolled unsteadily as it moved, enough to turn the strongest of stomachs to water as it screamed through the dark. As Spookhouse neared the driver hammered on the breaks.
With a single terrible, piercing scream the train tore itself to a halt, the carriages bucking and smashing against one and other with frightening force. When the train came to a juddering halt the doors to each cell slowly slid open, letting the passengers free for the first time in four hours. Agents armed with Enfield rifles marched up and down the length of the training, heading the new batch of recruits together towards the briefing room.
Stranger stepped from his room with the stern, semi-disgusted scowl that seemed constantly etched onto his features. The thick rimmed black goggles giving him a strange, bug eyed appearance while his slate grey suit and raincoat was black with coal dust at the collar and tail. While the others hauled themselves from the cramped rooms Stranger lifted his hat and ran a hand through his hair, his eyes moving behind the protection of his goggles at the collection of misfits who stumbled clear. A fine bunch of freaks, the circus must have been in town. Suddenly the idea of putting an end to his solo career seemed very foolish and while the Queen was paying a remarkable sum of money for his time he couldn't feel that lodged with these kinds of people he wouldn't see an opportunity to spend it.
Gun belts crossed around his hips the Stranger moved past the agents with the swagger of a very confident man who knew exactly what he was capable of. Apart from the dim, buzzing lamps that lit the way in only the stranger’s lighter flare chased the shadows away as he sparked up a smoke and drew the stuff into his lungs. Four hours on a train without a chance for a smoke was an uncomfortable ride at best and the stranger felt his empty stomach settle. Filing into the briefing room the stranger drifted to the far end of the room, settling him down in one of the seats. When all the agents had filed past the doors two agents closed and locked them.
The Director watched each of the agents filing in, regarding them with a keen, practised eye. The Director liked to think of himself as a good judge of character. As he thumbed through the files he arranged them on his podium, putting a face to each name. The Red headed, green eyed beauty who looked more suited to starring in films rather than dealing with occult must have been Avi, he watched her, remembering the footnotes on her psyche report and finding it hard to connect the rather unhinged psyche report with the seemingly gentle woman who drifted in. Next in was the sniper, a rather unassuming looking man who was perhaps one of the most dangerous agents under the employ of Spook house. Evidently the man’s sole role during the war had been to remove enemy troops, win by attrition. Such a man was a good friend, but never one to turn your back on.
Next in was the paddie. Director Blackmore quickly scanned the man’s file. He had an impressive service record during the war and had a vast quantity of specialist skills that no-one else on the team possessed. He would be an asset to the team and Spook house as a whole.
His gaze travelled over the young man who entered, rather out of place in the group of hard bit men and women. Still, in his short live the gent had accomplished a trek to some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet and his grasp of language was astounding.
His gaze at last travelled to the other woman who sauntered in. Like the paddie she was a military woman. 'Cowgirl' was attached to her file and Blackmore felt his lips go thin. He found Americans to be loud and arrogant but her file had her as both a crack shot and crack cook, so she would be able to support the team in and out of combat and might bring some much needed spark to the Spook house mess hall.
The whiff of smoke caught his attention and he turned his gaze over to the hatted man sitting in the corner. “You! Put that out! We have flammable film in here!" Much to the Directors irritation the man didn't move, nor even act like he heard. He was about to shout again when one of the agents detached themselves from the side wall and poked the man in the shoulder. “Are you deaf? Do what he says." The Yank turned his gaze onto the agent before taking the cigarette and stubbing the hot end into his own tongue and flicking it to the side. Satisfied the British soldier returned to his post and the Director began his briefing.
“Good morning and welcome to London, I hope your journey was not too uncomfortable. Today is the first day of Operation Spook house. Before we begin your briefing I advise you to take a look at the people to your left and right, they will be your team mates and success on your new assignments will depend heavily on them. So please... Introduce yourselves." The Director glanced to the projector that was blasting white light in his direction. Getting the team to know each other was a vital first step and it also gave the technical support officer a vital moment to get the damn thing working.