From The Journals of Inquisitor Augustus Torchwood

            ...After securing the trust and cooperation of Lamont (Chief custodian Cranston), we brought the
Enigma ex Machina to dock under the false registry Crimson Shad (I love that name…nobody ever gets it…). With the ship docked, I put Brothers Prospero and Cypher to the task of analyzing the data our new friend gave us, and I sent Bolt out to have a sniff around the underhive to scout the area and try to make some contacts. 
            I also sent Otto out to keep an eye on him, so to speak. Bolt’s a good lad, and damned good in a fight, but sometimes he’s not all there. I want to give him the chance to prove himself and see if he can handle the kind of undercover work we like to do, but I also want to be sure he’s safe.

            Speaking of under-covers, that leaves Sister Madeline and me all alone in the up-spire penthouse I commandeered for our temporary HQ…I’m sure we’ll find something to keep our minds off of the trouble Bolt and Otto are bound to get themselves into…

-===========]xxxo =][= oxxx[===========-

            Somewhere far from the luxury of the upper spires, a young man stalked through an underhive bazaar. His name is Brother Prometheus, but everyone called him Bolt…he’s tall and timberwolf-lean, with a shaven head and intense, piercing gray eyes…eyes that carry a madman’s fervor and the deadly calm of a trained killer. The black leather and chrome, the telltale bulges under his long coat, none of these things kept people on alert as much as the sweep of those eyes.

            Bolt had never walked these streets, but he had the menacing confidence to own them completely. He wore the dank and corrupted underhive like a tailored overcoat, making all things just a backdrop to him. Part of that backdrop detached itself from the shadows and moved behind him, matching his pace but keeping a few yards back. Bolt didn’t seem to be aware of his stalker, nor of the two others who’d moved from a nearby alley. The muted throb blaring from his chromed earpieces gave the shadowy strangers extra confidence. Surely he couldn't hear them over that racket.

            He allowed himself a little grin as his finely tuned sense of hearing picked out the sound of a holster being cleared through the familiar, almost subconscious din of his personal soundtrack. He was debating on whether to play along and let them spring their little trap, or to just turn around and sort them out right then, but his deliberation was cut short when someone stepped into his path.

            Nearly his same height, but much broader in build, the newcomer’s fiber-optic Mohawk shifted from green to red as he put a shovel-sized hand on Bolt’s chest, “Toll road, mate. Either state your allegiance or fork over some cash…say the wrong name and you pay in blood.” He snarled the demand through jagged metal teeth, the various bolts and hooks and piercings in his face added a nightmarish depth to his menacing glare. His bare arms bulged with almost too many muscles, and though his open leather vest concealed no weapons, it’s hard not to see what looked like a huge industrial chainsaw strapped across his back.

            The two from the alley took this opportunity to step into the light, one casually brandishing a bulky-looking slug pistol, and the other a length of steel pipe with a heavy, knobby-looking fitting on the end. Behind him, Bolt heard the petulant whine of an old and poorly maintained laspistol, struggling to hold a hotshot charge in its aging capacitors. Across the street, a red glimmer on dirty glass betrayed the presence of someone trying to use a cheap targeter from the second floor window.

            Bolt took it all in, but keept his face devoid of expression. His steely gaze flicked from Mohawk’s face, to the hand on his chest and back. The thug started to sweat as the light caught the dent in Bolt’s forehead, right above his left eye. He could swear he saw that left eye rotate with distressing independence, describing an erratic circle before snapping back with laser focus on him. He jerked his hand away as if burned then, remembering himself and his nearby comrades, he straightened up and tried his line again, “Tell us who you’re with or pay the toll.” He said, with just a bit less confidence than before.

            Silence followed, disturbed only by the muffled, primal beat surging from the media slate in Bolt's pocket, then a response just as the lead singer began to scream his unintelligible lyrics, “I keep my own council." Bolt said in a jarringly soft voice, "Organizations seek to ally themselves with me. And before you ask…” he added, moving sideways with ophidian speed, “It works the same way with money.” Before Mohawk can reach for it, Bolt had torn the saw from its webwork sling and sent it skittering across the blacktop away from them.

            With a grin, Bolt grabbed Mohawk’s questing hand and placed a boot on the center of his spine. With a hard shove and a grizzly, snickering pop, bone broke and an arm was pulled rather thoroughly out of socket. Mohawk went down in a whimpering heap on the pavement.

-===========]xxxo =][= oxxx[===========-

            Up in the building across the street a finger tensed on a firing stud. “I wouldn’t, if I was you.” Said a voice like gravel poured down a stovepipe. The sniper spun around, trying to bring his cumbersome weapon to bear on the speaker, when a fist like a bundle of rebar smashed into his face with the sound of a shovel hitting wet sand.

            "Dumbass,” Otto said, shaking his head as the would-be assassin slumped to the floor with a wet gurgling sound. Matchlight flared briefly off a red-lensed eyepiece set into the old man’s jigsaw face. Full Auto Otto drew the flame into a fresh cigar with a rattling metallic rasp and exhaled a pall of blue smoke as he moved to inspect the cobbled together long-las the unfortunate young man was holding. “I wouldn’t put down a sick dog with this piece of shtako.” He declared after a moment’s consideration. With a disgusted snort he tore the weapon in half. Blue sparks arced across his battered cybernetic limbs as the capacitors discharged their load. “Barely even got my nips hard, that kiddie-charge…fuckin pathetic.”

-===========]xxxo =][= oxxx[===========-

            Back on the street Bolt vaulted over the whimpering wreck of Mohawk and launched himself at the stunned gangers. The one with the pipe took a swing, but Bolt caught it and jerked hard, pulling its wielder forward and into a brutal punch. The unfortunate hiver dropped to his knees, clutching the bloody smear that used to be a nose. Bolt flipped the pipe once in the air and snatched it back so that now he held the light end.

            With a negligent seeming flick he brrought the knobby end whistling down on the other thug’s slug-gun, shattering both the weapon and the hand that held it. Hearing the laspistol's whine stepping up an octave, Bolt dropped down and swept the one handed ganger’s legs out from under him. He rolled, just ahead of a stuttering laser beam, as it cut a molten morse code of dots and dashes into the plascrete sidewalk; the last piece of underhive scum trying in vain to track him with the sputtering beam. It quickly petered out as the focusers overheated and melted under the hotshot load.

            Bolt came up, cross-drawing his twin bolt pistols. Specially diffused targeter beams paint fist-sized ruby dots on the unfortunate youth’s chest, vividly depicting what the .75 caliber high-explosive entry wounds would look like. “Drop—” he began, but was cut off by the clatter of the pistol hitting the sidewalk before he could even form the word ‘it.’

            "Please don’t fething kill me!” the ganger sobbed as he dropped to his knees in front of Bolt, “I’ll be your bitch, anything you want!”

            Bolt briefly considered asking why the thug's mind went straight to sodomy, but decided instead to turn a phrase, “State your allegiance, or pay the ferryman…” he said, bringing both pistols down side by side so that the ganger found himself staring into hell’s binoculars.

            "Wh-what?” he stammered meekly, the reference wasted on his terrified and uneducated mind.

            "For whom did this miserable lot work?” Bolt clarified impatiently.

            "F-father Malthas Blak, s-sir!” the ganger blurted out, “He r-runs everything down here, him and the B-brotherhood.”

            Bolt grinned, and his left eye did its disturbing little pirouette inside his skull. The boy, to his credit, managed not to faint. “Good.” Bolt said finally, “It looks as if your master is badly in need of skilled enforcers. Go to him now,” he said, holstering his weapons and flicking something from the recesses of his jacket at the ganger. The youth squealed in terror and tried to scramble back as the business card bounced harmlessly off his chest. “Tell him that my associates and I can be of assistance to him.” Without further words, he turned and walked away from the cowering survivor. Contact established.

-===========]xxxo =][= oxxx[===========-

From The Journals of Augustus Torchwood

            Bolt and Otto reported back sooner than I had expected, and together at that. However, they failed to surprise in the manner in which they entered the base…bickering like brothers…
-===========]xxxo =][= oxxx[===========-

            “I don’t much care if you knew he was there, or not. He’da shot you jus’ the same, boy!” Otto was saying as they trudged into the common room of their penthouse HQ, shedding muddy boots and jackets as they went.

            “I’ve been shot before,” bolt said moodily as he hung his long coat on the rack by the door, “And judging from the quality of the weapons they were using, I most likely had little to worry about.”

            “Reckless and ignorant,” the old vet declared, lighting up another cigar.
They may'a been packin’ shit for munitions, but a shit gun’ll kill ya’ jus’ as dead as a spanky new one if you ain’t watchin’ yer ass. You know how many shiny suits’a power armor I seen cut to pieces by some greenskin with nuffin’ but sharp bit o metal and a load of determination?”

            “Alright, alright, enough,” Gus said, striding into the room in a long, plush looking bathrobe. “The important thing is nobody got hurt,” he glanced at bolt’s blood-spattered sleeve and corrected himself, “none of us, at least…” he said with a sigh, plumping himself down in the overstuffed armchair.

            “So, how did it go, boys?” Sister Madeline asked, emerging into the common room in a rather short and fluffy robe and toweling her dark hair. She perched herself on the arm of Gus’ chair and crossed her legs demurely.

            “Well, I uh…” Bolt flushed and stammered for a moment before composing himself, “I made contact with some cult thugs. They attempted to shake me down, but they also asked if I had any affiliations, said I would pay in blood if I gave the wrong name. Sounded fishy to me.”

            “Sounds to me…” Gus started, taking a sip from the teacup he left on the table earlier, “Ugh, gone all cold.” Madeline smiled, remembering the circumstances under which he was originally forced to abandon sip. She got up, gave him a quick peck and gathered up the teaset to go back into the kitchenette. Gus blushed a bit and carried on, “Anyway…sounds to me like the good Reverend hasn’t got as firm a grip on thing as he’d like. We should see if he’s got any enemies left alive still. If he’s asking allegiances, then there’s got to be someone left to worry about. Sounds like a useful asset to me.”

            “So, we’re gonna team up with a pack of underhive scum?” Otto asked, raising a scarred and hairless brow skeptically.

            Gus leaned back in his chair a bit, “Look, I’m not saying we should go around giving out chocolate and blowjobs, or anything, but I’ve got no problem inviting them to come along and get in front of some bullets for us.”

            “Not a bad plan, Gus,” Sister Madeline said as she returned with a fresh tea tray from the little kitchenette, “But how do you plan to get a peek at Reverend Fracknut’s enemies list, and how do we go about inviting who we find on it to ‘get in front of some bullets’ for us?” she asked, setting the tray down on the table and bending over it to pour her and Gus fresh cups, leaving the others to help themselves.

            “Well…” Bolt said, trying not to linger on the image of Maddie bent over the coffee table, “When I dealt with them I gave one of the survivors our card. I told him that it was obvious his boss could use some skilled enforcers and told him to have him call us.”

            “Oohh, looks like someone’s wearin’ his smarty boy britches today.” Otto commented, pausing in his efforts to fill a teacup almost entirely with sugar cubes.

            Maddie grinned and leaned forward invitingly, “Mmmm, now there’s something I like to see in my men, brains and a bit of initiative…” she purred, “Which card did you give him, love?”

            “Uh…” Bolt flushed with mostly embarrassment, “I wasn’t actually paying attention…” he admitted, earning a cackle from Otto as the young man fumbled for his card case. “Looks like number seven.” He said after a moment’s inspection of the little sliver case’s contents.

            Gus chuckled and shook his head, realizing which one it was. The phone rang and the inquisitor answered with a pleasant drawl, “Thank you for calling Torchwood Pest Control, where we Cleanse and Purify…”

            Maddie put a hand to her mouth, shoulders trembling with suppressed mirth. Otto choked and sputtered on his sugary tea and Bolt did his best to sink into the couch cushions from embarrassment.

            “Yes, Reverend, that does sound like quite an infestation you got there…” Gus said after a pause, “I’ll send my best agents over right away to discuss details…”

-===========]xxxo =][= oxxx[===========-

Hot On The Wire.

Tutorial: Painting Warlord's Plastic Roman Legionaries

My friend Scott got very excited by my 28mm Roman project. So excited he's been amassing an army of his own. I have to paint them though...