From a Drood to a Kill - Simon R. Green


It’s All About the Give-and-Take. You Give and I Take.

It was a surprisingly pleasant day. Bright summer sunshine, a cloudless blue sky over sweeping grassy lawns, the cries of peacocks and gryphons loud and clear on the still air. Along with the quiet putt-putt of a steam-powered autogyro chugging by overhead. Just another day at Drood Hall, ancestral home of my long-established family, and training ground for those who would protect the world. I stood outside the main entrance door with my lady love at my side. Molly Metcalf—wild witch of the woods, supernatural terrorist, Hawkwind fan . . . and the only one I trust to always have my back. We looked at each other and grinned.

“Ready?” I said.

“Always,” said Molly.

“Once we start,” I said, “we don’t stop. For anything. Until we get to where we’re going.”

“Got it,” said Molly. “We keep going, no matter what.” She looked at me carefully. “Are we really going to do this? Take on the most powerful family in the world, on their own home ground?”

“Isn’t that what you always wanted?” I said.

“Hell yes! But are you sure this is what you want?”

“Hell yes,” I said.

Her grin widened. “Your family isn’t going to know what’s hit them.”

“Let’s do it,” I said.

“Love to,” said Molly.

I subvocalised my activating Words, and golden armour flowed out from the torc around my neck, covering me in a moment from head to toe in unbreakable, unstoppable strange matter. My family’s greatest secret weapon. I felt strong and fast and fully alive, as though I’d just woken up from the long doze of ordinary living. Molly struck a sorcerous pose and was immediately surrounded by coruscating wild magics, spitting and sparking as they discharged on the air. The knight in armour and the wicked witch, determined not to be denied any longer. I raised a golden foot, kicked in the entrance doors, and the two of us slammed into Drood Hall.

Alarms and bells and sirens broke out everywhere all at once, and men and women froze in place along the whole length of the entrance hall, caught off guard. No one ever invades Drood Hall, home to the most feared and respected family in the world. It just doesn’t happen. So they simply stood and stared, like rabbits caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, while Molly and I strode on. Two unstoppable forces for the price of one. A few of my family started forward to try to intercept us; some ran away; but most just stood and stared blankly, waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

A handful of security guards finally appeared, charging down the hallway, yelling for everyone else to get out of their way, and armouring up as they came. I didn’t slow down, just hit them head on. Some I shouldered aside; others I knocked down and walked right over. They might have been armoured like me, but I was the one with the field training and experience. More armoured guards burst out of side doors. Molly called up vicious storm winds, and they blasted up and down the long entrance hall, picking Droods up and throwing them this way and that. Most of the family either grabbed for something secure to hold on to or ran for their lives. They didn’t armour up or reach for weapons. I was seriously unimpressed. It was clear to me that the family needed to run more practise drills so everyone would know what to do when the impossible happened right in front of them. If this had been a real invasion, by outside forces, we would have been in serious trouble.

An armoured Drood blocked my way, reaching for me with golden hands. I hit him hard, slamming my shoulder into his chest. There was a loud clang of colliding metals as he was thrown backwards. I back-elbowed another in the side of the head, and swept the feet out from under a third. And kept going. I wasn’t worried about hurting them while they were in their armour, but hopefully I’d knocked the breath out of them and bought us some time. Molly danced happily along at my side, throwing fireworks and concussion spells in all directions, just to keep everyone on their toes.

“Has anyone ever got this far inside before?” she asked.

“It has happened,” I replied. “But we don’t like to talk about it. Might give people ideas.”

Molly was still sending Droods tumbling this way and that with her roaring storm winds.