It was a Camper-Van.
"That - is the 'Richter-Mobile'?" mocked Jill,, savouring the emphasis and making the 'inverted comma's' gesture in the air with her fingers.
"I'll take my car." - said Guy swiftly spotting an escape route. "AL!" The range rover obeyed obligingly and trundled over.
GOOD AFTERNOON GUY."
"No not really" - said Guy morosely - "we must save the world."
"ONE OF THOSE DAYS AGAIN?" Said the car, Gnomicly.
Guy looked up to the sky, the clouds were churning and the sky had the odd quality of being sunset but looking like an unhealthy bruise.
Coming back to his sense Guy shouted back over his shoulder: "Who else is coming?"
"Me!"called Bob and Heddingly together, in perfect synchronicity, as they raced to the rover and got in.
Jill was just about to add her support to this plan when Richter spoke for her.
"The lady can accompany us."
Jill turned and tried to fuse Richter into the cobbles with a stare.
"That's quite a squint you there m'dear" beamed Richter innocently - "you ought to have that seen to! Now come along we have not got time to waste!" and struck off in the direction of the van.
And Time was precisely what they did not have...
News reporters had been going crazy all afternoon. - Alan Titchmarsh, that quaint little gardener had tried to assasinate the President! The Networks were alive with repeating headlines and the odd expert kept wandering into the studio to inform the nation of their views on the matter.
Opinion was divided on the details but what seemed clear - everyone had seen the footage - Alan leaps up from his "Viola kitaibeliana"1 grabs a pair of pruning sheers and attempts to assault the president but is killed by the Secret Service.
The President is hurried away by his Security Guards - who would no doubt get it in the neck for this.
Indeed had anyone been resolute enough to look they would find their bloodless corpses not but 5 miles further along the motorway.)
The news-reader turned saliently back to the camera:
"Our Glorious President's whereabouts at this time are unknown - more on this late breaking story as it develops throughout the day, but know we turn to the lovely Sian Williams for a word on the bizarre birth of a two-headed cow in the Yorkshire dales - Sian." he crooned adoringly.
Guy and Richter had both been listening to a simultanious radio broadcast.
Guy activated his hands-free phone kit
Richter took the message.
"Well we know know he's heading for Stone Henge." said Richter.
"Something must have made Titchmarsh attack Rasputin like that." mused Guy.
"Head out onto the motorway." suggested Richter.
"The Agency is reporting a huge security blokade went up around the entire area not long after the presidential convoy passed through." announced Guy.
"Could be tricky." said Richter.
"We'll find a way around it - we must. Guy out."
Jill looked out the back window and observed the Ranger move itself level with the road, the back popped open exposing 4 serious looking rocket engines which ignited propelling the car down the road at break-neck speed.
"Well there they go... no wait, don't tell me." she said turning to Richter in the front - "you've got something similar - a little flame that pops out the back of this bus!" she said sarcastically. - "'Atomic batteries to power'" - she continued to mock "'turbines to speed.'"
"Oh no. Nothing like that." smiled Richter turning onto the exit ramp at a steady 30 miles an hour.
Jill sat back with a huff in the back seat.
"You may want to do your seatbelt up m'dear."
Jill grudgingly obliged.
"Strike the sacred rune, Robin."
Robin unwrapped with agonising deference an ornate looking hammer from a velvet cloth and with great care and deliberation brought it down hard on a complicated sygil on the dashboard.
The van glowed - there was the sound of a celestial choir - the vehicle became an blur and in it's haste melted the tar-mac in two long strips, which subsenquently ignited.
A minute later they had over-taken Guy.
10 minutes later they encounter the road-block set up across the road to deter way-ward travelers from entering the Ritual Site.
It didn't stand a chance.
A mile further up the road - Richter's ancient carrige failed to complete a turn and neglected to steer across a round-a-bout quite sufficiently and for a short while achieved flight.
There would be UFO reports in the news the following morning.
Which at this stage - was by no means guranteed.
Meanwhile at Stonehenge...
Annabell had come up from the catacombs in order to great the advanced enterage of the presidential caravan. A few had arrived early She was busy organising the seating arrangements for the guests when news began to filter through her hands-free ear-piece from survivors at the roadblocks, that a heavily armoured four-by-four and a glowing camper van were decimating the security leading into Stonehenge.
"Thanks." muttered Annabel into her earpiece.
"Yep. Nope. We anticipated this. What possible harm could they do? Yep. Keep me informed."
She flicked the piece off, and cast an inquisitive look at the clip-boarded aide.
"They're ready for you now, Ms. Smittington" coughed the discreet aide politely.
Annabel fixed her most dazzling smile and stepped out of the visitor's centre lobby onto the platform set up in the carpark, in front of which the Dignitaries were gathered. Behind her through several walls, in a small field, there was an interesting collection of rocks, if you were into that sort of thing, which she wasn't.
She suppressed a shudder. The price you pay for being CEO of an Evil Empire, she reminded herself. You meet the oddest people.
Jim Davidson was visibly having a nervous breakdown, sweating profusely, stuttering and trembling. His cheeky-chappy persona had crumbled beneath the unblinking gaze of the Dignitaries like a sugar cube under the hammer of the Gods, he had run through his vast collection of double-entendre jokes, and now he had reverted to that collection of jokes he had sworn never to touch again:
"But the mother-in-law, no, seriously, right - " he began, then broke off as he spotted Annabel offstage.
"And now ladies and gentlemen, the CEO of Globotech Corporation and regional head of the Stonehenge Tourist Information Centre, Ms. Annabel Smittington, lovely lady..."
He scurried off the dais clapping and mopped his forehead.
"I'm getting too old for this c**p. THAT is a tough crowd" he moaned.
It was. The Dignitaries consisted of the many friends that Rasputin had made in Hell, specially raised for the occasion. There was Genghis Khan in the back row, looking uncomfortable in his huge pelt and wondering if he should wait until the interval to find the loo.
In the next row, among lesser scum, the Emperor Caligula was giggling to himself as he slowly pulled apart a wriggling earthworm, much to the disgust of Josef Stalin, who was leaning out of the way and looking for some matches for his pipe.
Adolf Hitler was enthusiastically explaining about racial theory to Jack the Ripper, who was yawning behind his hand and wondering when they'd get to the buffet table. Judas Iscariot sat crouched in the front row, trying to look inoffensive. He had been stewing in blood, spit and bile in the fangéd mouth of the great demon Azareal for an infinity, and this was all very new and confusing to him.
"Gentlemen", said Annabel, not meaning it, "You are all here today for a very special occasion. An occasion which, I must say, is probably unique..."
"Get on with it!" bellowed Machiavelli, because there's always one.
She smiled indulgently. "I understand you're anxious to know why you're all here. I think I know a man who can explain a little better than I can..."
Right on cue, the Presidential limo pulled into the carpark and slid to a halt. There was an embarassing pause, some homely Russian swearwords and a flustered aide rushed around and opened the passenger door. Rasputin emerged, immaculate in a jet-black habit, entered through the back door and climbed onto the stage, exchanging smiles and waves with the audience. A brass band struck up 'Hail To The Chief'.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America!" announced Annabell.
Cue applause, modestly waved down by the monk, who then launched into his speech.
Annabel stepped aside, checked her watch and worried. The end of the world is a large enterprise to manage, and there had been no chance for a dress rehearsal. Added to her worries were the Agency busybodies, and some kind of demon which seemed to have a grudge against the President. She knocked back a Panadol, and flicked on her earpiece.
"...ind of weird animal, all spikes and drool. We can't be sure if it's inside the perimeter. You there boss?"
"The situation is weird: we can't be sure who's gotten in, but we've sent some guards to give the - "
There were some extremely unpleasant cracking, gristly noises, and a loud exhalation, then hoarse phlegmy breathing.
"moOOnnKKK....iSss THaT yoUuU...? I'LL FIND yOu mOnk...noT FaR Now..."
A crunch, then static. Now what was that all about? Annabel felt a headache coming on.
Jim Davidson poked her on the shoulder.
"Do I get paid now?"
Inside the Infernal Throne-Room of the fallen Angel....
A lowly demon squelched it's in through the great black doors and addressed The Devil:
The Devil cast a regarding eye down hoof-ward and grunted that the messenger should continue.
"Er... I don't know how I should break this to you... um... I mean... it's... it's... "
"It's what?" quizzed Satan.
"It's the pits, sire..."
"Could it be, that you are asking ME, for... a raise??" bellowed Lucifer.
"No, no, no your evil-ship... it's the Pits... The PITS - they're um... empty..."
"Empty?" said the Devil.
"uh-huh." nodded the imp
"EMPTY!!!!?" he roared.
"I checked the log - there was a mass summoning about half-an-hour ago."
"This is The Monk's work." mused Belzeebub.
"Should I get your pitch-fork, your Infernal Beast-y-ness... sir?" glowing with a small amount of pride.
"No." said Satan, who then trod on the Imp. "And don't ever fail me again!"
"I have a better idea."
Meanwhile at the entrence to Stonehenge:
Two of the gaurds who were patrolling the compound, when a section of chain-link fence that had formed the gate to the security wall, crashed out of the sky in front of them.
A second later they were most surprised to be nearly run over by two blurs travelling at speed towards the visitor centre.
One of the guards pressed his earpiece and put a call through to Annabell.
"Yes - what?" - she finished stuffing the deceased Jim Davidson down the laundry shute. "Idiot - no-one touches the Armani."
"The what?" said the gaurd, craning to hear better.
"Nothing... nothing. It will be those medlesome agents - stop them getting here at all - "
"Yes it's in that direction," she heard the guard addressing someone.
" - costs... Who are you talking to?" said Annabel agitatedly.
Back outside, Guy had reversed back down the Muddy path and was asking directions.
"Is this the way to Stonehenge Visitors Centre?"
"Yes it's in that direction." pointed the guard helpfully.
"Much obliged" saluted Guy who shot them both with a silenced revolver.
Heard Annabel, who scrabbled to remove the microphone and ear-piece from about her head. With disbelief in her eyes She hurried back to the side-door of the stage.
Rasputin was still in full flow
"...THIS BENIGHTED AND G*DLESS ROCK HAS BROUGHT US ALL NOTHING BUT MISERY. I REFUSE TO SPEND ANOTHER ETERNITY IN HELL!! THEREFORE MY DARK BRETHEREN, I REQUIRE YOUR AID IN ENDING THIS FAILED PROJECT AND CALL UPON YOU TO ASSIST ME IN BRINGING ABOUT QUIET AND PEACFUL OBLIVION!!!"
There was an appreciative roar from the crowd.
Rasputin smiled a slick smile, which grew into a grin, it spread across his face like an oil-slick over an ocean.
Outside Bob, Jill, Guy, Heddingly, Richter and Robin advanced through the car-park. They had just spotted Rasputin's Limo when they heard screams coming from the conference hall.
"This is it!" shouted Richter above a sudden gust of wind.
"Charge!" shouted Guy.
And they did.
Moments earlier inside the hall.
Rasputin was soaking up the raputrous applause from his fellow Damned. Such was his delight at how things appeared to be going that he failed to notice two rather important things: One that Annabel was gesticulating frantically in order to get his attention about the breach in security and the other was the small collection of drool gathering in a puddle at his feet.
A shadow passing high in the gantry caused him to look up.
Which is when Leicester dropped onto the stage.
To his credit, Rasputin barely batted an eyelid. He stepped back, head on one side, and said quite calmly:
"I don't think I know you. Are you on the guest list?"
Bewildered by this reaction, Leicester drew himself up to his full height and extended all of his spikes, giving a bellow which shook the hall. Caligula slid under a table and cowered.
"i hAVE been LoOKinG fOr YOu, moNK...I - aM tHE rED LeicEStEr!!"
The monk looked puzzled for a moment, then his face brightened.
"But of course! The pirate! The gentleman I, um, usurped. And how are things down below? Still with the fire and brimstone?"
But Leicester's conversation had been exhausted, and he opened his maw to swallow the monk whole. In a flurry of robes, Rasputin had changed position and now held a small crucifix a few millimetres from the fangs of the demon.
"The power of GOD compels thee!" he denounced.
The Leicester just grinned.
"Alright, Plan B. Shoot him." Rasputin motioned to his bodyguards.
A marine guard reluctantly stepped up to the stage, raised his pistol in the Weaver stance and fired. The shots sounded very small.
Now the Leicester grinned AND fed.
"WhaT ISss YouR pLAn C, moNK...?" he slavered, picking a Navy Cross from between his teeth.
Then he did a double-take, which is quite a thing to see in a two-ton demon. The monk had gone, and the side door was flapping loose. Leicester snarled, and followed.
Caligula screamed like a girly.
In this action-packed thirty seconds, the Charge of the Reluctant Agents had reached the main doors, which they cautiously breached, and entered the hall. What they saw was a roomful of assorted evildoers making small talk, and an empty podium.
Guy approached the nearest Dignitary, a small man with a funny Chaplin-esque moustache.
"Sorry, could you tell us where the monk has gone? It's rather important."
"Entschuldigung? Leider verstehe ich nicht."
Jill stepped forward.
"Allow me. I speak a little German... um, wo... ist der Monk? Bitte?"
The little German rattled off a quick barrage of words that left Jill clueless, but by then Heddingly had found out the situation from a helpful Richard III.
"They've gone off to some kind of underground lair where they're going to... use some sort of device to end the world. Sorry, but there were a lot of 'verily's' and 'forsooth's', I couldn't understand it all."
The Agency were back on the trail.