For much of the time Boz could see little but swirling smoke and fog, hear nothing above the screams of men and beasts, the popping of Burp© fire, and then an attacker would be upon him. For frantic seconds they were warriors testing each other’s mettle, close enough to smell the fear and fury, firing short bursts of precious water muzzle to muzzle, bawling abuse and bravado. And as suddenly Boz would be alone again, his heart pounding, mouth dry and desperately in need of one of those mugs of tea. Below in the neighbouring side streets La Columna was engaging Metropolitan Snatch Squads and a detachment of Eton schoolboys. The boys’ Saturator SIG SAUER 556’s and La Columna’s STR80-AK47 Aquafires were pretty much equally matched, but experience was to win out and the toffs were soon routed. One Metropolitan Snatch Squad was captured and, with no provision for restraining prisoners, was released on a promise that they would go straight home. Elsewhere the conflict was increasingly confused and messy.
Locked in a stalemate at the barricade the Nationalists deployed their secret weapon.
“I can see them bringing up the Mounted Police Vans!”
Two vans were indeed mounted, howdah-like on the backs of enormous GM elephants, lashed firmly in place by yards of Day-Glo pink gaffer tape. Their blue lights flashed and sirens ‘nee-nawed’, but the mutant pachyderms proved as ineffectual as they were ridiculous. They quickly faltered under the Kronstadt sailors’ artillery bombardment and were rendered skittish by tear gas stinging their eyes and trunks. At this opportune moment Ferdy arrived on the scene in the Cierva C.19, screaming out of the sky, bonxie-like in a steep dive, to unleash a stick of flour bombs with devastating accuracy. Jumbo ran amuck, charging hysterically back through scattering ranks of riot police.
Sadly, autogyros do not do dive bombing, or if they do, they do it but the once. Trailing smoke and oil and popping rivets all the way, Ferdy just managed to hold it together long enough to ditch in the chill waters of Shadwell Basin.
Meanwhile, back in Cable Street, the cobbles were drenched and slippery, gutters running with those fluid residues that are the by-product of armed conflict – and a great deal of sticky doughy stuff. The Anarcho-Surrealists had regrouped and united with the Situationist and were holding their own. Scary clowns were recklessly hurling pails of confetti at the struggling attackers. Boz was checking the last few magazines for his AK47 Aquafire and observing that water was running disconcertingly low, when Phoebles pointed to a young lad with a severe limp approaching them urgently from the rear. He was being held up by Dark Flo, erstwhile barmaid and pole dancer at the Limehousesailortown Catnip Den and leading light amongst the Anarcha-Feminists.
“Talk to him. He’s gone to a lot of trouble getting here.” She left the lad with Phoebles, picked up an abandoned Burp® gun and clambered onto the barricade.
The youngster began to gabble, “Eyyup. Me owd man’s wonnert Norrin’am miners dahn int’ khazi flues.” He gave a sharp sob. His Kier Hardie cap was awry and dried blood stained his left cheek.
” Them dotty Cats Sootrins, they’s bent as butchers ‘ooks them, er bin guidin’t Bobby Snatch Squads through ah tunnels, bold as brass monkeys. Bobbies is ‘ard as nails an’ armed tut teggehs an’ wezbin trundled ower int’ sewers. Yo’s gonnageh curroff an’ surroundid. Da says I gorra warn yers.”
“Good lad.” said Boz, “Phoebles, take him to the rear and get him a cuppa… make it a mug, strong and sweet. And tell everyone back there it’s time to go; we’ll hold on here for a bit longer.”