Blue Light Productions presents

Bluey #1
A Net.Trenchcoat Brigade title

Family Matters
Written by and copyright 1997 Saxon Brenton

Cover shows a man with a shock of curly red hair. He's wearing a brown 
stockman's raincoat for a trenchcoat and taking a puff from a cigarette.

  The bus trundled along the road, passing through the green English 
countryside. It stopped, and a man who looked like he was in his late 
twenties got off. As the bus drove away Bluey took a look at sky, which 
was beginning to clear after a morning when it had been heavy and grey 
with the promise of rain. He took out a packet of cigarettes, lit one, 
then shouldered his small backpack, and set out along a lane.
  Just over hour an hour later he came to the rose covered cottage that 
was his destination. He paused at the gate, examining the place. It'd 
been over three years since he was here last, but it still looked the 
same. In fact, it still looked much the same as when he'd first seen 
it, seventy years ago.
  No surprise there; Uncle Raymond had not been much of a one for change. 
He'd been in the same place since before the war. In fact, it was here 
that Uncle Ray had taken part in the Great Circles that had helped keep 
Hitler out of Britain after Dunkirk. Another example of his cleaving to 
the status quo.
  Bluey finished off his cigarette, then crushed it out under his heel. 
It was funny really, how those members of the Family who weren't 
interested in preying off humanity - what few of them there were - were 
so interested in keeping things the same.
  But it was not really that strange if you stopped to think about it. 
Change involved risk.
  He opened the gate and walked up the path that meandering its way to 
the front door. He knocked and waited.
  Then knocked again. A half minute later he wondered if Raymond might 
have gone down to the village for milk or something.
  Mentally he shrugged and walked back down the path, took the spare 
key out from under one of the cobblestones by the birdbath and let 
himself into the house.
  Bluey frowned. The place looked for the most part as though it were 
still being lived in. Raymond's favourite chess set sat on the table 
and a few books were lying about untidily. But the room was musty after 
an extended period without cleaning. It looked like there was a week's 
worth of dust. He glanced around sharply as his nasty suspicious nature 
kicked into gear.
  Uncle Ray had written to Bluey in Australia early last week, asking him 
to come and visit. He hadn't specified any particular reason, but the two 
of them had always gotten on well despite the years that had sometimes 
gone past between them seeing each other. Partly it was because they 
were both personae non gratae with the rest of the Family. Bluey simply 
hadn't thought anything of it, any more than he had all the other times 
he'd received invites to come over.
  Now the young looking man stood in the center of the front room, with 
beams of mid afternoon sunlight lancing clearly through the dust kicked 
up by his entry. In his mind he oriented himself towards the East, then 
rotated his awareness anti-clockwise to follow the path of the antipodean 
sun, looking for signs of trouble.
  The house itself was warded with... well, 'stealth measures' was as 
good a description as any. It provided a measure of anonymity, which 
was rather important when you had a family of night monsters out to 
kill you. Bluey used much the same thing, in fact.
  The problem, of course, was that those same measures made it hard to 
detect much of anything. It was like trying to look through a thin fog; 
it didn't actually hide anything that you knew was there, but it obscured 
the area into dullness. If you weren't intimately familiar with every-
thing hereabouts it made it damn near impossible to tell what was out 
of place and what was not. A simple but effective home ground advantage.
  Bluey had a fair idea of the set-up of what Raymond's house and grounds 
were like. Both physically and psychically. Just not well enough to make 
a mental map in his mind's eye. No matter, he could make do.
  Systematically he scanned the area, looking in at the world from Yesod, 
the first sephirah above the material world.
  There was... nothing.
  He blinked, and scratched the back of his neck. Dismissing the Sight, 
he looked about the front room distractedly, a bemused frown on his 
face, feeling a bit silly at the paranoia. But only a bit. There were 
times in the past when a bloody good shot of paranoia had come in handy. 
Oh well, sod it. Maybe Raymond'd gone out and won a public commendation 
for throttling Jeremey Beadle, or gotten caught up in a cross-dressing 
party for members of parliament, or something.
  Still and all, it looked like _something_ was up, he felt pretty sure 
about that. Which meant there was only one thing to do.
  Bluey picked up his backpack and walked into the kitchen, where he 
plonked it on the table, opened it, and began rummaging at the bottom 
for something that he'd have preferred to stay at the bottom. If he 
could have he'd have left the damn thing at home, but he more or less 
had to keep it on hand because you never knew when you were going to 
run into Weird Shit.
  Half a minute later he had his trenchcoat on. It was a Drizzabone, 
a dark brown stockman's raincape.
  The next thing that he did was almost as important. He put the kettle 
on to make a cup of tea.
  Only then did he begin to move around the house, looking for anything 
that might give a hint as to why Raymond was gone. Half an hour of 
searching sans two minutes of tea making later he came to the conclusion 
that there were no tangible clues. He'd vaguely hoped that maybe there'd 
be some hint of what had happened, but in this he was disappointed.
  Undaunted, he revisited Raymond's study and sorted through his Uncle's 
papers until he found his diary and organiser calendar. He did the same 
in the attic sanctum for Raymond's arcane diary. Then he sat down in the 
kitchen with another cuppa and began to sift through the paperwork.
  By sundown he was still reading, with occasional breaks to make more 
tea. Now he got up and stood at the window - arms folded - staring out 
over the heathland, watching the moon rise, and just thinking.
  There was almost nothing in Raymond's journals. Or at least, nothing 
concrete. If anything Raymond had become more terse in his writings over 
the past few months, less communicative. This nagged at Bluey. Presumably 
he hadn't been simply attacked by any of the Family, otherwise he would 
have been tracked back to here, and there was no sign of a break-in and 
ransacking. What other options were there? Had Raymond known something? 
Something he felt he couldn't put to paper in personal records? That 
seemed bloody odd. There was something missing here, he was sure of it.
  Disgruntled, he went back to reading, this time picking up Raymond's 
arcane diary. He started at the back and flipped forward, scanning 
entries. When he got to the date where all the other writings began to 
become terse he paused with interest and bafflment. There was a memo 
to beware the Ying.
  Bluey frowned. The Ying?!
  The Servants of Ying? Fruitcake cultists of one of the Other Gods? 
Those Ying? They had a fifties fetish and a predilection for doing 
unspeakable things with hot beverages that was almost enough to put you 
off drinking tea. Mind you, the Ying could twist almost anything into 
a blasphemous obscenity. Same with the rest of the Other Gods and their 
cultists, come to think of it...
  He read the memo through. It was short, and in essence noted that 
Raymond believed that the Ying were working in the same area, and might 
become involved. It ended with a reminder to increase the wardings. Bluey 
nodded at that last bit; the Ying had an uncanny tendency to turn up 
unexpectedly whenever something related to them. There was even a small 
group of the Servants who specialised in just that - the Thynne Men.
  The memo didn't give any details of what the two groups had in common 
though. And it didn't explain why there was no other mention of it 
elsewhere. Bloody hell.
  And then, at the edge of his hearing, Bluey caught the sounds of a 
rapid oncoming rush of feet. Far too rapid to be human, or even corporeal 
for that matter. His eyes widened. The Ying _did_ hav a tendency of 
turning up whenever something involved them.
  Almost instinctively he grabbed his backpack up with his free hand, 
holding it in front of him as he leapt through the window.
  Behind him the house erupted into a fireball as something detonated 
in the attic, sending great plumes of flame spitting out every upstairs 
window and blowing the upstairs ceilings down into the ground floor. 
Bluey rolled with the blast and began running for the far edge of the 
  He spent some five minutes there, in what he hoped would be a 
defensible position, before he came to the conclusion that there 
wouldn't be any follow-up. That suited him fine. Only then did he fully 
turn his attention back to house, which was now in the process of being 
razed by the fire.
  He'd better leave before the fire brigade or any of the other locals 
turned up. He licked his lips and made his way back to where he'd dropped 
his backpack a few meters from the house, shouldered it, and moved back 
to the edge of the garden. There he spent a few minutes tightening up 
his own wardings before slipping away into the night.
  He had to get to London. There were some goons he wanted to have a 
little talk with.

Next Issue: 'Ying Tong'

Character Credits:
  All characters created by and copyright 1997 Saxon Brenton.

Add Notes:
  This series is something I've had floating around in draft form since 
about late 1995, or thereabouts. The main reason it's being started _now_ 
is in anticipation of  a project of Mea's that's 
coming up.
  Anyway, I don't think I'll be giving too much away by saying that the 
inspiration from it ultimately derives from two sources:
  The first is issue 40 of Neil Gaiman's _Sandman_, 'Parliament Of 
Rooks'. The second is Ray Bradbury's short story 'Homecoming'.

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