The Adventures of Adrian Hon, Rogue Train Traveller :: The Villiers Park saga
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Two ('Tickets at 10,000 feet)
Adrian's Home Page
On the last day of my Villiers Park Biology course (which was in reality a cover for my real mission to sabotage the construction of the new Railtrack Ticket Monitoring System at GCHQ), I found myself at Oxford Train Station, United Kingdom, an hour earlier than I had expected. I withdrew my silver pocket-watch, and alas it confirmed my fears - I would have to wait for two hours until my train arrived.
A lesser man might have chosen to abide by the laws of the land, and patiently waited for that two hours, the cringing cur that he is. But the Rogue Train Traveller is a man apart, towering above mere mortals. He would never lower himself to that base level, especially when he could get an identical train that was leaving in only 30 minutes.
Still, I have some respect for my enemies, so I asked the 'information officer' (a despicable euphimism for the Railtrack Covert Intelligence Agents) at the station whether I could get an earlier train with an advanced booked ticket. Obviously he had never heard of the Rogue Train Traveller. Unsurprising, in a back-of-the-woods hamlet such as Oxford (I heard they have some kind of university there, but no doubt it's all old wive's tales and myth). He gave me a firm 'No.' I flinched - How DARE he! I took a step back, and we mutually acknowledged each others valour - as if bowing before a duel to the death.
I immediately returned to my luggage to formulate plans with the Beer Monster (also known as Phil 'Doc' Holliday, ace gun-fighter), who had luckily bought an open ticket. I knew that I had to think fast - the information officer was almost certainly informing the authorities of his altercation with me. All British Rail information booths were equipped with hidden microphones - they must have matched up my voice patterns by now.
The time had come. The train had arrived. With barely a backwards glance at the information officer, I stroke confidently onto the train. No problem, I told myself. As the train pulled out of the station though, I saw armed guards pouring out of doors along the station, frantically trying to jump onto the train, but failing miserably. Too late, fools, I thought to myself.
We secured seats, and about 20 minutes into the journey, a ticket inspector came. Due to my excellent foresight in destroying the train's intercommunication abilities, the inspector had not been alerted to my presence on the train, and he hardly took a glance at my ticket.
But I knew I couldn't rely on my anonymity for much longer. The Rogue Train Traveller is known throughout all the world's more popular routes. During the journey, the Beer Monster, Doc Holliday, bade me farewell. I watched him go with no small sadness - his expert marksmanship, learnt from the Wild West End, would have been invaluable in my battle ahead.
I made it to Birmingham New Street without incident, but the test was only starting now. I had many times outwitted the ticket inspectors on the Birmingham/Liverpool route, and from what I had heard from my operatives, they had stepped up patrols after receiving word from Oxford about my arrival.
I got on the train, surveying possible points of egress in case a firefight broke out - you can never be too sure, I murmured to myself as I patted my trusted Sig Sauer concealed in my inside jacket pocket. To my surprise, I found an extra round in my outside jacket pocket - armour piercing, if I knew my ammunition. I smiled inwardly - Doc Holliday had bestowed to me one of his famed lucky rounds. Lady Luck was with me now.
Yet on attempting to again destroy this train's intercommunication device, to my dismay I found it surrounded by armed Royal Postal Guards, drafted in especially for that service. Lady Luck was evidently fickle today - much like the numerous women I had 'encountered', let us say, on my previous travels. I knew I had a good chance at taking down three or four of them, but twelve, armed with SA-80 rifles and an LSW machine gun? I knew when to cut my losses. This was going to be a long train journey.
Ten minutes passed. Twenty minutes passed - then thirty. The train sped on, not even pausing to stop at any stations. Sweat broke out on my brow - this was a battle of wits, a psychological game of chess. They knew about the bomb I'd planted in the luggage compartment when I got on the train, and probably defused it by now. I had no bargaining chips left. I stood up - the carriage was surrounded by armed guards checking everyone's tickets. Even as I was watching, a man was thrown out of the train wailing. All because he had failed to get his ticket out in time. I turned my head back quickly, but the sound of rifle shots impacting into his body remain with me to this day.
I checked my Sig Sauer again - fully loaded. They might outnumber me, but I was determined to give a good account of myself. The legend of the Rogue Train Traveller would be written in blazing letters three hundred feet high.
The ticket inspector approached me, a deadly glint reflecting off his monocled face. I'd heard of this man before - Ernest K. Dudders, the head of the Her Majesty's STS (Special Train Service). Named in my circles only as 'The Fat Controller' his atrocities were well known throughout the rogue train traveller corps, a despicable man. He had already tortured an innocent traveller sitting across me to death, for putting her bag on the seat next to her. I expected no mercy from this monster.
He came to me at last. A broad smile spread across his lips, revealing two gold teeth - according to legend, they had been forged from gold taken from King R'Drigues the Third's sceptre, when Dudders had been serving abroad on an undercover mission on the Orient Express. He'd taken two things from King R'Drigues on that fateful trip: his golden sceptre.
And his life.
All because the King wasn't sitting in the seat he'd booked.
I met his eyes with burning hatred. My hand twitched towards my trusty Sig.
Dudders raised a hand, pausing my movement. "Ah, Meester Hon. No need to be so rash. I know about your pistol, please do not reach for it. After all, I have been waiting many years for the pleasure of seeing this so-called Rogue Train Traveller."
"The pleasure isn't mine, Dudders. Do your work!" I spat at him, as two guards trained their rifles on me.
Dudders looked at me in distate. He slowly put on a pair of black gloves. "So foolish, Meester Hon. And now... you shall die," he said, laughing in a high pitched voice. "Your ticket," he added, with a smirk.
I reached inside my jacket - the guards simultaneously flicking their safeties off. This was it. I took my ticket out, and presented it to Dudders. He plucked it from my fingers, looking at the front. All was in order, Dudders saw to his eminent displeasure. He motioned to return it me, and I grasped for it eagerly.
"Not so fast, Meester Hon," pulling it away from my reach, "let's see what's on the back of this Advanced Booking ticket, shall we?" said the smiling Dudders. The guards chuckled evilly.
I cursed inwardly. The reverse of the ticket would reveal that my ticket was booked for two hours later - an offence punishable by the ultimate means.
As Dudders flipped the ticket over, I concentrated hard. I had no choice now - my life was in danger. The sacred rules of the Rogue Train Traveller Guild be damned! Dudders examined the invalid ticket times triumphantly. Whispering the secret words taught to Rogue Train Travellers after ten years of arduous apprenticeship, learnt on a hidden mountain in the Himalayas, I sent out a psychic signal to Dudders. All is in order, I willed him to say.
But no! I met resistance - Dudders was fighting back, against all my expectations! Time slowed down, as we began the true battle of wits. Who would win, the Rogue Train Traveller, or the evil STS controller?
Slowly, yet surely, I was wearing him down. Frustration appeared in his eyes, as I pityingly crushed his small mind. He gave up a second after. "All is in order," he said in a monotone. I instructed the guards to have no memory of this exchange.
After they'd left the carriage, I slumped back in my seat, physically and mentally exhausted. I'd won this round, but the war was far from over. I had to send word to the Rogue Train Traveller Guru D. Brin, thousands of miles away, about this astonishing development in the STS' psychic skills. That would necessitate another train journey to Manchester Airport, a journey I would not relish.
But there was one thing I could say for certain:
Once again, Adrian Hon, Rogue Train Traveller extraordinare, had defeated the forces of evil and lived to tell the tale!
Forward to Part Two: 'Tickets at 10,000 feet'