In Which Earl Richard Hawkswich, Being of Treacherous Mind, Does Betray Her Britannic Majesty's Government and Her Faithful Servant Sir Michael Wilsonne Through Cruel Trickery And A Most Ungentlemanly Coup
The butler carefully polished the immaculate grandfather clock that stood in the corner of the drawing room at 10 Downing Street.
"I say", said Earl Richard Hawkswich, as the maid poured another freshly brewed cup of India's finest into the glistening white china porcelain in front of him, "nothing like sipping some delicious Darjeeling tea, and watching you getting your clock cleaned".
"Quite", replied Sir Michael Wilsonne, who was currently leafing through a pile of Home Office reports on the unrest that was sweeping the country. Poverty was at an all time high, and public dissatisfaction over the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny had created a highly unstable powder keg. All it would take would be one small spark, and the entire country could dissolve into anarchy.
"It's so tiresome how the masses act in such a petty manner of such a minor issue, wouldn't you say, Richard?"
Sir Wilsonne had fought on the frontlines of the Opium War, serving as a commander in one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's new fangled steam-powered mechanised armoured perambulating humanoid. Hawkswich meanwhile had been a general, sitting in a comfortable office many miles away drinking his precious Darjeeling tea. Wilsonne had always felt a degree of resentment towards him for precisely this reason, and sensed that Hawkswich likewise reciprocated the feeling - not least because Sir Wilsonne, as one of her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria's most favoured subjects, had effortlessly worked his way to Prime Minister, while Hawkswich, even his vicious political manouevering, had only ever been able to climb as high as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
"I understand completely how you feel, Prime Minister. Anyway, if you may excuse me, I have other business to attend to", Hawkswich said, finishing his tea with a most ungentlemanly gulp and clambering to his feet. Hawkswich's rakish appearance and short temper was cause for concern enough for a Prime Minister concerned with improving his party's standing among the upper classes of London, but this was the first time Michael had felt genuinely anxious about his Chancellor's behaviour. Wilsonne pressed the finely polished brass button on his desk, and almost immediately, an elegantly dressed woman carrying a stack of papers entered. Judith Crawford, the daughter of Lord and Lady Crawford, had been one of the beautiful debutantes, but her parents' hopes that she would settle down and marry a rich aristocrat had been dashed by her political streak, which had lead her to join Wilsonne's government as his secretary, not to mention the rumblings in some of the less respected tabloids of Fleet Street of a most scandalous relationship between the Prime Minister and her.
"Miss Crawford, have the men ready the Metallic Wolf unit", Wilsonne told her, as he donned his military finery.
"It looks like a fancy ball is about to start", Judith replied, as she tapped away at the telegraph machine that stood on the sideboard amidst the neo-Greecian statuettes that lined the room. "This kind of ball is a first for me".
With a hiss and a stream of high pressure steam, the far wall of the office swung to the ground, revealing a 9-foot tall steam powered automaton glinting in the dim gas light. Cannons, mortars and even some of those new fangled "Gatling guns" from the Americas all bristled on the solid iron shoulders of the whistling giant. Wilsonne laced his boots and clambered aboard. At that moment, a rushing roar echoed up the stairwell outside - a gas main had burst and been set aflame. There were shouts and muffled gunfire from outside, and Wilsonne knew it could only mean one thing: Hawkswich had betrayed him. Michael fired up the boilers and launched the "Metallic Wolf" straight out of the second floor window onto the street below.
Hundreds of light infantrymen and grenadiers were storming Downing Street. As Metallic Wolf hit the cobblestones below with an ungodly boom, the entire squadron turned to face it, with a brief look of abject horror on their faces, before a spray from the left Gatling gun mowed down half the unit. A sudden explosion knocked Metallic Wolf off its feet - more grenadiers were lobbing bombs from hot air balloons floating unreachably high in the sky. Armoured horse-drawn wagons pulled up at the gates of Downing Street, weighed down with dozens of heavy artillery shells. So many distant, heavily armoured enemies would be impossible even for Metallic Wolf to beat. As Wilsonne's finger hovered over the eject button, however, the telegraph printer spluttered into life, clanking away as it spewed out a roll of paper from Judith.
"Dear Sir STOP The people outside look somewhat ungodly STOP Make your escape via the Bulldog train in the Underground Metropolitan Railway STOP The entrance is currently being opened STOP"
With a creak, the street split apart, revealing a dank shaft lined with flickering gas lamps. Metallic Wolf jumped down the hole, disappearing in a cloud of dense steam. An echoing clang and a harsh whistle from within the shaft indicated Metallic had managed to land successfully in the train, which was now chuffing furiously out of the tunnel and onto the London and South Western Railway.
"I don't know who these forces represent STOP But whoever they represent I presume has currently been erased from one's Yuletide correspondents STOP", read the paper that was once again rolling out of the telegraph machine.
Michael rolled down the sash window of the cabin and looked out. Much to his chagrin, he noticed Hawkswich's own automaton standing at the edge of the tracks. With a click, the semaphore flags on the machine popped into place and began gesticulating wildly.
Wilsonne pressed the semaphore button in his automaton and responded in kind.
"R-I-C-H-A-R-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D" he typed, as the Chancellor's machine disappeared from view.