Despite a late night and sleeping poorly, I was still up really early. Contrary to what I had told the others yesterday, I decided to do a little exploring independently. I left Matty and Ben a note, grabbed one of the radio’s then had a quick face wash on the level below. I hastily made my way down to Level Two. After exploring for a bit, taking a quick look at the Education Centre, I found the Security Control Room. Unlocking the door with the master control, I found a large bank of computer screens and two large data banks.
“I wonder what that is,” I muttered aloud to myself as I saw a lone computer hooked up to a small printer. I looked briefly in the Head of Securities Office but then decided to check out the Base Commander’s Office. A small receptionist’s office led into a larger, more luxurious office. A whirring noise drew my attention to the camera, which followed me as I moved. I quickly looked in the private bathroom and at the seating area before turning to the safe. I opened it with the code dad had made me memorise finding several folders and a large book. I pulled out the book.
“Site T is far too boring; I shall rename the facility Fort Walker,” I laughed at the thought of Larry’s face when I told him. I settled down on the sofa to read. The introduction had maps of all the levels and information on-base facilities, including security details. I grabbed a notepad from one of the draws and begun to make notes for myself.
After going through the Introduction booklet, I checked the folder’s and found they were dossiers on each of the twenty children in the group; I noted each of their names and ages:
|Alexander Walker 15||Noah Greyson 13||Luca Winters 10|
|Mackenzie Callaghan 15||Sarah Walker 12||Benjamin Knight 9|
|Laurence Knight 15||Isobel Carver 12||George Knight 8|
|Thomas Johnson 14||Natalia Decker 11||Alison Decker 7|
|Kelly Parker 14||Amanda Harper 11||Tom Philips 7|
|Nathan Williams 13||Tobias Callaghan 11||Kelly Philips 7|
|Simon Winters 13||Mathew Walker 10|
I looked at the list, planning. If we were to survive for the next six months, everyone would have to pull their own weight and help out. I also noticed that each of the ‘dossiers’ contained questionnaires from the Junior Ambassador Program. I wondered how they fit in. I saw my neat handwriting with the detailed answers I had given.
“Alex, are you there?” a voice startled me from my thoughts. I realised it was the radio. I looked at the clock finding it was after 8 am. I had been down here for over two hours.
“Yes, is everyone awake?”
“Yep and everyone’s had breakfast, though Mac is mad at you,” Matty told me as I looked forlornly at the cup of tea I had made earlier. It was half full but had gone cold a long time ago.
“Why is she mad at me?” I asked, but knew the answer already.
“Because you went off on your own after telling us not to go off alone,” he replied, “She ranted for about twenty minutes!”
“Thanks, Matty. I’m down on Level Two. Can you send Mac, Larry, Tom, Kelly, Noah and Tobi down to the Operations Room, please?”
“Why can’t I come?” he whined, “Tobi’s not that much older than me,”
“He’s two years older than you. I might need a computer expert,” I replied firmly hearing nothing in return. I sighed, locked the folders and booklet away in the safe then made my way around to the Operations Room. I swiped my card through the swipe machine and watched as the lights cycled through, red, yellow then to green. The lock clicked, allowing me to push open one of the double doors to see a second pair of doors waiting. Several minutes later, the group I had asked for came down. I received a glare from Mac.
“We’ll talk later,” she mouthed at me but joined us when we entered through the other doors. A door to our left read ‘Watch Commanders Station’ while to our right was another door that read ‘Resting Room’.
“This is the main Operations Room, right?” Mac asked, looking around as we entered the central part of the room. The area was long and wide, ending in a giant bank of TV screens, all of which were currently blank. There were several tables, with either two or three computers on them. Each computer had a set of headphones and mic hanging off a screen.
“I’m guessing this is where they monitor the situation and communicate with the outside world,” I told them looking at a curved centre desk with three computers on it.
“Each station would probably be a monitoring station for several countries,” Tobi added. Like me, he had seen too many movies and seen various command centres. I looked back at the group that stood in the middle and then, further back, saw a long clear window. This was probably the Watch Commander’s Office.
“How do we get the main TVs on?” Larry asked, actually being helpful.
“First, we need to switch on the little computers,” Tobi spoke up, so everyone began to switch the computers on, making them flicker to life.
“I think I read this morning that there’s a main switch in the Commander’s Office,” I explained.
“I’m pretty sure that would be the case,” Tobi suggested moving ahead of me towards the office. Inside we found two computers and bank of data hubs, all of which were lit up. Tobi immediately went to work on the data banks.
“Do you know what you’re doing?” I asked him.
“Not exactly, but I have a pretty good idea,” he replied, turning away from me. “Good enough for me,” I left him to it checking out the desk. Set in their own chargers were headsets, though these appeared to be wireless.
“I think we’re ready,” he spoke up. I looked through the window to see the main screens flickering into life. There appeared to be satellite images on some and a map of the world on another. Obviously, some of our satellites had survived the EMP. I picked up one of the headsets switching it on, placing it over my head. Immediately, I could hear crackling as I followed Tobi back into the main room.
“This is Cheyenne Mountain out of Colorado, can anyone hear me?” A voice crackled in my ear and over some hidden speakers. I met the wide-eyed glances of Larry and Mac, “I repeat; this is Cheyenne Mountain out of Colorado, can anyone hear me?”
“I-I can hear you loud and clear,” I stuttered.
“Say again, there was a little interference,” the voice on the other end replied.
“This is Fort Walker, I mean Site T in England,” I told the voice a bit clearer receiving a smirk from Mac.
“Fantastic, this is the first communication we have had outside of the US,” the voice replied, “I’m Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Stokes. US Airforce,”
“I’m Alex Walker,” I returned.
“Are you the Watch Commander?” He asked curiously.
“I’m the base commander, sir,” I replied, shrugging my shoulders at the others.
“You sound a little young if you don’t mind me saying,” Staff Sergeant Stokes told me dubiously.
“Wait there,” the military man told me then the line went silent.
“Base Commander?” Mac looked at me with a giant grin.
“Well, technically, I am. I know all the security stuff and have the master key,” I replied snippily but gave her a smile to show there were no hard feelings.
“Other people are alive then,” Larry commented excitedly
“It does not mean we are getting out of the facility any sooner and there is still an invasion going on,” I commented, bringing everyone back to reality.
“How do we know there is an invasion? You’ve seen one aircraft,” Tom joined in, looking visibly scared.
“What’s all that?” I asked, indicating some of the satellite images.
“We could just be punked, this could be a reality TV show,” Tom replied wildly. I do not think anyone was buying that theory, though; it seemed a little too real.
“Hello, am I speaking to Alex Walker?” a voice interrupted us though this one appeared to be deeper with more authority.
“I am Lieutenant Colonel Jack Griffin, one of the Watch Commander’s at Cheyenne Mountain,” the officer explained, “Am I to believe you are only fifteen?”
“Yet you claim to be the Base Commander of Site T, which from what I understand is a highly classified base of the British Army,” his voice sounded suspicious.
“Yes, Sir,” I replied then remembered reading about verification codes this morning, “Our verification code is Tango slash Alpha Romeo Charlie Five Niner Niner dash Four Four Eight,”
“I, erm, that is correct,” the Colonel replied after a few minutes sounding flabbergasted, “How are you in charge of one of the United Kingdom’s highly classified bases?”
“It’s a very long story,” I explained to the man as I proceeded to describe the events of how we ended up in the mountain, “Now, we are locked down for six months, and I have no idea why no VIPs were bought here,”
“According to our intelligence, Site T was decommissioned less than six months ago,” the Colonel explained.
“But decommissioned or not, some of the brass should have known to send the military here,” I considered, thinking out loud.
“The world has been invaded, son,” he told us softly, “They hit us hard and fast, we barely had any warning before we knew what was happening. We launched a nuclear device, but it was destroyed at the edge of space, causing an EMP. Do you know what an EMP is?”
“An Electro-Magnetic Pulse,” I replied a little smugly and got thumbs up from Tobi.
“Correct, all our electronics were fried except anything in a Faraday cage,” he continued, “Though they did not have the massive guns that could wipe us out from space, their aircraft were too manoeuvrable and too much of a match for our air force. A lot of our bases were destroyed before we launched a counter-attack. It does not help the Infection has got out of control,”
“Infection?” I questioned, but I don’t think the Colonel realised he had murmured the last bit audibly.
“There are only two main bases operating in the US. We have no idea about the civilian population, but it has been less than twenty-four hours. Already nearly all communication with civilians has been lost,” the Colonel painted a bleak picture, ignoring my question.
“There is not much we can do until the mountain opens up and we can explore,” I concluded.
“No, not really,”
“For now, all we can do in stay in communication and hopefully you will keep us apprised of the situation,” I told him firmly.
“Of course, son. Good luck” was his parting line.
“Fort Walker, over and out,” I signed off slowly removing the headset, looking over the small group.
“That was unexpected,” Mac commented.
“So there are people out there?” Larry asked, sounding more subdued than I had ever seen him.
“We know now that at least two American bases survived in the US, but we have no idea of our military here or the civilian personnel,” I summarised everything.
“But we could be trying to rescue our families,” he protested.
“We’re locked down for six months,”
“How do you know we are locked down?” he asked desperately, “Your father could have lied to you, so you remain in the base,”
“I believe my father when he said we were locked down,” I argued, “Besides, your family put you forward for this little adventure, too.”
“That’s the question then: why were we twenty chosen to come down here and not more?” Mas asked. I shrugged my shoulders, but after my morning reading an idea of why was beginning to form.
“There must be a common factor that involves all of us,” Noah suggested. That cemented my idea, but I wasn’t ready to put it forward yet.
“Well if I had my choice, I would not be stuck with a bunch of babies and a faggot at the end of the world!” Larry said haughtily.
“You have a serious problem, you have a serious potty mouth,” Mac got within a few inches of Larry staring him down, despite being a few inches shorter than him. Tom was trying to suppress laughter but failing. I was beginning to get the feeling Larry was the mouth, and Tom just let him do what he wanted with disinterest unless it directly affected him.
“Stay out of my way,” Larry snarled at Mac, bumping her as he went past. The teen stalked out of the Operations Room, followed by a barely contained Tom.
“Let’s head back upstairs, I need some breakfast,” I told the rest of the group that remained, we soon had made our way up to the VIP area. The rest of the group were sat having breakfast in the canteen. Along one side, Simon and Luca had set up a type of buffet-style breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausages and cereal if people wanted it. I was gobsmacked as I grabbed some hot food taking a seat with Matty, who was already halfway through his meal. Mac and Tobi joined us as we began chatting about what we would be doing if not in here.
“So almost GCSEs, what were you going to do when you finish?” I asked Mac and saw her blush.
“What do you mean? I’m sure I’ve told you before,”
“When you were ten, you wanted to be the first female president,” I watched her, “We’ve not exactly been close the last couple of years,”
“We have,” she answered feebly, and then replied in an almost mechanical way, “Maybe an actress or a singer,”
“Really? I’ve never seen you do any plays or concerts,” I questioned.
“I auditioned for the part of Juliet in the Winter Play,” she protested.
“She wants to be a doctor!” Tobi blurted out.
“You’ve been reading my diary, you little shit!” Mac glared at Tobi, but he gave me a massive smile.
“No, I heard mum telling dad about how proud she was that you completed the Youth Medical Program,” he looked at the ground, sounding sheepish, but I noticed a small tug of a smile.
“I remember that you were gone over the summer last year. Came back from Atlanta with a terrific suntan,”
“Well, we didn’t only study medicine,” she replied, looking apologetic before she turned back to Tobi, “I’m sorry I had a go at you, but my personal effects are personal,”
“Tobi, since when has she had this diary?” I asked teasing Mac, “I don’t remember seeing it,”
“Several years, I’m sure she went on about when you two kissed,” His smile dropped for a second but quickly returned, so I was unable to decipher his emotions. However, I think I was glowing while Mac had gone cherry red.
“You did read it!”
“You and Mac kissed?” Matty teased, “Oh, this material is gold! Tobi, you’ll have to tell me more,”
“I’m going to have to take a look at it,” I added. Mac’s eyes widened as the girl shook her head.
“Oh no, you’re not. I’ll beat you if you go anywhere near that diary,” she replied but joined in with the rest of us as we laughed. I was glad to have my old friend back, even if it was because we were stuck with each other for six months.
“I’ll sneak it out for you,” Tobi told me with a wink. Mac pretended to swipe his head while we all had a giggle at Mac’s expense. I looked at my watch and realised we had better make a move; we still had plenty to do.
“Listen up,” I called out as I stood up and everyone quieted down. “Right; this morning, we made contact with the outside world.”
“Are we going to be rescued?” Amanda asked.
“No, but we spoke to a base in the US. Unfortunately, the invasion is not a hoax, and we are locked in for the next six months. That means we still have a lot to do.”
“Like what?” Sarah asked.
“Well Matty, Izzy, can you go through the stores on the first floor and find out what we have?”
“Yeah, that should be quite fun!” Matty replied happily. Despite being more athletically inclined than me, he was very anal when it comes to lists. At home, he had to make all the shopping lists, and our DVDs were arranged alphabetically.
“Mac, would you go with them?” I asked.
“I’m not a little kid,” Matty told me, sounding affronted immediately turning sour.
“I know, but a third pair of hands make light work and besides there’s a lot of electronics down there,” I responded then turned to Simon and Luca. “Since you seemed to have become our catering team, would you go through all the kitchen supplies, including food, to see how much we have and how long it will last?”
“Of course, I’m probably going to take Luca down to the storage on Level One,” he replied, remembering the comments of Tom and Talia yesterday.
“Great, thank you for today. If every day is like this, I might get fat,” I joked.
“That might not be the case all the time,” he answered seriously.
“Kelly, Sarah. Are you alright looking after our younger volunteers?” I asked cautiously.
“There’s a large screen TV in the apartment, there’s also seems to be a large memory drive with movies on it,” Sarah answered for the pair of them. I was not sure whether my next choice was the wisest, but I went ahead with it.
“Tom, Larry, Amanda, would you take a look at the Mech Bay?”
“You mean they have some mechanical stuff here?” Tom looked at me, his eyes shining with excitement.
“From what I understand, they have some vehicles, though I’m not sure what,” I answered as Matty, Izzy and Mac left. “You gain access from Level One.”
“I wonder if they have tanks,” Tom asked, almost to himself though he seemed excited as he walked off towards the lift, trailed by the other two like ducklings. I noticed Sarah and Kelly had taken the four youngest back to their apartment.
“What about us?” Ben and Noah looked at me.
“I hear you’re a budding horticulturist,” I told him.
“I won first in our region for junior horticulturist,” he said proudly, I was a bit shocked he knew the word.
“Brilliant! Would you take a look at the Biodome and see if we need to do anything?”
“Sounds fun,” the nine-year-old lit up.
“I’ll take him down, if you don’t need me for anything else,” Noah spoke, a little unsure in his role.
“Not at the moment, I’ve got an idea for you later,” I suggested. He nodded, giving me a gorgeous smile. If his dossier were accurate, his particular talents would not be used until after we open the doors.
“What am I going to do?” Tobi asked.
“Relax for the moment; there’s not much we can do until I get the key cards all sorted,” I told him, “I heard you’re a whiz on Call of Duty, maybe you can practice on Talia then I’ll come to play you at some point,”
“You know I’ll frag you to death,” Talia challenged, her eyes gleaming. This is the first time I had seen her come alive as the pair argued. I laughed at the two of them as I turned to look at Nate, the last one left. I think he must be of Italian descent with his tanned skin, doe-brown eyes and short brown hair.
“So what am I doing, boss?” he gave me his trademark grin. I realised how cute he was. Again too young, but in a few year’s he’s going to be a lady-killer.
“Was your dad Sergeant James Williams?” I asked, knowing I had checked his dossier earlier.
“Yeah, how did you know that?” his eyes widened.
“You remember you said our dads knew each other?”
“Yeah, my dad mentioned yours a few times,”
“Well, he would often go over and meet your dad, on rare occasions I went with him and met your dad on one such time.”
“Until he retired,” Nate intoned.
“Last time was about eighteen months ago. Why did your dad move you to our little town?” I asked curiously.
“Honestly? I don’t know, he’d wanted to leave the army for ages so obviously decided this pokey town was the perfect place,” Nate shook his head.
“So did your dad ever take you around the security of the base?”
“Occasionally, obviously I didn’t see the top-secret stuff, but yeah, I kinda loved that sort of thing.”
“So you know a bit about security?” I asked.
“Well, maybe a little bit,” he answered modestly.
“Would you take on the role of Head of Security?” I asked him, “It’s a big role, usually a step or two down from Base Commander. It would also mean, should something happen to Mac and me, you’d take over as Base Commander,”
“S-sure, that’s a big responsibility, but I’d like to do it,” he replied. I realised Mac had become my second without me even thinking about it. Note to self: talk to Mac about becoming second in command.
“In the long run, it will mean making sure no one gets into the base without authorisation and keeping an eye on the cameras. Investigating if something happens while on base,” I ticked off on my fingers, “Though for the next six months, there’s not much you can do so your job will be pretty easy. I am going to give you the security key, which gets you into most places barring the Base Commander’s office and a few other places,”
“I’ll make sure to look after it,” Nate told me sincerely.
“I know you will, I trust you,” I replied, then looked around to see if the place was empty, “The security card also allows you access to the armoury and the gun lockers on each floor,”
“I’ll be extra careful,” Nate said, his face was one of deadly seriousness as though he had been tasked with guarding the Holy Grail.
“Don’t tell Larry whatever you do,” I warned him then smiled, “You look like you’re going to shit yourself. Relax a little and nearer to the time we’ll review the security of the base,”
“No problems,” Nate returned, his shoulders losing all tension. I drew out the security card from my pocket, handing it over to him then dived into my apartment to grab two of the radios, handing one over to him.
“So, I read earlier that each level has a small gun locker, let’s go search for this one,” I told him, but showed him the lookout tower first. We left the apartments alone going straight to the conference room where we found the gun cabinet. It held four rifles and four handguns, with a shelf full of ammo.
“Can you shoot?” he asked as we looked over the SA-80 rifles.
“Dad had taken me to the local gun club on the outskirts of town to learn to shoot rifles. On several occasions I fired a handgun,” I admitted, “But that was rare, and it was supposed to be kept a secret,”
“Dad took me to the Gun Club on base, but I only fired rifles,”
“No problems, I wasn’t allowed to fire handguns all that often either, so we’ll both have to practise,” I assured him as we followed the stairs down. I knew we had a lift, but I’m happier using the stairs. We made it down to Level Two, just talking about our families. I showed him the Head of Security’s Office and the camera room next door.
“There’s a small gun cabinet here,” Nate pointed out, but I noticed it was open and empty.
“You can set a code now then we’ll look at getting a personal gun,” I suggested, “I’m going to get one for myself, I’ll just have to find somewhere secure for it up in the VIP area,”
“There are lockboxes in the main bedrooms,” Nate surprised me.
“I didn’t notice that yesterday,”
“They are in the cupboard,” he explained, then looked at the instructions on the safe where within a few minutes had set up his code. Once Nate had finished with that, we went to look at the Armoury. We stood at the door, but he looked at me, so I gestured for him to try his card. He gave me a sheepish grin swiping his card, allowing us entry. He pushed through the door and lights plinked into life.
“Wow,” he said aloud though I had to agree with him. I’m fascinated with weapons, but I’ve never seen this amount of weapons before. This was not even the main Armoury either. There were thirty or so rifles, some I recognised as American. There were handguns and storage cupboards; I’m guessing full of bullets. I noticed two shoulder rocket launchers and at least two sniper rifles. I went over to one of the draws opening it up to find several Ka-Barr knives.
“I would like to check out the main armoury on Level One then we’ll come back up and get the security Operations Room set up,” He nodded so we made our way down to Level one. Coming out on the opposite side of the Engineering Room, I heard talking as we passed one of the storerooms. I poked my head in to find Mac, Izzy and Matty surrounded by goods. Matty was standing and holding a clipboard, with what appeared to be a long list on it. I chuckled to myself and led Nate into the other storeroom.
“Do you know a lot about weapons?” He asked curiously.
“I’m quite geeky when it comes to weapons,” I admitted walking past rows of storage until we reached a desk with a metal cage directly behind it. A computer sat on top of the desk, so I switched it on. When it asked for a code, I entered the one given to me making it came to life. There were numerous applications, but I noticed one called ‘Allocation’, so clicked on it to find an excel-style program that allowed the user to give details of the person taking a weapon and what kind of weapon they were taking.
“You have got to see this,” Nate said from behind me, I turned around to find him already in the Armoury, which was massive. There was all manner of weapons from small arms to sniper rifles. I think I even saw heavy machine guns.
“I think I’m in heaven,” I breathed.
“You do love weapons,” Nate sounded dubious, “I had heard rumours, but thought you were a geek,”
“What are the rumours?” I asked interested.
“That you’re a bit of a loner… Oh my god, you weren’t planning a Columbine-style massacre, were you?” Nate’s eyes were wide with shock that I just had to chuckle.
“Where would I get guns, especially assault rifles, in the wilds of England?” I inquired.
“Erm, dunno,” he blushed.
“I was involved in an airsoft team and a couple of paintballing events. Other than going with dad to the rifle range once in a blue moon, I didn’t shoot live weapons all that much,” I told him, “I also have a couple of terrific friends like Mac and Tobi, so I wouldn’t do anything stupid like that,”
“I’m sorry, I should have realised.”
“You’ve not been here long enough,” I told him, but then boasted, “However, I was the best shot at Silent Scope,”
“Whatever, I’m sure I could beat you,” he challenged me.
“We could supply a small army, especially with the other armoury upstairs,” I turned serious.
“Hopefully, we won’t ever need them,” Nate commented
“I agree, but some of the others might need some training,” I looked around, noticing tactical vests and armour, “I say we leave the handguns for the moment, I’m not sure we need them while we’re locked in.”
“But you’ll still train me?” He asked.
“I’m not an instructor. I’ve only been on a few rifles myself. But we’ll try our best,” I hurried to assure him, in case he thought I was an expert. We locked the Armoury back up, switching the computer off, before returning to the Security Operations Room. We switched everything on but found a lone computer in the corner.
“I’m not good with computers, but I’ll see what this does,” he suggested, taking a seat. He spent several minutes looking over the computer before he cried out ‘ah-ha!’
“What have you found?”
“Well, this computer creates the key cards and also access to computers, so you already have access via your code. I can create new profiles, but it needs ‘administration codes’ to allow certain access,” he said, “My guess would be your code allows you anywhere but you’d have to confirm my access with your code,”
“I get what you mean, now what about the cards?”
“This machine also creates the access cards so that I can create several with access to the VIP area,” he replied, looking back over his shoulder.
“Can you add to the key cards later on?”
“By the looks of things, no, the data is permanently embedded on the cards and cannot be overwritten, you’d need a blank card to write another,”
“Is there any way I can find out what a card has on it?”
“Sure, there’s a swipe card machine here,” he tapped part of the computer I couldn’t see, so I handed over the three cards, not in use. He placed the card, which read 0002 in and read it, “Right this one allows access to the medical facilities, Operations Room and VIP guest quarters. The doctor must have been a senior figure,”
“That must be so if there was an emergency, he could get in without waiting for anyone,” I suggested handing over 0003 to him.
“This one has access to the mechanical bay and Operations Room,” he pointed out.
“So none of the three would have had access to the Mech Bay,” I growled looking over at the cameras. In front of the monitors was a computer with a control pad similar to a games console and a keypad with numbers. Nate moved over to the hot seat, taking to it like a duck to water.
“So we access each of the cameras on the main computer then can pull it up on the larger monitors,” he told me.
“Eventually, we’ll have to get someone in here monitoring all the time,”
“Yeah, that’s a hell of a lot of cameras,” he remarked. All the internal cameras were working well, but several of the external cameras were offline. I looked at my watch, noting the time.
“Can you track the cameras to half an hour ago and find out where our adventurers went?” I asked. His fingers flew across the keyboard immediately so that a full-colour image of the three standing at the Mech Bay appeared. They stood around for five minutes, looking like they were arguing. Well, Larry and Amanda were faced off from Tom.
“They moved away after that,” Nate pointed out.
“But you can track them,” We watched their movement’s as they headed back up to the VIP area, the three split up into their apartments. Ten minutes later, they emerged wearing swimming gear with towels over their shoulders. They gathered up Simon and Luca then the last I saw of them was entering the Biodome.