May melted into June as the weather got warmer. We had now been in the Mountain just under four weeks with the new group, though I had yet to allow anyone to go out. The recon teams had been training well, but some were chomping at the bit to get out, namely Bastion. All the rest of the groups were settling in nicely with no complaints so far. The heads of the departments met each week to review everything and see how people were getting on. After studying some paperwork, I rubbed my eyes and decided enough was enough. I locked the papers away, leaving my office and wandering around to Nate’s office. I knocked on the closed door.
“Come in,” I heard him yell. I pushed open the door seeing a smile from him. He was still pale after a month’s recovery, but he was doing a lot better than he had been. The other door was open, allowing me to see two of the security team monitoring the camera’s while I knew a third was currently in the Tower.
“How are you feeling?” I asked him.
“I should be asking you that? With the number of people, you have to look after,” I raised an eyebrow at him.
“You were the one that nearly died,” I responded.
“But I didn’t die, did I?” he returned rhetorically. I slumped into a seat, watching him sat at his desk. He gave me a look, then got up pushing the other door closed. “Have you had any recent breakthroughs who poisoned us?”
“I thought that was your job to investigate,” I threw back at him.
“Well if you’ll let me search the rooms of the refugees, I could do my job better,” he snapped back.
“I know, Mac’s been riding my arse about it for the last month. But how does it look when we allow them to stay here, then violate their privacy?” I asked him.
“Like you’re protecting us,” he argued.
“I know, Nate, but it’s a delicate balance,”
“Little George died, but you care more about their feelings,” Nate snapped harshly. I knew it would come to this sooner or later.
“Fine, tonight during dinner I want you to take two of your most trust lieutenants and search the rooms,”
“Thank you,” Nate said softly.
“Don’t thank me yet, especially if this blows up in our face,” I told him as I got up. I left him to contemplate the ‘raid’ tonight, making my way down the corridor. I was just about to turn into the central hall when I heard voices.
“You stupid little paki, you know how hard stains are to get out of clothes,” Bastion snarled.
“I-I’m sorry, sir,” a small voice returned.
“Watch where you are going next time, you raghead,” he exploded. I turned the corner to find a small girl wearing a hijab, cowering before Bastion. He was wearing the Recon uniform with black stripes and had a stain all down the grey top.
“How dare you speak to someone like that,” I shouted angrily as I approached them, “Not only are those words are offensive, but they are disgusting,”
“She walked into me,” he protested, glaring at me.
“I don’t care, we don’t use that kind of language here,” I snapped back, “What are you doing down here, anyway?”
“I came to see admin,” he returned, but his body was awful shifty.
“I don’t want to see you below Level four, or I’ll have you confined,” I told him. He stomped off in anger, allowing me to kneel in front of the young Arabic girl.
“Are you OK?” I asked softly.
“-T-thank you, sir,” she sniffed. I guessed she could not have been more than twelve.
“Where were you going?”
“To the Operations Room, I went for a toilet,” she answered, almost so I couldn’t hear her.
“Come on then; I’ll take you,” I told her, leading her towards the Operations Room. I slid my card through the machine allowing us entry through both doors. The small girl quickly moved away from me and went over to one of the computers in the middle of the Operations Room. A sign above indicated it was the ‘Afro-Arabian’ section. Tobi and Jing- the Watch Commander for Control Team D- was leaning over the holographic map in the centre of the room. Tobi was pointing something out. On the opposite side, I noticed Talia as well.
“If we use this, we might be able to get a better sense of the Alien movement,” Tobi was saying.
“But that’s dangerous; it’s close to hostile territory,” Jing remarked as I walked up to them.
“Shouldn’t you be resting?” I asked Tobi, who just rolled his eyes at me.
“I’m sick of resting, it’s been a month now. We’re all better,” he replied, but Georgie came to mind. Not all five survived the sickness.
“Has Mac checked you out recently?” I asked a little protectively.
“Yes, Mum, I’m a hundred per cent fit,” he answered exasperatedly.
“OK, now, what were you discussing?”
“We want to get a better idea of where the aliens will be before you send the Recon teams out,” Talia answered, “Tobi has come up with a device that recognised the Alien frequency in their communication devices,”
“How the hell have you got the Alien frequency?” I stared at him, knowing he was supposed to have been bedridden. He did have the sense to look ashamed.
“I’ve been coming here overnight and scanning different frequencies,” then he went off into a load of techno-gobbledegook I didn’t understand. My eyes started to glaze over.
“I think Alex is starting to fall asleep,” Jing spoke up, a hint of laughter in her voice.
“OK, suffice to say I have a device that can detect Alien communication devices,” Tobi sighed, “It will give us an advantage of knowing their movements in a twenty-mile area around here,”
“Right, so what’s the problem?”
“It has to be attached to a communications array, the nearest one is here on a nearby hill,” Jing pointed out what appeared to be a huge hill. It would take several hours hiking through ravines and valleys. No horse or Quad would be able to approach it.
“It’s not impossible to do,” I commented.
“It’s not a normal Telephone array, it’s military,” Talia added, zooming in. I could now see the holographic fence around it and what appeared to be a small bunker.
“Again, not an impossibility, but it will have to be a small team. Probably only two people in,” I suggested. Talia, Tobi and Jing seemed to share a look. “What? I’m not going to like whatever you say next, am I?”
“Well, Tobi’s the only one that can fit the device to the communications array,” Talia spoke up as I now realised why Tobi had been so quiet.
“Absolutely not, besides the fact he came close to death recently, he is our best technical expert on the Mountain,”
“I’m the only one that can do it; I honestly wish someone else knew how to place this device, but it’s very complicated,” Tobi spoke up.
“Can’t you teach them?”
“You were going to start allowing teams out in forty-eight hours. The device needs to be placed soon to give us all the advantage we can,” Tobi argued, “I cannot teach anyone all that in forty-eight hours,”
“OK, Let me review the details, then I’ll let you know whether we’ll go ahead with the operation or not,” I ordered them as Jing pinged the details over to my computer. I shook my head, knowing it would be a few more hours in my office. I called Mac, Rachel and Noah to my office.
The trio walked in a few minutes later, I closed the door sealing it as well then bought up the map I had been sent on the computer.
“Tobi has created a device that is attuned to the Aliens’ frequency,” I told them and immediately got a glare from Mac, “I didn’t know about it until fifteen minutes ago,”
“He’s gonna get a whoopin’,” she promised.
“Anyway, the team want to put it on this array here,” I circled the array on the satellite images, “It appears to be military, with a small bunker and completely fenced off,”
“It’s gonna be a bitch to hike,” Noah commented, trailing his finger through the ravines and gullies that needed to be traversed to get to it. It wasn’t a simple case of going around on the road, because there appeared to be no road leading up to it. I would guess a specialist engineer team was helicoptered in.
“It’s going to have to be a small team, maybe two-man,” Rachel added.
“That was my assumption,” I agreed, “But here’s the kicker, whoever goes out there will have to take Tobi with them,”
“That’s why you want me here?” Mac asked, annoyed, “No way, no how. He’s barely twelve just recovered from a major sickness; we don’t know what kind of damage that may have caused,”
“I said that too,” I told her mildly, “But apparently Tobi is the only one that can install it,”
“Surely Talia could go, Tobi can explain everything to her,” Mac almost pleaded.
“I asked that, but Tobi was adamant that he had to be the one to go,” I told her.
“If I try to stop him, then I become the Wicked Witch,” she sighed in resignation. I looked at her apologetically, then went on.
“We’ll take a couple of horses and leave them in this pasture,” I indicated a field on the screen, “Then we’ll scramble through the gorge and valley until we reach the waterfall, there looks to be a human-made path past the waterfall. Probably once a tourist hotspot,”
“You’ll have to go further south, I think. Because you’ll be cutting very close to that Davis town,” Noah considered.
“I’m going to have to send a scouting party out and check Davis, maybe while Tobi and I go on this mission,”
“Who said you were going on the mission?” Mac raised an eyebrow at me.
“I said,” I told them defiantly.
“You’re the leader, you shouldn’t even be going out,” she argued.
“There are other leaders that can take over, but I am going out to protect Tobi as he is our best technical expert,” I told the pair with an air of finality. We argued for what felt like hours; Rachel, Mac and Noah were constantly digging at me to reconsider going out, but if Tobi was going so was I, I didn’t trust anyone else to look after my friend. We continued to pour over the mission, looking for weaknesses and what could go wrong.
“It’s going to take at least eight hours, there and back,” Rachel pointed out, “Your best off going during the day. Otherwise, it’ll be too dangerous at night,”
“Yes. OK, in two days Tobi and I will put his invention on the hill. I’ll also send out a Recce to Davis Town,” a buzzer sounded reminding me it was time for dinner. I ended our session and followed the other three up to the dining room. Most of the time, we all ate together in the large canteen on Level three, except for the control teams on duty. I grabbed a plate and picked out some food from the servery, before settling into my favourite table, just as Big Tom walked over flanked by two tall guys. I also noticed little Andy trailing them.
“Take a seat guys; my neck is aching from looking at you,” I told the pair making them chuckle, the four of them sat around my table. The two tall guys were Jake and Jack, identical twins, with midnight black hair and satin grey eyes.
“Newt here finally got the plumbing working in the VIP section,” Tom gave me a grin.
“Newt?” I asked curiously.
“Sorry, Andy. His nickname is Newt,” I looked over at the sandy blond, he was shuffling around on his chair, but blushing too.
“Got ants in your pants, kiddo?” I asked jokingly.
“He doesn’t like to stay still long,” Tom answered for him.
“He’s like the energiser bunny,” Jake joked.
“All you have to do is wind him up,” Jack finished, I laughed loudly, nearly snorting out the mouthful of drink I had taken.
“Jeez, you two are hilarious,”
“We like to think so,” Jack answered.
“How are you getting along so far?” I asked the pair.
“Everyone’s really nice,” the pair finished each other’s sentences reminding me of the Weasley twins from Harry Potter, except this pair had black hair.
“So you said the plumbing is fixed?”
“Yep, you can now shower alone,” Tom answered with a grin.
“Just when I was getting used to the community showers,” I replied with a fake sigh.
“Double J and I have been circulating the perimeter checking out the defences,” Tom got serious, lowering his voice, “We’ve got the cameras all up and running, so we can see the outside of the Mountain,”
“I hope you haven’t been taking any unnecessary risks?” I asked, concerned.
“No, but the defences are phenomenal,” Jake crowed, “You’ve probably got several miles of electrified fences,”
“Does that mean if one section is out, they are all out? Also, it’s not electrified because of the EMP, right?”
“Actually, several sections can be down, but others will work. There are quite a few ‘electrical points’ we’ll call them. Basically, they are mini power stations that keep certain sections electrified,” Tom explained, “They are now electrified, we’ve managed to repair any damaged parts and the whole fence is now live,”
“The Tower is completely hidden; it’s camouflaged by some extremely sophisticated technology. They use mirrors to hide the Tower; I don’t think it can be detected at all,”
“Shouldn’t the tower have been visible after the attack?” I asked curiously.
“It should have been, but the tower’s systems were all encased in a smaller faraday cage,” Tom had an amazed look, “Whoever built this place is an engineering genius,”
“A technological one as well, the power systems in the basement are brilliant,” Tobi added, sitting next to Tom. “So we’re completely hidden?”
“Unless they know the location, this place is going to be invisible to the aliens,” Jack replied, “That felt weird to say,”
I was just about to reply when Nate leant down and whispered something in my ear, not something I wanted to hear but I nodded to him.
“I’ve got a bit of business elsewhere, I’ll talk to you later,” I got up with my half-eaten dinner and put it in the kitchen, I caught Rachel’s eye on the way out indicating for her to follow. I met Nathan with Finn and a short Hispanic girl, who looked me over with appraising dark brown eyes. Rachel soon joined us as we followed the three up to level five.
“What’s going on?” Rachael asked, looking between the four of us.
“I asked Nate to investigate the poisoning of our people. Unfortunately, by process of elimination, it could be only one of your group-“ I started, but Rachel interrupted me.
“You searched our rooms!” she looked horrified.
“I resisted for a month, but Georgie died. We needed to know who betrayed us,” I answered, she looked slightly mollified, but still angry. Lucia produced a case that appeared to hold Hard drives or something similar. Then she unzipped it; inside were three ampoules of a strange blue liquid on one side with extra space for two more and room for needles, though there were none.
“This could mean everything; the user could have diabetes,”
“Insulin is clear,” Finn spoke up.
“I think if we analysed it, it would match the virus,” I looked Rachael in the eye, “How much do you know about Bastion?”
“From what I gather he comes from Leeds, but we met him in Kendal scavaging, but now that I think about it he didn’t look like he had been on the street for a few months,”
“It does seem odd, I would guess it would take at least two days to walk from Leeds to Kendal, and he doesn’t seem like the type,”
“He was constantly moaning on our way up from Kendal,” Rachael admitted.
“He’s a plant,” Nate commented.
“A what?” Rachael asked.
“He was deliberately put into your group,”
“How would they know we were coming this far? Do they know you are here?” Rachael looked panicked.
“No, the base is about as hidden as they come, so how would they know Bastion would end up here?”
“That’s a question to ask him,” Nate replied. Rachael shook her head but knew we had to do something. Nate stepped up to me, pulling me aside, “Are we going to ‘question’ Kelly as well?”
“I don’t know, should we put them in the cells together?”
“Finn, Lucia, I want you to keep an eye on him, but don’t do anything that will arouse his suspicion,” I made a decision, speaking up, “Nate, take Rachael up to the conference room while I go get the senior team together for a meeting, this is too big a decision to handle on my own,”
Within ten minutes, I was stood in the conference room with the senior team; Mac, Tom, Larry, Nate and Noah. Rachel was standing off to the side, watching us, but I beckoned her to take a seat while I stood at the head of the table.
“What’s going on?” Mac asked, curious as to why we had called the Senior team.
“Nate found out who our poisoner was today, we have to make a decision as to what to do to them and Kelly,” I told them to some shocked faces.
“Who was it?” Larry growled, he had more interest in this than anyone else.
“Daisy, I want you to lock down the door to the conference room,” I called out getting a perplexed look from Rachel, but a glare from Larry. I heard the lock click as Daisy spoke.
“I know how this means to you, Larry, it means a lot to us too but we cannot just go and attack the person,”
“I agree with Alex, if we need to get any answers we’re going to have to play it cool,” Mac put a hand on Larry’s shoulder trying to soothe him. He seemed to take some deep, measured breaths.
“We found these,” I withdrew the case with the ampoules in them, “in Bastion’s room, we’re assuming they are the Lazarus Virus or a modified version,”
“The bastard,” Larry cried, looking at the case in front of him.
“We don’t yet know why or what the goal was,” I added, trying to ignore his outburst, “But the decision we have to make now is: do we put them in the cells?”
“That’ll require a guard on them at all times, takes some manpower away from other areas,” Nate put forward.
“It’s not like security is doing anything at the moment!” Larry snapped, I allowed him to get away with that one because of the grief, but I would put my foot down next comment.
“Well we can’t release them,” Mac added her two-cents.
“Are we going to take Kelly into custody then as well?” Big Tom asked.
“If we take one, we take the other,” I looked around the group getting nods, “So what do we do?”
“Kill them,” Larry muttered.
“That’s not feasible,” Mac was the first to speak after that proclamation.
“I know you want to hurt him, Larry, but we need information,” I repeated myself.
“What’s the solution?” Rachael spoke up, looking concerned. Technically Bastion was one of her group, he had been with her for some months. She would see it as the ultimate betrayal. Looking at the facts, I knew we could not release them nor could we kill them, so there was only one solution-
“There is really only one solution, we have to imprison them both,” Mac decided cutting across my thoughts coming to the same conclusion.
“That was my thought, are we agreed we have to imprison them and get information?” I asked the small group who all nodded albeit reluctantly, Noah had not said a word, but he nodded firmly.
“Will security be up for it?” Noah then asked quietly.
“What do you mean?” Nate frowned at him.
“They are kids our age, will the team be able to watch them without being tempted if they manipulate the guards?”
“I honestly don’t know” Nate looked visibly upset.
“I will have Daisy watching the Cells, she will not unlock the cells unless there is an emergency or has been authorised by me and you, all right?” Nate nodded his head, happier now and the other’s appeared appeased by that.
“So how are we going to do this?” Mac asked.
“We don’t want a scene, or we’ll have a mob on our hands, Mac can you get Kelly out and down to the cells. Rachel and I will handle Bastion,” I told my second, who nodded a little unhappily.
“I’ll be with you,” Noah told her gently.
“Tom, I want you with us too, we’ll use one of the classroom’s to question Bastion, then Kelly,” I told the broad lad. I stood up, approaching the door, which unlocked for me, then led them all back down to the canteen. Everyone was still eating their meals blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding. Finn, Lucia and Nate had settled near the door in case there was trouble, and frankly, I expected there to be with Bastion. Rachael and I made our way over to the jock just as I noticed Mac casually speaking to Kelly. Bastion had chosen to sit by himself, which made our life a little easier. We both took a seat on either side of him. He looked up, surprised.
“What do you want?” He snarled. I kept my eye on Larry, who was watching Bastion like a lion watching gazelle.
“You look like you’ve finished dinner, would you please come with us?” I asked him politely.
“Why would I do that?” he asked, setting his cutlery on the table.
“Because you don’t want to make a scene in front of the others,” Rachael stepped in. I noticed then he was beginning to sweat, appearing mildly nervous. He was a big lad, so I wanted to get him out of the canteen as soon as possible.
“You are outnumbered, we know what you did, so just come with us quietly,” I told him lifting my jacket to reveal the gun I always kept there now. Rachael was shocked, but she quickly hid it.
“OK,” he sighed. He got up, and the pair of us, as well as Big Tom, mirrored his movements. I put a hand on his shoulder leading him to the door, he looked at me fiercely but did not comment on the hand. The security personnel fell in behind us as we walked down the stairs to the second floor. I knew Finn, Lucia and Nate were all carrying handguns as I had ordered them too. We led the way into one of the empty classrooms. Rachael walked in with Bastion while I stopped Larry outside.
“It will do you no good to hurt him,” I told him softly.
“It will make me feel better,” Larry returned.
“But it won’t bring your brother back, go be with Ben, and I’ll let you know what we discover,” I told him gently.
“I hate you, you know that,” Larry said, but there was no anger behind it.
“I know, Larry, I know,” I patted him on the shoulder closing the door behind me as Security took a stand outside the door. I took my jacket off, revealing the gun holster and leaned against the teacher’s desk. I picked up the pouch from my jacket opening in front of Bastion, who went white.
“I don’t know,” he returned, trying to put some bravado behind his words.
“We found it in your room,” his eyes flashed angrily.
“Someplace this is, you invade our privacy as soon as it’s convenient for you,” he snarled. I snapped, slamming my hands down onto the desk in front of him.
“You’ve killed one of our own, a child no less, you’re a fucking murderer,” I shouted to Rachael’s shock, “If I let Larry in here he would rip you limb from limb,”
“Alex,” Rachael spoke quietly, but I glared at her. Like the bully he was, he caved, as soon as he was confronted. I had to remember he was my age.
“I was assured a position in the new government, I would have wealth and women,” he suddenly spouted. I looked at him unbelievably.
“This goes far deeper than you know, Walker, the Caati have been watching Earth for a long time. My dad was a diplomat for the Foreign Office when he was approached a little over five years ago,” Five years, I thought.
“The Caati, that’s what they are called? Have you ever met one?” I asked him, shocked.
“Two months before the invasion, I overheard my father speaking to one of them. They had tried to manoeuvre their people into high-ranking positions, but it did not work,”
“So they used brute force,” I spat, “What was your assignment?”
“Infiltrate the base, weaken the morale and try to give the Caati the location,” He responded shoulders slumped.
“Did you know the virus would not turn the infected?” I asked him curiously.
“I was told the virus only affects those that have finished puberty, but I was not told it could kill children,” he replied almost ashamed.
“You’ve become a murderer, and now will be imprisoned until we decide what to do with you. Why was your assignment to come here, and how did you know to join Rachael’s group?”
“Two months before the invasion began, the Caati learned of Project New Dawn, though I think you know it as Operation Growth,” He explained, I was astonished, “Though they only knew a general outline, they did not know anything about where the base was located or all the names involved in the project. They did have a general idea of where Fort Walker was located, as they had an operative in the area,”
“You were the one to suggest coming here,” Rachael suddenly spoke making Bastion nod.
“The Caati told you this?” I asked him sceptically.
“No, my father did. He was pretty high up with them and was told about Project New Dawn,”
“We’ll have more questions for you later,” I told him. I opened the door allowing Tom, Finn and Lucia to escort him down to the cells. I turned to look at Rachael scrubbing my face.
“Wow, just wow.”
“I never knew,” she tried to reassure me.
“I figured you had nothing to do with it,” I told her wearily, “Now we need to ask Kelly some questions then I need to relay everything to Kelvedon and Cheyenne.”