Eli led me back out of the garden we were in onto the street; no one had noticed the guard yet, but there seemed to be a lot of noise coming from the direction of the bonfires. I would love to have saved the three on the crosses, but I don’t think we could have made it up to the main drag without notice.
“What was your plan to get out? I noticed the fences are blocked off, and we don’t want to go out into the main town.”
“If you look behind the townhouses, there’s a small path leading back up to the hills. I was going to get out through the back garden,” he explained.
“Suppose there’s no back gate?” I asked.
“There is! I found the house they are keeping them in; the garden is large but has a gateway to the rear,” Eli returned, “There was something in front of it, but between the two of us, we should be able to move it,”
“Well, you’ve thought this through,” I told him. He nodded at me but didn’t say a word, waiting for my verdict, “Fine, but you follow my lead.”
“Thanks, Alex,” I shook my head, deciding I was a fool, but I think we had to rescue these kids. We walked to the end of the street. Eli pointed out one of the townhouses. There were lights on, above street level, but it was flickering like candles. It was about three stories, with steps leading down to a basement entrance, while another led to the main entrance. I pulled out the custom 1911 Colt with it’s extended barrel, keeping it in front of me, flicking off the safety. Nodding at Eli, we moved swiftly across the street, getting in the shadows of the townhouses moving towards the specific townhouse. I followed the stairs downwards towards the basement. There were a couple of bins, then the doorway, which was a faded blue colour. Turning the knob, I wasn’t hopeful, but with a click, the door slid open.
“Bingo,” Eli whispered as we entered the house. In the ghostly green shade, I could see it was now just used for storage. Eli and I were quickly at the bottom of the stairs to the house; the door was already open and light-flooded down. Switching off the night-vision, our eyes adjusted to the light before moving up the stairs, treading carefully. At the top of the stairs, the hallway was brightly lit by candles. Taking the lead, I led Eli towards the noise, which must have been in the front room. Poking my head around the corner, I saw three children huddled in a corner, all younger than twelve. In front of the window, a teen, most likely about fifteen, was pacing. I waved Eli forward, who peered around the door, but shook his head. Just as I thought, these weren’t the initial three he had come to rescue. One of the girls caught sight of us, her eyes wide. Abruptly she began to cry, big gasping sobs.
“Don’t cry, please; I don’t want to have to hurt you,” the boy said, pacing over to the girl turning his back on us. That was the opportunity we needed. Within three steps, I was on him; he was short for his age like me, so I put my hand over his mouth and placed my gun to his back.
“Don’t make a sound or make a move; I currently have a gun at your back,” I felt him nod, so I eased my hand away from him. I allowed him to turn to look at us; we must have looked a sight wearing green and black while wearing military gear.
“Please don’t hurt me,” he whimpered, “I didn’t want to, but if you don’t, you end up dead or worse,”
“Where are the other children?” I asked. He was clearly terrified. My gut instinct told me this boy did not want to be here guarding these children.
“They are on the second floor; Sammy, Rob and Tim love this sort of thing; they’re sick,” he replied vehemently.
“Is anyone expecting to come here?”
“No one will be here until the morning,” he answered.
“Bravo-three, get some ropes and tie him up, also find something to stuff in his mouth,” I didn’t want to use Eli’s name.
“Yes, Commander,” he smirked, producing some black rope. He immediately tied the boy up, then took a sock off the little boy, stuffing it into the teen’s mouth. I knelt down in front of the two girls and a boy.
“We’re going to get you out of here, but we need to rescue the others first. Do you think you can be really quiet and wait for us at the back door?” They all nodded, their faces stained with tears. The three quickly shuffled to the kitchen while Eli and I moved back into the hallway and up onto the second floor. Halfway up, one of the stairs creaked, so I stopped waiting to see if one of the teens emerged.
“We’re going to have to do this quickly and quietly, one room at a time,” I told Eli; he knew what I meant as I holstered the gun and drew the knife out. I felt sick, but these bastards might well be raping these kids. We got to the top of the stairs; I indicated number two, allowing Eli to move into position. I held my fingers up; one, two, three. I opened the door carefully to find a sight that may well give me nightmares. There was a naked boy on the bed, maybe ten or eleven tied to the railings of the bed. In front of him stood a nude teen, pushing the boy’s legs apart.
I had no time to think; I just reacted. Striding across the room and grabbing the teen’s thick head, I drove my knife deep into the carotid artery. Thick warm blood spurted up at me. The teen struggled for a few moments, then the life slid from him. I let him go, his body slumping to the floor. The boy looked at me, wide-eyed, terrified. I turned and immediately vomited over the side of the bed. Wiping my mouth clear, I quickly undid the ropes. I cleaned the knife on the bedspread slipping it back into it’s sheathe.
“We’re here to rescue you,” he was silent as I gathered up his clothes, luckily none had got bloody, but I could feel it on me, “Come on, let’s go,”
“OK,” he said in a small voice. I led him back out into the corridor where I met Eli, similarily bloody, but with a girl following him.
“What the hell is going on?” A gorilla with blond hair emerged from the last room wearing just boxers. I quickly pulled out my gun, training it on him.
“We’ve come to take the children,” I put on my deepest voice.
“What the hell? You’re not the military,” he looked at us suspiciously as Eli moved the girl behind me, “You’re just children playing dress-up,”
“Give us the boy, and we’ll leave quietly,” I promised him. He was at least a foot taller than me.
“He’s mine to fuck, so you can just fuck off,” He answered, then suddenly moved towards the door. I knew without a doubt, he was going for his gun, so I squeezed the trigger. The sounds of the Colt echoed through the house loudly as several rounds hit the teen, throwing him into the far wall. He was dead before he hit the ground.
“Shit, someone’s going to hear that,” I shouted, knowing I would process the kills later on, “Bravo, take the kids into the garden and get the back gate unlocked, the rest of your team are waiting on the ridge,”
“What about you?” he asked.
“I’ll be right behind you; got to get the other kid,” I told him, ushering Eli back down the stairs. I stepped over the fallen gorilla entering the bedroom to find the third boy in a similar state. I cut the ropes on his wrists, throwing him some clothes. I did not say a word but beckoned him to follow me, which he quickly did. We were by the kitchen door when I heard shouts from the front of the house.
“Go,” I told the lad, pushing him outside. We sprinted to the back gate, where I found Eli and the children hauling away junk from in front of the door. We managed to quickly make a wide enough gap, so Eli pushed through first, checking the coast was clear, then ushered the six children through. Semi-automatic gunfire whistled overhead as the last child made it through.
“What’s going on, Alpha-one?” Tobi’s voice came over the radio.
“We are coming up a path to your position; I want you and Bravo four to cover us for any unexpected visitors, use non-hostile force. Just scare them, no more death tonight,” I ordered. I ran behind the group of kids, Eli leading them as fully automatic gunfire roared around us. The pre-teens screamed with fright, but my team must have seen someone emerge from the gate. Soon we were at the top, where the fight horses were.
“Who are these?” Little Benji asked. Tobi had acquired a rifle, probably from Tanya, before she left.
“Refugees,” I told him shortly, “Get them on the horses in front or behind you,”
“Yes, Sir,” He snapped off a salute then the pre-teens were put onto the horses.
“Tobi, take Tanya’s horse; I’ll take yours. Eli, can you put the lad behind me,” pointing to the boy I had rescued. Three of the horse had already started riding off; Eli had a girl already on his horse. I quickly mounted the horse, then the boy was placed behind me. I felt his arms go around me then watched as Eli mounted his own horse. I looked at the ghostly figures, cautiously coming up the hill, before wheeling the horse around and riding back towards base.
“Control, this is Alpha-one; we’ll be there in approximately ten minutes. I want Mac and the medics in the bay; we have six children with us who’ll need medical attention,” I told them sometime later.
“Confirmed, welcome back,” Tali’s voice greeted me. Though they should have come off duty at 12am, the Control B team were still in the Control room. We wearily trotted through the gate some minutes later. Nate and Amanda looked tired as they pushed the gates closed and followed close behind us. A sigh of release came from my lips as the door closed firmly with a bang. I looked around; Mac was beginning to look over the rest of the group as the medical team all moved forward, finding someone from our little group to check over. All I wanted was a shower and my bed.
“Are you OK?” Tom’s voice drew me from thoughts; he had been trying to get my attention for a few minutes, “Are you injured?”
“No, this isn’t my blood,” I told him wearily. He helped Tobi and his passenger down from the horse, then reached for the other boy behind me. Suddenly I felt him squeeze me tighter, trying to get away from Tom, “It’s all right, Tom is a friend.”
“No,” a small muffled voiced said into my back. I looked at Tom and shrugged my shoulders. I peeled his arms from around my waist and swung my leg over dismounting. Once I was on the ground, I helped the boy down, but he clung to me, his legs wrapped around my waist with his head buried in my good shoulder. Tobi looked at me in askance.
“Go get a shower and get to bed,” I ordered him.
“Are you injured?” Mac’s voice had a hint of concern as she came up to me.
“No, what’s the situation with Noah?”
“He’s comfortable, luckily the field aid you gave him saved his life,” She told me, “He’s currently in the Medical Bay,”
“That’s good,” She indicated to the boy.
“Are you hurt?” she asked him. He shook his head into my shoulder; I knew he was probably traumatised as to what had happened.
“Sweetie, what’s your name?” I asked, brushing his hair back gently. He moved his head to look at me with hazel eyes. He was dirty, probably the blood of the guy I had killed. I forced my thoughts away from that.
“Roman, but my parents call me Ro,” he replied in little more than a whisper.
“We need to take a look at you,” Mac said in her gentlest voice. He shook his head again.
“Mac, get our guest’s set up in the Med Bay, quarantine Bravo and make sure Tobi stays in the Med Bay too,” I told her, “I’m going to take Roman to the showers. I’ll let you know if he’s injured in any way,”
“All right, let me know once you’re out. Oscar, go get some spare PJ’s and put them in the shower room,” She ordered. I left them all to it and took my new little friend to the changing rooms on the fifth floor.
“Now, sweetie, I need to put you down for a moment so we can get changed and shower,” the boy reluctantly nodded his head and released his grip on my hips. I put him down and began stripping off the tactical vest and the black t-shirt beneath. I dumped them on the side, putting the radio and glassed on top of them. Nate walked in a few minutes later; I instantly saw the boy stiffen.
“I’ve just come to collect your equipment,” he said.
“Some of it is rather bloody,” I informed him as I stripped off my gun and handed it over to him. He took a quick glance at Roman, then left, taking my equipment with him, “Come on, buddy.”
I got on my knees and pulled up his jumper, then his shirt. He was about the same height as my best friend. I looked at him, then asked if it was OK to take his trousers off. He nodded as I sat him on the bench to take his shoes off. His feet were a bit red where the shoes had chafed him, then I undid his jeans and pulled them off. I quickly shucked off my own combats and boxers, so I was equal with him.
I had to help him in the shower, washing away all the muck as he seemed to be near-catatonic, but slowly I drew him out. While questioning him, I found out he was ten and had lived in Davis Town all his life, but had been away lots recently for gymnastics competitions representing the country. Once we were both washed with the adrenaline starting to wear off, I got him changed into some PJ’s. Someone had bought some clothes down for me. I quickly changed, then picked up the boy and took him down to the Medical Bay.
“How are you feeling?” was Mac’s first question.
“Tired,” I replied; she directed us into a room that appeared to be like a GP’s office. The room had a desk and chair, a filing cabinet and an examination table with a privacy screen. I settled on the chair near the desk while Roman settled on my lap.
“Would it be OK to examine you?” Mac asked. Roman looked terrified.
“It’s all right; she just wants to see if you are injured,” I told him soothingly.
“Alex will be right here in the room; nothing’s going to happen to you,” Mac added in a motherly voice. He reluctantly nodded, then allowed Mac to examine him from head to foot, taking careful measurements as she did. Once she finished, Mac looked at me, “You need to get some sleep. Will you leave Roman down here?”
“No,” the boy cried, launching himself into my arms.
“No, I’ll see if he will bunk with Matty as they are quite close in age,” I explained, “We’ll have a briefing tomorrow morning on everything,”
“Yes, we’ve got some things to tell you too,” She replied sadly. I was going to ask what but thought it best to wait until tomorrow. I gave her a sleepy nod then made my way back up to my suite of rooms.
I let myself in, holding onto the lightweight ten-year-old. His breathing had changed, making me realise he was asleep. I changed my mind about Matty, putting Roman in my bed. I stripped off my robe, leaving my boxers and tee-shirt on as I fell into bed with the boy. I was out like a light almost instantly.
“What happened last night?” Larry asked as we sat around the conference table. Nate was rubbing his eyes tiredly while everyone else had a cup of tea or coffee in front of them. The meeting consisted of the Senior team, which now included Finn Harris, as he knew his group better than anyone.
“Well, the device planting instantly went fubar. There were a group of Aliens around the tower; we got attacked but managed to escape,” I went on to tell them exactly what happened.
“But how do you know you haven’t been tracked?” Tom asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, they seemed to have let you go awfully easily. I can’t believe they wouldn’t have been able to find you,” Larry added.
“The cave was hidden really well,” Tobi insisted.
“But you were injured, correct?” Nate asked and received a nod, “Then could they not track your blood,”
“I don’t know, maybe we were lucky, but we’ll soon find out. Nate, can you try double the watches up in the tower,”
“Sure, It would seem you’ve had a lucky escape,”
“It does. Now Mac, can you tell me about our new guests?”
“Well, we have five, six including Roman, all between the ages of 10-13 with three boys and three girls,” she handed me over a slip of paper:
“So, what happened?” Larry asked.
“When I arrived at the location of Beta Team, I found that Eli had gone down into the town. There were several children at risk of being of being physically assaulted,” I looked around, making sure they understood exactly what I meant, “I met up with Eli and managed to get into the house where we rescued six children, all on the verge of being assaulted,”
“They are all healthy if a little underfed,” Mac informed everyone, “We’ll keep them in isolation for the moment before we move them into one of the dorms,”
“Good,” I yawned, “Have they told you anything?”
“No, they seemed almost mute, but one of the girls said they will speak with you only.”
“Then I’ll have to speak to them when we get out of the meeting. Roman especially seemed reluctant to leave my side,” I replied, “Now, is there anything to report while I was gone? You mentioned something last night,”
Mac shared a look with Larry and Tom, then with Nate before they turned to look at me.
“We had a….breach last night,” Nate replied reluctantly. I just goggled at him, not sure if I heard right.
“What do you mean breach?”
“We’re not sure if it was a breach, but we found Sebastian dead in his cell last night,” he answered finally.
“I must not be hearing correctly; you found one of our traitors dead last night?” I cleared my ears out with my fingers to confirm I heard things correctly.
“We’re just beginning the investigation, but he was discovered at 2030 last night; Emma was on Cell guard duty, she used the toilet, and when she returned, he was dead on his cot,” Nate explained.
“We are under the impression he killed himself, but we’re unsure of exactly how, as we don’t exactly have a coroner on base,” Finn added.
“No one else was involved?”
“Kelly was apparently asleep, and Emma was gone at the most five minutes unless we have another spy on base,” Nate concluded.
“Daisy, has anyone entered the base beside our personnel?”
“Negative, I am not tracking any foreign entities,” she coolly.
“Has anyone tampered with the footage of the cells?”
“We, erm, didn’t check the cameras,” Nate admitted reluctantly.
“Daisy, how did Sebastian die?”
“My sensors detected a chemical compound minutes after his death,” she explained.
“Why didn’t you explain this to the Head of security?”
“I was not asked,” came the simple reply.
“Goddamit, you all need to get on you’re game,” I exploded, “otherwise we’ll have more deaths than a spy.”
“Sorry,” Nate murmured. They looked ashamed. I knew I should not be so angry, but I was still tired and a little irritable. If I had been thinking clearly, I would remember that these were still teens.
“Commander,” a voice came over my headset.
“What?” I snarled.
“Kelvedon Hatch would like to speak to you,” Jing, the Watch Commander for Control D, told me.
“Tell them I’ll be there in five minutes,” I told her a little bit more softly, then looked at the others.
“What’s the plan for Davis town?” Larry asked reluctantly to speak.
“I’ll organise a surveillance team to go over once a week and observe, but we stay out of the town until further notice,” I told them in a cold voice, “Tomorrow, we will start sending the Recon teams out,”
“Yes, Sir,” Nate and Finn answered automatically. I nodded to the others and had Daisy unlock the room before heading down the stairs to the Operation’s room. When I walked through the double doors, it was a hive of activity. Despite Tali being on the night before, she was around the central control area with Jing, the fourteen-year-old Watch commander. Tobi came in behind me and immediately went over to the two Watch Commanders. I moved over to the European Div., taking a stand next to a boy who looked Italian.
“H-hi, erm, Commander, I have General Forsythe on the line,” he appeared nervous to me as I slid on the headset I had acquired.
“General,” I spoke carefully. The last time we spoke, he had blown up at me over the weapons; we had not been in contact in nearly a month.
“Alex, how are you?” he seemed genial.
“We’re doing well; everyone is settling in.”
“I’ve just been reading the reports. It seems like you had some excitement last night,” the General returned; I glared at the Italian boy then at the three Watch Commanders.
“We performed an operation, then we rescued some children,” I told him but did not go in-depth into what had happened.
“The reason I wanted to speak to you is we have a situation in London,” General Forsythe got to the point of the call, “Three days ago a mothership appeared over London, it began to transform,”
“Transform?” I asked, not sure if I heard correctly.
“The ship opened up at the bottom, building six points around a seventh spire,”
“Have you been able to get close to the ship?” I asked curiously.
“No, only at a distance; Enfield, Wembley, Croydon and Dartford are being used as FOB stopping us getting in too close,” the General replied, “they’ve got a circle of defences around the capital,”
“Will you keep observing?” I asked, knowing that FOB meant Forward Operating Base or the frontline of defences.
“We will; there is a no-fly zone except for several of their craft flying to the mothership,” Forsythe answered, “We thought we ought to let you know, but at the moment, no plans are being drawn up,”
“Thank you for telling me. Good day, General,” I told him and signed off. The three Watch Commanders were still talking over the map of the area. I strode over to them and glared.
“Everything OK?” Tobi asked tentatively. While my best friend could usually calm me down, I was beyond annoyed.
“Someone give Charlie a call and meet me in my office in ten minutes; Jing have someone take over as Watch Commander for half an hour,” I told them, my voice surprisingly calm. They looked at me but nodded anyway. I swiftly left the Operations Room, making my way towards my office. Once inside, I took a seat, staring up at the TV, which showed a base satellite image though you could not see the station on the picture.
Ten minutes later, the four knocked tentatively on the door and entered; once they closed the door, Daisy automatically put the room on lockdown. I looked over the four of them. Charlie Webster was a reedy blonde, but the oldest of the Watch Commanders looking after Control Group C. Jing was a Japanese-descended Brit but used to be one of Britain’s best hackers from what Tobi told me. The two twelve-year-olds, Tobi and Talia, were nervously looking at the ground.
“Anyone want to have a guess why I called you in here?”
“For a job well done,” Charlie had a little grin on his face; the sixteen-year-old was a bit of a jokester.
“No, I want to know why Kelvedon Hatch have been receiving reports from this base without my say-so,” all four appeared guilty, and I knew they had allowed the European Div. to report to Kelvedon Hatch.
“A few days after your bust up, Corporal Strange asked for an update, so we allowed it. The four of us talked about it and did not think it was a bad thing,” Charlie replied, obviously taking on the role of spokesperson. Tobi looked guilty; I’m surprised he didn’t let me know.
“As you’ve started it, you can tell them to continue, but they are to disclose to Kelvedon the absolute minimum information. Anything more, you’ll have to contact me,” I told them, “Is that clear?”
“Crystal,” The two most senior gave me glares of their own but understood. The youngest nodded, still looking guilty. Both being with me from the start and knew what I was like.
“Then you can go back to what you were doing,” I told them, letting them go. Daisy unlocked the door allowing Charlie, Talia and Jing to leave. Tobi reluctantly walked to the door but looked back at me. I was still exhausted from last night and a tad annoyed from learning about Kelvedon, so I told him in dismissal, “Thank you, Tobi,”