“Hello, Alex, you said you wanted to speak to me,” Larry’s voice broke me from my reverie. Realising I had been sat at my desk, staring at the folder for the last ten minutes, I shook myself off.
“Take a load off,” I told him, gesturing towards the chairs in front of the TV. As he settled in, I closed the door, which automatically sealed the room, “Do you want anything? Coke, Lemonade, water?”
“I’ll take a water,” he grinned as I reached under my desk for the mini-fridge pulling out a water and a Sprite. I chucked it at him, which he caught easily.
“How are you getting on? It’s been two month’s since your brother’s death,” I asked, watching him. He relaxed back into the chair, sipping the water. Since we arrived last year, Larry has grown up. No longer a bully; he acted the senior figure he was supposed to be.
“I’m OK,” he replied hesitantly, “I’ve been worried about Benny, but he’s been so busy with the new crops I think he’s not had time to think plus I think he has a girlfriend,”
“He’s not even ten yet,” I laughed.
“I know, the little Romeo. There’s a girl that helps out with the crops; she’s two years older than him,” Larry couldn’t help but chuckle about his brother.
“He likes the older women then,” I smiled, “So tell me about the animals?”
“Noah bought in a new dog last week, a bit underfed but not too bad,” Larry was off telling me about the animals that he and his team were looking after. It was hard to see the bully in this enthusiastic teen or a cold-blooded killer. I let him rattle on for another ten minutes.
“That’s brilliant; I need to ask you a serious question,” He instantly sobered up, the grin dropping from his face.
“Why did you kill Sebastian?” I looked him straight in the eye. He went white but refused to look away until his shoulders sagged.
“How did you know?” Larry asked quietly.
“I’ve got a report on my desk about the chemical agent used to kill him. I also have Daisy to tell me you planted something in his food before it was taken down to him,” the boy folded in on himself.
“He murdered my brother; I could not just let him get away with that,” he replied, anger riding his voice, “He was evil and twisted, yet he was taking up some of our precious food,”
“Should we do the same to Kelly? Have her murdered?” I asked seriously, but he looked at me in surprise before he thought about it.
“I don’t know, is it right that the pair of them were down in the cells, still living, while Hell goes on around us,” Larry cried, “You saw what it was like in Davis Town; it’s ruthless out there,”
“We will not turn into a dictatorship!” I said, fury in my voice, “We are civilised people!”
“Please, just punish me, but don’t punish Amanda,” Larry begged; I had never seen him like this, and my fury abated, “Who else knows?”
“Nate, Daisy and myself; that’s how it will remain,” I told him sternly, “I understand why you did it, but it can’t happen again. Yes, we have to make tough decisions, but I will not allow us to descend into chaos and murder.”
“Thank you, I regret every minute the decision that I made. I know I have metaphorical blood on my hands now, which will stay that way forever,”
“That’s the worst punishment anyone can come up with,” I told him, getting to my feet, “But if you ever pull this stunt again, I’ll leave you to the dogs of Davis Town,”
“I understand,” He replied quietly, getting to his feet, “I am really sorry, I can only say grief led me there,”
“Just leave, Larry, we’ll talk again,” I told him, my anger deflating with the signs of defeat on his face. Daisy unlocked the room, allowing him to leave as I slumped to the sofa staring at the empty TV. I had been shocked when Nate had come forward with his investigation. Amanda had created something in the labs, something that was reasonably fast-acting. I would have to keep an eye on her if she could do something like this. A phone call interrupted my thoughts.
“Commanders office,” I spoke harshly into the phone as I snatched it up.
“Alex, Noah has just come in from patrol, and he has some interesting information,” Charlie’s voice came over the phone. I tried not to let out an audible sigh.
“Fine, tell him I will be there in five minutes,” I slammed the phone, tiredness making me cranky. Soon after, I was inOperations where Charlie and Bravo team were settled around the central console. They had the holographic map in place of what appeared to be a stately home or hall.
“Hello boss,” I sighed, the last of my irritation leaving me.
“What have you got?”
“This is St Francis boarding school, usually home to boys and girls from 8-18,” Noah explained, “The compound is south of here; it was on our list of places to secure food,”
“Get to the point,”
“It’s now an intern camp,” I stared at him.
“I must have heard you wrong. I could have heard you say intern camp,”
“It’s true,” Eli spoke up, “The children are slaves,”
“Daisy, bring up the satellite feed for these co-ordinates,” Little Benji typed them into the computer.
“Last overhead of the area was twenty hours ago, acceptable?” Daisy’s calm voice issued from the speakers.
“Acceptable.” On the central screen, the last satellite pictures emerged. It appeared to be a typical school at first, with a sizeable T-shaped building and a car park near the front entrance with a road meandering through the grounds to the main street. But what wasn’t typical was the watchtowers at the main road or the long military tents on the playing fields.
“Holy shit!” the swear word slipped from my mouth. On the top end of the T was what appeared to be a spaceship, “Is that still there now?”
“We were able to see it from our position, except the doors were closed,” in the image, there were three people stood by the ship. From the top, it was a squat thing, a rectangle with two boosters on either side. This wasn’t one of their more manoeuvrable aircraft; this was more than likely a transport vessel.
“How many children did you see?”
“That we saw, twenty-five, but there could have been many more,” Noah answered, “What are we going to do about it?”
“Daisy, I want plans for the school,” I spoke aloud, “Charlie, I want you to get the senior team, Rachel and her team, and Andre down here immediately,”
Within ten minutes, everyone I asked for, plus the rest of Alpha and Charlie team, was situated in the conference room. On the screen’s on the wall were images of the school, satellite images of the school and floorplans.
“Right, Noah has just returned from a recce and discovered St Francis boarding school is currently being used as an intern camp,” I explained, “Now, usually I would want to observe the place for a while before we do anything. However, I want that ship,”
“Are you crazy?” Big Tom looked at me, mouth agape.
“No, that ship is an opportunity to learn more about the alien’s and possibly a way to use it against them,” I replied, then looked to Andre, “Can you fly that?”
“I’d need a little time to study the ship, but I’ve flown a lot of aircraft,” he answered.
“When are we planning to go in?” Rachel asked.
“Tonight, under cover of darkness,”
“Why so quick to get the ship?” Mac asked cautiously.
“We don’t know how long the ship will remain in place,” I told them simply, “All three Recon teams will be going on this mission. Mac, have you got two medic’s you would trust out in the field?”
“Oscar and little Peter can go,”
“Peter? Isn’t he one of our rescuee’s from last month?” Noah asked.
“Yep, he’s come on leaps and bounds. His mother was a nurse, and he had many cousin’s he used to look after before The Event,” she explained.
“I want to take two of the techies with us, to a) look at the ship and B) see if we can get any information from their computers,” I added.
“Who did you want to take?” Finn asked.
“I don’t know; Tobi is our expert, but I’m reluctant to take him,” He glared at me, “I was thinking Charlie and Nica,”
“Could they help you run the ship?” Rachel asked Andre.
“I think so,”
“Would they be up for the job?” I aimed my question at both Finn and Tobi.
“Charlie is one of our best Techie’s; he was often seen helping the military when we were at Kelvedon Hatch,” Finn explained.
“Nica is equally as brilliant; when not on duty, I’ve had her helping me out with a variety of projects,” Tobi added. I knew Tobi was up for the job, but I didn’t want to take any Tech supporters under sixteen.
“Right, let’s get everyone going on the mission in here, then we’ll go over everything,” I told them, “I want the senior team to stay to help with suggestions,”
Darkness had arrived when we came close to the school, using one of our larger trucks. Parking to the east of the school, everyone decamped. Charlie team stationed themselves around the dark vehicle, while Bravo team moved into position to the north outside the school’s main entrance. Alpha with Andre, Charlie Webster and Nica Cruz took up the east side of the school. We sat watching for an hour, just below the fence line in a ditch. Alpha was wearing its usual uniform, while Andre was in his old flight suit. Charlie and Nica were only in dark clothing.
“Bravo, Charlie report,” I asked not long after the second patrol of two senior boys passed us, though one was smoking and the other was chatting about one of the girl’s with big breasts.
“Four guards in the tower, most likely senior students with old guns,” Bravo reported, “Doesn’t look like they are paying too much attention,”
“Nothing around here,” Charlie-one added.
“Tranq on my command,” I told Bravo, then turned to look at Tucker, “Do your thing.”
“Aye, aye, captain,” He grinned at me, throwing a salute. He moved forward and took out what appeared to be a pen. Within five minutes, he had made a hole in the fence. I indicated Adam and my second, Harué, to move forward. The pair shimmied through the broken fence and got to their knees.
“Now,” I whispered. PFFT!PFFT! I heard the release of the tranq guns, then saw the two patrollers collapse. I moved under the fence then waited for the others to join me. Going first, I had the SA80 assault rifle ready for anything, but I was hoping the element of surprise may well make this job quieter and quicker.
Crossing over the field and a golf course, it was not long before we were in the shadow of the main building.
“Adam, Tucker, secure the ship,” I told them, directing them toward the boys’ around the corner, “Sitrep, bravo?”
“Guards knocked out, Tanya and Benji are on Overwatch. We are checking on the students,” Noah replied; he had Peter and Oscar with him. The flight team had already moved away.
“Ten yards to your left is a damaged window,” Daisy chimed in. Harué and I found the window; how the hell did Daisy know that? The window had a corner missing; a cardboard box was the only cover from the inside. Pushing it aside, I got my hand in quickly and unlatched the latch. Between us, my second and I pushed the window up quietly. I ducked my head in, looking around. The ghostly green image indicated it was a hall or ballroom, but it was dark, and there was no one inside. I went in first, slipping over the lip and into the room. The quiet Japanese girl followed me inside, tracking her own gun carefully to check for anyone. Nica was right behind us, keeping as close to Harué as possible. Crossing the hall in several strides, we came to a regular door, though ornately carved.
“Once out of the door, go left for several feet until you reach a stairwell, then head upwards. The Headmasters’ office is on the second floor,” Daisy’s voice sounded. Opening the door, it creaked, making me wince, but once it was open, we were able to steal through, making our way to the stairs. Around us, I saw ghostly images of portraits, which nearly made me jump with fright. I was just about to take a foot on the stairs when Harué tapped me on the shoulder. She indicated upwards, and I caught sight of red light.
“Tobi, I have a camera on the main stairwell,” I whispered.
“Give me a few minutes,” he replied. Harué spread out looking further down the corridor but soon returned. Five minutes later, the light blinked out, “You are free to move; I have command of the cameras, Amateurs!”
“Bighead,” I muttered as I moved swiftly up the stairs, followed by Harué and Nica. Daisy directed us down the corridor until I put a fist up and moved against the wall, blending into the shadows. I didn’t see Harué but knew she was probably pulling Nica towards her. A stream of light came from an open door allowing sound to exit.
“You will be taking the next batch tomorrow?” a plumy male voice spoke.
“We will take twenty of your kittens,” a second voice replied. However, this voice sounded like it was struggling to get its tongue around the words.
“Twenty! That’s more than our deal,” Plumy sounded startled.
“You were installed by us; we can take you away,”
“Eixa, Dr Westacre was merely surprised. He has been most helpful to us,” a third voice sounded; this one was posh and somewhat familiar.
“This mangy cur will need to produce another twenty by this time next week,” the thing said; I knew then it was one of the aliens. I indicated for the other two to back off, so we moved around the corner with Harué watching the door.
“Flight team, I need an indication on time?”
“We are one alien down, but Andre indicated he will be five minutes,” Alpha-three replied.
“Forty students in the tents, the guards are neutralised,” Brave-one added, “Brave-three has taken the first fifteen to the trucks,”
“I want you to move another fifteen then bug out,” I told Bravo-one, “Alpha three, four, I want the last ten on the ship,”
“Yes, Sir,” I took another look around the corner, looking at Harué to see if she was ready. She gave me a nod as Nica nodded too. We slowly approached the office. I could see a glimpse of a man stood behind a desk with one of the aliens in front of it, wearing all white armour. We had analysed the video from our mission last month, indicating weak areas of the armour. I held up three fingers; One, two, tree!
“Step away from the computer!” I told the man behind the desk as I entered, followed quickly by Harué and Nica. I caught a glimpse of another man to my left, but I was entirely focussed on the alien. The creature turned, “Don’t even think about going for a weapon,”
“Who are you?” the third man in the room demanded just as the creature’s thigh plate opened, revealing a gun. I fired before he had a chance, aiming for the base plate at his neck, the weakest point. Several bullets pinged off the armour, but a couple found their mark tearing through the fragile neck lining and straight through the creature’s throat. It fell to the ground, the blue liquid seeping out between its fingers. I kicked it’s weapon away, watching the third man in the room carefully, but Harué was already keeping an eye on him.
“Nica, close and lock the door,” I told her; she was quick to comply. I stepped over to the creature, who was lying still, but I wasn’t sure. I stepped on its chest, reaching down. My hand was getting slimy, but I found a release that opened the mask. I stared down into the face of a cat. Well, not quite like a cat, but it had black fur and was cat-like though humanoid in appearance. The green eyes looked up at me, then it snarled, showing off pointed teeth. I slung my rifle around and pulled out my handgun.
“Hope they have milk in heaven, kitty,” I told the alien, firing almost point-blank. I sneered at the dead alien before I looked up at a snarl.
“What the hell have you done?” I recognised the man; it was Jacob Scott, a prominent politician from the Political Opposition.
“I’ve killed a piece of filth that invaded our world, Mr Scott,”
“They are good for us; they can bring peace and prosperity,” the thin man replied.
“Are you blind? Or do you ignore the death, intern camps and viruses?” I asked him. Nica had already moved to the computer, elbowing the headmaster out the way. She inserted a USB stick into the machine.
“The Caati know about you,” he narrowed his eye, “Your Commander Walker, they thought they had you last month,”
“Hey, boss, your famous,” the usually quiet Harué quipped. She gave me a big grin.
“Or infamous,” I muttered.
“The Caati know all about you and your band, raiding places and causing disruption.” I was beginning to see a picture; the aliens thought we were a smaller gorilla band, our raids over the last month, causing them trouble.
“So, who was he?” I gestured to the dead alien.
“That was Sub-Commander Eixa, commander of District six?”
“The United Kingdom and parts of Europe,” the politician seemed to be very forthcoming.
“What’s your role in this?”
“I am their liaison,” he answered stiffly.
“What do they do with the children they take?”
“Use them for medical procedures,” Dr Westacre answered.
“How many have they taken?” I asked, my anger starting to build.
“A little over 100 from 10-14,” Scott sniffed as if the children meant nothing to him.
“Fucking Bastard!” I raged. I looked over to Nica to see how she was getting on, “How long?”
“Five minutes, boss,” I looked disgustedly at the two men, then moved to the other end of the office.
“Sitrep, Bravo and Charlie,”
“Thirty children are now situated on the truck; we are beginning our journey back to base,” Rachel replied.
“Flight team are ready; we have ten souls aboard, all younger children,” Adam answered.
“Bravo is just picking up its wayward souls-“ Noah was immediately cut off.
“Commander, we have incoming; it looks like three trucks,” Tanya’s voice sounded.
“Alpha, we’ve got company,” Harué interrupted me before I could say anything.
“Bravo, bug out to the ship,” I told them, then looked at the two men, “Who are you expecting?”
“Proper guards, adults,” Scott grinned as a banging could be heard from the door.
“Time to go, Nica. Have you got everything?” I asked, just as the door splintered. I dived for the table, pulling the girl down in the process. Bullets sprayed the room; I heard the dull sounds of thudding as the guns hit someone or something.
“You idiot, you have to hold off shooting until you have a clear sight,” A boys voice, probably a year or two older than me, told someone off. I looked under the desk seeing two pairs of feet; I briefly felt guilty before I aimed my gun. A sudden scream, and one boy was on the floor clutching his ankle. I heard the sound of some furniture shifting, then a loud oof, before a loud thump.
“Come out, boss, threat neutralised,” Standing up, I looked around the chaos. A shorter boy was rolling around on the floor with a shattered ankle, an AK 47 on the ground nearby. How the hell did they get AK’s? The second boy was on the floor trussed up like a turkey, with string from a curtain. The politician Jacob Scott was slumped against a bookcase breathing deeply, but he wouldn’t have long.
“Think you’re going to win, boy!” he spat, blood dribbling down his chin.
“I do,” I responded, “We have the advantage,”
“What’s that?” he laboured.
“This is our planet, our turf; we were here first,” I snarled as he took one last shuddering breath, then fell silent. Good riddance, to bad rubbish.
“Convey five clicks out,” Tanya’s voice roused me from looking at the man disgustedly.
“I thought I told you to leave,”
“We’re just bugging out now,” she replied. The headmaster had disappeared, but Harué and Nica looked no worse for wear. I grabbed the weapon the alien had dropped, placing it in the backpack I had bought with me. I noticed Nica pocketing the USB stick, so I looked between the pair of them.
“Let’s go,” I told the pair. Through the door, down the stairs and out through the main doors, we started up the crunchy gravel towards the ship. I heard the whine of a truck, so I hurried my pace up. We turned the corner just as the lights of the vehicles came into view.
The ship was more substantial than I expected; it appeared to have quite a deep belly, which rested on three struts; two at the rear, one at the front. A ramp led into the ship, which the three of us mounted and soon found ourselves in some sort of hold. A soft whumpf came behind me, making me turn around. The ramp had closed, a slight vibration indicated the ship was in the air.
“Hold on tight to something,” Andre’s voice reached my ears. The three of us grabbed some netting as the ship accelerated. A few minutes later, Noah’s voices sounded.
“You might want to come up here,” We stepped around some boxes appropriated from the British Military, finding a hold like most military aircraft. There was a strange metal table down the side, but on either side were chairs. They looked like they had been hastily added to the craft. There were ten children, the youngest of the bunch in the chairs looking around wild-eyed. Peter, Oscar, with Bravo Three and Four were trying to keep the children happy. Benji waved me over to a platform and touched a sensor; it moved smoothly, taking me upwards about ten feet. The door behind me slid open, allowing me to enter the cockpit. A rounded window gave me a view of the countryside, while a panel stretched from either side. Andre sat on the right while Charlie was settled into the left side chair. Noah was to my right and Tanya to my left. Andre had what appeared to be orange holographic circles around each wrist, allowing him to manoeuvre the craft.
“This technology is way beyond anything we know,” Andre crowed.
“But you figured it out?”
“It wasn’t overly hard, but the controls are really sensitive,” he answered me.
“Can we be seen?” I asked, looking out the window.
“The Alien craft is invisible, to put a word on it,” Charlie explained, “We’ve switched on a technology that allows the craft to go invisible to the naked eye,”
“What about their satellites? Or their version of GPS?”
“We can’t find that I’d need more time,” Charlie admitted.
“Then I don’t want the ship anywhere near the base,” I told him, leaning over his chair, “Charlie team, I want you to meet us over at Bodmin Field,”
“Yes, Commander,” Rachel answered.
“We’ll land this in the clearing by Bodmin Field, then try to find any way of being tracked before we use it again,” I told our group.
“Alex, you might want to check this out,” Noah pointed towards the three trucks that were just getting ready to move away from the school.
“Bastards, we need to take that convoy out,” I looked out to a field nearby, “Bravo, you come with me, we’re going to take out those trucks,”
I directed Andre to the field I had seen, quickly Bravo team and what remained of my team discharged itself, and the craft had taken us off, leaving us in a field.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Noah asked, being the voice of reason.
“We can’t let a group of trucks holding soldiers be free,” I told him firmly. He nodded, agreeing with me. We took to the road; I immediately found a large tree.
“Will it work?” Tanya asked. I shook my head while I took out the Alien weapon. It was white, appearing similar to a human gun, except for the power cell pulsing along the bottom.
“If it’s anything like the weapon that attacked us, then it should do,” I pointed the weapon at the tree and pressed the trigger. A beam of heat and light erupted as I expected it to, taking a considerable chunk out of the trunk of the tree. The tree shuddered in a strong wind but did not come down. I aimed at the remaining half, firing again. This time the tree crashed to the ground, blocking the road completely. We scattered, taking up positions in nearby undergrowth. Sometime later, we saw lights, then finally the squeal of breaks as the trucks all stopped.
“Fucking storm must have bought down the tree,” A deep voice swore. I slowly emerged from the shadows.
“Put your gun down, and carefully step away,” I told the man, who appeared startled. Harué had her weapon trained on the passenger. He looked like he was warring with himself before he slowly removed his pistol and stepped away from it. I kicked it into the pushes, “Now, where have you just come from?”
“St Francis,” he answered, hesitating at first.
“Where are you heading to?”
“Cavendish Prepatory school,”
“How many troops have you got with you?” the man looked confused but was interrupted before he could answer.
“Commander, you might want to take a look at this,” Noah’s voice sounded. I glanced at Harué, who nodded, then followed Noah’s voice to the back of the truck. He held the canvas open, so I could see inside. I was surprised to find several children sitting watching us with frightened faces. They looked like they ranged from ten to sixteen.
“What’s happening?” a boy about my age asked.
“Where are you heading to?”
“I don’t know; we’ve been in these trucks for about eight hours,” the boy returned. So they were coming from somewhere down south. I stepped back to look at the rest of Bravo team.
“I’ve got ten in my truck,” Eli told me
“I’ve also got another ten, with a boatload of equipment,” Benjy added.
“What do we do?” Noah asked. I was thinking fast; we had about seventy children from eight to sixteen roughly in four trucks.
“Noah, Harué, Tanya, I want you to tie the adults up, tranq them then put them by the side of the road,”
“Yes, Commander,” the three saluted, making me laugh aloud. I moved further away from the trucks out of hearing.
“Control, can you call Larry?” I asked.
“He’s still awake in the Vet bay; we’ll have him here in five,” Mac’s voice replied, “What’s happening?”
“Give me twenty minutes to get to the destination, then I’ll speak to you,”
“No problem,” Mac replied flippantly. I walked back and pulled in all the team.
“Right, we’re going to take the children to Bodmin fields, then we’ll make a decision once we have all the children together,” I told them and received nods all around. Noah would drive the first truck with Tanya; Harué would take the second truck with Eli, and I would take the third truck with Benji. I repeated this to them before I walked to the first truck.
“Hello, how have you been treated?” I asked them.
“Poorly, we were taken from our school in Kent and bought here, wherever here is,” the same boy answered.
“Look, we’re going to take you somewhere safe for the moment; I need to have a discussion with the rest of my team before we decide what to do with you,”
“Anywhere is better than where they were taking us; we’ve all heard stories,” there were nods around. I wanted to hear some of those stories.
“So you’re not going to escape when we start moving?” I asked cautiously.
“We’ll stay in here,” the boy promised, glaring around. I repeated this conversation with the other trucks, and pretty much got the same discussion every time. Soon we were on our way, making a slight detour to get around the fallen tree.
Twenty minutes later, we arrived at Bodmin Fields, where a lone truck sat under heavy shading; I pulled the truck up and jumped out. The other children from the school were already out of the vehicle, sitting in small clusters. I got our group of thirty kids out so they could walk around a little then set Charlie, Bravo, and Alpha to guard them. Peter and Oscar were checking the other children, so we added our lot to check. I slipped away with Noah and Rachel, making for the spaceship. We found Andre and Charlie in the cockpit, which soon became our conference room.
“Switch frequencies,” I told them, giving them a number so the other four could tune in; the rest of the three teams could communicate with the base in case of emergencies, which would alert us.
“Right, what’s going on?” Mac’s voice sounded.
“We have approximately seventy school-aged children from several different schools,” I informed her.
“We wouldn’t have enough beds for that many children,” Tobi added to the mix.
“That’s my issue. Is Larry there?” I asked.
“I’m here; well done on the rescue,” he commented.
“I’m sure I was told your farm used to hold something similar to Summer camps,”
“I don’t know where you heard it, but it’s true. Ravenscroft used to take in city children as part of a government initiative, our barn was converted to dorms,” Ravenscroft Farm was Larry’s family farm.
“How many beds did you have?”
“Fifty or sixty, possibly more,” I looked around at the other three leaders.
“You don’t trust them,” Andre spoke up.
“Would you?” I replied plaintively.
“No, not after Sebastian and I spent a fair bit of time with him,” Andre shrugged.
“Do you think we could turn Ravenscroft into a second base?”
“That might take some work,” Noah spoke up.
“You’d need to set up some sort of security,” Rachel added, ignoring the mention of Sebastian.
“Plus, try to make it Zombie proof,” Tobi added.
“But it could work,” Larry spoke, “Our Ben could get some more fields set up, plus it would be easier to house the horses there,”
“Right, tonight we take the group to Ravenscroft, bed them down and start turning it into a second base,” I spoke with an air of finality.
“What about the ship?” Andre asked.
“We leave it here until we can sort out the tracking,”