The begining of time
A blond female news presenter appeared on the television screen and smiled at the camera, waiting for her cue.
“Breaking news this morning; at the historic site in Ethiopia, Yet another amazing discovery on the unravelling of the origin of the human race.
At the site where three skulls were discovered, believed to be the earliest record of human life on Earth some 160,000 years ago, archaeologists have found what appears to be some type of craft.
The craft, some 200 meters below the surface was discovered using advanced ground radar. The images from the radar indicate the craft to be 165meters in length and 40 meters wide with delta shaped wings.
Since the discovery yesterday morning, a United Nations task force has secured a perimeter fence around the site, much to the outrage of the French born lead archaeologists and only female member of the team Danielle Laroche.
Miss Laroche said, “I knew this would happen. That is why I released the images on the internet.”
Shortly after making this statement, Miss Laroche was arrested by UN officials and removed from the area by helicopter.
The rest of the team of archaeologists and other workers have been escorted off the site and are protesting outside the newly built main gate.
Pictures and videos of the events are flooding onto the internet.
Our African correspondent Helen Green is on her way to the site as we speak.”
A live feed flashed on screen as the images of the site, viewed from a helicopter appeared.
Helen’s voice, shouting over the sound of the helicopter accompanied the feed.
“Yes, Beverly, we are circling the site now, as you can see there is an extensive presence of UN forces, all armed and ready to prevent anyone entering the site. The man, who first released the story to us, also released the information to just about every news channel in the world as the airport was full of reporters trying to hire helicopters, landrovers or any other form of transport to get here. Luckily we have our own.”
The line went crackly for a moment.
“Beverly, the pilot has just informed me that he has been ordered not to land and to return to Dire Dawa airport.”
The line went dead. “Helen… are you there?” Beverly asked.
The live feed went from outside to inside the helicopter with the picture showing boots, then a hand picking up a bag before showing outside again. The ground came close quickly. Dry brown grass tufts grew amongst gritty sand.
For a moment the camera shook as the ground rushed towards the lens, and then flashed sideways and up into the sky before focusing on a slim redheaded woman dressed in jeans and white tee shirt jumping from the helicopter hovering nearly six feet from the ground.
The feed started to pixelate as the helicopter climbed then vanished.
Moments later a grainy feed returned. Helen was stood in front of the camera with the sound man in the background next to a portable antenna.
“Beverly, we are on the ground, needed proof that he did not land, sorry for the confusion. Did you get it all?”
“Yes Helen, what’s going on?”
There was a slight delay.
“Sorry Beverly, not sure if you are still receiving us, we had to set the equipment up in a hurry. We are about two miles from the site, if we are lucky we should have enough power to transmit a five minute report every hour for the next 24 hours.”
Helen turned away from the camera for a moment. “Did you here that?” she questioned.
Seconds later two vehicles appeared on the rise, the camera followed them as they sped towards their location
In a cloud of dust the vehicles slid to a halt, the UN troops disembarking instantly, readying and pointing their weapons towards them.
“Shut it down.” An officer commanded, as he marched straight towards the camera man.
The camera kept rolling.
Helen stepped forward to intercept “We are members of the press and as such…”
The officer swiped the portable antenna with his baton as he passed and the feed went dead.
Beverly appeared and apologised to the viewers. “We will bring you more on that story in Ethiopia as it happens.”
“We are going live to our political correspondent in Washington. Nick, is there any talk on the events going on in Africa?”
“Hi Beverly, yes, it seems like this is the hot topic of the day. The chiefs of staff have been called to an emergency meeting in the Whitehouse. Rumour has it that the US has deployed troops to the area. Presumably to back the UN troops, but there has been no confirmation as yet.”
He turned to look at the Whitehouse behind him. “As you can see, security has been increase. I estimate that over 100 troops have been deployed outside the Whitehouse in the last hour. The main roads around the area have been closed causing traffic chaos in the surrounding area. Not sure as to the reason…”
“Sorry Nick, I am going to have to stop you there.”
The studio camera panned out to reveal a heavy set man sat next to Beverly.
“Please welcome our editor in chief, Mr Donald Cross, Donald this is the first time you have ever been on this side of the camera, isn’t it?”
“Yes Beverly, but there is a very good reason.” He turned to the camera as it zoomed in on him.
“It appears that tensions are high across the world at this new discovery. We have been informed that not only has the US deployed troops to the region, so has England, Russia, China, Australia, France and Germany. The current UN forces on the ground are estimated at 500 strong with some heavy armament present. We are not sure why so many military groups are converging on the area, but one thing for certain, it would not take much to start World War 3.”
“Well, we know the UN is taking a very heavy hand in protecting the site, do you think there is more to the discovery. Looking at the image it could be anything, yes it does look like a craft of some form, but it could just as easily be a weird rock formation.” Beverly said, as the camera panned out to show them both.
“Our government must believe there is something down there, but even if it is a space ship, it has been buried for over 160,000 years, surely there is nothing left but a fossil.” Donald replied.
Beverly put her finger one here ear piece and listened intently. “Sorry Donald.” She said and sat square on with the camera. “We have just received a report from the helicopter over the site.”
The camera panned to the large screen to the left. A grainy image of Helen and her crew being restrained with tie wraps flickered onto the screen. The pilot used the open radio channel to broadcast a commentary.
“Helen, Girik and Pat have been captured. They are loading the camera equipment in the truck.”
The image zoomed out as the vehicles turned around.
“It looks like they are taking them back to the site; I will try and follow… Oh shit.”
The co-pilot quickly swung the camera around. Out of the front window there was a Harrier jet hovering some 20 yards away.
A voice came across the radio. “Stop broadcasting immediately and return to Dire Dawa airport. Failure to comply will result in you being shot down.”
“Holy crow, did he just threaten to shoot them out of the air?” Beverly said, in total shock.
“He did. Something serious is going on. What can be so important that the UN would kill innocent people?”
“That is unbelievable.” Beverly stated, still in shock.
“We’ll take a short break; don’t go away, we will be back with more right after this.” Donald said.
Donald stood up and started shouting, demanding that everyone use all their contacts to find out what was going on before vanishing back stage. He checked to make sure there was no one around before dialling a number on his cell phone. He waited impatiently for someone to pick up.
“I told you not to call me on an unsecure line.” An annoyed voice growled through the ear piece.
“Chris, do you know what’s going on?”
“Don’t call me by that name. Yes, I told you this would happen. What do you want from me?”
“I need facts, information. I need to know what is going on.”
“What’s in it for me?”
“Name your price, I just need it now.” Donald demanded.
There was a long silence “Payphone in the diner, you know which one. Wait for my call. And Donald… don’t be long.” The phone disengaged.
Donald hurried through the lamp lit streets to the diner. He sat at the far end of the counter, panting and sweating. He removed his jacket and ordered a coffee.
“Anyone called?” he asked as he indicated to the payphone.
The lady laughed, “You must be joking; that thing hasn’t worked in years.”
Donald sighed, shook his head and was about to put his jacket back on when the phone rang. He quickly picked up the receiver, “Hello?”
“I told you to get some exercise, and lay off them donuts.”
Donald looked around the room, apart from two women behind the counter there was an old man and a young woman sat at separate tables.
“It’s pointless looking for me, I’m not there. Okay, this is what I want. You remember the story you were going to run with about two years ago… the CIA one.”
“I can’t give you that. Even they don’t know I got it.” Donald replied lowering his voice for the later part of his sentence.
“They suspect, and they are watching you, waiting for you to slip up so they can empty your life, lock you up and throw away the key.”
Donald stood up straight, his eyes wide staring at the graffiti in front of him, desperate to turn around again and check.
“Do not look around again. Just put the phone down, go back to your office; pick up the package that is waiting at reception for you; plug your memory stick into the device and the device into your computer. Open my website and wait until the error message comes up.”
“Then what?” Donald replied.
“By then the CIA will be knocking at your door. Hit ‘ok’ on the error message, unplug the memory stick from the device and give it to them.”
“What, are you mad, I’m not going to jail for you.”
“They are coming to search your office anyway; they have already been through your apartment, your yacht and your country cottage. When you give them the stick it will contain some mild porn. Even the might of the CIA won’t be able to identify anything that was previously saved to it.”
There was a slight pause. “Better hurry, they will be at your office in about fifteen minutes.”
Donald arrived at reception, puffing and panting. “Package?” he gasped. The receptionist handed him a plain brown padded envelope. The only identifiable mark on the envelope was the name ‘Cross’ written in black marker. He opened the package, took out the device and handed the empty package back to the receptionist.
At the same time Donald entered the elevator a courier entered the building. The receptionist handed him the empty package. As the courier exited the building two CIA agents stepped out of the revolving doors and made themselves known to the receptionist.
“One moment please.” She said as she covered the mouth piece of her head set.
“No problem, thank you.” She said to the caller.
“How may I help you this evening?” she asked the agents.
The CIA agents opened Donald’s office door and stepped towards his desk.
Donald, still slightly out of breath half stared at them and half at the computer screen.
“We have a warrant to search your office.”
Donald swallowed hard; he could feel sweat oozing out of every pore as one of the agents walked around the desk.
“And what do we have hear.” The taller of the two said as he looked at the screen, just at the precise moment the error message appeared.
“Do you mind?” he said taking control of the mouse.
Donald rolled the chair backwards, staring at the screen. The agent smiled, “something you don’t want us to see?” he enquired.
Donald let out a large sigh of relief as the agent clicked the ‘ok’ box. He took some paper handkerchiefs from the box on the edge of his desk and wiped away the sweat from his brow.
The agent opened up the file only to find lots of pictures of naked and half naked women.
Donald’s cell phone rang. “Hello.”
“Don’t speak; I have some information for you. Just go to the reporting desk and wait for my prompt. Watch the teleprompter and read exactly what I write.”
Donald stood up. “I have a show to do, if you need me I will be in the studio.”
Neither agent said anything or tried to stop him from leaving.
On his way to the studio Donald pulled the studio manager to one side. “There may be some strange things going on with the equipment. Don’t try to stop it.”
“Don’t tell me. The Geek?” he replied, with distaste.
“Yep.” Donald said, as he opened the studio door.
Just as Donald entered the studio, they went to a commercial break during which Beverly explained what they had found out, which was not very much.
They both sat in silence as the watched the last few seconds tick by on the studio clock.
“Hi, welcome back, it’s now eleven o’clock and I am joined once again by Donald Cross. The main news this evening; the world’s military forces are converging on east Africa where earlier today a UN Harrier jet threatened to blow our news helicopter out of the sky. Donald.”
“Hi Beverly, viewers.” There was a slight pause, then a world map appeared on the large screen. Donald started to read the teleprompter.
“In the last hour, American, British, French, German, Chinese, North Korean, Russian and Australian war ships and carriers were mobilised and are heading for the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The Japanese and Argentinian fleets have also been ordered to mobilise.
Two Russian nuclear submarines are currently in deep waters off the eastern seaboard and are at red alert status. Their missiles are armed. A further Russian nuclear submarine is in the North Sea between the UK and Norway, missiles also armed.
There are US submarines in the Mediterranean, Arabian Sea, North Sea and in the Pacific Ocean about 800 miles off Japan. All with missiles armed.
Long range bombers have been scrambled by all nations and every available mid-air fuelling planes are in the air.”
Each ship and submarines location was highlighted on the world map indicating which has nuclear missiles on-board.
“On the ground at Middle Awash, Ethiopia, the UN forces have been confronted by US and Russian troops. British and Australian troops have landed in Somalia with French and German troops across the northern border in Sudan.
As yet no shots have been fired.
Meanwhile, the political powers, frightened to leave their bunkers are frantically talking via video link.”
The map faded out and was replaced by a satellite image of the site.
“As you can see, not only have the US and Russian forces positioned themselves for an attack on the site, they are also are ready to fight each other; a situation that is only going to get worse when the other nations arrive.”
The image panned to the centre of the fenced site.
“The UN troops have allowed the archaeologists into the site, and as you can see they appear to be confined to main dig area, a hole approximately 20 feet deep. Obviously in an attempt to keep them out of harm’s way, should the other nations attack.”
“This is insane.” Beverly interrupted. “Why is this happening? It’s like we are watching the start of World War 3.”
The teleprompter paused. Beverly put her finger on here ear piece “Say that again.” She said.
Donald waited for the teleprompter to start again.
“Wow, I have just been informed that this is being broadcast in the UK, Australia, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Central and southern America… and in Russia, China and Japan.” Beverly stated.
Reading the teleprompter, Donald continued.
“Before we go into the political discussions, the world needs to know that the authorities will soon be closing all broadcasting down across the world.
“What, they can’t do that.” Beverly shouted.
Donald ignored the outburst.
“The authorities of all nations do not want the public to know that they made a mess of things; especially if we manage to avoid a war.
First they will shut down all television and radio stations, then the internet and telecommunications. And to make sure no one knows what is happening… or what might happen, they will shut down all power stations.
We will keep broadcasting for as long as possible, but even if they shut us down, try to keep your mobile, tablets or computer with you. If you have solar panels, or a turbine, or some other form of electrical generation, use it. Somehow we will find a way to keep you up to date with events.”
“We will take a short break.”
“What the hell is going on, how do you know all this stuff and how are we broadcasting around the world?” Beverly screech at Donald.
“Beverly, calm down, you’re a professional, act like one.” Donald snapped back.
His cell phone rang.
“Are you sure this shit is true?”
“The satellite does not lie.”
“How long we got?”
“I would say around 20 minutes.”
“When I tell you, you will cut to commercial, grab Beverly by the arm and go out the back door; turn right down the alley, there will be a yellow taxi waiting for you. No questions just get in and let the driver do his bit.”
“What if Beverly does not want to go?”
“She will if she wants to live.”
“They said New York was offline.”
There was no reply.
“Your sister station… they locked themselves in… they killed them all. I’m sorry.”
Donald fought back the tears as he hung up the phone.
“What? What’s happening?” Beverly asked, hearing him mention her name.
“They killed them all, New York, they are all dead.” Donald said, then stood up turning his back on her. He looked around, breathing heavily. With a sudden spurt he ran out of the studio and bumped into the studio manager. “Are the CIA agents still in my office?”
The manager looked blankly at him and shook his head, “What CIA agents?”
Donald burst through the door to find the agents unconscious, bound and gagged. He swore and ran back to the studio manager. “Get everyone out of the building, now. We have around 20 minutes.” He looked at his watch, “make that 15, I want everyone gone in 5.”
He re-joined Beverly in the studio who was desperately trying to put her smudged make-up right.
“Are we going to do this?” he asked her.
She nodded in reply, trying to put on a smile.
“Welcome back, I have been informed that we have around 15 minutes before we are taken off the air. Troops stormed our sister station in New York earlier this evening.” Donald swallowed and glanced away from the camera briefly. Composing himself, he continued. “Troops stormed the building, and killed everyone inside.”
Beverly interjected to allow him to breathe, “Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, the standoff continues around the archaeological site.”
The teleprompter started again. “Politically, this is about power. The governments assume that what is underground in Ethiopia is an ancient space craft; a craft that might have advanced technology and weaponry. It is the possibility of this weaponry that the powers are in conflict over, neither side wants the other side to have it.” Donald read.
“Are you saying this is all over an assumption?”
“Yes Beverly, it looks like we are about to enter World War 3 on the assumption that there may be advanced weaponry on a space ship buried in Ethiopia.”
“This is crazy, if War breaks out; the chance of anyone being alive to dig the space ship out is remote.” Beverly said, struggling to control her emotion. She quickly wiped a tear from her eye, sat up straight and faked a smile.
The strain was showing on both of their faces.
“Actually it is what the analysts have called ‘MAD’. Mutual assured destruction; a war that they know no one can win.” Donald replied, in an attempt to put some form of reasoning to the situation.
Suddenly the power went out. Steeped in total darkness they looked towards each other. Within seconds the emergency generator kicked in.
“Well Beverly, it looks like we are about to be taken off air.”
Donald turned to the camera, and with a solemn expression he delivered his last statement.
“We are on the verge of War, a War that we neither need nor want, brought about by the arrogance and ignorance of the world political leaders. A War based on an assumption and one in which we all lose.”
He paused briefly.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will try to broadcast again, so stay tuned, if you can.”
Large letters appeared on the teleprompter.
‘Get out NOW’
“May God have mercy on us all.” Beverly said, as she and Donald got up and ran out of the studio.
They burst through the emergency exit and ran down the alley to the waiting taxi. As soon as the doors closed, the taxi set off; only to stop at the end of the ally. A large black SUV blocked their exit.
The driver waited.
A number of flashes went off around the SUV before a shadowy figure appeared then disappeared around the vehicle. Moments later the SUV pulled forward allowing the taxi to drive out into the street.
“Chris?” Donald asked, screwing his face up as he started to notice the distinct smell of smoke and vomit.
“I’m here, well not really, but yes. Anyway, there is a cell phone in the pocket behind the driver’s seat; you’ll need it when they shut the telecommunication towers down.”
“What about our cells, do you want us to throw them away so they can’t track us?” Donald asked.
There was a hearty laugh, “you’ve been watching too many movies. Once they shut the towers down they’ll have nothing to track you with. Anyway we are on the verge of War, what makes you think you are so important?”
Donald sat back and stared out the window, unsure about what was happening, yet happy for a moment of peace; a moment that was shattered at the sound of gun fire. The taxi swerved to avoid abandoned cars. Beverly gripped hold of Donald’s hand as she looked at him with fear in her eyes.
As they drove further, rioters had upturned and set fire to cars; the shop fronts were all smashed and looted. More gun fire echoed around the street. The taxi sped up, swerving severely around the blazing wrecks. Bullets shattered the front windscreen. Beverly screamed as they both dived down on to the seat covering their heads.
“Why are they shooting at us?” Donald shouted.
“Because they can.” Came the reply.
The sounds started to fade and the taxi slowed slightly. As Beverly sat up she burst into hysterical tears. As Donald tried to comfort her he noticed the head of the driver slumped to one side and a line of bullet holes though the Perspex screen.
“Chris.” He shouted, as he banged on the screen.
Donald was taken aback, not expecting a reply, especially when it sounded as though nothing had happened.
“Ha… have you been shot?”
“Don’t think so, I think I would have noticed.”
Donald sat back and kicked the screen which cracked easily. Pulling the broken part of the screen away he leant over the seat to see the shattered face of a manikin. “Shit, you’re not even driving the fuckin’ car.”
“I am, just not from there.”
Beverly was still crying into her hands as Donald wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. Gently stroking her hair he watched as they drove through the empty streets.
“Where is everyone?” he asked, to which there was no reply.
The taxi pulled over next to a tall office block.
“You have less than 10 minutes to get to the roof... better hurry.”
Beverly and Donald jumped out of the taxi and raced into the building. As they reached the elevators the door opened.
“32 floors.” Beverly stated, then audibly started counting the floors as the elevator rose.
“24, 25 26...” the power was cut and the elevator stopped. After a few seconds the elevator started to descend before the emergency power cut in. The doors opened with the 25th floor two foot above the elevator floor. Both Beverly and Donald climbed out together.
“Stairs,” Donald shouted, pointing towards the door opposite.
They ran into the stairwell and up the stairs, Beverly striding away from Donald, who was starting to struggle after the first flight. Gasping and tugging at the hand rail he continued as fast as he could.
Beverly burst onto the roof and ran to the awaiting helicopter. She was about to climb aboard when she noticed Donald was not behind her.
“Wait.” She shouted to the pilot.
“2 minutes.” He shouted back.
Beverly found Donald on his knees on the 31st floor, gasping and holding his chest.
“Come on, we have to go.” She shouted as she tugged on his arm.
“Leave me... go, leave me.”
“Hell no. Get up... Now.” She demanded.
Reluctantly Donald got to his feet and with Beverly’s help managed the last flight onto the roof.
The pilot had shut the helicopter down and a blast of dry ice billowed out from the engine compartment. He ran towards them and gave them both a silver thermal sheet.
“Inside, wrap that around you... covering everything.” He shouted, as he ushered them back inside and closed the door. Leading them to the next landing, he checked their sheets before wrapping one around himself.
“And no talking, you need to be as quiet as possible.”
Within moments the sound of a jet engine flew past. The tone of the engine changed as it slowed. The noise grew as it flew back towards them.
An unmanned aircraft hovered alongside the dormant helicopter.
Voices shouting came from the stairwell followed closely by hurried footsteps. The trio stayed motionless as the footsteps ran past and up to the roof. As soon as the door opened there was the short, but distinct sound of two gun shots. After a brief pause there was another burst, this time rapid fire; then an explosion.
Beverly and Donald stood and followed the pilot back onto the roof, stepping over the two dead bodies. Beverly winced as she looked at the large hole in the chest of a woman slouched against the open door.
The drone had gone and the helicopter was shot to ribbons, but a large attack helicopter hovered just off the edge of the building.
The pilot jumped into the open side door, then held out his hand to help Beverly in. Donald hesitated, looking down on the burning wreckage of the drone in the street. Suddenly he felt nauseous and dizzy.
The pilot grabbed his arm and pulled him aboard as Donald fell forward.
“Go.” He shouted, and instantaneously the helicopter’s nose dipped as it dropped between the buildings and flew at low level through the streets.
Donald; now strapped into his seat started to feel a little better. Beverly, however was being sick, not able to get the image of the woman out of her head.
“What was that... that thing?” Donald asked.
“That was a drone. Extremely fast, deadly and very accurate weaponry with every kind of sensor you could imagine.” The pilot replied.
“Why...why... why?” Beverly kept saying.
“If she is asking, why kill innocent people?” the pilot gestured in a matter of fact way. “They figure the sight of a dead body would keep people indoors easier than a public announcement.”
“Will they come after us?” Donald asked.
“If we don’t see another drone for the next 6 or 7 minutes, we will be safe.” The pilot replied as he climbed into the seat next to the attack helicopter pilot.
As the helicopter emerged from between the last two tall buildings it accelerated to full speed, skimming the roof tops of the houses below.
No sooner had the helicopter cleared the edge of the city, the pilot picked up seven drones on the radar. One of the drones was coming straight on, the others from various directions behind them.
Both pilots’ frantically checked the instruments, armed the weaponry and told Beverly and Donald to hold on.
The helicopter climbed slightly and hit the turbo boost, increasing the helicopters speed by 8 knots and headed straight for the drone directly ahead.
An alarm sounded and the helicopter banked hard to the left as a rocket shot past barely 6 inches from the cockpit.
A second continuous alarm sounded a split second before the pilot released his rocket. Pulling hard on the stick the helicopter climbed as the drone exploded. Then with a sudden jerk the helicopter rolled to the side and dived as a second rocket skimmed the underside. The helicopters nose lifted almost stalling it as the pilot swung the tail round. The second drone was almost on them. The pilot pulled the helicopter backwards out of the line of bullets, then opened fire as the drone flew by sending it crashing to the ground in flames.
“Come on Geek, I need help.” The pilot shouted.
The helicopter straightened up and headed away from the remaining drones at full speed.
Alarms sounded. The pilot swore, released counter measures and took evasive action to avoid three rockets heading for them.
The closest rocket exploded some 50 yards before impact, but showered the helicopter with shrapnel. Damaged and losing power, the helicopter drifted sideways. The glows from the rocket flame were visible now as they waited for the inevitable.
Suddenly, with a bright flash, the next rocket exploded, followed by the third. The glow of a drone’s engines came into sight. Almost instantaneously it also exploded. Then there were four more explosions in the distance as the remaining drones blew up.
A familiar voice came across the radio, “Sorry, took a little time sorting the armature programming, no wonder they could never get it to work.”
With a sigh the pilot replied. “But you got it to work.”
“Yep, dam accurate as well. How’s the bird?”
“Dented, but not dead; ETA at pick-up, 02.20 hrs.”
The pilot straightened the helicopter, silenced an alarm and headed South west.
Donald could feel the adrenalin pumping through his body. He was physically shaking and as he looked over to Beverly, he could see her shaking too. It took a couple of minutes before he felt he was able to speak; even then his voice was quiet and slightly squeaky.
“What happened?” He coughed to clear his throat and repeated his question in a more audible tone.
“It appears the government do not want us to escape.” The pilot said.
The Geek’s voice came across the radio. “Congratulations, Beverly, you are number one on Americas most wanted. Donald, you are number two.”
“Why, what have we done?” Beverly asked.
“You spoke out against the government live on TV.” The Geek replied.
“Okay, so we are wanted by the government... so why are you helping us?” Donald butt in. “And what destroyed those drones?” He continued.
“First question; you are one of us now, second question; Star Wars.” The Geek replied, with a little glee in his voice.
“I guess you’re not talking about the movie.” Donald said.
“You guess right, eight communication satellites launched on behalf of EFJ communications, 4 by the US, 1 by France and 3 by Russia. All provide broadcasting and telecommunication capabilities... all part of the Star Wars program.”
“But that idea was shelved, I know, I covered the story.” Beverly said.
“Publicly and politically, yes, but they went ahead with it anyway.”
“But that means they could just shoot us down.” Beverly said, her eyes widening at the realisation of what she had just said.
“Relax, the moment they shut the power off to the EFJ facility, they lost control. And thanks to the information you provided Donald, I now have full control of both the Star Wars weaponry and the broadcasting.”
“Why have they not used it before now?” Donald asked.
“That’s where I come in. I used to work on the system... until I found out what it was for, so I installed my error message code then refused to work on it. As soon as someone pressed ‘OK’ on the error message, the software would not work. No software, no Star Wars program.”
“But you needed the information on that memory stick to access it.” Donald said.
“You got it.”
“So why aren’t you on the most wanted list?” Beverly asked.
“Because they think I’m dead.”
“How?” she replied.
There was no reply.
An alarm went off in the cockpit.
“We’ve got company.” The pilot said.
“I know. It’s a stealth. He hasn’t got a radar fix yet, but he will soon. Can you hide that thing anywhere?”
“If it was daylight, or the power was on, I might be able to see somewhere, but.” The pilot replied.
“Get as close to the ground as you can, I’ll try and get a fix.”
The pilot eased the helicopter down. The night vision was only good for short distances so he had to fly slowly. He headed towards headlights with a hope to finding a road bridge.
“He’s got you.”
“Then do something.” The pilot shouted, as he negotiated some power cables.
They flew over an abandoned car then down into a ravine, following the ravine he could see a bridge ahead.
The alarm sounded louder and became constant as the stealth obtained a lock on the helicopter.
“Anytime now, Chris.” The pilot pleaded. “I’ve got nowhere to go.”
“Working on it” a frantic voice replied.
There was an explosion just behind the helicopter; the force sent it sideways. More alarms went off as the pilot struggled with the controls. The helicopter started to spin. He tried to keep it from landing and managed to hover momentarily above the small river.
“Jump.” He shouted.
Without hesitation, the other pilot opened his door and jumped. He was followed shortly after by Beverly who was physically coerced, and Donald.
The helicopters engine screamed as the pilot hit the power to lift it away from them. As it climbed, he jumped. Miraculously he managed to hit the water as the helicopter was sprayed with heavy artillery from the stealth, practically cutting it in half.
The stealth flew over at high speed as the burning wreckage crashed into the river.
The fast flowing river swept them away from the wreckage. Beverly tried to scramble ashore but was stopped by the first pilot, who indicated for them to continue downstream.
The stealth flew over them heading upstream and launched a rocket destroying the wreckage and the surrounding banking causing it to cascade into the river. Within a minute the water level started to drop.
Beverly, Donald and the first pilot climbed up to the road. None of the spoke as they sat on the crash barrier; shaken and exhausted.
The telephone rang in Donald’s pocket. Surprised, he stood up and took it out, shook the excess water off it and answered it.
He was instructed to help the other pilot, who appeared to be injured some fifty yards upstream of them. Then head across the road, into the woods and head straight for about half a mile to a house in a clearing.
The house was in darkness, but as they approached they heard a shotgun being cocked.
“Who’s there?” a voice called out.
Beverly and Donald put their hands up. “Friends.” Donald said.
A bright light came on causing them to cover their eyes. There was a long silence, then the sound of footsteps on gravel.
“I know you, you’re that TV news reader, Beverly Knight.” The man stepped into the light and lowered his gun. “What the hell are you doing all the way out here?”
“Long story, but if you let us rest up I will gladly tell you all about it.” Beverly replied as she lowered her arms and walked to wards him.
The man turned his head and shouted, “Martha, we’ve got guests.”
The porch light came on and the flood light went out. The man cradled his gun and went to the opposite side of the injured pilot.
Once inside the outside light went out and the man secured the door ensuring all the glass and the bottom of the door was covered before turning on the light.
“Can’t be too careful, don’t know who’s watching.” The man said as he glanced upwards.
He escorted them through into a large Kitchen where Martha was just putting on a fresh pot of coffee. On seeing the injured pilot, she rushed to him as he sat on a chair. “Sort that out Bill.” She said as she knelt and looked at the wound in his stomach and side.
Bill was an older, white haired, slim built gentleman in his late fifties, early sixties. His wife Martha was some ten years his younger. Slim with long mousy brown hair.
After Bill finished filling the water and switched the coffee on he turned to face the rest.
“Introductions, I’m Bill and this is my wife Martha. You’ve come to the right place, she’s a nurse. She’ll have him fixed up in no time.” He said with a smile.
Martha shook her head. “He needs more than what I can do for him here.”
They all cleared the kitchen table and helped the pilot to lie down. Martha cut away the cloth around the wound and started to clean the area.
“Hi, Bill, Martha. I’m Beverly and this is Donald.”
“I’m Zack, and that’s Akim.” The pilot said as he pointed to the man on the table.
“He’s not America, is he?” Bill said, in a curious voice as he looked down on the injured pilot.
“No, he’s Israeli, and the best dam helicopter pilot I have ever seen.” Zack replied, half praising him, half defending his heritage.
Bill stepped back holding his hands up in an apologetic gesture, “Sorry, didn’t mean to offend. It’s just with what’s going on, I...” he paused. “Well, you know.”
“Shut up Bill and get me the first aid kit.” Martha snapped.
Donald’s phone rang. “Hello.”
The room fell silent as Donald paced up and down, nodding occasionally, listening to the caller. He stopped and turned to Bill, “is there anyone else in the house?”
Bill shook his head, slightly confused as to why he asked the question.
As he hung up he looked at everyone looking at him.
“Well?” Beverly said.
“That was Chris, there are troops heading for the crash site. Appears they either want confirmation that we are dead, or they want to follow us to find Chris.”
He smiled. “And we’re not the most wanted anymore.” He said directly to Beverly, “He is. Apparently they are very pissed off, especially now they have found out he is still alive. He said that there will be a silent pickup just outside?” he questioned, looking at Zack. “I presume you know what that means?”
“Yes, what time have we got?”
“Troops should be at the crash site in about 20 to 25 minutes, Chris said pickup’s in 10.”
“I don’t think we will be able to move him.” Martha stated.
“It’s the only chance he has to live.” Zack replied.
Zack requested aluminium foil, and heavy blankets, then ignited the burners on the stove and switched the oven on. He instructed everyone to wrap the foil around their shoes and cover themselves with the blankets.
“Why are we doing this? And why have you turned the stove on?” Beverly asked.
“Heat, they can track our movements just by the heat we produce. The stove and blankets will disguise our heat and the foil will reduce any foot prints.” Zack replied.
“But we will be gone by the time they get here, won’t we?” Beverly said.
“Yes, but they can track our movements for up to an hour, even if we are not here. And we don’t want them to know when or how we left.” Zack smiled, and turned to Donald, “You are going to love this. It’s called a silent extraction. Not only is it silent, but it leaves no trace.”
Zack lead everyone out onto the porch, checked everyone was covered in their blankets, adjusting the one that covered Donald and Bill, who were carrying Akim.
The stars were fading as dawn approached.
After a short wait Zack told them to get ready as he noticed leaves blowing up the driveway between the tall trees.
A large black hovercraft swept almost silently into the front yard and pulled up alongside the porch. A side door dropped down to provide a ramp for them to climb on board. Once inside and seated the craft set off back down the drive in an unhurried manner.