various locations in the UK
March - September 2005
To Jay, aunty_pasta, Raven_voy and MercyCroft for their beta reading efforts.
Also to GB Brooke for giving me all those colourful Swedish words!
This is fan fiction, but some of the characters bear a striking resemblance to those that are copyright of Paramount Pictures. No infringement on their copyright is intended by the author in any way, shape or form - this is just a bit of fun. This story includes an all female relationship, so if you don’t like that then look away now.
n.b. This story takes place against a military backdrop. Though I have tried to make those aspects of the story as accurate as possible, I am not an expert on the army and its workings, so please forgive any unintentional mistakes.
Andrea groggily opened her icy blue eyes and immediately wished she hadn’t. Her head pounded mercilessly and a wave of nausea swept over her, forcing her to screw her eyes shut again against the harsh lights of the room. She took a few shuddering breaths as her stomach continued to churn. She tried to bring her hand up to massage her temple and found that her arm was secured to the bed she was lying on, along with the rest of her limbs. The attempt to move her arm also brought into painful focus the fact that her whole body seemed to ache from inside, within her muscles and bones.
Where the hell am I? What the hell happened? She thought hazily.
The searing pain in her head made it hard for her to think straight and she lay still for a moment trying to let the sickness in the pit of her stomach subside. Tentatively she opened one eye again, testing out whether it sent her head spinning once more. Heartened that she managed this small task with no side affects this time, she opened the other one, her gaze trying to take in the room she was in. From her prone position she couldn’t see much apart from the white ceiling and bright white strip lights that dangled from it. As she tried to twist her body round so she could get a look at the rest of the room a fresh wave of pain shot through her leaving her gasping on her back her eyes tightly shut again.
What the fuck is wrong with me? Think! Think!
She attempted to blot out the pain and recall what had happened prior to waking up there.
We were at the warehouse, that's right. And...yes…we had been surveilling it for a long time. Months? Yes, surveillance for months, and then - things came to a head when D.I. MacKenzie received that tip off. Cowley's men were getting ready to ship out and we had to hurry. We had to up the schedule and get that warrant - quick smart. Not even enough time for proper backup. And then...and then...we had to press gang uniform into helping us out.
Andrea swallowed back another bout of nausea, which came rolling up her throat. She concentrated, as well as she could under the circumstances. She remembered:
We were waiting…Constable Walker was looking at me...apprehensive, looking for reassurance. No doubt he’d heard those rumours about me being the cool, unflappable one in the squad. Of course they were true. Mind you, I’d also heard the rumblings about me being too arrogant for a mere sergeant…
The threads of Andrea's memory were just beyond her reach. She recalled giving Constable Walker her patented 'Trust Me I'm A Senior Officer' reassuring grin, despite feeling uncharacteristically nervous about the mission herself. Considering her current situation, Andrea supposed that she had been damned right. She'd seen Inspector MacKenzie give them the signal and then…She found it hard to recall the exact details now with the muddled state of her brain. Brief flashes assailed her mind instead.
I was cuffing a prisoner…there was the gas…seeping in from the vents…the others were gagging and coughing…falling to the ground…the doors were locked…there was pain…intense pain in my body…like a fire erupting from within…I couldn’t move…I was on the floor…Walker’s lifeless face was staring at me…
Her eyes shot open trying to block out the horror of the last image. But it wouldn’t go away. The young man who only minutes before had been looking to her for reassurance had been lying on that cold stone floor, blood trickling from his nose, mouth, ears and eyes. Eyes which remained open, staring…She felt fresh bile threatening to explode from her throat and swallowed several times to stop it.
Am I dead too? Is this…hell? she pondered.
She refused to believe that, the pain seemed too real for this to be some afterlife. Though then again she guessed that was the point of hell.
Perhaps she could try calling out to see if anyone came, though the fact that she was secured to the bed didn’t suggest whoever was around had kindly intentions. Instead she gritted her teeth and tried moving one of her arms against the restraints again. The pain started almost immediately, a tingling sensation at first building into an unbearable burning in her arm, but she continued pulling at the restraint. Just when she thought she might pass out from the sheer agony of it her arm popped free. She lay back, panting with the exertion as the pain dimmed. Steeling herself she repeated the effort with her other arm.
After taking a few more deep breaths she pushed herself up into a sitting position. Sweat was pouring down her face from the effort of breaking the restraints and she brushed her now matted blond hair from her face and looked around the room. There wasn’t much to report. It was sterile, almost like a hospital room, apart from the lack of equipment and windows. There was a single door opposite her, breaking the monotony of the plain white walls. As her eyes came back to the bed they widened in amazement. She stared dumbfounded at the restraints she had managed to break. They were solid steel - steel that was now twisted and broken.
How on earth did I manage that? They aren’t real metal, surely?
She gingerly reached out and touched them. They seemed real enough.
Suddenly a piercing pain stabbed though her brain and her hands shot to her temple as she leant forward and let out a small moan.
I have to get out…get out of this place…find some help…
Another sharp pain assaulted her mind and she could no longer think any coherent thoughts. All she knew was the overwhelming desire to run, to get away. Without even thinking, driven on by adrenaline that was blocking out any other pain she might be experiencing in her body, she wrenched her legs free of the table, the steel that held them buckling too.
The door…run at it…knock it down
Under normal circumstances she would have known that thought was utterly ridiculous but her body seemed to have taken over, since her mind was incapable of functioning properly at this moment. She charged at the door with her shoulder and it crashed to the floor in front of her.
There are people…people in the corridor…they’re coming for me…
Instinctively Andrea lashed out at the nearest person. He went flying back down the corridor a good ten feet through the air. The others looked momentarily shocked before converging on her en masse and pouncing on her. She let out an almost feral cry as she flung the potential captors from her one by one, smashing them against the walls. She sprinted down the corridor and skidded round the corner. Three more sets of eyes turned to converge on her. She was about to rush at them when suddenly the pain returned. Only this time it was so much worse, just like back in the warehouse - intense, burning agony. Her limbs seemed to seize up and she crashed to the floor. Breathing heavily and lying immobile on her side, she could see three sets of feet heading her way. She glanced up and saw a pair of blue-grey eyes framed by red hair before the darkness consumed her.
Andrea wasn’t sure how long it was before she came to again, but thankfully the agonising pain in her body seemed to have stopped when she did. She was happy to find she wasn’t bound to a table this time, either. Someone had deposited her in a chair, where she sat slumped, her head lolling forwards. She rubbed the back of her neck and blinked a few times, noting that she was wearing a black jumpsuit. She wondered what had happened to her clothes. Focusing ahead of her, she discovered she wasn’t alone in the room.
The only furniture, apart from her own seat, was the table directly in front of her. Behind it sat the red-haired woman she had seen briefly in the corridor before she had passed out. She was studying a file before her on the desk, the hair from her neat bob flopping down slightly about her face as she did. Now Andrea got more than just a brief glimpse, she realised the woman wore a military uniform, which she assumed was an army one. On top the woman wore an olive green v-necked jumper, under which there was a collared shirt, starched to within an inch of its life. Around her neck was a dark green tie, with a crest on it. The jumper was topped off with a pair of epaulets on the shoulders, a single crown on each of them. On her bottom half she wore trousers that matched her shirt; the ensemble finished off with a pair of stout, shiny black boots poking out under the table. Andrea wasn’t sure what rank the crowns signified, but she was sure she was about to find out as the woman’s blue-grey eyes flicked up.
“Ah, you’re awake…Andrea is it?” she asked evenly, taking another glance down at her folder.
Andrea deduced that the file was about her, making her wonder why the military would possess such a thing.
“That’s right,” replied Andrea frostily, “My friends call me Andi, you can call me Miss Hallstrom.”
The blue eyes regarding her barely flickered at the open hostility, maintaining an even gaze the whole time. Andrea refused to look away, returning the stare in kind.
“Well, Miss Hallstrom,” said the other woman after a few moments of this, “I’m Major Kate Jarvis. My friends call me Kate, you can call me Major, or Ma’am at a push.”
“Decided to do away with the restraints this time did you, Major,” asked Andrea sarcastically, rubbing her arm where she had been bound before. She took a moment to survey the rest of the room, noting the mirror that took up most of one wall to the side. She wondered who was sitting behind it.
“I’m sorry about that, we weren’t entirely sure what condition you would wake up in,” said the Major.
“I would say I woke up in a pretty poor one,” stated Andrea coolly, “So would you mind telling me what the hell I’m doing here, wherever here is, and what the fuck happened to me?”
The Major sighed and folded the file in front of her closed. Pushing back her chair she walked round to the front of the desk, perching herself on it to look down at Andrea. Andrea thought the positioning was intended to be deliberately intimidating, placing the other woman higher than her. She could now see that the other woman was a good few inches shorter than she was, perhaps somewhere in the region of five foot five, but still managed to exude a sense of power and authority in the way she carried herself. The way her eyes bored into her also told Andrea that this woman wasn’t someone to be messed with. Andrea considered that she could get up too, to continue to play the challenge game, since she would have the height advantage. She decided to concede for the time being, at least until she found out what was going on.
“What exactly do you remember?” asked the Major, her voice still cool and in command.
Andrea was getting an increasingly uneasy feeling about the situation, wondering what the military had to do with police investigations, even ones that went bad. She also thought that she should have been in a hospital, not undergoing a virtual interrogation. She supposed she didn’t have much option but to answer at the moment, though something about the whole situation was raising her hackles.
“Somehow I think you know these details already,” said Andrea, flicking her eyes at the file, “But anyway, it was a raid, we went in and then it all went pear-shaped.” She took a moment to close her eyes, to try and think, but the rest of her memories were still jumbled. “It was a setup - once we got in there we couldn’t get out. Then gas was flooding in…everyone was collapsing…that’s about it.”
The Major merely nodded, digesting what Andrea told her.
“Are the others here?” asked Andrea, when the Major didn’t offer up anything.
“The others?” enquired the Major, her brows knitting together in confusion.
“My colleagues, at least the ones who survived,” clarified Andrea, thinking of poor Constable Walker.
The Major pursed her lips for a moment before answering. “You were the only survivor.”
“What?” said Andrea in shock, “Inspector MacKenzie, Madison, Humphreys…all…”
“Dead, yes I’m afraid so,” finished the Major for her as Andrea trailed off.
Andrea just stared at her dumbfounded.
“How?” she asked in a small voice, not quite able to comprehend that they were all gone.
“I can’t tell you that right now…”
“Look, will you cut all this secretive bullshit!” cried Andrea suddenly, leaping up from her chair, “I’ve just seen all my colleagues murdered in front of my eyes and quite frankly I’ve had enough of this crap!” she continued, jabbing her finger towards the Major who didn’t flinch in the slightest, “If you’re not going to answer my questions, I’m leaving.”
“I’m afraid I can’t allow that,” said the Major, reaching out to place a restraining hand on Andrea’s arm
“Oh yeah, and who’s going to stop me?” seethed Andrea, her eyes challenging the Major to be the one.
The Major didn’t have to answer as the door opened to allow two soldiers to enter, both shouldering weapons.
“Am I some sort of prisoner here?” demanded Andrea.
“Not exactly,” disclosed the Major, “But we can’t allow you to leave for now, it’s for your own safety too.”
“My own safety?” scoffed Andrea, “How did you work that one out? This is bollocks!”
Andrea yanked her arm away from the Major’s grasp and made for the door, hoping that the guns were more for show than anything. She couldn’t quite believe that the British Army were about to shoot her, no matter how much they wanted her to stay put. One of the men stepped across to block her exit.
“I can’t let you do that, ma’am,” he said seriously, hand still firmly on his rifle.
“Just get out of my way,” said Andrea angrily, trying to barge past the shorter man.
He resolutely blocked her way and she felt her anger building.
I’ve had enough of this! she thought angrily to herself, If they’re not going to help me, I’ll get out of here and get some answers myself – I am a bloody detective after all. Who did they think they are, anyway, trying to incarcerate me against my will?
She made a grab for him, to try and haul him out the way, and she found herself locked in a tussle with him as he tried to hold her at bay.
“Will you please try and calm down,” came the Major’s voice from behind her.
Something about the tone gave Andrea pause – the other woman had actually sounded concerned, the first flicker of emotion she had detected in the steely voice. She wasn’t about to give up now, though, and she finally managed to push the soldier to one side. The other one now grasped her from behind, wrapping his arms around her to pin her arms to her sides. They spiralled across the room and the Major actually had to dodge out of the way as they careened into the table, sending it skidding across the tiled floor.
Andrea twisted her body as they moved across the room so she could use their momentum to drive the man into the wall on the far side. He let out an “oof” as she thumped him into the solid concrete, before pulling back and using her weight to bash him against it again. On the third thump he let go of his grip, tumbling to the floor. She turned her eyes to the rest of the room, the Major staring at her as Andrea stood breathing heavily from the fight with the soldier. Andrea wondered if she was going to try and stop her too.
Before she could find out, the pain was back, burning inside her. Andrea staggered, grabbing onto the table to try and support herself as it stabbed through her limbs. She tipped back her head and let out a cry as another fiery burst rocked through her, clenching her fingers on the table edge. Her eyes fell on her hand, and she could see that her fingers had driven straight into the table’s metal surface, leaving four indentations. She glanced up in confusion, seeing the Major still watching her with…what? A look of concern? Sympathy? Then another wave hit, and Andrea crashed to the ground, happy to let the darkness in once more.
Andrea opened her eyes, and thought that waking up in strange places seemed to be becoming a bit of a habit.
Of course it had happened to her before a few times, she considered, but in all the previous cases there had been drink involved. Now she just felt like she had the hangover, without the pleasure that came before it. At least the burning within her body had subsided again.
Looking around, she saw that she was on a bed in what appeared to be a medical bay. There were various monitors and equipment round the room, along with other medical paraphernalia. It all looked very sophisticated and sterile, not your typical NHS  hospital, she considered. There were also a couple of other empty beds, besides the one she occupied. As with all the other rooms she had been in since the accident, there were no windows.
A beeping at her bedside made her realise that she herself was hooked up to one of the monitors. Her fingers felt out some sensor pads attached to her forehead, and she immediately peeled them off. The monitor started going crazy, emitting a high-pitched whine. The noise quickly attracted attention - a man in a white coat dashing over to her bedside. The balding man let out a sigh as he realised the cause of the alarm.
“Are you trying to give me a heart-attack?” he asked, pushing his metal-rimmed glasses back on his nose and attempting to give her a stern look. She could tell he wasn’t practised in the art.
“I just don’t like being hooked up to things I don’t know about,” she informed him.
“We were only checking you were ok,” he said, rolling his eyes, and reaching over to take the sensors from her hands, “I think we can assume you are, though.”
“So I can go then?” she asked, sitting up and swinging her legs over the side of the bed to rest on the floor. Since it didn’t seem there were any army personnel about, it struck her as the perfect opportunity to make good her escape.
“Woah, hold on a minute!” he said, holding up a hand, “You’re ok, for now, but we need to find out what’s causing those seizures, unless you want to keep having them?”
“I guess not,” she reluctantly conceded, “So you’re a doctor are you?”
“Was it the white coat that gave it away?” he asked cheerily, “Or maybe my sparkling bedside manner?”
“The white coat, definitely,” she replied, “And the name badge.”
“Ah,” he said, looking down at the badge on his coat that displayed his picture and name, “Indeed.”
“So, Dr Whitman,” she said, having read the name, though noting that the badge didn’t give any indication as to the facility he was attached to, “Maybe you can give me some answers.”
“Answers?” he queried.
“Well, no one seems to be terribly forthcoming about what’s happened to me and what I’m doing here,” she explained.
“Well…er…I’d love to….” he began apologetically.
“But you can’t, right?” she finished for him.
“Sorry,” he said, with a shrug, “I think we’d better wait for Major Jarvis.”
As if on cue, the doors to the sickbay swished open and the Major strode confidently in. Andrea got a brief glimpse of a couple of soldiers stationed outside the doors before they shut behind her again.
“Speak of the devil,” muttered Andrea under her breath as the Major walked over to them. The doctor shot her a quick look, having caught the words, before he turned to face the Major who stood expectantly before him.
“Report!” she ordered briskly, standing to attention and fixing her gaze on him.
“She’s fine…for now,” he informed her. Andrea thought there was more he wanted to say, but quite possibly not in her presence.
“I can have a word with her then?” asked the Major.
“Yes, but please try not to antagonise her again,” said the doctor with a slight tone of admonishment. Andrea could tell the Major didn’t like it from the steely look in her eye, and the doctor quickly excused himself, no doubt wanting to get away from the imposing stare.
The stare now switched to Andrea. “How are you feeling, Miss Hallstrom?”
The question surprised her - she had been expecting more cold evasion. She thought the Major almost carried off the attempt at concern, but the question was just a touch too forced in its politeness.
“Fine, thank you, Major,” replied Andrea evenly.
“Good,” nodded the Major, pausing as if deliberating whether to continue.
“You have something to tell me at last?” prompted Andrea.
“Yes,” confirmed the Major, “Though I need you to sign something before we go any further,” she added, handing Andrea a sheet of paper.
“The Official Secrets’ Act?” asked Andrea, glancing down at it.
“Yes,” confirmed the Major, offering Andrea a pen, “You need to sign it before I can tell you anything about where you are or what happened. And anything I do tell you is top secret and not to be disclosed to anyone in the outside world, is that understood?”
“Perfectly,” said Andrea, taking the pen and scrawling her signature on the document. She wondered what she had stumbled onto that revolved around secret army bases.
“Thank you,” said the Major, taking the signed document, and filing it away in a leather document holder.
Andrea was surprised again when the Major then proceeded to sit down on the bed next to her, though she did leave a couple of feet between them.
“This is probably going to be quite hard for you to comprehend or believe,” began the Major, slowly, turning her eyes to Andrea, “But I need you to hear me out, ok?
“Ok,” agreed Andrea warily, “Though I can comprehend quite a lot. You’d be surprised what sort of things a police officer encounters.”
“Nothing like this, I can assure you,” remarked the Major.
The Major pursed her lips for a moment, searching for a place to start.
“You are at the Intelligence Corp’s Superhuman Research Unit,” said the Major seriously, leaving no space for doubt that what she was saying was fact, “This base is intended as a place where army and civilian scientists can investigate the occurrence of genetic mutations in the general populace, and the potential for these to be harnessed for the benefit of the country.”
“Hold on a minute,” interjected Andrea, “Genetic Mutations? Superhuman? You can’t mean…?”
The Major simply raised her eyebrows, waiting for Andrea to finish. Andrea frowned in return, thinking she must have misunderstood.
Since Andrea didn’t seem to want to voice her suspicions the Major continued on instead, “Yes, I mean people with special abilities, what you might colloquially call ‘super powers’”
Andrea laughed. “You have to be kidding!”
The Major merely stared at her unwaveringly.
“You’re not kidding?” said Andrea dubiously, taking in the look on the other woman’s face, “You’re seriously telling me that the British Army has some top secret base where they’ve got a load of super powered mutants running around?”
“Not a load, we currently have three,” the Major informed her, “Four including you.”
Andrea’s eyes widened. “Me?”
“Yes, Miss Hallstrom, you.”
“This is crazy! I’m not some mutant freak,” cried Andrea, leaping to her feet.
The Major rose from the bed, slowly sucking in her breath as she did, as if to contain what her first reply had been.
“I wouldn’t let the others hear you calling them that,” she said eventually, pinning Andrea in place with her blue-grey eyes.
“Well, they won’t have to, if you just let me out of here,” retorted Andrea, heading for the doors, “I’m not hanging around to be experimented on for the ‘benefit of the country’ - I’m not some bloody guinea pig.”
“Do you really think the ability to rend metal with your bear hands is normal?” the Major called after her, stopping Andrea in her tracks.
She swivelled back round. She had thought that perhaps it was all some delusion or dream, since her memories were rather fragmented, but it appeared that it had really happened.
“I don’t have bloody super powers!” she stated adamantly, refusing to accept it. She thought that there had to be some other explanation, something to do with that gas maybe. “This is ridiculous, I’ve never been able to do anything like that before.”
“No,” conceded the Major, dipping her head slightly, “We think you may be a special case.”
“Oh lucky me!” cried Andrea, throwing up her hands in exasperation, “You mean there’s something else as well as being a freak?”
“How many times do I have to say….”
“Look just save it!” snapped Andrea angrily, cutting her off, “Why don’t you give me some more of that whatever it is that stopped the seizures and let me get out of this nuthouse. I do have a life to get back to, you know.”
“I would suggest you try and stay calm…”
“Oh, you would, would you?” replied Andrea sarcastically.
Calm? Calm? She wants me to stay bloody calm? All this bollocks she’s spinning about me being some kind of super-powered mutant weirdo and she wants me to stay calm?
“Maybe I don’t want to stay calm!” she exclaimed, stepping into the Major’s personal space and staring fiercely at her.
She barely registered the movement off to her side, before she felt a sharp jab in her arm. She just had time to give the doctor a surprised look before the sedative took hold.
Major Kate Jarvis closed the file in front of her and leaned back against her leather chair, letting out a long sigh. Closing her eyes, she ran her fingers through her auburn hair before bringing them down to pinch the bridge of her nose in an attempt to relieve some of the tension in her body. Finding that decidedly ineffectual she loosened her collar, removing the tie from around her neck as she did, and placing it down on her solid wooden desk next to the report. Her jumper quickly followed.
Swivelling her chair around, she got up and crossed her office, undoing her cuffs and rolling up her sleeves slightly as she went. Reaching the cabinet along one wall, she drew out a tumbler and poured herself a good helping of whiskey.
She thought what a long day it had been as she shook her head. She sniffed the glass once to savour the smell of the single malt before taking a good swig, enjoying that slight burning sensation that accompanied its travel down her throat. Taking the glass with her, she made her way over to the window. It was dark out, but she usually found it relaxing to stare off at the stars. Unfortunately, the low clouds in the sky obscured them tonight.
Bloody Scottish weather; it was always either raining or foggy or both.
She took another sip from her glass before turning her mind back to what was bothering her – the difficult Miss Hallstrom. From the moment she had met her, she could tell that the woman was going to be a handful. She just seemed to carry herself with this arrogant attitude the whole time.
And as for those cool, icy blue eyes…
Kate shook her head again; she knew she had a reputation for her deathly stares, but she thought the other woman could possibly outdo even her.
Kate wondered if that was part of the problem - that she was seeing it as a kind of personal contest, and she supposed she ought to try and rein in her own urge to meet the challenge. It was quite possible that Miss Hallstrom was doing it deliberately, just to get a rise out of her. The woman certainly seemed to have a knack for rubbing people up the wrong way, if what Kate had read was anything to go by.
She guessed there was always the possibility that the attitude was all part of some defence mechanism. She had to try and remember that this would all be pretty unbelievable and unsettling for the younger woman, not to mention the trauma of what she had seen.
Rubbing the back of her neck, she pondered over whether the headstrong woman would ever fit in at the unit; manage to cope with the strict regime. Somehow she thought it was going to be one hell of a battle. A knock at the door prevented her from deliberating it further.
“Come in,” she called, turning away from the window.
The door was opened by Dr Theodore Todd, the chief scientist on the base. He was an incredibly intelligent, if somewhat serious man, and Kate knew he could always be relied upon for an objective assessment of any situation.
“Ah, Theo,” she said in greeting, moving back over to her desk to pick up the Hallstrom file, “I presume you’ve heard about our new recruit then?” she added, sliding it across to him as he took the seat on the other side. She continued to stand, feeling the need to pace across the carpet.
“Doc did mention it yes,” he confirmed, picking up the folder, and starting to leaf through it, “Along with a mention of a slight…attitude problem.”
Kate laughed. “If you call a chip on her shoulder the size of Wales a slight problem, then yes.”
Theodore continued to read, raising an eyebrow every now and then at the contents of the file.
“I’m just not sure she’s going to fit in around here,” remarked Kate, continuing her travels around the room.
“You’ve faced challenges before,” he said, glancing up, “Just look at what you’ve managed with Tardelli.”
“Indeed,” she agreed, “But something tells me our Miss Hallstrom is going to be a whole different prospect.”
“You think she’s going to be trouble?”
“Not necessarily, though she certainly is antagonistic,” she admitted, “But it’s not just that. I can’t quite put my finger on it, there’s a lot more going on under the surface I think, there’s just something else about her…”
“‘Her arrogant disregard for authority’ maybe?” suggested Theo, quoting from the report in his hands, “Or perhaps her ‘forthright, sometimes abrasive expression of opinion’”
Kate stopped her pacing and let out a rueful laugh, “It does make interesting reading doesn’t it,” she noted.
“Scary more like,” he commented, “I’m surprised she didn’t get sacked from the police force a long time ago.”
“You obviously haven’t got to the bits about how, despite all that, she was brilliant at her job, brilliant in general,” she ventured.
“Brilliant? A police officer? Are you sure?” he asked doubtfully.
“She got a first in Biochemistry from Oxford,” revealed Kate, “Was top of her class apparently.”
“She was?” he asked in amazement, quickly flicking through the pages to try and find proof, “What on earth is someone like that doing as a police officer?”
“Good question,” she noted, “Unfortunately the file doesn’t disclose that.”
“So it seems there is more to our new girl than meets the eye,” he ventured, closing the file in his lap for the time being and turning his full attention to her.
“Indeed it does,” she agreed, “Did Doc also tell you about the problems she’s having?”
“Yes, it’s an unfortunate side effect of her particular mutation I think. We’ll need to analyse it further to be sure.”
“Let’s just hope she’s willing,” muttered Kate.
“You don’t think she’ll want to stay?”
“Oh, I know she doesn’t want to stay,” declared Kate, “Unfortunately letting her loose is not an option at this moment in time.”
“Have you fitted her with a tracker then, just in case she does get any ideas about leaving?” he asked.
“Yes, I got Doc to do it while she was unconscious,” she confirmed, “Anyway, it’s late, I think it’s time to try and get some sleep and then take a fresh look at our new ‘problem’ tomorrow.”
After Theo had left, Kate quickly drained the last of her whiskey. She sincerely did want to help Miss Hallstrom, she just hoped that it wouldn’t prove as hard going as the first attempts. As she went to turn off the light in her office she had brief thought, wondering why she was quite so determined to help her. Flicking the switch and exiting the room, she dismissed it as being the same way she felt responsible for all the operatives under her command.
“It will be all right won’t it?” asked Constable Walker nervously.
“Of course, just stick close, you’ll be fine,” replied Andrea reassuringly.
The young man nodded and she turned her attention back to Inspector MacKenzie, watching and waiting for his signal. She crouched down behind the car, and could feel the sweat starting to prickle on the back of her neck, running on down her back and dampening her shirt where it was pressed tightly to her by her Kevlar vest.
Why was she so anxious? She had been on plenty of raids before, what was telling her something was wrong in this case?
“All set, Sergeant?” asked her senior officer.
“Yes, sir, everyone’s in position,” she informed him, taking the quick chance to make sure her blonde hair was tightly secured in its ponytail. She didn’t need her hair getting in the way when trying to arrest someone.
He picked up his radio and barked his order, “This is MacKenzie, go!”
Andrea leapt up from her position, flicking out her Asp baton and closely following the team with the door-rammer. It only took them a couple of strikes to break down the warehouse entrance and they were in. The men inside started running as soon as they spotted the police swarming into the building. Andrea picked a target and gave chase, tackling the man to the floor and pulling out her handcuffs as he protested loudly. She yanked his arms roughly behind his back and attached the cuffs, satisfied to see Walker doing the same to another suspect close by.
A soft hissing noise drew her attention and she looked around for the source of the sound. Her eyes fell upon a vent close to the floor, through which white gas was issuing.
“Sir!” she called over to the Inspector.
“What is it, Sergeant?” he asked, coming to join her, before following her gaze to the vent, “What the hell is that?”
“I don’t know, sir, but I’m guessing it’s not good,” she offered.
“Agreed, let’s fall back,” he said, pulling out his radio to make the order to that effect.
She heard some frantic voices over the radio in response, and watched MacKenzie’s face take on a worried look.
“Some bastard has blocked the exits,” he said, looking around frantically, “There has to be some way out of this place! You look over there,” he ordered, pointing for her to go over to the back of the building.
“Walker, you’re with me,” said Andrea, noting that the Constable was looking decidedly nervous.
They dashed over to the far side, searching all along the wall, looking for any means of escape, but it was hopeless - there was nothing. The gas was now pouring in from a number of locations, and suddenly Walker started coughing at her side.
“Ahhh,” he screamed, “It hurts!”
She turned to look at him, horrified to see him clutching at his head in agony as blood poured from his nose. He doubled over, letting out another gut-wrenching scream, before collapsing onto the stone floor. Casting her eyes round she could see the rest of the team being similarly affected, staggering desperately around in pain or already felled by the gas. Perhaps she could still help Walker, she thought, kneeling down at his side
Then it started. Pain. Pain like nothing else she had ever felt. Pain that felt like it was erupting directly from within her. It arced through her whole body and she screamed at the fire shooting through all her limbs. She slumped onto the stone floor, crying at the agony. She was still conscious, just lying there enduring the ongoing pain. Walker’s eyes were fixed on her, cold…lifeless…
Andrea shot up, the sweat dripping down her face as she realised she was actually in the sickbay at the army base.
“Bad dream was it?”
She turned to face the speaker, taking a moment to compose herself, and fight away the nightmare’s images. It also gave her the opportunity to study whoever it was who had rudely awakened her. The man was another soldier, dressed in his fatigues. She surmised that he was an officer, though, since he had two diamond shaped insignias on the rank slide on his shoulders. He was slightly taller than her and possessed the build of a rugby player, she thought, with broad shoulders and a general sturdy look about him. He had short, dark hair and dark eyes, while his skin had a slight olive shade to it, making her wonder if he was of some sort of Mediterranean heritage.
“You could say that,” she answered, running her hand through her damp hair, considering that she really needed to have a shower, and soon.
“Well, good job I woke you then,” he remarked, “I’m Lieutenant Chadwick, by the way, and you’re wanted by the boss.”
“Can I at least get a change of clothes first?” she asked, pulling at her sweaty jumpsuit, “God knows how long I’ve been lying around in this.”
“I suppose so,” he replied reluctantly, “Doc!”
Once the Lieutenant had informed him of her request, the doctor helpfully fished out some army issue clothes for her from a storage cupboard.
“You’ve not got another sedative secreted away in these have you?” she asked, accepting them from the be-spectacled man.
He looked rather abashed, “Sorry about that,” he said, “It was for your own good though.”
“Really,” she remarked doubtfully, before looking expectantly at the two men, “What, you want me to strip off in front of you?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
“It’s not like I haven’t seen it all before,” commented the doctor while the other man merely leered at her.
She shot the doctor a withering look, and he hooked the Lieutenant’s arm and forced him to swing round to give her a modicum of privacy. She peeled off the jumpsuit and pulled on the khaki t-shirt she had been given. It was obviously designed for a man, she realised, since it was rather tight across her ample chest. She pulled up the camouflage combat trousers that went with the t-shirt. It was hardly her choice of fashion, but she supposed that at least it was clean.
“I don’t suppose you have some shoes too?” she asked straightening up, noticing that the Lieutenant was already peering round at her.
I wonder how long he was watching, bloody pervert! she thought, shooting him a filthy look.
“Size?” asked the doctor, rooting through the cupboard contents again.
“Seven,” she replied.
He tossed her a pair of standard black army boots that she yanked on and laced up.
“Right, lead on,” she instructed the Lieutenant.
They exited the sickbay into a non-descript corridor. The walls of the corridor were white, it possessed a bare, stone floor and it was brightly lit. The only other thing of note was that there were a number of cameras dotted at intervals along its length. The lieutenant indicated the direction for her to go, and two other armed soldiers fell in behind them as they made their way along.
“How long was I out?” she asked the officer at her side.
“Nearly a day,” he answered.
“A day? Bloody hell! What day is it now then?” she asked, realising she had no idea how long it had been in between her previous bouts of consciousness.
“It’s Thursday,” he replied.
Wow, this guy is a barrel of laughs! She thought to herself, I’ve met more responsive planks of wood.
Given what he had told her, she realised it had only been two days since the raid, since that had been on Tuesday. Assuming that the current Thursday was in the same week!
They entered a lift at the end of the corridor. As the Lieutenant pressed one of the buttons, Andrea noticed that they went from two at the top, through one and ground to six minus numbers. She realised they must have been underground, explaining the lack of windows. On the ride up she had a brief chance to assess her situation, recalling what the Major had been trying to tell her during their previous encounter.
She contemplated that it must all be an elaborate deception to cover up the real truth. Though she also considered they could have come up with something slightly more plausible than all the nonsense about super powers. She surmised that the only way she was going to get out of here and find out what was really going on was to play ball and wait for an opportunity to present itself. Obviously this was a high security facility, so they were hardly likely to let her stroll out the front door even if she could slip her present guard.
As the lift reached the second, and topmost floor, the doors swished open on quite a different vista. Gone were the sterile corridors of the underground. Instead they were in what looked like some kind of modern office building. Along this corridor there was lush blue carpet, plants and pictures hanging on the walls.
She followed the lieutenant down the corridor to the end, where it opened out into a reception area. There was a single man sitting behind a desk, looking for all intents and purposes like a secretary, apart from the fact that he wore an army uniform. Behind him was a large window, giving Andrea a view of the countryside outside – definitely not London then. Andrea thought it could have been anywhere, since she couldn’t see any prominent landmarks or other buildings, the trees and hills stretching out into the distance. The sun was just lowering behind the hills, meaning it was some time around late afternoon.
The lieutenant guided her over to a dark wooden door that bore a shiny gold placard in the centre with “Major Kate Jarvis” engraved in it. He knocked once and a call came letting him know it was fine to come in. He held the door open for Andrea and she entered the office.
“Thank you, lieutenant,” said the Major, looking up from her desk on the far side of the room, “That will be all.”
He nodded and closed the door after him as he went, leaving Andrea to cross to the chair in front of the desk on her own. She glanced round the imposingly large office as she went. It was sumptuously decorated, plush deep red carpet, expensive-looking dark wooden furniture. The walls were lined with a number of framed photos of groups of military people, some candid shots, others official regimental pictures with a list of names underneath. There were also what looked like commendations, though Andrea couldn’t quite make out the writing on them. And of course there was the obligatory picture of the Queen.
The desk sat just off to the left of centre, with a small window overlooking it. There was a metal filing cabinet pushed up against the wall behind the desk, with a bookcase next to it, displaying an array of weighty tomes.
The large window that occupied much of the right-hand wall lighted the whole room. Underneath it was a comfortable looking couch, with a low coffee table in front of that. Next to the couch was a small wooden cabinet, with a model of a sailboat on top of it. Andrea thought it was slightly out of place in the office of an army officer. Even more incongruous was the sight of a telescope on a stand in the corner, and some framed star charts on the wall by it. The overall impression of the room was of order and neatness, no less imbued by the woman sitting behind the desk in her immaculate uniform. Andrea did note that she looked slightly less formal that day, with the tie and jumper missing from the ensemble, the Major’s shirtsleeves rolled up to just above her elbows instead.
The blue-grey eyes regarded her evenly as she approached the desk, revealing little. Andrea was impressed; she usually found it pretty easy to read people, but the Major had a good command mask in place.
“Take a seat, please, Miss Hallstrom,” instructed the Major, though her tone was tempered with softness.
Andrea complied, maintaining eye contact the whole time to see if she could get the Major to look away. She didn’t.
“Would you like something to drink? Tea, coffee, water?” offered the other woman.
“Water would be fine, thank you,” replied Andrea.
The Major crossed over to the small cabinet by the window and Andrea realised it was for drinks as the woman delved in and produced a bottle of water, pouring it into a glass.
“Thank you,” said Andrea again as the Major proffered the glass, before sitting back into her high-backed chair.
Andrea sipped at the drink, her throat rather sore and dry. She supposed she hadn’t actually consumed anything for two days; no doubt they had been maintaining her on a drip or something. The Major herself drank from a stainless steel mug, Andrea catching the scent of strong coffee emanating from it.
“I think we got off on slightly the wrong foot yesterday,” disclosed the Major, placing her drink down on a metal coaster, “Despite what you might think, we really do want to help you.”
“By keeping me here against my will?” countered Andrea.
The Major regarded her, her eyes narrowing slightly. Andrea could swear that if a pin dropped at that moment she would have heard it.
“Perhaps I should try and continue my explanation of what this place is and what happened to you, since you didn’t give me much chance yesterday,” suggested the Major after the pregnant pause.
“As long as you’re not going to start going on about mutations and super powers again,” replied Andrea scathingly.
The Major let out an audible sigh, leaning forward on her desk before speaking. “I know you don’t want to believe it, but it’s the truth.”
Andrea rolled her eyes, leaning back and folding her arms to suggest that she certainly didn’t believe it, not for a second. The Major tapped a few keys on the keyboard to her side and swivelled her flat computer monitor so Andrea could see it as well. Grudgingly Andrea leant forward to look at the screen, which displayed a series of images of her dead colleagues.
“What the fuck are you showing me these for?” said Andrea angrily, glaring at the Major.
“To shock some sense into you perhaps?” offered the Major, “And to make the point that for all intents and purposes you should be dead too.”
Andrea didn’t think much of the Major’s way of making a point.
“Don’t you wonder how you survived?” asked the Major.
“Dumb luck?” suggested Andrea tetchily.
The Major flicked off the monitor, the last image of a dead Inspector MacKenzie disappearing into the ether.
“No, Miss Hallstrom, it was much more than ‘dumb luck’,” answered the Major, “You’re an intelligent woman, so I know you’re going to understand when I explain it to you. You have a special gene in your genetic makeup. In your case this gene was dormant and under normal circumstances you would have lived your life and been none the wiser as to its existence. Unfortunately the gas incident changed all that.”
Andrea listened intently. For some reason the look in the Major’s eyes was telling her that the other woman was speaking the truth. She thought it could be something to do with how the Major had also dropped the timbre of her voice ever so slightly to soften it.
“In order to save your life the dormant gene activated,” continued the Major, “In turn activating the special abilities associated with it and preserving your life.”
“So you’re saying I’ve now got super powers?” posited Andrea doubtfully, “I don’t feel much different. What exactly are these powers meant to be then?”
“We know about as much as you do at the moment, which is pretty much nothing,” the Major revealed candidly, “Apart from the shows of enhanced strength you’ve already displayed, we don’t know what you’re capable of without further investigation.”
“Helpful,” noted Andrea sarcastically, “And the seizures?”
“We’re not entirely sure about them either, but we think that since your powers were never meant to be active, your body isn’t adapted to them. You appear to lack the ability to control or switch off your power. In effect whenever you use them they run out of control and cause the muscles of your body to seize up.”
“But I’m all right now then?”
“For the time being, yes. The doctor has given you some strong inhibitor drugs to stop your abilities triggering. That’s one of the reasons we need you to stay here, so we can continue to investigate and monitor your condition.”
“Keep me here like some little rat in a cage you mean?” bit back Andrea, “I am a person, you know, not some sort of commodity to be used for whatever use the government sees fit.”
“We do know that,” replied the Major earnestly, “We are very aware of just how individual all the people here are. We only want to look after you - part of what we do is teach people how to explore their abilities, harness them, control them. We have a team of experienced scientists and doctors all here for your benefit. I can assure you, you won’t receive better care anywhere else.”
Andrea considered her words, reluctantly conceding that the Major was probably right. She didn’t think she would get expert help at any normal hospital.
“So you’re in charge of this place then?” asked Andrea, changing tack.
“That’s right, I’m the senior officer on the base,” confirmed the Major, “In command of the company stationed here.”
“And what exactly did you do wrong to be lumbered with this job?” Andrea asked confrontationally.
She detected the slight tightening around the Major’s eyes, the minor pursing of the lips. It was barely detectable, but there was definitely a story there, thought Andrea.
“We do a lot of good work here,” replied the Major. Andrea recognised the evasive answer, and the way the Major’s voice had once again taken on its hard edge.
“And does anyone ever get to leave?”
“Contrary to what you might think, this is not a prison, it’s a research facility,” stated the Major, “However, I think you’d agree that we can’t just have super powered people wandering around the country unchecked, it’s a threat to national security. Any superhumans we discover are offered two choices – either they can stay here with us, or they can have a special chip implanted and leave. The chip monitors their whereabouts at all times and checks they don’t use their powers in the outside world.”
“Great, give me one of these chips and I’ll get out of here then,” said Andrea.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea in your case.”
“So I am a prisoner?” noted Andrea bitterly.
“If you’d just stop and think for a second,” said the Major, her voice edged with annoyance at Andrea’s persistent obstinacy, “You could have a seizure at any time out there and we wouldn’t be around to help you. You’ve been lucky so far, but the doctor thinks they do have the possibility to be fatal.”
Andrea was stunned. Fatal? Not only am I a genetic freak, but it could kill me?
“That’s why we want you to stay, so we can help you,” said the Major.
Andrea narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “And what do you get out of it?”
“Obviously we’re doing research too,” replied the Major, “So we would want you to help us with that.”
“And that’s it?” Andrea asked sceptically, “The army is out here at this top secret base, just carrying out some harmless research for the good of humanity?”
The Major remained silent, her hands neatly folded on the table between them.
“Let me guess, you can’t say anything more?” said Andrea, suspecting that there was much more to this place than what she had been told so far.
The Major dipped her head slightly in acknowledgement.
“What about my real life, my job?” asked Andrea, “People are going to wonder where I am.”
“We can arrange extended sick leave for you.”
“Of course you can,” said Andrea, shaking her head. It seemed she really had entered the world of secrets, where anything could be covered up or arranged, “And my flat, my mortgage, my bills?”
“We’re not on another planet, you know,” said the Major, and Andrea thought she could almost see a slight smile touching the corners of her lips. “You can still talk to people by phone, pay your bills.”
“Just be monitored and watched while I do it, right?” remarked Andrea, “Just to make sure I’m not compromising national security?”
“We do have to be careful,” replied the Major, indirectly answering the question.
“So are we ever actually allowed out, into the real world I mean?”
“It is possible, but let’s take one step at a time, shall we?” replied the Major, leaning across the table once more and fixing her eyes on Andrea again, as if she was about to make an important point, “We have to know we can trust you first.”
“You trust me?” laughed Andrea, “Well, I certainly don’t trust you, so I guess the feeling’s mutual.”
Neither of them spoke for a moment, simply maintaining the gaze across the table, Andrea surprising herself by being the first to look away.
“So, if I do agree to stay and learn how to control my powers,” she said, still finding the concept that she had them somewhat laughable, “So that I’m no longer a danger to anyone, including myself, can I then leave for good, with one of those chips?”
“I don’t think you’ll want to do that.”
“But if I do?”
“Then you will be free to go,” agreed the Major.
“Well,” said Andrea, leaning back now that she had got that concession, “I guess I don’t have much choice for the time being do I? It looks like I’m staying…for now.”
“Good,” said the Major, also sitting back in her chair.
“So where do I actually live while I’m here?” asked Andrea, thinking of that shower she desperately wanted.
“Why don’t I show you?” offered the Major, getting up from her chair and gesturing to the door.
As they silently made their way along the corridors, Andrea wondered if all new recruits got this personal treatment from the Major. Though, since there had only been three others so far, she supposed it was a distinct possibility. They were still on the same floor as the Major’s office, as they came to an area set off from the rest of it by a security door. The Major stepped up, allowing a device to scan the retina of her eye. The computer made some positive sounding beeps and the door slid open.
The area beyond the door seemed much like the one they had just left, apart from the fact that Andrea could hear the strains of rock music wafting down the corridor. She looked quizzically at the Major.
“That will be Mr Parsons,” said the other woman in answer, “Don’t worry, they’ll be plenty of time for introductions to your fellow members of the unit tomorrow.”
They finally came to a door that the Major pushed open.
“After you, Miss Hallstrom,” she offered, holding out her hand.
Andrea walked into what looked remarkably like any other studio flat that she might have come across back in London. It all looked brand new and spotless – there was a large lounge/dining area with immaculate furnishings directly in front of her, a small kitchen behind a counter off to the side, plus a couple of doors leading off to what she could only assume were the bedroom and bathroom. She noted that there was also a large window on the far side, outside of which she could see more countryside in the dusk light. She guessed it probably didn’t open, just in case she tried to leg it.
“These are your quarters,” the Major informed her, “You should find everything you need, at least for tonight. We can see about getting some of your own things brought here tomorrow. If you do need anything else then you can call someone on this,” said the Major giving her what looked like a wristwatch. “It’s a communicator,” explained the Major as Andrea turned it over in her hand, “We use them to communicate within the confines of the base. Think of it a bit like a mobile phone, just dial the number you want. If you need anything tonight, dial 01, and someone will come to see you.”
“Thanks,” said Andrea, trying to take it all in.
“Well, I’ll leave you to it, you’ll get a proper briefing tomorrow,” said the Major turning to go, “Goodnight, Miss Hallstrom.”
“Wait,” called Andrea suddenly, stopping the Major before she got to the door. “If I am going to stay here, can we get one thing straight?” she continued as the Major swivelled back round. “The only people who ever called me ‘Miss Hallstrom’ were my teachers when I’d done something naughty. I know I told you to, but it’s driving me nuts! Please, call me Andrea.”
The Major smiled, the first time Andrea had seen her do it. “Well, good night, Andrea.”
Andrea watched the door close behind the Major and then promptly smacked herself on the forehead.
“Call me Andrea?”…” Call me Andrea?” That was smooth! What the fuck was I thinking? Am I trying to ingratiate herself with the ice queen Major or something?
Sighing, she plonked herself down on the large couch in the centre of the room, opposite which sat a massive television, hanging on the wall. She considered that it was actually better than her flat, and a hell of a lot tidier.
She leaned back against the soft cushions, closing her eyes for a moment, trying to process all she’d been exposed to over the last couple of days.
So this is to be my life from now on, is it, poked and prodded like some lab rat? Mind you I could think of worse people to be prodded by than the Major.
She bolted upright wondering where the hell the last thought had come from. Thinking more about it, she supposed the other woman wasn’t unattractive - quite the opposite in fact, if she was being honest about it.
Especially those eyes…the way they seem to add a whole other level of communication beyond the verbal...
Andrea mentally shook herself. She was sure the Major knew damn well the power she could command with her looks, in combination with that strong, yet also subtle voice.
The woman was army through and through, however, considered Andrea - she was screaming authority from every pore and Andrea had always had trouble with that particular concept. She was sure Inspector MacKenzie had wanted to bang her head against the wall on more than one occasion. Thinking of him reminded her of why she was there - images of her fallen colleagues swimming to the fore of her mind. She vowed that she would get answers about what had happened at that warehouse. Somewhere out there was the person responsible, and there was no way they were going to get away with it.
She tried to think happier thoughts, bringing to mind an image of MacKenzie when he was alive, though he was giving her another dressing down in the memory she recalled. She guessed people in command just couldn’t handle being told when they were wrong, and Andrea had no compunction about doing that. She didn’t see the need to pontificate on things - say what you thought and meant, that was her credo. Unfortunately, that didn’t always go down too well with others. Somehow, she didn’t think it would go down too well with the Major either.
The Major’s not my type at all anyway, she thought, before catching herself again - Why does my mind keep wandering off like that? Tiredness, no doubt.
Andrea considered that the other woman was so stiff; you could lay her down and iron your clothes on her. A sudden image of the Major, lying down, flashed to mind, and Andrea quickly shook it away.
How long has it been since Meg? Four months? Five? How time flew when you weren’t having fun.
Andrea decided now was probably a good time for that shower, and she wandered off through one of the doors to the side of the main area. She found herself in the bedroom, which was tastefully furnished, like the rest of the quarters, with a large bed dominating the room. There were built in wardrobes along one wall and she pulled open one of the wooden doors. An array of clothes hung, and were neatly folded, inside – all army issue.
Looks like I’ll have to get used to greens, browns and khaki! she thought ruefully.
Moving through to the bathroom she noted the large corner bathtub and separate shower cubicle, making her realise that this place was definitely better than her flat. Turning on the shower she started to peel off her t-shirt, before stopping herself. She looked around the room, wondering if there were hidden cameras anywhere. Shaking her head, she continued to disrobe – I’m getting far too paranoid, but then that’s what happens when you get involved in this secret squirrel shit!
Stepping into the shower, she let the steaming water drum down on her in an attempt to wash away the past two days.