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[personal profile] llywela

"Look out, he's running," Bodie shouted as Christopher Haggett decided to leg it rather than answer any questions – and if that wasn't a confession of guilt, he didn't know what was. He began to give chase, only to stumble over Mr Haggett Senior, who got in the way to protest his son's innocence, giving the lad a good head start in the process. Cursing under his breath, Bodie pushed past the old man and sprinted full steam through the house, trying to regain lost ground.

He needn't have bothered, as it turned out. Young Christopher had headed for the back door and run straight into Benton, who had him by the scruff of the neck by the time Bodie caught up.

"Good catch," Bodie puffed…and then had to fend off the defensive protests of old Cyril Haggett once more while Benton hauled the lad off, struggling and yelling blue murder all the way. It took more minutes than he'd have liked to extricate himself and hurry out to the vehicle, where he found Benton waiting for him, a sullen Christopher Haggett already secured in the back

"The old man's not too happy then," Benton remarked.

"Not much, no," Bodie wryly agreed. "Protests a bit too much, if you ask me – I reckon the lad's in it up to his neck and the old man knows it."

Benton nodded. "We'd better take him back to base, then."

"Yeah," said Bodie. "Find out what he knows about these aliens…"

Aliens. His ears heard the words coming out of his mouth and the absurdity of it hit him hard all over again, just when he'd thought he was doing so well. A groan escaped as he let his head drop, a wave of renewed disbelief washing over him. How had today turned out like this?

When he looked up again, Benton was wearing a sympathetic expression. "It hits us all a bit that way at first," he said. "Don't worry, you'll soon get used to it."

"Yeah, I'm not sure I want to get used to it," Bodie muttered.

"If it helps," said Benton, "Just think of it as a crime. Forget about the alien part. There's been an abduction – doesn't matter who. Someone's been abducted, a weapon has been stolen, and we have to get them both back before it kicks off a major international incident, as it were."

"Intergalactic incident, I think you mean," Bodie snorted. Okay, he was over it now, had to be because they didn't have time to waste. "Come on: let's take the lad in, find out what he knows."


"Doyle!" The irate shout reverberated along the corridors of CI5 headquarters as warning of a fast approaching storm.

"Uh oh," Doyle murmured to Sullivan as he stood and slowly turned around to face the music, closing the file he'd been skimming through. Sullivan looked bemused as he did likewise; poor sod had no idea what was about to hit them.

"Doyle!" Cowley bellowed again as he stalked into the room. Sounded like he was in an even worse mood than when they'd spoken on the phone earlier – he clearly hadn't got it out of his system yet. "When I sent you over to talk to UNIT this morning I intended you to gather information, not join the organisation. Were my instructions not clear?" His eyes raked over the pair of them, but if he was at all curious about the scrapes and bruises they were both sporting, it didn't show. "Where's Bodie, who's this?"

He already knew where Bodie was, Doyle knew he knew – Lethbridge-Stewart had contacted him to request their ongoing assistance on this case. That was half the reason he was in such a rage.

"This is Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan," he offered, "From –"

"From UNIT, yes," Cowley sourly finished for him.

Sullivan began to offer a polite smile and a hand to shake, caught the frosty glare Cowley was directing at him and thought better of it, instead folded his hands behind his back and nodded a crisp, "Mr Cowley, sir," instead. That was one thing you could say about military types: they knew how to do formal.

"And Bodie's still helping UNIT with their enquiries, I suppose," Cowley sniped.

"Yes, sir. We both are. Sorry, sir," said Doyle with a helpless shrug. "It's a UNIT job. I'm sorry, sir," he added again for good measure.

Cowley glowered. "Oh yes, I've heard all about UNIT's jurisdiction on this case – another investigation snaked from under us by that mob. What have they got to do with a man like Clive Morley, can you tell me that?"

Doyle had his mouth open to answer the question before he realised that he couldn't. He really, really couldn't. He'd joked about it with Bodie earlier, about being on the other side of the classification now, had predicted how Cowley would react, but now he was face to face with the moment of truth, the impossibility of the position he was in absolutely floored him. Because it wasn't just the top secret classification, he now realised – if it came to it, he'd be prepared to tell Cowley the truth and face the consequences, classification be damned. No, the real problem, the real reason for all the secrecy was the absolute impossibility of having a serious conversation about aliens with someone who'd never seen one. He'd be laughed out of the job. So no, he couldn't tell Cowley why UNIT were interested in Clive Morley's death, not the real reason, anyway. And a half-truth wouldn't do either, telling as much of the story as was believable and twisting the rest into something that would fit, that would fall apart like a house of cards in no time. There was nothing he could say that would answer that question, not in a way Cowley would accept.

Sullivan came to his rescue. "That's classified information, I'm afraid, sir."

Well, he was taking his life into his own hands there, all right. Cowley's outrage was a sight and a half to behold. His mouth opened and closed like a fish, no words coming out – he was speechless, actually speechless, for several moments. It was the most amazing and terrifying thing Doyle had seen all day, aliens included.

"Classified information!" he roared at last, scarlet with rage. "Classified information! My agents are allowed to know what's going on and I'm not, is that it? You'll make use of my organisation, my resources, without ever telling me what it's all about, is that it? And I'm supposed to just stand here, say nothing, hear nothing, see nothing, is that it?"

To his credit, Sullivan's expression of polite, affable regret didn't so much as flicker beneath the onslaught. "I'm sorry, sir," he mildly repeated.

"Oh aye," Cowley seethed. "You're sorry but you're not budging, are you? Either of you. Kenny Wilson," he snapped at Doyle. "I thought you were bringing him in."

"Couldn't find him," Doyle admitted, frustrated all over again at having hit such a complete dead end just when they'd seemed to be getting somewhere. They were losing too much time, having to check all these files and reports in search of a lead. "He's not at home, not at any of the usual haunts – left home yesterday and hasn't been seen since. I was hoping there'd be something in here that might help," he gestured at the files they'd been sifting through, "but no joy yet."

"This will probably interest you, then." Cowley slapped the file he'd been holding on top of the pile they'd already amassed. "Report just in – we've got an eyewitness claims they saw Wilson getting into a vehicle matching the description of Clive Morley's car yesterday afternoon, shortly after you lost track of him."

"Morley again." Doyle picked up the file and skimmed the report, holding it out slightly so Sullivan could read over his shoulder. "Did forensics get anything off his car?"

"Oh, they can tell us how it was destroyed, in minute detail," Cowley grumped. "But any evidence it may have contained was destroyed along with it."

"This garage Wilson was seen coming out of…" Sullivan began. He'd picked up on the same section of the report that had just caught Doyle's eye.

"It belongs to James Galbraith," Doyle finished for him. Now that was interesting. Galbraith and Eddie Stanton were business partners, of a sort, liked to present a whiter-than-white face to the outside world while getting involved in all kinds of mucky business behind the scenes …not that it could be proved, of course. They'd always been too clever for that.

Cowley nodded. "It's not cast-iron, but it's the closest to a tangible link we've come yet."


"You can't do this – you've got no right to arrest me like this," Christopher Haggett loudly protested. He'd been singing much the same song ever since he was picked up, kept it up all the way back to UNIT HQ, and then started up again the moment Bodie walked into the room currently assigned for his interrogation. Appropriately Spartan, but clean, spacious and airy, with large windows to provide plenty of light, the room wasn't exactly up to the standards of the dark, murky holding cells CI5 liked to employ for these things, but in the circumstances it was going to have to do. At least there were blinds on the window, which someone had had the brains to draw. It didn't add much in the way of gloom, but it was a start.

Standing just behind the young man, Bodie leaned in close to murmur in his ear, "Oh, you haven't been arrested, son. We're not the police."

Haggett glanced around the room until his eyes fell on Benton, who was standing near the door, arms folded across his chest, doing his best impression of a tree: tall, solid and immovable. The Brigadier had handed the interview over to Bodie, acknowledging CI5's expertise in such matters, but since Doyle wasn't back yet and they couldn't wait, Benton had been assigned as his back-up again. Bodie privately thought the man might prove a bit straight-laced and by-the-book to really appreciate, still less actively participate in, CI5 interrogation tactics – a bit like UNIT in general, really – but with any luck Haggett would crack before they needed to worry about that. He wasn't exactly a seasoned pro.

"Army?" Haggett still sounded bullish, but there was a hint of nervousness creeping into his voice now, his eyes flicking from side to side as Bodie circled him, making sure he was always just that bit too close for comfort. Wouldn't want the lad feeling at his ease, after all.

Bodie shook his head. "Guess again."

Haggett looked back at Benton in his uniform. "Army don't arrest people…do they?"

"I told you," Bodie reminded him. "You haven't been arrested. We're just going to have a little chat," he again leaned in close to whisper, "nice and cosy," in the lad's ear.

"I want a solicitor," Haggett defiantly demanded.

"No solicitors. Just you and me. And if you don't want to talk to me, then he," Bodie nodded toward Benton, who picked up his cue and glowered, "might have something to say, instead."

"I haven't done nothing," Haggett insisted. "You can't prove anything."

"Tell me about prison, Christopher."


"You were there for a while, weren't you? Now that can't have been much fun, young lad like you…" He leaned in close again, standing behind the lad to hang over his shoulder in a way he knew would intimidate, kept his voice low and menacing. "The thing is, Christopher, I can make sure you go back there. I can make sure you go back there for a long, long time –"

"I haven't done nothing!" Haggett's voice was becoming shrill. That was a good sign.

"– but if you cooperate with me," Bodie continued as if he hadn't spoken, "then maybe, just maybe, all this could go away." He waited a moment to allow that to sink in before adding, "If you're lucky, that is. Are you feeling lucky, Christopher?"

Haggett was looking more and more uncertain, but clung tightly to his belligerence as if he thought it might save him. "I've got nothing to say to you," he sullenly insisted and made a move as if to rise from his seat. Bodie clamped a heavy hand on his shoulder, shoving him back into place and holding him there.

"I hear you've been looking out for your old dad since you came home," he remarked in conversational fashion. "Your mum died while you were inside, didn't she? That must have stung a bit, having to miss the funeral." Haggett's face was darkening; he'd struck a nerve. "How do you reckon your dad will cope, when you go back inside?"

Haggett shook his head. "I've got nothing to say." He didn't sound quite so sure any more, though.

"He might have a hard time of it, of course, when your associates come looking for their pound of flesh…"


"Well, they're not going to be very happy, are they?" Bodie lightly suggested, "When we pick them up after talking to you."

"I haven't done nothing. I haven't told you nothing," Haggett protested.

"You think that'll matter?" Bodie snapped. "When we turn them over after taking you in, do you really think they'll believe you didn't talk? Do you think the prison guards will protect you? Do you think your dad can protect himself?"

"It's not my fault!"

Ah, now that was a new tune, now they were getting somewhere. "What's not your fault? Come on, Christopher, you might as well tell me now. You're not leaving this room until you do, and I've got all the time in the world." It was a lie, but what Haggett didn't know wouldn't hurt their chances of breaking him.

"I can't…" It was little more than a whimper.

"Why? You're scared of what they might do?" Haggett nodded. Bodie shook his head. "Wrong answer. You should be scared of what we might do. Because we're going to get them either way, but the question is: will we have a reason to protect you? Or shall we just leave you to the wolves?"

Haggett looked to Benton, frantic. "You hear this? He's threatening me."

Benton's stiff posture suggested a degree of discomfort with the situation, but his poker face couldn't be faulted. "I never heard a thing, son."

"He's deaf, you see. And blind. So come on, Christopher," Bodie sternly pressed. "What's it to be?"

"All I ever did was let them in, that's all, I just unlocked the door, I never done nothing else, you can't lock me up for that!"

And there it was, just like that. If only they'd all crack so easily.


"I tell you what, there'd better be something here, after all this," Doyle grumbled as he span the steering wheel to turn a corner, on the approach to the backstreet garage owned by James Galbraith where Kenny Wilson might or might not have met up with Clive Morley yesterday afternoon, sometime before Morley met his maker at the hands of the Drashk out at Elderbrook Farm. It wasn't much to go on, since the eye witness report was far from definite, but it was all they had.

"The whole case has been like this," said Sullivan with a sigh, "One false lead after another, never anything solid."

"Well, after chasing our tails all afternoon," Doyle said, "And that countdown ticking away, it would be nice to find some kind of sign we're on the right track."

Sullivan snorted. "One with large lettering saying 'kidnapped alien here', for preference," he dryly suggested and Doyle chuckled in spite of himself.

"Yeah, something like that would do for starters," he agreed, pulling up at the side of the road, just in front of the garage. It all looked quiet, but that didn't always mean much, especially in an area like this, so he took a good look around as he exited the car, on the alert for anything out of the ordinary.

The small garage owned by Galbraith sat in the middle of a tired, rundown little side street that had probably been quite up-market once upon a time, just on the corner of an overgrown lane that divided the terraced row. It seemed to go back a fair way, but it was hard to tell from outside since rusty shutters were down across the front and looked like they had been for some time; it didn't seem like the place saw much business, if any. There was still a sign announcing 'Auto Repairs', but it was faded and worn, the windows above the workshop were cracked and grimy, and the roof was starting to sag. All in all, the place looked almost as derelict as the boarded up house next door, although there was scaffolding along the side of the building, down the lane, which suggested that at least some attempt at structural repair was being made.

"Well," said Doyle, "I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this place isn't at the top of Galbraith's portfolio."

"It's not the most shining example of business success, no," Sullivan agreed.

There was a door set into the shutters across the front of the garage. Doyle banged on it and then gave it a good rattle, called out, "Hello! Anyone home?" but there was no reply; it all seemed quiet as the grave inside. "Take a look round the back," he suggested to Sullivan, who headed off around the corner into the lane while Doyle took a few steps off the pavement and into the road to see if he could see anything in the windows upstairs from that angle.

He felt, rather than heard, someone approaching from behind, and glanced around to see two men passing him as they crossed the road. They might have been heading for the garage, or they might have been heading on past, but Doyle didn't wait to find out because one of them was Kenny Wilson himself, the man he'd just spent half the afternoon looking for…but he was accompanied by a hulking bruiser of a man who was built like the side of a shed, because clearly nothing was going to be easy today.

Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound. "Kenny Wilson?" Doyle called out.

The men turned to face him, looking suspicious. "Who wants to know?" the bruiser gruffly demanded.

Doyle addressed Wilson again, ignoring him. "Can I have a word? Just need to ask a few questio – oy!"

He got no further because Wilson was off, without waiting to hear any more, sprinting full pelt down the street – although he got no further than the mouth of the lane, which he reached just as Sullivan reappeared around the corner. The pair collided and went down in a tangle of limbs, while the bruiser, without any further ado, swung for Doyle.

Doyle ducked and countered with a quick jab in the region of the nearest kidney as he swung around, but the bruiser didn't even appear to feel the blow, simply swiped at him again…and this time Doyle wasn't quite fast enough to avoid it and the glancing blow across the back of his neck sent him reeling. As he spun around, he caught a glimpse of Wilson struggling back to his feet nearby and attempting to run for it again, with Sullivan in hot pursuit, but he couldn't worry about them right now; he had troubles enough of his own. He blocked and parried a couple more punches, even managed to land a few of his own, but his opponent might as well have been built out of brick for all the impact he made. Then the bruiser got in a heavy blow to the sternum that knocked the breath out of him, followed it up with a hefty right hook to the jaw that sent him crashing head first into the garage shutters, and it was all over.

Winded, Doyle lay sprawled against the rusty shutters for a moment, waiting for his head to stop spinning. This, he told himself, was the reason why it wasn't a good idea to get into a fight when you already had a spot of concussion, even if you were feeling better, enough to fool yourself that you were fine now. There was no way that was ever going to end well. Only then did he remember to look for his opponent, wondering why the bruiser hadn't pressed home his advantage, but the man appeared to have vanished into thin air.

Doyle clambered back to his feet and made his way over to where Sullivan had a still struggling Wilson face down in the middle of the road, arms pinned behind his back, with a knee in the small of his back to keep him down. So apparently the Navy did teach its medical officers how to handle themselves in a fight. Good to know.

"Are you all right?" Sullivan called as Doyle approached.

"Yeah." Hitting those shutters head first had re-awoken his concussion headache, but the only real damage was to his pride. Doyle pulled a pair of handcuffs out of a pocket and bent down to slap them on Wilson. "'D you see where he went?"

"That way." Hauling Wilson to his feet, Sullivan nodded over his shoulder toward the lane.

Doyle scanned the lane, but there was no sign of the bruiser. He couldn't have got that far, surely? There was plenty of cover down there, mind, between the scaffolding, assorted dustbins and weeds. Still, they had Wilson now. That was something, at least. "Come on," he said, "Let's take him in."

They'd just about reached the car when a shot rang out and Wilson crumpled with a strangled cry.

Doyle threw himself to the ground and crawled behind the car for whatever cover it could offer, glanced across to see that Sullivan had done the same. Where the hell had that shot come from? He frantically scanned the area, and caught a glimpse of movement up on the scaffolding that ran along the side of the garage. There he was.

"You see him?" Sullivan called in a low voice.

"Yeah," Doyle confirmed, shifting slightly to try to get a better look, hopefully without getting his head blown off, as the car and garage wall were obscuring his view. He could just about make out the bruiser, crouched low at the edge of the scaffolding up at the first floor level – then quickly ducked back as the man fired again, the shot pinging off the side of the car.

It was only a few feet from the car to the scaffolding, but it might as well have been a mile, given the advantage the bruiser had – Doyle would never be able to cross the distance between here and there without getting hit, not without covering fire, but Sullivan wasn't armed.

Keeping as low as possible, Doyle carefully moved along behind the car until he reached the driver's door, which he pulled open as surreptitiously as he could manage, just wide enough to stick his arm through and fish around under the seat. Bodie usually kept a spare weapon stashed under there, just in case…and there it was. His questing fingers closed around the gun and swiftly worked it free of the tape securing it. Then, letting the car door drop shut again, he crawled over to where Sullivan was crouched, keeping a careful watch out for the gunman.

"Here you go," he muttered, handing the gun over, attention focused on the scaffold opposite. "Cover me."

Without waiting for any arguments or counter suggestions, he sucked in a deep breath and ran for it. The air above his head promptly exploded with gunfire from behind, covering his run just as he'd asked. Doyle kept low and kept running. He made it to the scaffolding in one piece and started to climb, had just about reached the first floor gantry when he had to twist aside and duck as the bruiser shot at him and only just missed. He kept his head low as the man's heavy footsteps pounded past along the boards, and then pulled himself up onto the platform to give chase.

The bruiser seemed to have disappeared again, but up ahead was a corner where the scaffolding dipped around the back of the building. Gun in hand, Doyle carefully inched his way forward, moving as quietly as was possible on those creaky boards, trying not to announce his approach. He'd almost reached the corner when the bruiser suddenly whirled back around it, gun raised ready to fire.

Doyle fired first. It was a split-second reaction that saved his life, and not for the first time. As the bruiser's body thudded onto the platform just in front of him, he leaned heavily against the rail and let out a long, shuddering breath. That had been just a bit too close for comfort.

He gave himself a moment to get his breath back and steady rattled nerves, and then crouched down to take the man's gun and rifle through his pockets in search of identification or anything else that might help shed a bit of light on the investigation, cursing under his breath because they might have been able to get some useful information out of the man, if it had been possible to take him alive. He wasn't carrying anything – no ID, no papers, nothing. Doyle gave it up as a bad job and headed back down to the street, where he found Sullivan up to his elbows in blood, busily working away on Wilson.

"He's alive?" Doyle was amazed.

Sullivan didn't spare him so much as a glance, focused as he was on his patient. "Just about," he replied. "What about the other one?"

"Dead. Him or me, I'm afraid."

Sullivan nodded. "Could you radio for an ambulance?" he asked, head bent over Wilson still. "If we can get him to hospital in good time, I think he might pull through. We still have a lot of questions to ask him."

That they did. There were advantages to running around with a doctor in tow, Doyle decided, and keeping wounded suspects alive to answer questions was one of them. "So this afternoon hasn't been a complete waste of time, then, after all," he approved, reaching into the car to grab the radio, which had started to squawk anyway.

It was Bodie. Doyle cut across whatever he was babbling about to request a couple of ambulances – one for a wounded suspect, one for a corpse – before asking what he was talking about.

It turned out, according to Bodie, that whatever they'd been up to back at UNIT had cracked the case wide open already, so maybe all this running around had, in fact, been a waste of time.

"All right," Doyle told him, "We'll meet you back there."


A shaft of late afternoon sun had unexpectedly broken through the clouds and Bodie basked in it, perched on a low wall just outside UNIT HQ's main building, watching as his car came zooming across the car park to screech to a halt right in front of him. It was about time Doyle made it back – it was getting boring, sitting around like a spare part watching UNIT soldiers bustling around looking efficient when he was itching to get going already.

"Hallo. Brought it back in one piece, have you?" he greeted his partner as he jumped out of the car, pleased to have visual confirmation that Doyle was unscathed after whatever he'd got himself into earlier. Then he spotted that the car wasn't quite in one piece, actually, even if Doyle himself was, and frowned. "Is that a bullet hole?"

"Oh, we've had an exciting afternoon, mate," Doyle airily replied.

"We?" Bodie looked at the car again. Doyle might have gone out in company, but he'd definitely returned alone. "Where's your shadow?"

"Went in the ambulance in case Wilson got chatty," said Doyle, glancing around in bemusement at the flurry of activity as another bunch of soldiers jogged past lugging various bits of kit. "What's all this?"

"Mobilising the troops," Bodie informed him.

"Is that what they call it," Doyle snarked. "So this breakthrough of yours really is looking promising, then?"

"Oh, the lad we pulled in couldn't tell us enough, once he got going," Bodie cheerfully confirmed. It had been a bit like a dam bursting, the words just came pouring out – they'd had a job shutting him up, in the end. "Then once we knew where to look, the rest started to come together."

"Something about a flying club, you said."

"Yeah. You know how we've been trying to crack Stanton's supply route, never had any joy?"

"The flying club?" Doyle whistled, long and low. He was impressed, then. "That is a breakthrough," he conceded.

"And it seems they had a shipment through on Saturday night," Bodie continued.

"Illegal arms?"

"Well, our informant couldn't say for sure what it was," Bodie admitted. Haggett was too far down the food chain for that. "Just that they were there moving stuff through, after hours – he unlocked the gates for them, hung around to help out and lock up again."

"So when that spaceship came down…"

"They were close enough to hear it," Bodie confirmed. "Close enough to investigate."

"And that would be how they found the missing creature – the what's it called, the Drashk."

"Bingo. Haggett heard the bang, saw a bunch of them taking off to see what it was, and reckons he heard them saying they had something special this time – the big score."

"Well," said Doyle, "An alien complete with alien gun sounds special to me."

"Exactly. And they cleared out pretty sharpish, according to Haggett."

"Bit of a weak link for them, then, this lad of yours," Doyle observed. "Sounds very chatty. So where do we think the creature is now? At this flying club still?"

Bodie shook his head. "No, that's been searched already. It looks like they moved it on immediately."

"So we're not actually any further forward, then?" Doyle frowned.

"Oh, ye of little faith," Bodie mocked. "No, while you were off playing cops and robbers, we've been doing real detective work."

"Oh, is that what you call it," Doyle snorted. "Okay then, don't keep me in suspense – what've you found?"

"Haggett told us where the shipments are taken after they've been moved through the club – he's been with them to help unload when they were short-handed," Bodie explained.

"Okay, and?"

"Warehouse along the river bank, East London," Bodie told him. "Course, it's not owned by Stanton himself – registered to a shell company that's owned by another shell company, you know how it goes – but the trail points back to him in the end. And Haggett named him as the boss. It's not solid yet, wouldn't stand up in court," he admitted. "Cowley wouldn't touch it until we had more to go on."

"No, but he's been warned off them before, hasn't he," Doyle reminded him. "That's half the reason he's so keen to bust them now and make it stick. Stanton's got friends in high places."

"And we all know how much the old man loves that kind of thing," Bodie agreed. "Well, anyway, this mob don't seem too worried about all that, given the deadline: act first, get evidence later kind of thing." He waved a hand at the bustle of activity around them. "So, the Brigadier's putting an operation together to raid the place, get that creature back before its people start to drop lightning bombs on our heads. We'll be heading out as soon as this lot get their act together."

"So UNIT are going to take Stanton down, mob-handed?" Doyle shook his head and gave a wry little chuckle. "That'll push Cowley right over the edge – he's already steaming."

"Yeah, I can imagine." How Cowley might react to this development didn't bear thinking about, in fact, especially if UNIT simply retrieved the alien and left the case against Stanton hanging. But they had to prioritise – and the space invaders took priority, had to.

"Right, well, if we're heading out again, I need more ammo," said Doyle. "Have you got any?"

"Go see Corporal Bell. She can sort you out." Bodie waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Doyle grinned. "Yeah, I bet she can," he retorted, heading inside.

And that left Bodie at a loose end again. He wandered over to help finish loading up the trucks while he waited, then after a while spotted Benton approaching and called over, "About ready for the off, are we?"

"We'll be moving out in two minutes," Benton confirmed. "Do you know if Dr Sullivan is back yet? The Brig sent a man over to the hospital to relieve him, but he hasn't checked in."

Bodie shook his head. "Haven't seen him, no."

"Well, we'll have to go without him, if he doesn't get back in time," said Benton, and Bodie wondered how that would work, if and when they found the missing alien – unless UNIT had other staff members who shared Sullivan's strange ability to communicate with the aliens…which, of course, was entirely possible. Why assume there was only the one of them?

"Will you be able to communicate with the creatures without him?" he asked, more in hope than expectation of being given a straight answer.

Benton grinned. "Oh, we'll manage," he cheerfully replied. "Will you be taking your car? Or riding with us?"

No, a straight answer on that subject had been too much to hope for, clearly. "My car, I think," Bodie replied. "Just waiting for Doyle to get kitted out – and there he is now."

Doyle was wearing his thinking face as he drifted back out of the building. That was never a good sign.

"I know that look," Bodie wryly observed as he met his partner at the car. Doyle thought too much, that was his trouble. "What's up?"

"Not sure," Doyle admitted with a frown. "Something's not sitting straight, back of my mind." He waved a hand helplessly as a gesture of his inability to pin down what was bothering him. "We've missed something."

"Like what?" Bodie trusted his partner's instincts, but they were running out of time fast – the convoy was about to start rolling.

Doyle opened the car door, but didn't get in, instead leaned against the car looking troubled. "I dunno. Something. Can't quite put my finger on it."

"About the case? Ray, we've been trying to crack Stanton's operation for how long now? I know it's not iron-clad, but this is the most solid lead we've ever found."

"I know, I know." Doyle shook his head, looking frustrated. "I just can't shake the feeling we're overlooking something."

"Well, you'd better shake it off – or work it out, fast," Bodie told him as Benton gave them a wave to indicate they were ready for the off. "We're out of time."

The first of the UNIT vehicles started to move out, but Doyle still looked troubled. Bodie pulled his car door open but hesitated before getting in, waiting to see what his partner would do. Then he spotted a vehicle entering the yard, against the flow of traffic.

"Look out, here's your new partner," he teased Doyle as Sullivan drove over and pulled up just behind their car, presumably making a beeline for them because they were the only ones still standing around talking instead of in a moving vehicle already. "You just made it," Bodie called out to him as he got out of the jeep.

"Did Wilson talk?" Doyle asked at the same moment.

"A little, before he went into surgery." Sullivan regarded the departing convoy with a quizzical expression. "Have I missed something?"

"Your relief didn't tell you? We've got a location for the warehouse Eddie Stanton runs his gun-running operation from," Bodie told him. Gun-running and various other lucrative little sidelines no one had yet managed to prove, for that matter. "So we're off to see if that missing alien of yours is there." And it had better be there, he privately added, because there was no Plan B for if this didn't work out.

Sullivan frowned, which was not quite the reaction Bodie had expected. "Stanton? I say," he murmured, looking dubious. "That can't be right."

Bodie groaned. "Not you as well."

"Why, what did Wilson say?" Doyle demanded, pointedly adding, "See, it's not just me."

"'Don't tell Mr Stanton'," Sullivan replied. "That's what Wilson said: 'don't tell Mr Stanton.' It was Galbraith he talked about. But they're business partners, you said?"

"Sort of," Doyle confirmed. "Stanton's very much the senior partner – he calls all the shots."

"Galbraith was at the flying club on Saturday night," Bodie slowly told them. "Haggett said he doesn't usually bother, but he was there that day, came to supervise the shipment."

"So if we assume Galbraith was there when the alien was found…" Doyle mused.

Bodie shook his head, frustrated. "No, it still would have ended up in the same place," he insisted. "All right, Wilson's pointing the finger at Galbraith and Haggett's pointing the finger at Stanton, but they're partners, they work together, so it's all the same in the end, isn't it? Where else would they have taken the creature? Why vary the routine when they've got the whole set-up in place already?"

Doyle didn't look convinced. "But if Wilson said Stanton wasn't to know – wasn't to know what? He had to mean the alien. Wilson knew about the alien, right?" He swung around to direct this question at Sullivan, who nodded.

"Oh yes. He was there when Morley was killed – quite agitated about it, in fact."

"And you know what? That's what we were forgetting," said Doyle, snapping his fingers. "That garage. Where does that fit in, eh? Morley picked Wilson up from there, not some warehouse, before they went off to their meeting with the aliens."

"Wilson was there again this afternoon," Sullivan added, "And his colleague was very keen not to let us talk to him."

Doyle snorted. "He'd have taken all three of us down, if he'd had his way, didn't want us anywhere near that garage. And it's owned by Galbraith, not Stanton; it isn't one of their shared interests. It's quiet, too – make a good hiding place."

The last of the UNIT vehicles was leaving the grounds. Bodie sighed. "So what are we saying?"

"Oh, I don't know." Doyle had his head in his hands, elbows resting on the car roof. He distractedly ran his fingers through his mop of curls and then rested his chin on a palm, frowning thoughtfully. "Just…we're assuming Stanton's involved because the gun-running is his operation, right? So this warehouse of his fits that theory. But if Stanton isn't involved…I mean, what if Galbraith went to the flying club to oversee the shipment for Stanton, but then found himself an alien and an alien weapon and decided not to share. I dunno – maybe he saw an opportunity to branch out on his own, cut Stanton out of the loop. He wouldn't have taken them to that warehouse then, would he? He'd have taken them to a bolthole of his own."

"Such as a disused garage he happens to have on his portfolio," Sullivan agreed, "Which now has gunmen buzzing around to repel all boarders."

"Exactly," Doyle nodded.

It was plausible. And between the two of them they had Bodie doubting his own deductions now. But the UNIT trucks had already gone. Bodie frowned after them, weighing up the options. "We could call them back," he suggested.

Doyle pulled a face. "It's just a hunch," he admitted. "No real evidence either way – they're as likely to be on the right track as us."

"But if we're right, can we afford to waste any more time?" Sullivan put in.

Bodie shook his head, mind made up. "No. No, we'll check it out ourselves, call for backup if we need it, catch them up if we don't."


"Of course," said Doyle, as they parked up at a safe distance from the garage and peered down the road toward it, "If there is anything going on in there – or was – they might well have packed up and made a run for it by now. Our little shoot-out earlier wasn't what you'd call inconspicuous." If he'd been in there guarding a captured alien when a pair of his mates got into a gun fight just outside, he'd've been out of there looking for a new hidey-hole the moment the coast was clear. And if it turned out that the alien had been there, while he'd been right outside and hadn't gone in, and it had been moved on already, he would kick himself, he decided. Always supposing the other aliens hadn't destroyed the world by then, of course – and that certainly wasn't something he'd expected, when he woke up this morning, to end the day legitimately worried about.

"Well, we won't know until we go in," Bodie lightly observed. "So how do you want to play it?"

Stealthy was how Doyle wanted to play it. They weren't going to get in through the front anyway, securely locked as it was, even if they were willing to tip off whoever might still be lurking inside, so stealthy it needed to be. He hadn't noticed any handily positioned windows down the side of the building during his brief excursion up the scaffolding earlier, but according to Sullivan there was a yard around the back that sounded promising, so they headed there via the other end of the lane, which came out in a neighbouring street.

Accessing the yard was easy. Getting across it in the failing light without disturbing any of the rusting heaps of junk strewn around the place wasn't, but they made it through the obstacle course without attracting any attention from within, despite one or two bad moments when an unwary foot caught the edge of something unstable. The clatter sounded deafening when you were stood right next to it and were aiming for silence, but no one came looking, so the noise must've seemed innocuous enough to the rest of the world.

They didn't even consider trying to force the back door – too obvious, too risky, and too loud – but further along was a window, which Doyle jemmied to gain access to the building.

"So is breaking and entering an essential job requirement for CI5, may I ask," Sullivan dryly murmured as Doyle slid the window open, wincing as it squealed slightly, "Or merely an optional extra?"

"Whatever it takes to get the job done," Doyle retorted in an equally low voice as he carefully felt his way through the window, luckily enough without knocking anything over, and then scouted around the immediate vicinity while the other two followed.

The room they found themselves in was small, dark and piled high with junk both mechanical and otherwise – some kind of store room, by the looks of it. Doyle was just about to try the door, with fingers crossed that it wasn't locked, when he heard muffled voices on the other side and hastily pressed himself against the wall, gesturing to the other two to hide in case whoever it was came in.

"…telling you, I heard something," someone insisted, just at the edge of audibility.

A second voice replied, this one quieter, harder to make out. "…that dog in the yard again," Doyle heard as it grew closer. There was a brief exchange that he couldn't quite make out, and then the second voice accused the first of being jumpy.

"Course I'm jumpy," the first voice growled, sounding closer still now, "After what's happened – and with that thing up there, gives me the creeps."

"Well hold your nerve," the second snapped. "The boss'll be back soon and then we'll be out of here." There was a scraping noise – the back door being opened. "See – nothing. You're imagining things." The door slammed shut again.

"Weren't nothing earlier," the first voice argued. "Were it? I told you, we should've cleared out already."

"With that thing up there and all those curtain-twitchers, after the fuss earlier?" The voices were fading again now, retreating into the distance as their owners moved away from the door Doyle was pressed behind. "Boss says wait, we wait…got plans…they were on to us we'd…by now…"

Nothing more could be made out as the owners of the voices moved out of earshot. Doyle waited a few moments longer, to be on the safe side, and then looked toward the other two as they emerged from their impromptu and very imperfect hiding places.

"That thing up there," Sullivan quoted in a low murmur.

"Sounded like a 'kidnapped alien here' statement to me," Doyle agreed.

Bodie nodded. "So we look up."

"We look up." Always supposing they could get there, of course.

The store room door was unlocked. That was a bit of luck, saved them having to find another way in. Beyond it was a dingy vestibule containing the back door, with a grimy little washroom set just across the way and a poky hallway leading out to the workshop. There was also a narrow staircase leading up, which was where they needed to go.

They ventured across the hallway to the stairs, but had only managed a few steps before a sudden burst of noise, voices, froze them in their tracks. Doyle had his gun in his hand before he realised it was a radio. Someone had turned a radio on. Well, that would help cover any noise they made as they proceeded, at any rate.

At the foot of the stairs, Bodie gestured his intention to move further into the building and stand guard in case the owners of the voices took it into their heads to come back here again. Doyle nodded his agreement and headed on up, wincing every time a step creaked beneath his feet and dimly aware that Sullivan, just behind him, was attempting to avoid every creaky spot he uncovered, finding a few of his own in the process.

The stairs went up a long way, up to what would have once been the attic, before the building was converted. At the top was a dark, dingy little passage, around which doors were closed to conceal whatever might be on the other side. Doyle glanced at Sullivan to agree that they'd take one each and then picked a door. Inside the murky room behind it was a veritable treasure trove of car parts, both new and old, along with other miscellaneous bits of scrap that had accumulated over the years – but no alien.

Doyle withdrew and turned to see Sullivan closing the door of his room. Catching Doyle's eye, he shook his head to confirm that there was no alien in there, either.

There was a third door. Doyle looked at Sullivan, who lifted his eyebrows and gave a little shrug by way of agreement. They headed for the door together. This one was bolted from the outside but not otherwise locked. Doyle pulled the bolt back and pushed the door open, fumbled for a light switch because there was no window in this room and it was too dark to see much in there.

Illuminated by a single bare bulb, this room, in stark contrast to the other, was almost empty. It contained a wonky table, a couple of bare shelves…and the missing Drashk creature, huddled up on the floor in the far corner, bound hand and foot and securely tethered to the ancient radiator.

The other aliens, on the farm earlier, had been some distance away, close enough to be recognised as aliens, if only because there was very definitely nothing and no one on Earth that looked like that, but too far to really get a good look at. This one was right here, up close and personal, cowering and cringing as if it expected a beating. Doyle stood in the doorway and stared at it, transfixed by the sheer alien-ness of the creature, the animalistic features and the fur and the tattered spacesuit it was wearing and the ears, which were enormous, and….

Sullivan pushed past him and hurried over to the creature, without hesitation, started talking to it as if it were a person. "It's all right, old chap, it's all right, we're not going to hurt you," he soothed as the creature shivered and shuddered and huddled into itself – God only knew what those bastards had done to it, for it to be so afraid. "We're going to get you out of here and take you back to your people. Can you tell me your name?" Wide-eyed, the creature growled something incomprehensible by way of reply and Sullivan nodded as he very gently started to untie the ropes binding it. "Logh, is it? All right, Logh, my name is Harry, I'm a doctor. Are you hurt at all?"

Before the creature could reply, a barrage of shouts broke out below, startling them all.

Bodie. And he was in trouble.

As he reached for his gun, Doyle was already running, snapping, "Stay here," over his shoulder at Sullivan and the creature as he went. Barrelling downstairs, he heard shots being fired somewhere down there. He plastered himself against the wall at the bottom of the stairwell, trying to get a feel for what was going on where from the noise, then made a run for it, flung himself down the hallway and against the wall at the end of it and carefully peered around the open doorway into the workshop to try to see what was going on, hopefully without giving himself away.

Bodie was pinned down in the far corner, behind a rusting heap of junk that looked as if it had come in for its annual service about a decade ago and been left here to rot ever since. There was another car on a hoist in the centre of the workshop, making it difficult to get a good view across the service area, but Doyle could make out two men, the owners of the voices they'd heard earlier, one tall and wiry with a thin little comb-over that came nowhere near concealing his baldness, while the other was heavyset with thick ginger hair. They both had plenty of cover, given how much equipment and accumulated junk was scattered around the place, and they were advancing toward Bodie from both sides – if he tried to move to get a clear shot at one of them, the other would have him. He was stuck. And the gun in the ginger one's hand, Doyle suddenly realised with mounting alarm, wasn't just a handgun but rather was a complicated affair that could only be the captured alien weapon – and he was moving in on Bodie, would have him in his sights in no time, even if that weapon weren't powerful enough to take out both Bodie and the car he was hiding behind in one shot.

Doyle didn't have a clear shot, either, from his position, but he did have the advantage of surprise, so he leaned around the corner and took a few pot shots anyway, distracted the goons long enough for Bodie to move – it would only buy his partner a few seconds to get to a new position, but that was going to have to be enough. Then he dived behind a crate nearby, as the closest point of cover available, because he'd be completely exposed if he stayed in that doorway once the goons knew he was there.

But now he couldn't see where anyone was, following that little burst of movement. And although less exposed than he'd been in the doorway, this wasn't a good position. He risked a quick peek to try to establish the lie of the land and across the room saw Bodie likewise poke his head out and give him a quick nod, before laying down a burst of covering fire in turn to allow Doyle to move to a better position.

As he ran, though, Doyle heard the crack of a gun that wasn't Bodie's and, out of the corner of his eye, saw his partner go down, felt an icy fist clutch at his heart. Damndamndamndamndamn.

Wheeling around, he fired furiously at the man who'd just shot Bodie – the one with the comb-over, not the other one, so a handgun not that alien weapon, thank God, although potentially just as deadly. He missed, but did at least have the very small satisfaction of seeing the man drop his gun as he dived for cover. Then he realised with a sudden chill that he'd left himself exposed and had lost track of the other man. Whirling around, he had only a split second to take in the sight of Ginger wielding that alien weapon, aimed right at him, right between the eyes. No time to react, no time to run, nowhere to hide, Doyle sucked in a breath and braced himself for the bolt of lightning he knew was coming…and then Sullivan came diving out of the hallway and rugby-tackled Ginger even as he pulled the trigger.

The lightning bolt missed Doyle's head by about two inches, at most; he felt the heat of it crackling by, singeing his hair as it blazed past him and exploded into the partition wall beyond, sending shrapnel flying all around. He ducked instinctively, throwing his arms over his head to protect himself from the flying shards.

As he picked himself up, Sullivan and Ginger were wrestling for control of the lightning gun, but as Doyle started over to help, he spotted Comb-Over crawling out from behind that rusty old car Bodie'd been hiding behind earlier, trying to retrieve his gun, which lay nearby.

Doyle's gun jammed. He dropped it and dived for Comb-Over's instead and got there first, just barely, used it to club the man across the head and knock him out, then turned to see Ginger doing much the same thing to Sullivan before aiming that lightning gun at him while he was still stunned.

Doyle hastily raised Comb-Over's gun, knowing he wasn't going to be in time – but then a shot rang out from the other side of the room and Ginger dropped like a stone, the lightning gun falling from his suddenly nerveless hand before he could press the trigger.

Bodie. Bodie'd fired the shot. Relief washed over Doyle like a wave at the sight of his partner more or less on his feet. He was okay, thank God for that. Then Bodie dropped his gun and sank to the floor again, cursing and clutching at his arm, and Doyle hurried over and knelt alongside him to take a look. The bullet had caught his upper arm, it turned out – painful, no doubt, to say nothing of bloody, but not serious, not in the grand scheme of things, certainly not compared with what he'd been afraid of, for a moment there.

"Getting careless in your old age, sunshine," he mock chided and was rewarded with an exasperated roll of the eyes. Yeah, Bodie was fine.

"Did we find it?" he asked through gritted teeth.

"Yeah, we found it," Doyle confirmed, glancing across to see if Sullivan was all right. He'd already picked himself up and was heading over to them, rubbing at his head and looking a bit groggy but apparently not too much the worse for the pistol-whipping he'd just taken, although he'd have one hell of a shiner come morning. Ginger clearly hadn't hit as hard as Doyle did, since Comb-Over was still out for the count.

Another advantage to running around with a doctor in tow was having medical attention on the spot when your partner got himself shot, so Doyle moved aside to let him take a look at Bodie's arm and went to find something to tie Comb-Over up with before he came round, then returned to see how Bodie was getting on. Sullivan had helped him get his coat off and had torn his shirt sleeve open so he could examine the wound properly, while Bodie scowled and grumbled his discomfort. The alien – what had Sullivan called it? Logh? – was there too, now, crouched alongside the doctor as he worked, clutching at the sleeve of his jacket with its talon-like fingers, a gesture that made it look like a frightened child with a security blanket, which was a strange image to reconcile with its animalistic appearance and the belligerence of its colleagues. You'd think having it clinging onto a sleeve like that would be a nuisance for someone who was trying to use his hands, but Sullivan didn't seem to mind, or at least wasn't making a fuss about it.

"So what's the verdict, doc?" Doyle asked, giving Bodie a little thump on his good arm for solidarity as he crouched to take a look.

"Oh, I think he'll live." Sullivan flashed a reassuring grin at him. "Could you see if there's some kind of first aid box around," he asked, "Or anything clean that would do as a bandage? And some water for Logh, as well, if you don't mind – he's dreadfully dehydrated."

Something clean in this place? He'd be lucky. A cursory scan of the service area showed no sign of anything resembling a first aid box, so Doyle headed over to the office to see if there was anything in there. The windows overlooking the workshop had been blown out and the partition wall half-demolished by that lightning bolt, so the room was littered with glass, brick dust and other debris, on top of the pre-existing clutter, which didn't exactly help with his search. He couldn't see anything lying around anywhere obvious, so rifled through the drawers of the battered desk and the mismatched cabinets against the far wall, increasingly convinced that he wasn't going to find anything useful, until finally, shoved to the back of the bottom drawer of the very last filing cabinet, there it was – a first aid kit, of sorts. It wasn't well stocked and was falling apart, but it had bandages in it still, which was what mattered. Tucking his find under his arm, Doyle hastily tipped some glass and brick dust out of a cracked and mouldering mug that'd been left on the desk and then sloshed a bit of water into it from the half-filled kettle in the corner. That was going to have to do.

Turning to return to the others, he was surprised to see that the alien had followed him into the office and was stood in the doorway regarding him quizzically. It said something – or at least, Doyle assumed it was saying something, but it just sounded like growling to his untrained ears and his translator was a bit busy seeing to Bodie's gunshot wound just at the minute.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand," he awkwardly told the creature, and then felt stupid for saying anything at all, because it couldn't understand him, either, so what was the point of even trying? He held out the mug of water instead, and the creature eyed him warily. "Go on, take it," Doyle urged, taking a step closer. "It's water."

The alien, Logh, looked from Doyle to the mug to Doyle again, then reached out, very tentatively, to take the mug from him, and knocked the water back in one thirsty gulp.

"Want some more?" Doyle retrieved the kettle and gestured at the mug with it, hoping the creature would understand, before cautiously edging closer to refill the mug.

Sipping at the water a bit less greedily this time, Logh growled something again and pointed at the desk behind Doyle, so he turned to see what it was on about. The desk was littered with mouldy old mugs and dog-eared papers, as well as a fresh layer of dirt and broken glass caused by that lightning bolt to the partition wall…but there was also some kind of device, he belatedly noticed, sitting alongside the phone. An alien device – he couldn't have said how he knew that, he just knew that it didn't look like anything a human would have built, in the same way that the lightning gun didn't resemble any human weapons. He rather gingerly picked the device up and held it out to Logh, whose sharp, pointed furry face seemed to light up with delight that he'd understood what it – he – wanted.

Logh fiddled with the device for a moment and then spoke again, his voice still an incomprehensible growl to Doyle's ears…but this time the growl was closely followed by a more human voice that emanated from the device in his hands, translating that growl into English.

"Thank you," he said.

Continue to Part 4


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October 2017


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