Standing at the window to his office overlooking the parade ground of a training camp based somewhere in the New Forest was a tallish man around 5’10 – 6’, inches tall in his late fifties with grey streaks running through his otherwise black hair, Smartly turned out in dress uniform and sporting a goatee, he was an ex SAS Commander Andrew ‘Stickler’ Hughes, as he stood there sipping neat scotch from a Waterford crystal glass, there was a knock at the door.
“Come in” he said with a semi Baritone voice. The door opened, a man also in his fifties around 5’7 with a slim build wearing army combat fatigues entered the room.
“You asked to see me Sir.”
“Yes Sergeant Harris, what time are the candidates for the Interpol Task Force due to arrive?”
“Tomorrow, at approximately 16:30 hours Sir.”
“And is all the equipment set up and ready?”
“At ease Sergeant! Take a seat and join me for a drink.”
“Thank you Sir.”
Commander Hughes opened the bottom right hand drawer and retrieved another Waterford Crystal whiskey glass and a bottle of eight year old Famous Grouse. He placed them on the desk and ushered the drawer shut with his right hand then sat down in his high backed leather desk chair. He removed the lid from the bottle and filled the glass about one third of the way before passing it to Sergeant Harris. He replaced the lid and returned the bottle to the drawer so as not to obscure his view across the desk.
“Can I speak freely, Sir?”
“What’s on your mind, Sergeant?”
“This Interpol Task force, do you think it will work, Sir?”
“Only time will tell, Sergeant, only time will tell.” He repeated as he relaxed back in his chair and took another sip from his glass.
The next day 10:29am: Berkshire, home of candidate Charlotte Hope.
“Mother what time is it.”
“It’s half past ten.”
“What the hell have I done with my watch? Mother have you seen my Watch.”
“Check the bathroom dear.”
Detective Sergeant Charlotte Hope was busy packing her bags ready for the training course as a candidate for the Interpol Task Force in the New Forest. She had made the final cut due to her expertise in surveillance and computers. It also helped having a father high up in the police force.
She is 26 years old, 5’4 tall, long blonde hair, green eyes and a very well toned shapely figure.
“What time do you have to meet Antony?” Charlotte’s mother enquired as she entered Charlotte’s room. Her mother was a stunning woman for her age about the same height as Charlotte with dark blonde shoulder length hair and hazel eyes also with a very well looked after figure and in her late forties.
“I have to meet him in about forty minutes.”
“You had better hurry up its ten forty now.”
“Can you help me with these please mother.” Charlotte and her mother picked up her bags and made there way down the stairs and out to Charlotte’s car, a brand new red Mazda RX8. Charlotte pressed the remote on the key and the boot of the car popped open. She placed her bags in the boot and made her way to the drivers door opened it and slipped in to the drivers seat.
“Take good care of yourself and give that future son in law of mine a big kiss from me.”
“I will mother.”
“Drive safely dear.”
“Bye mother.” Charlotte started the engine and put the car into gear and accelerated down the block paved driveway to the main gates of the Estate.
10:45 am Staines, Middlesex. 2nd Candidate: Antony Richards.
The next candidate for the Interpol Task force was Antony Richards, fiancé of Charlotte Hope. He had been discharged from the Army for medical reasons after receiving a bullet in his left knee during early stages of the Gulf war. Tony had served in the army for 14 years and had earned himself the Queens Medal for bravery and had reached the rank of Captain before his unfortunate injury put an end to his army career. After 6 months in hospital and extensive surgery to rebuild his knee he was still declared unfit for combat due to circulation problems in his left leg.
Tony was 5’8 with a firm build, short fair hair, blue eyes and a goatee beard.
He was an expert in weapons and explosives on top which, he had a pilot’s licence that enabled him to fly helicopters and jet aircraft as well as having many other talents.
The phone rings at Tony’s flat, situated just outside the town centre of Staines in Middlesex. His younger brother Terence picks up the handset.
“Hello Tony its Charlie.”
“It’s not Tony, its Terry. Tony is in the bathroom shaving. Hold on I’ll give him a shout. Tony! Charlotte is on the phone!”
Tony emerged from the bathroom topless, brandishing a perfect set of pectorals and six pack with his face half covered in shaving foam. He strolled down the corridor to the living room where the phone was situated and took the phone from his little brother.
“Hello poppet, what’s up?”
“I’m on the motorway, I should be there in about half an hour so put the kettle on.”
“Ok babe, see you when you get here. Bye!”
Tony put down the handset and returned to the bathroom to finish shaving.
The Interpol Task Force was a new organisation being set up by the United Nations to help combat drugs, terrorism, human trafficking and other International crimes. Only eight applicants would be selected for the main team with three teams on standby, should additional help be required as support.
The applicants would be flying in from most of the major countries around the world, for three weeks intense training at the specially built training facility at the New Forest, near Southampton. Only the best of the best would be selected for the task force.
11:35 am. The residence of Tony Richards
Tony emerged from the bathroom, clean shaven except for a small well trimmed moustache and well trimmed beard. He strolled into the kitchen where Terry was sitting at the kitchen table, his laptop open with his Facebook profile on the screen and a cup of tea in his hand poised at his lips while he was scanning the computer screen. This was the usual behaviour for Terry on his day off.
Tony had asked Terry to flat sit for him while he was away on the training course which he was more than happy to do as it got him away from flat sharing with his mate and his mate’s girlfriend who were complete and total slobs when it came to tidying up behind them and the smell of Cat pee lingering through their flat.
Terry was an IT engineer and had been in the computer industry for ten years since he left school.
Tony walked over to the kitchen work top and picked up the stainless steel kettle and took it to the sink to fill it with water. He filled it then returned to the worktop and switched on the kettle. Whilst waiting for it to boil he took two mugs from the rack next to the kettle, followed by a jar of coffee and a bowl of sugar from the cupboard above the worktop, he then put a spoonful of coffee into each cup followed buy two spoons full of sugar into each then waited patiently for the kettle to boil. Just as the kettle was coming to the boil the door buzzer sounded.
“Terry can you finish the coffees while I get the door?”
Terry got up from his seat and walked over to the kettle while Tony went to the door entry system in the hallway. He pressed the intercom button and held it down.
“Tony its Charlotte.”
“I’ll buzz you in.”
He pressed the button indicated on the panel by the symbol of a key and released the door in the down stairs lobby, he then opened the main door to the flat and waited by the door for Charlotte to enter. Twenty seconds later Charlotte had climbed the two flights of stairs to the front door of Tony’s flat and they greeted each other with a slow passionate kiss on the lips.
They strolled down the hallway to the Kitchen where Terry had just finished making the coffee.
“How’s the traffic?” Terry asked Charlotte.
“Not too bad,” replied Charlotte, knowing Terry and his girlfriend Shannon were off for a long weekend in Ireland.
“It was fine coming here and seemed to be flowing well the other way,” she added.
“I have to pop into town before we make our way to the New Forest,” said Tony to Charlotte.
“Ok, no problem.”
“How is your mother?” Charlotte enquired.
“She is doing well; she is off to Chester to see my sister and my niece this weekend.”
“That will be nice for her,” Charlotte remarked.
“We should get a move on, we have to transfer your luggage to the truck and lock up your car in the garage.”
They finished their coffees and said their good bye’s to Terry and made their way out to the parking area outside the flats.
They reached the parking area about twenty five seconds later, Tony pressed the remote control to open his garage where his truck was parked. He entered the garage and got into the truck and started the two point five litre Automatic Turbo diesel engine of his Japanese imported Honda Ridgeline four wheel drive Crew Cab Limited Edition, and drove the pearlescent black monster out of the structure, the sun glistening off the perfectly polished allow wheels and chrome work as it emerged into the daylight. He pressed the button for the electric widow and began to speak.
“Park your car up in garage, babe, and we’ll transfer the luggage over.” Charlotte walked over to her vehicle, pressing the remote door lock button on her keys as she approached it. She entered the vehicle and started the engine, put it into gear and drove forward into the garage. She removed it from first into neutral applied the hand brake, disengaged engine and pulled the boot release next to her seat then exited the car. Tony opened the door of his truck and got out and approached the rear of Charlotte’s car. He lifted the boot then proceeded to remove Charlotte’s cases from the rear of the vehicle. He walked over to the rear door of the crew cab on his truck and opened it then placed the cases in behind the front seats and on the rear seat next to his luggage that he had packed in the night before. Charlotte closed the boot of her car and pressed the door lock button on her key fob. The car bleeped as the central locking kicked in. They both got into Tony’s truck and fastened their seatbelts. Tony pressed the button for the electric garage door to close and began the journey into the town centre.
They were both very pleased that they had been chosen as candidates for the Interpol Task Force but at the same time a bit nervous about the challenges that might face them on the training course. All they knew was it would test their abilities to the limits and beyond.
“What kind of tests do you think there will be Tony?”
“Well, Charlie, much the same as the courses we took to get in the forces only tougher, so for someone like you it should be a piece of cake.”
“Ok just because I got through the Academy with flying colours doesn’t mean you have to take the piss.”
Tony looked over and smiled and winked at Charlotte as if to say he was only joking. Charlotte gave him a dig in the ribs and smiled as she sat back into her seat.
Tony pulled into the multi storey car park and found a space on the second level near the exit ramp. he reversed into the space put the truck in park and applied the hand brake then shut off the engine and removed his keys. They opened their respective doors and exited the vehicle. Tony activated the central locking. Charlotte took hold of Tony’s hand and they made their way to the lifts on the first level of the Car Park.
12:05 pm Flight path into Heathrow Airport
In the skies on final approach to Heathrow Airport on Virgin Atlantic flight VS004 from New York, two more candidates for the task force, Michael Mullary and Tanya Smiles were ten minutes from touchdown at the busiest International airport in the world.
Michael and Tanya were both with the police force. Michael was 32 years old and a vice squad detective from Manhattan Island and Tanya aged 27 was a Crime Scene Investigator from Los Angeles.
Tanya was a Martial Arts Expert and held black belts in four different Asian Martial Arts and was extremely proficient in hand to hand combat. Michael was a kick boxing champion and an expert in bomb disposal; he had an eye for electronics as well as for the ladies.
They first got in touch with each other when they were selected for the Task Force and had kept in contact for a couple of months before meeting in New York for the flight to England.
Once they landed at Heathrow, they were to meet up with two more candidates in the arrivals lounge that had also been accepted for the training course, Louise Carmichael who was from Australia and Janice Matheson, from Canada.
Louise was a 24 year old Police officer from the Australian outback. She had exemplary tracking skills and was also a very skilled martial artist.
Janice aged 27 was a member of the Canadian Mounted Police, along with her highly prestigious horse riding skills she was also a crack shot with both a long bow and crossbow and held the bull’s eye national championship for both disciplines. She was also an expert in narcotics and knew every illegal substance on the market.
“Tanya,” Michael taps her on the shoulder, “Tanya its time to wake up we are on final approach.”
Tanya opened her eyes, stretched her arms above her head and yawned as she sleepily.
“What time is it?” She enquired.
“Five minutes past twelve, we are ten minutes ahead of schedule.” he replied.
“How are we going to get to Southampton from the airport?”
“A car has been rented for us so all we have to do is meet the others and collect the car from the rental agency.”
“I hope you know how to get there.”
“Janice has the directions so she will be our guide.”
“Ladies and gentleman this is your captain speaking, please fasten your seat belts, put all your seats in the upright position and secure the seat back tables as we will be shortly arriving at London Heathrow International Airport, the weather is warm with patchy clouds. On behalf of the crew and myself, I hope you enjoy your stay in England and many thanks for Flying Virgin Atlantic.”
12:45pm, a train travelling to Southampton.
The final two candidates in what would be known as the Alpha Team were Mark Connor and Leila Châteaux. Mark was a 32 year old ex Navy Leftenant from Manchester. He was an expert in naval navigation and an accomplished diver with other 5,000 hours in his career in the Navy. He was making his way to Southampton by train and was about an hour away.
12:55 pm, Portsmouth Harbour.
Leila was the only one of the candidates that actually worked for Interpol.
In her early teens through to her early 20’s she was a gold medal gymnast. At 24 she gained a Master’s degree in forensic science and languages, could speak 12 different languages fluently, was extremely attractive and just a few days off her 27th birthday. She would be arriving at Portsmouth on the ferry from Caen then driving her car to the New Forest.
All the members of the Alpha Team were on there way to start their new careers as Agents for the Interpol task force.
13:00, Arrivals lounge Heathrow Airport Terminal 3
Michael and Tanya had just collected their luggage and were walking over to the lounge area where Louise and Janice were sitting. Tanya took a small A5 wallet from her bag that contained all the details, including pictures of the other candidates. She looked through it, picked out the pictures of Janice and Louise then browsed around the lounge.
“There they are, over there by the window,” She pointed out to Michael. They strolled over to introduce themselves.
“I’m Janice Matheson and this is Louise Carmichael. You must be Tanya Smiles and Michael Mullary?”
“Glad to meet you.”
They all shook hands with each other.
“Ok, now the introductions are over shall we collect our rental car and get on our way?” said Michael.
They all grabbed their luggage and made there way to the Hertz Rental Desk.
“Can I help you sir?” enquired the young woman behind the counter.
“Yes, you have a car reserved for me.”
“And your name Sir?”
The young lady looked down and started tapping at the computer key board.
“Can you tell me the correct spelling for your surname please, Mr Mullary?”
“Yes, it’s M-U-L-L-A-R-Y.”
“Yes, here it is, your rental was fast tracked; if you give me a moment, Mr Mullary, I will print out the agreement and give you your key.” She tapped the keys on the keyboard and hit the enter key. The printer next to the keyboard started up and printed out the agreement; she removed the triplicate copy from the printer and placed it on the counter.
“If you could sign next to the crosses for me please, Mr Mullary,” she passed him a branded Hertz pen for him to sign the document.
“Thank you, Mr Mullary,” she smiled, “You can keep the pen and here is your car key, your car is located across the concourse on the second level of the car park Section B, space 7, it’s a gunmetal grey metallic BMW 7 series.”
“Happy to be of help, Mr Mullary,” she said with a smile. Michael smiled back then picked up his luggage and led the girls out of the terminal exit and to the car.
13:25. M3, close to Junction 3 the Lightwater exit.
“Charlotte how’s your mother and father?”
“That reminds me my mother asked me to give you a big kiss from her.”
“So, where is it then?”
Charlotte leant over and gave Tony a peck on the cheek. Tony removed a packet of Benson and Hedges from his left shirt pocket with his right hand, opened the packet and took a cigarette from the packet with his thumb and forefinger then replaced the packet in his pocket and reached for his windproof True Utility lighter from the same pocket and proceeded to light his cigarette. Charlotte stared in disapproval.
“I wish you would give that up, it isn’t doing you any good.”
“My mother keeps on at me as well. I promise I will give it up before we get married,” said Tony.
“That’s another thing we will have to do is set a date for the wedding,” replied Charlotte.
“We can talk about it when we have finished the Training course,” responded Tony.
13:30. Portsmouth, Brittany Ferries Terminal.
“Would all drivers and vehicle passengers please return to their cars, disembarkation will commence in about five minutes as the ferry is about to dock at Portsmouth Ferry terminal. Would all passengers please make sure you have all your belongings with you when you disembark, as returning to the ferry is strictly prohibited once disembarkation has commenced. The weather in Portsmouth is bright and warm with patchy cloud. I would like to wish the passengers an enjoyable stay in the England and a safe journey,” announced a loud voice over the ferry’s speaker system.
Leila picked up her handbag and her jacket from the seat and made her way to her car.
She had been to England many times in the past for competitions and meetings though never by car but had a good understanding of the English traffic system as she had driven a hire car on the UK roads on previous visits.
She made her way down to the car deck and walked over to her car a mark two purple Renault Clio Which had been bought for her new when she past her test at seventeen by her parents. She pressed the button on the key to open the central locking on the car and entered the little five door hatchback. She then fastened her seat belt and started the engine. The car was her pride and joy it was the last big present she received from her parents before they were tragically killed in a boating accident of the coast of Corsica, two weeks before her 18th Birthday.
The traffic began to move in front of her and the disembarkation was underway. As she emerged from the ferry, she reached up to the pocket on the Sun visor and took her sunglasses from it and put them on as the sun hit the car windscreen. She drove down the ramp and off the ferry then accelerated and moved the car up the gears as she made her way out of the terminal and towards the exit.
13:45. M25 Junction 12
“Which lane do I need Janice?”
“This one, follow the signs for Southampton,” Janice replied.
Michael and the girls had just reached the M3 interchange and were travelling at a steady 50 miles per hour round the slip road.
“Doesn’t this car have Satellite Navigation?” Tanya enquired, from the back seat of the car. Janice looked at the 8 inch screen with buttons down each side at the top of the centre consol, she pressed the one marked Sat Nav and the screen came to life. “Please enter your destination,” a voice said from out of the car speakers.
A keyboard appeared at the bottom of the touch sensitive screen so Janice programmed in the destination.
“Please press enter if the destination is correct.”
Janice pressed the enter button.
“I wonder if that chick that does the voice to the navigation system is single,” Michael joked.
“She’s probably a sixty year old single woman with a weight problem that lives with her six pet cats and a parrot,” Louise said as she giggled.
“It would be just like me to get that lucky,” replied Michael, as they merged with the traffic southbound on the M3.
13:50. 1.5 miles from Winchester Services.
“Tony, can you pull in to the services? I need to take a pee break and wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee.”
“No problem honey,” Tony indicated and steered from the middle lane into the nearside lane ready to pull off the motorway and into the services.
He drove into the Car park and found a space close to the main services building. He then reversed the truck into the space and switched of the ignition. They exited the truck and walked over to the main entrance doors.
“Are you hungry, babe?” Tony asked Charlotte.
“I am as it happens,” she replied.
“You can powder your nose and I will get us some food in the restaurant. What would you like to eat, Charlie?”
“I trust you get me anything that looks good.”
Charlotte made her way to the ladies room to freshen up while Tony walked over to the restaurant to order the food.
14:00 hours; Slow lane M27, Eastleigh.
Leila was making good time although she was far too early to get to the training camp. She decided she would stop at the next services on the motorway to get some food.
Mark was just one stop from the end of his train journey to Southampton. From there he was to take a taxi to the training camp situated in the New Forest.
Michael and the girls were just about to pass Fleet services and were about 25 miles from the services that Tony and Charlotte were stopped at and were now sitting down and eating their food.
“Tony, what do you think our chances are of being selected for the final eight?”
“Pretty good I think,” Tony said, just before he put a mouthful of brown sauce covered chips into his mouth.
14:07. 7 miles from Southampton station.
Mark was reading the sports page of the newspaper and sipping his coffee. He casually looked at his Casio G Shock Watch for the time which read 14:07.
14:09. Totton Services M27.
Leila indicated and pulled in to the car park of the services then parked up, she turned off her engine and exited her car, locking it with the remote button on her key as she walked away heading in the direction on the entrance to the main services building, to freshen up and get some food.
14:20. Southampton Station.
Mark’s train had just reached its stop at the platform. He gathered his things and grabbed his kit bag from the overhead basket and proceeded to exit the train and make his way to the taxi rank.
Tony and Charlotte had just finished eating their food and drinking their drinks.
“I just have to take a leak honey; I’ll meet you at the truck.”
Charlotte held her hand out and Tony passed her the key, they rose from the seats and Tony made his way to the men’s room whilst Charlotte made her way out to the truck.
14:45. M3 2 miles from Winchester Services.
Michael and the girls seemed to be catching up with Tony and Charlotte, however, it was not time for them to meet.
“Michael, can you pull into the services? I need to powder my nose metaphorically speaking,” asked Janice.
“I think we could all use a bathroom break,” Louise added.
“Sure, no problem,” replied Michael. He indicated to pull over from the fast lane into the approach lane to the services and followed the road into the services. By this time Tony emerged from the services entrance hall and walked over to the truck and got in. He started the engine and put it into drive. As he pulled from the space Michael drove round the corner and reversed into the space Tony had just vacated.
14:47. Totton Services.
Leila had returned to her car and was exiting the service area and merging with the M27 motorway traffic she was just twenty minutes from the training camp and looked like she would be the first of the Alpha Team to arrive. Meanwhile after waiting fifteen minutes for a taxi Mark was finally on his way to the camp from Southampton station. Tony and Charlotte were just about 5 miles of the M3/M27 junction.
15:15. New Forest Training Camp.
Leila pulled into the main gates of the camp and found a space in the gravelled parking area. She removed her seat belt and leant over to the passenger seat and picked up her handbag then exited the vehicle. She looked around for the main building. The camp was made up of mostly makeshift portacabins and a big lodge that was made from logs and stone that wouldn’t look out of place on a Swiss mountain Ski resort.
She walked towards the lodge entrance and went through what appeared to be a main door. As she came through the door, she could see a reception desk with a young soldier sitting at it. She approached the desk and she spoke in a sensual French accent.
“Excuse me; I am here for the Interpol Task Force Training Course?”
“Do you have your acceptance letter please, Madam?”
“Oui,” Leila opened her bag and took a white envelope from it with the United Nations emblem on it and passed it to the soldier. He took it from her and removed the letter from the envelope.
“Miss Leila Châteaux?”
He then placed the letter in the envelope and handed it back to Leila.
“Do you have your passport please, Miss Châteaux?”
She rummaged through her hand bag and produced her passport to the soldier. He made a note of her passport number on his candidate list. “Ok, Miss Châteaux, if you would like to follow my colleague, he will direct you to the waiting area where there are refreshments so feel free to help yourself,” he beckoned over one of the soldiers standing in a small room behind the reception desk. “Could you show Miss Châteaux to the waiting area please, Corporal?
“Yes Sir! If you would like to follow me please, Madam,” the soldier walked over to a set of double doors. With Leila in tow he graciously opened the door and allowed Leila to pass through, she followed him down a long Corridor and through another set of double doors into a carpeted reception room that resembled a first class airport arrivals lounge with its plush sofa’s and neatly decorated paintwork. “If you would like to help yourself to tea or coffee Miss, as you are a very early, you might have to wait some time but I am sure you won’t be on your own here for long as we are expecting forty candidates in all.”
“Merci,” Leila walked over to the refreshment table where there were stainless steel Thermos pump pots, labelled with the type of refreshments in them on the outside of each pot next to them were sachets of brown and white sugar, low calorie sweeteners, and two capped plastic jugs with different milks, both skimmed and semi skimmed.
She poured herself a coffee, took a seat on one of the sofas and waited patiently for the others to arrive.
The next members of the Alpha Team to arrive were Tony and Charlotte.
They walked into the lounge area where Leila was seated. Tony headed to the refreshments table.
“Tony can you grab me a coffee?” asked Charlotte as she walked over towards the chair where Leila was sitting. By this time there were also twenty other candidates spread around the vast room. Charlotte walked up to Leila and introduced herself.
“Hello I’m Charlotte Hope, and the guy I walked in with is Tony Richards.” “Bonjour, I am Leila Châteaux. I do believe we are in the same team for the course, I notice it on the list they have posted on the board above the refreshment table that the gentleman you entered with is observing at this moment,” she responded in her lush French accent.
“Excellent, I do have the team list but haven’t had the chance to look at it. When Tony told me he had been chosen as well I was over the moon.”
Tony approached the ladies.
“Who’s your new friend Charlie?”
“This is Leila Châteaux. She is another member of Alpha Team.”
“Great, very please to meet you, Leila.”
“The feeling is mutual. So, are the two of you in a relationship with each other?”
“Yes, we have been together for about eight years. He saved my life and the life of a few other voluntary aid workers in the Gulf and got shot in the process, I felt responsible at the time and one thing led to another we fell in love. When I got back from the Gulf, I joined my local police force and that’s how I got selected for the team.”
“So, Tony was your hero, your knight in shining armour?”
“Yes, he was.”
“That is very romantic.” Tony stayed silent and sipped his coffee.
It seemed that every time a candidate entered the room the in thing to do was to hit the refreshment table so Mark did the same thing when he entered the room. He peered up at the list pinned to the notice board. Next to each name was a picture of the candidate and the force they had been recruited from.
Mark made his coffee then turned to scan the room for the other members that were in his team until he spotted Tony, Charlotte and Leila sitting on the sofa in the far corner of the room next to a large bay window with double French doors in the middle. He strolled over carrying his large kit bag over his shoulder and his coffee cup in his right hand.
“Hi there, I’m Mark Connor. I believe we are in the same team?”
“Hello there, Mark! Tony Richards. This is my fiancée, Charlotte Hope and this is Leila Châteaux.”
They all introduced themselves and shook hands.
16:00. Training Camp car park.
Michael and the girls were the last to arrive.
He pulled in next to Tony’s truck which was parked next to Leila’s Car like some cosmic karma; either that or all the other candidates were too frightened to scratch Tony’s truck. They all exited the car and walked over to the main building.
Michael and the girls came into the room that was already filled with the other thirty six candidates. Like the others before them, they made their way straight to the refreshment tables on the far wall. Tanya looked at the list and then scanned the room as Mark had done earlier to locate the other members of the Alpha Team.
“There are the other four members of our team,” she said to the others.
“How do you know that?” enquired Michael.
Tanya pointed to the list on the notice board. “Oh ok then. Shall we go over and introduce ourselves then? After you ladies;”
They made their way over to the other members of the Alpha team then made their introductions.
Sergeant Harris walked into the room.
“Ladies and Gentleman can I have your attention please, my name is Sergeant Harris. For the duration of your training I will be your drill instructor. If you would like to follow me in an orderly fashion I will show you to your not so luxury apartments.”
They all stood up and followed the Sergeant through the double French doors at the end of the room that led out to a parade ground. Eight portable buildings surrounded it.
“If you can form up into your designated teams, Sigma Team Cabin 1, Omega team Cabin 3, Delta team Cabin 5, Gamma team Cabin 6 and Alpha team Cabin 8. Your bunks and lockers are marked up within each of the cabins, each cabin is fitted with a communal shower and toilets. So, if you are shy then you shouldn’t be here as we are all professional soldiers of one form or another. You have 30 minutes to stow your gear and assemble on the parade ground to your left where you will be issued the uniforms you will be wearing for the next three weeks. If you have any grievances don’t come sniffling to me as I don’t have time for cry babies or drama queens, any questions?”
A silence befell the teams.
“No? Good. Off you go then, 30 minutes people.”
The teams dispersed and went to their assigned cabins.
The five potential teams for the Interpol Task force were assembled on the parade ground. Sergeant Harris and Captain Hughes came out from the main building and strolled over the parade ground where the teams were waiting and chatting amongst themselves.
“Can I have your attention please ladies and gentleman, I am Commander Hughes. You have been sent to me because you are the best in your fields. The training you are going to be given here will seem somewhat unusual at times but it is designed to pull you together as a team and utilise your talents to achieve the required goal at the end of each training session. For each of the tasks you will face you will receive points. The team with the most points will be the team that will fill the final eight positions in the Interpol Task Force. The task force consists of a team of 20 specialists in their field. The first twelve positions have already been filled and are at this time preparing your main base of operations at a location that only the winning team will be told, for reasons of national security. The current positions filled so far, are as follows. Your Commander and Chief, Communications Officer, Special Weapons and Technology Officers, Operations Specialist, two Transport Co-ordinators, five Operations Hub Specialists and an International Government Liaisons officer. The winning team after this course will be the mission field agents. I and Sergeant Harris will be keeping observing your progress closely. If we see anything we don’t like then you and your team will be off the course immediately, there are no second chances here. If whilst on manoeuvres outside the camp you approach or are approached by a member of the general public, all you can tell them is you are soldiers on manoeuvres. Any divulgence of your true purpose to the general public will result in instant dismissal for you and your team and you could face criminal charges. Are there any questions?”
There was a moment of complete silence as the teams took in all the information they had just been told.
“No questions then? Over to you Sergeant Harris.”
“Thank you, Sir. Ok, ladies and gents, collect your uniforms from the soldiers on your right. The Mess Hall is in cabin 4. Breakfast is from 05:30 to 07:00 hours. Lunch and dinner are when you have completed the tasks you have been set or when we tell you. The Medic Unit is in Cabin 7. You will be assembled on the parade ground in your teams, wearing your uniforms by 07:30 hours tomorrow morning for the first day of training, what you do with the rest of tonight is your decision. The camp gates will be closed by 01:00 hours anyone not back by then will be going home. Have a good evening ladies and gentleman, you are dismissed.”
The teams all made their way to collect their uniforms and returned to their designated Cabins.
5 Days Earlier, 14:00 hours Ministry of Defence Head Quarters.
Commander Kelly Ann Ryan was sitting patiently outside the office of the Secretary for Defence. She was 52 years old and one of the first female officers to be promoted to Command status in the British Navy. She had just finished her tour as the Commander of one on the British navy’s aircraft carriers. Following in her father’s foot steps she joined the navy at seventeen as a wren and quickly rose through the ranks until she made commander at the age of forty.
The phone rang on the secretary’s desk,
“Jenny, can you send in Commander Ryan?” The voice on the speaker said.
“Yes Sir,” she hung up the phone.
“Commander Ryan, the Defence Secretary Morgan will see you now.”
“Thank you,” Kelly responded as she rose from the seat and straightened her uniform then walked over and knocked on the door of the Defence Secretary’s office.
“Come in Commander Ryan,” a voice said from the other side of the door.
She opened the door to a large office with Georgian décor but with a large modern desk that the Defence Secretary was sitting at. He was quite a tall, slim man with broad shoulders in his mid to late sixties with grey hair, wearing a white shirt, dark grey suit and paisley patterned tie.
“You asked to see me, Sir?”
“Yes Commander Ryan, do have a seat.”
She briskly walked over to the desk and sat in the chair on the opposite side of the desk to the Defence Secretary.
“Relax Commander! You’re not here to get a telling off. Can I get you anything to drink, Ms Ryan, tea, coffee or something stronger?”
“No thank you Sir.”
“Ok then lets get straight to the business at hand. I have asked you here today because your command abilities are required to lead a special team. I know your tour of duty is up now in the Navy for which your record has been exemplary and if you wish to turn the position down I would understand completely. So, if you’re interested then you have to say yes now before I tell you anymore.”
“Sounds intriguing, Sir, count me in.”
“The United Nations has commissioned a specialist task force made up from recruits from different Military and Law Enforcement agencies from around the world. They will be run from a base here in London this agency will be called the I.T.F or Interpol Task Force and I have asked you here because I would like you to command the unit.”
“Surely there are more qualified people out there that would be better for the position, Sir.”
“Maybe but you were top of the list because the others lacked diplomacy, which you appear to have in abundance from what I have read in your file.”
“When do I start in this position, Sir?”
“You started the second you said yes. The I.T.F base of operations will be on the top floor of Milbank Tower. The first members of your operations team have already been selected your field agents start three weeks training in six days time. Forty Candidates have been selected for the training and they have been split into five teams of eight. When their training is complete you will have the top team to work with. Each member of the final team would have been chosen for the specific skills they posses so you will only be getting the best of the bunch so to speak. When this meeting is over there will be a driver waiting to take you to Milbank where they should be putting the final touches on the decorating you will notice when you get there that the I.T.F will not be on the reception floor map but I assure you it is there, you need a security code to access the 29th floor and the basement area where the firing range and the weapons and technical division are.”
“Sounds all very James Bond Sir”
“I suppose it does. The only difference is you’re in charge of a team of professionals and not a bunch of overpaid actors playing at the spy game.” Kelly smiled at the comment the Minister had made.
“Who do I report to, Sir?”
“Any problems you have, contact me, my number will be the first on your speed dial on your office and mobile phone.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“Give me a call once you’re settled. The driver will be waiting for you downstairs.”
Commander Ryan rose from her seat, walked over to the door and left Defence Secretary Morgan’s Office, and made her way down to the waiting car.
11 Days Later. 11:15, hours Day five of training.
“Ladies and Gentleman, the object of your next test is to see how you can apply your individual skills to help your teams reach their objective, that objective for this exercise will be to locate and retrieve. 200 yards in that direction is a gate that leads off to the forest. Somewhere buried in the forest is treasure. To be precise, it’s a small OXO tin wrapped in a Tesco carrier bag with a bunch of keys in it. You will have until 16:00 hours to find the tin and bring it back to me. Should you get close to the target you may face obstacles and decoys that are designed to prevent you from reaching your target, as well as the natural dangers in the forest. The forest is closed to the public today so you should be able to carry out your mission without interference from Joe Public. You will be issued with two-way radios; these are only to be used in an emergency or to let the other teams know you have found the treasure. The time is now 11:25, good luck and good hunting.”
All the teams left the parade ground and started walking towards the gate. Tony led his team through the gate and on for about 20 metres then stopped.
“Tony, why have we stopped?” enquired Charlotte.
“Because, my dear, we haven’t got a clue where to start looking.”
The whole team gathered around Tony and waited for the other teams to disappear in different directions.
“So, here is what we do; we have to assume that Sergeant Harris hid the box in the first place. If he did then we have to assume that because of the rain last night he would have been wearing boots.”
“We can get tread prints and a soil sample from his boots.”
“Well done, Louise.”
“We should also look for tyre tracks from a car or bike just in case he drove to where he hid the box.”
“Good input, Janice.”
“If we split into four teams of two, Michael and Janice you find out if Sergeant Harris owns a vehicle, Leila and Janice you will act as diversions, Tanya and Louise find out where Sergeant Harris sleeps, access his room and check through his stuff. Charlotte, we are going to requisition some equipment that isn’t standard in the medical kits, Mark you watch the girl’s backs. Meet back here in 30 minutes.”
They all went off to carry out their individual missions.
The first few members of Alpha Team had returned to the agreed meeting place. Michael and the three girls arrived first. followed by, Mark, Leila, Tony and Charlotte. “Ok people what do we have. Michael.”
“Sergeant Harris took out one of the electric quad bikes late last night I took a picture of the treads with my cell phone.”
“Good job. Ladies what do you have.”
“We have a soil sample from his boots and took a picture of his treads with Tanya’s phone.”
“Excellent. All we need now is a map of the forest.”
“You mean like this one.”
“Well done Mark. How did you know?”
“I noticed it on the notice board and thought it might come in handy.”
They all gathered round the map. “Ok first we have to find a vehicle entrance to the forest.”
“There are three vehicle entrances to the forest so which one do we take?”
“The nearest one to the camp would be too obvious.” Louise mentioned.
“That’s why were going to take it.” Tony responded.
Mark folded up the map and they started making their way to the nearest vehicle entrance.
On arrival at the vehicle entrance they noticed that many vehicles had used the entrance that morning so they spread out and searched in teams of two for the tracks.
“I think I have found them!” Janice shouted to the other team members. Michael ran over and retrieved the picture on his cell phone for a comparison. “That looks like a positive match to me. They lead down this track.”
The other team members joined them and they started jogging down the track.
They travelled for about two miles down the track where the tracks suddenly vanished as if into nowhere. “What now.” Michael enquired.
“The forest has quite dense ground cover here so he may have turned round and gone back over his own tracks to throw us off, spread out and see if you can find any boot prints.”
“No boot prints yet but I have found something over here.”
“What have you found Tanya?”
“Looks like a piece of fabric from army fatigues. When I was looking for the boots that I found in Sergeant Harris’s foot locker I noticed a tear in his Jacket that matches this fabric and a purple stain that matches the juice from these berries.”
“Looks like we are heading this way then, Louise you’re the Tracker would you like to take point.”
Louise moved in front of the team noticing every little detail around her like footprints, snapped twigs on the ground and trodden down grass and plants. They followed the clues for about two miles until they reached a small clearing where the clues had disappeared. “This is as far as I can track it must be around here somewhere.”
“Ok people spread out and look around.”
“Tony what do you think the keys are for?” Mark enquired.
“I’m guessing maybe car keys to the big chiefs Range Rover Sport. Why what do you have in mind.”
If it’s a remote locking key we can use the two-way radio to zero in on it.”
“Do you know how to do this Mark?”
“You know when you have an incoming message or call on a mobile phone and your standing next to or in the general vicinity of a TV or stereo that is turned on you get that funny interference.”
“All Remote locking keys give of a small electro magnetic field that we can use the two-way radio to pick up.”
Tony passed the radio to Mark. “Most remote keys work within a certain band width, so all I have to do is tune the radio to with in a few megahertz of the band width and use it like a metal detector.”
Mark tuned the radio and held it pointing the antenna within about eighteen inches of the ground and walked slowly around the small clearing while the others continued with the visual search.
The speaker on the radio started clicking faintly like a Geiger counter from the electromagnetic field the key was giving off. “I’m close to something here.” Mark said. “Come over to me, but turn your mobile phones off first Just in case it’s them I am picking up.” They all switched of their phones and Mark double checked he was still getting a signal. “It is very faint but I’m sure we are close.” He walked in one direction and the signal faded so he change direction and walked back to the point he started and got the signal strong again then walked in another direction towards the edge of the clearing and when the signal got stronger. He turned round slowly completing a 360 degree turn to find the strongest signal. “Ok this is not perfect signal but you have to take into account that this is only a basic two way radio and also the key could be buried up to a foot deep so I would say within four square meters.”
“Ok team lets clear these leaves and look for some disturbed soil.”
They brushed away the leaves from the area in teams of two one for each of the four square metres. “Tony the soil here has been packed down with a small trench shovel like we have in our pack.” Tanya stated. They all walked over to the point which was under the canopy of some trees. “Ok let’s dig.” Tony and Michael took the two small two piece trench shovels from their packs then attached the head to the handle and started to dig the patch Tanya had pointed out to them.
They dug for about two to three minutes until there was a tinny sound like metal against metal. Michael put his shovel down and dropped to his knees next to the hole. Tony slowly removed the soil that was covering the red and white OXO tin. Michel leant forward lifted the tin from the hole and passed it to Tony who in turn passed it to Charlotte. “Would you like to do the honours?” He said as Charlotte took the tin from him. “Don’t mind if I do.” She responded. Charlotte removed the tape that was holding the tin shut and lifted the lid to reveal the shiny interior of the tin. Inside there was indeed a remote locking key to Commander Hughes Range Rover sport and a small envelope that had writing on the front. “To whom this may concern.” Charlotte opened the envelope and began to read the letter inside. “Congratulations you have found the treasure. Your next task is to inform the other searching teams you have found the treasure and then return the key to me, as I have a hot date tonight and would like to go by car rather than have to walk in this horrible British weather we have been having. Many thanks. Commander Hughes.
As Mark was still holding the Radio he retuned it to the correct frequency and held down the microphone button. “This is Alpha Team, We have the package.”
Commander Hughes was in his office, not expecting to get a call so quickly. He leant forward in his chair then picked up the two-way radio from his desk and engaged the talk button. “Congratulations Alpha Team. Not only do you get the points you also get an extra day pass off the camp this weekend. All teams return to base camp. Today’s test is over.” Commander Hughes put the two way radio back on his desk and sat back in his chair.
Tony and Michael dismantled their trench shovels and put them back in their packs while Charlotte put the letter and the key back in the tin then put it into her back pack. All the team members looked at each other and smiled as Tony addressed his team. “Great work guys.”
They gathered their back packs and started to make their way back to the Camp all very pleased with themselves.
13:25 pm. Day 12 of training.
All the teams were assembled on the parade ground as they had done on many of the previous days of training waiting to hear what the next task was.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentleman.” Commander Hughes said as he addressed the Candidates. “You have nine days left of your training. For the next five days you will be asked to survive on your own wits and skills. You have shown that you can work in your individual teams for a short period now lets see how you manage for a longer period without the aid of the luxuries the camp has to offer, like a mess hall, or your warm and cosy beds. Captain Harris will now explain to you the next task ahead of you.” “You will each collect camping supplies from the trucks on your right. Each member of your team will be given a GPS locater watch so we can keep track of you at all times. Each team will be flown by helicopter from this base to a different location. You will have a fifty year old map and a compass to help you get back here to the base. You will make your way back here by foot from the locations you are dropped in you may not use any form of motorised transport to return to the camp. You will be issued with a two-way radio that is to remain switched off unless it is an emergency. You will leave your mobile phones here. Instead you will be issued with a payment card for a telephone box in case you have any radio problems, should an emergency arise. On your way back you have to bring souvenirs of your return trip. So the more towns you pass through the more souvenirs you will have and the more points you will accumulate towards your final total. You’re all thinking that sounds easy enough, It would be very easy if you knew where it was you were heading, which you won’t because for the entire trip you will be blindfolded and the chopper windows will be blacked out, so basically you will spend a minimum of two hours in a blacked out flying box. So if you need to relieve yourselves, do so before you go. Each of you will also have an envelope with special tasks that have to be achieved to gain extra points this envelope will be given to you by the pilot when you land. You have fifteen minutes before the helicopters arrive. So collect your gear and use the bathrooms now. Good luck and stay safe.” The teams went off to collect their gear and use the bathrooms before the Helicopters arrived.
The teams were all ready as the Helicopters made the final descent at the outer edge of the parade ground as Sergeant Harris called for the attention of the teams. “Ladies and gents Commander Hughes would like to address you before you depart.” “These next five days are the most important part of your training and make up forty percent of your overall score, so there is a lot riding on the completion of this test. Carry on Sergeant Harris.” “Right people to the choppers double time.” They all ran to the helicopters and Sergeant Harris checked each team’s blindfolds as they boarded the helicopters. The pilot of the helicopter adjusted the collective lever and Alpha team were on their way to their assigned mystery destination.
16:50 hours; Unknown Location;
The helicopter descended into a field surrounded by trees and high hedgerows. The Alpha team were given instructions by the pilot to remove their blindfolds and depart from the helicopter. They followed his instructions and jumped out of the helicopter and moved a distance away from the down force of the rotor blades before the pilot took off again and disappeared into the distance.
Tony gathered the team together. “Ok team first thing is first we have to establish where we are so what we will do is split into four teams. One team go north, one south, one east and the other west. The time now is 16:55 which means we have about four hours of daylight left so if we travel at least an hour in each direction and gather as much intelligence on our position as we can then return here, that will give us two hours of daylight to set up camp. Ok Tanya and Janice you head north. Leila and Michael, you take the south. Mark and Louise, west. And myself and Charlotte will head east. You all have your compasses and maps although the maps are fifty years old, they should have some current references on them. Anything else, draw in with a pen or pencil, any questions?” They were all very happy with their assignments and took off in there designated directions to establish where they were.
As they walked of in their separate directions they began to discuss the course and the other team members and really get to know each other better as part of the exercise was to be team bonding. As Janice and Tanya reached the edge of the field they climbed over a fence and into a forest and as they walked they began to chat. “Tanya, how do you feel about Tony being in charge?”
“He seems to know what he’s doing. I think he will be a great team leader. He isn’t hard on us he treats us all with respect and he is a very caring guy. Besides he has got us this far with out any major problems.”
“And because of Tony and his leadership and delegation skills the whole team works well together.”
“Yeah we do work well together, don’t we?”
Mean while heading south Leila and Michael were engaging in a similar conversation. “Michael do you not think that Tony is a good leader.”
“Yes I do, but I wouldn’t tell him that. You know how the English are he might get a big head.”
“I do not think that Tony is like that. I think Charlotte is lucky to have such a wonderful man.”
“They certainly seem to make a nice couple.”
Heading west Mark and Louise were getting to know each other. “So what part of Australia are you from?”
I was born in Melbourne. My parents moved to Sydney when I was four. At eighteen I joined the force and at twenty one I was transferred to the outback where I have spent the last six years.”
“I didn’t expect a life story.”
“I know but it saves time you asking the other questions you would have asked.”
“You are very perceptive.”
“It’s all part of being an Aussie cop. What about you Mark? What’s your story?”
“There’s not much of a story to me really. I was born in East London parents moved to Manchester when I was eight. At seventeen I joined the Navy. I returned to Manchester a month ago, when I received the letter of selection, for the task force. And here I am.”
“What do you think our chances are of making the task force with Tony in charge?”
“I think we have a great chance, He is a very competent leader and I have great respect for the man.”
“I think he is a true gentleman, and you can tell him and Charlotte are crazy about each other by their body language.”
“Is that another one of your many skills reading people and there body language.”
“I know you have a crush on Leila.”
Mark looked at Louise and smiled. “Damn girl you are good.”
Louise looked at Mark and smiled back.
Heading north, Tony and Charlotte were traipsing through a small forest area planning their wedding day. “When are we going to get married then Tony?”
“I thought we were going to discuss this after the course.”
“Just trying to make the time pass a little bit quicker.”
“How about in the summer in some exotic country like St Lucia or Mauritius.”
“A wedding on the beach under the palm trees, what a magnificent idea.”
“So you’re up for it then.”
“Most definitely, but first I think we should concentrate on securing our positions in the task force.”
“You’re right as usual.”
Day 12; 17:45 Hours;
“Michael do you hear that.”
“I hear it! It sounds like a diesel engine.”
“It’s coming from over there.”
“We had better hurry; we only have fifty minutes before we have to be back.”
“So let’s pick up the pace.”
They broke into a brisk jogging pace until they reached a clearing at the edge of the forest, just beyond the clearing was a field and sure enough on the field was a tractor pulling a plough. They climbed over the fence that lined the edge of the field and jogged over to the tractor. The driver brought the heavy machine to a stop when he saw them approaching. “Can I help you?” asked the driver as he opened the door to the big green John Deere tractor.
“Actually you can, can you tell us where we are?”
“You must know where you are otherwise how did you get here?”
“We are on a training exercise; we were dropped in by helicopter in a field about five miles away, we are trying to get a fix on our position.”
“Well you are about fifteen miles from Canterbury.”
“Which way is Canterbury?”
“North East of here.”
“Thank you Sir.”
“You’re welcome and good luck.”
Michael and Leila turned around and made their way back into the forest. “I think we had better make tracks Michael, the time is passing fastly.”
“Do you feel up to jogging back?”
“No problems, I have run four marathons before now.”
“I’m impressed, let’s go.”
They picked up the pace through the forest and back towards the Drop Zone.
Day 12; 18:30 Hours;
Mark, Louise, Tanya and Janice had already arrived back at the drop zone. Approaching from the north were Tony and Charlotte. “Tony.”
“Yes my sweet.”
“I hope the others had better luck that we did.”
“I’m sure they did.”
By the time they finished their short conversation they had reached the others.
“Where are Michael and Leila?”
“Here they come now.” Said Janice as Michael and Leila appeared at the edge of the field. Moments later the whole group were assembled at the drop zone.
“Ok people let’s set up camp at the edge of the field under the cover of the trees. Mark and Louise can you muster up some wood for a fire?”
“The rest of us will set up the tents and prepare something to eat, then after we have eaten we can get a fix on our position from the information we have gathered.”
Day 12; 19:55 Hours;
Mark threw some more wood on the fire, while Tony pulled a map out from the right front pocket of his combat trousers. “Right then what have we discovered about our position.”
“We found a road well it was more of country lane. We followed it to a junction. The sign said Lymbridge Green and Hastingly.” responded Tanya.
“Ok Michael and Leila.”
“We came across a farmer in a tractor. He said we were about fifteen miles from Canterbury and from where we were he said it was north east.”
“That’s the best news so far, at least we know what county we are in. Mark and Louise what can you tell me?”
Louise responded. “We saw a sign for Bodsham Green.”
“That’s good; all Charlotte and I found was a dirt track that seemed endless.”
“Can we go on the information we have so far?” Janice enquired.
“We shouldn’t have any problems.” Tony responded.
“I think we should get some sleep and get an early start in the morning” Said Charlotte as she stood up.
“Shall we say 05:30 Hours.” said Tony.
They all agreed and synchronised their watches then retired to the four tents they had set up.
Day 13; 05:30 Hours;
They were all awakened by the sound of birds singing in the trees. Leila was the first to emerge from the tent she was sharing with the other two girls followed by Tanya. Moments later the others came out from their tents, Tony being the last to appear. “Ok guys and girls lets get packed up then we will get some breakfast before we move out.
It took them about fifteen minutes to get their tents packed away and about another twenty minutes for them to eat their breakfast, five minutes after that they began there journey back to base camp in the new forest.
Day 13; 06:10 Hours;
“What are these tasks we have to perform.” enquired Mark.
“I have a list in my back pack can you reach in and get it for me Charlotte”
Charlotte unzipped a small pocket on the back pack, reached in and pulled out an envelope and passed it to Tony. He opened the envelope and removed a folded piece of paper and opened it out to reveal the list.
“Task 1; obtain a photo of your team outside one of the counties landmarks.”
“Task 2; obtain a sample of water from a famous river in the county. Task 3; collect a soil sample from the border of the county you are in and its neighbouring county. A signature from the county mayor is Task 4; and Task 5; a sample of something the county is famous for.”
“Is that all the tasks?” enquired Janice.
“There is a note at the bottom of the list. No points will be given until all the samples and documents have been verified. Good luck.”
“Where do we start Tony?”
“Our first task will be task number 1, let’s find a camera and a landmark.”
“Where do you suggest we go?”
“Well my dear Leila rather than double back on ourselves and go to Canterbury we head in the direction of Southampton, buy a camera and head towards Leeds Castle.”
“How long will it take us to get there?”
“If we can cover a mile every fifteen to twenty minutes it will take us about 6 hours. That means we will be there by lunchtime.”
“Well what are we waiting for?” added Charlotte.
They continued on their way across the field and into the forest.
Day 13; 08:15 Hours;
The Alpha Team had reached Ashford. “We need to find a shop that sells cameras.”
“There should be a Superstore around here somewhere.”
“There is a Tesco’s over there. They sell cameras they might have those disposable ones.”
They made there way to the Superstore to purchase the camera.
“This might be a good opportunity to freshen up and use the facilities while we are here.
Day 13; 08:45 Hours;
After they had freshened up and purchased the camera they decided the best course of action was to head down the A20 so they would save time and keep on track for Leeds Castle.
Day 13; 12:30 Hours;
“Can we relax a while now Tony.”
“No problem now we have reached our first destination we can all take a break for about half an hour, I’ll go and find someone to take the photo.”
“I don’t think I have been on my feet for so long in my life.” Commented Janice.
“I have been on my feet for eighteen hours straight before this.”
“How come Louise.” enquired Charlotte.
“I had to track a murderer across the outback while it was 78° in the shade and that was when you could find some shade.”
“Rather you than me.”
At that moment Tony returned with an old man in his sixties to take the picture.
“This is Albert he is going to take the picture for us.”
They all said hello to Albert and he gave an Acknowledging smile back to the group.
“Ok if all of the girl’s line up against the wall and the guys kneel down in front of them so we can get as much of the castle as we can in the back ground.
They all moved into position and Albert pressed the button.
“Would you mind taking a few more Albert if we switch around a couple of times.” asked Charlotte.
“Not at all.” replied Albert with a West Country accent.
Albert snapped about ten pictures and then handed the camera back to Charlotte. “Thank you Albert have nice day.”
“Thank you young lady and good luck to you all”
Albert waved to the group and made his way back towards the Castle.
“Right if every one is rested up we should make our way to the next point and stop for something to eat on the way because we still have four more tasks to complete. If we can we can try and get the next three tasks out of the way all in one go.”
“The water sample, the signature and something Kent is famous for.”
They all picked up their back packs and continued there journey.
Day 13; 14:37 Hours;
“Ok People we have reached Maidstone. I think we should split up into two teams. Mark, Louise, Michael and Leila you go for the signature and something Kent is famous for. Janice and Tanya you come with me and Charlotte to obtain the water sample. Let’s meet back here in one hour ok. Let’s synchronise our watches, the time now is 14:39 in 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, now.
The two teams moved of in opposite directions. Mark, Michael, Louise and Leila headed into Maidstone town centre, whilst the others headed towards the river Medway for the water sample.
Day 13; 15:39 Hours;
On their return to the meeting point Michael, Mark, Leila and Louise found themselves waiting for the others. “Looks like we got here first.” said Louise.
“Not by much, here come the others now.” said Mark.
“How did you do.” enquired Tony.
“The Mayor wasn’t too amused about us interrupting his Swedish massage but he gave us his signature.”
“What about the item?”
“We went into a souvenir shop and got a piece of the White cliffs of Dover.”
“I’m not sure whether that will be sufficient but good job. Right, I think we had better make a move.”
They packed the samples away into one of the back packs and got back on the trail to Southampton.
Day 13; 19:04 Hours;
The group had reached the county border between Kent and Sussex. Ok we will break camp here. Charlotte can you take Janice with you and go and get the soil sample from the border line.”
“Mark and Michael can you get some wood for a fire.”
“No problem Tony.”
“The rest of us can set up the tents.”
Day 13; 20:32 Hours;
Back at the training camp in the New Forest, Captain Hughes is on the phone to the minister of Defence.
Captain Hughes I’m afraid we are going to have to cut your training programme short.”
“Can I ask why Sir?”
“A situation has arisen and we need a team ready in two days.”
“That’s going to be tricky Sir the teams are on a four day exercise. Each team has been dropped in a different part of the country.”
“Are you in contact with them?”
“Each team has a radio but they have been instructed not to use them unless it is a serious emergency so they won’t have them switched on.”
“Then contact the local authorise and have them tracked down. Use satellite surveillance if you have to. I need a team ready for briefing in two days.”
Captain Hughes put the handset back on the base of the phone then pressed the button for the internal intercom.
“Corporal, have Sergeant Carter report to me in my office at his earliest convenience.”
“Yes Sir.” A voice replied at the other end of the intercom.
About five minutes later there was a knock at the door.
“Come in Sergeant.”
Sergeant Carter entered the room.
“Take a seat Sergeant.”
“Thank you Sir.”
“I have just received a phone call from the Defence Minister. I have been asked to cut the training programme short.”
“How short Sir.”
“He wants a team ready for the day after tomorrow.”
“That’s Friday Sir!”
“Yes Friday Carter. Contact the local authorities in the area’s where the teams have been dropped and have them do a search for the teams and have them ask them to switch on there radios.”
Day 13; 22:17 Hours;
Sergeant Carter knocked on the door of Captain Hughes office. “Come in Sergeant.”
“The local authorities have located Omega and Gamma Teams sir and they have a lead on Alpha team Sir.”
“Good work Carter, give me an update every fifteen minutes.”
“Very good Sir;”
Day 13; 22:33 Hours;
A policeman strolls across a field on the Kent Sussex Border towards the tents occupied by the Alpha Team. “Hello.” He called. Tony awoke from his sleep.
“It’s PC Smith from Kent Constabulary.”
“What can I do for you Constable Smith?”
“I have a message for you Mr Richards; you have been recalled to base camp. If you turn on your radio and contact your base they will fill you in with all the details.”
“Thank you Constable Smith.”
The policeman turned round and headed back to where he had parked his squad car.
Tony woke Charlotte. “What’s up Tony?”
“We have been recalled to the New Forest base camp.”
“Do you know why?”
“Not yet. Can you wake the others and let them know what is going on and I will call the base to find out what is going on.”
Charlotte got up and left the tent while Tony took the radio from his back pack and switched it on.
“Base command this is Alpha team leader do you copy?”
“Alpha team leader this is base command. Stand by for Sergeant Carter over.”
“Will do, over.”
The radio went silent for about thirty seconds then Sergeant Carter came on the air. “Mr Richards? Sergeant Carter here, what is your position?”
“We are on the Kent Sussex border near March Green.”
“Ok Mr Richards turn on your GPRS locater beacon, pack up your gear and we will have a chopper out to you within the hour.”
“Ok Sir. Can I ask what the story is for cutting the training short?”
“You will be fully briefed in the morning when you return to base camp. Carter out.”
Tony emerged from the tent to see the others up and waiting for a reason for the disturbance.
“What’s going on Tony?” Enquired Mark.
“We have been recalled back to base camp.”
“Sergeant Carter didn’t say.”
“What did he say?”
“He said a Chopper would be with us with in the hour and to be ready when it gets here, so let’s get all the gear packed up and be ready for it when it arrives.”
Day 14; 00:17 Hours; Back at Base Camp;
“Captain Hughes the first choppers are back.”
“Send the teams straight to their sleeping quarters and instruct them to assemble on the parade ground at 07:00 hours and let me know when all the teams have returned.”
Day 14; 00:57 Hours;
“Captain the final teams have returned.”
“Thank you Corporal. Give them the same instructions as the other teams.”
Day 14; 07:00 Hours;
All the teams were assembled on the parade ground waiting for an explanation as to why the training was cut short. Sergeant Carter stepped forward and up to the step to the raised lectern at the end of the parade ground. “Ladies and gentleman Captain Hughes will now explain everything to you as to the reason that you have been recalled.”
“Thank you Sergeant.” Captain Hughes said as he stepped up on the lectern.
“The reason you have been recalled is because a situation has arisen that requires the services of the task force. Sergeant Carter will now reveal to you who the main team will be.”
“Thank you Sir.” The Sergeant returned to the lectern and removed a piece of paper from his inside Tunic Pocket. “Right people the scores are as follows. Gamma Team 425 Points. Omega Team 470 Points. Sigma and Delta Teams draw with 512 and finally Alpha Team has 570 points. Congratulations Alpha Team and well done to you all. The standard has been much higher than we expected. Alpha Team you will report to the Briefing Room at 08:15 after breakfast. Sigma and Delta Teams you will be support for Alpha team if you’re required but will continue your training with Gamma and Omega Teams.
Ok people you are all dismissed.”