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Friday, 12 September 2014

Attack on Thera (Chapter Seven.)


After helping to clear up the last groups of attackers Lizzie made her way to the conference room where Simpkins and the others had been holed up. She still had Paul’s notebook and made her way to give it to him. 
When they had heard that there was an attack under way Paul and Simpkins had directed those in the room to make a barricade at the main doors. Paul then led some of the others to a weapons locker and they armed themselves. Some of the advanced forces did attack the room but Simpkins and his men managed to hold them off until the metal men came. Two metal men smashed down the barricade and went about killing its occupants. Three guards were dead before the metal men were defeated with the new energy weapons that the giants had left behind on the flying island.
Paul smiled at her as she got up to him, “You’ve seen some action then?” she asked as she handed him the notebook.
“I saw you at the other end of the passage near the pads, so you had a bit as well.” He took the notebook off her.
“Just a bit, I think I need a cup of tea now.” Cheekily she looked back at him as she left.

Later on, in the break, she had a meeting with Paul in his office. She was most upset by the fact that there must have been a spy who had helped the Andacians. “So how did they get onto the island?”
“There must have been a spy on board, who switched the travel pads on,” replied Paul.
“Who is the spy then, we need to know straight away.”
“Maybe they came in with the delegations for the summit.”
“How do we check that then?”
“I have no idea, maybe ask the delegates to check them out themselves?”
“Well at least we know it wasn’t done by the delegates because they were all at the summit.” She slapped her hand upon the desk as she looked out of his drawing room window, “I think we need Simpkins, he’s a good detective.”
“We could question Dr. Oswald, he’s in the brig. He could be quite helpful.”
She smiled a wry smile, “I’ll go and get Simpkins so we can question him.” 
“Maybe you had better let Hannay have something to do with the investigation as well, keeping good relations with the Tyreen etc. Do you have any ideas about who the spy may be?”
“I don’t know…” the Vuridanian general was on her mind, “I think it is strange how Leegan started off life as a liaison officer then became a general in a few months. He was supposed to have been captured by pirates, but I’m sure I saw him in Pintarn only days after. When I asked him about it earlier he got quite upset.”
The English officer tapped his notebook on the desk gently, “Just a feeling then?”
“See what you can find out about him, but be discreet.”
She nodded an acknowledgement then went to find out about Leegan before he left with his delegation.

Really, she didn’t know where she was going to start. If she questioned anyone in his delegation then they were probably on his side anyway. Did she know anyone who knew him before? While she thought about it she would go back into the meeting to observe him.
Because the attack came before anything had properly been decided about how they should deal with Andacia the delegates were holding their meeting in another smaller room. There were two guards at the door armed with Mk II electric rifles. She needed no ID for they knew who she was. As she entered some in the room looked at her including Leegan. She sat at their table and listened.
“We cannot attack the Andacians, they are part of our alliance against the Hoo,” said General Bridell of Chelac.
“Surely the fact that they were Andacians who have just attacked us shows that we have to attack them back,” replied Rotok.
“But why have they planned the attack on us in secret? Why not just declare war?”
No one at the table seemed to know except Wagstaff, “It is because they have been infiltrated by the Hoo, they have used clones to replace key officials. The common people do not want war with us.”
“So we just need to attack their military then.”
“What bothers me is that they tried to take New Britannia, that is an act of war.”
“Against the British.”
“And now the Tyreen because they are their allies.”
Lizzie motioned Wagstaff over and whispered to him, “I did spot one thing, one of the soldiers who attacked us was a Vurindanian. He was not with the delegation but dressed as a common soldier. I met him at the ambassador’s palace, he was an aide. What is somebody from Vurindai doing dressed as a soldier in the Andacian army?”
“Was he a spy do you think? And if he was then was he an Andacian pretending to be a Vurindanian? He was not with the delegation from Vurindai so he must have come through on the pads. Something doesn’t add up.”
“I suspect something is wrong with Leegan. He was a liaison officer a month or two ago, now he’s a general. Paul has asked me to find out about him.”
“You go and do that then and I’ll keep my eye on him here.”

She guessed that Simpkins would be down in the brig. She was right. There were only four cells and they were all completely full. The giants were in one cell, Oswald, Hawkins and the other doctor in another. There were ten Andacians each in the other two cells. Simpkins had one of the soldiers out of the cell and was taking him into a nearby office. One of the guards kept a gun on the prisoner at all times.
Lizzie came in behind them to listen.
“What is your name?” asked Simpkins.
The man did not answer.
“Are you an Andacian?”
He smiled smugly but still did not answer.
Simpkins picked up one of his hands to look at. There was a scar along the edge, “He’s a Gite.”
The guard who was with them grew a little tense.
Simpkins took Lizzie to one side, “We’ll get nothing out of him. I’ve heard it tell that the Hoo and Gites are able to take an incredible amount of punishment without talking.”
As Lizzie started to shake her head the Gite grabbed for the guard’s rifle. The guard discharged it into the Gite’s stomach. Still the prisoner managed to grab the gun and turn it around towards the guard. Simpkins kicked the rifle away just in time and the discharge hit the wall. The prisoner fell dead on the floor.
“We need a clone or a human to get them to talk,” said Simpkins as he looked at the corpse near their feet.
She went back into the brig with the others and looked through the bars. Looking at their hands she noticed one who did not have a scar on his hands. “That one, he’s a human,” she told Simpkins. But too late, another Gite grabbed the man and broke his neck before they could get the cell door open.
Simpkins banged the bars in anger, “Hated spawn of hell!” he cried.
Lizzie put her arm round his shoulder, “Come on, let’s go to the medical room.”

Now, though the metal doctors aboard the ship could repair all of the wounded, there were so many of them that some had to lie in the hallways on stretchers to await their treatment. Lizzie and John checked the ‘Andacian’s’ hands and found one who was unconscious with no scars on his hands. “Now he’s either a newer Gite, the one the doctor spoke about or a human,” whispered Simpkins.
“Let’s put him first in the queue so that metal doctor can fix him,” suggested Lizzie, “then we can question him.”
One of the other wounded ones there protested that somebody else was being moved ahead of him. “I will lose my leg if you’re not quick.”
Lizzie saw he was a Gite, “You’re lucky we didn’t kill you all, it would have been a lot easier.”
The man shook his head as they carried the other unconscious man into the medical room. Another Gite had been healed and was getting off the table. He saw that the man they were carrying was a human and guessed what their plan was. Grabbing the man around the chest he began to crush him, he wasn’t in the right position to grab his neck. Simpkins caught hold of the Gite and tried to pull his arms off only to be thrown back against the wall. Lizzie smacked the half giant on the back of the head with a piece of machinery that was lying in the medical room. It broke his skull but still the half giant crushed the air out of his prey. Lizzie felt helpless as she had left her pistols back in her room. Another blow to his head by Simpkins brought him to his knees. He released the other still unconscious man. The guard who was in the hallway finally came in brandishing his rifle.
“Very good Private,” admonished Simpkins as he panted with exertion, “better late than never.” He helped Lizzie up who had fallen to the floor.
The guard helped Simpkins lay the other prisoner on the bed. Lizzie asked the doctor robot to repair the patient on the bed. Once the medical metal man had done his job Lizzie and the others made him get up and walk to another nearby room with them. 
“What’s your name?” asked Simpkins.
“What’s your name,” he asked more forcefully.
“Arthur Grisdale.”
“Are you an Andacian or a Vurindanian?” asked Lizzie.
Simpkins looked at her, she seemed to be taking the questioning in a different direction.
“Why are you dressed as an Andacian soldier?”
“They wanted to make up the numbers.”
“Who wanted to make up the numbers?” asked Simpkins.
“The Red Pirates.”
Neither of them had heard who the Red Pirates were. “Who are the Red Pirates?” she asked.
He couldn’t believe her question, “Are you new or something? Who do you think steals all the tea from here to Sanctum?”
“Maybe you should be called the Red Tea Pirates,” Simpkins joked. “Why are you attacking us?” 
“I don’t know, we usually just attack tea ships. More recently though we’ve had an influx of new mates.”
“New mates?”
“Yeah, you know, people joining the Reds. Since then we’ve been doing slightly different things. Stealing technology here, assassination there, you know.”
Simpkins was thinking and looking at Lizzie trying to work Arthur out, is he telling the truth?! “Who is your leader?”
“Gaptooth Weston.” He shook his head, “What’s the use of being a bloodthirsty pirate if no one has even heard of you.”
“Is he one of the new ones?”
“Naw, he’s been pirating since I was a lad. Scourge of the Blue Sea he is. Everyone’s heard of Gaptooth Weston…” he paused a little, “except you lot!” He laughed and slapped his leg.
“Do the new mates have a leader?” Lizzie asked the pirate.
“Sort ‘o, skinny feller, bit of a wimp if you ask me.”
“That sounds like Leegan,” she commented to the others. “Is he called Leegan?” she asked Arthur.
“His name’s Cray, Elijah Cray.”
“Is he a Vurindanian?”
“I don’t know what he is, but the newer mates look to him for leadership and old Gaptooth just seems to go along for the ride.”
The interrogators talked to each other, “It sounds like this Elijah Cray is really Leegan,” thought Lizzie.
“We’ll need Arthur to check Leegan out to make sure though,” suggested Simpkins. He looked him up and down, “I’ll get him dressed in one of our uniforms and take him in.”
“How do we know we can trust him?” wondered Lizzie.
“Just show him what the Gite prisoners did to that other pirate in the cells,” he said quite loudly.
“Don’t worry,” said Arthur, “they have just tried to kill me. Gites you say? I should have known they weren’t real tea pirates, they didn’t like tea!”

Arthur got dressed in a British uniform, but his hair was too long so Simpkins had him pile it up inside his Foreign Service helmet. After combing his beard he smiled at himself in the mirror.
“Very pretty Arthur, now all you have to do is stand on guard duty in the room until I tell you I don’t need you. Can you do that?” asked John.
Standing to attention Arthur showed him what he could do. Simpkins readjusted Arthur’s rifle where it should be. He also made him tuck his tummy in.
“Will Leegan, or Cray, remember you?”
“Not dressed like this he won’t.”

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