the dimming of the light (Part 22)
Determined not to stay outside for long, despite the protective clothes they all wore the Commander ordered in the team of doctors, paramedics, nurses all the others specialised in germ warfare and detection, rare diseases
and ones who had experience of the new viruses that were known to be evolving.
Indeed they had only two more hours of daylight left in which to carry out as thorough an investigation as they could
but the two hours was denied them at least for the examination and exploration they needed.
It took Bill Evans about twenty-five minutes to assemble his gang of ex-Irish guards brief them on what he'd observed around the helicopters on the lawn and outline his strategy
The gang, as they now were, of ex guardsmen were outnumbered, but as soldiers, albeit on ceremonial duties, of Her Majesty they had access to good, modern automatic arms including the latest SA80 rifle part of the small arms system designed and made by Heckler and Koch
and the advantage of being in a large building in extensive grounds with numerous trees and shrubs all of which they knew well
the resulting fire-fight took place mainly at the back of the palace with the British soldiers, fighting from the protection of the building killing about twenty French before the foreigners decided it was tactical to retreat back to their loose cluster of aircraft.
The British suffered a total of seven casualties, either dead or injured
if the history of the incident would ever be written up it would no doubt become know as the Palace Skirmish
during the fighting a number of the medical and other support personnel managed to spend about an hour carrying out their assignment surveying the situation in and around the big building
what they witnessed was not encouraging
With their numerical superiority added to by the British soldier's unwillingness to leave the sanctuary of the building the French eventually withdrew to the helicopters
but not before witnessing more death and decomposition
the French commander gave the order for lift-off as their last desperate special forces soldier was helped through the side hatch by his comrades as his helicopter was rocked by an explosion
as the nearest aircraft to it was hit by a lucky shot from the men in the palace
erupting into a ball of flame, which surely none of its occupants would survive
before all four remaining helicopters lifted off
departing into a angry sky over an even darker city
heading slightly east of south for the apparent safety of Cherbourg
(To be continued)
Peter Hunter 2012
these stories are part of the forthcoming sequel to - Time Of The Eagle - still available on Kindle