4-5

At three times during the day the field anomalies in the circle were at their height, dawn, noon and sunset. It was midday. Professor Watkins was stunned, but he flipped the switch on his home-made remote and activated the field amplification equipment around the circle. With a crackle of electrical energy faint, incandescent blue-green sparks leapt from upright to upright, enclosing the circle and all those within the ditch boundary in a faint hemisperical bubble of energy.

The group, including the fallen Colin, were slap-bang in the centre of the circle, along with Von Slagerhamer and a handful of his armed followers. "What is this? What are you doing Johnny? Give me the secret, or I'll kill you all!"

Johnny stepped forward to face von Slagerhamer and his armed cohorts. "Just what is your bag, daddio?" He could feel the energy starting to prickle under his flesh, at his wrist, and spreading fast up his arm. "What's with the Roman entourage?" He staggered slightly.

"How quaint. Your slang is somewhat outdated my young friend." Von Slagerhamer smiled, condescendingly. He made a slight sign to his waiting minions. "What's my bag? It is quite simple. I intend to travel back in time to Roman Palestine and correct one of the greatest errors of history. We shall remove the root cause of the weak and debilitating religion of Christianity and install a new and healthy and strong system of belief in its place!"

Almost imperceptably space was starting to distort around Johnny. Teddy was standing beside him and he felt himself being pushed gently away by an invisible force. He caught sight of Johnny's watch. It glowed like a white hot coal!

What had Colin said about the Rolex when they'd first met? Gold and platinum. "Johnny!" He hissed. "It's y'r watch!"

A look of shocked realisation flashed across Johnny's face. He pulled it from his wrist. "Here!" He shouted brandishing the watch so that von Slagerhamer could see it. "The secret's in the watch, you old square! Catch!" He flung it high and true towards the old maniac.

Von Slagerhamer put up his hands, high above his head, to catch it, stepping back over the edge of the sloping ditch and tumbled backwards, out of the circle. His minions turned following, trying to break his fall.

Beyond the stone circle's field of damping, magnetic energy there was a flash like lightning. A bubble of writhing, n-dimensional, force grew around the stumbling, but still upright, figure of von Slagerhamer who clutched the the watch, triumphantly, in his outstretched hand! Instantaneously, it folded in upon its self leaving a total vacuum in its wake. The filling vacuum exploded upon the ancient scientist's nearby minions like a stun grenade with a clap of eardrum perforating thunder!

What followed next was chaos. The armed legionnaries suspecting a trap raised their machine pistols and fired into the circle. Not one bullet entered! Instead, they were spun around and deflected by the the circle's enhanced earth-energy field that had been amplified, preposterously, by the wide-spectrum energies released by the opening and closing of the chrono-synclastic fundibulum. The bullets were ejected in the general direction from whence they came, but with an escape velocity many times greater and spinning like supersonic tops. Legionnaries' bodies burst like over-ripe melons into bloody, wet, pink, pulp as jagged, shards of Kevlar and carbon-fiber armour accelerated the destruction. The Tarpaulin covered machine felt the full force and something exploded underneath. The armoured personnel carrier was annihilated, completing the destruction.

The other carrier roared off at high speed towards the awaiting Sikorsky. Almost as soon as it was aboard the Sikorsky took off and joined the hovering Apaches. The three US choppers disappeared over the hills.

There was a whine from Profesor Watkins' home-made equipment, as cunningly designed, super-conducting, ceramic, Tesla coils overheated and gave up the ghost in a cloud of carbon dioxide snow and vapour. The field faded and died. It was over. The Military The handful of injured and surviving legionnaries were too stunned to offer resistance and were easily rounded up by the RAF Air Sea Rescue Teams.

Captain Boyd snapped to attention in front of Professor Watkins and saluted. "Awaiting further orders, Sir!"

The Professor looked old and tired, but he still managed a wry smile. "You mean, `What the hell do we do next?' Don't you Captain?"

"Yes, Sir!"

"Well, first of all you'd better see what your medics can do for that lad there." He pointed at Colin, still being cradled by Jo. "He saved my life. Then check out the other injured and get these kids and the Chief Inspector out of here. Get on the blower to Space One. Tell them to make this site a top priority National Security matter! I want a Special Ops Team over here, pronto, to check out the site!" He paused. "Which reminds me what became of our Men In Black?"

"We've found bits of one of them over there. Not a sign of the other and the the US choppers left without so much as a by your leave!"

"Good chance `MIB' number two went with it then. Better let me speak to Space 1. We've no time to lose. What ever forces were unleashed here, the technology's ours, fair and square." He turned to the group gathered around Colin who still lay, pale and gray in the centre of the circle.

Two Air Sea Rescue Medics were checking out his shoulder and preparing to, carefully, placing him on a stretcher.. He'll survive sir. Considerable loss of blood some internal bleeding. If that bullet had been half an inch to the left the shock would have ripped him apart inside. We need to get him to hospital at the double, though."

Professor Watkins turned to them all. "You had all better go with him in the Sea King."

"Jist a wee minute, Professor." DCI Haiggert drew himself up to his full height. "As a representative of the forces of law and order here..."

"I'm sorry Chief Inspector. I'm afraid this is now a National Security matter of the highest priority!"

"Aye! I'm awfy glad to hear that! The paper work alone would huv crippled me. But, what about the kids? Who's going to be looking after their interests?"

"Don't worry! I'll be making sure they don't get landed in it!"

"Aye. And the young Yank? He's the cause o' alerting half the NATO forces in Europe, no tae mention INTERPOL."

"Well I'm not an expert. But, given a few days gentle negotiation between two friendly powers with a special relationship... I think he might be due forty odd years back pay and compensation from a grateful Uncle Sam." He paused. "If they want in on the research side of what's just happened here, that is."

He turned to Johnny. "Looks like you're stuck here for the forseeable, son. I wouldn't accept anybody else on the team, Professor Fist."

"Gee. Thanks Mac! But, don't be too sure about me being stuck, here, in the future. You saw what that watch could do. If we could set up similiar conditions, with a dense host material, like gold. Maybe, we could create another one. This time we'd be prepared for it."

"A man after my own heart. Right now I want you with the others on that Sea King, heading for civilisation."

Inge and Jo had wandered away, near the spot in the ditch where von Slagerhamer had been timewarped. "So, Jo. They way you ran to that idiot, Colin. You like him, eh?"

"It's not what you think, Inge. He's just like a big puppy dog."

"And the baby? Is it his?"

"No! We've never. How do you know about the baby?"

"You think I'm a complete idiot? Morning sickness and no periods. Duh! Well, it must have been that nasty little street musician. I could kill him!"

"Be my guest. I'm sorry, Inge. It just sort of happened." She was close to tears.

Inge put her arms around her. "Don't cry, schat! A baby's a baby. We don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Right?"

Jo looked at Inge, gob smacked.

"And what about your big puppy dog? Will we take him home as well?"

Jo looked at Inge, suspiciously. "What are you saying, Inge? Are you serious?"

"Hey. I saw the way you ran to him. I hurried over myself. I've never said that I was a hundred percent against all men. Any man brave and stupid enough to throw himself in front of a bullet, to save someone else, like he did, would make an okay father in my book. Besides he's cute!"

"He's going to need somewhere to recover. He's got a real dive for a bedsit."

"True. And baby's do better with fathers. So I've read." Inge smiled. "He's friendly, playful and obedient. Although, he does have a tendency to jump up, lick your face and rub himself against your leg if you're not firm with him."

"That's also true." Agreed Jo.

"Still he can fetch the papers, babysit and sleep on the bed to keep us warm in cold weather."

"Inge! And I thought you hated him. Do you think he'd want to share with us? I mean it's not his kid."

"Do bears shit in the woods? Ever since he met you he's been totally crazy about you. And, he's always been really nice to me. He displays only the most gentle and flattering kind of tongue out, hangdog, jealousy."

"Hmm. One time when he was drunk he said he like you almost as much as me. Said he thought you were really lucky. You must be a really great person to be my partner."

"Don't worry, we'll keep him far too busy for his drinking." She looked down amongst the bracken and heather. "Hey! What's this?"

Back at the Sea King Teddy and Shona stood waiting for Jo and Inge to catch up, the others were already inside. They waved them over, silently, above the engine noise. Inge was juggling something as they approached. It was von Slagerhamer's legs and feet, still in their jackboots, cut off and cauterised at the knee."

"Ah don't think the auld bastard will be turning up in the future, somehow!" Said Teddy. As Inge calmly handed the grisly objects over to a member of the flight crew.

They sat, uncomfortably, in webbing, or hung from straps. Colin was as comfortable as an unconscious, wounded patient, strapped to a stretcher at three thousand feet could be. Jo and Inge sat patiently beside the medics. Teddy and Shona sat either side of Professor Watkins.

Teddy turned to him. "Listen, Ah've bin working fur the Council Urban Archeology Department fur a couple o' years now. So, Ah know a bit about bureaucracy an' officialdoms' ability tae bugger things up. D'ye think we'll aw be able tae get oot o' all this wae all oor teeth?"

Professor Watkins chuckled, dryly. "Aye! I know jist what you mean. It's quite likely that the transatlantic hotline, between number 10 and the Whitehouse, is glowing white hot at this very moment. But, we've got two things in our favour. One: evrything that's happened in the last 24 hours is so over top secret that half a dozen departments, on both sides of the Atlantic, are already fighting each other, tooth and nail, to cover it up and hide their involvement. Now that could go bad for us."

"But, Two: Space 1 is so hush, hush, (we officially don't exist) that even admitting to our existence commits the British Government 110 percent. We're the one of the last lines of defence. Uncle Sam has the strategic shield intiative and we've got Space 1. Considerably more cost effective. Not even the US has been able to get a foot in the door of Space 1, until now. Johnny's our ace up the sleeve. He gets reinstated as a representative of the US scientific contingent and works with our research group. They get a chance to find out what we've been up to. The fireworks at the circle with the energy field and all must have set a few alarm bells ringing!

Sophie said. "It's a real pity they didn't manage to arrest that crazy, von Sluggerbummer, or what ever."

"Frank looked at her. "Whit dae ye mean. The man wiz a certifiable monster."

"Oh, I know that. But, before they led him away I would have loved to have heard him say, `I was on my way to rewriting world history and becoming a god. And I'd have got away with it too. If it wasn't for you pesky kids!"

They probably all laughed. Except for Johnny, of course, who was wondering what the joke was.

The End.

copyright, AndroMan 2003.