Repercussions and Reconciliations

© April 22, 2015

By Regina Zdrojkowska.

Based on the series by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

Quotes from the series may appear in this story and characters settings etc from the series are the property of the owners and creators of the series.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT is given to a fellow u.f.o. Writer who had the idea of Straker reciting a litany of names before I did. I found out whilst reading "Memento Mori" by Lightcudder.

As my idea was written later I have tried to ensure that any actions on Straker's part are not identical.

No breach of copyright is intended or should be inferred.

Any errors in this work are my own. The author will not mind these being pointed out politely and sensitively. Any constructive criticism is welcomed. If you enjoyed/didn't enjoy reading please feel free to let me know.

Character ranks have changed over the passage of time e.g. Lt Barry now being a major. This very short story may not be strictly cannon. It depicts one of many possibilities… in many possible universes.

The pilot of the u.f.o. ploughed straight into the closed superstore. It was early afternoon on a fine April day. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened in the area prior to that on this particular day despite its relative nearness to the underground headquarters of S.H.A.D.O. If the crash had happened earlier it would have been full of shoppers taking advantage of the bank holiday. As a result of it road blocks had been set up cordoning the area off. Checkpoints had been established and diversions were posted diverting traffic away from the immediate area.

The manager and few of the staff had been attending to the usual business of closing and securing the store when it had happened. They were lucky survivors and were currently being interviewed by S.H.A.D.O. teams dispatched from its H.Q. Major Nina Barry was posted at one of the cordons near the intersection of three roads near the scene.

Mary Rutland was on her way home from work. It was still light and early enough that it should still be light when she arrived home. A lot had changed over the years. Her mother had died a decade ago. Her new husband had proved to be a reliable and considerate man and she had qualified as fully trained paramedic, not something she would even have considered back then when her mother was still alive. Now it gave her another purpose in life. It had also made her realize that everyone could go through tough times. She had for the most part put her past behind her and since her marriage to Rutland had matured considerably in her outlook.

"Should be home in time to have an alfresco supper and enjoy the evening with-"

Her thoughts were interrupted as she noticed the slow signs positioned along the road, a set of mobile traffic lights and a woman in uniform in the distance. By her demeanour she seemed military. The woman was stopping drivers and taking notes as far as she could tell.By the time she had taken this all in and reasoned that something serious had happened she had drawn level with the woman in uniform. There were wisps of grey and white smoke visible in the distance. There was a faintly unusual odour besides the smoke in the air.

She shuddered slightly with unwelcome recognition as painful memories came back forcefully. She could vividly recall the face in the photo that proved her first husband's infidelity. Was this really the woman who had once been Ed's plaything, his diversion that kept him away from her so many nights of their short marriage? Kept him away from her and Johnny? At one time she had still loved Ed but with Johnny's death any hope of friendship had died with him. If it was that women what was she doing in uniform and who was she? Surely she was someone from the studios, one of the many actors her ex was sure to have met during the course of his studio work. What difference did that make now? Her marriage to Ed was past history and dwelling on mistakes never did anyone any good. Something about the fact of her being in uniform disturbed her on an unconscious level. Why was she still reacting like this after all this time?

The uniformed women tapped on her window indicating that she should role it down. Mary did so. The woman showed her credentials whilst saying:

"Mam this area is restricted. Where are you headed?"

Her id indicated that she was from some specialist branch of the military police. But her uniform was not the standard U. K. forces one. Her name, Major Nina Barry. The question was necessary as there were two diversion routes both seemingly going in the same direction. Mary Rutland gave her reply. Another question was asked.

"Could I take your name, Ma'am?"

It was more an order than a question but put politely nonetheless.

"We may need to contact anyone who has been through this area at a later date. - If we need to contact you, you will hear from us tomorrow morning. - Do you have a mobile number we can use, Mrs Rutland?"

Major Barry noticed she seemed a little shocked and assumed that this particular civilian had caught sight of the smoke up ahead, seen the military id and put two and two together to make five not four.

"It's routine Mrs Rutland nothing for you to worry about."

Major Barry had taken her name and made a note of her registration and contact details. She had no idea that she was talking to the commander's ex. She waved her on indicating that she should take the nearest diversionary route saying:

"Take care now Mrs Rutland. There's quite a bit of drifting smoke up ahead and it will be getting dark by the time you're though the diversion. We recommend you stick to a speed of twenty miles an hour. You'd best use your headlights in about five minutes."

"Thank-you, I will"

Rutland replied too shocked to let any sudden an unexpected animosity show. 'It couldn't be the same woman could it? It certainly looked like her. Oh Mary forget it it's not important' she told herself.

Earlier that day Ed Straker commander –in –chief of S. H. A. D. O. and Head of Harlington- Straker studios was passing along that way on his way home, in what a few moments it would be an area near by, but not so close to a crash site as too be noticed by anyone investigating. The pilot of the U. F. O. was desperately trying not to crash and unknown to anyone its occupant was friendly. Its attempts were not successful and the pilot's efforts had resulted in a glancing but serious blow being dealt to the occupant of the only car on that particular stretch of road. The same error that had resulted in the pilot's crash shortly afterwards had affected the cars electronics although the causes were separate. The result was that the location transponder in the car was sending out false data. Not only would the G. P. S. guidance router be out of action but locating the car and its occupant would be difficult too. G. P. S signals from the driver's mobile phone would be the only means of contact.

Mary Rutland had followed Major Barry's advice and arrived at the end of the diversion without any trouble. She had rung her adopted son who was now waiting at home aware of the delay. Although later than planned she was now on the final leg of her journey home. The road she was on wasn't part of her usual route but she knew it was usually deserted at this time of the evening. It was a surprise for her to see what she saw next.

Ed Straker had seen the u. f. o. but it was coming in too fast to avoid him. The last thing he remembered was applying the breaks and searing pain. The force of the impact glancing though it was, was sufficient to break his seat restraints and throw him bodily from the car along with his brief case and the documents it contained. These were now scattered about unmoving in the still evening air, the unconscious form of the commander, now badly injured and bleeding over them.

It was a car in the distance caught by the beam of her headlights. It was straddled across both lanes of the road and had obviously been hit by something. There was just enough room for a car or small ambulance to get past it with care. She slowed. She thought she could recognize the car. Pulling in close in horror she realized who it belonged to. The man who'd sacrificed their son and their marriage. His studio work whatever that was, always calling him away. At least that was his main excuse. She had hoped never too see him again but this! Even she couldn't now wish this on him. She might have in the past but life moved on. She may not ever have gotten over Johnny's death and Marriage to Rutland whist not everything she had expected it to be had been far better in some respects than that with Ed. For one thing her last husband had been there when she expected and wanted him to be. She still loved him now. They had loved each other. She was sure she didn't love Straker any more but had softened in her attitude belligerent attitude towards him over time. Her feelings towards him were if anything somewhat mixed and contradictory. Any radical change would have to be precipitated by something major.

Having turned on her hazard warning lights she exited her vehicle taking out a small med kit and some glow in the dark hazard warning notices from the boot. European road safety laws mandated such kit. And being medically trained she was prepared for such eventualities. U. K. law mandated that anyone qualified to help administer first aid in the event of an accident had to stop and help. She would have stopped anyway. Her heart was in her throat, her hands shaking. She never witnessed a car accident outside the course of her work before let alone had to help the driver on her own.

Knowing who it could be was having an affect on her. Despite the unwelcome effects she took a deep breath and carried on. It might not be who she assumed it to be - she hadn't seen the registration plate. Besides, surely that would be too much of a coincidence for one day. Walking to the driver's door she could see that the occupant had been thrown from the car. The light from her hazard warning lights and the small flashlight in her hands lit up the scene in front of the bonnet. She walked closer, could feel glass and what looked like paper under her feet. Bending down she could see it was sodden with blood. It looked like pages from a script. No time to lose. By the looks of things the accident had happened quite some time ago it would be lucky if the occupant was still alive if it was as bad as she feared. She'd noticed what had been written on the pages a scene had featured the death of a young boy, a car accident. Notes indicating a rewrite or cut were indicated. It must be him? What was he trying to do, rewrite his personal life in his work?! Just a brief nanosecond of checking, she'd hoped to find some id, some clue as to who to contact. Her foot struck something just outside the beam. Directing it there she noticed a sealed container flung out from a now smashed briefcase. It was marked Confidential- Commander Ed Straker- above classified. It had some sort of logo on it, a person in a circle and the letters S. H. A. D. O.

What was this? Ed was a studio exec. He'd retired from the military! Was it a prop? No, she didn't think so, but it wasn't remotely like anything military that he'd bought home before. For one thing he'd never brought anything classified home before, at least not to her knowledge. All this she seen and taken in quickly, barely a second wasted.

Stepping carefully she bent down to examine the body. It was her ex! He was alive. She couldn't move him as he was it would cause more damage but she had little choice time was of the essence. It took time for her to do it safely after checking his injuries but she managed to apply a neck brace and attach him securely to a make shift back brace, keeping him immobile and protecting his spine. She had searched through the bungee cords, items from the med kit and various other useful items she always kept in her and her son's car boots in case of just such an event. It was lucky that she had paid a visit to their local D. I. Y. store on the way home or she would have been unable to make a passable back board to use with the stretcher. The car she was driving had been her late husbands: a spacious Japanese land rover type vehicle borrowed just for that day, her own parked out side the house. Her son wasn't working over the bank holiday and had switched cars for the day. It was fortunate as there was adequate space on the deeply cushioned fold down seats to manoeuvre Ed and the backboard-stretcher onto. It wasn't easy but she safely secured him having administered what aid she could.

Mary Rutland had definitely changed. Her husband was loving but in some ways was not as gentle as Ed was and had expected more of her. She was no longer as insulated and innocent as she had been when married to Ed. Her competency in dealing with this situation was proof of that. What was she thinking after all the pain he had caused her? How could she compare them, no she wouldn't think along those lines just do what was necessary and try to forget it afterwards. He was just her ex. He had been her love once but life's events had intervened.

It had taken nearly all her strength to carry out the task. Having secured him she gathered up the scripts and other documents and items lying in the road aware of their possible importance not least in determining the amount of blood that had been lost as it soaked into these items. Things didn't add up. Major Barry's identification her warrant card appeared as follows:

Military police special division, S. H. A. D. O. No logo. The next line. Barry Nina Rank: Major. Then her i. d. number. She could still picture it. Its details overlaid on top of the insignia of the M. O. D. along with her colour photo. Intricately security coded with patterns and details the i. d. made forgery next to impossible. Next to it in the wallet was an official badge hidden from view. Had she had it all wrong, had Ed been hiding something all through their marriage! No she couldn't think like that. It was too painful to contemplate. Had she split with Ed not knowing the truth? Since her mother had died she had grown up a lot. More since her second husband died. Was she imagining things? Was everything as it seemed or not. What was the truth? This incident had led her to begin to ask many questions.

She had tried both Ed's and her own mobile before beginning the drive to the local Accident and Emergency neither now had a signal. Mayland hospital was too far away. Ed Straker was unconscious and in the midst of a delirium fuelled nightmare by the sounds of things.

One of the last things he had read before leaving for home had been a new script. He'd thought it good but in need of some rewriting. Despite its painful reminders he'd agreed to help the script editor with a revision. That and the latest report on a horrific u. f. o. incident and it consequences. It was a deeply disturbing report on and incident that happened last month but that had only just been closed, the relevant medical reports and other data still to be added. Some things took time even in s. h. a. d. o. and the waiting had been difficult for all involved. It had been one relief that it was over, but its contents were far from being so. It was these events and memories of the past that he was dwelling on as he drove home.

In Ed's mind, recent and past traumatic events were now being played out randomly in their full horror. Unconscious and now delirious he was unable to either suppress or escape them.

"No JOHN NO, no, my fault, my fault. . No John! …. " The day John Died.

"... Ahh…must keep going. . God it hurts!. . don't think. . keep going…" Escape from capture. -Fighting off aliens. His near brush with death during his airforce days.

"Collins don't ! This isn't you!…. . They've taken over…. Your… mind… -Still have. . soul. -God what… have I done?..." Collin's death.

"Had to kill him…. . had a gun… on Col. Lake… If waited . . General, Paul… innocent,… hope… it keeps… you awake. . " Beaver James. Paul's court-martial.

" Carlin … butchered…. donor… was… Leila Carlin…You know… how… sorry…"Breaking the news to Peter Carlin.

"Driven crazy…. What a mess…. Proof General here's the proof. . " Mindbender. Another Argument over budget cuts with Henderson.

"John no, must…. Help…. . Nina. Mary no… stop…not going anywhere…" Johns death again. Nina trapped and knocking on the torpedo tube door. Mary Leaving.

"Lt Chin he's…. out of it. . They're out… to get us Alec. Where's Alec?. . . " Lt Chin's death. A conversation with Alec. Loss Loneliness confusion.

So… alone!…. down here. Trapped…. Mary! So alone… Alien. . must get to speak… must help!. must stop… mm . . nn. . Umuff" Trapped in the sub. Thinking of his wife. Interrogating an alien. More. .

The rest was less intelligible. Mary understood the odd word here or there. She glanced back at him in the driving mirror. He was thrashing from side to side as much as he could in his secured state. He looked and sounded terrible. It was not just the words and phrases uttered in delirium but the sheer agony and angst in his tone. The urgency in his voice, the commanding determination. It was more than enough to send shivers down the spine of even the most hardened observer. He opened his eyes but he wasn't aware of his surroundings at all.

Mary decided she had to stop. From the looks of it he was burning up. Touching him she found he was obviously also in great physical distress. That wasn't surprising but not something she had ever seen him admit to. He was not the Ed Straker she had known. In her experience apart from the odd argument nothing usually disturbed his calm. What had happened to him? What had he been through and for how long? Was there more to this man that even she knew! No film executive would have nightmares like this. She grabbed the water bottle from the drivers well and took some of the remaining thick bandage from the med kit, cut it and soaked it, applying it over his fore head.

The brief touch of her hands seemed to bring him out of it a little "Mary?" then he seemed to dismiss it as part of his nightmare. He quieted a little but was still experiencing whatever nightmares he was reliving. His skin was cold and clammy. Despite the profuse sweating only his fore head was burning. His pulse was rapid. His eyes were again closed but lifting their lids she could see that they were glassy and wandering. He really was in a bad way.

"Shh, its all-right Ed you'll be safe soon. Shh".

She clambered back into her seat and put her foot and the accelerator to the floor.

Her emotions were in turmoil. She'd left Ed a decade or more ago, thought that her feelings towards him wouldn't change. But this and what she'd found had made her question everything she had felt about him. When she had left him she didn't know if she could forgive him. If things weren't as she thought perhaps wounds on both sides could be healed? At least in Part? Was it really possible or were his ramblings just the over active nightmares of an imaginative studio exec who took his props and work home with him? Just at that point Ed's mobile still in his jacket and now working, rang. She'd removed his Jacket whilst treating his injuries. So easily reached the mobile carefully slowing down as she did so.

"Ed? Ed we've been trying to pinpoint your mobile signal since you didn't call or respond to our calls after the last alert. We're on our way to you, hang on. "

Slowing to a stop she'd somehow managed to plug both mobiles into a hands free kit on the dash board. She resumed her driving and before the call had ended she picked it up. After the call to her son there had been no signal on either of the mobiles until then.

"Alec? Alec Freeman?"

"Yes?" There was a pause of recognition then a muffled "My G— it's".

"Yes it's Mary Rutland. "

"How!,- What's the situation Mrs Rutland?"

"I was driving home, encountered a diversion and ended up on the same road as Ed's car. I'm on the road parallel with the new section of motorway near the studios. Just passing junction 14. I'm on my way to the nearest Accident and emergency department.

"How bad is it?"

"He has possible spinal injuries. He's also seriously concussed and delirious. His pulse is strong and rapid but he's running a fever although his skin is cold and clammy. I haven't been able to lower his temperature much. He has also sustained injuries to his right patella, has deep grazes along both his hands, inner upper arms and forearms; Strained trapezium, deltoid and pectoral muscles. A broken right and left fifth rib. The right one is protruding and there is possible C2 thoracic spinal concussion. He has also lost a lot of blood. "

Ok. I have the details - You sound qualified?

"I'm a paramedic now I qualified several years ago."

"How far away are you?"

"About fifteen minutes away. "

"Ok Keep going I'll meet you at A and E. Follow me once you get there. There will be a Medical team waiting at Mayland. -hold the line."

Alec Freeman turned and relayed the information to Col Lake.

"You heard that Ginny. God alone knows how and why it was Ed's ex who found him but she seems to be handling the situation."

Col. Lake set things in motion "Right I want s. h. a. d. o. Mayland on alert, the commander needs a trauma team: He's concussed, delirious has possible spinal concussion, rib and other injuries and will be suffering from shock and blood loss. "

"Done Colonel" replied Major Ford. "They are standing by."

Alec simultaneously ordered. "I need an Emergency med. evac. team and aeroceptor standing by at these co-ordinates." - indicating where on the screen visual of the area that operative Ayesha Johnson had pulled up. –"Ready to transfer Ed to S. H. A. D. O. Mayland as soon as we land. Mrs Rutland will also need the amnesia treatment. "

Col. Lake and Col. Freeman had been and still were multi tasking, dealing with the incoming information on the u. f. o. sightings, co-ordinating skydiver and mobile teams as well as supervising the operatives in Control. Alec had been communicating with Foster and the operatives at moonbase prior to making contact with Ed's mobile and Mrs Rutland.

Alec spoke to Mrs Rutland once again: "Alec Freeman Mrs Rutland. "

"We don't have time to get to Mayland Mr Freeman, he's stable but needs attention urgently. "

Alec could hear genuine concern in her voice. "Don't worry, we can transfer Ed there within a few minutes of your arrival. You will have to accompany us. I'll explain how and why later."

A little earlier than she had expected she arrived at the nearest A and E to Find Alec already waiting. He came up to her window and took in the scene in the back.

"We will be transferring Ed to Mayland within the next minute and you will need to be there too. Follow my car." She was the cause of so much pain to his friend and colleague but now she seemed to have been his only hope of survival. He was acutely aware that this Mary was not the same person as the Mary who had left such devastation in her wake. She had certainly changed. He also noticed that she was not wearing a wedding ring. Mrs Rutland noticed the Quick appraisal.

"Widowed five years ago. My husband died piloting a navy jet on a rescue mission over the north sea."

That was a surprise there was nothing about her husband s naval record in the s. h. a. d. o. reports on him. She guessed at some of his confusion.

"There's no reason you should know. When Ed 'knew' him he wasn't. He'd transferred from a secret branch of MI. 15 or 16 something like that. Even I didn't know about it. I didn't even know he was in the forces. To Alec's mind that certainly sounded like the type of person her Mother would have preferred her to marry. Not some film studio mogul. Well what had she ever known. If it hadn't been for her mother perhaps Ed… Perhaps, maybe. What was, was. There was no changing that now was there.

This was turning out to be an evening full of surprises to both of them. What the repercussions of today's events would be were pretty obvious. There wouldn't be any. Not for her anyway. Once she'd had the amnesia treatment memories of the military diversion, the accident and details of it would be lost. Oh a convenient cover would be given another accident one not involving her ex. More surprises were to follow.

Mary followed Freeman a short distance to an area where an unusual form of transport was waiting along with a full medical evacuation team. It was a s. h. a. d. o. Aeroceptor.

"Mrs Rutland" indicating that she should take the passenger seat in the back of the transport "Don't worry about the jeep we'll have some one return it to you". The team quickly removed the commander from it and secured him safely in the aeroceptor. –That and clean up any evidence of his presence their and evidence of his accident at the site which they had by now already pinpointed. As promised one of the team did just that. Returning it to her house all evidence that the commander had ever been there being removed.

There was bleeding on the commanders brain by the time they arrived at Mayland and Ed was rushed into emergency surgery. That and his other injuries were being tended to by s. h. a. d. o. surgeons and medics. Thanks to Mary Ed. had survived.

Mrs Rutland had been seen by Jackson. The results were not expected. Mary Rutland was one of the small proportion of the population that were resistant to the drug. This had caused some inconvenience but was not something they were unprepared for. Mary Rutland was carefully escorted into the part of S. H. A. D. O. H. Q. reserved for unsuspecting members of the public and made carefully aware of the options they had without revealing anything about the organizations true purpose. That would come later when Ed had recovered sufficiently to see her. In the meantime she would have use of specially prepared 'guest' quarters in the secure wing of the complex. She was more than a little put out by the fact of her confinement by the end of the week when she was informed that Ed would be able to see her. Jackson and Freeman had visited her son earlier that week. He had been fed the usual type cover story by Freeman carefully adapted for the circumstances and was not resistant to the drug. There was no problem there at least.

Alec visited her quarters. "How much longer do I have to stay here Mr Freeman?" She wouldn't address him informally despite the history her ex and he as his friend had shared with her. "I do understand the military's need for security but isn't this over kill?! Even anti terrorist units wouldn't keep me here this long if I were just an unsuspecting member of the public. By what right are you keeping me here? What has this to do with Ed. Why won't you answer my questions!- At least the most important ones!"

All right Mrs Rutland!" He let the exasperation he felt mildly colour his tone then continued rather more charmingly. "If you'll come with me you can see Ed. He's still weak but can explain a few things to you. "

"That's rather what I hoped to hear. Ok Mr Freeman I'll go with you." Then rather more hesitantly "By the way I know he's weak but how is he really? Not just his physical injuries? I do like to know that the people I attend recover you know." she said dismissively.

"That's what I hope to determine after your visit. He doesn't know it was you who were at the scene yet. I'd like to at least give him some warning." Alec entered his room at Mayland Mary patiently waiting outside.

"Well Ed I can bring you up to speed on what's been happening around here since you checked out on us but I think it will wait."

Ed sat up slowly still groggy and pale, bandages around his chest were his ribs were healing and around round the crown of his head. For a man who was quite near death a while ago and who habitually seemed to be in hospital receiving treatment he was recovering well .

"Alec what do you mean it can wait!"

"Before you say anything I should warn you. You'll be in for a shock, I was."

"Look Alec, stop trying to mother me. What or who is the cause of this so called shock and is it going to be pleasant or unpleasant!"

"Well that depends"

"On what? Come on Alec, out with it" he said in his most commanding tone.

"Mary Rutland."

At that he visible paled and said in a carefully controlled voice "What about her?"

"She saved your life Ed. If it wasn't for her quick action you would have died." – "She's waiting outside."

"What does she know?"

"More than she should Ed. The amnesia drug didn't take." Quickly he added. "Most of what she learned was from you".

Ed was uncharacteristically stunned. "How long have I been out? How long has she-?"

"A week to both questions. - She's changed Ed, a lot."

"Hmm, well I see. Thanks for warning me. I'll have to talk to her."

Alec nodded to the guard outside the window. Mary entered the room and hesitantly walked over to Ed's bed.

"Ed I'm so sorry. I don't know what to say… I know that can't make up for what I did to you... what we did to each other was... well never mind, but I might be able to understand more if you could at least tell me what all this is about. Why all the secrecy. I know this is some sort of military instillation but why couldn't you have said something. Anything Ed? Who's in charge here. Are you? Or are your superiors ordering you to keep quiet?

"Mary Please - slow down. I know you have a lot of questions." He paused a little too dizzy to carry straight on. "I'll answer some here but it might be best if I showed you. Once I do I think you'll understand. You'll have some tough decisions to make - so will I."

"Ed you were in such a terrible delirium, some of what you said made sense but what have you done that could make you feel so desolate. - What on earth has been going on with you. What are you involved in? Please Ed tell me."

He almost laughed "You may ask what on earth" he said with irony.

"And John, I had no idea you cared so much. You haven't forgiven yourself have you?"

"How could I when you haven't? Everything I'm surrounded by seems to die around me I can't -couldn't let that happen again." There was another long pause. "As for letting you know what I'm involved in, you just don't know how I had ached to tell you. It tore me apart Mary! It was just too dangerous. It still is. When you left you were better off not knowing why."

"Oh Ed, I'm truly sorry really I am. I've finally come to terms with the fact that it was my fault as well. Please don't blame yourself. It wasn't all your fault. Do you hear me, Ed. Everything that happened it wasn't all your fault."

Ed was stunned yet again her words sunk in and his control began to break, quietly sobbing he began to release his long pent up angst over John.

Ed had placed his hands on the bed covers they were white and shaking. Mary sat with him on his bed took his hands in hers. He nearly pulled away from her. She looked deeply into his eyes and said

"Oh Ed, you've tortured yourself over this for far too long. I had no idea, no idea at all."

Ed was somehow able to meet her eyes and saw that she was sincere.

A sudden tiredness descended upon him but at the same time it was as though a great weight had been lifted from him. He might still have to bare the weight of his s. h. a. d. o. responsibilities but some hope he thought extinguished was there after all these years. A hope he had thought lost. Jackson had been monitoring and entered. "Mrs Rutland, Just a few more minutes. Ed needs his rest. Knowing him, he will disobey orders and try showing you around tomorrow. He's very stubborn in such matters. If he does please don't tax him too much."

Ed too noticed the lack of a ring and wondered when that had happened but was too tired to ask. They sat in companionable silence for a while Ed somehow able the reign in his feelings presenting a strong front to Mary.

As Jackson had predicted. Ed had discharged himself and was up and dressed ready to show Mary S. H. A. D. O. This next part wasn't going to be easy as once you knew about s. h. a. d. o. there were only two choices, in Mary's case there was only one. It would take all his strength and determination to get through this with some semblance of his usual aplomb.

Mary had been shown to his room at Met with Ed.

"Thank you Lt." He said to the guard within Mary's earshot.


Mary heard the reply and saw the guard's deference. So Ed Hadn't retired. They walked from S. H. A. D. O. Mayland through the under ground corridor taking a route to control that would show Mary as much as possible via the corridors. It included the area near the entrance from the lift office showing the notice showing what the building was.

They went up into his lift office and he introduced her to Mrs Ealand and showed her the studio office. "Well Mary you wanted to know what I did all that time ago. What kept me away from home so often. Here's your answer. No don't say anything yet. - Wait until I take you to my office. This is a lot to take in and I want to let you know gently." He admitted. "It's rather a shock for me to have to show you this."

Mary had had a new G6 security check done on her. She had passed, so the first hurdle had been crossed. Ed crossed into his office lift again, lifted the cigar case, and underwent the voice print check. The level of security was tight. Mary was still taking it all in. It was quite unbelievable but she hadn't seen the heart of the operation yet.

They reached Control and Ed briefly introduced her to the Colonels on duty. Paul Foster was supervising at present. U. f. o.s had been tracked and dealt with and they had come down when control was co-ordinating mobile teams to track the u. f. o. that had landed. Moonbase had reported a successful interception of another u. f. o and S. I. D. S last words of confirmation were echoing in the control centre.

Mary nearly did a double take as Ed led her to his office. "Well Mary now you know what we do I have the unenviable task of asking if you will join S. H. A. D. O. Unfortunately for you know too much and have very little choice. It's usually only two choices. The amnesia treatment or termination and by that I do mean it in the worst sense, execution. There, now I've told you." He said tension in his voice. He sat heavily in his chair. Pinched the bridge of nose and stopped expecting the worst.

"The best I can do is try and make that choice as easy and as wide as possible. My security teams and Jackson have provided me with full and complete dossiers on you since we divorced and you have passed the security checks. Our operation is world wide and I believe you have skills we can use. In this situation, I can use my commander's prerogative and extend the usual training time so you do pass to the required standard. As to the reason we have all the security. I think Col Foster Would be able to explain. He's had first hand experience of it. But put basically it's like this. Aliens have been coming to earth since before SHADO was set up. When I became involved it was when we were about to get married. It was just getting started then this building its headquarters hadn't even been built. Everything, Moon-base the interceptors, the sky-diver bases the mobile units, the world wide tracking and satellite network, everything. Everything had to be designed and set up from scratch."

He could see he had Mary's attention. "The studio is just a cover. Yes, it's real enough but the general public can never know what faces them. There'd be a mass panic and a breakdown of authority. Systems of doing things and ways of life that everyone on this planet depends on.

"Why you might ask. Well unfortunately for us the Aliens are hostile. We know very little about them apart from the fact that they come here to take organs or even living hostages as organ donors. They are butchers. Their methods are not civilised in any way whatsoever. We've not managed to communicate and the few seemingly friendly ones haven't survived to help or communicate with us. They have the unusual capacity to take over anyone they choose animal or human usually human to seek information, manipulate or stop us. They have targeted this base and many in S. H. A. D. O. so many times but how often we've had to stop them or deal with the very unpleasant consequences of their actions is too numerous to..." He trailed off the memories of all those incidents all too clearly written in his face his eyes and evident in his voice. With Mary at least there was no need to play the tough commander. The commander yes but Mary knew him well enough to understand at least she did now. We are not sure if the aliens are entities that have taken over others on their world or some combination of the inhabitants who are sterile and this emotionless force. Their technology is way ahead of ours but so far either some sense of fair play or their lack dwindling resources have kept them from advancing more that we can compensate for. Sometime it seems as though it's a never ending war of attrition." He looked drained.

He sat hands steepled under his chin whilst she contemplated everything he had said. "Will you consider it. Please, Mary?" he asked. "I don't want to have to think of the alternative. Security was and still is so tight - I couldn't have told you. You would have posed a risk. And as such security would have had you executed. I wanted to tell you, but I didn't want to put your life in danger."

"So this s. h. a. d. o. organization, Ed" she said after along and thoughtful while. "You really think I could be of use to you?"

"If you don't want to serve in a medical capacity you could take on a cover role in the studios. There's more choice if you consider that as well. Although it's usual to help out in our more military capacity as well if that doesn't suit you we do have other roles. You would however still be bound by our security regulations. If that side of our organisation does appeal and you past the recommended tests you would have more choice."

"Ed if only you'd been able to tell me sooner. Of course I want to help. How could I not and before you say anything, Ed, I do know that the military life is not all glamour and glory. If mother had only known what I know now." - She said the last with heavy irony. "Come on you look exhausted, let's go to that s. h. a. d. o. refectory and discuss some of this over lunch. Then perhaps you'd better go see that Dr Jackson of yours."

He frowned at that. "Ok Mary and later I'll introduce you to the other operatives in charge of your training. I never thought that I would ever say this to you. But, I'm glad to have you join us." As he stepped out of his office he was worried about Mary but in many ways many a huge weight had been removed from his overburdened soul. If the repercussions of accidents led to reconciliation and hope whilst he wouldn't wish for more accidents he wouldn't exactly wish all such happenings gone along with their unforeseen consequences.

Regina Zdrojkowska

The Library Entrance