Carter Gillespie, Eidolon Security Detail Alpha, Lyle Tate and Gideon Sterling
Mystery Island, around lunchtime 27th January
“Hello, can you hear me?”
Isn’t that my line, Gil thought fuzzily. The proximity of the voice made his head hurt.
“Fuck, have you seen his arm? Is that a spear?”
“Shut it, Bull.” A pause, then louder, “What’s your name?” Gil grunted as a swift pain flared in the region of his collar bone. “Aha, still with us then.”
“Why did you pinch him?”
“Didn’t they teach you anything? Pain stimulus to see if he’s conscious.”
“How the fuck are we going to get him out of here?”
“We’ll think of something….”
An hour earlier….
“Where the fuck are we going?” Gareth Pritchard complained. “I was enjoying my day off.”
“You think we weren’t?” Ragnar Bjornson cuffed him on the shoulder playfully in passing. “The boss-man told us to make ourselves scarce until he and the Eidolon Bitch Queen were on their way. You can’t exactly say we’re working hard…” The tall Viking loped ahead of his mates as they rounded the far point of the long spit of land and headed back down the beach. Across the lagoon the bulk of Rapatoka rose, its peak much higher than the excuse for an island the men now stood on. Ragnar Bjornson couldn’t help thinking that one big wave was all it would need to wash the scrap of land they were standing on into the Pacific. Peace and quiet reigned at the moment, though. Even the ever-present wind had dropped and in the lea of the trees, the heat was intense. The lagoon was a calm pool amid the encircling walls of a long-extinct volcano. Around both islands lay the coral reef, hidden by a meter of water at high tide; the only way through from the sea was a twisting channel of deeper water that was only navigable by smaller craft and shallow-beamed barges. As a sea fortress, it was well nigh impenetrable.
“Why are we here again?” Ray Bullivant asked nobody in particular.
“Because it happens to be our current assignment, Fuckwit,” Pritch answered.
“Gentlemen, if you please.” Ragnar affected an upper-crust English accent. “Your behaviour is unbecoming to an officer of Her Majesty’s Special Boat Service…”
“Fuck off, Rag,” Pritch laughed.
Ragnar stopped and his gaze swept both men. “You know why we’re here…” He glanced out toward Rapatoka where his boss was currently chaperoning Pierce in her attempt to subdue the natives. “We’re here because Sterling specifically asked for us.”
“More fool him,” Bull replied, jokingly.
Rag looked back at his two colleagues and his expression was serious as he said “We’d better not let him down. Besides, if what he told me is true…” he paused thoughtfully.
“If what is true?” Pritch was curious. “What did he tell you, Rag?”
“Bottom line,” Rag’s gaze was steely. “If push comes to shove, our allegiances don’t lie with Eidolon, they lie with…Fuck,” he broke off as a noise reached their ears. All three fell immediately silent and dropped into a crouch, ears listening for any tell-tale noise while eyes roamed the area for available weapons, part of their awareness on movement that would indicate the enemy’s position. Someone was in the undergrowth nearby. Rag motioned to the others and they split up, silently melding with the trees. Moments later, a scruffy dog emerged from the treeline, spotted Rag and wuffed happily. Rag relaxed and called to the others. “It’s okay, guys, our spy is a mutt.”
“Isn’t that Sutherland’s dog?” Pritch offered.
“How do you know?” Rag asked.
“It’s not rocket science. I’ve seen the teacher’s dog, and he ain’t it. Sterling said there were only two dogs on the island so, unless he was lying, that makes this one the doctor’s.” Pritch bent to ruffle the dog behind his ears. “Rufus? Roofie, isn’t it?” The dog yapped excitedly. “So what are you doing all the way down here?”
Voices roused Gil from his stupor. He frowned, not understanding where he was. His head ached and he felt vaguely sick. Above him, light filtered into the hole but the dark walls blurred around him. Shit, it wasn’t a nightmare…
Suddenly, the voices grew louder and earth scattered on him. People were climbing into the pit, a dog barked and a light filled the darkness. Voices were talking to him, a sudden pain flared, hands were on him…
“Damn, he’s lost consciousness,” Rag pressed his fingers into the man’s throat, feeling the rapid pulse beat. His skin was pale and cool to the touch.
“Who is he?” Bull frowned. “Is it Sutherland?”
“It’s Gillespie, the paramedic. Sutherland is older, has a beard, red haired. Didn’t you read the files? Besides, where the hell were you when we were playing football? He was the one wanted the boss to mount a search for our missing doctor.”
“Didn’t take that much notice,” Bull grunted, defensively.
“That’s irony for you.” Pritch shrugged. “We’re rescuing a paramedic?”
“Bull, get above ground and call Sterling,” Rag ordered. “Let him know we’ve got a situation.” Bull nodded and grabbed the rope they’d rappelled down on, pulling himself up and out. It wasn’t far, just awkward. “Pritch, once Bull is out, help me get the rope around our patient, will you? If we get it under his arms we can belay it round a tree up top and haul him out of here.” Rag was rapidly checking their patient for other injuries, although apart from a bloody bruise to the side of Gillespie’s head, he didn’t seem to be suffering anything else. The arm wound was the worst. Rag had seen things like it before. The man seemed to have triggered some kind of trap on his way down. It was a spear with an ugly barbed point that had driven through the forearm, lodging between the bones. That would mean infection, if nothing else. As far as Rag could tell there were no broken bones although Gillespie’s left ankle was badly swollen. Could be a hefty sprain. Rag had to hope there was no internal bleeding from the fall. That was often a bugger to detect and he had very little experience there. He knew he was taking a chance getting the man out on the end of a rope, but he had little choice. Damn it, Rag thought, getting him out of here will be the easy bit. He needs a hospital.
Less than an hour later they were carrying Gillespie into the HQ. Bull had failed to raise their boss, and Rag was unhappy. Either Sterling had switched off his radio or something else had happened. Was there something interfering with the signal? Rag had to admit he was worried. Their patient was drifting in and out of consciousness, rambling about dogs and hands and god knew what else.
Rag spotted Harry Garvey in the room they had designated the IT suite and called to him. “Hey, Garv’, a little help here,”
Garvey stuck his head out of the door and watched them carry their patient along the corridor toward their dormitory. “What the fuck happened?” he asked.
“Gillespie, the paramedic, got himself in the shit. We can’t get hold of Sterling…”
“Has he switched off his comms?”
“I’ll see if we can do anything. If something is jamming the signal we might be able to block it and boost it from here. Otherwise he’s probably offline. Might be able to ping his PDA though, if he has it on him. The distance isn’t that great. We might be able to transmit…” He disappeared into the room, still muttering, navigating between islands of computer monitors and banks of small TV screens. There was still a lot to do to get it all sorted, but between them, Lyle and Harry had managed to fit together enough that Harry knew the job of contacting their boss ought to be achievable.
Lyle returned from lunch to find Harry running though a rapid sequence of commands on his computer screen. He shrugged off the encounter with Flynn as Harry’s urgency seemed to infect him too. “What’s wrong, Harry?”
“Trying to boost the signal from our radios. Something seems to be blocking transmissions, and I don’t think it’s the weather.” He frowned, concentration shining in his brown eyes as he checked the signal readings then modified his commands again.
“What’s the urgency? Is there a problem?”
“The lads are back. They’ve tried to contact Sterling but can’t get through, Rag asked me to see what I could do. They found Gillespie…”
“Gil? I didn’t realise he was lost.”
“He wasn’t, so far as I knew. Seems to have had an accident, though. He’s out cold, they’ve taken him to his bed. Could you…?” but that was as far as he got as Lyle rushed out of the room. “Obviously not…” Garvey sighed and went back to his screen.
Gil was already lying on one of the beds in their communal room when Lyle caught up with them. He looked pale, and his eyes were closed. “What the hell happened?” Lyle demanded.
“No idea, found him down a hole,” the tall blond replied, his blue eyes on Lyle. “Friend of yours?”
“You could say, yeah. We…knew each other back in Haven…”
“Talk to him, would you? Try to get him to come round.”
“But he’s unconscious…”
“He might still hear you. Hearing is the last to go. Just try.” Rag was examining Gil’s arm. The wound looked awful, matted with dried blood, the short barbed spear sticking right through his arm.
“Gil?” Lyle turned to the matter in hand. He squeezed Gil’s good shoulder gently and leaned close, speaking into his ear. “Come on, man, we need you to wake up. Come on, Gil, it’s me, Lyle…” He wasn’t sure he was the right one to bring Gil round. Their supposed relationship had melted once Gil managed to catch Miles’s attention. Maybe he had imagined a connection with the handsome paramedic; a virgin’s wishful thinking.
“Keep at it,” Rag encouraged. He wondered what to do, whether to try extracting the spear or leave it. It was barbed and would most likely need surgery to get it clear. Rag knew he didn’t have that kind of experience.
“Rag?” It was Garvey.
“In here, Garv’. What you got?”
“Sterling, on the radio. There’s something trying to block the signal nearby. I managed to boost our signal but its a bit iffy. He’s waiting…”
“Okay, I’m coming. You,” he said to Lyle. “Keep trying, okay?” Lyle nodded and Rag left at a run.
His radio beeping took Gideon’s attention from Pierce throwing her weight around. He frowned as he grabbed it and pressed the button. “Sterling…” He snapped, hearing Garvey’s voice answering but breaking up slightly. He wandered off toward the beach out of Pierce’s range. “Garv? What gives? Over,” Gideon frowned at the radio which was giving off a lot of static.
“Boss, it…ee. Rag… Sorry…jus…foun…”
“Sorry, Garv, you’re breaking up.” There were a few more sounds and then his voice came across much clearer.
“Boss? There’s a situation. Rag needs to speak to you. Over.”
“I’m listening, go ahead.” Gideon had to wait a minute before Rag’s familiar voice came across the static.
“Having some trouble with the signal, sir. Garv has managed to boost it, but we couldn’t reach you earlier.”
“Okay, you’ve got me now. What’s happening?”
“We found Gillespie.”
“Wasn’t aware we’d lost him.”
“Neither were we, but he’s come a cropper down a hole. Been there all night as far as we can make out. I think he’s got concussion, sprained ankle, possible hypothermia and there’s a spear through his arm…”
“Did you just say spear? Through his arm?”
“Yes, boss, through it, between the bones of the forearm. Nasty injury, not sure how to proceed. The bloody thing is barbed all the way along, we can’t pull it out. It will have to be surgically removed. There’s also a chance he could have internal bleeding. He took a battering from the fall. He keeps drifting in and out of consciousness, and I can’t work out why. Can we fly him out to a medical facility? He really needs a proper doctor.”
“No can do, there’s another storm front heading our way. It’s grounded the plane at HQ, and it won’t be with us for a day or so. Garvey told me this morning before we left. Listen, prep him to travel. Take one of the stretchers we took out of the plane and put him on that. We found Sutherland over here. There’s a hospital of sorts on Rapatoka, so he can deal with Gillespie if you bring him over.”
“Okay, boss.” Rag listened to a few other instructions and then closed the connection.
Gideon turned back and motioned for Clarke to join him. “Clarkey, take the boat and go back to the island. Collect Rag and Gillespie and the equipment Rag is getting ready for us and get back here asap, you got that? Gillespie’s been injured.”
“Yessir. Will you be okay?”
“Yes, I don’t think the natives will turn nasty, but step on the gas before Pierce has a hissy fit. Second thoughts, fuck her, she’ll have one anyway. Just get Gillespie back here as soon as possible.” He watched as Clarke trotted to the boat, pushed off into the water and jumped in. He started the outboard and was off across the waves in short order. Gideon watched him go then turned resignedly back toward the others. Breslaw would have his guts for garters if he lost a man in his care before the first week was up! As he walked back up toward where he had left them talking, the White Witch gave him one of those icy stares and he was sure he would be in for a tongue lashing before long. Fuck it, she would just have to live with it.
*Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition