Pairing: Matt/Becker, Connor/Lester, Jess/Emily, Abby/Mark (oc)
Word Count: 12,055 total (6,457 this part)
Summary: After the anomalies become public knowledge, people want answers and so Lester’s superiors decide to allow a film crew access to the ARC for a behind the scenes documentary.
SPOILERS: A few for the end of series 5.
Access all Areas
Lester dropped the newspaper onto his desk and sat down heavily. His phone had already started to ring at six o’clock this morning, as soon as the newspapers hit the stands, but what was he supposed to tell them? The world had just been introduced to the concept of anomalies in a very real way and now there was no way to put the cat back into the bag. People wanted answers and they were expecting them from him.
Jess’s voice came through the intercom and he sighed.
“Lester, I have the Prime Minister on the line asking to speak to you. He was rather abrupt with me.”
“It’s alright, Jess; put him through.” The line connected and Lester picked up the receiver. “Prime Minister…”
A week later, Lester called the team into his office.
“As you all know, the press have been speculating about the anomalies ever since the convergence and now it seems that my superiors have decided to try and manage the situation.”
There was something in his tone that made Becker rather nervous. “How, exactly?”
“They have decided to allow a film crew to follow the day to day running of the ARC for a week, to let the public see just what we do,” Lester told them all. “Apparently, they want to make you lot the focus of the documentary, showing their viewers the people who deal with the anomalies and creatures on a daily basis and giving the whole thing a more human touch.”
Becker sighed; it wasn’t exactly what he’d been dreading, but, if he’d thought of this first it would have been at the top of his list. He wondered briefly if it was too late to put in a holiday request.
Matt didn’t look any happier about being interviewed, though he had a lot more reason to worry.
“What do they know about me?” he asked Lester.
Lester smiled. “Exactly what your CV says, nothing more.”
Becker smirked and leaned closer to whisper, “You’d better get researching Everest, then.”
Matt leaned over and pinched the top of Becker’s thigh, making him swear and smack Matt’s hand away.
“Children, if you’ve quite finished?”
Both of them looked back toward Lester, noting the annoyed expression, and fell silent.
“As I was saying,” Lester continued, with a pointed look around at them all. “We have been instructed to co-operate with the film crew at all times. That means that you let them speak to you, don’t swear, don’t tell them to get lost, don’t try and lose them if they are tailing you.”
Abby raised a hand hesitantly, not wanting to interrupt him. “When are they going to be here?”
“Tomorrow. And just so you know, I will be expecting a doctor’s note from anyone who calls in sick over the next week and, by that, I mean from a civilian doctor. No getting the medics here to write you one.”
As they all filed out, he called to Matt and Becker. “I hope I don’t need to remind you to behave yourselves. I don’t want to hear that you two have attempted to menace them into leaving you alone, nor do I want to see any inappropriate displays appearing on camera. Understand?”
They both just stared back with matching innocent ‘who, us?’ expressions on their faces.
“Yes sir,” Becker said, and he heard Matt telling him not to be such a kiss-arse as they left.
When they’d gone and the door was closed, Lester leaned back in his chair and sighed. He didn’t like this any more than the team did- he was going to get dragged into this stupid documentary as well- but they really had no choice.
Becker looked around at the thirteen people in the detector room, standing next to a huge pile of camera equipment.
“You heard what Lester said,” he muttered to Matt. “Best behaviour.” Dragging Matt back around the corner and out of sight, he got in one last kiss. “Starting now.”
Matt nodded. “We should have stayed in bed this morning and damn what Lester said.”
Never the less, they both walked into the room to join Abby and Connor, who were sitting uncomfortably next to Lester, shooting the film crew uneasy glances every now and then. Moments later, Jess came hurrying in with Emily at her heels.
“Sorry we’re late!”
Emily still looked a bit confused about the whole thing but she dutifully sat down at one of the desks as Lester began to introduce everyone. The camera crew and interviewers were looking around and eyeing the team curiously, looking eager to get started, while Becker had seen more than one of the team glance at the anomaly detector, hoping for it to sound the alarm. Not that they’d get away from the film crew for long, he thought; they’d only follow them to the anomaly site.
“Now, a few ground rules,” Lester was saying to their visitors.
The woman at the head of the group, Alison, frowned. “We were led to understand that you had been briefed on this, that we are to have a free reign-”
“I had that memo, yes,” Lester told her, sounding irritated at being interrupted. “And now it’s time for you to understand that what we do here isn’t a spectator sport. It is dangerous, and we have lost a number of good people to this project since it began. I agreed to give you access to the project and the team, but as I have already discussed with your superiors, there are some areas that are off limits. You will not invade my team’s privacy by going into the following- bathrooms, locker rooms, shower rooms- and if they do not wish discuss certain matters, they you will respect that. When you are in the field, you do as Becker or Matt tell you. If they say run, you run, if they tell you to stay in the car, you do so without argument. It is for your own safety, and theirs. Do I have your agreement, or do I make a call and halt this exercise in it’s tracks before you even begin?”
There was a reluctant agreement from the visitors, and a clearer promise from Alison, though she didn’t look happy about it. The team, however, looked impressed and just a bit smug.
“Right then, let’s get started, shall we?” Lester continued cheerfully. “I’ll hand you over to Alison who is going to run through how this will work.”
The woman stepped forward. “We are going to separate into teams so that we can follow in your footsteps and get a picture of what you do here at the Anomaly Research Centre.” She ran through the assignments, giving each of the team a two man, or woman, crew who would tail them for a day. “After that, we will begin the interviews. Oh, don’t worry,” she told them, seeing the dismay on their faces and misinterpreting it for nerves. “It’s nothing too scary, just a little interview to let the public get to know you all.”
Becker rolled his eyes at Matt, who made a gun gesture with his fingers and held it to his left temple, miming pulling the trigger. Next to them, Jess noticed and muffled a laugh, making Alison look their way. It was surprising, Becker thought, just how similar to Lester she seemed when she glared like that.
They left the detector room a few minutes later, everyone making a run for it as quickly as they could without looking as though they were, while the crew were held up collecting all of their equipment. Becker and Matt made a dash for the armoury, hoping that the Danger: Keep Out signs on the doors might deter the crew for a while, as Abby and Connor headed for one of the restricted access labs. Poor Jess was the only one who couldn’t get away, as her desk was right out in the open. Looking a bit lost, Emily had gone with her, not really knowing what else to do. She hadn’t been here long enough to find all of the good hiding places yet.
It took the camera crew fifteen minutes to find Becker and Matt, after which, Becker’s crew radioed to Matt’s crew to let them know where he was as well. Unfortunately for them, they arrived mere moments before the anomaly detector sounded and both Matt and Becker fled again, this time to get kitted out with weapons before heading for the anomaly.
The two man crew was persistent, managing to keep pace with Becker as he and the lads strapped on body armour and tac vests. The EMD’s were distributed, each man checking his weapon even though they had been checked only that morning.
“What are those?”
Becker glared at the young woman holding the camera. “In case you haven’t realised, we’re in a rush. This really isn’t the time for questions.”
She fell silent again, merely following him again as he and the others made their way to the vehicles.
“Right, we only have room to take a couple of passengers,” he announced to the assembled camera crews. He pointed to the ones nearest the vehicle- Lou and Mickey if he remembered from their brief introductions earlier. “Do you remember what Lester said? If we tell you to move, you move, got it?”
“Good, you two get in. The rest of you- Stay.” The others grumbled a bit but seeing the look on his face, they quickly shut up, drifting back into the ARC.
“I like it when you get all commanding,” Matt whispered as Becker climbed into the front passenger seat. “Very sexy.”
The crew had been put into the second vehicle, with Becker’s men, which meant that they had the drive to the anomaly to talk without being recorded. There were still Abby, Connor and Mark, Becker’s second in command, in the back but they were used to Matt and Becker by now.
“Okay, Jess, where to?”
From the back seat, Connor checked the hand held detector to give him directions but Jess was quicker, getting them to the site in under ten minutes.
The anomaly had opened in a secure storage facility, in one of the units, and luckily for them the day manager hadn’t even noticed which meant that he hadn’t opened the door. Whatever had come through would be contained. It also meant that they were going to have to open the door to find out what had come through as the security cameras only covered the hallways, not inside the units.
“Who are you people?” the manager demanded of Becker as more armed men came into the facility.
“Mr…” he looked at the man’s name tag, “…Walker. I need you to open this door, please, and then stand back.”
Mr Walker frowned. “I’m afraid I can’t do that. We promise our customers security- I can’t just open them for anyone.”
At that moment, something big decided to ram the door, letting out a roar when it couldn’t get out. The manager paled slightly.
“Of course, we could just leave that creature in there for you to deal with,” Becker said, seeing that he had the man’s full attention now.
Mr Walker fumbled hastily with the set of keys attached to his belt loop and handed one over.
“This is a master key; it’ll open any of the doors.”
Becker took it, handing it to Abby. “Now, Mr Walker, you may wish to stand back. That goes for you two as well,” he told the camera crew who had inched closer in the hope of seeing something interesting. As soon as their spectators had backed off, he told Abby to open the door on the count of three.
It took the creature about thirty seconds to realise that there were people in the room, turning on them. It began to run at them, jaws wide, showing a mouthful of vicious-looking teeth, but Becker and Matt were faster. Simultaneous shots with the EMD’s dropped the creature before it could get close, leaving them clear to drag it back through the anomaly.
“Connor, get this thing locked; I don’t want any more surprises,” Becker ordered, turning to look for the manager. He was outside, peering around the door along with the camera crew. “Mr Walker, do you have some kind of a heavy, flat-bed trolley around here? Something that will take the weight of that critter so we can get it back through?”
He nodded and scurried off as Becker turned to the camera crew.
“Connor has the anomaly locked so it’s safe for you to come in for a moment. Do not get too close to the creature and stay close to the door, okay?”
They both nodded eagerly, ready to agree to anything if it meant that they could get their first up-close look at an anomaly. Not only that, they got a creature too, even if it was unconscious.
Edging slowly into the room, Lou got as much footage of the scene as she could, especially the creature.
“What is it?” she asked.
Matt looked up from what he was doing. “Haven’t a clue. Connor’s the walking, talking dinosaur encyclopaedia.” He saw Becker coming back into the room with the manager, pulling a large, flat bed trolley. “Stand back.”
The two of them moved out of the way, keeping the camera rolling as eight people hefted the creature onto the trolley, Abby checking to make sure it was alright.
“Are you really going to go through there?” Mickey asked.
Abby nodded. “We always try to return the creatures to their own environments wherever possible; the menagerie back at the ARC is equipped to look after them, and we do take good care of them, but they’re wild animals. They need their freedom.”
Mickey nodded, moving the microphone away from her once she stopped talking. “Can we come and film you releasing it?”
Connor shook his head, making Lou frown.
“Why not? We won’t get in the way.”
Connor smiled. “I know, but the anomalies have a strong magnetic field and I dread to think what that would do to your camera. Anyway, they’re only going to go and put it back. It’s not an exploratory trip; even we’re not going.”
Becker, Matt and three of Becker’s men pushed the trolley back through the anomaly once Connor opened it, vanishing into the shimmering lights. It didn’t seem long before they returned with the empty trolley, telling Connor to close it again.
“So what happens to the anomaly now?” Mickey asked. “Can you make it go away completely?”
Connor shook his head. “I’m working on it but, at the moment, all we can do is close them to stop anything else coming through. Well lock it down, make it secure, and then usually we would leave a guard on it until it vanished of its own accord. Normally they don’t stay open for too long, and here is a perfect place. If we lock this unit up again, we can just keep everyone out until the anomaly has gone.”
Mickey leaned over to watch what Connor was doing with the Anomaly locking mechanism.
“I’d like to learn more about this thing,” he said. “How you discovered it, how it works.”
Connor nodded, his initial reluctance to talk to the crew vanishing in favour of finding someone who was interested in his creations.
Becker sat at his desk, chair turned so that he faced the camera that had been set up, trying to avoid fidgeting. It hadn’t been as bad as he expected, being followed around by the cameras as he went about his daily routine, and he’d actually started to think that maybe this week wasn’t going to be such a nightmare. Then they’d mentioned that word: Interview.
“Don’t look so nervous,” Alison told him. She was leaning against the wall, supervising as the crew got the camera and microphones just right. “All we want to do is learn a bit about you, the people who have been defending us against these creatures for years now. Now, please don’t look at the camera directly, Hil-”
“If you say that name, this interview is over. Permanently,” Becker promised her, wondering how the hell she had found out his first name. Bloody nosy journalists.
“My apologies. Becker. As I was saying, just try to act naturally. Ready?”
The cameraman nodded, setting the camera to record.
“Now, Becker, please tell us what you do here.”
“I’m the head of security for the ARC- that’s the Anomaly Research Centre,” he clarified for the benefit of those who would be watching this.
“When you first joined this project, you were assigned here from the military, is that correct?” At his confirmation, she continued. “As I understand it, you resigned your commission not long after three of your colleagues were lost through an anomaly.”
How could he answer that one? He had, but not until it had cost them the lives of three more of his soldiers as well as Sarah Page on disasterous rescue missions. When they had stopped trying, he had quit; he knew they were still alive, but the cost was becoming too high in trying to get them back.
Alison waited for a moment longer until it became clear that he wasn’t going to elaborate.
“So what made you decide to return as a civilian?”
Becker smiled. “Lester. He asked for me personally when they re-opened the project.”
“It must have been difficult, returning here and knowing that your friends were still missing.”
“It was harder remembering the ones I’d lost. I knew deep down that Connor, Abby and Danny were still alive, wherever they were. They’re survivors, all three of them.”
“You sound as though you care about them a great deal.”
“That’s because these people are like family; when you have to rely on each other day in and day out, it brings you closer. It was Danny I felt bad for; at least Connor and Abby had each other,” he said. “We originally thought that they had all been stranded together but then those two returned without him, saying that he had gone ahead after Connor was injured.”
“It is important to have someone,” Alison agreed. “And what about you, Becker? Do you have someone in your life?”
Becker frowned. “Yes. Look, I thought this was supposed to be about the anomalies?”
“Oh it is, but people will want to know about you, as well,” Alison insisted. “We could speak to you both together. It would be good to find out what an outsider thinks of the job you do, of the dangers you face on a daily basis.”
Yes, he thought, but Matt faces them with me. In fact, he’d be more likely to run toward said danger first and it would be Becker who was left behind, worrying.
“I don’t think so; I don’t particularly want my personal life being aired on national television.”
She sighed. “Very well. So, Becker, let’s talk about those strange looking guns you were carrying earlier. Is it true that you take non-lethal weapons out in the field?”
He nodded, glad she had given up on his private life. “We try to use non-lethal weapons wherever we can- tranquilisers, EMD’s. That stands for Electromagnetic Muscular Disrupter. They work in a similar way to the taser guns that the police use, except that these ones can bring down a t-rex.”
“And you trust that these- what did you call them? EMD’s- can protect you when faced with a prehistoric carnivore?” she asked, sounding surprised.
“I wasn’t so sure at first, but then I found out first hand just how effective they can be,” he told her. “Let’s just say that one of these on the lowest setting threw me about six feet and knocked me out cold. They also give you a headache for about two days afterwards.”
Her eyes widened. “You were shot with one of these? Were you attacked?”
“Not exactly,” he said, thinking back to how he’d goaded Matt into shooting him. “It was friendly fire, or at least the first time it was. The second time… not so much. We had an intruder in the ARC and he got his hands on one of those. Two shots on high setting and you’re out for about six hours.”
“Oh my goodness!” She gave him a sympathetic look before referring back to her notes and continuing the interview.
Two hours later, Becker finally escaped, heading for the locker room. It was one of the places on the camera crews’ no-go list and so he figured he might get a bit of peace and quiet. The interview hadn’t been that bad, though he had to steer her away from the personal questions more than once.
“Playing hooky, are we?” a voice asked.
Becker smiled, going to sit down next to Matt on the bench. “”I could ask you the same question.”
“So how did the interview go?” Matt asked, leaning back and stretching his legs out. “They’ve got me down for this afternoon.”
“Fine, I suppose, if you can keep them on topic. She seemed awfully interested in my personal life. If they had their way, they’d be following us home too.”
Matt chuckled softly. “I think it would turn into an entirely different kind of programme if they followed us home.”
The door creaked as someone opened it and both men peered cautiously around the corner of the block of lockers that hid them from sight. Becker saw Lester coming toward their hiding place and sighed, waiting for the inevitable lecture about hiding from the camera crews. It never came. Instead, Lester rounded the corner, half reading a pile of paperwork as he walked, jumping a mile when he finally noticed them.
He sat down on the opposite bench. “That woman keeps wandering into my office whenever she pleases,” he complained. “I can’t get any work done.”
Becker laughed, glancing at the pile of papers that Lester had set down next to him. “So you’re going to work in here?” he teased. “What happened to us having to cooperate with them?”
“I won’t tell if you don’t,” Lester replied with a pointed look at the two of them, having no obvious reason to be in here. “Just a few more days to go, then they’ll bugger off back to wherever they came from.”
Becker and Matt sat there for another few minutes before going back outside, leaving Lester to get on with his paperwork.
“Jessica- or do you prefer Jess?- Jess, then. Tell us a little about the role you play at the ARC.”
Jess swallowed nervously. “My job is to co-ordinate with the teams when they’re out in the field, whether that’s keeping everyone in contact via the comms, or sending them directions when they’re heading to anomalies.”
“That’s quite an important role.”
“It’s not like I’m going out and chasing dinosaurs every day,” Jess said. “The others do that; they keep the public safe. I just sit at a desk most days.”
Alison smiled. “I don’t think you give yourself enough credit. They may be out in the field, but you are the one feeding them the information they need in order to do their jobs.”
“You came to the project fairly recently, didn’t you? You and Mr Anderson.”
Jess laughed. “Mr Anderson. That always makes me think of Keanu Reeves’ character in the Matrix. He only ever gets called that when he’s in trouble with Lester. But in answer to your question, yes, we did. I started when they re-opened the ARC, about a year ago.”
“Did you know what you were going to be doing?”
“Not at first. I thought I was interviewing to be a computer support technician at a private research facility. They only told me what I would be doing once I passed that interview.”
Alison smiled. “And you didn’t turn and run the other way?”
“I was tempted for a while, especially when they showed me the creatures down in the menagerie and told me about those who had been lost, but then they told me the rest and I realised just how much they’ve helped people here over the years.” She paused, thinking back. “To begin with it was just me, Becker, Matt and Lester; the rest of the techs came in when the ARC had been set up fully and then, of course, Abby and Connor returned as well.”
“I understand they stayed with you when they first came back. It was a nice gesture to open your home to them, seeing as you had never even met them before.”
“I think I knew pretty much everything about them from their files,” Jess told her. “They were legends when I started here, them and Danny. And so when Abby needed a place to stay, I offered.”
“Well, yes. Connor had gone back to Lester’s-” Jess’s eyes widened as she realised what she’d just said, seeing the predatory smile appear on Alison’s face.
“He lives with James Lester? I thought he would have wanted to stay with Abby. Aren’t they a couple?”
Jess swore silently before answering. Lester was going to kill her. “No. Anyway, isn’t that something you should be asking Connor or Abby?”
“You’re right, I should.”
Jess found Connor as soon as they let her out of the interview.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to say it but she was asking about when you and Abby came back and I let slip that you were living with Lester.” She paused, chewing on her lower lip and looking worried. “Are you mad?”
Connor shook his head; someone was bound to slip up sooner or later, what with them all trying to keep certain things out of the interviews and off camera. They wanted to keep quiet about Sid, Nancy and Rex, for example, not wanting the public to know that they had been keeping three prehistoric animals as pets for the past few years. Becker and Matt also wanted to keep their relationship to themselves, as did he and Lester, knowing that the public could view it as being unprofessional.
“What exactly did you say?”
“We were talking about Abby coming to stay with me, and she asked if you had too, and I said that you’d gone back to Lester’s.”
He smiled, patting her arm. “It’s fine. From that, all they can work out is that I live there. I could be his lodger.”
Jess heaved a sigh of relief.
Across the room, Alison watched the exchange with interest. Ever since the young woman had made her slip, she had wondered what exactly it was that she wasn’t meant to have said. She knew that there were things they weren’t telling her, something in the way Matt seemed to avoid all questions about his childhood, or Emily kept changing the subject whenever any of the crew asked her about her past. In fact, there was something odd in Emily, something that Alison just couldn’t quite put her finger on.
As they all left for the evening, handing over to the night team, she stayed at the break room window, overlooking the car park.
In ones and twos the team wandered out, climbing into their cars and joking with each other as they did so. Connor got into James Lester’s car, in the passenger side, but that was understandable as they lived at the same address. She watched as Matt and Becker walked out next with Abby, calling goodbye to Abby as she got into her Mini, Jess and Emily running out and climbing in as well.
That was interesting; no one had mentioned that Emily lived in Jess’s flat too. There was a shout and Mark Andrews, Becker’s second in command, came running out, handing Abby something through the car window and receiving a kiss in exchange.
Alison smiled. At least that answered her question of whether Abby and Connor were a couple. By the time she looked over again, Becker and Matt were gone.
After that, she took to watching them as they arrived and left, finding that she learned more about the relationships between the team that way than if she asked.
Matt looked up as someone knocked on his office door, swearing as he glanced at his watch. Ten thirty: Interview time.
“Hello, Matt. Are you ready for us?”
No, piss off. The words were on the tip of his tongue but instead he forced a smile. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”
Alison smiled as the others set up the camera. “You all sound so worried when we begin these interviews,” she said. “We don’t bite, you know.”
A few minutes later they were set up, instructing Matt how to sit, where to look and so on.
“Now then, Matt. Tell us what your role is within the team.”
“I’m the leader for the primary field research team.”
Alison nodded. “Is that similar to Becker’s role?”
“Not exactly. In Lester’s words, he’s there to keep everyone alive whereas I’m there to make sure they do what they’re told. In reality, Connor and Abby have been doing this long enough that they don’t need orders, but it’s easier if we have a clear chain of command when we’re out.”
“So you and Becker work closely?” When Matt nodded, she continued. “Isn’t it difficult working side by side with your partner every day?”
“Not really- What?” Matt sighed, wondering who had told her.
She smiled pleasantly. “You and Becker are a couple, aren’t you?”
“What makes you think that’s any of your damn business?”
Her smile faded slightly at his tone. “There’s no reason to get defensive. I’m not making a judgement, Matt, merely letting our viewers get to know you.”
“Well good luck with that, because unless you keep your nose out of my private life, I’m leaving.”
“But it’s very romantic. It would make a lovely story, how the two of you defend the public, side by side…”
Matt stood up. “Goodbye.”
Alison hastily moved herself in between him and the door, blocking his exit.
“Please, Matt. I assure you that there will be no further questions regarding your home life.”
Matt sat down again reluctantly and, this time, she behaved, obviously understanding that this was her last chance.
“Bloody interfering woman!”
Becker looked up as Matt joined him by their now-familiar bench in the locker room. He could see the irritation on Matt’s face and, given the fact that he was scheduled to be interviewed an hour and a half ago, he didn’t even need to ask which particular woman Matt was cursing.
“It didn’t go well, then?”
Matt leaned against the lockers opposite Becker, arms folded across his chest.
“She knows about us. Apparently she thinks it would make a good story, how we fight dinosaurs by day and fuck by night.” He smiled, despite his mood. “Obviously she didn’t phrase it quite like that. How the hell did she find out, anyway?”
Becker knew the answer to this one after having checked the CCTV footage. He was looking for something else entirely, but had come across Alison spying on them all as they arrived the previous morning.
“She’s been watching us and presumably put two and two together,” he said. “Why? Are you ashamed of me?”
Matt frowned. Though he could hear the joking tone of Becker’s voice, he also saw the hint of concern in his boyfriend’s eyes as he asked.
“No, of course not. I know we agreed that it would be better not to say anything to them but, if you want to, then I will.”
Becker shook his head, smiling self-consciously. “No, that’s alright. I’m just being daft.”
“That you are,” Matt agreed. “Now how about you get your arse over here and I’ll prove how much I want you.”
Reaching out, he hooked his index finger under the front of Becker’s belt and hauled him back into the wide gap between the lockers where they wouldn’t be seen. Turning them, he backed Becker against the cold metal of a locker and pressed a kiss to his lips.
The afternoon had been quiet, a little too quiet in Becker’s opinion. Usually he would spend downtime either on the weapons range doing target practice or hanging out in Matt’s office. Unfortunately, neither of those things was quite as much fun when there was a camera crew dogging his every step. He had headed down to the practice rooms in the hope of a bit of sparring with his team, but one out-of-tune rendition of Jamelia’s ‘Superstar’ from the lads when he’d arrived with the camera crew on his heels had put a stop to that idea. They still thought it was hilarious that he had been dragged into this documentary while they got to steer clear.
As most too-quiet days go, however, the anomaly detector sounded a mere twenty minutes from the end of his shift. He sighed; he’d been looking forward to finally being allowed to go home and slob out in front of the TV with Matt.
“What have we got, Jess?” he asked, stepping around the woman with a camera who was filming over Jess’s shoulder and trying to see what was going on.
Jess’s fingers flew over the keys of her computer, the detector narrowing down the location.
“It’s in a field just outside Manchester. It looks like farmland, but there are woodlands close by,” she told him. “I’ve sent the coordinates to the hand held units.”
She watched as he hurried away toward the armoury before turning back to her monitors.
“Jess? What does that-”
Jess looked back at the man currently waving a microphone at her and arched an eyebrow. “Do I look as though I have time to answer questions?”
The man obediently backed off and the camerawoman shared a smile with Jess.
“Would you mind if we watch what you’re doing? We won’t get in the way,” she asked, politely, unlike her colleague who tended to ask as though demanding an answer and therefore annoying Jess.
“Sure,” Jess told her. “You can have a seat there at the end if you want; you should be able to see everything.”
As soon as the vehicles arrived at the anomaly’s location, everyone jumped out, Becker and Matt firing off instructions to the various members of their teams. Becker saw the camera crews arrive, having brought a couple of vehicles of their own to avoid all but two of them getting left behind, and sighed. He really could do without them until he knew what they were dealing with. Still, he thought, this could be fitting punishment for all the teasing he’d had from the lads recently.
The camera crews had already gravitated back toward their assigned team members, but there was no way he was letting them wander about out here without some kind of defence.
“Dev- you’re with Connor and those two,” he said, a small part of him enjoying the dismay on Dev’s face at being assigned babysitting duty. “Luke- with Abby’s lot. Mark, you’re with us.” He looked at the four people currently standing close to him and Matt. “We don’t need four of you. Two of you can go and observe Emily.” None of them moved, neither team willing to be the ones to leave. “Now! If you don’t then you’ll all be staying in the car. We’ve wasted enough time as it is.”
Two of them hurried off, Becker sending another of his men, Alex, to accompany them, and fought the urge to scream. It was like looking after a group of children who wouldn’t do what they were told, continually poking about in everything they could get their sticky little fingers near.
Relying on Mark to keep the camera crew out of his way, Becker flipped the switch on his EMD, taking off the safety and setting off. Emily was pretty good at tracking after her years spent in the past and so she was starting on the other side of the field with a couple of the others, the three of them trying to work out what had come through and, more importantly, where it had gone.
They found out about ten minutes later, the creatures having wandered into a small clearing in the woodlands. Becker watched them for a moment, relieved that they looked to be quite peaceful as they chewed on leaves stripped from the low hanging branches. Silently, he and Matt moved closer, signalling to Emily as she emerged from the trees on the other side of the clearing. She nodded, stopping and crouching again so as not to spook the creatures.
“We need to herd them back toward the anomaly,” Matt whispered. He noticed one of the creatures glance up at them and back away a few paces before going back to its meal. “They should be easy to move; they don’t look very bright.”
Famous last words, Becker would think later. The creatures weren’t particularly bothered by the humans’ presence, more interested in their lunch than in anything else. Becker signalled to his men to move around to the creatures’ left, spreading out behind them, as they all started to move slowly closer.
“Stay behind us,” he whispered to their observers. “And keep quiet, okay?”
Once the first of the creatures saw them and began to lumber away slowly, the others soon followed, allowing the team to usher them back out of the woods.
It was all working perfectly well until Martin, the sound man for one of the camera crews, slipped in a pile of crap presumably left behind by one of the creatures, and swore loudly and repeatedly as he tried to stop his sound equipment hitting the ground. While they didn’t appear to mind quiet, slow-moving humans, the creatures didn’t seem to like loud noises or sudden movements. The nearest one to him, and to Matt, unfortunately, let out a bellow and started stomping toward the noisemaker like the proverbial bull through a china shop. Mark pulled the camerawoman out of the way by the back of her jacket as Matt pushed Martin aside, but he just wasn’t fast enough. The creature head-butted Matt at chest height, sending him flying backwards and into a tree trunk.
Becker saw Matt hit the tree and drop to the ground, his face screwed up in pain but at least he was moving, and watched as the creature began to charge at him.
On to Part 2