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28 May 2016 @ 06:08 am
_Aliens and Shifters_ part 2  

Chapter Two

"We've only actually been here at the base hospital for a little over a month."

"Well, you Yanks are a bit late to the dance." Corporal Brown yawned. Despite being assigned a bunk in the men's barracks, he had spent the night at Sir Trent's bedside.

Sir Trent had backed up Doctor Jenkins' suggestion that he make himself scarce while the doctor examined his patient. So he took a deep breath of autumn air and strolled with Uma. But not very far.

"So, what part of the states are you from?" he asked.

"I was born in Kansas, my family has a farm there." She sighed, "My mother died when I was six. My Dad traveled a lot, after that, he took me with him as much as he could." Those memories were so faint . . . "Something happened in Virginia. Daddy drowned, and I nearly did." _I guess. All I have are nightmares._ "After that it was the orphanage. Uncle Fred said that without Daddy's income, they couldn't afford to feed me. I went to nursing school at Old Dominion, and when a Red Cross Hospital was organized out of the Medical College of Virginia, I volunteered."

"I was surprised to clock so many women 'ere." He glanced up at the old four story buildings.

"We were supposed to be safely behind the front, not so close we're doing triage and evacuation." She looked at the buildings, too, "When we got here there were no lights or plumbing. But our rate of surgical success is the highest in France. So we get the surgical patients, and less of the illnesses."

"I've 'eard about this 'Spanish Influenza'. Is it really that bad?"

"Oh yes. It kills in days." She changed the subject, "What part of England are you from?"

"London. Me mum raised me." Mark added. "I 'ave a 'alf brother and some cousins, but I don't get along with them. My father was pretty old when I was born. 'E died years ago." His eyebrows pulled together in worry. "Mum is ‘avin' a hard time of it, while I'm 'ere." He looked almost angry. Family problems, no doubt.

"Have you been in France very long?" she asked. "You and Sir Trent?"

"I've been drivin' Sir Trent all over the continent and goin' with him on trains and such, bodyguard and all for eight years, now. This trip, we've been 'ere for about two months."

He stared up into the sky, scanning it. They all tended to do that. Aeroplanes had changed some of the ways wars were fought. And a lot of the way people thought.

"'Ave you ever flown, Miss Allen?"

"No, never." She'd barely seen aeroplanes before she crossed the ocean with the nurses' corp. "I've dreamed about it. I thought, when we got our first orders to mobilize in New York to prepare to go overseas, that I might have time to do a bit of sightseeing, and I thought it would be swell to see a barnstorming show///term in use yet?///, but most of the flyers are over here. And anyway, I didn't have enough free time to do very much of anything."

The Corporal nodded. "And now, when you see an aeroplane, all you can think of is, is it one of our or one of their's?"

"And run for a bomb shelter." Uma shrugged, "Although they're mostly good about not bombing the hospital. I suppose it's easy enough to make mistakes from up there."

"Yes, it's easy to mistake a landmark, and the wind is different at different altitudes, so it can blow a bomb off course. There's a lot that can go wrong." His face was still lifted to the sky. "But it's marvelous up there, you feel like you can see forever, see everythin'. All powerful, swoopin' through the sky."

"Now you sound like a bird, not a pilot." She smiled, trying to picture the very large young man in feathers.

"Nah," he grinned, "I'm a dragon, big and powerful, not a little birdie." He looked at her speculatively. "'Ow about you? What are you?"

She laughed a little nervously, "An Army Nurse who'd better get back to her patients."

She returned to her own section of the ward, but she could hear Sir Trent cheerfully telling Mark that the doctor had pronounced him fit to travel and that they could return to Paris.

She suppressed a twinge of regret. If the fighting started up again, they'd need every bed. No matter if some British accent had turned her head. She had no business getting involved with anyone, let alone a soldier. She was a professional nurse, and she'd best be damn glad she'd been given the opportunity.

She was busy most of the day, and missed the Brits' departure.

But she remembered what he'd said about aeroplanes quite distinctly, when the German plane dropped the leaflets.

Propaganda, of course. But when she plucked one off the damp ground, her heart sank.

Two British Spies Captured

Sir Trent Arbruster-Smyth

of the British Foreign Office

long suspected of espionage

and sabotage has been caught

red-handed with his long time

accomplice Cpl. Mark Brown

They have been given a fair

trial with a verdict of guilty.

Both men

will be shot at dawn.

It was signed by a Colonel von Gruenewald and what she vaguely thought was a German Army camp south of Metz. She wished she'd paid more attention to the fighting part of the war, but just the little piece of it she saw had seemed more than enough.

She sat outside after her shift and watched the Sun set. She couldn't sleep. Maybe she would never sleep again. She couldn't stand adding Mark and Sir Trent's deaths to her nightly reliving of her father's death.

She heard steps walking up behind her and wondered if they'd leave her alone in her misery.

"Ultima?" No one had ever called her by her full name except . . . she turned around.


Chapter Three

"I really am very glad to see you again Daddy." Uma sank down onto an empty cot. "It's just, they're going to kill Corporal Brown and Sir Trent.

"Well, we'd better go get them then."

"Daddy . . . " Uma sat up and straightened her shoulders. "Father. They're in Metz. Sixty miles away with the front in between." Her voice sounded cold and distant. "We can't get there and couldn't do anything to help if we could."

"Nonsense Ultima! I know you were little when I . . . had to leave you. But surely you remember the car?"

Uma closed her eyes in pain. It was the little repair machines all over again. Of course she remembered his silly stories about the flying car.

"Look, let's take a little drive. I'll show you."

Uma walked out of the ward, more than ready for some fresh air. But she wasn't going anywhere. "I have to stay here. I'll be on duty in ten hours, sooner if the fighting starts up again." She stopped in consternation as her father stopped at a black box truck. "Are you actually driving around France in this?"

"Certainly. It's got _everything_ I could possibly need. Look." He flung open the back door.

She flinched back, old tales of white slavers, women stolen and never seen again . . . the back of the truck was empty of people, but contained . . . a desk with flashing lights. Bright rectangles with pictures hovering impossibly in mid air. Her father hopped up and tapped one of the pictures. "See this? Shows everything around us. We can do the same in this Metz of yours."

Uma hiked her skirt up and climbed in. The picture showed the front guard post. She leaned closer. It showed the sentries walking around. Her knees gave out and she sank to the floor.

"Ultima? Are you alright?"

Her father's voice sounded faint, past the buzzing. _I'm fainting_ she thought. _How silly of me_. "I'm fine." She said, all evidence to the contrary.

"So, if you want this fellow, let's go get him!" Father clapped his hands, and squeezed through a hatch into the front of the truck.

Uma took a long slow breath, let it out. Another. Better. She stood up, frowning as she saw the back of the truck was closed. The hatch to the front was open.

"How did you get the guards to let you in?" she asked, climbing through and sitting down in the passenger seat. It was on the right, the truck must have been made in America.

"Oh, I didn't ask them, so much simpler to just fly in and drop where you want to be."

"Father, I'm not in the mood for . . . " her voice trailed off as something besides darkness suddenly registered outside the windows. The top of the flag pole. Sinking. She looked down through the side window and then leaned back and concentrated on slow breathing.

Zan Lynxzlynx on May 28th, 2016 12:52 pm (UTC)
I'm convinced that her father is the alien from the beginning yesterday.

I will keep reading and find out. 😂