Thirty-two (part 5)

“Marcus, how many ground troops can we scramble right now?”

“Two squads are on base,” Harmin Marcus reported from his station.  “If we’re lucky and get the alert out now, we might be able to get two more.  Three squads are on-station across the water.”

Adam grimaced.  “They can’t help us now and they may be suffering the same sort of assault we are.  Have we heard from them at all?”

“Nothing, sir,” Tomasi said quietly.  “We’ve been pinging them, but it’s like they’re been completely obliterated.”

Only one way to know for sure, I guess.  Adam toggled the voice pickup back on.  “Theta Lead, do you have a read on Fort Solace?”

“Looks like it’s still there, sir, but we haven’t tried to raise them.”

Probably took out their towers or the local power grid there, too.  Adam shook his head even though the pilot couldn’t see him.  “Negative, Theta Lead.  Don’t deviate from your course.”

“Roger that, sir.”  Her breath rasped over the comm line.  “They’re starting to get close to the upper atmosphere.”

“If the bombardments start, run.”

“Yes, sir.”

His personal comm crackled in his pocket and he winced.  Who the hell’s trying to get in touch with me that way?  He dug it out and thumbed it active.  “Windsor.”

“Grumpy,” Frederick’s voice rasped.  “Grumpy, it’s bad.”

Adam’s heart stuttered, then returned to normal—if a little bit faster—rhythm.  “Freder!  Where the hell are you?  Where’s the Inspector?”

“He’s here.  They’re both hurt.  I can’t tell if I am.  Head’s still ringing and everything hurts.”


“Send help, Grumpy.  One of the cellars at the vineyard.  Send help.”

The comm crackled once and died.

Bloody hell.  We’re about to be invaded and all of a sudden the only thing I can think about is how the hell I’m going to get help out to that vineyard to save my best friend and an Inspector First Grade who might be able to save us all.

What the hell am I going to do?

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