trillsabells: (Slash)
[personal profile] trillsabells
Title:The Prize
Author: [ profile] trillsabells
Beta: [ profile] jupiter_ash
Rating: This Chapter R, NC17 overall
Length: This Chapter 5800, overall nearly 100k
Summary: On 29 January 2010 an unknown Event wiped out 98% of the population. This is the story of the survivors, four months on. Based on this prompt here
Warnings (for entire fic): Starts with the death of over 6 billion people and goes downhill from there. Death, destruction, disease, violence, fire, plane crashes, slavery, graphic sex and serious consent issues
Author's Note: Hope to get the next part up Saturday.

Chapter 1 : Chapter 2 : Chapter 3

It wasn’t real, it couldn’t possibly be real. He had to be dreaming or hallucinating because none of this could logically be happening.

Take lunch for example; chicken chow mein. He loved chicken chow mein. It was his favourite meal ever. His mum used to make it from scratch for his birthday every year and he used to look forward to it just as much as the presents and the cake. He had resigned himself to never being able to taste it again and now it was being handed to him literally on a plate.

He stopped and stared at it, unable to take it in, until Sherlock actually asked if he didn’t like it. Didn’t like it? Why would that make any difference? Yesterday the entirety of his diet had consisted of plain packet noodles, a cereal bar and two cups of tea, why on earth would whether he liked something alter whether he would eat it or not when the only other option was starvation. Besides it was Chicken Chow Mein.

But it was more than that that had him questioning reality. There was also milk. Not long life, tinned or powdered; fresh chilled semi skimmed actual real milk in a jug. Such things just weren’t possible anymore. Then Sherlock told him the Enclave had their own herd of cows in the agriculture zone. And chickens. And sheep. But not bees because Sherlock hadn’t managed to clone them yet. It was mad.

And finally there was Sherlock. If anything was an argument for the fictional state of things, then Sherlock was.

The other man chatted through lunch, talking about the Enclave and the people while gesticulating with his fork, then listened attentively when he said anything as if anything he had to say was vital to the continued survival of humanity. Sherlock was witty, sharp, hugely intelligent and actually seemed to want to spend time with him. Such creatures didn’t exist.

“This isn’t real,” he said. “Chicken chow mein, milk, cows, you. I’m dreaming, aren’t I?”

To his surprise Sherlock didn’t laugh or act like he was mad but actually seemed to give it a great deal of thought.

“No,” the other man finally said, having apparently weighed up the evidence and come to a final conclusion.

He laughed, because how could you argue with that?

“Of course,” he said, looking Sherlock up and down. “I don’t have a good enough imagination to come up with you.”

Still, the tour Sherlock gave him after a long lunch with apple crumble and custard (apple crumble and actual custard!) for dessert and three very milky cups of tea to follow did nothing to help cement the place as reality.

He was shown the toilets (no more buckets!), the shower rooms (all that hot water every single day?), the break rooms (with actual working gaming consoles), the labs, the infirmary and the security offices. He was introduced to more people than he could remember and waved in the vague direction of how to get to the other zones when he was out of quarantine.

When Sherlock spoke about green zone - which as far as John could gather was the main civilian zone and was split into five sub zones – he couldn’t quite take in the sheer amount of out-of-hours activities that took place in the main halls there. Everything from the aforementioned five-a-side football tournament to concerts, art classes and yoga seemed to be available. Although the derisive tone Sherlock used when he talked about them left John with the suspicion he would be severely looked down upon if he took advantage of any of it.

The library was spoken of with more enthusiasm with Sherlock explaining eagerly how to arrange for books to be brought into blue zone over the next couple of days. How he could get hold of a portable DVD player was also mentioned, should he want to watch some old television.

By that point he was almost numb from culture shock. The effort to rearrange his mind-set from one where survival took up every hour of the day to one where spare minutes could be filled with yoga and old episodes of Fawlty Towers was so unnerving he nearly missed it when Sherlock indicated his room.

Blinking back into awareness he realised Sherlock was staring at him expectantly so he opened the door. Sherlock instantly sucked in a breath. Flicking on the light switch by the door he examined the room, searching for what could have caused such a reaction.

It was small, cramped, and was almost entirely taken up with a large bed, at least a single and a half. There was just about enough room for the two of them to stand in the gap between the door and the bed and even that was only because the door swung outwards. The walls were beige and the sheets were white and so institutional it was almost frightening. There was a laundry basket at the end of the bed, filling up the small space there, and there seemed to be some kind of drawer under the bed.

Sherlock glared at the bed as if it had personally insulted him.

“Are all the rooms like this?” John asked, simply for something to say.

“Just the temporary ones,” Sherlock said, although growled might have been a better description. “Bigger bed to keep the VIPs as ‘comfortable as possible’,” the contempt placed on those three words practically oozed, “if they have to stay here.”

“Oh. Does that mean I’ll be moved in a few days?”

Sherlock spun on his heel and marched out with a backwards cry of, “Not if I have anything to say about it,” before shutting the door behind him.

He sat on the bed. It was actually pretty comfortable. He had certainly slept in worse places. He ran his hands over the covers and revelled in how nice it would feel to sleep on clean sheets again as a way of crushing down the growing terror that if this actually was all real then he had no idea what he was supposed to do with himself.

As a distraction he bent down to pry the drawer under the bed open then kicked it open the rest of the way. It was full of clothes. He pulled out a few items experimentally. Clothes in his size. He tried to appreciate the effort that had been made for his sake but couldn’t help but be a little disturbed by it. There were a variety of plain shirts and t-shirts, simple dark trousers, jogging bottoms, underwear, socks, shoes and a few jumpers. Near the bottom he also found a few items of his own, obviously taken from his bag, cleaned and repaired. Not everything was there but he was glad to see his beige jumper and his hoodie had survived the cull. He was, however, disappointed not to see his army boots there. Those boots had kept him in good stead for a long time, he hoped they would show up eventually.

There were also his ID tags on their chain, although the keys were missing. He stared at them for a while, wondering whether to put them on or not. It really boiled down to whether he a soldier anymore. And if not, what was he? Sherlock seemed to think he was a lab assistant, while Sherlock’s brother had been determined he should be a doctor. Neither required dog tags.

In the end he left them there and pulled out a shirt, trousers, socks and shoes. After he had changed he sat back down on the bed and stared at the wall.

What now?

Was Sherlock going to come back? Was he supposed to meet him back at the lab? Maybe he was supposed to stay put, in which case had he been locked in?

Telling himself fiercely that he wasn’t paranoid he was just checking, he tried the door. It swung open easily. He shut it and sat back down on the bed then jumped up again to open it a crack. Feeling a bit of an idiot but better for it anyway, he dropped back on the bed and slumped backwards. It really was quite comfy.

He pushed himself so he was laying full length on top of the covers with his head on the pillow and tried not to think too much. He screwed his eyes shut and attempted to drown out all the fears of being boxed in, dressed up, picked up and forced into whatever plans the Holmes brothers had in mind for him.


It shouldn’t have been surprising to find John asleep when he got back to John’s room. But then the ex-army doctor seemed to have developed a habit of surprising him.

He hadn’t left the doctor alone for very long. He had been in the security office trying to annoy Donovan until she relented and let him in on the security arrangements Mycroft had set up for John. That had taken less than half an hour – he was well practised in annoying Donovan – and a further fifteen minutes to sort out the ridiculous notion that John be quartered anywhere he couldn’t get to him at a moment’s notice. Apparently, that was all the time the doctor needed to get changed – John seemed to have been provided with those awful generic clothes they had in bulk down in storage, he was going to have to sort that out as well – and fall asleep on the bed.

Sherlock stopped in the doorway, unable to draw his eyes away.

John was lying on his back, his arms at his sides with his fingers slightly drawn in towards his palms. His head rested on the pillow and was tilted towards the door.

Sherlock found himself drawn towards John’s face. He wanted to reach out and feel the changes sleep made to the lines and contours that made up the other man’s features. He wanted to capture John’s expression, how not even sleep could bring complete peace to it. He wanted to fetch a notebook from his lab to write it all down, to categorise and own it all. He was halfway out to door to do just that when Mycroft’s words crossed his mind.

Very attached, very quickly.

Shaking some sense into himself, he left the doctor to catch up on some no doubt much needed sleep and went back to his lab. He felt energised for some strange reason and ever so slightly light-headed. He wondered if this was what people referred to as having a skip in their step, although the last thing he wanted to do was skip. What he needed to do right now was put all this energy to more productive use.

When he got back to his laboratory he shut the door firmly behind him, sat down at the desktop computer and immediately pulled up the London Report.

This was Mycroft’s real reason for letting him go into to city whenever the walls got too oppressing; cuttings and samples were just excuses. The truth was there was no one alive who knew this city better than he did and no one better qualified to keep track of how it was constantly changing.

It was a layered map of the city showing the areas of destruction, population centres and known collector hotspots. Marked very carefully were the locations of warehouses and storage facilities along with what they contained and who knew about them. Hospitals, schools and universities had their markers with special notes as to people of interest who might still be alive. The networks of survivor groups and gangs were mapped out like a spider web, who was working with whom and how the resources were spread. If John hadn’t been so successful at slipping under the net he would have been marked down as ‘person of interest’ cross referenced with ‘resources: medical care’.

The collector activity was marked in red with their known routes highlighted and a red flag where they caught a victim. The route taken by any escapees was marked with red crosses. There were notes and graphs comparing how many collectors were sent in, how many people they collected, what distance they travelled, information of their vehicles, analysis of what they said, reaction they received, amount of violence used and details of any conflict between collectors.

It was all Sherlock’s work. Mycroft had a larger map, covering the whole country which he filled in with details from the military reconnaissance teams and contact with other outposts up and down the country but there was no place better mapped than London. Mycroft had always called London the battlefield; well these were the battle plans.

Sherlock entered in the facts about his trip out. Not just the encounter with the collectors but every single observation he had made on his way to the West End, at Baker Street Station and even what he had noticed on their way back to the Enclave. He could take one look down any street and tell the hundred things that had happened to it since his last visit. It disturbed him that despite all his scrutiny and all his contacts he hadn’t known that John existed in the city. That seemed like a hugely important thing to miss and he couldn’t help wondering what else was slipping under his radar. Especially considering that John had clearly attracted the attention of someone else.

Those collectors had been looking for someone in that office building. The office had been untouched, there had been no signs that anyone had been there before John arrived, let alone living there or visiting regularly. The collectors could only have been looking for someone who had been there at that moment and they hadn’t been interested in him. Unless there had been somebody else who was very good at hiding – and they would have had to have been incredibly good to have avoided Sherlock’s attention – the only person they could possibly be after had been John.

The main questions were how did they know John would be there, and did they just want him because he was a doctor or was it personal?

Sherlock set about inputting the descriptions of the collectors into the report so he could search for other instances involving the same group and find out where they came from. In the morning, when John got up, he could ask him some questions. But first he wanted to find out the answers.


John stared at the ceiling of the infirmary as the IV in his arm restored some much needed nutrients.

He didn’t know what time it was although he suspected enough had passed for it to count as early morning rather than middle of the night.

He didn’t know what tests Helen was running, he hadn’t really been paying attention and hadn’t even noticed the medical student had been successfully roused from her bed until she started taking a blood sample.

He didn’t know who had found him hunched over the toilets shaking like a building in an earthquake and too weak to move. Nor was he too sure who had practically carried him to the infirmary.

What he did know was the nightmare. It was, after all, the same nightmare he had night after night after night. He had been in Chelmsford this time but sometimes he was in London or Helmand or think he was in one place but it would look like one of the others. Usually he was alone, although never actually alone because he was always being watched, surrounded by enemies, some malevolent force that meant him harm. Sometimes he would see them in the corner of his eye or just around the bend but no matter how much he ran he could never catch up with them. And he would scramble through the ditches – because there were always ditches no matter where he was supposed to be or what place it looked like – having to avoid rubble and bodies and the hidden explosives that the enemy had planted in his way and constantly went off around him, ringing in his ears until he finally stepped on one and it threw him back into consciousness.

This time, however, while he had been chasing one of the shadows they had stepped on the mine instead of him. But instead of exploding they had stood there while they burnt, their skin blackening and curling up. He had run away only to encounter another one, just standing there on fire, and another, and another, and then there had been one that looked like his sister, another like his father, another like Sherlock, another like his mother who had stared at him blankly as her skin turned to crisp-

At which point he had woken up with a terrified yell and had only just made it to the bathroom before he threw up the entire contents of his stomach and what felt like more besides. This, Helen had told him, was a particularly bad thing when he was already malnourished and dehydrated to begin with. As if he didn’t know that.

Now, apparently, Helen – who had taken the time to mention she had lost her father, brothers and cousins, had been in a windowless room at the university with her boyfriend and who thought the Event might have been caused by sunspots - was trying to figure out whether he had had a reaction to the Lorimpoxate or whether it had just been him having a ‘delicate tummy’. He really was going to sort out her bedside manner.

He couldn’t fight the terrifying relief that this had happened while he was here instead of outside. If he had had that dream and chucked up his guts in some random tower block or one of his locked up bolt holes no one would have been there to rescue him. He would have been stuck there, too weak to do anything other than collapse in his own sick. He would have died and that would have been it. Nobody would know about it, nobody would care, nobody would even bury his body. He could almost picture in his mind’s eye his corpse rotting in an abandoned building the same way he had sometimes thought it would do in the Afghan wilderness. The most anyone would do if they were really, really nice, would be to put an X on the door so that everyone would know to stay away. A lot of people didn’t even get that.

What if it happened again? What if it wasn’t worth their while to keep him ‘alive and well’ anymore? What if they decided to chuck him out onto the streets? He wouldn’t even get an X…

John sat up sharply as two men crashed through the infirmary doors pushing a gurney between them. On it was a young soldier covered with blood and bandages. It looked like a chest wound.

Helen barely managed to get out, “What are you-“

Before being interrupted by, “Gunfight on the M25, this guy needs some serious help.”

“It’s against procedure-“

“Fuck procedure! We’ve got six guys injured and a van full of civilians coming in behind us, now are you going to help or not?”

“Mr Wearing should-“

“Well go get him!”

He removed the IV from his hand with a practiced manoeuvre and jumped from the bed, reaching instinctively for the boxes of gloves.

“Helen, get me a CBC, an intubation kit and,” he checked the tags around the injured man’s – Private Martin Lewis - neck, “six units of A positive. You,” he pointed to the soldier who hadn’t been shouting, “go fetch Mr Wearing and any other doctors, nurses or vaguely medical related personnel you’ve got around here. If you don’t know where he is then grab someone else to do it for you. Go!” The soldier fled. “You, where are the other wounded?”

“Loading bay going through decon.”

“Get them in here, I want everyone in one place instead of having to run all over every time someone takes a dive. What sort of injuries are we talking about here, mainly GSW’s?”

“Gunshot wounds and trauma.”

“Sounds like my area of expertise.”

Helen handed him the intubation kit.

“Thanks. We need to prep him for emergency surgery.”

Helen immediately paled. “Shouldn’t we wait for Mr Wearing?”

“He needs our help right now. You do know how to prep a patient for surgery, don’t you?”

Helen shook her head.

“OK, you watch carefully while I intubate him and then you need to start some IVs. He needs saline, morphine and Lactated Ringer’s solution, you got that?”

Helen nodded weakly. John stepped forward so she had to look him straight in the eyes.

“We can do this, do you hear me? Helen?” She nodded. “What did I just say?”

“We can do this.”

“Good, remember that because I may test you later. Now watch me.”

No sooner had he got his first patient intubated than his second patient was barrelled through the door with a shout of,

“I think he’s going into shock.”

John let his training take over completely, moving methodically from one patient to another as they came in, assessing wounds and giving orders to whoever happened to be closest. By the time the other doctors showed up he had more soldiers doing first aid under shouted instruction and running errands than he did patients. He had also stabilised all six patients, – although he wanted to get Corporal Hedgely in surgery as soon as possible to rescue what he could of the soldier’s arm – ordered x-rays, changed into a set of scrubs, and persuaded Helen that she too could shout at soldiers while he was in surgery.

Mr Wearing, one of the surgeons, introduced himself by joining John as he was scrubbing up for surgery and saying,

“Doctor John Watson, I take it? Tom Wearing. We weren’t expecting to meet you for a couple of days yet.”

“What can I say?” John responded. “I just couldn’t wait.”

“Good man. Now you’re with us we can finally field a team for the five-a-side football tournament.”

Tom turned out to be a very talented orthopaedic surgeon with a laid back attitude - which John liked - and a mouth that never stopped moving - which John wasn’t too keen on. He was the sort of man who could ask for more sutures without ever breaking his flow in telling constant anecdotes about his medical practice, including the time he had almost amputated the wrong leg after a paperwork mix up.

After an hour John had found out Tom had been in surgery with Jack Phillips, the Enclave’s other surgeon, at the time of the Event. He had a wife and two daughters, who had all died, and a two year old grandson who hadn’t and was apparently doing marvellously at the Enclave’s crèche. He reckoned the Event was caused by solar flares interacting with mobile phone signals. He and Jack had worked with the military before and been recruited almost immediately to the Enclave. They had expected more doctors but due to ‘this and that’ no more had materialised. Tom was also very keen on football and had great plans for when he was finally allowed to form a team from the medical staff and, inevitably, lead them to victory.

If the other surgeon wasn’t doing such amazing work in front of his eyes, John would have been very tempted to sew Tom’s mouth shut.

Nevertheless he was relieved when Helen showed up with a health drink, (“You still need to keep your strength up,”) an update on the other patients, (the X-rays were back and Corporal Peterson’s leg was definitely broken but Captain Green’s ribs were merely bruised. Private French had nothing worse than concussion, Lance Corporal Smith had had to be stitched up twice having pulled the first lot out within minutes, and Mr Phillips had taken Corporal Hedgely into surgery) a warning that the civilians were coming in (there were sixteen of them, including five children) and a sharp jab to the neck.

“What the-“

“Your test results came back as well,” Helen said. “No sign of an allergic reaction to the Lorimpoxate so it’s okay for you to have the second injection. One more in twenty-four hours’ time and you’ll be all clear.”

“Really need to work on her bedside manner,” John said to Tom after Helen had gone.

“Really?” Tom said. “I’ve always found her charming.”

“Well you would.”

“What was that?”

“I need another swab.”

Just over half an hour later John was able to leave Tom to finish up and go check on the civilians. Aside from one panic induced asthma attack and the usual levels of malnutrition there was nothing too severe wrong with them. This turned out to be thanks to the efforts of Doctor Alice Baker – not a real doctor at all but a third year biology student with first aid training who had been acting as one for the group. John suspected she would be immediately assigned to medical training, which was going to be hell since Helen and she had already gotten into a blazing row when the former tried to disinfect her wounds – and a colonel who had organised their defence and ridden with them through a convoluted escape route of his own planning. Every person John spoke to had high praise for the man. How he had reacted so quickly and calmed everyone down. How he had carried an injured soldier over his shoulder to cover. How he had protected the children with his own body. How he had taken a bullet to the arm and still kept firing out the window as if he hadn’t even noticed it. This story in particular was told to him in great detail with excessive hand gestures and sound effects by two seven year old boys. John was almost looking forward to meeting him.

Just as he was finishing off splinting two broken fingers, and the adrenaline that had been running wild through his system for the past few hours was starting to tail off, he got the opportunity.

A tall, muscular man with short blond hair, a dark scar that ran all the way from his left eye to the edge of his square chin and a makeshift bandage on his arm that was seeping blood entered, pursued by both Holmes brothers.

“What kind of mud was on the tyres?” Sherlock was asking. “Did you see anything in it, any grass or leaves?”

“Exactly which direction did they head in when they left?” the older Holmes asked.

“I told you,” said the colonel obviously working hard to keep his cool but succeeding for the moment. “They came from the south. The information you gave me was just wrong. We came via junction twenty-nine to avoid the collectors at South Weald, so how come there are two groups within four miles of each other?”

John swiftly intercepted his patient’s non-injured hand as she went to pick at the medical tape, told her very firmly to leave it alone, made sure to warn a nurse to keep an eye on her, and then made his way over to the argument.

“But which direction were they heading in?”

“How did they align their vehicles when they made the barricade?”

The elder Holmes’ tone was imperious and cold while Sherlock’s was inquisitive and almost excited. Neither of them glanced at John as he approached. The colonel gave him a slightly confused look then offered him his arm with a small smile and an eye roll that was definitely directed at the other two men rather than him.

“I had to come through bloody Becontree,” The colonel turned his attention back to his interrogators as John started to unravel the strip of cloth that had been used as a bandage, “and I can tell you, it wasn’t pretty.”

As John started to get the colonel to shrug off his jacket the man sighed tiredly. The elder Holmes stepped forward and lowered his voice.

“If there’s been a build-up in collector activity to the east of London,” John tried to ease the ripped sleeve off the colonel’s injured arm but found Holmes in the way, “we must know specifics-“

Badgering he could cope with, getting in the way was the final straw.

“Look, bugger off, you two,” he said, waving Sherlock and his brother away. “Can’t you see this man’s injured?” Both Holmes’ opened their mouths. “You can debrief him fully later but right now if you’re not wounded then you can either start rolling bandages or get the hell out of my infirmary.”

All four Holmes eyebrows shot up and John almost thought he saw a look of stunned approval cross both their faces but it was gone so swiftly he couldn’t be sure. Either way the two men left very quickly.

The colonel beamed at him. “I’m impressed, how did you manage that?”

John wasn’t entirely sure. He had expected a bit more of a fight, particularly after Holmes’ ‘won’t let anyone interfere with my goals’ speech. So he shrugged and said, “Let’s have a look at your arm, shall we?”

The colonel finished peeling off his jacket and sat down. “I haven’t seen you here before, are you new?”

“Just got here yesterday,” John said pulling on a fresh pair of gloves. “Doctor John Watson.”


The colonel sounded confused but when John looked up the other man was grinning.

“I’m Seb.”

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” John said.

The grin seemed to flag a little. “All lies.”

“They called you a hero.”

The grin came back with a vengeance. “Definitely all lies.”

A smile tugged at the corner of John’s mouth. After Tom Wearing’s endless bragging, Seb was almost refreshing.

He turned his attention back to the wound. “This is going to need stitches and I’m afraid it will scar. Although it won’t be quite as impressive as…” John gestured in the general direction of his cheek.

Seb reached up to touch his scar. “Oh, this. Would you believe me if I said I got it off a tiger in India?”

“Depends,” said John, torn between genuine curiosity and wariness that he had thought too soon about the bragging. “Did you?”

Seb grinned again. “Yeah, but it was an accident. I was about six and the tiger was only four months old and in a wildlife sanctuary. Mum and dad used to travel a lot, that’s why I joined the army.” He cringed. “Why am I telling you all this, you don’t want my life story.”

“No, it’s fine,” said John, meaning it. He reached for the saline. “Joined the army to travel the world, makes perfect sense. This won’t hurt a bit.”

Seb remained perfectly still as he cleaned the wound then, once John was satisfied and ready to move onto the anaesthetic, asked, “Same reason you joined?”

John nodded but didn’t raise his eyes from what he was doing. “Who’d want to be stuck in a dreary hospital in London when you could be out there doing something much more exciting?”

“Exactly. So where did you go?”

“I was in Afghanistan for a while before I got shot.”

“I did a tour in Afganistan. And two in Iraq. Sierra Leone, Georgia, Ethiopia.”

John let out a low whistle. “Been all over then?”

“Loved it. Doing my bit in defence of Queen and country? It’s what I live for. Helping these people out today was a taste of the old magic, I can tell you.”

The enthusiasm in Seb’s voice was completely contrary to the stillness with which the other man held himself. Still, at least that made giving the many little anaesthetic injections easier.

“Being shut up in here isn’t good for my constitution. Not with everything that’s going on out there. That’s where the real need is. Well you’d know. Living on the streets, were you? Did Sherlock find you?”

Seb seemed to understand it all much better than Sally with her ‘did he follow you home’. “I’m one of his strays, apparently.”

“Yeah, he brings people in now and then. Only people he can use, doesn’t care about the rest. I mean you’re a doctor right, who’s to say you couldn’t have been more useful to the people out there than tucked away for the toffs in here?” Seb cringed again. “Sorry, my mouth’s running away with me today. I shouldn’t be complaining; I hear you did a damn fine job on my men in here. How’s Lewis?”

“He’ll be fine,” said John, glad for the change of subject. “But I don’t see Hedgely picking up a weapon again.”

“Damn it. Well at least we didn’t lose anyone.”

“How does that feel?” he asked, testing the wound with a light jab of the needle.

“Can barely feel it.”

He had heard that plenty of times before from career soldiers who had gone on to yelp in pain the instant John had started stitching. Seb, however, proved to be the exception and didn’t even flinch when John inserted the needle.

“What were you doing anyway?” John asked, curiously, during a pause between stitches while he injected more anaesthetic, just in case.

He had assumed that the Enclave had shut themselves in for the long haul. He couldn’t imagine what sorts of missions whole teams of soldiers were being sent out for. Going up against collectors maybe if the gunfight was anything to go by.

Seb looked serious “Infiltrating an enemy stronghold.” Then broke out into one of his shark like grins. “University of Essex.”

John huffed a half chuckle.

“Ever been there?”

“’Fraid not,” said John.

“Absolute maze, half underground with corridors that go on forever, no wonder so many people survived there. When news got out that a group had actually set up residence there we were sent to bring them back. Put all the brains in one place and see what clever things they come up with.”

Only people he can use.

John tied the final knot. “Done.”

Seb lifted his arm to examine the wound and flexed his fingers. “Thanks, Doc. Bet you’re going to tell me I need to rest it now.”

John smiled. “Would it work?”

Seb laughed. “I guess it would have to. Can I see my men now?”

“Sure, I’ll show you.”

Chapter 5

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