12 Gauge and 10CC
After breakfast I had a few words with Joanna. She knew what was going on but didn't bother with any worried words or looks. She
just wished us good hunting, then went to work after a serious kiss goodbye and I met with the others at the team block.

St Paul's underground station main entrance comes out on the south side of a four road junction connecting St Martin's-Le-Grand to the
north, Newgate Street to the west, Cheapside to the east and New Change to the south. The four roads funnelled in to an elongated fork
road island. A good vantage point to see anything coming at us, I suggested this as a starting point.

We decided on two to the north, two on the east and two standing west. The station had another pedestrian entrance on the opposite side
of the road, north east of the main entrance, Rain suggested a couple of trip wire grenades at the top of the stairs and all agreed.
The plan of action was roughed out.

On arrival and as a group, set the trip grenades. Once done, then go to our positions at the points of the road island which would place
no more than 40 yards between us tops. I'd set the sound bait and then we would wait and hope no one else would interrupt us.

I rounded it up.

"So all we can do once we are all set, is waiting until we see its ugly mug and then give it a bloody good hiding."

All were in agreement and in lieu of any better ideas, we got to it. The CD player came along with some selected disks, everyone got their
assigned weapon loads and we piled in to the Mastiff. We were issued with new headsets that were of a slightly different design than the
other ones I had already used. These were the same radio setup but equipped with a ridiculously tiny camera and a small single monocle
heads up display. Very advance liberated Umbrella tech that was far and away above the personal role radios used by the UK forces or
land warrior tactical communications setups I'd seen elsewhere.

We drove south east and I lightened the mood a bit with some impromptu tour guide stuff, Rain stuck to the passenger seat and the rest
made use of the main top hatch and the two smaller rear hatches. We must have looked a right motley crew flying down the deserted
London streets with a bunch of heavily armed and armoured folks hanging out the top, pointing all over the place. I pointed out Coram's
Fields and the Charles Dickens museum; I was on practically first name terms with those who once worked there.

Turning on to the A401, we hammered past the north east corner of Gray's Inn Gardens and a turn south down the nicely tree lined A5200.
A quick turn out on to the A40 and we were well on our way. Rain was giving updates and all had mentioned the lack of walkers seen.
Yuri did mention about less than expected enthusiasm that any who were close enough to see us and I didn't flatten on our merry journey,
seemed to give up quite quickly rather than shuffle in our direction.

Plenty must have heard us but they seemed even less enthusiastic. I hoped this was becoming the norm as this would leave us less to
worry about. The late May sun in the clear blue sky was warming, signalling the approach of another English summer. Sadly I would be
elsewhere by the time that was in full swing but I hoped those around to see it would make the most of it.

After almost a mile and three quarters, we were closing in on the target area. I slowed the mastiff to just above walking pace and it was all
eyes open, voices quiet and weapons ready. There must have been a grand total of three walkers in the area. I pulled the Mastiff up on to
the traffic island itself and we got to work.

Piling out and doing the run to the pedestrian subway first and both sets of steps duly set up with bang surprises in less than a minute and
a half. The walkers were taken care of in short order with suppressed pistols. The gang took up positions after I had set the CD player up
and let it go with a mix of 60's to early 80's rock stuff. Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater Revival and the like, which
gained some approval from the team.

It seemed quite surreal; we few, armed to the teeth and ready to make someone's day go very badly, on the deserted London streets while
classic rock music blared and echoed along the canyons of concrete and glass.

Rain stood with Thomas to the north, Carlos and Yuri took the east, Nikolai and me to the west. We waited as my watch read off 09:30
on the dot. Minutes ticked by, after almost half an hour and showing the door to a couple of grey skinned pedestrians that turned up to
the party without an invite, our patience was rewarded.

Not sure if the music had anything to do with it but just as the closing bars of AC/DC's Back in Black were playing, I noticed movement
in a knot of trees just outside Topshop, a clothing retailer, about 80 yards from my position at the junction of New Change and Cheapside.

I pulled up the binoculars and took a good long look. From between a gap in the hedgerows surrounding the trees, a familiar large brained
head poked out. I called contact my front on the radio, which was acknowledged swiftly as the rest of the gang arrived at our shoulders,
Rain brought the CD player as we lined out across the street. There was no cover in between us and it, so a clear field of fire was ours.

A last check around and we got ready.

All in to kneeling firing positions, spare mags placed on the ground in front of us while keeping eyes to the front. The hissing bastard had
not moved.

Rain turned the player toward the Licker as the first bars of 10CC's Rubber Bullets started to sound off. I smiled as I found this somewhat
appropriate. That got its full attention. It started to move forward as the multiple clicking of firing selectors came from along the line.
A few glances around to make sure we were still clear, the game had begun.

I whispered to fire together at 40 yards, made a comms check that base was on with us, they acknowledged and we all took aim. It padded
forward a few feet, stopped and I thought, trying to make sense of the sound.

'I went to a party at the local county jai-l,'
'All the cons were dancing and the band began to wai-l,'
'But the guys were indiscreet,'
'They were brawling in the street,'
'At the lo-cal dance at the lo-cal county jai-l.'

It came on a few feet, stopped and seemed to be zeroing in on the source. I could be wrong but the Licker looked as though it didn't know
quite what to make of this.

'Well the band were playing,'
'And the booze began to flo-w,'
'But the sound came over on the police car rad-i-o,'
'Down at Precinct 49,'

The music played on and it padded a few feet more, stopped and the repeated at each line.
A gust of wind blew from behind and must have carried our body odour toward it.

'Having a tear-gas of a ti-me,'

It came forward but still moving slowly, down to about 45 yards from us as its tongue came out and whipped slowly from side to side.

'Sergeant Baker got a call from the governor of the county jai-l.'

It leapt forward to charge and ran right in to the killing zone.

Load up, load up, load up with ruu-uu-uu-uu-ber bullets,

No need for mucking about against a single target, we fired as one. A solid hail of 5.56 slugs and FRAG-12 flew toward the target and it
was a fairly impressive if incredibly bloody sight, when they arrived.

The head literally exploded as the front shoulders and legs dissolved in a spray of crimson. Flashes from the high explosive and
fragmentation rounds peppered the body and it was beginning to look like it had just run in to a giant invisible meat mincer coming
in the other direction. It had barely made it another four or five yards after the first shots had impacted its body but I suspected that its
bulk moving at speed was more responsible for that than anything else.

I called "Cease fire!" after what must have been only six or seven seconds.

We all changed out for fresh magazines and slowly moved forward to the inert and well shredded form comprising approximately 65% of
what used to be a complete Licker. Everything from just past its waist forward was simply not there anymore. A long gore trail marked the
beginning of its run and the end of its existence. We all just stood in a circle with weapons still ready though it wasn't required, just looking
at the corpse for a few seconds. Thomas spoke in an everyday tone of voice.

"Yeah, I reckon that'll about do it mates."

'But we can't have dancing at the lo-cal county jai-l.'

10CC played on as the relieved voice of Chris sounded off in our earpieces.

"Excellent work team, that mess is someone else's problem now, I'll get a cleanup team on it. We have all the information required
and all recorded, Remove the tripwire grenades and anything else you need to then return to base."

And that is exactly what we did, without mishap on the way and all in fairly upbeat mood.

Walkers were conspicuous by their absence as we drove back through the gate, word had spread it seems and a knot of people including
my lady were there to meet us. Little chat had taken place between us on the way, we just relaxed in that 'job well done' feeling and some
confidence that taking care of the Hunters was a smidgen less daunting that it first appeared. But false or over confidence never got a
foot hold; none of us were under any illusions that we were still going to be facing four of the scaly backed bastards and possibly all
at the same time.

Much hand shaking and congratulations were spread around and I got the mother of all hugs from my girl, and that suited me just fine.
Chris told us that command had been on to watch the proceedings and all were happy with the results. He stated that after action reports
should be filed as soon as possible and when done, a team briefing would take place for analysis of the results.

We decided to get some snack scoff and get to the keyboard pounding; this would take me a while. As it turned out, Joanna was well on
the ball and provided me with a laptop and separate keyboard of the normal size taking in to account my fingers which were more like
a couple of pounds of sausages in comparison to other folks dainty digits. The spell checker became my new best friend here and my lady
stuck around to help for which I was most thankful. She also played server in the coffee dept. which we all appreciated.

It took a few hours to get it all down and edited to keep it concise but done and forwarded to Chris for evaluation. A late lunch was
followed by the said meeting which took place in Chris's office and we were on a conference call with the top bosses listening in and
asking questions.

Colonel Rickard S. and Sarah K. were the top knobs at the BSAA and after we went through the reports, a lengthy question and answer
session took place. I recognised the voice of Sarah as the upper class English accent I had heard on the radio back when I first intercepted
their comms after the Hounslow Barracks deal.

Deployment and engagement tactics were gone over with a fine tooth comb, this I was well used to in past times. Continual evaluation of
tactics is vital in this case due to how fluid we would need to be in times to come. Nothing about any potential enemies could be taken for
granted, unlike dealing with a purely human enemy where there is a degree of predictability.

When it came to straight forward elimination of the threat, the concentrated firepower showed distinct promise. All were in agreement that
bringing overwhelming force to bear in this kind of situation ensured speed of resolution which was paramount considering the threat that
B.O.W.'s posed. Sarah told us that the UK Ministry of Defence and what there was of the UK Government were going over all the
information from this incident to come to a decision regarding committing troops to seal off Kings Cross underground when we go in to
deal with the Hunters.

Apparently they were more than happy for the BSAA to take care of this directly rather than the Army. I sensed that politics were also in
play here, having the Army in support rather than the politicians make any hard decisions considering the current governmental lacklustre
performance in pretty much everything before London was abandoned.

I was fairly certain the current troops we had on the ground in the UK were being kept busy enough anyway so assigning any to us was
probably causing a few people in suits to have furrowed brows. I had no idea how folks outside the quarantine zone were seeingthis but
I suspected detailed news was limited and in some cases, for very good reasons. Information on things like B.O.W.'s were not exactly
going to inspire calm in a population where calm was going to be a vital resource and would have to be managed with extreme care.

My questions on this were met with the information that almost all overseas operations were being put on hold and military resources
continuously recalled in stages to deal with the current problem. Ground troops were the top priority as some RAF and most Royal Navy
combat units were a slightly redundant factor for this situation.

What RAF was being used consisted of transport/logistical outfits and RN mobs were more of the transport to back up commercial
shipping/costal patrol or Royal Marine units on the ground with the Army. We ended the grand yakking session some four hours after we
had started. All the information had been thoroughly dissected and the final words from the bosses were that the tactical doctrine for
dealing with B.O.W.'s was a sound as it could be under current known circumstances. Any changes required would be dictated by
circumstances and then added on an 'as and when' basis. All were of the opinion that it was the best we could do for the time being.

As we began to file out, Chris called me over. The rest of the team left and he spoke to Sarah.

"Ok Sarah, it's just me and Ben here so go ahead."

She began: "Well first and to both of you gentlemen, a job well done. Congratulations."

The tone was matter of fact rather than openly praising but I was used to that in past years.
She asked if she may call me Ben and I said that was not a problem.

"Thank you Ben, Currently we are keeping your name and involvement out of the information released to outside parties.
I take it this meets with your approval."

It was a statement rather than question but I indicated it did. I had no need of any note at this or indeed any other time and it would make
things easier to remain anonymous. If word had come down that I was alive and kicking to the powers that be, then like any former soldier
I would fully expect a recall to duty. Granted I'd do that if required and technically I was just a reservist right now but to be honest,
I wanted to see this through more than anything. This appeared to meet with her approval and she continued.

"Very good, we will continue as planned. Chris, we have a conference call in one hour with the Ministry of Defence to discuss
matters concerning the next objective so we will speak then, Good evening to you both."

The call ended abruptly. This lady was quite the professional and I could live with that. We left his office and headed to the commissary.
Chris said that they would see what the situation was with government and then plan how to get the final job done before pulling out and on
to the main base at Block Island. He'd let me and the rest of the team know as soon as an answer was forthcoming.

Chris got some 'take out' as he termed it; I sat with the team and got some scoff down my neck. The talk was light hearted of the things
to come. So much was still to be found out concerning Umbrella, their plans and how we were going to royally spoil them, whose head we
may have to tap dance on to get Intel and so forth.

I was just sipping my tea when Yuri looked at me, then looked behind me and raised his eyebrows along with a whispered

"Incoming on your six my friend."

I turned my head just in time to see Joanna arrive wearing the same and exceedingly nice boots, jeans, t shirt and waistcoat ensemble she
had worn at our place. I smiled and caught the approving expressions from all the team, particularly the blokes and I would have been
disappointed to see otherwise. She slid her arm around my shoulders and gave me that beautiful smile of hers.

"Sorry guys, ah am going to have to steal Ben away from y'all."

That got a collective smirk and "Uh-huh" from them as I stood up.

"Gentlemen and lady, duty calls." I looked at my girl "Hello duty"

I followed Joanna and added "I'm coming!"

Leaving, I heard Thomas say "Strewth! Already? Why can't I find a Sheila who can do that to me?"

I imagined Rain punching him hard.
By the sound of the dull thud, erupting laughter and the slightly gasping, Aussie voiced
"You really are a nasty bitch, ya know that don't ya!"
Followed by "I think I'm in love.", that's exactly what happened.

I took my lady's hand and we strolled out in to the early evening. We took a good walk around the compound and as usual, didn't speak as
there seemed no need right now. Her smile hardly wavered as we strolled. Occasionally, I would bring my mitt up and kiss the back of her
hand. I had no problem with public displays of affection. The reason being I just didn't care what anyone else thought.
I remembered to take off the radio and disable the VOX this time, it turned out the units were very comfortable to wear.

We ended up back in her room; she sat me on the bed then placed herself astride my lap to face me, this appeared to be her favourite
position and was fast becoming my preferred one to be honest. A very long cuddle and tonsil hockey session took place that neither of us
was in a rush to finish. After some time, I broke the silence.

"Anyway, hello Joanna, nice to see you."

That got the anticipated laugh and likewise response. She had been busy but said nothing of this morning's activities the team had been
involved in so I made note not to mention it. She got up and fetched her laptop, sat in my lap and opened it.

"Ah got lucky and found an email attached to your families address in Australia, did you want to send your sister an email?"

I got the feeling that luck had very little to do with it. I replied in mockingly despondent voice.

"I best had, the longer I delay then the worse the ear bashing by text would be. If it came to light I had delayed letting
her know, by the time I get there for this or next Christmas, she'll use my head to turn a frying pan into a deep saucepan."

Joanna's lovely laugh gave me a warm glow and she sorted getting the email program up and running in a second or two flat.
I asked her to type while I spoke.

Dear Grace, It's your little brother here. Still alive, kicking and in London. Long story but up to me neck in muck and bullets
which should come as no surprise to you. Hope you lot down under are all well, my best to Lou and the kids.
Tell those two rascally nephews of mine I miss them as I miss you all. Not much more I can say at present, hope this reaches
you so we can talk more. Yes I know, your brother actually using a computer rather than paper and pen is odd but someone else is
to blame for that and I'll explain when I hear from you.
Take care of yourselves and speak soon,
Lots of love,

Joanna hit the send button then folded the screen down and placed it on the small table in her room. She came back over to me;
I just grabbed her, pulled her t-shirt up, blew a big raspberry on her belly button and inhaled the scent of her delightfully
smooth and near flawless skin as I kissed her stomach. This got a squealing laugh and happy groan in that order and set the mood
for the rest of that evening and night.

The morning found us entangled in each other which was very nice to find out when I opened my eyes. It was somewhere around 06:30
when I thought that some form of movement toward getting my carcass out of bed would eventually be a good idea. I felt very relaxed,
refreshed and ready for the day as Joanna stirred slightly in my arms and made contented noises, which was nice to hear.
A very long good morning kiss and her hand reaching down under the covers and getting a firm grip of me indicated she felt like some
morning movement that wasn't exactly as I first envisaged. However her idea was way better than mine so that was that.

A fair while later had us taking a longer than average soapy shower, then dressed and to breakfast by half seven.
The Black team were in as was everyone else so with the tech team and my team at adjoining tables, food was being tucked away at a
fair rate of speed and some chat was done.

All were in good mood this morning and Naimh did mention in no subdued voice about needing to requisition earplugs so she could get
some sleep or move farther down the accommodation block since she had the room next to Joanna. I noticed the bemused expressions from
the other personnel as the team collapsed in laughter. Joanna's cheeks went a fairly good shade of crimson which I have to say I
found most endearing but my idiotic grin hadn't wavered after the comment.

Naimh had a very devilish smile on her face and I felt that my girl would have a bit of a long embarrassment suppression job going on this
morning in the comms hut. After the hilarity had died down, Carlos informed me that we had team a briefing at 09:00 in the block.

We finished up breakfast and back to Joanna's room, on arrival we just looked at each other and she had a bit of a fit of nervous giggles.
I was impressed she had managed to hold on to it for as long as she had. We just held each other and had a bloody good laugh about it along
with a few comments about needing to learn to bite the pillows. Both of us may need to learn that I added and that got a seductive growl and
Cheshire cat smile out of her. I had to regrettably remind her that we both had work to do but hold those thoughts for later.

Joanna took a quick look at her laptop and announced that we had an answer to the email he'd sent last night. We got comfortable and she
snuggled in to my lap, then opened the email.
The opening line told me we had got through to the right person.

Well it's about bloody time you got in touch!!
I've been worried to buggery, driving Lou and the kids mad trying to find out what's been happening.
So how and what are you doing Ben? Come on, tell all right now.
Love and miss you,

Joanna had the most beaming smile on her face and kissed me. Her smile reflected mine quite well. I said I'd have to think up an answer
and doing that would have to wait until after the briefing at least as there wasn't time for that right now. Looking at my watch,
I would have guessed it to be about seven in the evening where Grace lives and told Joanna.

"She'll know the time difference and probably wait up for that so as soon as I'm done, I'll get it typed up and shoot it off to her.
For now though, a quick response is in order."

One was done with a promise of a follow up and sent which may hold my sister for a while, or not, knowing her. We went our separate
ways just
before nine; I walked her to the comms hut then got off to the briefing.

We all got around the table in the team block and Chris got down to cases. We went back over the plan for taking out the Hunters, little
appeared to need changing from the initial plan of engagement and Chris said that a few representatives from the Army would be arriving
in about an hour. MOD top bods had given the OK for the Army to assist in cordoning off the underground station so a tactical brief was
required. I suggested that should things not go according to plan and we needed to withdraw however unlikely that may seem, a work up for
that would be a covering withdrawal in pairs to the same entrance we go in by and if we had some heavy backup from the Army, use that to
hammer any Hunters we don't get.

None of the team liked the idea of not coming out on top of this deal but it seemed prudent to have this in the plan now we had some
armed boots on the tarmac backup coming along for the fun and games. Lord bless 'em for their determination but now we had possibly
some decent assets beside ourselves in this fight then best make use of them.
They could see the sense so that was noted for when Chris spoke to the Army brass.

That meeting broke up just after 10:00, a Merlin helo with three officer and a couple of senior NCO types arrived, the Army personnel went
for their meeting with Chris so the team just did some exercises to burn up time, went for a couple of run laps of the perimeter wall and
so forth. I felt that last night's and this morning’s physical efforts were sufficient for my exercise needs so had dug out the laptop
Joanna had set up for me and composed a response for my sister. It took some time to lay it all out, or as much as I could tell her
and keep security satisfied.

She was well aware of how things were in that area with my service life so knew not to ask questions.

I gave her the basic rundown of what had happened to me, from the dimly remembered door post thing up to date with everyone I'd met.
Spoke a little of the work and folks I was with, made mention of Martha and Max and their role on keeping me breathing, told of Joanna
as the person responsible for helping me get back in contact and how special she had become to me.

I got it all sorted and ran it by Joanna since she did figure somewhat importantly in my life right now, she was happy with what was written
and took some time out to have a chat back in her room. The computer stuff was pretty much wound up with little left to do, Naimh and
Carl could handle things so she and I left them to it. I sat on the bed with my lady comfortable in my lap as usual; Joanna seemed to have
some a misgiving about something, a bit of gentle coaxing brought it out.
"What will your sister think of me? Do you think she'll like me?"

I will freely admit that this made me seriously appreciate her good and gentle heart even more, proof positive that my lady's beauty went
all the way to her core. I assured Joanna that Grace and the rest of them will have no problem at all with her.

"I love you so they will too my sweetheart, have no fear of that."

Joanna did nothing more than kissed me gently and snuggled in to my chest as I wrapped her up in my arms. We sent the lengthy email off
and just spent a quiet while together. Lunchtime found us in the commissary apart from Carlos who had been snagged for, as Thomas put
it, an executive lunch with the top knobs and cocktails. Yuri added that God may have some mercy on his soul but not a lot.

After scoff the team and I went over our weapons and readied the load outs in hope the operation would begin soon. As it turned out, a
meet up with Chris and Carlos in the early afternoon gave us the go order for tomorrow. The Army was ready to commit forces to the
cordon, the troops were already rolling and they would be arriving in a couple of hours. Apparently the powers that be in the UK were
in a hurry to get this sorted, they weren't the only ones.

The powers that be were sending almost a full rifle company of the Grenadier Guards in armoured personnel carriers with support
equipment here as we spoke. There was more than enough room in the compound so that wouldn't be a problem and if all went well,
they would have even more space to play with when the BSAA pulled out.

Things were fairly quiet for a few hours until after dinner when the green machine of the British Army showed up and show up
they did. I had to admit to a bit of a swelling feeling in my chest when three Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles, one Warrior
command vehicle and six Bulldog 430 fighting vehicles rolled through the gate followed by two Oshkosh fuel and water close support
tankers and a field Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers unit rumbled to their designated parking areas to the north of all the

I am a patriot at heart and the sight of that lot with the Union flag and Cross of St. George flags flying from each vehicles radio antenna
as they roared past, well there must have been some grit in my eye I reckon.

The Warrior IFV's, tracked vehicles with a small turret sporting a 30mm Rarden cannon and capable of carrying seven fully bombed up
grunts, the Bulldogs are only slightly smaller armoured personnel carriers that can haul ten troops about and I was happy to see that
all but one was stuffed to the gills with serious looking and well-armed blokes.

The one that had just a driver and commander was packed with all the spare ammo and equipment they would need. That made us up by
about 70 or so troops and I felt a whole lot better about the manpower situation. Chris and Carlos liaised with the commanding
officers and the rest of us stayed out the way, yours truly in particular.

As is usual with units in the field, they were set up with tents and had found the commissary within two hours, the chemical toilets
arrived by Chinook just before sunset and a second arrived with stores and a field kitchen for the troops, most notably food supplies
were in abundance so all the important stuff was set.

The commissary staff needed some extra hands to pass out mugs of tea that evening for the overspill the field kitchen couldn't serve
immediately. Tea first, war later. An attitude that hadn't really changed that much in several centuries.

That evening saw us in the team quietly going over the details for tomorrow, agreeing to a 09:00 final briefing then just relaxing while I went off
in search of my lovely lady. I found her in her room and got the usual warm greeting with arms, lips and smile I enjoyed so much.
It turned out Grace had stayed up and the response to the email had arrived, Joanna was waiting for me so we could read it together which I
thanked her for. And read it we did.

All was well in the Land of Aus, Grace and Lou were doing great. Lou's building business was going great guns so that gave me cause to smile,
they had both worked bloody hard and it appeared to be paying off. My nephews Louis and Patrick, eight and ten years old respectively were
typical of boys at that age. More trouble than they should be but brilliant kids all the same. She had attached a photo of them all taken that
day it seemed and they were all looking in the pink.

Questions abounded, mainly from Grace asking about Joanna (big shock there) so a bit of picture taking with me and her perched on my lap,
with the laptops web cam thing and they were attached in the answer in which I did go in to some details about the how and where we had met
but not everything. I'd save some of that for later as I didn't want to run out of conversation material just yet. We agreed on the content and
so it was sent along with the pics. While she had been typing, best to let the better typist take care of that I thought,
I suddenly noticed the back of Joanna's hair. More specifically the ends.
Her hair was almost shoulder length but it looked uneven at the back like it had been hastily or badly cut. One side was a good half inch longer
than the other in the middle. After she had sent the email, I asked her if she'd gotten her money back from the hack hairdresser that had done
that or was this some new fashion thing.

She laughed and then told me that considering the situation, the long hair she had before was impractical so she chopped it off, literally.
I asked how long it used to be and she did some digging in her laptop and pulled up a picture she said was taken a short while ago in Scotland.
It was of her, Naimh and Carl.

She had a huge mane of almost snow white hair that looked like it went at least to the small of her back. My god it looked damn nice on her,
gorgeous in fact with enough impact to leave yours truly open mouthed.

"Oh babe you have GOT to grow that back!" This raised a very happy smile on her face.

"Y'all like that? That's my natural colour you know."

Like it? I bloody loved it and it had honestly never occurred to me to really question the colour, no idea why, it just never had. I always
liked women with long hair and this was sexy and stunning in one package. She told me it was some kind of genetic thing that as she got to
puberty, her hair changed colour and stayed as it was. She sometimes did a light blond colouring in it to hide the fact it was almost pure white.

She confessed it made her a bit self-conscious but I replied that she should never have to feel that way again, most certainly not with me.
I loved it to be honest and hoped she would consider letting it grow back and never colouring it. Joanna just kissed me, which was returned
with gusto.

"Well if mah sugar likes it then ah will do that. Now y'all do something for me and take me to bed."

A fair exchange if ever there was one.

Next morning had my eyes cranking open at just past six, strange yet somehow familiar noises came from outside. Troops were on the move in
standard morning camp fashion that brought a few good and less so memories flooding back. I could hear daily orders being given and a few
shouts here and there, the usual's I had heard so many times before. I had a good smile to myself as I hunkered down and snuggled up to my
beautiful lady and she responded likewise.

If I only got to wake up each morning with her in my arms, that would be good enough. Or at least a damn good way to start any day.
We lay for a while, punctuating the time with the odd kiss and caress.

The loud yell of "PARADE!...parade SHUN!" and the slamming of about sixty or so boots in near perfect unison in to the dirt
echoed across the area.

I looked at Joanna and smile. "And with that my darling love, the delicate peace is well and truly bloody shattered."

Joanna quietly laughed and we headed for the shower and then dressed. Me in my clean change of combats and her in her apparently
favourite jeans, boots and waistcoat number which was sure to turn heads. A few of the troops who caught sight of my lady nearly broke
a neck or two doing so.

I felt, going by her ever widening smile, that the occasional wolf whistle that echoed out made her day. Of course, this was usually followed
by a "SHADDAP YOU FECKIN' DEVIANT!" or variation of the same at no small level of decibels from close by the source of said whistle.
Followed very swiftly by an equally loud but apologetic "SORRY ABOUT THAT MISS!" from the same which made me giggle.

We made it to the commissary at seven, the team was there and several uniforms. This apparently had been made the preserve of the Army officers
and NCO's; most all of them noticed Joanna as we entered as it should be and I was getting a huge kick out of it. We sat on the adjacent table
to the team and talked as we ate. They were all up for today and to be honest, since this was the last clean up before getting to the meat
of the task ahead, so was I.

I was fully aware that my gear was attracting the attention of the Army blokes present, it was true Multicam, the Army had their own Multi-Terrain
Pattern which the Multicam is based on. Multicam proper was issued only to UK Special Forces in Afghanistan. I ignored the looks and just stuck
with the team talk and usual piss taking that was the norm amongst the group.

After breakfast I walked Joanna to work in her and her friends’ tech heaven. Before she went in, the usual kiss was a bit more than usual this
morning and the following hug also. I gave her a smile and a squeeze.

"Don't worry babe, I know you'll be watching so I'll have you covering my back and that makes me feel better. I already have my little angel
in Max, so seeing as I got one in you also watching over me, I know I'm well looked after as will we all be."

I waited until she went in then flipped the mental switch and got to work. I met up with the team at the armoury and did the weapons check over
and load up proper. Then to the team block to get in to our gear.

I got sorted but left the Kevlar helmet in the locker. We all stood as a team and Rain asked if I was taking a helmet as everyone else had one
with the night vision monocular.

I spoke simply. "Not required, I have a piece of kit that will cover it all."

They looked at me oddly.

"It'll keep you cool when it's hot, dry when it's wet, warm when it's cold and stop every ballistic projectile known to man."

I slipped my SAS beret on and made sure it was straight. Yuri made the only comment. "Fuckin' A!"

This did seem to be his favourite expression. We laughed and loaded up the Mastiff then went to the briefing.

It was held in the open area where all the tents were pitched and all gathered round. I stood with the Black team and noticed a few nods toward me
and 'told you so' looks pass between the officers and NCO's that had been in the commissary that morning. A Major of the Guards held the briefing
and laid out the positions.

The troops would disperse in their vehicles and form a cordon at each entrance, the unit going to the main entrance we were using had several men
detailed to help with getting the lighting rigs in to position and the running orders for this mission. They had briefed their men on the dangers
of the walkers and actions to take so they seemed well up on the current Intel regarding the potential difficulties. Once the cordons were all in
place and secure, we would then proceed to enter the place and take up positions.

The troops were told that under no circumstances were they to enter the station without direct orders and what to do if anything came their way that
wasn't a walker, civilian or the Black team. After thirty minutes and a few questions, we broke up and boarded the vehicles. Carlos and I had PRR radios
as well as our own ones to keep comms with the troops outside. Once situated, we went round and did the radio checks which showed all functional and
Joanna said all the headsets and cameras were working fine.

09:45 and we shoved off for the station.

The very few walkers about ran afoul of the Mastiff wheels and FV tracks over the couple of hundred yards to the station. They broke off to take up
their assigned points and we could hear the radio chatter as they called in position and clear. We went to work at that point and headed for the main entrance.
Rain and Thomas took point, the gates were open and we descended in to the darkness.

The air was warm and carried the stench of death. Moving down the first wide stairwell, we spread quietly out and stopped to allow our eyes to become
accustomed to the gloom.
Total silence greeted our ears.

We split off in to two teams and made sure the gates to the rest of the station were closed, it was confirmed that the gates were closed and locked
so that just left the escalators to the larger platforms on the other side of the barriers. Down the second wide stairway and we arrived at the wide
concourse of the ticket hall.

"Walkers, five, all behind the barriers."
It was Rain, Carlos gave the order to take them down as we spread out. The suppressed pistols clicked off five and they all dropped before they noticed us.

My peepers were doing well in the gloomy area and the shine of the metal tubes stood out. Two against each wall and the front of them had been taken off
or had fallen out. Either way, the stain of dried fluids had marked the floor when, I assumed, they had opened and let loose their less than handsome occupants.
Other than that, the area was clear and no movement other than us. I could see the tops of the escalators but nothing in the darkness beyond.
Two sets of escalators with a narrow dividing wall between them, each set had three lanes going down with moving handrails between them.

Carlos stepped back and called for the lighting rigs as the rest of us took up positions and kept weapons trained toward the dark. We worked in silence and kept
it that way. Some 15 minutes after arriving, we were as ready as we were ever going to be. The lighting rigs were steel stand jobs with a bank of eight
halogen lights a piece. We set those to the maximum height the ceiling would allow.

I placed my spare magazines and secondary weapon on the barrier sides as did the rest. Lastly, I drew my Kukri and placed that to one side in easy reach.
We all put on our yellow lensed protective glasses and I set up the CD player, we waited for a few moments before getting to it.
The silence was oppressive to say the least and unbroken. Well apart from the somewhat squeaky fart that sounded from the far end of the line.

I would say it was in perfect unison that we all slowly turned our heads and looked down to that end. I could just about see Yuri's shoulders shaking in
barely suppressed laughter. Thomas glanced our way and shrugged. "Sorry mates, I can't help it, I get a little tense in these kinds of situations you know."

We all managed to keep a lid on the urge to laugh though Rain almost blew it. The slightly muffled nervous giggle that sounded through our earpieces didn't
help, I think I knew where that came from but made no comment.
Carlos and Nikolai took position holding a switch for the lights as we all took up our firing positions.

I set my Maglite with a red lens, wide diffusion, placed on the barrier box with a dab of Blu-Tac and pointed it to the dividing wall between the
two escalator sets. It spread a very dull glow around the whole of that area. I pushed the play on the CD and had selected the best one I could think
of to draw them out.

'Men of Harlech' most well known from its use in the movie 'Zulu', echoed loudly around the white tiled walls. There was no music accompaniment to this,
just a single deep and crystal clear voice sang out.

"Men of Harlech, stop your dreaming,
Can't you see their spear points gleaming,
See their warrior pennants streaming
To this battle field."

The next chorus followed with two voices.

"Men of Harlech stand ye steady,
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready,
Welshmen never yield"

Then the third with more voices joining in,

"From the hills rebounding,
Let this war cry sounding,
Summon all at Cambria's call
The mighty foe surrounding"

To the fourth, many more voices added which ended up sounding like a hundred or more in the cavernous tunnels.

"Men of Harlech on to glory,
This will ever be your story,
Keep these burning words before ye,
Welshmen will not yield."

The song repeated with the same thunderous reverberation and it appeared to do the trick.

I just caught the low reflected light in a pair of eyes that came up above the floor line and a few feet down the escalators.
I whispered "Contact, one, my front."

The eyes didn't move but were joined by a second pair a few feet to its left. Rain called second contact.

Within 30 seconds, Thomas called two contacts his front and Yuri confirmed. That made the tally at four so we had them all, now to lure them out in to the
concourse and nail the coffin shut.

The music changed track to New Orders 'Slow Jam' and the trumpet opening seemed to spur some curiosity in the Hunters. I could see the first one that
appeared starting to sniff the air. It let out a hiss followed by a growl which was more than loud enough for everyone to hear.
The clicking of firing selectors greeted my ears.

They knew something wasn't right and unluckily for the Hunters, curiosity got the better of them. They were in a line so now to see how they would stand up
to the 'wall of imminent death tactic' we were about to throw their way. They stepped a few feet from the escalators as one and that brought them less than
20 yards from us.

I simply uttered in normal voice "Fire."
And we did just that.

My voice got the attention of the Hunters and as they all turned toward the sound as the deafening reports from the shotguns exploded off the walls.
A second later Rain and Yuri started having their say and the lights kicked in. We were slightly blinded for a fraction of a second but the yellowed lens
glasses helped, the Hunters not so since they were facing the full glare.

Thumping bursts from the Minimi and shotgun that Nikolai and Carlos wielded started to add the final lines to the already thunderous roar of
the storm song we were unleashing.

The lead was hitting home with devastating effect.
Their hides were not so hard to the front and they were all standing upright rather than head down for a charge.

We had the bastards cold and didn't let up from capitalising on that advantage. They had tried to make a move as I spoke but the fire and lights had them
rooted to the spot, they just couldn't think fast enough to react.

The one direct to my front roared and I even heard it over the weapons fire, it tried to move forward just as a FRAG HE round blew its right arm clean off,
it spun slightly and dropped its head as another couple of rounds intersected with its mouth and that resulted in its face exploding in an very dark crimson
and yellowish tinted spray of flesh and bone.
I checked aim and continued.

I removed its left hand, then arm as it straightened up but more from reflex than will I think.
The last of my magazine hit the thing in the chest and head as it dropped to its knees effectively cutting an exploding trench from navel to head.
I went dry, dropped the shotgun, hauled up the G36 and checked front.

Mine was out of it and Rain was just finishing off her one, Between her and Carlos, they had practically sawn the second Hunter in half. Its spine must have
taken a hit as it crumpled to the floor and lay with its arms flailing. It may have tried to roar but its mangled throat simply unleashed a spray of red.
We couldn't hear anything by that point even if it had made a sound.

Rain stopped firing and the fire from the other end of the line petered out. All called target down.
I looked at the one that was still moving its arms but less so now. Carlos, Rain and I made sure it was certainly out of it with some well-aimed shots.
The rest of the team seemed satisfied they were all down and definitely for the full count.
I guessed that no more than 30 to 40 seconds tops had elapsed

We held position for 5 minutes to get our hearing back and reported in while that was happening. They had to shout a bit from their end so we could hear
and we were doing much the same because we couldn't. I switched the CD player off and silence descended like a hammer and only accentuated the slowly
dying ringing in our ears.
I spoke up.

"Checking targets now, I'll lead, Rain cover, Yuri lead your side, Thomas cover, Carlos and Nikolai hold and cover."

We slowly climbed over the barriers, around the walker bodies and moved toward the mess that used to be four Hunters. A mess it certainly was.

We trod carefully so as not to slip on the expanding pools of blood and gore. My one was done and done in grisly fashion, the second also.
I confirmed the kills with base and heard Yuri do the same with the two on his side. We pulled back to the other side of the barriers and
checked weapons. Base confirmed, we started to pack it up.
Gear collected and some help summoned to get the lighting rigs out. The smell of expended rounds covered the odour of the dead and we moved out in
covering fashion once every one else was clear.

It was a pleasure to step back in to the sunlight and breathe clear and cool air after the stuffy, hot and rather smelly place we had just been.
We all took a moment to just relax and take a slug from our canteens.

The ground units had been taking care of some light walker appearances but they were low in number, I counted no more than three where we were.
The call went out to withdraw back to base and this was done in order of the Black team, then the Army groups. No casualties and job done, I couldn't
have wished for better.

To be perfectly honest, I felt like walking it back rather than driving but that ridiculous thought got pushed aside and saved that for the time when
I could walk the streets of my home city without being heavily armed and watching for walkers.

I was going to enjoy that day.

I felt some slight fatigue, the adrenaline rush was wearing off as we got back and unloaded. It was just hitting 11am.
Chris met us and suggested we get cleaned up and take some time out before making our reports. That was a top idea and was seen to with speed.
Everyone grabbed a shower and headed to the commissary. That tea has never tasted better. We simply sat and no chat passed between us,
we all knew that this part was over so quiet reflection seemed the order of the day.
I had someone to go and see.

Joanna was in the comms hut when I arrived; Naimh seemed in a rush to be elsewhere suddenly and informed Carl that he should do likewise.

They left as I sunk in to a chair and my lady came over and snuggled in to my lap. The fatigue morphed in to peaceful bliss and I just held her as she did me.
Sometime later we emerged into the sunlight and walked a while; arms round each other then went for lunch.
We talked about my family and how I normally spend Christmas there.

I felt certain that the next time I went, she was to consider herself invited which certainly met with my girls approval and I wouldn't have it any other way.

After a pleasant lunch, it was keyboard pounding time in the team block. Reports made out and filed, Chris informed us we were on stand down and would be
pulling out in a few days. He and his bosses had some conference calls to make regards this issue but for now, there was nothing to do except start packing.

For the next few days, that was the way it went. We packed everything required, cleared the armoury and equipment stores then helped out where needed.
The RAF had offered their Chinooks to lift our stuff out and C-17 Globemaster jets get it sent to the States, from there it would be shipped to Block Island.
Over time, a few emails traded with my sister and a promise to come and visit as soon as possible made.

All were kept pretty busy and the time finally came to leave.

I was sad to leave London but vowed to come back. My city would see life in her streets once more and even though it may take years, there was hope again.