To the casual observer, the tall, steel structure sticking out of the waters of the North Sea might have been an abandoned oil platform. It had been one for several years, that part was true. Then one day it quietly ceased operation.
Since then, every attempt had been made to maintain the outward appearance of a disused structure – from the rusted deck cranes to the broken stairwells and faded paintwork. All of it added up to a picture of a place that was inactive and forgotten.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
In fact, this carefully preserved image of decay was nothing more than a smokescreen covering the structure’s true purpose – the site of SHADO’s top secret research station code-named Orca.
No one knows how the Aliens found out about it, and it’s doubtful anyone ever will. But when the attack came, there was no warning.
The operative manning the sonar equipment on Orca couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted the cluster of contacts approaching from the west. She stabbed at the communications button and relayed a message through to the central control room.
“This is Tracking Room. I have positive tracking information from outer beacon delta. Confirming twenty, two-zero, contacts on an interception course. Estimated time to weapons range, fifteen minutes.”
In the control room, Colonel Alec Freeman picked up the message and snatched up the radio microphone, “Understood! This is Orca calling SHADO Control. Have confirmed sub-aquatic UFO fleet inbound. ETA fifteen minutes. Requesting immediate sea and air support.”
He glanced at Lieutenant Ford who was seated nearby, “Typical. We come out here on a simple inspection tour and all hell breaks loose.”
Ford smiled grimly, “Think they’re on to what we’re doing here, Sir?”
“I don’t know. But I’m more interested to know how a fleet this size got through our outer defences. It could indicate that they’ve established another sea base in the area. But right now our main priority is to defend this installation and destroy those incoming craft. Sound battle stations.”
“Yes, Sir,” Ford replied, switching his communication circuit to base-broadcast, “Attention all personnel, this is a battle alert. I say again, this is a battle alert. All security personnel man your stations. Condition: Red!”
The battle alert siren rang out through the station and the sound of running footsteps could be heard in the corridor outside.
The radio crackled into life and Captain Waterman’s voice came through clearly, “Orca from Skydiver One, we will be in range in twelve minutes. Skydiver Four is five minutes behind us.”
Freeman spoke into the radio, “You’re going to have your hands full, Captain. Can SD4 cut down that arrival time?”
“Afraid not, Lewis is already tearing his motors apart to get to you.”
“Understood,” Freeman replied, “We’ll just have to try and hold them off as long as we can.”
“Roger, Orca,” Waterman replied and broke off contact.
Ford turned to Freeman, “All defence posts show green, Colonel.”
“Thanks. Any word on that air support?”
“Control says stand by.”
“Easy for them to say. They’re not out here staring down twenty UFOs with nothing standing in their path but a couple of haddock,” Freeman muttered.
The minutes ticked past. The atmosphere in the control room was getting more tense by the moment.
At last the radio crackled into life, “Orca, this is Skydiver, we’ve arrived and are taking up defensive posture. Sky One will be airborne in twenty seconds.”
A second message came through moments later, “Tracking Room, UFOs have accelerated, they will be in firing range in one minute!”
“Well,” Freeman said, turning to look at Ford, “This is it. Whatever happens, we fight to the end.”
“Understood, Sir,” Ford said with a quick nod and then spoke over the base-circuit, “UFOs closing, prepare to engage!”
TO BE CONTINUED