Commander North stood on the front steps of Hartley House, watching the sun go down behind the mountains in the distance. It had been a hard day but The Brotherhood had prevailed. They had successfully fought off meddling cops and one of them to rescue Doctor Owen and allow him to continue his noble work.
Doctor Forrest was still missing though. No one in the outside world had heard anything from him for several days, which meant that either he was dead or they were holding him captive for another reason. Commander North didn’t know which option was preferable for The Brotherhood or the doctor himself.
A squad of soldiers ran out of the door behind the commander and down the steps to a large clearing adjoining the drive in front of the house. They all checked their weapons and clicked the safety catches. They had to be prepared for every eventuality. Everyone was confident that the approaching helicopter carried Doctor Owen, Captain Stein and the surviving members of their squad but until they checked who was on board, they wouldn’t know for sure.
The helicopter glided over the grounds and touched down without incident. The soldiers lowered their weapons when they saw the passengers getting out of the helicopter and proceeding as expected. Most of the soldiers aboard the helicopter were bandaged in some way and did not appear to be seriously harmed but there should have been a few more of them.
A pair of soldiers escorted Doctor Owen, who was moving rather gingerly, up the front steps and into Hartley House. Commander North approached Captain Stein as he marched up the steps. They saluted each other as they met.
‘Congratulations,’ said Commander North, ‘I see the doctor has arrived in one piece.’
‘That’s correct sir, but we sustained losses during the extraction,’ said Captain Stein as he watched the soldiers start to unload the dead bodies from the helicopter.
Commander North didn’t bat an eyelid. ‘They were acceptable losses and you recovered the bodies,’ was his heartless reply, ‘the mission was completed successfully. How is the doctor?’
‘A bit shaken up but he’ll be okay. He didn’t say much on the flight over from the city.’
‘Does he have enough equipment to continue his work?’
‘Yes,’ said Captain Stein, ‘we have the basics and I believe there are enough samples here to allow him to catch up on the time he has lost in the last few days.’
‘Good. After the destruction of the lab last night, I expect him to be back on track by this time tomorrow. I’m going to return to regional HQ tonight once the helicopter has been refuelled so I’ll be in touch tomorrow. I expect you to present results the next time we see speak.’
‘Yes sir,’ said Captain Stein as they saluted each other before parting company.