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Title: From The Sun To The World
Author: Sashataakheru
Fandoms: The Chaser RPS/Electric Light Orchestra RPS
Starring: Andrew Hansen, Charles Firth, girl!Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor, Dominic Knight, Chas Licciardello, Julian Morrow, Jeff Lynne, Kelly Groucutt, girl!Bev Bevan
Pairings: Craig/Bev, one sided Chris/Craig, vague Andrew/Jeff
Warnings: violence
Rating: FRM
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] aphephobia
Part: 3/3 [previous: part one; part two]
Word Count: 6,421
Author’s Notes: Er, this went in a weird direction, but I still think it works.
Summary:
WWII AU set in Birmingham, UK in 1943. A mysterious aircraft falls to the ground near a pub in Birmingham, and the pilot inside warns of invasion. With Britain busy fighting a world war, it is hardly a warning that garners much attention. He reaches out to one man, hoping his warning be heeded in time before the world ends.


Friday Afternoon, April 23, 1943
The base at Lichfield was an overgrown old manor house, built on the site of an old fairground, that had once been owned by an American businessman. It had sat vacant for several years before MI5 acquired it just before the war. It was surrounded by high stone walls with big iron gates, and the buildings inside were closer to caricature than real. It was never set up to be a working manor, and the manor house itself was gaudy and sat somewhat uncomfortably on the land. It looked too big, or too small, or quite the wrong shape. It was never really clear just what was wrong with it, just that it didn't look right.

There were also far more detached buildings than one might ordinarily expect, as if the estate had been built and planned by someone who had no real idea what they were doing. The stables looked like they belonged n a Texan ranch, while the servants' quarters had been covered in a strange red paint that looked altogether like it should've been in Mexico rather than the West Midlands. A few of the buildings were mixes of German and Dutch Colonial American styles and had nothing of the classical architecture the manor house had. It even had a replica Roman temple down by the pond, dedicated, somewhat ironically, to Athena. Her statue overlooked the pond and looked rather forlorn, especially as she had been made to look more Roman than Grecian.

None of this, however, had stopped MI5 finding a use for everything, and not one of the buildings remained disused. One of the sheds had been set aside for the crashed aircraft, and a team of engineers were working around the clock trying to work out what it was, how it worked, and who might've made it. The stables had been put to good use as Charles had some horses brought in; Andrew had found trotting around the grounds on horseback to be particularly relaxing. But there would be no time for riding now.

The truck pulled up outside the manor house and Jeff was escorted inside to a room that had been prepared for him. It was somewhat smaller than the rest of the rooms and overlooked a forest of trees at the back. Jeff lay back on the bed, hands finally unbound, gazing blankly up at the ceiling. Andrew sent the two men away and closed the door. Charles had asked him to befriend their crash victim and see if he couldn't coax some information out of him. It was a method that had worked well in the past, and Andrew hoped it would work well now. He was loath to go harder on a man who had been through such a horrific crash. He would make sure to get their own medical staff to look over him to make sure there was nothing seriously wrong with him.

"So, do you remember much about what happened?" Andrew said, sitting down in an armchair by the window.

"Not really. Dunno who shot me down. All I remember is fire and pain. Maybe they caught me after all. I thought I'd outrun 'em," Jeff said.

"You escaped from somewhere? One of the prison camps?" Andrew said.

"Nah, I ain't from around here. You got problems though, if they get here. More than this bloody war, though," Jeff said, wondering how much he should tell and if he would even be believed.

Andrew grew concerned. "Who's 'they'? We got more enemies we should be worried about?"

"Oh yeah, but you'll never believe me. It ain't the right time for this, it's too early, decades too early, but I couldn't stop them, I-"

Jeff paused. Messing with time was always problematic even when invasions weren't involved. Society wasn't ready to know about aliens, let alone aliens who were coming to invade and wipe the planet clean.

"What are you talking about? You sound mad, you really do. I'll make sure to get the old doctor to have a look at you," Andrew said.

Jeff closed his eyes as he wondered if he'd found the right man to tell. He seemed nice enough, but you could never tell with spies. Figuring he had nothing left to lose, he sat up.

"Okay. I'll tell you everything, but you gotta promise not to interrupt and keep an open mind. Can you do that for me?" Jeff asked.

"You have my confidence," Andrew replied.

"Jus'... Just for a moment, imagine there were other life forms on other planets apart from Earth. Now imagine if they were real. I can't tell you what they look like. It's too hard, but just pretend they're real. The ones that are chasing me came from another planet. They want to invade Earth. I'm hoping to stop them before this place is wiped out," Jeff said, stopping to let his words sink in.

"Well, that's a new one. I can't say I've heard a cover story quite so queer before. So who's really invading then? Are the Germans planning to invade Britain? Come on, tell me what's really going on," Andrew said. He laughed it off, unsure exactly how to take such a wild story.

"I just told you what's really going on. Look, you have to believe me. The Germans end up defeated anyway. This is more important. They'll be here soon, I can feel it. And when they come, they won't hold back. At least you can negotiate with Germans. All these people want is land and conquest. You'll never win," Jeff urged.

"I like to see you so confident in our Allied victory. However, I fail to see how we are at all threatened by alien beings from Mars. What nonsense," Andrew said.

"Nah, they're not from Mars. Come here. I'll show you what I saw," Jeff said.

Andrew, still as curious as he was sceptical, sat on the bed opposite him. Jeff clasped his head and touched their foreheads together. Andrew found Jeff's eyes utterly hypnotic and could not look away from them. And then he saw-

He couldn't describe it. It was far beyond his comprehension. Creatures, on some sort of rocky planet, and strange-looking planes that flew through space. Towards Earth. They flew in formation, heading down towards them. Little tiny pinpricks of light. It seemed too outrageous to be true.

Andrew sat back once Jeff let go of him. His head was swimming. What to make of all this? Would anyone believe him if he told them what he'd been shown? How could he be certain what he'd seen was the truth?

"I... I don't... What was that?"

Jeff lay back down again, tired from sitting up. "Come here," he said, patting the bed next to him. "I'll tell you all about it, but you gotta believe I'm telling the truth."

Andrew hesitated a moment, but did lie down beside him. "I think I'd be willing to believe anything after seeing that."

Jeff wrapped an arm around his shoulder and brought him close. "You're in so much trouble. Nothing here smells right either. Things have gone down the wrong pathway. Maybe that's why they're coming now."

"What's gone wrong?"

"Everything. None of this is how it's supposed to be. If I had my ship working properly, I could go and fix things, but I'm stuck here now. Your boys better not mess with her too much. I'm gonna need her later."

Andrew turned to look at him, propping himself up on his elbows to stare into his battered face. He wasn't sure he was supposed to get so close to him, but there was something about him that drew him in and he had trouble turning away from him. "You look so human. This feels like a very bad dream."

"I told ya. This is all too early for you lot. Looking human is easier. You've seen too much for someone your age," Jeff said, gently running a hand through his hair.

"War does that to people. I want it all to be over. I was far too young when I got in. Too young to know any better," Andrew said. He felt too old. Too tired. He hardly thought he deserved to feel that way. He was still a young man by all accounts.

"Come here. I can't fix it, but I might be able to help yeh sleep at night," Jeff said.

Andrew settled back into his arms. His vulnerability was showing again, and the memories in his head had him frozen in fear. All he could hear was Jeff's voice as tears began to trickle down his cheeks.

* * *

Andrew had eventually left Jeff's side. He did feel somewhat better, but it was the nagging feeling that something wasn't right that made him search out someone who might know what was going on. If things were indeed going badly, surely they should know about it. Even though he felt Jeff would not escape, he nevertheless left a guard at his door, just in case, before heading back to the men under his command, congregating in one of the central command rooms they'd set up on the ground floor to manage their operations. The men stood and saluted as he entered and he waved them to their seats again.

"What's been going on? Do we know why we never saw that raid coming?" Andrew asked.

One of the men stood to address him, handing him transcriptions and reports they'd prepared for him. "No idea, sir. We've been getting reports of heavy bombing all over the country. We think the communications systems are all down. We've not heard anything back for two hours. It's all dead, sir."

Andrew scanned them distractedly. "Now why does that worry me? Have you heard from Charles yet?"

"No, sir. He hasn't been in contact since he left early this morning. We've had no word from London either. Sir, if I might be so bold, it's possible this is the first day of invasion. We do know they were discussing it, sir, as a possible manoeuvre, but we never thought they were serious. Perhaps they were desperate enough to attempt it. What should we do?"

Andrew left the papers on the desk and wandered over to the window, lost in thought. What were you supposed to do in this sort of situation? True, they had the battalions to protect what was left of the city if it came to that, but it was hard to work out what else to do. There was no way to collect intelligence, or to confirm with his superiors as to what to do. Maybe the best thing was to build a fortress and see if they could hold their ground if the Germans came knocking. He turned back to them.

"Go find the soldiers at the barracks. Get them to round up anyone who's still alive and get them back here. It's not much of a fortress, but it'll have to do. Bring whatever food rations you can find. We'll need everything if we're going to survive this. It's not the best plan, but it's all we can do until told otherwise. Got that?"

There was a chorus of 'yes sir's' and they got to work. Andrew watched them, worry beginning to take hold. After a moment's thought, he scribbled a few notes down on paper and headed out to one of the sheds. They'd kept two dozen messenger pigeons in case of emergency, but no one had ever thought they'd need them, so they'd been somewhat pushed out of mind. The only reason Andrew remembered them was hearing a couple of birds chittering away in a tree nearby.

The birds cooed agitatedly as he looked at them. This was it. This was his last chance to get any sort of message out. He had no way of knowing if anyone would be around to receive the message, but it was all he had left.

"This it, then?"

Andrew looked up as their trainer emerged from the shadows. "Looks like it. Communications are down everywhere. We've got nothing else to use."

The trainer approached, stubbing out his cigarette on the ground. "'ere, where d'you want them to go then?"

"London, Leicester, Manchester, anywhere. Let me know if we get any replies," Andrew said, leaving the notes in his hand.

"Right on, then. You leave it to me. These birds'll get through, don't you worry about it, sir."

Andrew glanced at the birds as the man saluted. He tried not to look worried as he turned and left. He was feeling restless. He needed to do something, but there wasn't much left to do. Without Charles to talk to, he felt like he was doing everything blind, with no real guidance to know if he was doing the right thing. He took his leave and headed down to the pond. He sat on the grass and wondered if this wasn't the end of the world.

* * *

It was late afternoon by the time Charles arrived in London. It didn't usually take that long to travel from Lichfield to London, but there had been more checkpoints than he had remembered, as well as a few detours that had left him hopelessly lost until some farmer had pointed him in the right direction. He began to wish he'd bothered to pay more attention to geography than he had.

London itself looked nothing like he remembered it being. He hadn't been back for a year, but the change was significant. London could be dreary at the best of times, but there was a deep melancholy in the air that made Charles worry. Sure, the bombing raids had taken their toll, but this seemed to be something more. As he drove down a street he came to yet another checkpoint. He wondered when Britain had become so paranoid as the soldiers guarding it ordered him out of his vehicle.

"No unauthorised persons allowed in the city," one of them said.

Charles did not like being addressed as a commoner. "If you would excuse me, I am due for meetings at Downing Street, so if you'll just let me through-"

"I said, no unauthorised persons allowed in the city. His Majesty's closed the city down," the first soldier continued.

"And I, dear chap, work for His Majesty, so if you'll get out of my way, I would like to get to where I'm supposed to be, considering I'm already late," Charles said, reaching for his pistol. He wasn't intending to use it at all, just make the threat clear enough.

It made them hesitate. They stepped back, whispering to each other as if they weren't sure what they were supposed to do. It was at times like these that Charles was glad he could feign an air of importance that was usually obeyed. He hoped they would err on the side of caution and let him through anyway. He breathed a sigh of relief as one returned to him and saluted.

"Right you are, sir. Sorry for the delay. You'd best get in there then," he said as the barrier was moved out of the way.

Charles took a few spare coins out of his pocket and handed them to the soldiers. "For your troubles. I was never here."

There was another salute as Charles got back in his car and drove off, leaving them behind. He had a fair idea of where he was, now that he could see a few remnant buildings he recognised. As he turned down another street, he stopped. He became aware of what all those flags flying from windows were. Charles had never been so afraid in his life.

Soldiers in crisp grey uniforms patrolled the street, systematically searching the houses. The people were saluting back, as if they were really living in Germany. Charles knew enough German to know what they were saying. Leaving his car behind, he turned and ran, hoping they hadn't seen him.

He didn't stop until he'd found somewhere to hide. It was, ironically, an old air raid shelter that had been damaged during a previous air raid. It would do while he gathered his thoughts. He didn't dare light a lamp or strike a match. Sitting alone in the dark, he began to wonder if he hadn't been imagining things.

"London's fallen. But they-they weren't supposed to invade Britain. We were quite sure their goal had been Europe, not Britain,” Charles whispered. “Who the hell am I fighting for?"

He froze as he heard soldiers approach. They were marching down the street. Charles hoped that's all they were doing. He had to get out of there, but he was too scared to think straight. He was trapped, stuck behind enemy lines. A soft breeze caught a pamphlet that lay at his feet. Charles lay it on his knees as he lit a match. There was his King, His Majesty Edward the Eighth, pictured under a German flag. One of those flags. The Fuhrer stood beside him, proud and majestic and evil. Charles managed to read the German text underneath it before the match extinguished itself.

"Holy Mother of God. We're done for."

* * *

There was only one pub left now, a decent sized place called The White Castle. The others had all been destroyed. The White Castle stuck out like an awkward gnarled tree, standing alone on the street as rubble collected beside it. How it had managed to survive was something of a mystery. After a day of clearing rubble, bodies and injured people, it was the only place left the soldiers could get a decent drink. There was no Cassie to sing for them, no band playing to alleviate the uncomfortable silence outside. Small talk was as much as any of them could muster. At least in previous raids, things had seemed better. There hadn't been such widespread death and devastation. All that was left now was shock and numbness, especially as news had begun to filter in about other cities around the country that had also been hit with a comparable severity. It felt like a real invasion. No one felt safe anymore.

Even Chas, in spite of his restlessness, was unusually quiet. He had even taken to drinking alcohol. Julian wondered if he was really as fine as he had said he was. They sat together in a corner of the pub, Dom, Chris and Kelly joining them, as they finally took some rest from the day's work. The radios had died mid-afternoon. No one could get a signal, so news of what was happening elsewhere had come to a sudden stop. Julian had tried to call London, but nothing would connect, not even on secure military lines.

Without any word as to what they should do, they were effectively isolated. Julian was somewhat reassured that they had enough troops to fend off an invasion, but he did not wish to think of that. Not now, not when things were so awful.

The pub fell silent as a couple of MI5 men arrived. The look on their faces told them everything they needed to know. There was fear, grim determination, and desperation to do something, anything, to feel like they might survive whatever the Germans wanted to throw at them.

"Come on, lads. We're evacuating everyone to Lichfield. Orders from our commander."

There was a murmur of agreement and the soldiers finished their drinks and shuffled out behind them. The war wasn't over yet, not by a long shot. Chas glanced at Julian and tried to gain some reassurance from him. All it did was make him afraid.

* * *

Charles stayed where he was, engulfed in silence and fear, hoping he might somehow think of a way to escape if he sat there long enough. He heard footsteps approaching again, but his panic dissipated when he realised it was only one person. He could possibly take one person out, if necessary. Standing up, he looked around for a weapon. Arming himself with a plank of wood that used to be part of a bench, he waited silently as those footsteps descended into the bunker. Charles didn't like that he could understand him. The plan in his head was not even that well-formed, but it was all he had, and he decided he was not going to sit there like a coward while Britain, Great wonderful Britain, was torn apart by bloody Germans. So he fought back his nerves and waited.

As soon as the soldier stepped in front of him, Charles struck him across the back of the head before he could turn around and see him. The German fell to the floor, face first. Glancing around to make sure no one was spying on him, Charles dragged the soldier into the darkness at the back of the bunker as he stripped him of his uniform. The man wasn't dead, but he was somewhat dazed and didn't resist too much. The uniform didn't quite fit Charles properly, but it was the best he could manage. He figured he might put his spoken German to good use and try and talk his way out of the city. He was quite sure no one in London would help him now, so there was no point in staying.

"Oi, you there, what were you doing? What's the best way out of here?" Charles said, addressing him in German.

The soldier was too dazed to answer him. Charles sighed. That'd be right. He got to his feet, making sure he left nothing behind to identify him, and left the bunker, doing his best impression of someone who was supposed to be there.

* * *

The grounds of the old estate were much more crowded now. Anderson shelters were still being constructed on any spare flat ground that was available. Sure, it wasn't much, but it would keep them safe should there be any bombing, and Andrew was reluctant to advertise the fact that there were many people there. He felt it was too late to construct a deep shelter like some of the other towns had done; that might've been safer and might've held everyone without exposing anyone to harm. Two neighbouring estates were also commandeered in case there was a need for more room, with defence structures being built by the troops. Anything worth stockpiling had been taken. The threat of invasion, whether it happened or not, was high on everyone's mind, and it did at least make people easier to round up. Gathering everyone together in a fortress seemed sensible, given the circumstances.

As it turned out, they only needed one of the extra estates they'd acquired. It might still have been as full as the first, but that didn't matter. Soldiers had been split between the two estates, charged with defence of life and property. It was, of course, possible that in being so concentrated into one spot meant it would only take one bombing raid to kill them all, but it was a price worth paying. Any men who were not part of the Armed Forces and who could take up arms did so, boosting the number of soldiers.

Andrew stood on the front step of the manor house. There was an uncomfortable silence in the air. Night was falling by now. Fires had been lit to stave off the chill in the air and the process of feeding everyone had begun. Taking one last look at them, Andrew returned inside. He'd still heard nothing from his superiors, or from anyone at all. He glanced at the men working to coordinate defences as he headed up to see Jeff. He hadn't checked on him since, well, since the last time they'd spoken. He felt he perhaps deserved to know what was going on.

* * *

Jeff was sitting on his bed by the window, gazing out at the sky, when Andrew arrived. He didn't turn to look at him as he entered. Andrew wasn't sure what to say. He hadn't told anyone about what Jeff had said. He knew no one would believe him. He came and sat beside him, turning his gaze outside.

"You been busy, I see," Jeff said.

Andrew looked down at the shelters that now littered the land. "If I knew what was going on, I'd probably stop thinking the worst is about to happen."

Jeff kept staring at the sky. "You know what's going on. I told you already."

"Looks like invasion, one way or another, I suppose, whether it's strange invaders from somewhere in space or Germans. All the communication systems are down. We've got no idea what's going on. Gathering everyone together here seemed like the best plan." Andrew shifted awkwardly.

"What are you talking about? The Germans don't invade. They're too interested in Europe by now to care about Britain," Jeff said, turning to look at him.

Andrew tried to believe him. "What else could be going on? Before we lost contact, we had reports of heavy bombing all over the country. What else could it be if not invasion?"

Jeff paused to think. "None of this is bloody right at all. How could George let them fall? It don't seem right."

"Who's George? He a friend of yours?"

"He's the King. Least, he's supposed to be the King. I'd wager he ain't the King here, yeah?"

"Edward still reigns as King. I am forever glad I was never charged with keeping His Majesty out of trouble. That is a job no one wants. I know he was friendly with the Germans, but we all assumed he'd turned against them because of the war. You don't think he could have-" Andrew stopped, unsure he wanted to process that thought. That was treachery on a scale he hadn't contemplated before.

"Hey, if I knew, I'd tell ya. All I know is none of this is right. This ain't how the war's supposed to be. Someone's been messing with history, and I don't like it," Jeff said.

Silence fell between them. Andrew was growing scared that what he'd contemplated had actually happened. If they had been betrayed, if the Germans were to come and wipe them out...

Andrew drew his knees up to his chest. It could all be over soon, and not in a way he'd like. He barely noticed Jeff wrapping an arm around his shoulders, holding him tight. There was something comforting about his touch though, and Andrew let himself be drawn into his arms. He tried to fight away the feeling that everything was about to go to Hell, and no one was around to stop it.

"How can we fix it then? Can we fix it?"

Jeff glanced out the window. There were tiny pricks of light in the sky, lights that weren't stars. Invaders were coming, and they weren't from Earth. "I think it's too late to fix it now. I'm sorry I didn't get here earlier. Maybe I could've done something."

* * *

Charles had to admit some level of discomfort in wearing that uniform, even if it did mean he was left mostly undisturbed as he walked through the streets. He was giving a good air of pretending to be going somewhere important, dissuading anyone from questioning him. He was nearing Buckingham Palace, he realised, after an hour of walking. He wasn't sure he wanted to be there, or to see what the Germans might have done to it. Nevertheless, curiosity and a deep sense of hurt made him walk on. Seeing the palace just made things worse.

It was not his palace anymore. There were Germans all over the place, their evil, ugly flags desecrating the beautiful English building. There were no British guards, just cold men in grey uniforms. There was even a tank in the courtyard. Strange purple-blue lights flying over the palace caught his attention. He assumed they must be German aircraft. Charles wanted to cry. How could they win now? Surely this was invasion, and the Germans had managed to keep it so off the radar they'd caught Britain by surprise.

"It's awful, isn't it?"

An English voice spoke behind him. Charles turned to see who it was. He saw another man, dressed in a grey uniform, leaning against the opposite wall. He smoked a cigarette distractedly, averting his eyes from the palace. Charles approached him, wondering if he too was trying to get out. The darkness made his appearance difficult to discern.

Charles kicked the ground in irritation. "How did this happen? How did we let this happen?"

"You know how it happened. You were there."

Charles looked up at him. "Who are you? How do you know me?"

The man raised his head. Charles still didn't recognise him. "Come on, we need to get out of here. They'll patrol down here soon, and I'd rather not get shot by a Jerry tonight."

The man grabbed Charles' wrist and dragged him back down the street, away from the palace. They turned down another alleyway and into an underground shelter. There were more people down here, men and women, and a couple of children. They fell silent as Charles and the man entered.

One of the men sitting at the back of the room playing cards got to his feet. "You found another then?"

"Charles Firth. Found him by the palace. Though I'm not sure he even remembers me. Nevertheless, he's better off down here than wandering aimlessly out there."

"No, I don't remember you, or any of you. Who are you anyway?" Charles said as he looked over them.

The man who'd brought Charles answered him. "We're what's left of the King's Imperial Guard, such as it is. We ran before we were killed. You once served with us, remember? Last summer? You can call me Adam."

Seeing the King's Imperial Guard in German uniforms was somewhat disturbing, but some of them did look familiar, now that he took a moment to look at them. "You know things are bad when the Imperial Guard are hiding in a bunker. Jesus. It's really as bad as I think it is, isn't it?"

"Come on, take a seat and eat a little. We'll explain as much as we know," Adam said, gesturing him forward.

They sat around a small wooden table buoyed up by crates. A few others were eating as well. The benches weren't that comfortable, but they would do. Charles was still trying to think of what to do now. Could they really escape? Charles hoped so. He wanted nothing more than to get out of London and rally a defence force so they could take London back. The food he was given was meagre, but he hardly expected anything more, given the circumstances.

Charles looked around him, struck by confusion and disbelief. "So what happened anyway? It seems I leave the palace in relatively safe hands, and when I return, it's not ours anymore."

"You know how I said you were there? Remember that meeting some time ago between His Majesty and German diplomats? That's when it happened. I remember seeing you standing behind your Commander as you watched over the proceedings. You'd been brought for your language skills, so you could verify what they were saying. I was part of the King's Guard that day. What they discussed was an alliance, or a treaty, but reading between the lines gave a more sinister plan for invasion. I have heard from someone in your organisation that backroom machinations and threats from the Germans allowed His Majesty to stay in power and not abdicate. Is that really true?" Adam asked.

Charles remembered that meeting, now that he thought about it. He had heard what the Germans said and had offered more palatable translations, if only to make things seem less bad than they really were. He hadn't been sure he was supposed to have heard the real meaning of what they were talking about, nor if he was supposed to translate it. Perhaps it had all been his fault for not reporting the treachery to his Commander. It had left them vulnerable and no one had thought such a thing could even happen.

"I never told anyone what they'd really said. It frightened me too much. Maybe I shouldn't have censored myself. Maybe then none of this would've happened," Charles said.

The man next to Adam spoke then. The lamplight showed some injuries to his face and neck and Charles wasn't sure he wanted to know how he'd gotten them. "No point in wondering what might've been, Firth. Won't help us get out of here, that's for sure."

"Can we still escape from here? Or are we trapped?" Charles asked.

"We wouldn't be here if we'd been able to escape. There are too many eyes around now. Best we can do is scavenge and survive as long as we can and hope it's all over soon," Adam said.

Charles shivered then. He wasn't sure it would be over soon. He had to find a way out of here. He'd sooner die than see England ruled by a German dictator. He couldn't just sit back and hope it would all be better, but he had no plans, no ideas, and no way of knowing what was really going on. It wasn't that impossible, was it?

* * *

Jeff finally gathered enough strength to walk. With Andrew’s permission to leave his room and wander the grounds as long as he didn’t leave, he headed downstairs and out to the camp. The fear on the faces of the people was excruciating. It was a fear Jeff did not like at all. Still, nothing felt right. He slowly walked around, wondering if there was anything he could do to help.

He found the shed where his craft was being kept. She’d been pushed to the back, forgotten and covered with tarpaulins, as space had been made for people to sleep. He rested a hand on her. She felt dead. Lifting the tarpaulins off, he finally got a good look at the damage. Crumpled lump of metal was indeed an apt description. Hope of salvage was not promising, not when she was so lifeless. He was effectively trapped with the rest of them, waiting for invasion to come.

Leaving the shed, he headed towards the perimeter. Soldiers waited nervously. Some smoked, some drank, some played cards and pretended nothing was happening. Everyone kept their rifles close by. Jeff remembered why he hated war.

He dared to glance up at the sky. He didn't need to see those dancing lights again to know what was coming. He wished he'd thought to tell someone where he was going. Too late for that now. If he was lucky, he might be able to survive through this and salvage enough scrap to make a new ship and leave Earth as soon as possible before they came for him. It might be the only chance he had to minimise the damage, though he was not at all sure it would work. It was, however, the only choice he had left.

* * *

The grass on the hill was glistened with dew. The air was silent save the low grumble of vehicles and tanks, though it was impossible to determine their direction or whether they were inherently friendly. Andrew had left Jeff's company to patrol with the soldiers. It kept his mind from thinking about other things. He liked having a rifle in his hands; he felt useful then, I spite of how much he hated having to fight at all.

Chas had picked this particular hill. It was part of the estate and overlooked the road at the back. There was a clear line of sight across paddocks and fields. Any enemy would be noticed, and they were guarding against a surprise attack. The hill was probably more of an embankment, and there were few trees to block their view, but enough to cover their presence from the air. The stone perimeter fence added an extra layer of protection. The few messages that had come through had been garbled and scared. No one knew what was going on, but there had been some word of invasion, and of troops moving both from London and to London. The general consensus from those who had replied was to protect what you could and hope you didn't get bombed to pieces.

Unfinished trenches snaked their way over the ground, swallowing soil like a giant earthworm. They would probably be finished by morning, but that didn't seem to matter. Just looking at them told of the seriousness of what was happening. Andrew gazed up at the sky. The stars looked brighter out here.

"D'you really think there'll be an invasion?" Chris asked.

"I bloody hope not. The last thing I need is more trouble from them. Don't like feeling the ground shaking neither," Kelly said.

"Hey, how's our man up there anyway? The one who crashed in his spaceship?" Chas said, turning to Andrew.

"Jeff? Well, he seems fine. He doesn't seem quite as badly injured as I thought he might be. Must be resilient," Andrew said, obscuring the truth about him.

Chas raised an eyebrow. "Has he said anything yet? Where'd be come from anyway?"

"He never said where he was from, actually. He was right about-"

"Hey, look at that! You see those weird lights in the sky too?" Chas exclaimed, gazing up in awe.

Everyone gazed at the sky. Strange lights danced in the sky, blue, purple, white. They formed geometric patterns, mimicking the constellations humans had seen in the sky for millennia. No one spoke. The movement of the lights was reminiscent of aircraft, though why invading aircraft would use lights was confusing.

"What do you think it is? Germans?" Chas said.

Bright beams of light began to light up the land, as if they were searching for something. White, blue, purple lights, dancing and sweeping over the still countryside.

"Holy Mother of…" Andrew trailed off, unable to believe what he was seeing.

The earth turned blue as the lights approached. The ground shook again. An eerie noise filled the air, quiet at first. The lights got closer, and the closer they got, the more they looked like strange aircraft.

"Come on, lads. Buck up. We'll shoot 'em down, hey?" Julian said, trying to keep his men motivated.

The blue light approached, crawling across the landscape before them. The earth lay still in anticipation and fear.
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Sashataakheru

September 2010

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