The night was the same as any other in London, but on the twenty-fourth of September in the year of our Lord 2053, the background buzz of seventeen million people pressed hard into a rough circle three miles in diameter was disturbed by an explosion along the waterfront next to the Westminster Parliament Museum.
King George IV witnessed the explosion from his bedroom in Buckingham Palace and smiled to himself. A job that needed doing well ALWAYS justified the cost. The tiny princess Diana woke as the sound of the explosion reached the palace, setting off several car alarms in the grounds and started to wail once more.
“Hush, little love.” The king said to his fourth child, the second born to his second wife Queen Caroline. He lifted her, patting her tiny back and cooing to her, “Don’t wake your mother.”
He returned the baby to the cradle at the foot of his bed and slid back between the sheets. Caroline stirred next to him and muttered something in her sleep. George wriggled down next to her and brushed his lips on a bare shoulder.
Harry “Happy” Hussein was literally running for his life. The job had gone well until it came to making their exit, upon which all hell had broken loose. Harlequin was unconscious and bouncing around on Happy’s shoulder, something that was undoubtedly aggravating the bullet-wound in her right hip but given the choice between that and certain death, seemed preferable. Bilbo and Soundwave had already reached their rotos and The Lieutenant’s spy drone had zipped past and out of sight as soon as the charges were planted.
Soundwave’s voice sounded through the tiny earbuds in his ears. “You’re almost there man, there were five Democs sniffing around your roto but Bilbo took care of them, they’re having a paddle in the river.”
“You’re welcome.” Bilbo said, her voice cool and eerily calm as usual.
Happy tried to thank them but only had enough breath to keep on running. The pain from the piece of shrapnel that had scraped along his left bicep was incredible. Soundwave and Bilbo were moving on his heads-up display, hovering around his destination.
He gritted his teeth against the pain and pressed on, pumping his legs and dodging around a late night tour bus that had swerved after their explosion.
Pushing through the bush that was his final obstacle, he saw the pair of rotos twenty metres away and muttered the guardpass to turn it on. The roto hummed to life just as Bilbo’s own machine was blown to fiery splinters fifty feet overhead.
“Shit!” Soundwave screamed over the team comlink as he took evasive manoeuvres.
Harry looked up and saw the blaze of heavy weapons fire from a gunship bearing the insignia of the Democratic Unionists.
At the same moment that Soundwave’s roto took first one then six more hits, King George slipped into a deep, restful sleep filled with dreams of Empire.