INTERLUDE: THE WRITING ON THE WALL
Some days, he just loved coming to work.
Number One eyed the so-called delivery truck with considerable
amusement, and some envy. The Adric Defense Force was obviously
operating under a much larger budget than the Brethren had allocated for
him, to be able to afford such a high-tech command post. Still, the
delivery-truck disguise would be much more effective if the ADF had
remembered that such vehicles do not, as a rule, sport a cluster of
directional mikes, satellite dishes, and various other aerials and
do-dads atop their cabs and that delivery-truck drivers do not, as a
rule, wear camouflage uniforms and carry sidearms. Except in Miami,
Number One snuffed out his Marlboro and raised his rifle, feeling a
sudden sense of deja-vu. Oh well. If he was getting in a rut, at least
it was a pleasant rut. He very carefully sighted the AK-47 on the
truck's side, being careful not because of the target, but because the
weapon was cocked and had the safety off. The damned Communists made
some fine shooting iron, but the AK and its relatives all had the little
flaw of being noisy to cock and noisy to take the safety off. Just a
minor flaw, but one that had served to rid the world of a great many
Reds when their ambushes were blown by loud KLIK-SNAP noises.
He aimed high, not yet having permission from higher up to terminate the
filthy heretics. Oh well, again. What he had in mind would be even
"Anything to report, Alpha-Two?"
"Negative, Alpha Base," the radio squawked. "All quiet."
Doug scowled. "I don't like it."
Diane stretched and eyed him curiously. "Why not?" she asked over the
low hum of the command post's electronics. "Nyssa's off doing a Graham
Woodland fanfic right now, and according to our spies, the WANKER boys
are out heckling people at a 'Star Trek' convention. Why should it be
anything _but_ quiet?"
"I don't know," Doug muttered, trying to pace nervously and failing for
lack of room in the truck. "It's just a feeling. Like in those old
Westerns where somebody says, 'It sure is quiet,' and somebody else
says, 'Too quiet', and right then the Indians attack and kill off all
the two-bit character-actors. That sort of feeling."
Di gave him a reassuring smile and patted him on the back. "Trust me,
Doug. No Indians are going to attack us today."
Number One said a quick prayer to his Chickasaw ancestors and squeezed
"Yeah, Di, I guess you're--"
Doug's words were interrupted by a sudden burst of gunfire that ripped
through the truck's side.
"--wrong as Hell!" he finished as they hit the floor. Both cringed as a
series of short, controlled bursts began perforating the truck body.
Thankfully, all the rounds were coming in high, but the two ADF members
weren't about to press their luck, although Diane took advantage a quick
lull ("The shooter's probably reloading," she thought.) to grab the
radio mike and call for help.
"All units! We are taking fire at Alpha Base! Hostile forces in Sector
62-12or 63-12! Requesting assistance!"
Bullets continued to crash into the truck for another few moments, still
in that series of short, three- or four-round bursts, and still a little
above head-heighth. Doug ground his teeth in helpless fury. If the
shooter started aiming lower, they'd have to chance making a run for it,
but for now, they kept to the floor as several thousand dollars worth of
top-notch spy gadgetry shattered and sparked and fell about their heads
in little bits.
As abruptly as it had begun, so the gunfire ended. Doug hesitated a
moment, then surged to his feet and snatched up the nearest weapon, an
M-16. He kicked open the back door and dove out, doing a neat
shoulder-roll, and came up into a firing crouch.
He slipped into a position behind a concrete planter, and scanned the
For several long moments, nothing continued to happen. Finally, Doug
could make out the forms of his teammates working their way through the
brush. Doug turned to call the all-clear to Diane, when he saw it. His
eyes widened in shock, then narrowed into a furious glare.
There, along the side of the truck, spelled out in straggling bullet
holes, were the words:
Happily whistling 'Copperhead Road', Number One tossed the AK into the
passenger seat and sped off in his pickup. He had only one regret:
that not everyone could have a job they enjoyed this much.
Meanwhile, several miles away, Katarina was walking to work, blissfully
unaware that this day would change her life forever, that she would face
unimaginable perils that would threaten her very soul and forever alter
the destiny of the Universe. This day would mark the end of her old
life and the beginning of a legend that would span the Galaxies...
That, however, has nothing to do with us. The only reason we even bring
it up is that there are no other 'Doctor Who' regulars anywhere in this
piece, so we thought we'd better throw in a mention of one to keep it
on-topic. Besides, how many fanfics does Katarina get to be in, anyway?
Don't spoil her moment of glory. The girl deserves a break.
"What's the damage?" Doug asked through gritted teeth. Every so often,
his eyes would flick to the words shot into the truck body and he would
twitch a bit more violently than usual.
"Nothing that can't be replaced in a day or two," the ADF tech replied.
"I've already called Langley, and the replacements are being shipped."
"Fine, fine," Doug said, but he didn't _look_ like it was fine. He
looked, actually, like he could pull someone's kidneys out through their
mouth. "'Bite me', huh?" he mumbled. "I'll bite you, all right..."
He perked up as Charlie and Vick3ie emerged from the woods, carrying
plastic evidence bags. Now, he could start getting something done.
"Yup," said Charlie. "The shooter was right back there, about 150 yards
away under a hawthorne tree. We found these..." He held up a bag of
spent cartridges. "They look like 7.62 millimeter short rounds,
probably from an AK-47 or MAK-90. We also found these..." The next bag
contained three cigarette butts.
"Marlboros," Diane muttered. "The same as we found when we got Kamelion
shot--" Doug shot her a glance. "I mean, uh, when Kamelion got
"There was also this note," Vick3ie said, handing Doug the little slip
of folded paper. Doug took it and began to read aloud:
I hope you enjoyed today's entertainment. I know _I_ did! Still, even
though playing with you is such fun, I have to pass along this warning:
Cease interfering with Nyssa's affairs, or suffer the consequences.
Today was a demonstration. I can play much rougher if I need to.
Have a nice day!
P.S.: Bite me!"
Doug crumpled the note in his fist and ground his teeth in a way that
would have made his orthodontist go looking around Porsche dealerships,
had he been there to hear it. One hand clenched and unclenched
spasmodically at his side, and the glare he shot into the woods was
poisonous enough to kill fire ants.
"I'm gonna get that Cigarette-Smoking Bastard if it's the last thing I
_ever_ do," he growled.
"'Cigarette-Smoking Bastard'? Catchy name," Charlie whispered to Diane.
Diane shook her head worriedly and sighed. "I just hope Chris Carter
doesn't get wind of this..."