The Professor’s team had made use of a large area below decks to set up their demonstration. A mock-up of a city centre, with buildings of differing heights made from cardboard boxes, stretched along the floor of the hangar. Their roofs were covered in plastic balls, made from a composite material that conducts electricity, to represent the creatures. Two thick wires ran above the model from one end of the hangar to the other.
‘If you could all stand over there?’ Stanton asked.
Everyone shuffled backwards.
‘Switch it on please, Simon.’
A loud noise started up at one end as a model of a Chinook twin-rotor helicopter appeared. As it ran along the guide wires it began to lay out a wide length of wire netting that opened up as it dropped.
The helicopter slowly made its way along the wires, the netting unravelling and covering the buildings, trapping the plastic balls on the roofs. When the helicopter reached the end of the wires, the last of the netting fell to the ground. Two men in white coats connected large crocodile clips to each end of the netting and stepped back.
Stanton turned a large dial on the console. Small puffs of smoke began to drift up from the rooftops of the cardboard buildings and the smell of burnt plastic was heavy in the air. Extractor fans kicked in drawing the acrid smoke from the hanger.
The professor turned the dial to off, he stepped out from behind the console.
The two men in white coats removed the crocodile clips from the netting.
As you can see Prime Minister,’ Stanton said, pointing to the plastic balls, ’they can be easily trapped and killed.
‘And this could work on a real city?’
‘Yes. it’s just a matter of scaling it up.’
‘What about the buildings,’ Burbridge put in. ‘What if they catch fire. We wouldn’t be able to put them out. The whole of London could burn out of control.’
‘That’s already happening, secretary. The voltage required to kill the creatures would not need to be very high. As you can see by the model, the boxes are undamaged and they’re made of cardboard, much more combustible than brick, steel and glass.’
‘I want this implemented as soon as possible. London is to be a priority.’
‘Yes Prime Minister. I’ll get right on it.’
The Secretary and Ministers left the hanger followed by the Chiefs of Staff.
Robertson shook Stanton’s hand. ‘Well done Professor. Please convey my thanks to your team.’
As they left the hanger an aide walked up to them. He spoke quietly to the Prime Minister.
Robertson turned to Stanton. ‘I have to talk with the President of France. The creatures have attacked Calais and are spreading inland through France. I need to tell them of our plans.’
‘I’ll go back to Portsmouth and co-ordinate from there,' said Stanton.
‘Keep me informed of your progress Peter.’
‘Of course Prime Minister.’