Chapter 27 Platform 2
Platform 2 was in the bowels of the station. The whole place had a look of decay. It cried out for investment in every girder, in every doorway , in every window frame and in every traveller who passed through its edifice. Only summer sunshine could mask its shabby attire but at platform 2 the only light came via the open track. Bright as it was outside the light only drizzled to the depths of the platform. Two sets of rails running north and south.
As Eva made her way down a long flight of steps she felt conspicuous with her uniform and head phones. These were to listen to Akra and for Akra to see what she saw. The problem was going down to platform 2 meant masses of old rusting Victorian girders supporting the structure. This meant a poor reception.
“Are you getting this?” Eva asked of her AI.
The answer was usually, “Very fuzzy, altering wave length” All this made Eva nervous. Akra was her prize asset, her commander in chief back at HQ who could survey the theatre of operations. Only she couldn’t. Most of the CV cameras did not work and no amount of tweaking the software can fix something that needs a technician to physically appear , screwdriver in hand. ‘Techies are great guys when they turn up’, Eva would often say quoting from her days on the ward waiting for something or other to be mended. Looking around her she decided techies had avoided this place for years.
At the end of the stairs a short passage led to the platform. She paused before stepping onto the platform 2. There was no one around. Akra was silent while the main noise came from her ponding heart. Her right hand was inside a paper bag and in her hand was the revolver she had used on the bridge. Around her waist was black belt into which was tucked the stick like device Prim had said could kill an elephant. Eva had more faith in the revolver.
Rising to the effort she stepped forward pushing her head outwards to look down a very long platform. She counted three adults and one child some 30 paces away. Her position was at the very southern tip looking north . At a mid point or there about was a man filling a vending machine. By his feet was a red clipboard.
“I see him.” she spoke with some excitement into the mouth piece
The man lifted his head and sniffed the air. Clearly , Eva guessed, he could sense her presence through her smell. He was tallish, with blue jeans, a high vis top and a blue baseball cap, the peak of which hid his face somewhat. She could just make out a lined face, possible middle aged, with tufts of grey hair protruding from the cap. Whether it was the way he stood, the face or the just his manor, Eva sensed there was something very different about him. ′ No ordinary male, this.′ she thought.. In an instance she twigged this was all a disguise, after all to evade capture all this time he had to have developed some rare skills.
“I have an image” Akra reported calmly as if viewing something from space. “Will clean it up ” she added.
Eva felt her hands to be sweaty, he breathing faster then normal and her nerves more than tense.
“Here we go, ” she said both to herself and to Akra..
At that point a station announcement broke her concentration as it warned passengers a non-stopping train was approaching and they should stand back from the platform edge. Eva waited while the few would be passengers migrated to the rear of the platform. Stealing her resolve once more she advanced on to the vending machine.
Akra came over a bad line saying with some urgency” I have scanned the second car park.”
“So” questioned Eva annoyed.
“There is a car there with the same registration as that one this morning outside the house.”
Eva suddenly felt a distinct adrenalin rush, her body became incredibly tense.
More in hope than anything else she said, “Coincidence?”
“I calculate the odds at 5200 to1 of it being chance.”
“Fuck me” said Eva in a low voice .
“Do not swear ” crackled the reply from Akra adding, “It helps no one.”
“Well it helps me ” stabbed back Eva then moved forward, “Stick to the plan, it is our best chance of meeting him.”
“yes Mistress, powering up armaments.”
The young nurse puzzled why the AI should do this since currently she was well out of reach any help Akra could offer. This occupied her for the briefest of time for her mind now concentrated fully on the male by the vending machine. As she approached him he straightened from his task and turned to face her. Then a primaeval sense of danger must have kicked in for she looked along the platform past him to a see a tall figure coming towards them at beyond Olympic sprinter speed.
Akra noted the heart beat of her mistress leap, she saw the grainy image of a figure hurtling down the platform towards Eva, she recorded a loud bang of a gun being discharged and then she noted the male by the vending machine double up in pain turning 180 degrees as if to flee. Then she recorded a second bang and noted the grainy image of blue quiver with that of a Kron9 harness absorbing energy some distance down platform 2.
Meanwhile another part of Akra was busy calculating all the possible scenarios of this play being performed before her camera. These calculations offered only one plausible explanation, one outcome. She was about to scream a warning to her mistress when she noted a large metal cage on wheels hurtle out of nowhere and hit the approaching sprinter side on with terrific force. The sprinter, caught totally unawares was catapulted onto the track..
“Behind you” screamed Akra, getting her warning away as she added this unknown variable to her calculations..
As Eva began to turn Akra noticed a female figure with short hair race to the aid of the male. So this was the unknown variable thought Akra. This variable was human.
A sleek black train thundered through the station, the driver thought for a second he had seen something on the track. He was running late and decided it was nothing.
Eva turned to find a man and a woman, the same couple she met on the bridge that winters day, running towards her. She could hear screams from the would be passengers now behind her, terrified at finding themselves in the middle of a fire fight. Ripping away the paper bag she brandished the gun in the hope her attackers would back off. They didn’t. Instead the male produced a small hand gun from nowhere and fired two shots in rapid succession. Her armour shimmered a delicate blue while Eva hardly felt a thing. ‘Nothing compared to both barrels of a shotgun’ she thought. More in anger than with intent she let off one round in their direction which had the desired effect; they dove for cover.
Running past the cowering family she screamed at Akra, “Get me out of here.”
A calm voice said “Make a left , 20 metres, take stairs ”
She found herself facing an elevator which was not on her floor. To her right was a flight of stone steps signposted “Exit” while an identical set where opposite these showing the route to Platform 4 and 5. ‘Exit’ sounded great so she made for the steps only to halt suddenly at the bottom. Looking up she could see a dark female form, almost elegant Eva thought except in her hand was a stick like device, identical to the one she had in her belt.
Almost immediately a bright shimmering blue light with flecks of white light enveloped her from head to foot while a tremendous force pushed her backwards so she fell against a bare brick wall.
Now a raw burning pain raced up from below her left shoulder to her neck halting around her left ear. At first it was searing but later she would compare it to very bad sunburn.
By the time she recovered her senses the black elegant figure was walking slowly down the steps towards her. In one desperate move she flung her right hand upwards and fired the revolver at the dark image. A squeal of pure pain and shock echoed around that dim cathedral of old brick and a broad smile crossed Eva’s face. It was without doubt the cry of a wounded animal.
For Akra things could not get any worse. She saw the dark figure at the top of the stairs then lost all contact with her Mistress. Fighting with every technical know how she had she desperately tried to re-establish contact. “Mistress, Come in Mistress, I can see nothing.” she repeated over and over again. There was just static, so much static and hissing, like the universe after the big bang.
Meanwhile her mistress had managed to haul herself up the stairs heading towards Platform 4 & 5 with a great deal of panic sitting on her shoulders. “Akra ” she screamed into the intercom. She found herself upon a covered bridge with part glass sides in which the thermometer must have been at bursting point. She could see the railway lines shining beneath her.
“Mistress” came the welcome sound of her AI.
“Yes, yes, I am here. ” Eva giggled, over come with joy.
“Can you see platform 4? If so what do you see?”
“Yes, yes, ” Eva answered pressing her face against the sides.
Then she pulled back quickly.
“Shit” she said.
“That is not a descriptive word but a noun” came the stern voice of Akra, “Is shit what you see.? For if you do that would contravene numerous Public Health Acts.”
“Akra” said the nurse sternly, “A tall thin figure, probably female, in all black.”
“And?” prompted Akra
“She is limping quite badly and talking on a mobile.”
“Anything in her hands beside the phone.?”
There was a pause while Eva moved to the glass sides of the footbridge.
“Dam it, yes.” she quickly pulled back again, “One of those stick things from Kron9"
“You have a problem.” said Akra in a matter of fact tone.
“WE,” stressed Eva, “have a problem.”
“No , I am quite safe here.” answered Akra being pedantically accurate.
Time was short and getting shorter so when Arka ordered her to retrace her steps to the head of the staircase she did so without question.
Peering down the staircase she could her voices in the large space below but skipped across the opening to the other side.
“Now what?” she asked.
" There should be a very short passage way with a door at the end of it marked ‘Staff Only’ .”
Eva locate the door easily, “It is locked” she reported.
“Put your disrupter close to the lock and press very gently, the more pressure you apply the more powerful the output. In this case you will need minimum.”
Eva took the device from her belt , looked at with total scepticism and placed it against the lock.
Pressing it very gently there was a vibration in her hand then a thud. The lock was scorched but still very much intact. She repeated the exercise , this time applying much more pressure. The effect was dramatic, a loud bang and the door burst open , flames appearing at its outer edges.
“Jesus” exclaimed the nurse.
“That was too much.” remarked Akra almost casually.
Once inside Eva found a large rectangular room stretching almost to infinity before her. It was an abandoned office, come dumping ground for old office equipment with filing cabinets , desks and chairs everywhere. Obsolete computers, large unfashionable monitors, printers galore lay scattered around as if the place had been ransacked. Eva thought it an ‘elephants graveyard’ for I.T equipment.
Pulling an old dusty desk from its resting place she hauled it across the now closed door.
On her left were four large windows giving the room its only source of natural light.
She ran down past these. Akra almost shouting with glee said, “I see you, fire door at the end.” The fire door to her amazement, although rusty and dirty, opened with a heavy push of the release bar.
“Do not go out.” issued Akra in a very commanding voice.
Eva thinking there may be Greys outside held her position while looking back down the room to see the still smouldering door yielding to pressure.
“Akra” she beseeched her headset.
“Hold firm” came the response.
Three in total entered the room led by the Kron9 warrior. They stopped and looked at the nurse, daylight from the open door lighting up her figure as if she was on a stage.
“Wait ” said Akra.
All three as one, moved towards Eva. As they approached the first of the four windows, Akra
said, “Leave now Mistress.” her tone was cool and detached.
With only one step taken Eva heard an almighty explosion and the shattering of glass. Looking alongside the outside of the building she could see the building was down to three windows.
Down the fire escape she scampered, relief stencilled on her face. Upon reaching the ground she gazed up at the open ground before her. Rusting railway lines everywhere with a 12 foot metal fence marking the boundary. The slightly elevated car park some distance off, containing the unmistakeable silhouette of the camper van, was a welcome sight. Yet there was no way to reach it.
With communications greatly improved by being outside the instructions came calmly over the headset.
“I have only managed to delay them, not eliminate them. Turn right , follow a path around the back of the station it will lead you to the North bound line. Follow that for 400 metres and there is a gate used by the signal box men. Go through that to a little car park. I will meet you there. Hurry.”
Rounding the corner of the building the nurse halted by a wooded structure with a metal roof that may have been at one time a bicycle shed or an out door cover for some machinery for it only had a back and two sides. Inside was rusting scrap metal of various sorts. She stopped at the structure for what she saw ahead worried her.
The path petered out into a patch of wild vegetation. The undisputed king of this little wilderness were 3ft high stinging nettles, which appeared to be everywhere.
“I need to blast a path through” said Eva deciding on a course of action which appeared imminently sensible to her.
“Negative” came the sharp tones of Akra, “Your disrupter has one or two discharges in it at best, I would save that for something that can kill you, not nettles.”
Eva stared down at her bare legs, “You must be kidding me.” was her outburst.
She did not wait for an answer for immediately she was shaken violently by a loud cracking of wood and a force that sent her staggering forward. Putting her hand to her face she was shocked to see it shining red. Splinters of wood had embedded themselves in her face, neck and back.
Without hesitation or a second thought she plunged into the bed of nettles. The pain was excruciating. All the time she ran she could see her blood dripping onto her uniform.
After the initial shock had dissipated she learnt something new about her body, that is , power. Whether it was the adrenalin or her new muscle development she was not quite sure but what she was sure of was that she had never moved so quickly nor produced so much power from her limbs as when running through those nettles.
At the end of the nettle patch she found the path again that led all the way round the station to the track. She stopped to look back at the distance she had covered and raising the disrupter, more out of anger than hope, discharging a volley. Immense satisfaction spread through her as she saw the rest of the wooden structure collapse around her pursuers.
Soon she was on the metal track calling out to Akra.
“I am on my way, Just had to deal with some issues.” Akra’s response was matter of fact.
Police sirens now filled the air although some distance off. Eva sensed they had reached the far end of the station. Being on the track she felt exposed for obviously there was no cover. Her legs were stinging to such an extent she just wanted to rip her skin off. Along with this, her face really began its own chorus of pain. Again she asked for power from her limbs and again she was amazed at the speed given from her body. She easily found the gate for it was covered in warning signs.
Beyond it she found a small car park with about six cars resting quietly there. Pacing around in a circle she begged, “Akra where are you?”
The road that fed the car park was lined with 1930′s houses all shining in the summer sun.
This road was was steeply inclined down to the car park which was a terminus. Down this hill lurched a large camper van going at quite an excessive speed.
It screeched to halt in the car park and reversed violently into a vacant space.
Eva ran towards it, threw the door open and leaped inside.
“Take me somewhere safe.” she commanded.
“Yes mistress” Akra replied, “If I may say, you look a mess.”
“Do I ? ” Eva replied with fake astonishment.