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Prologue Before time, there was nothing. Then collisions. That was when it was created. The sphere. The water of life. The greatest power in existence. The power over life and death itself. From the sphere, our world was created. Albion. It was a peaceful planet, beautiful. The sphere also created our race. Albion was ruled over by the kings and queens, my ancestors, who reigned peacefully side by side. Eventually, over time, this task fell to my shoulders and my sister’s. Power can make you stronger. Or it can corrupt. Power can be used for good. Or for evil. The power of the sphere proved too much of a temptation. My sister fell harder than most. Claimed Albion for herself. That was the beginning of the war. We were split in to two factions. The Avalonians followed my sister. The Camalotians turned to my leadership.
We tried to stop her from taking over and in the process destroyed our planet. Although Albion remains, it is just a shell of our former home. Among the fighting, the sphere was lost. It is the only thing that can restore Albion to it’s former glory. It can also create life for good or evil. I can only imagine what my sister would do with such power. Both sides have set out to find it. We spread out throughout the far reaches of space, searching every star and planet. We pray that we are first to find it, but fear we are already too late. We believe we have finally tracked the sphere down to this unknown blue planet. Not so different from our own. The planet known as … Earth.
Chapter 1 The desert was hot. Too long out on the sand would kill a man without mercy. No thoughts. No regrets. To be a soldier out here, you had to be like the desert. Harsh and unthinking. It was a cruel reality but one that Captain Lancelot Du Lac knew to be truth. If you were going to be a soldier, you would have to be able to kill. He didn’t have to like it though. He rested in the carrier as they flew in British airspace over Iraqi soil, they had just come back from fighting, many had died but he had to let it wash over him. All of his team had survived and it was something he was grateful for. This lull in the fighting was something he would use to his benefit as much as possible. “So what are you planning on doing when you get back?” Galahad broke the uncomfortable silence that was only filled by the sound of the plane’s engines. Gawain smirked. “I’m gonna get me some. I know Bedivere misses me. We need some real getting together time.” Kay nudged him in the shoulder. “Trust you. Don’t forget some of us don’t have girlfriends… or boyfriends.” He quickly amended as he was glared at by Gawain and the only female in the group. Robyn nodded her head in acknowledgement. Kay held his hands up. “But you never know these days.” He grinned at Robyn. Robyn glared again and mouthed ‘pervert’. “So yeah, I’m going on a search mission.” “I’m going out for a real drink.” Robyn added. “I would do anything for a J.D. and coke with ice.” All the others smiled at that. Ice was definitely a dream at the moment. Bors finally spoke, breaking their little dream. “I just want to go home and see my mum.” The others laughed. “Such a mummy’s boy, Bors.” Gawain joked. Bors blushed slightly under the dirt streaked across his face. “She just likes to know I’m ok. Plus she does the best Sunday roast a man could ask for.” He got a slightly dreamy look in his eyes. None of the team could blame him. It was the little things like that that had kept them fighting in this war. Percival gave a happy smile. “I can’t wait to go home and just play football with my boys in the back garden. I haven’t seen them for so long, I’m not even sure what teams they support now… or even if they still like football.” Galahad gripped his shoulder. “Soon we’ll all be home. We deserve it. We’ve all been fighting too long.” Everyone agreed. Percival asked casually, “What about you Captain?” All eyes turned on Lancelot, waiting for his answer. He gave a slightly nervous smile, “I’m just going to go home, hold my Gwen in my arms and tell her how much I love
her.” There was a mass of gagging noises and ‘yuks’. Lancelot’s eyes glinted mischievously. “And then we’re finally going to make that baby I promised her.” High fives were shared all round then. -xThey finally reached Griffin base a short while later. The soldiers were happy to have their feet back on the ground once more. The base was their home away from home, if being stuck in sand and sweltering heat could be considered such. The base was filled with groups of soldiers from different regiments; all were relaxing and enjoying the small amount of free time that was on offer. Those that were still on duty were tucked away inside the buildings. Lancelot made his way through the soldiers, nodding in acknowledgement to whoever recognised him. As he was unpacking his gear, a young native boy approached him. “Hey, Masoud.” The boy grinned happily. Here was someone who was happy for the British to be in his country. Lancelot knew he did this job to help people such as Masoud. No one should have to live in such fear. “I brought you water.” The boy held out a bag with a water bottle inside. “Great! Thanks.” He patted the boy’s shoulder. “You want to give me a hand with this stuff?” The boy nodded. He finally made it to his own tent, let Masoud put the stuff he was carrying down and ran off to see other soldiers he had made friends with. Lancelot grinned at his laptop. He quickly set it up and angled the camera before clicking a button. -x“Colonel Cendred! There is an unidentified inbound infiltrator, ten miles out.” One of the men working at the radar pointed out. Cendred frowned and walked over to the station. He looked at the screen where the blip clearly appeared. He quickly put on his own head set. “Are we set for contact?” “Yes sir.” Cendred stood upright, cleared his throat before enunciating clearly, “Unidentified aircraft. You are in restricted British airspace. Proceed South out of the area.” He moved away from the radar. Something in his gut was telling him that something wasn’t right. Any previous attacks they had had came from the North. This vehicle was coming from the East. It just didn’t seem right. He grabbed the radio. “Swords one and two. Bogie in East, heading 250, ten miles, not squawking, intercept.” Now they would have to wait. He returned to his head set. “Unidentified aircraft. We will escort you to Griffin air base; if you do not comply we will be required to use deadly force.” Still no reply. That set Cendred’s pulse racing a little more than he liked. What was wrong with this picture? He just could not figure it out.
“We have visual on bogie.” A slightly scratchy voice sounded over the radio. “Tail 3422Z Hercules.” One of the other soldiers looked slightly worried as he handed over a sheet of paper to Cendred. “Sir, that plane crashed three months ago. Freak accident.” Cendred frowned again. “Get a check on that.” “No offence, sir, but a friend of mine was on that plane when it went down. There’s no mistake, that plane crashed.” Cendred frowned deeply. That was too disturbing to even contemplate. How the hell could a vehicle known to have been in a fatal crash, be flying towards them? He turned back to the radar screen. “Where’s the inbound?” The operator looked up at him. “Five miles out, sir.” Cendred sighed heavily. -x“Hey baby, and how’s my favourite researcher?” He called. The girl in the frame squealed happily. “Lance!” He smiled and waved at her. “The one and only. Anyone would think you missed me.” The girl shook her head fondly. “You know I miss you every second we’re apart. I didn’t think you were going to be on today.” Lancelot grinned mischievously. “Well, you know, had to pull a few strings.” The smile on the other side fell slightly. “I miss you so much.” Lance nodded. “I know sweetie, but guess what?” The girl moved towards the camera. “What?” Lancelot paused. “Oh come on! Tell me.” She giggled a little. He finally said, “You tell me what’s going on with you first.” “Oh Lance. You’re so mean. Not a lot here. Work is really slow. Nothing’s happening.” “You’re just saying that so I can divulge my big secret. You’ll be fine Gwen, something big will happen, you’ll see and you’ll have more work than you know what to do with. You’re the best hacker I know.” He grinned brightly. Gwen looked slightly horrified. “Don’t say that! You’ll get me into all sorts of trouble.” Lance shrugged
nonchalantly, “But you know it’s true.” Gwen blushed heavily and fiddled with her nails. “I never said it wasn’t; just… don’t say it… so come on.” She looked back at the screen again. “What’s the big news?” Lancelot gave a dramatic pause while Gwen fidgeted slightly. -xCendred watched from the balcony as the plane landed. What was such a huge plane doing in the area? Normally they were forewarned of any such landings. The fact that they had heard nothing and the radio had remained silent was unsettling. As the Hercules landed he could read the tail, the number was clear, 3422Z. “Something is not right.” He finally gave voice to his concern. After a moment he moved back inside. He was torn from his thoughts rather abruptly. “What the hell?” The radar operator pulled back from his post, tapping the keys. “Radar’s jammed” He looked completely stunned for a moment. “It’s coming from the plane.” -x“Well, I’m coming home.” Lance finally admitted. The screen wavered, distorting the image. “Lance? What’s going on?” Gwen frowned as the screen flickered again. Lance looked around to see if anyone was interfering; of course as he was in his own tent, no-one was around. “Gwen?” He frowned when his girlfriend didn’t reply. “Gwen, if you can still hear me, I love you more than anything and I’m coming back home soon.” The screen went blank and Lance sighed heavily. He suddenly heard men shouting outside. What was going on? Sticking his head out of the tent door was enough to confirm that he would need his weapons; everyone seemed to be running towards something, guns aimed. Quickly rooting through his stuff he added to the arsenal he was already wearing, before running outside with the others. The sight that met him filled him with confusion and unease. Most of the soldiers were surrounding a plane that appeared to be a Hercules Transport. Lance turned to see Gawain running towards him. “Captain.” Gawain puffed in recognition. “What the hell’s going on?” “No idea. This plane was flying in our airspace. Apparently no reply.” That again put Lancelot on edge. Gawain nodded and continued on to his destination.
“Power down and instruct your crew to disembark. You have thirty seconds to comply.” A voice rang out loud and clear. Cendred was instructing from the main building over the tannoy. There didn’t appear to be any movement from within. Lancelot watched the scene, shoulders rigid. He could taste the tension in the air. Something clearly wasn’t right. Just as he was about to ponder the situation a strange noise made all the men focus on the strange vehicle. A screech of metal followed by clicks, crunches and the shifting of pistons had the soldiers falling over each other as the plane changed shape. Wings shifted, parts split and repositioned. The soldiers watched in disbelief as the plane formed legs with which it stood up on. The noises stopped. The thing took a moment to pause and look at its prey before firing a round into the suddenly yelling men below it. Soldiers stumbled as they felt a shockwave vibrate through the ground, followed by one of the helicopters blowing up. The men, who had been running towards it, got thrown back by the power of the blast. The robot, for that is what it appeared to be, raised its arm towards the humans below it. They quickly realised it was a weapon of some sort. Many of the soldiers fired back, watching with dismay as their bullets ricocheted off the metal frame, only to find they were targeted in turn. Lancelot watched in horror as he saw men flying through the air as if they were nothing more than confetti. Most were dead before they even hit the ground. The ones who weren’t, probably died as they landed awkwardly. They were being massacred. The Captain began shouting orders at those that could hear him, yelling for them to take cover, even as more helicopters were blown to pieces. Someone had to keep a clear head and give orders in the middle of the chaos that had been unleashed. The robot was quickly making its way forward, blasting, smashing its way across the base. It quickly became clear that the thing, whatever it was, was heading towards the main building. Gawain was too close to the thing when it had changed, but had managed to duck out of the way. As he had watched fellow soldiers die, he quickly decided he needed to become more proactive. Running towards the thing, dodging flying bits of metal and other things he did not wish to identify, he found himself at the foot of the robot. Holding a pair of binoculars up, he tried to make out something. What he saw made him panic. He found himself tripping over as he tried to get away. He turned and managed to pull himself up to run before a blast, that surely would have killed him, could hit. He nearly panicked as he ran full on into Lancelot. “This is madness! We need to get out of here!” The panicked sergeant yelled at Lance. The captain nodded back. He knew when to make a retreat. This was a battle that they could have no hope of winning. How could they fight an enemy that they knew nothing about and had enough power to destroy an air base and showing no signs of slowing down? As Gawain tried to signal to others to get the hell out, something caught Lance’s eye. As he shifted, he realised it was the young boy, Masoud. He was clinging tightly to one of the aircraft that he was hiding behind, too afraid to do anything else. That just made Lancelot’s decision of retreat all the more
justified. He darted towards the boy and picked him up before making his way past the vehicles, followed by his subordinates. In their haste, they did not see something detach itself from the robot, fling itself in the air and dive towards the sand. The small group which consisted of Lance’s team moved out into the desert. The robot finally reached its destination. Using a large, clawed hand, it gripped the top of the building and yanked it up and pulled it clear. It threw the scrap concrete and metal away before plunging its hand in to the central computer. A screeching filled the space, the men still standing there held their hands to their ears. The radar operator looked across to the computer screens. “Colonel! It’s hacking the system!” He yelled above the ear piercing shriek. Cendred looked at the screens himself and briefly watched as data was rapidly flicked through. “We need to switch it off! We can’t let it get what it wants!” He yelled back. The young soldier nodded and ran to the power switch and tried yanking it upwards. He shouted back, “I can’t do it, sir! It needs a code!” Cendred roared in anger. Not at the soldier, but at the situation. “They’ll get that information over my dead body!” He scanned the room quickly before his eyes landed on an axe. He darted towards it, before running over to the power cables and took a huge swing. The computers died. The screeching stopped and there was a sound that seemed to be something like confusion. The robot stood up and moved its hand away. “Mission failed. Could not retrieve information. Valiant out.” The men that remained watched in wonder at the strange voice that seemed to emanate from the robot, before its weapons turned to the building and fired.
Chapter 2 School. The one word that could strike fear into many a child. For Merlin Emrys it was a prison in which he had to endure excruciating torture pretty much every day. So why he had chosen to stay on and do his A-levels at sixth form he had no idea. “Today, we are going to have another presentation. Don’t forget these will be marked so can everyone please be fair to the speaker. Now will anyone volunteer or will I have to start randomly picking off the register?” A few laughs and nudges were made. Dark eyes gazed around the classroom to see who would make eye contact. In the back corner, as far away from the teacher’s desk as possible, Merlin slid down in his seat and propped his book up and tried to be as invisible as possible. He didn’t mind writing his actual project, it had been to write about an interesting family member, but it was the actual ‘presenting’ itself that he had issues with. Standing in front of a bunch of people who really couldn’t care less and would much rather see him mess up was certainly not high on Merlin’s list of things to do, especially as ‘he’ was there. Merlin felt his eyes wander to the back of a certain blonde head as if there was a magnet there and his eyes were made of iron. He sighed heavily. “Mr. Emrys. Thank you for volunteering.” Merlin bolted upright. “What! I didn’t do anything.” Mrs Collins gave him a smile that dared him to argue. He bowed his head and frowned. Great. Oh well, at least he could get it over and done with. “Witch.” He hissed under his breath. He grabbed his props and made his way towards the front of the room. He failed to see one of the class bullies stick his foot out and Merlin nearly went flying. Mrs Collins turned a frown on the boy but said nothing. Collecting himself, Merlin dumped his stuff on the desk as his teacher made herself comfortable in his seat. He took a deep breath and looked up. And nearly panicked. All eyes were on him and Merlin felt as if he was completely naked, standing there. He swallowed roughly and closed his eyes. He remembered what his mother told him. He started the mantra in his head. ‘They’re all cabbages. They’re all cabbages. Except…’ He opened his eyes once more and his gaze fell upon the one person in the room that he did not wish to see as a cabbage. No, there he took his friend Will’s advice. His wet dream, sitting in front of him, completely naked. It was only when he heard Mrs Collins’ voice did he realise he had drifted into his own little fantasy. He was glad that the desk was high enough to cover the very definite bulge in his trousers. He did feel slightly calmer now though. “When you are ready, Mr Emrys.” Mrs Collins didn’t sound too impressed. A few of the class giggled. Merlin nodded. “Today…” His voice broke a little. He coughed and tried again. “Today, I’m going to talk about my great, great grandfather. Has anyone here ever heard of Captain Benedict Emrys?” He looked around. “Didn’t think so. In all fairness, I wouldn’t have expected you to. You see, my great, great grandfather was, in his time, a famous
captain of a ship called the ‘Lady Helen’. He was one of the first to try and explore the Artic circle. Note that I said try. In those days they didn’t have fancy gadgetry like computers. Ships used maps and even simple things like the position of the sun or the stars to navigate. I brought along a couple of examples of the equipment that would have been used by 19th centaury sea men…” The class erupted into laughter. Merlin took a moment to think, before flushing bright red after realising what he had just said. He felt completely mortified. “Come on everyone. Grow up. You’re all supposed to be adults here.” Mrs Collins’ voice cut through the laughter. She waited until the last of the giggles died down. “Continue please, Mr Emrys.” Merlin nodded, having collected himself slightly. His hands shook a little as he held up the items he had brought, including and old map and a compass. “This compass,” his voiced began to waver once more and he had to swallow again, “Belonged to Benedict himself. It would have been one of the most important objects on the voyage. It’s broken now though.” Someone raised their hand. Merlin nodded. “Why’s it broken?” Merlin shrugged, “It looks like it works, but it doesn’t point north. It’s been handed down through the generations and nobody can remember it not being broken. My guess is Benedict broke it when he had the accident.” He gazed at the people in the room. They were all looking at him with various degrees of interest, but it was something. “The reason you will never have heard of my grandfather is because he never finished the journey that he set out to do. The further north the crew sailed, the more ice formed, until the ship was surrounded. The men had to climb down onto the ice and physically break it themselves to try and get the ship through. “Now, my grandfather wasn’t a young man when he started the expedition so the crew were happy for him not to do the physical work. Instead he walked the perimeter to watch for dangers, ice breaking in unexpected places, polar bears that sort of thing. A few others walked with him, so he wasn’t alone. But as he was watching out for dangers around them he didn’t see what was beneath his own feet. The ice broke beneath him and he fell.” Merlin took another pause. He enjoyed this story, perhaps it was because his mother used to tell him it when he was younger or because it was his own family. Either way, the story needed to be told further. That was why he had chosen to do his presentation on his grandfather. “That is when I think the compass broke. The crew managed to pull him back up, but something had happened down there. My grandfather was never the same. He kept talking about a great ice creature, stuck down in the cave. All the way home he kept drawing these strange symbols. When they reached England, my grandfather was put into an institute for the, uh, insane, I guess you could say. He spent the rest of his life in there, always talking about the thing in the ice and drawing those symbols. In time, because of his madness, he was forgotten. No one wants a hero that is insane. Doesn’t look too good.” He shrugged again. “So that’s the story anyway.”
“How do you know that? Sounds like rubbish to me. You could have made it all up.” One of the class spoke up. “Ship’s records,” Merlin replied. “They always kept very detailed records on their voyages. I’ve never seen them but I know they are around and he was family, stories get passed through the generations. And the equipment of course, there’s maps, all of which, by the way, I am selling on e-bay if anyone’s interested. I’m not asking much, I just need it for my car fund.” “Thank you Mr Emrys. This is not a shop.” Mrs Collins rose from her seat. Most of the class giggled and laughed. “Sorry. The compass is pretty cool though, even if it doesn’t work right. You can come and have a look if you like. I’m selling it too. Come and see if you like it. I’m selling everything here, have a look, tell your parents. One of them might be into nautical stuff. I take paypal, cheque, anything really.” Mrs Collins began to object once more when the school bell rang and the class hastily began packing away their stuff. “Ok everyone, practice exam tomorrow covering everything up until now, please revise.” The class groaned. “Mr Emrys, stay behind. See you all tomorrow.” Everyone moved out except for Merlin, who slumped against the desk. Mrs Collins turned to face him after shutting the door. “So, how did I do?” Merlin asked cautiously. The teacher paused to look at her student pensively. “Your topic was good, and you speech flowed well, your use of tools was interesting right up to the point where you tried to sell them. I’m sure your great, great grandfather would be looking down on you with pride for that.” The sarcasm didn’t go unnoticed. Merlin winced. “Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I just need the money. You’re not interested are you?” Mrs Collins crossed her arms. “No, Merlin, I’m not. I can only give you a B for your project.” Merlin paused. “What! No! I can’t have a B!” “Well, that’s what you’ve got.” “Nonononono! You don’t understand. I need an A! I really need an A.” “Well you should have thought about that before you attempted to become a try out for Bargain Hunt.” Merlin rubbed at his face with his hands. “Please Mrs Collins. I’m sorry about that. Really I am. It’s just, well, my mum promised me she would help me buy my first car, if got half the money and three A’s. I managed to scrape the money and you’re my last chance of an A… And did you have your hair done? It looks really nice by the way.” Mrs Collins mouth twitched in a smile. She fiddled with some of the dark strands.
“You are the only person who has noticed all day. Thank you, Merlin.” -x“Hi mum!” Hunith smiled as her son chucked his bag into the boot and then climbed into the car beside her. “You’re in a good mood.” Merlin grinned. “Yes. Yes I am.” “Come on then. Tell me why.” Merlin paused until his mother raised an eyebrow at him. “English went really well. I got my third A!” Hunith smiled as brightly as her son. “Good boy. I knew you could do it. I guess that means I owe you something.” Merlin looked at her hopefully. “A car?” Hunith gave him a sceptical look. “Well, I was thinking more of a hug, but I’ll see what I can do.” Merlin nudged her playfully. “Yes!” After giving her a quick hug, he settled into his seat and did up his seatbelt before Hunith pulled away. After a few moments, Hunith glanced at her son. “Now, I know you were thinking a Ferrari for your first car but I don’t think our budget will stretch that far.” Merlin snapped his fingers, “Damn. Bang goes my street cred.” “I know. Sorry love. But you do need something practical and cheap to run. A friend of mine recommended this place. At least it will keep your insurance down too.” Merlin sighed. “Yeah, I know. But driving to school in a Ferrari would have been awesome.” “Oh yes, just as awesome as the kids running their keys down the sides or leaving you with flat tyres.” “Yeah, ok, point made.” “Ah, here we are.” Hunith turned off the road by a sign that read ‘Aulfric’s Magic Motors’. Merlin didn’t hold his breath. Somehow it just didn’t sound promising. As they climbed out of the car, an elderly man approached them, a big smile plastered on his face. Merlin didn’t like him already. “Welcome to Aulfic’s Magic Motors, I’m Aulfric, what can I help you with today?” Hunith smiled back.
“Hi, we’re here to look for a car for my son.” Aulfric turned to look at Merlin with a considering gaze. Merlin looked away and fidgeted slightly. Finally the old man asked, “Your first car?” Merlin nodded, more than a little nervously. This felt worse than standing in front of his English class to do his presentation. It was if the man was trying to read his very soul so that it would tell him which car would be the right one. Merlin could see from the look in the man’s eyes that they would not be leaving his dealership without a vehicle. “Right, then it needs to be something special.” The aged car dealer scratched his chin thoughtfully. Merlin thought it looked too practised to be realistic but Hunith didn’t seem to notice. Merlin just prayed that he would leave the place with a car that would actually have an engine. Aulfric nodded and held out his arm, “Let’s see, over here…” As they were talking, no-one noticed a blue car drive into the quad and park itself next to a yellow Camero. There didn’t appear to be a driver but as no-one was watching the whole event went unobserved. “It’s a top quality car.” Aulfric argued. “And the price shows.” Hunith told the car dealer with her hands on her hips. “I’m sorry, but we were looking for something cheaper.” Aulfric nodded, his smile not quite as happy as before. He wasn’t going to be getting the money he wanted. “I understand.” Hunith looked around until something caught her eye. “How about that one over there?” She pointed to an old blue Volkswagen Beetle. Merlin looked at the car with something akin to horror. “Mum, you cannot be serious. I can’t drive that. The kids at school hate me as it is. You’ll just be adding fuel to the fire. It’s a girl’s car!” Hunith looked at him with a fond smile. “Don’t be silly, dear, it’s a lovely car.” “My point exactly.” Merlin huffed under his breath. “He who fears being conquered-” Hunith quoted. “Is sure of defeat. The old Emrys saying, yeah I know.” Merlin sighed heavily. “If you go to school with your head held high, no-one will say a word. And at least you will have a car and surely that is something?” “You’re right. Sorry mum.” “That’s my good boy.” She smiled happily as they made their way over to the car in question to have a look, ignoring the fact that Aulfric was scratching his head in puzzlement as to where the car came from, as he didn’t remember it being there
before. He guessed it must have been one of the new ones the mechanics had brought in. He shrugged his shoulders to himself and walked over to the two inspecting the car. Merlin opened the door and sat himself down. He had to admit for an old car, it was quite comfortable. He ran his hand across the steering wheel, not really noticing the blue dragon symbol that appeared underneath his palm as the dirt was brushed away. Hunith turned to face Aulfric with a smile. “So, how much for this one?” Aulfric turned his gaze upon the car. “Well, it’s a good car, good condition, and taking into account it’s popularity due to its classic nature… about three thousand.” Merlin’s eyes nearly popped out of his sockets. “Three thousand! Are you mad? It’s rusted.” “It’s a classic.” Aulfric argued. “It’s classically rusted?” Hunith shot a glare at her son and sighed. “We can’t go over two thousand really.” The car dealer looked almost heartbroken, now having his fears of a cheap sale confirmed. He looked over at the Camero. “Well this is an American import. It’s seen quite a bit of life, but I can do it for the two thousand if you want. It’s worth more than that of course, but I’ll be happy to sell you it for that.” “Merlin, come and take a look at this one. It’s a bit more sporty. I’m sure it’s not your colour though. Yellow always made you look ill.” Merlin went to climb out of the Beetle when then passenger door swung open, hard. It made a considerable dent in the Camero parked next to it. “Merlin!” His mother looked horrified. Merlin just looked back shocked. “It wasn’t me!” He climbed out of the Beetle, while Aulfric was inspecting the dent, his mother hissed at him. “I didn’t realise you liked the Beetle so much that would actually go to the lengths of damaging other cars.” Merlin didn’t know what to feel. He knew he hadn’t even touched the door. Aulfric stood up straight, a little red faced, but smiling, just. “It’s fine. I can knock that out no problem. So, would you like to have a closer look?” Merlin was about to look at the yellow car, when there was a strange noise. It sounded like opera singing. It quickly got louder and shriller until they had to cover their ears. Suddenly all around them glass exploded out of all the windows, pouring around them like rain. The quad went silent once more. All three stared at the Beetle as it was obvious that’s where the noise had emanated from. It also appeared to be the
only car still in tact. Finally, Aulfric turned to face them. “Fine, two thousand, just get that thing out of my sight.” Merlin eyed his new car suspiciously. There was something about it that just didn’t seem right, but for the life of him he couldn’t figure out what.
Chapter 3 In London, things were getting tense. Rex Bayard, Secretary of Defence gazed out at the crowd that sat murmuring to each other in the large meeting room of the MI5 building. An unusual mixture of service men, politicians and researchers were all deep in conversation. “Some of these people are too young. Why are they even here?” He questioned one of the security men beside him. The man shrugged as he looked out at the crowd himself. “What can I say? They grab them straight out of school these days if they’re good enough.” Bayard had to agree with that. Younger minds could be nimble minds. Spot things that people who had been doing this longer than they had been alive might miss. Perhaps it was good to get fresh blood in. In this type of emergency, Bayard knew they needed as many people as they could get. The SoD nodded to one of the guards who then walked to the podium and announced him. In the crowd Gwen, sat upright, stopping her conversation with a fellow researcher immediately. “The secretary of defence? Wow, this is bigger than I thought.” She mumbled to herself. “Wish I’d worn my suit now.” She looked down at her bright yellow summer dress. Pretty, but not exactly formal wear. When she had received the call to come to London, she hadn’t been told what to expect. All she knew was that she had to come to the MI5 building where her name would be on a list and she would have a certain amount of clearance. She decided on something casual and comfortable so that she didn’t stand out and as she didn’t know how long she would be there. It seemed she hadn’t quiet thought it through as much as she should have. At least she looked innocent enough. It was definitely a good thing in her line of work, to look unthreatening. Everyone in the room stood up. “Thank you everyone, please be seated. For those of you who don’t know, I’m Rex Bayard. I am here to give you the facts as we, the government, know them. Not what you may hear in the papers or on the news. At seventeen hundred hours, local time yesterday, there was an attack on British air base, Griffin, in Iraq. As far as we are aware, there were no survivors. We have not had had final reports but it doesn’t look good.” Gwen’s heartbeat rose so much; she thought her heart would pound out of her chest. She was almost certain she stopped breathing. That was Lance’s base. She had been worried when their conversation had been cut off, but she had never thought… Oh god, he couldn’t be… “It appears their mission was to hack into our military network. What they were after specifically, we have been unable to decipher, but we do know that they were cut off before they could retrieve much information and probably not what they wanted. We can safely assume that because of this, they will try again. So far, noone has claimed responsibility to the attack, so we cannot pin-point anything on anyone. It seems too advanced to just be Iraqi terrorists. The only clue we have is this noise.” He nodded to one of the men standing to the side, who turned around and flipped a switch. A grating, metallic screech filled the room and most people
winced or flinched at the sound. Gwen listened carefully. She had never heard anything like it before, which in itself, was a huge concern. They really didn’t know what they were dealing with. “That is the signal that was hacking our network. The next step is to analyse it and figure out who did this and to keep an eye on the situation to prepare for when it happens again and if possible, stop them. You people are the best in your fields. This is what you have been trained to do. America and the UN are already on alert and battle groups have already been dispatched to the area as well as other prime targets. This is as dangerous as it gets. We do not know who the enemy is. Another attack could come at any time and could be as equally tragic as the Griffin disaster. I will leave you to your officer in charge of your individual groups so you can start work immediately. Good luck everyone, and god help us.” Bayard walked off his podium leaving everyone to sit in silence. Gwen swore to herself that one way or another, she would find who did this, and she prayed harder than she had ever done in her life before that Lancelot would be alright. And if he was… dead, then there would be hell to pay. -xMerlin strolled into his room. He was about to pull up his chair when he noticed a pair of golden eyes glaring at him. “Woah, Magic! How many times have I told you not to sleep in my computer chair? Stupid cat! I’m sure you do it on purpose.” The black ball of fluff looked at him in such a way that dared him to move her. “Ok, ok geez. You’re so grouchy.” He huffed loudly. “I’ve got the car, now I just need the perfect passenger. I need the money to get the passenger, so eBay here I come!” He loaded up his laptop and logged into the internet and signed on. Just as his e-bay page opened; a black face appeared in his vision and mewled loudly making him jump. Merlin growled quietly. “You really are a nuisance you know.” The cat blinked slowly then mewled again as if she knew just how irritating she was and was enjoying it far too much. Merlin sighed. “Maybe we should send you to rehab or something; you’re addicted to this stuff.” He grabbed a bottle out of his pocket and took out one cat nip treat. The cat looked a little disappointed but ate the treat anyway. “Too spoilt, that’s the trouble.” The cat then helpfully moved out of the way allowing Merlin to look at his page. His hope was quickly dashed. “Bugger! No bids on anything. No bids equal no money. I’m bankrupt! Great!” Merlin wandered over to his mirror and looked in it. He ruffled his hair knowing that it didn’t matter what he did to it, it still looked scruffy. He hated his ears too. They just seemed to stick out too much. Children at school hadn’t been too kind either, calling him ‘bat’ or ‘monkey’. It had never helped his confidence. He had hoped he would get a car that would give him a bit of a boost to his ego, but no, his mother had insisted on the curvy, girly, Beetle. Any respect he might have gained was gone for sure. At least it was blue. That was something, he supposed. It could have been pink. With a sigh, he grabbed his jacket and walked out of the room, Magic hot on his heels.
-xHunith was out in the garden tending to her roses, humming happily to herself. She was just stretching her back, when she saw her son almost take a nose dive out of the door. “God damn stupid cat!” Merlin hissed. “Careful darling.” Hunith said brightly. “I swear that cat is going to be the death of me.” He turned to glare at said cat to see it rolling on it’s back catching the sun. The cat was stupid. That’s what Merlin thought anyway, not that he would ever say that in front of his mother. She loved the daft creature. “You off out honey?” Merlin walked over to her. “Watch the garden! It’s taken me ages to get that right!” Merlin suddenly stood still, arms wide to keep his balance as he wobbled. “Sorry. Roses are looking good. Yeah, just going out for a bit, picking up Will.” Hunith nodded thoughtfully. “Alright, make sure you’re back by eleven please.” Magic wandered over and rubbed herself down Hunith’s leg. Hunith picked her up. “Sure.” He turned and carefully walked over the garden to his car. “Eleven, Merlin.” “I said yes, mum. Stop worrying.” He climbed into the Beetle, turned the ignition and winced as the gears crunched. Hunith watched as the car left in a cloud of smoke. She wondered to herself if she had been a little harsh with her decision. -xThe sun was burning hot, the air was still, it was a far from perfect situation, but at least they were alive. Lancelot scanned the area while his team rested in the little shade that the rock outcrop provided. He had not had time to really consider what had happened; he had to think of what was going to happen next, he had to keep his team alive. Gawain was studying the picture he had taken with the binoculars. He kept tutting and gasping until Lance asked him what was wrong. “I don’t get it. I really don’t. I’ve never seen technology like this before. The weapons are off the scale. We don’t have anything that even comes close to it. Where the hell did something like that come from anyway?” Everyone shrugged despite the fact that Gawain’s eyes were still looking through the binoculars. “And you can see a weird aura thing around it too.” Kay looked blank. “Aura?” Robyn smirked.
“Yeah, it’s like a glow that surrounds a body. Spirtualists and people like that claim they can see it. Everyone has one, colours can depend on how healthy you are or how you’re feeling and all sorts.” “Since when were you into that voodoo shit?” Kay asked looking doubtful. Robyn smacked him on the shoulder. “It’s not voodoo and since I was young.” Gawain was looking at the picture again. “Yeah but it’s not like that, it’s like it’s got a force field or something.” “Force field?” It was Bors’ turn to look confused. “Like in Star Trek or something? But they don’t exist, do they?” Lance took the binoculars and looked at the picture himself. Robyn leaned against a rock. “Don’t know about that. There are loads of things we don’t know about. Things we don’t understand. Maybe there is such a thing as force fields. They don’t tell us everything. Area 51 and all that jazz. Mum always said I had second sight and I have a feeling that that wasn’t the end of it.” As much as they didn’t like the idea, no-one could disagree. “Ok, wicked witch of the west. Why don’t you use your magic and get us out of here and somewhere safe?” Kay raised an eyebrow as Robyn glared back. Percival and Galahad sniggered. Percival was in reaching distance so Robyn kicked him firmly. Gawain stared out at the desert; his voice was low, thoughtful. “When I took that picture, I think it saw me.” Galahad looked at him and frowned deeply at the sergeant, his earlier amusement vanishing quickly. “What do you mean it saw you?” Gawain sighed and wiped at the sweat on his forehead. “I’m telling you, it saw me. That thing had eyes and it looked straight at me.” There was a long, drawn out pause. “Mate, now you are scaring me.” Gawain gave a half smile but there was no heart in it. Lance turned to look at his group, “We need to get this back home.” He held up the binoculars. “Everyone needs to know what we’re up against. Maybe they can tell us what that thing was.” Percival raised his hands. “All well and good, except all our comms are fried. We can’t contact anyone.” Lance nodded. He turned to the boy who had been sitting on a rock silently while the soldiers had been talking amongst themselves. He knelt beside the boy; he looked up at the Captain with deep brown eyes. “How are you holding up, Masoud?” The boy nodded and gave the Captain a small smile. “How far do you live from here?” The boy looked around and grinned,
suddenly feeling useful. “Not far, just up in those mountains.” Masoud pointed out the direction they would need to go. “Good. Do they have a phone?” Masoud nodded, “Yes.” Lancelot smiled, “Good boy. Lead the way then.” Everyone got ready to move out once more. While the group conversed, they didn’t see the sand shift behind them as something stirred. Slitted, glowing, red eyes were watching the soldiers intently, waiting, planning the next move. It wouldn’t be long before it could strike. Finish the job that Valiant had started. No survivors. That was the orders that it had been given. And it would follow them diligently. One wrong move could prove dangerous. The humans needed to be eliminated. It would follow the orders, it would destroy the humans and it would not fail.
Chapter 4 Will climbed into the car, the look on his face filled Merlin with dread. “You’ve really sunk low this time, Mer.” His best friend eyed the vehicle suspiciously. “When you said you were getting a car, I thought you meant a ‘car’ not a bubble.” “Don’t say that. You’ll hurt her feelings.” He stroked the dashboard as if it was his cat. “Dude. It’s a car. Not a pet. And why do you say it’s a she?” “Well, she’s what’s going to be getting me around. I have to look after her. And she’s a she because no guy would have curves like this.” Will smirked. “You’re right there.” Merlin nodded, waited for Will to put his seatbelt on and then began driving down the road, listening to the sound of the engine. He had to admit, when the car was running properly, the motor seemed to purr, it was the start up that sounded a little dodgy. Silence lingered between the two friends until after a while, Will decided he had been quiet for long enough. “So this party we’re going to, are we invited?” He asked casually. Winding the window down and bracing his arm against it. Merlin didn’t look at his friend, but kept his gaze suspiciously on the road in front. “Not exactly.” “So, we’re gate crashing.” Will sounded far too happy at the prospect. Merlin checked the road and the mirrors then turned to frown at him. “We are not gate crashing, we’re… observing. Besides, it’s a park, it’s public property. We can be there if we like and no one can stop us.” Will snorted. “We’re going so you can ogle your eye candy then?” “I do not ogle.” “Woah, defensive, and yes, you do. You do a great landed fish impression.” Will ‘imitated’ the look that Merlin supposedly gave. Merlin ignored him. “And don’t worry, there’ll be plenty there for you to perv over.” Will nodded, smiling, “Glad to hear it. I would actually kill you if you just dragged me along for no reason.” “I don’t drag you along for no reason. I drag you along because you’re my friend. Heaven help me.”
“Aw, you love me really.” Will gave an exaggerated pout. Merlin nudged him while still looking forwards. “Yeah, good job too. You wouldn’t like to see what I do to people I don’t like.” They arrived at the park to find it full of people. The warm weather had drawn everyone out to enjoy the sun while it lasted. The shadows had grown long and the sky looked like it had been painted with pastel watercolours. Merlin pulled the Beetle into a parking space and eyed the area. “So, your eye candy here?” Will sniggered as he watched Merlin look around. “Yeah.” Merlin squeaked. He swallowed roughly, turned to his friend and grabbed his shoulder. “Please, Will, please don’t do anything weird.” “I’m not weird.” “I didn’t say you were, I said don’t do anything weird.” Will just shrugged. They both climbed out of the car and made their way into the park, Merlin was consciously avoiding from looking up. At that moment, it was possible to believe that he thought his feet were the most interesting thing in the world. Because of this and the fact that Will was either completely stupid or completely evil, with the possibility of both, they suddenly found themselves approaching a group of girls gossiping and laughing. One blonde turned to see them approaching. The smile she had been wearing dropped and became a sneer instead. She flicked her long, bleached locks over her shoulder and watched the two approaching. She tightened her grip on the arms wrapped around her waist belonging to her boyfriend, one of the most popular boys in school. She finally let out a loud, mocking laugh as the two boys approached. “Oh look, it’s gay and gayer! Hey, nice car, boys!” She grinned and tilted her head. Merlin nearly died of embarrassment as Will decided it would suddenly be fun to abandon him and climb one of the kids climbing frames that was currently empty, like an overgrown monkey. So much for not doing anything weird. And in front of the most popular girl in school. Great. Thanks Will, Merlin thought bitterly. “Uh, yeah, thanks Sophia.” He muttered knowing that she definitely didn’t mean it and completely ignoring her first comment. “I never said you could talk to me.” She answered haughtily, a look of disgust smeared across her face. “So, what are you doing here?” Merlin looked to Will for help and quickly gave up on that idea. He was about to reply that hadn’t she just said about him talking to her but decided against it. “We just came to, uh, you know, hang out.” He replied awkwardly. Sophia pulled away from her boyfriend and moved a little too close to Merlin, but it was territorial rather than flirty. Merlin knew he was in dangerous waters, with no help coming from Will’s direction. “I can see that. Hey, didn’t you try out for the rugby team last year?” Merlin winced.
That was a mixed memory. It had been a very painful and stupid idea and yet at the same time one of the best moments of his life. His eyes darted over to the deserted boyfriend, who looked completely out of place in the group of mocking, heavily make-upped girls. Arthur Pendragon. Of course, it wasn’t the girls Merlin had come to see, oh no. It was the Greek god standing a few steps away. The untouchable boyfriend. Merlin was sure someone, somewhere, was laughing at him. The one guy he would fall for happened to be the most untouchable guy in the world. He was gorgeous, perfect, the rugby team captain, surprisingly intelligent. And straight. Merlin didn’t stand a hope in hell. He had been one of the many reasons the rugby try outs had been such a disaster. He could have been a brilliant winger, being tall, skinny and a pretty damn fast runner, apart from the fact that Arthur had run at him to tackle him, and Merlin had stood there and let him. The ground had been wet and muddy after the recent rain, and he was fairly sure multiple bones had cracked, but just feeling Arthur that close, grabbing onto him and had practically been lying on top of him, had pretty much been heaven. For a brief moment their eyes had met. Merlin had found himself unable to breath but wasn’t sure if it was from the wind being knocked out of him or from that fleeting moment. That was until Arthur had opened his mouth. ‘What an idiot’. Three words that Merlin would never forget anytime soon. Arthur had climbed off of him and walked away. Merlin had been left lying in the mud but with a stupid grin on his face. At the time he hadn’t cared that he didn’t make the team. That had been enough to fill his dreams full of steamy after games showers to last a lifetime. “Yeah. I did.” Merlin finally admitted grudgingly, knowing that this wasn’t going to be pretty. Sophia smiled. Merlin had seen a friendlier expression on a spider. “I’m the head cheerleader. It was our practice that day. We all saw you. You know, mud is better left on the ground.” “I wasn’t really trying out though.” Merlin told her casually. “Oh?” Both delicate eyebrows rose in surprise. “Yeah, it was so I could see if my theory on the effects of jumping around in stupid outfits affect the brain or if it’s just the peroxide that causes the damage.” Sophia looked at him a little confused. “I’ve done a whole study on it. I found out that it is in actual fact all related. The ones who jump about more haven’t got any brains to damage as the peroxide has already dissolved it.” Sophia scowled at him then her voice rose to a painful pitch. “Think you’re funny, don’t you? Why don’t you just take that weirdo friend of yours and go fuck each other like the queers you are.” Merlin wanted to slap her so hard then. It was bad enough that he got teased about his sexuality but Will didn’t deserve it. He wasn’t sure if he was glad or not that he didn’t hit women. He was very tempted to slap this one. His knuckles went white to stop himself from doing that. Arthur suddenly moved then to stand between Merlin and Sophia. His back was turned to Merlin. “Come on, Soph. We need to get out of here.” He told her gently, placing his hands
on her shoulders. Sophia seemed to almost melt then, a large dopey smile pulling her lips upwards. It was nearly enough to make Merlin sick. “Aw, Arty, you’re like my knight in shining armour.” She simpered. “Come on girls, I know of a house party we can go to.” She glared at Merlin, as she moved away to a bright bubble-gum pink car. Merlin shifted across to Will, putting the ‘perfect’ couple behind him. “Get the hell down.” He hissed out the side of his mouth. Will looked at him as if he had grown two heads. Merlin didn’t mention the fact that he had gone a funny colour from hanging upside down for too long. Will was about to object. “Get. Down. Now!” Will flipped himself off. If they had been alone, Merlin would have been impressed with the move. Instead, he was still angry. “Did you see that? It was great!” Will pointed out. “Shut the hell up, Will. You made me look like a complete idiot then. We both looked like complete idiots. That’s all I need on top of the gay issues.” Will stopped in midstride. “Oh the bitch didn’t use the gay card did she? She did, didn’t she? You want me to put green hair dye in her peroxide or something?” That pulled a small smile out of Merlin. “Nah, you’re alright.” They began walking back to the car. -xArthur followed Sophia to her car. “Want me to drive?” He suggested. Sophia gave an obnoxious giggle. “I don’t think so. Wouldn’t want my prize boyfriend looking as gay as those two. Pink really isn’t your colour. Hey, Arty baby, you can tweak the car while us girls chill out.” That made Arthur snap. “Ok, one, guys and pink does not equal gay and that label probably would have been placed every time I stood near your car anyway and two, I’m not hanging around waiting for you and your ‘girls’ to finish partying just so you can have a free MOT.” Sophia pouted. “Arty, you don’t mean it.” Arthur pointed at her. “And three, don’t call me Arty. I hate that. We’re over Sophia. I can’t deal with your bitchiness anymore. You really do have issues. When you decide to grow up, I might be available. Try calling then.” He began walking away from her. “Arty! Arty! Don’t you walk away from me! Arty!” She squealed loudly making all of the people in the near vicinity turn to look at her. Arthur was the only one who didn’t. Sophia began wailing loudly, her friends suddenly surrounding her and telling
her she was too good for Arthur anyway. Arthur snorted to himself, briefly wondered what the hell he had been thinking and then began to walk home. -xWill got into the passenger seat while Merlin leant against his car bonnet, letting his head drop against his chest and his eyes fall shut and then sighed heavily. That had been another disaster he could add to his generous supply. He was sure Arthur would be laughing his head off now with his trophy girlfriend. That was until he opened his eyes again. He turned his head to the movement he could see in his peripheral vision. Arthur was walking down the road. Leather jacket flung over his shoulder, red t-shirt just tight enough to show off impressive muscles and jeans that were almost illegally tight but gave a rather fantastic view of Arthur’s arse. Merlin’s jaw fell open without even thinking. He didn’t even realise that the car radio began playing. “I see you baby, shaking that ass.” “Mer, what’s wrong with your radio?” Will called from his seat. “He’s walking home. He can’t walk home. I’ll give him a lift.” Merlin murmured, but loud enough for Will to hear. “You what?” He couldn’t quite believe what he heard, “Mer, have you been brain washed or something?” Merlin finally turned from his riveting view and looked at Will. “He needs a lift. He doesn’t live anywhere near here.” He ignored the fact that he was almost pleading with Will. “Ok, ok, I get the point. He can sit in the back.” Merlin gaped at his friend. “I won’t do anything weird, ok?” “In the back? Did you just say in the back? I can’t put Arthur in the back!” He rubbed his temples. “Actually, just get out.” Will’s eyes went wide. “You what? Why? Mer, I’m your best friend.” “Yeah and you also live down the road. Come on, Will. This could be my only chance to have a proper conversation with the guy. As my friend, Will, do this for me.” He climbed into the car beside Will, giving his best puppy eyes. “Don’t you dare give me that look, Emrys. Dude, the guy is a complete man whore. He sleeps with anything that moves.” Will gave Merlin a look of distaste. Merlin
raised an eyebrow, “Well you’ll be ok then, as you’re not moving out of the car.” Will was silenced into shock. There was a moment where the both of them just looked at each other, before Will finally moved and climbed out of the car. He stuck his head back through the door. “Dude, you suck.” “God, I wish.” Merlin almost sighed. Will made a face. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” Merlin didn’t reply, his gaze had fallen back to the figure walking down the road. “Mer, you’re drooling over the steering wheel.” Merlin snapped his mouth shut and looked at his friend. “Thanks Will. I owe you one.” “Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Just when you’re getting shagged into the mattress remember it was me who got you there.” Merlin grinned. “I will.” “Get out of here, hope it goes ok.” Merlin nodded, waited for Will to shut the door and focussed back to the blonde in front of him.
Chapter 5 Merlin pulled the Beetle up to where Arthur was walking. He was ignoring the fact that the radio was now playing ‘You’re Beautiful’ by James Blunt. “Um, hi, Arthur. It’s Merlin.” Yeah, that was smooth. Arthur ignored him. “I hope I didn’t get you into trouble. Sorry about that. Can I ride you home?” He paused with horror filled eyes as Arthur raised an eyebrow in his direction. He felt his ears burning. “Um, sorry, can I, uh, give you a ride home. Yeah. In this car.” Arthur paused, eyeing Merlin suspiciously before deciding that it was probably a better decision than walking the miles home. Merlin concentrated on breathing. Arthur. Arthur was in his car. Sitting next to him. Oh god! He began driving. Ok, he had the guy where he wanted but now he didn’t have a clue as to what to say. “I can’t believe I’m here.” Merlin’s face dropped as he replied glumly, “Oh, sorry. If you want to duck or something, I understand.” Arthur looked at him before he realised what Merlin meant. “No, no. I didn’t mean I don’t want to be seen with you. That’s not a problem. Just the fact that I’m in the situation I’m in right now. The situation I’m always in. I dumped Sophia. After seeing what she was like with you, I just didn’t want to be with that sort of person. Sorry about that by the way, there was no reason for her to be like that.” Merlin shrugged. “It’s ok. I’m used to it.” The fact that Arthur was sort of standing up for him made him want to grin like an idiot but he managed to hold himself in check. Arthur sighed loudly, shifting in the seat. “Still, it wasn’t right. I just seem to go for these pretty blondes, but they never have a brain cell between them, they just want me for my looks and my popularity. I just never seem to learn.” “So, would you go for, say, a brunette then?” Merlin asked, trying to seem innocent. “Maybe I should.” Arthur replied thoughtfully. “So, you new to the area?” “What, me? Um, no, actually I’ve lived here all my life. We’ve been at the same school since I was eleven, same as you. We shared a lot of classes.” Arthur frowned trying to remember, “Yeah, art, P.E., maths, English.” After a moment, the penny seemed to drop. “Right. Merlin. You’re Merlin.” “Yeah.” “Merlin Emerson.” “Emrys.”
“Right. Yeah, sorry. I feel really bad about that, not remembering you I mean.” “It’s ok. Most people don’t notice me or rather prefer I didn’t exist.” That was when the Beetle began making funny noises and then stalled. “What! Nononono! Oh come on. You’ve got to be kidding me.” “Voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce sois. Voulez vous coucher avec moi.” Merlin went bright red as the radio blasted the new track. “Uh. It’s a new car. Still getting used to it. Sorry.” Merlin tried to explain as he pulled into a lay-by while the car began to slow. ‘Lady Marmalade’ continued to play loudly. “Ignore the radio, it’s old and dodgy. I don’t know. Maybe I should get a new one.” He smacked the radio a few times but it continued to play the suggestive song. “Look, I’m not doing this on purpose or anything. ‘Cause that would be like a romantic thing, and I know that’s not what you want right now. And you and me. Well. You deserve something, you know, not me.” Merlin swallowed heavily as the radio switched channels again. “You’re gorgeous. I’ll do anything for you.” He watched it with a look of panic as it decided to change itself again. “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes.” He hit the radio firmly again this time. Arthur grinned. “Pop the boot, I’ll take a look.” Just before he climbed out, the radio re-tuned itself once more. “I wanna have sex on the beach, come on move your body.” Merlin’s jaw dropped at the offending audio equipment. He was sure that the thing was either a mind reader or just purely perverted. He couldn’t say which. Arthur simply smirked and climbed out of the car. Merlin popped the hood then proceeded to kick his radio. “Shutupshutupshutup. Not good. Ok. Not good.” He was fairly sure he was loosing his mind, considering he was shouting at the radio. He climbed out of the car and walked around to the boot where Arthur had his hands already fiddling with the engine. Merlin took a moment to admire the view. It was probably the only chance he would get. The jeans were pulled taught across his arse and his t-shirt was riding up revealing a tempting strip of skin that Merlin wanted to run his tongue across. Merlin leaned against the car. Arthur looked surprised while he was working on the engine. “Wow! You’ve got a souped up Porsche engine. Would never have thought that. Twin overhead cam shafts.” “Cum shafts. Right.” Arthur looked over his shoulder, still bent over the car, eyebrow raised. “Cam shafts, Merlin. It makes the engine work harder and the car go faster.”
“Harder. Faster. Ok. That’s good. I like it hard and fast.” Arthur gave him a smirk that was positively evil. “Do you indeed?” Merlin looked back at the blonde in something akin to terror, his ears turned red from embarrassment. “I’ll be over here putting my foot in my mouth some more.” He replied feebly. Arthur continued to smirk as he looked back at the engine. “I think I know what the problem is anyway.” He began to pull a pipe free. “Your fuel line is blocked. This won’t take long.” Arthur lay down on the ground and carefully inched his way under the car the best he could, considering the Beetle was still flat on the ground, and started fiddling with something. Merlin managed to enjoy the view briefly before lying on the ground next to the car himself to see what Arthur was doing. He saw the blonde pull the loosened pipe back through. “Definitely the fuel line.” He murmured to himself. He made a quick glance round, nodded to himself and brought the pipe to his lips. Merlin watched with confusion until he saw Arthur shift the pipe over to the drain just next to him. Merlin watched as a dirty liquid poured out until it went clear. As soon as it did that, Arthur covered the pipe with his thumb and began to fix it back. “How did you do that?” Merlin said, eyebrow raised in confusion. Arthur turned his head to look at him, another rather evil smirk on his face. “Oh, you know, you just need a really good suck.” “Right.” Merlin turned away, knowing he had gone bright red and began breathing deeply to calm his body that had become far too interested, murmuring obscenities to himself. When he had some semblance of control, he did his best to cover up the issue instead. “That, was disgusting. Remind me never to kiss you.” Merlin stated as he got up off the floor. Arthur pulled himself out from under the car and looked up at his so-called saviour. “Who said you ever would?” But the way he said it made something squirm in Merlin’s stomach. Merlin finally realised that Arthur hadn’t actually said ‘no way, get lost’. Interesting, his mind added for him. “So, how do you know this stuff?” Merlin asked, genuinely curious. Arthur pushed himself off the floor and brushed himself down. “Oh, I live with my uncle Ector. He’s really into cars and stuff. I just, uh, picked it up, I guess.” He didn’t quite meet Merlin’s eyes when he said that but Merlin let it go. “I love taking engines apart and putting them back together again, like a 3D jigsaw. I’ve grown up to be a grease monkey. Unfortunately, people like Sophia like to abuse the fact and think I’m their own personal mechanic.” He shrugged. “I would never have put you down as mechanically minded.”
“I guess I’m just full of surprises.” Arthur told him. Merlin smiled and then noticed the smear of oil across Arthur’s cheek. He moved forward and ran his finger across the smudge. Arthur just simply watched him do it. When he realised how closely he was being watched, Merlin found himself blushing again and stepped away. “Sorry, you had, you know, oil, um, right there.” He looked away with embarrassment. “I’m not the only one full of surprises.” Arthur whispered before returning to the problem at hand. “Ok, fire her up. See how she runs.” Merlin reached into the Beetle and switched the ignition. A wheezed ticking over sounded but little else. “Look, don’t worry about it; I’ll just walk the rest of the way. Thanks for the lift anyway.” Arthur walked round to the passenger side and pulled his jacket out. “Um, ok, walking’s good for you I guess, you obviously stay fit.” Arthur continued walking away and Merlin panicked. He climbed back in the car. “Come on. Please. This isn’t fair. Please girl, come on.” He turned the ignition again and put his foot on the accelerator pedal to see if it would help getting petrol through the engine. The car finally roared to life, with Merlin’s efforts along with the radio blasting a new tune. “You'd better stop, before you go and break my heart.” Turning the wheel furiously, he quickly managed to catch up with Arthur. “Come on, before she decides to break down again.” Arthur looked through the window at Merlin, smiled and climbed in. “You’re an idiot.” “Prat.” Merlin grinned back. -xIt was dark by the time they had reached Arthur’s house. Merlin was glad to think that if Arthur had walked, he would still be doing so right now. Instead he was sitting next to him in the car. The radio had fallen silent on the journey, something else that Merlin was glad for. “Well, this is where I live, so I guess I had better be going.” He turned to look at Merlin. “Thanks for the lift and for, you know.” Merlin tilted his head. “For what?” “Listening. To me moaning. I don’t normally do that. Open up to people that is. But, I guess there’s something special about you, Merlin.” Merlin smiled at that and was glad it was dark as he was sure his ears had gone red again. “It was nothing really.”
“No I mean it. Sophia used to just laugh at me and tell me to shut up. You’re the only one who has ever really listened. Do you think I’m petty minded?” Merlin frowned. “What? No. No way I think-” He paused then. “What?” Arthur urged. “I think there’s more to you than what other people think. More than what other people see.” Arthur gave him a strange look. “Right. Merlin, you are such a girl.” He gave a small smile and climbed out of the car. He turned to leave then stuck his head back through the window. “Thanks for the lift.” “Sure. No problem. Arthur?” Arthur waited. “Were you…” He forced himself to make eye contact and swallowed quickly. “Were you flirting with me?” Arthur simply smiled once more then made his way to the detached house that he called home. It was set in a small, newly built estate that was away from everything else. It seemed like a pleasant area. Merlin watched as the gorgeous blonde man walked to the door and opened it. Arthur paused, then turned and waved at Merlin before going in and shutting the door behind him. Merlin slouched back in his seat and let a dopey grin cross his face. “Arthur Pendragon. Sitting next to me. Talking to me. God, I love my car.” The radio started playing again, “I feel good, I knew that I would now, I feel good, I knew that I would now, so good, so good, I got you!” Merlin couldn’t bring himself to care as he drove off to his own house, still smiling happily.
Chapter 6 “We are so screwed.” One of Gwen’s team hung his head as he walked back to their shared console. “Oh don’t sound so defeatist.” Gwen told him sternly, even if she was still smiling. She was still tapping information into the computer. “What’s happened that’s got you sounding like that anyway?” “The group over there have cracked it. Iran.” The researcher slid into his seat and picked up his now cold coffee. Gwen paused in her work to look at him. “Iran. You honestly think Iran could come up with something like this? What did they teach you in school?” She shook her head and looked at the other members of her team. “Does anyone else think that, maybe it could be, I don’t know, some other terrorist group?” It was a rhetorical question. “Good. Because there is no way that somewhere like that could have come up with this. Look at the detail, the intensity of the signal. This is beyond anything I know of. This, I think, is over everyone’s heads.” -xHigh in the sky, the Prime Minister sat back in his comfortable chair. “Is there anything else I can get you, Prime Minster?” The air hostess asked with a wide, devil red smile. The man dropped his newspaper slightly. “Be a darling and get me a cream tea.” The hostess continued to smile. “Of course, Prime Minister.” As she turned away the smile dropped and she rolled her eyes. She made her way down the plane, unaware she was being followed. She got into the lift to go o the staff area to prepare the request when she heard a strange click. As she looked down she noticed there was a TV sitting in the corner. “Must be one of the spares.” She shrugged to herself. She picked the set up and carried it with her into the staff area. Putting it down in the corner, she began her job to make the Prime Minister’s cream tea. While she was distracted, she didn’t notice that the TV began to move, and then disassemble itself. She didn’t even notice as a pair of glowing blue eyes looked up at her. The creature that had been the TV shifted itself so it was hidden by a post just as a scone rolled to a stop. “Oh damn it!” The hostess huffed her way over and picked up the scone, suddenly pausing.” “Didn’t I leave that TV here?” She frowned and looked at both sides. The creature held itself against the post and managed to blend in with the equipment there. “Oh, Sally, you’re going nuts. Hm, well high and mighty upstairs can’t have this now. I’ll have to have it on my break.” She smiled to herself and sashayed back to where the kettle was boiling. She poured it into the waiting teapot, put everything on a tray and headed back upstairs.
The robot peeked out from its hiding place. “Stupid human.” It wriggled its way out completely from where a wire had wrapped around it and made its way over to the central computer. It was exactly where the information had said it would be. These humans were completely stupid leaving so much information so easily accessible. Clearly they had no self preservation. The creature inspected the wall of flashing lights until it found what it was looking for. Carefully it inserted what it used as fingers into the console. “Mordred in position. Collecting information now.” There was a click and information began streaming across the screen above the robot. Mordred cackled slightly as the data began flooding through his own system. -xGwen tapped the keyboard and stared at the screen. “Not good. Not good.” She stood up. “Can someone help? I think someone is trying to hack the system again.” The room quickly became a hive of activity as the head officer watching over the room sat in the seat next to Gwen, a few other officers made their way across and other groups of researchers stood to see what was happening. “We need to get them cut off.” The officer stated simply. One of the others nodded and ran over to the internal phone. “Sir, they are hacking the system.” He paused as whoever was on the other end replied. “Yes sir.” The phone slammed down. -xThe filtering data came to a sudden stop. Mordred looked around himself then back at the screen. Nothing happened. “Bugger!” He glared at the screen harder and the glass cracked. He turned his head fractionally as he realised what he was looking at. A possible clue to the where abouts of the sphere. He didn’t have much time to register the information, as the security on board the plane finally found him. Aiming their guns, they fired at the waist high robot without thought. Only the fact that it was a threat to the Prime Minister was what was important. The robot was too quick for them. They had a moment’s breath before the thing fired back at them with deadly accuracy. They never even realised they hit the floor. At the sound of weapons fire in the staff area, the rest of security was alerted. -x-
“We need to get the Prime Minister here now! Not yesterday people!” Bayard shouted at the people in the room. “We need to protect him and we can’t do that here. A breach of security like that?” He rubbed at his temples tiredly and took a deep breath, “How could it have happened? Everyone is background checked and double checked. There should be no way someone could sneak on that plane.” “We don’t know, sir.” One of the top security men looked uncomfortable. “We are still waiting for information on the intruder.” “Let me know when you find out.” “Sir.” “Just get the Prime Minister to safety in the meantime.” Everyone else in the room nodded. -xThe plane had touched ground a while ago. The runway was in chaos as the Prime Minister was taken to safety. Police cars filled the area with flashing blue light. Mordred waited in the shadows of the plane’s wheel until he had enough time to cross the tarmac to the nearest police car. The door swung open and the small robot climbed in. “Stupid humans.” Mordred sneered to the man who sat next to him in the driver’s seat. “They got in way.” Mordred quickly entered his stored information into the computer that was set into the dashboard. “Least they easy to dispose of.” The data began scrolling across the screen. “Stopped us again, but this time found clue to sphere.” The man sitting in the driver’s seat turned his head slowly to look at Mordred who turned glowing blue eyes to look at his companion. “Here, Captain Emrys man. Seen our language.” He linked that information into the internet and began a new search. The screen rapidly flicked through pages , until it paused. Mordred tilted his head with curiosity. “Eeee-baaay.” The small robot read. He looked at the picture that had come up then at the information the page held, it was a picture of a very old compass. Within the page, Mordred found a link to a ‘seller’. Mordred’s eyes twitched with interest as a new page loaded with a picture of a young man on it. Mordred pointed at the picture carefully. “Need to find human magicman_69.” Mordred’s silent companion looked back out of the windscreen and began driving off. The chaos continued around them but no one noticed one less police car. No one had noticed its arrival in the first place. If someone had looked closer at the car, they may have noticed that something wasn’t right about it. However all eyes were turned in another direction. The police car left. -xMerlin was enjoying his sleep. Dreams of Arthur were filling his head, dreams that
involved a naked Arthur, himself and a steamy shower. Merlin didn’t know why he always dreamed of Arthur in the shower, probably something to do with him being hot and wet, but he wasn’t complaining. That was until he was woken up. Merlin tried to bury his head under the pillow to hide the revving noise from outside when he realised what it was. His car! Someone was trying to steal his car. He bolted from bed and tried pulling on clothes. He managed to put his t-shirt on backwards; his feet into one leg of his trousers and then fell over. He didn’t know how he managed to get down the stairs without breaking his neck but he did. As he ran out the door he watched as his Beetle began to drive off. He looked around him and noticed his old push bike. He grabbed it and began peddling as fast as he could manage without getting cramps in his legs. He hoped his mum would have heard the noise and woken up, then hopefully, to have enough sense to call the police. It didn’t take him long to catch up with the car. For someone stealing a car they weren’t driving very fast. “Come on! It’s an old car! What do you want with it?” He yelled, unable to see the driver in the dark. “I haven’t even had it a day.” The driver either couldn’t hear him or was ignoring him. Merlin realised he had left his mobile in his trouser pocket, swerving and nearly loosing his balance, he managed to dig the phone out of his pocket and dialled 999. “Hello, what is the nature of your emergency?” “Hi, my car has been stolen, I’m chasing the car now. I need the police for back up. As many as you can manage, no scratch that, I need them all, now!” “I’m sorry, sir, please could you repeat that.” “My car is being stolen. I need the whole police department.” Merlin repeated, his breath catching from the effort of riding his bike. Merlin watched as the car turned into the town rubbish tip, breaking through the gate as if it was a piece of paper. Merlin doubted it was even locked in the first place, even though it should have been. “I’m at the rubbish tip, send our people already.” He flipped his phone shut and followed the car in. He ditched the bike near the entrance and continued on foot, winding his way around the small buildings and large bins. As he looked around the side of a skip he stopped breathing. He saw his car… stand up. He rubbed his eyes and watched as a giant robot walked over to a large ramp, scanned the sky then sent a beam of light from its chest. Merlin turned away, sliding his back down the skip. His breathing returned but only in harsh pants. This could not be happening. He was having a weird dream. Yes, just a dream where cars turned into giant robots. His muscles ached from overuse and he couldn’t breathe properly. He pinched his arm and nearly yelped in pain. He looked around. Ok, so not a dream. But how could this be real? He grabbed his phone again, flipped it open and set it to the video setting.
“Ok, if someone finds this, I’m probably dead. I chased my car and it turned into a robot.” His breathe was harsh and his voice was pitched a little on the high side. He moved his phone around the skip to try and film said robot. “Mum, I just want you to know I love you so much and if you find the copy of Attitude under my bed, it was a joke from Will, really, it was, but I just couldn’t get rid of it as there is a hot guy in there that looks exactly like Arthur and, oh my god, don’t EVER tell him that. He doesn’t need to know I fantasise over him and forget I said that too. Magic, you’re a dumb cat and I thought it would be you that was going to kill me but I love you anyway.” He flipped his phone shut again once more and shoved it back in his pocket. He needed to get out. Could he get away before the killer robot found him? He began to back track and then run. He managed to get out of the tip and then promptly fell over, right in front of a group of youths on bikes, drinking. Merlin looked up to see them all staring at him. As he watched, a few of them pulled out knives from various pockets. Merlin swallowed heavily, he really was going to die. He managed to scramble from the floor and began running as fast as he could manage. Howling and cat-calls echoed after him and Merlin didn’t even dare to look back. He could feel them following him, the sound of bikes filling the air. He didn’t manage to get very far before they caught him up. Two of the youths skidded their bikes to halt in front of him, stopping him in his bid to escape. The others encircled him. Merlin looked around, hoping for some sign of escape. “Well, well. Someone’s out late. Got any cash, mate?” One of the youth’s asked casually. Merlin shook his head; his voice had been lost somewhere behind him. “Shame. Come on, guys. Lets show this looser what happens when we don’t get money.” Before Merlin had time to think, a fist connected with his face, his head snapped round and he fell to the floor. Blood filled his mouth and he spat it out. There was loud laughter above him as a kick met his chest. He curled up into himself trying to breathe. Bright light suddenly filled his vision, he really thought it was the end, until he realised the lights were turning away and the youths were doing a runner. Merlin managed to pull his head up in time to see a blue Beetle chasing after the boys on bikes. He took a moment to take a deep breath, rested his head on the floor, then managed to pull himself up off the ground. He winced with the pain from his ribs. His mouth still tasted of blood. He gingerly touched his mouth and felt the swelling. He winced in pain and decided that that probably wasn’t a good idea. Slowly he began making his way back to the tip. He might as well see if his bike was still there. Just as he reached the gate, loud sirens filled the air and he was surrounded by flashing blue light as two police cars drove up. Merlin gave a big sigh of relief. “I am so glad to see you guys. My car has been stolen and these guys were beating me up.” Merlin watched as a couple of police men climbed out of the car and walked over to him.
“Right, you’re coming with us.” Merlin blinked. “What? No, there were these other guys-” “You have the right to remain silent…” Merlin stood in shock as he had his rights read to him. “Please get in the car.” “But it wasn’t me.” Merlin pleaded. The police man looked doubtful. He nodded to his coworker who then proceeded to cuff Merlin’s wrists. Merlin couldn’t understand where a day that had been verging on perfect could have gone so horribly wrong.
Chapter 7 “Tell me the worst.” Bayard asked the head technician who walked beside him. The man winced, which did not give Bayard any comfort what so ever. “They pretty much got everything this time. We can assume they got the data they needed. And to make matters worse, they managed to download a virus. It’s beyond anything we have ever known. As soon as we think we’ve got it covered it moves, changes, adapts. It’s not looking good.” Bayard groaned. Definitely not the news he had wanted to hear. He walked into a private office followed by the technician and other followers Gwen had been on a break and overheard the conversation. Before the door shut and automatically locked, she snuck herself inside. “We can only guess who could create such a thing. But our bets are on North Korea.” Gwen couldn’t help but speak up at that. “I’m sorry, but that’s impossible.” “Who said that?” Bayard looked around until Gwen stuck her head around the rather tall security guard who obviously hadn’t been doing his job. He turned, surprised to see her there, and grabbed her shoulder ready to lead her out. Bayard held up his hand to stop him. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. What do mean that’s impossible?” “North Korea is moving forward with its technologies, its true, but even they couldn’t come up with something this complex.” The technician looked sceptical. “So how do you explain their readying their weapons?” Gwen sighed. “All of the EU and America are preparing for what looks like war. Do you blame them?” The technician shrugged at her logic. “That virus is more complex than anything we have ever seen. The people who hacked the system… They did that in ten seconds flat.” Bayard frowned. “That sounds fast to me.” Gwen nodded. “It is.” She looked around at the other men in the room. “Those files could not be hacked by a person in… twenty years? The government files are so closely guarded. The virus is eating its way through the computers at speed never even considered. That is why there is no possible way it could be North Korea.” “Young lady, who are you anyway?” Gwen gave a nervous smile. “Just the researcher who traced the hack in the first place.” “You seem to know an awful lot. How do you explain this virus?”
“It’s my job, I have dealt with other situations, not like this, but virus downloads and hacking.” She left out the point that she was the one doing it, that was need to know information and they didn’t. “The only time I’ve ever seen something like this is in nature. What if this virus is like a life form, one that can adapt and learn which is why we can’t stop it? I know it sounds impossible, but there is no way that virus is human made.” That made Bayard pause. If humans didn’t create it, what did? -x“So, what were you doing there, that late at night?” Merlin scowled at the table. He ignored the two officers sitting in front of him, preferring to fiddle with the leather bracelet on his wrist. He gave a deep sigh, “I’ve already told you. My car was stolen. I followed it, which was why I was in the rubbish tip.” “Then you say your car… stood up?” With his eyes down, Merlin didn’t see the smirk that twitched at one officer’s lips. “Yeah, like one of those mecha in Japanese anime. The ones that walk around. It was just like that!” The police officer looked at him as if he had just grown another head. Merlin met his eyes. “What, do I have something on my face? Other than a huge bruise of course.” He muttered the last. Hunith, who was sitting next to her son, tutted at him. “Merlin dear, you shouldn’t talk to them like that.” Merlin sat back in his chair, unable to look his mother in the eyes. He doubted he could ever do that again. He felt a failure as a son to have been arrested like this, even though it wasn’t his fault. “Just tell us what drugs your taking; it will make this whole mess a lot easier.” “You don’t have to answer that.” The female lawyer sitting on his other side told him. “I’ve got nothing to hide so I don’t mind.” He told her before looking back at the officer. “Drugs? What drugs? I’m not taking drugs.” The officer looked doubtful, as if he had heard that story before, Merlin thought he probably had. “So why would that gang attack you?” Merlin looked back at his hands. “I stumbled in on their party, they wanted money, I didn’t have any so they tried to re-arrange my face. What is there to not understand, I’m being perfectly clear here.” “Less of the back talk, young man. We found this in your back pocket. Showing suspect evidence A. The label reads ‘magic’. Magic mushrooms is it? Care to share?” “I suggest you don’t accuse my client like that unless you have proof.” The lawyer cautioned.
“It’s my cat’s cat nip. If there’s anyone you should be interviewing it’s her. She gets high on those things.” “Right. Then you won’t mind giving us a sample, will you?” Merlin shook his head. Hunith looked at them with something like surprise. “Magic is our cat. She likes her treats. What do you mean you need a sample?” Merlin turned a bright shade of red. “Mum, please stop it.” “Merlin, you’ve been arrested, I don’t even understand what for, no one tells me anything.” Merlin turned back to the officers. “Whatever. I label it so I know not to get it mixed up with anything else; I’d rather not take cat nip instead of paracetamol. Magic mushrooms? Are you on drugs or something?” -xThe sun was high in the sky, burning down on the sand below. The only wind on the air was full of sand which swirled and just shifted the heat around rather than suppressing it. They should have been out of it, at least be in the shade, but they had little choice. Signs of life were finally starting to appear; the soldiers eased their pace slightly, before stopping completely by a mast. “This sucks. We’re soldiers, we shouldn’t be running away.” Kay whined. “Oh yes, because we really want our arses kicked by a giant robot.” Galahad deadpanned. “If you’re feeling suicidal, you go ahead, just don’t expect back up.” Robyn rested her hands on her knees. “What are we supposed to do, Captain?” Lancelot was about to reply when the sand shifted and with a load creak, the mast toppled over. The soldiers jumped out of the way. “Wow, nothing stands long around here does it?” Percival pointed out as he kicked the frame. Lancelot scanned the area, something wasn’t right. “Look out!” Gawain yelled as he aimed his gun towards Lance. The Captain jumped out of the way as something lurched towards him then dived under the sand. All their weapons were held at the ready, but there seemed to be no sign of the thing that had tried to attack Lancelot. Then there was a scream. The team turned to see Bors held between giant jaws, as a creature held him sideways and shook him violently. Bors continued to scream and yell for all the good it did him.
The team watched in shock and horror as large fangs slid through their comrade’s body, watched as bright red blood dripped onto the sand below. Bors fell silent. The creature watched the rest of the team for a moment before it threw the body away and the soldiers could see for the first time what they were up against. What reared up in front of them appeared to be a giant robotic snake. Its eyes glowed red and its fangs shone with fresh blood, as it watched the figures below it. Lancelot took a moment to look at the thing in disbelief. First, the thing that had attacked the base, and now this snake. The world had taken a serious and rather disturbing tilt. The snake, sensing its prey’s doubt, darted forward in an attack. The rest of the group managed to jump out of the way. The creature made a displeased hiss that sounded like the release of pressure in pistons. It reared up once more, curling round, focussing on one of the small things in front of it. Before it could make its attack, a round of bullets hit its face. The snake hissed angrily then changed it’s mode of attack, it dived under the sand. Lancelot took a second to make his decision. “Everyone move out!” He yelled out to his team, grabbing Masoud around the waist and began running. He trusted his team to do the same. He couldn’t hear them behind him, his breathing heavy and his heart beating loudly in his ears. Lance didn’t dare look back, fearing the glowing eyes and huge teeth that could snap down on him. He didn’t even stop running as they made it into the village. The villagers were running around in a panic, some having seen the incident that had ensued. Screams filled the air as the robot suddenly launched itself from the sand on the heels of the soldiers. Suddenly, the sand was thrown up around them as the snake fired at them with what appeared to be lasers, but no-one wanted to look back to check. “Which way?” He shouted at the boy under his arm. Masoud pointed and Lancelot ran in that direction, not daring to put the boy down, not wanting to loose someone else, not wanting that guilt hanging over him. That would be a hard enough wall to climb when he had to deal with it. Bors had been a good soldier, a good man. And his family… Lancelot was silently grateful that he was not the one that would have to pass on that news. Quickly turning his mind back to the matter at hand, he made his way to Masoud’s house while his team found shelter behind walls and buildings and returned fire. The snake slithered along before finding its own vantage point; it hissed loudly, sunlight glinting off the razor sharp fangs. It focussed on one of the soldiers nearby and fired. Lasers shot into the wall blasting away at the brick. Sand and rock flew at Galahad as he stumbled back. He returned to his position in time to see Kay take the next hit. Brick, mortar and sand flew in the air, a golden cloud that surrounded the soldier. Kay coughed but seemed ok. Lancelot followed the boy through the house until they found a man Lance presumed was Masoud’s father.
“Sorry sir. Emergency. Have you got a phone?” The man looked at him blankly. Lancelot held up his hand to his ear, his thumb as the ear piece and pinkie as the speaker. He repeated the word. “Ah.” The man stated. He indicated for Lance to follow him then handed him a mobile phone. Lancelot still couldn’t believe that in the middle of nowhere, as this village seemed to be, they still managed to have mobile phones. He looked at the small device, apparently with better signal than home. Lancelot went to use it when the man tugged on his arm. “You save son?” He held Masoud’s shoulders and the boy looked up at him in wonder. The captain nodded. “Then Allah praise you. I am in your debt.” Lance nodded then dialled the number. He grabbed the man’s shoulder. “Go. Take him somewhere safe.” The boy translated quickly and his father nodded in agreement before gripping Lance’s shoulder then leaving by a back door. Lancelot ran back to the battle that was going on outside. His team were all huddled behind various bits of masonry, some crumbling away from previous hits, but even as they were firing back, Lance could see very little damage was being done to the serpentine robot. “Hello, what service can we provide for you today?” A heavily accented voice finally answered the phone. “I need a connection to England.” Just to the side of him, a wall crumbled as a laser came too close to his own hiding spot. “I’m sorry, sir, can you repeat that, there is too much noise.” Lance knew this was going to be a long phone call. “England, I need to call England. The U.K.” He added as a precaution. Last thing he needed right now was to end up calling Australia. “Hold on a moment, sir.” A strange flow of music began to play. Lancelot groaned. “Bloody hold!” He glared at the phone. Finally someone took his call once more. “Hello sir. A phone call to England was it?” Lance sighed then ducked as another shot came his way. “Bear with me sir.” “Can you hurry please; we’re in the middle of a war here.” A loud explosion sounded to his left. “Your shouting will not make this process any quicker, sir.” If the call wasn’t so important, the Captain would have thrown the phone away by now. “Do you have a savers card with us?” “No I don’t!” Lance yelled back having to shout above the noise that was happening
around them. “We have a savers package for new customers and you can save up to ten percent of your calls through us, would that interest you sir?” “Not right now. Look, just put me through to the U.K. already.” “I’ll need to have some details off of you first.” Lance really did want to scream then. Where in the world did they find these people? Didn’t this man understand they were in the middle of a war! “What type of card will you be using with us today?” Lance panicked. His cards had been at the base. Much good they were now. “Sir?” “Hold on a minute.” He told the man curtly. He scanned the area and spotted Gawain. The sergeant always carried his cards on him. Ducking and diving across the battlefield, Lance reached Gawain. “I need your plastic!” He yelled at his comrade. Gawain nodded while still firing at the metal demon in front of them. The thing didn’t seem to slow or need rest, unlike the soldiers. After their long walk they were not at their best. “Back pocket!” Gawain told him. Lance scanned the sergeant. “You’ve got a million back pockets!” “My right arse pocket!” He quickly pulled out the thin wallet with a few cards in it. “Any other time and I would have enjoyed that!” Gawain told him. Lance could hear the grin in his voice. “Any other time and I wouldn’t be feeling you up, sergeant.” “Mores the pity.” Lance grinned at that and got back on with the phone call. -x“Sir, we’ve just received a call from some soldiers stating that they are survivors from the Griffin base attack.” Bayard looked at the man. “And?” The Secretary of Defence could tell that there was more. “They are requesting back up, sir.” “Send it to them immediately.” -xThe sounds of planes flying nearby were the best thing the soldiers had ever heard. Gawain, using his radio directed the air craft to target the snake and where to avoid. Using coloured smoke, the planes could pin point their exact location.
“Give it hell on Earth.” Gawain finished with a grin. The soldiers ducked behind their walls while the air craft did their job. As the last round landed Gawain and Lance looked at the snake writhing on the ground. “How is that thing still not dead?” Lance asked in wonder. The snake writhed some more before deciding on retreat and burying itself in the sand. The only thing left behind was one of its long fangs. As the sand settled, Lance called out to the team. All but one replied. Then they were finally able to hear the muffled screams. Darting over to another broken wall, Lance found Robyn under the debris, clutching her leg. Gritting her teeth against the obvious pain she was in. Her leg looked broken, probably from some of the wall debris falling on her. Lance knelt beside her. “Ok, Robyn. It’s all over. We’ll get you back home and fixed up.” “I could really do with that J.D. and coke right about now.” The girl managed to grind out with a pained smile. Lance nodded and gave her a supportive smile back. -xPictures that were taken from the planes of the attack had made their way back to Bayard. The man gave a deep frown. “What the hell is that?” He studied the strange shape intensively. “We don’t know, sir.” “The only ones that can really tell us are still on the field. Get those men back here and debriefed in the next ten hours.” “Sir!” The man saluted before going to work on bringing the soldiers back home.
Chapter 8 Gwen had returned to her place in front of the computer screen after sharing the information she had learned with the rest of her team. The screen glowed with the picture of the signal, giving her a paler complexion. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to make sense of the information again. She finally pulled away and rubbed her eyes. She looked around wearily. She leaned towards her team who all leaned towards her. The team had quickly realised her skills were beyond anything they could do and had quickly made her team captain. “There is only one person who could decrypt a code like this.” She scanned the room again to make sure no one was looking in her direction before reaching for her necklace and pulling a section off, a memory card. She lipped it into the computer, copied the file onto the card, and then slipped it back into her necklace. She then rose from her chair and headed towards the door. One of the officers blocked her path. “Where are you off to?” He questioned her. “The toilets, if you must know.” “But you only just went.” “I have to go again, you know, ladies things, I can give you details if you want.” She smiled brightly. The officer turned an interesting shade of pale and moved out of the way, mumbling that it was ok. Gwen walked past, thanking herself for being a woman. Once she got outside she ran to the nearest waiting taxi. “Camden, please.” She told the driver, who nodded and drove without asking questions. Gwen settled back in the seat, constantly fiddling with her necklace, until the taxi pulled up outside the address she had given. Paying the man, she walked up to the door and knocked. She began fiddling with her necklace again until the door was answered. On the other side an old man stood, his face now a mask of surprise. “Guinevere?” “I really need your help, may I come in?” “Of course. But what brings you to my door?” He let Gwen walk in and shut it behind her. “This.” She pulled the memory card from her necklace and held it up. “Now, Guinevere, I’ve told you before not to bring things to my house.” He didn’t look too pleased, his mouth turned down pulling the aged lines with it. “Please, Dragon, this is important.” Gwen begged. The old man looked at her out of
the corner of his eye as he turned his head. “How important?” “Like, I will be locked in the darkest, dingiest cell in Broadmoor and the key thrown away if this ever gets out important.” She waved the memory card in front of him. “Alright, you have ensnared my curiosity, you are lucky that you were such a good pupil, I believe I taught you well. Come, my dear.” He took Gwen’s hand and led her through the house until he came to a room full of computers. “Now, let us see what puzzle you have brought me to conclude.” He slipped glasses on to his nose while his computer booted up; he then slid the memory card into its space. His eyes widened when he saw what information the card held. He leaned into the screen a little. “So, Dragon, what do you think?” “I believe, my dear.” He answered after a moment and he turned to look at her, “That you are Alice and this rabbit hole is deeper than you think.” Gwen looked at him sceptically. “Do you ever give straight answers?” Dragon turned back to the screen. “Not if I can help it. The world would be a less interesting place if we were given all the answers before we can even understand the questions.” Gwen rolled her eyes. He tapped a few commands into the key board. “Indeed. Curiouser and curiouser.” -xThe man saluted at Bayard. “We are waiting for the final pictures of the attack in Iraq to come in. But we have something a lot more serious to deal with.” Bayard frowned. “What could be worse than our men getting attacked and killed by creatures or robots unknown, while we can do little but watch?” The man scratched his head nervously, wincing slightly at the same time. “Well?” Bayard couldn’t help the irritation creeping into his voice. This whole situation was getting beyond understanding already and he wasn’t sure what else he could deal with right now. “One of the analysts made a copy of the network intrusion signal. Very dangerous, classified material. If that gets out…” Bayard heaved a sigh. “Track it down.” -x“Guinevere, this signal… I have never seen such a powerful signal. And this hacked into the defence security-”
“In ten seconds.” “My dear, you know that’s impossible.” “It happened.” Gwen breathed as she leaned towards the screen as the information was finally hacked. “As I thought, down the rabbit hole goes, but what lies in the darkness?” He looked to Gwen, who gave him a blank look. “But the bottom, of course.” He gave a broad, rubbery grin. “There is a message embedded in the signal.” Gwen’s eyes widened as the information came up on the screen. “And now we follow the white rabbit. ‘Assignment Lady in the ice’. UNICORN. So not a white rabbit then?” The smile stayed in place even as Gwen’s frown deepened. “Captain Benedict Emrys? Who is that?” “And that, my dear, is the question.” “POLICE! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!” Gwen and the Dragon froze as armoured police burst into the house and aimed guns at them. They had been found, but not before they had found the information. -x“Now, let’s meet our two teams. Today, the reds are…” Merlin lounged on the sofa, Magic curled up on his lap, watching daytime TV. The police had let him go with a mild caution and an apology after discovering everything that Merlin had said was true. Hunith hadn’t talked to him however, the shock of her son being arrested a little too much for her to handle. Merlin was just debating about what he could make himself for dinner when there was a loud revving outside. Merlin ignored it at first, thinking it was the next door neighbour being annoying again, until he remembered that he was away on holiday. He bolted upright suddenly, sending Magic flying. She howled at him in anger then slunk away to her space on his computer chair. He ran to the window and looked out to find the blue Beetle parked in its space, engine still running. Merlin stumbled from the window and grabbed his mobile; sliding down the wall he dialled Will’s number. “Dude, you woke me up.” Will murmured sleepily. “Shut up! This is important. Herbie from hell has just turned up outside.” There was a long pause. “You what?” “Will, listen. Last night, my car got stolen. I followed it and then it stood up! Like on that advert, the dancing Citron, but without the dancing. And then I got arrested!” “Wow. Whatever you’re on, can I have some?”
“Will! You’re not helping. I’m serious. I think my car might be possessed by John Lennon or something.” Another long pause. “Look, if John Lennon was to possess a car, I doubt it would be your crap Beetle, as amusing as that thought is. You really need to get your head checked, Mer.” “Will. You suck!” Merlin flipped his phone shut and made a quick decision. He made a dash for the back door, he ran to grab his bike and realised he had never got it back last night. He looked at the alternative. Bright neon pink, flashes of purple and a girly front basket. His mum’s bike. He might have been gay, but even that was pushing it. He never had liked pink. However, biking was faster than running; he would just have to swallow his pride. He picked the bike up and made a dash for it. For a moment he thought he had got away, and then he heard the screech of tires and a loud engine rev. The car was following him. Merlin peddled faster. As he travelled along, Merlin kept glancing over his shoulder. Every time a bright blue Beetle filled his vision. It was on one of these checks that he didn’t see the tree root bursting through the pavement. The bike hit it firmly, sending Merlin flying over the handle bars and land heavily on the pavement. For a moment, Merlin couldn’t breathe. He winced in pain and failed to hear his name being called. It was only when he opened his eyes to find a familiar blonde looking over him with concern. “Merlin? Are you alright?” Merlin nodded and carefully began peeling himself off of the pavement. “That was an impressive fall.” Arthur stated as he gave Merlin a hand up. “Oh yeah. It felt impressive.” Merlin panted, still struggling to breathe. “Right until the point where I hit the pavement.” He rubbed himself down feeling where it hurt, and knowing he would really feel it tomorrow. “Nice bike.” Arthur smirked. Merlin gave a sarcastic smile that was more of a wince, his body still aching from his recent tumble. Then he heard an engine revving. Merlin paused. “Um, sorry, I’ve got to go.” He moved away from Arthur, picking up the bike which seemed to have come out of the fall relatively unharmed. Merlin wanted to kick it in spite. It seemed everything wanted to show him up in front of Arthur. “Where are you going?” Arthur called after him. Merlin looked around and saw the Beetle catching up with him. “I’m being followed by my car!” He shouted back, not caring how crazy he sounded. He began peddling away as fast as he could, not even having chance to appreciate the fact that Arthur had helped him and had looked genuinely concerned. Arthur watched Merlin leave, speechless with Merlin’s last comment. Maybe he had hit his head in his fall. One of Arthur’s friends bumped his shoulder. The group he was with all gave him funny looks. Arthur shrugged then and told them,
“Sorry guys. I’ve got to go.” His friends all look confused. “I’ve got to make sure Merlin’s ok.” His friends laughed. “Going to kiss him better, Arthur?” One sniggered. Arthur pointed at him. “Enough of that. I’m just checking on him.” The other boys all looked doubtful even as Arthur ran over to his motorbike. He didn’t know why he was going after Merlin. He guessed he was probably doing it as a favour in return for the lift Merlin had given him. He slid his helmet on his head and flipped the visor down before starting the bike and riding as fast as he dared after the very strange boy. -xMerlin made a left turn and found himself in a scrap yard. Not really where he wanted to be, he wondered how he always managed to find these places. There were two exits out of the yard and he had just come in one of them. He dodged between broken cars to reach the other. A quick glance over his shoulder proved that the Beetle had disappeared for now. He gave a sigh of relief. As he reached the other side of the car park he realised the exit was blocked. A police car sat in the road. Merlin dashed towards it and jumped off the bike, ignoring the dull protest his muscles gave. If he had had a chance he would have noticed the police symbol on the car wasn’t the one he would have recognised. Instead there was a chalice with a snake wrapped around its stem. “Please help me!” Merlin yelled. He was a little cautious after what had happened but he had no other choices right now. The man sitting inside didn’t move. What was it with the police force? Merlin put his hands on the bonnet. “Are you even listening to me?” The car jolted forwards. Merlin took a leap back. “Ok, sorry, sorry!” The car jolted again, making Merlin fall. He winced as his already aching body was bumped once more. The car jumped once more, the bumper almost hitting Merlin. “Hey, sorry ok!” He managed in a voice that definitely wasn’t a squeak. He flinched as the lights of the Mitsubishi Evo shot forwards out of the bonnet; they paused for a minute before a loud whirring sound emanated from the car. Merlin held his breath as the car suddenly shifted and transformed. The robot that formed in front of Merlin flipped him from the ground and he landed firmly on a car bonnet, any breath left whooshed out of him. The robot ran at him. Merlin curled up the best he could, his body objecting to the movement. The robot’s face paused a mere inch from his own. Glowing red eyes filled his vision. A deep voice grated out of the creature, “Are you Magic_man69?” Merlin looked at the thing with fear and panic. “I don’t know wha-” “Are you Magic_man69? Where is the compass?” Merlin’s mouth hung open; unable to say anything but before he could manage so much of a breath a flash of blue skidded past taking the monster with it. Merlin had enough sense to scramble from the bonnet and run. He made his way out of the scrap yard to see a motorbike coming the other way. It
pulled over and the biker pulled his helmet off. Merlin managed a second to think how sexy Arthur looked ruffled before panic set in again. He ran over to the blonde rugby captain, grabbed his arm and began pulling him along. “What the hell is going on?” Arthur asked him, confused but going along away. “Run, just run!” Merlin panted. “Merlin, what are you-” Arthur paused as he heard something behind him. Both boys watched as a giant robot stalked out of the scrap yard. Its red eyes quickly sought out the two figures and strode towards them. Arthur’s eyes widened to match Merlin’s. Both boys stood staring at the menacing creature not knowing what to do when the blue Beetle raced out of the yard and smashed straight into the robot sending it flying away. The car swerved sideways and flung its door open. “Get in!” Merlin told Arthur frantically. Arthur took a moment to look in the direction the robot had been thrown then quickly climbed in the Beetle. Merlin climbed in as well. The door swung shut and the car screeched forward in a cloud of dust. Behind them the police car robot stood up, saw that its adversary was already getting away and switched back into the police car. “Kanen in pursuit of Magic_man69.” Its voice rumbled and then shot off after the Beetle.
Chapter 9 The car shut down, leaving the boys to sit in the dark. “Merlin, tell me what the hell is going on?” Arthur whispered. He didn’t know why he was whispering, but the moment seemed to call for it. Merlin looked at him, his pupils wide in the limited light. “I don’t know.” He told the blonde honestly. He looked forwards in time to see a police car drive past slowly. The Beetle started up and made a dash forwards. The police car must have noticed them, as its tyres squealed to a halt. The Beetle spun, flung its doors open and chucked the boys out. The police car turned to face the Beetle. With a screeching wheel spin it raced forward and transformed just as the blue Beetle did the same. The two robots clashed in a cacophony of clashing metal. Just before they engaged, a small projectile was fired from Kanen’s chest. It landed near to the two boys and changed into a miniature robot. Its glimmering blue eyes found Merlin and Arthur. With a loud cackle, it launched itself at Arthur, who happened to be nearest. Neither of the two had managed to get up off the floor and made an easy target. Arthur scrambled up and shrugged his jacket off and Mordred fell with it. Arthur pulled Merlin up and they both began to run, until Merlin lost his footing and fell into a ditch. The miniature robot quickly found his feet again and spotted Merlin falling ahead. The small creature ran and took a flying leap at the incapacitated boy. Merlin tried to get away only to have the robot take a firmer grip. Mordred clawed his way up Merlin’s legs while he tried to struggle away. Arthur looked around frantically, it was clear that they couldn’t take on the robot by hand; clearly it was stronger than they were, despite its size. Nearby there were some private allotments, and in them, small sheds. Arthur, using his rugby speed and skills, ran and leaped over the surrounding fence. He ran to the nearest shed. He breathed a sigh of relief as the door was only latched and not locked, more fool the owner, bonus for them. He opened the door and quickly scanned the interior before finding what he wanted. As quickly as he could manage, he ran back to Merlin. The robot had latched itself onto Merlin’s back and embedded its metallic fingers into his hair, and was in the process of trying to slam Merlin’s head into the ground. Merlin managed to pull away before his face became a bloody mess to match his bruise. He writhed out of the robot’s clutches, dislodging the creature from his back. Before he managed to stand up, Mordred grabbed at his ankles, keeping him on the floor. Merlin tried to kick the creature away, even as it snickered and cackled, but only aided it in pulling his jeans off, the thick material easily sliding off his slim hips. The robot fell backwards in a pile of denim. He wriggled its way out but before Mordred could latch back onto Merlin, Arthur appeared, axe in hand. “Merlin, watch out!” Arthur warned, just before he swung the heavy weapon. Merlin managed to flinch out of the way but Mordred had raised his head to see what was happening. The axe took it clean off. Merlin finally managed to stand up, despite his legs being a little shaky. He looked down at the robot that appeared to be swearing at them. He took a moment before swinging his leg back and kicking the thing
away. Arthur gave him a slightly impressed look. “Maybe we should have had you on the rugby team.” Merlin gave him a tired smile. With a loud clashing of metal, both boys looked across the space to see the two robots still fighting each other. The police car grabbed the Beetle around the neck, pulling it back. The Beetle managed to wriggle enough space to free an elbow and thrust it back hard. The police car released its grip, stumbling back. The Beetle turned and held out its hand. A blue light emanated from it and then fired a shot straight through the police car’s chest. The red eyed robot stumbled slightly, with a look that could only have been shock on the metallic face, as it fell to the ground in a heap. The Beetle relaxed then turned to face the boys. “Do you think it’s safe?” The blonde asked cautiously. Merlin nodded. “It did just protect us didn’t it?” “I guess. What is it?” Arthur asked with wonder. “You know those animes with the giant robots?” Arthur nodded. “Well, maybe it’s one of those. Maybe Japanese or something.” Arthur looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “You really are an idiot. This is beyond even the Japanese.” The robot walked over to them and knelt down in front of them. “What are you? Why are you here?” Arthur yelled up to the robot that was looking down at them with pale green eyes. “Bought it on eBay.” The car radio rang out. “EBay. My eBay?” Merlin asked. The robot nodded. “You’re here because of my eBay page?” Merlin looked at Arthur. “When that robot attacked me earlier, it asked me about my eBay page too. It wanted the compass.” He turned back to the looming machine. “Is that what you want too? My Grandfather’s compass?” A robotic voice that Merlin recognised as K-9 from Doctor Who, sounded through the speakers, “Affirmative!” “So you talk through the radio?” The robot stood back up and slid its hands to it’s hips with a nod, “Uh huh. Uh huh uh huh uh huh.” “Emperor’s New Grove.” Merlin murmured. Arthur looked at him. “What? It’s a Disney film.” Merlin noticed, even in the dark, Arthur blushed slightly. He mumbled quietly, not meeting Merlin’s eyes, “I, uh, knew that. I’ve seen it.” Merlin couldn’t help but grin. He turned back to the giant robot. “So, what where you doing last night?” The robot tilted its head skyward and
pointed, “E.T. phone home.” “E.T.? So you are an alien?” Arthur asked. A nod came in reply. “There are others like you, you were contacting them?” Again, a nod. “So what now?” The robot knelt beside them again, it’s green eyes turned imploringly at Merlin, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Arthur burst into laughter, “Obi-Wan Kenobi my arse!” Merlin kicked him, not very hard. Arthur tried to hold back the laughter but still had a smirk on his face that suggested he could laugh again at any second. Merlin simply glared at him. “Ok.” He told the robot. The metallic head nodded again just before it shifted and changed back into the Beetle. The door was open and waiting. Merlin took a deep breath and walked towards it. He looked back at Arthur. “Are you coming?” The blonde stood looking at the vehicle, an unreadable expression on his face. “I don’t know. Being around you always gets me into trouble.” Merlin walked back to him. “If you don’t get in the car you’ll never know what will happen. This could be the biggest adventure of your life.” “This could end my life.” Arthur replied frowning. “What if you don’t? Don’t you want to look back and say you had the guts to climb in the car?” Arthur met Merlin’s eyes directly. “I would never have thought that you would be the one to be braver than me. And just for that I’ll come. I think you deserve that loyalty. You are a strange one, Merlin Emrys.” Merlin just smiled. They walked back over to the car and Merlin picked his jeans up on the way. “That’s not how I imagined getting my kit off for you.” Merlin sighed. Arthur raised an eyebrow. “Imagine that a lot then, do you?” “I- I… oh god!” Merlin swallowed roughly. Arthur sniggered and looked away as Merlin pulled his jeans back on, and then climbed into the back of the car. “You can have the front seat.” He told the blonde, as he gave Merlin an odd look. Arthur nodded then paused. “Hold on a moment.” He looked around and spotted what he was looking for. His coat was lying on the ground where he had thrown it off. He jogged over to it and
checked the pockets. He pulled out his ipod touch with a smile before slipping it back in the pocket and pulling the jacket on. Arthur sat in the car and pulled the door shut. The car spun its wheels and drove off. No one noticed the real ipod left on the ground in the dark. -xSilence was rife in the car. No one said a word and the radio remained silent. The sound of the engine humming was the only noise the boys could hear. Merlin was leaning on the front seats looking out on the dark world ahead. His mind was buzzing with thoughts. His world had been completely changed in just a few days. It was hard to deal with and in the silence, he was having to deal. This sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to him. He was just a nobody from the middle of nowhere, he wasn’t a hero, he was far from adventurous. This sort of thing was supposed to happen to people like… Arthur. Brave and handsome Arthur, a perfect picture of what a true hero was supposed to be like. Not plain, boring Merlin. He sighed deeply. “Merlin, stop thinking. It’s making my brain hurt.” Arthur murmured quietly. “Why are you sitting back there anyway?” “Well, she’s driving isn’t she? It doesn’t feel right to sit in the driver’s seat when someone else is driving.” Arthur turned to look at Merlin, his features just visible in the dim light. “You really are strange. You sure it’s a girl? Isn’t it a bit hard to tell with a robot?” He said with a gentle smile. “Yeah, I’m sure. Even you called her a ‘she’.” Merlin told him. Arthur looked at him thoughtfully. “What?” “Why don’t you share the front seat with me, there’s plenty of room and then I don’t have to break my neck to talk to you.” Merlin faltered for a second, surprised at the offer. Finally he nodded and managed to squeeze himself into the front of the car. Arthur parted his legs enough that Merlin, being as skinny as he was had enough seat to sit on. He leaned forward awkwardly but was silently happy with the development. “Merlin, what are you doing? Lean back will you. You’ll hurt yourself like that.” Merlin looked back over his shoulder. “I didn’t think-” “Look, I told you not to think. C’mere.” Arthur wrapped a hand around Merlin’s stomach and pulled him flush against his chest. Merlin could feel the heat rising in his cheeks and the rest of his body. Arthur felt firm, warm and very comfortable against his back. “See, much more comfortable.” Arthur whispered near his ear. Merlin tried not to moan. If his mind had now just developed a new fantasy for him to think on, well, he wasn’t going to admit to it. And the fact that Arthur’s hand stayed firmly across his stomach, well, he wasn’t going to object to that either. He couldn’t help the content smile that pulled at his lips.
They travelled for a while like that, Merlin practically lying on Arthur, with Arthur’s arm wrapped around him. They didn’t really know where they were going but neither questioned the robot, neither thought it strange that they trusted it that easily. It was Arthur that finally broke the silence. “Why is it that this robot or whatever it is, is really powerful, super advanced and what not but insists on changing into a shit Beetle?” Tyres screeched as the car jolted to a halt. At some point they had joined a bigger road and a few cars behind them beeped their horns in annoyance. Merlin and Arthur had barely enough time for a shout of surprise as they were thrown out of the car to land heavily on the ground. The Beetle slammed its door shut, spun its wheels once more and drove in a u-turn and away. Merlin carefully sat up from where he had landed. “I am going to have so many bruises.” He hissed quietly. He watched as he saw the rear lights of his car drive away. He growled in anger. “Great, Arthur! You just pissed off the big, scary robot, which has now stranded us. I hope you know where we are because I don’t, and right now, I really want to go home.” Merlin was surprised that he had become so moody, but he decided he had had a bad day and was allowed a bit of anger. Arthur looked at him with wide eyed surprise. “Wow, ok, breathe.” He gingerly stood up and looked around, Merlin carefully stood up beside him. Neither boy saw the old Beetle drive past a new one. With a quick flash the body work changed shape. The brand new, sportier, shiny Beetle performed a u-turn once more before driving up beside the boys. Both of them gaped at the new model Beetle. “That’s one hell of a make over.” Merlin whispered with wonder. He ran his hand gingerly over the new paintwork. Arthur eyed the car carefully. “Not a bad job. Big improvement.” He stood beside Merlin. “Still a Beetle though.” The passenger door swung open and whacked him on the arse. “Ow! Sorry, sorry. Ok, I get it. Gee, if you were human, I’d say it was hormones. Merlin, your car is definitely female!” Merlin just grinned and patted the car as if it were a dog. The earlier ease that they had shared was broken, it would have been uncomfortable if they had tried seat sharing again. Merlin decided he would sit back in the driver’s seat again. At least it wouldn’t look odd if anyone noticed no one was at the wheel. Arthur climbed in beside him and the new Beetle drove off once more.
Chapter 10 The sky was as black as tar, apart from the blue halo that hung around the full, glowing moon. A shade similar to Merlin’s eyes, Arthur had thought and then had mentally kicked himself for even thinking such a thing. The stars twinkled brightly, each sign clearly visible and many others only visible as they were away from any bright light. The Beetle had come to a stop in what appeared to be open countryside. Both boys had climbed out, not really knowing why. Merlin had walked over to a nearby gate which he leaned against while gazing up at the sky, a dopey smile on his face. Arthur had watched him, taken in his profile, as his skin almost glowed in the moonlight. Arthur had never believed in magic or faeries or anything of that kind, right until this moment. Merlin looked otherworldly and stole Arthur’s breath away. Finally, Merlin realised he was being watched. He turned to see Arthur staring at him, his face worryingly neutral. Arthur was much better at hiding his emotions than Merlin, who may as have gone around with a big, flashing neon sign over his head saying how he felt. “Arthur?” Arthur slowly looked down at Merlin’s hands which were gripping the gate. He carefully raised his hand as if he was approaching an animal with very sharp teeth that was likely to bite him. He gently placed his hand over Merlin’s. “Wha-” Arthur raised his other hand in a signal of silence. “I’ve never- I mean, I don’t-” His voice slightly cracked and husky but to Merlin it was the sweetest sound he had ever heard. He smiled at Arthur and turned fully towards him. “It’s ok.” He whispered back. With his own free hand he gently moved a wisp of hair away from Arthur’s face. For a moment they just stared at each other, then slowly, Merlin moved towards Arthur until their bodies touched. He could swear he could feel sparks between them. His skin tingled as if he was static. They moved together until their lips were only a breath apart. Just at the last moment, Merlin let his eyes all closed and then… nothing. Merlin opened his eyes again in surprise, wondering what had just happened to find Arthur looking away from him, even though he physically hadn’t moved. Merlin frowned as he looked at the rugby player he was practically stuck to. Then he noticed the golden glow that seemed to light Arthur up. He frowned more until he turned his head in the same direction Arthur was looking. High in the sky, four meteors were hurtling towards Earth, surrounded by golden flame as they raced through the atmosphere. As the boys watched, the four objects sailed over their heads. They looked at each other, then ran back and climbed into the Beetle which raced off at a dangerous speed. It seemed the ‘others’ that the robot had contacted had arrived. -x-
The first to touch ground waited for a moment before unfolding itself and stood up. It looked around cautiously before seeing a nearby building. Striding over to it and looking through the giant glass windows it quickly saw a vehicle it liked the look of. With a flash that raced across its body, it folded itself into a replica of a black Range Rover sport. The next to land, found itself next to a hospital. Slowly and carefully, it uncurled itself, with a murmur that could have been ‘I’m getting too old for this’; it found its way to the accident and emergency area. At that moment there were no people to be seen, but there was a Mercedes ambulance nearby. Soon, there was a second that raced out of the car park. The third to land, very nearly took out a house. As it stood up, it inched around the building to be met by a small face at a window. It waved at the face before spotting the car on the drive. A new Buggatti Veyron raced down the street before the little boy ran into his parents’ bedroom. “Mammy, daddy, I saw a big alien! It landed in the garden! And it waved at me!” His parents were already awake as they had heard the meteor crash. They ignored their happy and awestruck son as they both ran down the stairs and looked outside. “Oh my- Look at the garden, Dai!” The mother yelled. “Oh thank god!” The father rushed over to his car to check that it was intact. The mother walked back over to him and slapped him. “Well I hope that teaches you to not leave that bloody thing on the drive. Anyway, you can sell it now to fix the garden!” The father pouted and looked at his car longingly. The last to land, and also the biggest, hit Earth right next to a lorry training depot. Parked on the curbs were various lines of lorries. Checking each one, a Volvo Globetrotter XL was finally chosen. The large red lorry drove away from the depot, while the sleeping drivers didn’t realise anything had occurred. -xThe Beetle drove faster than it ever had before, and the boys were slightly worried about their lives, until it pulled to a stop. They both climbed out to see… not a lot. They appeared to be in a car park that was completely deserted. They looked around wondering what they were doing when they heard a rumble of engines coming closer. They both watched as four new vehicles rolled in. Merlin gasped as the large lorry stopped mere inches away from him. As they had driven in, Merlin had clearly noticed the large golden dragon emblazoned down the side of the red lorry. As he gazed up at it, the lorry began to transform. Finally, there was a robot standing in front of him that was bigger than the Beetle. It made Merlin feel rather insignificant. The giant red robot knelt down on one knee and lowered itself down to Merlin the best he could.
“Are you Merlin Reginald Emrys, descendant of Benedict Emrys?” Merlin winced at the use of his middle name and implicitly ignored the snort of laughter that came from Arthur’s direction. “Uh, yes.” He managed, his neck still straining to look at the robot. “We are autonomous robotic organisms from the planet Albion. I am King Uther, leader of the Camelotians. These are my closest and best fighters.” King Uther paused in his introduction as Merlin looked around at the assembled vehicles. Then his eyes locked on Arthur. He had sprawled himself across, what looked like a very nice sports car. Merlin couldn’t say as he was no expert on cars but Arthur was practically drooling. “Arthur, please put the car down.” Merlin was at a loss of what to say otherwise. “But it’s a Buggatti Veyron!” Arthur… whined? Merlin was a little startled at that. “This car is sex on wheels! I would never get a chance to even so much as look at one of these in real life, let alone own one.” Merlin gave him an unimpressed look. Arthur sighed. “It’s wasted on you, you clearly don’t understand. You are such a girl.” Merlin turned back to the robot leader and apologised. Uther seemed to be amused by the moment. “That is my first lieutenant, Owain.” The Buggatti shifted and changed into a robot smaller than the Beetle. “So you’re the boys that will save us, like?” Merlin was a little taken aback by the accent that sprang from the newly arrived robot. “He’s Welsh? How is that possible?” “Everything we know about this planet, including its languages and dialects came from the world wide web.” “Wow, you really can learn everything from the internet.” Merlin replied in wonder. Uther nodded and continued, “My weapons specialist, Pellinore.” The Range Rover changed into a well built robot, armed and ready to go. “Show me the bad guys!” He growled. Merlin flinched as the gun Pellinore had was aimed at him. “Pellinore, stand down.” Uther stated firmly. The robot dramatically slumped. “Sorry, I just wanted to show off my guns.” If Merlin hadn’t known any better, he would have said the robot was sulking. He could almost see a pout. He was amazed at how much expression he could see on each metallic face. “This is our physician, Gaius.” The bright yellow ambulance slowly unfolded itself
and stood up carefully. Merlin got a sense that this robot was a little older than the others. “How curious. Both boys pheromone levels are exceptionally high which suggest they wish to mate with each other.” Both Merlin and Arthur turned a bright shade of red and couldn’t even look at each other. Merlin couldn’t help but smile a little though. It seemed Arthur did want him after all. “I didn’t realise that such a thing occurred. It is not for propagation reasons. I will have to research more into this matter.” “Oh, you don’t have to do that.” Merlin blurted out. “But I think I do.” Gaius told him, seemingly unaware of how uncomfortable both boys were. “It is highly fascinating.” He turned away, possibly to do more ‘research’. Merlin turned back to Uther. “We know you have already met your guardian, Morgana.” The Beetle quickly transformed. “Don’t ’cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me, don’t ‘cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me, don’t cha, don’t ‘cha.” The song blasted from the radio as Morgana danced around, while Owain and Pellinore seemed to be VERY interested. “Morgana, please stop teasing my team.” Morgana’s music silenced but she posed with her hand on her hip, waiting for what else Uther had to say. “Her voice unit was broken during battle, as of yet we have been unable to fix it.” A small laser from Gaius focused on Morgana’s throat area but seemed to do very little. The physician sighed. Morgana huffed. Merlin smiled. “I knew she was a girl.” Gazing at her in comparison to the others it seemed more obvious she was a girl. She definitely had curves where the others did not. “Trust you to have a female car.” Arthur told him mockingly. Merlin turned to the Beetle. “So you’re my guardian?” The robot nodded eagerly. “I think we owe you a lot already. Thanks.” He looked back at Uther. “So what are you guys here for anyway?” “A long time ago, on our planet, there was the greatest power to ever exist, known as the water of life. We have followed signals from the sphere, to Earth. We are here to find it before Nimueh does. Nimueh is the leader of the Avalonians. She wants the power to destroy everything. It is because of Nimueh, that our world has been destroyed. We are seeking the sphere to return life to our planet. We believe Nimueh followed the sphere to Earth, where Benedict, your ancestor found her. But Nimueh crash landed before she could find the sphere. When Benedict found her, he must have accidentally activated her navigation system. The co-ordinates to the sphere imprinted themselves onto the compass.”
“Wait.” Merlin interrupted. “How do you know about the compass?” “EBay.” Uther replied. “Who would have guessed?” Arthur shrugged. “Maybe your stupid sale had something going for it after all.” Merlin glared at him. Arthur simply smirked in return. Gaius was the next to speak. “If the Avalonians find the sphere, they will be able to create new soldiers from Earth’s machines. They will destroy everyone.” Uther looked as grave as a robot could. “The human race will become extinct. Earth will be destroyed just as Albion has. You hold the key to the salvation of the human race and the future of your planet, Merlin Emrys.” Arthur turned to him, grabbing him by his biceps. “Please tell me you haven’t sold that compass.” Merlin had never been more afraid or overwhelmed in his life.
Chapter 11 The plane flew steadily above Europe. The soldiers on board where more than happy to be heading home. Robyn was now stable in the medical section of the plane. Captain Du Lac and Sergeant Green were inspecting the tooth that they had recovered, along with some of the crew of the plane. Looking closely, it was clear to see that the thing wasn’t smooth as previously thought, but each metal section that it was made from was tipped in a sharp barb. “Can you see this here?” The field scientist pointed out some damage on the metal with a pointer. It looked like it had been melted through. “Some of the rounds must have hit it here, but this doesn’t look fresh, it’s almost as if it’s… healing.” Lance frowned in confusion. “How can it heal? It’s a robot, it’s made of metal.” The scientist shrugged, clearly as perplexed as the captain. They both leaned in for a closer look, when the metal plates stood up right suddenly and nearly pierced their chests. “Oh my god!” Gawain yelled at it. Lance and the scientist had managed to pull away just in time. All of them stood staring at the thing as it eventually settled down, the barbs lying flat once more. “It’s a tooth for god’s sake. It’s not supposed to have a life of its own.” Gawain eyed the thing suspiciously. “That thing is evil.” Lance glared at it. “Didn’t we use high heat rounds?” He asked the sergeant without taking his eyes away from the killer object. “Yeah, those things can melt through tank armour.” Gawain agreed. “Well, it looks like the only things that can touch whatever these things are. Keep that in mind.” Gawain nodded. While they continued to examine the tooth, they all stayed a good distance back. -xGwen stared at the wall opposite her. This was not what was supposed to have happened at all. She always thought she may get arrested one day, but she had always thought it would be for her hacking. This seemed a little… pathetic. “Now, don’t you worry dear. I will have this all sorted out.” The old Dragon patted her hand just as two police men walked in. One of them threw a manila envelope onto the table and looked at both parties. “This has nothing to do with me. I’m an old man; I don’t understand why you have brought me here. It’s her you want.” Dragon pointed at Gwen accusingly, who was sat staring at him open mouthed as he blurted his case. “Well, thank you very much I’m sure. I don’t know why I ever asked anything of you, I just don’t believe- well maybe I should have- I just- oh.” She fell silent in disbelief. The Dragon gave a large smile, his amber eyes glinting.
“Self preservation, my dear Guinevere.” “Well, you were the one who hacked into the file.” She looked pleadingly at the agents who stood in front of her. “We need to talk to someone. Ok, I admit I copied the file, but there was something hidden in the coding. Information. There was something about a Captain Emrys and something called UNICORN. This is more than anyone can imagine. Someone needs to know before we go to war against the wrong country.” -x“I don’t know Barbara. It all seems a little suspicious to me.” Hunith murmured down the phone as if she was whispering secret information, despite the fact that the house was empty. She listened intently as her friend replied, “A plane? I don’t think so. It was like all those aliens and things back in the forties. A government conspiracy, a cover up if you ask me. They never tell the truth, these politicians. It wouldn’t surprise me if they cover this up too. Just you wait and see.” She looked up at the clock that hung over the fireplace, its black hands meticulously ticking away. Merlin should be back soon. It was nearing eleven and he knew he had to be back by then. She would ground him if she had to. Rules were rules after all, they were there for a reason and she would stick to them. Hunith knew that her son was growing up but this was her house and she couldn’t let him come and go willy nilly. She would never keep her nerves like that. She worried about him enough as it was. She didn’t want to feel that he was being wrapped in cotton wool, but sometimes she found it so hard to let go. Keeping Merlin in was like trying to hold water in her hand. Somehow it all slipped away, no matter what she tried. She loved her son dearly and she would hate for him to get hurt or in trouble. The whole police fiasco was enough. Hunith didn’t think she could deal with another turn like that. Her Merlin on drugs. What had they been thinking? He was a good boy. She sighed heavily as she said goodbye to her friend on the phone and returned it to its cradle to charge. “Oh come on, Merlin. Don’t make me worry. This is getting late, even for you.” She sat back into the sofa and held a cushion to herself, until Magic jumped up on the sofa and mewed at her longingly. She smiled and put the cushion back into place then tapped her leg. “Here, puss. There’s a good girl.” The black cat settled onto Hunith’s lap with a loud purr, Hunith turned her attention back to the clock, hoping her son would stroll in with a big grin on his face, apologetic, but ok. She stroked the cat a little nervously. -xThe line of vehicles drove carefully down the back road behind the houses. Merlin had been very specific on that. The neighbours were nosey enough. To see a line of such odd vehicles would have certainly had tongues wagging. Merlin climbed out of Morgana and turned to Arthur as he got out the other side.
“Can you stay here and watch this lot? Make sure they stay out of trouble and stay hidden. I’ll go and find the compass and be right back.” Arthur nodded and Merlin ran off towards the house, planning on sneaking in, grabbing the compass and getting out as fast as possible. Hopefully, without his mother knowing. -xMagic yowled loudly. Hunith stroked the cat with a smile. The strange feline only sounded like that when Merlin came home. It was almost as if Magic was psychically connected to her son. Hunith stood up and walked to the door in the kitchen, knowing Merlin always came in that way, and met her son just as he reached for the door. “Hi mum.” So much for sneaking in. He grinned brightly but Hunith knew her son well. She knew that look in his eyes, he was hiding something from her. “Don’t you ‘hi mum’ me, young man.” Hunith crossed her arms over her chest. Merlin’s grin dropped, instead looking very guilty, he glanced at his watch and cringed. “I’m sorry I’m late.” His mother raised a knowing eyebrow at him, she was not going to let him off easily. “So you should be.” “I am, I really am. I didn’t mean to stay out so long, I just… got distracted and I’m here now aren’t I? Look, I’ll even make it up to you. I’ll weed the whole garden and take out the rubbish for a month. I’ll even do the washing up.” Hunith looked at him suspiciously, then carefully laid her hand across his forehead. “What are you up to? It’s not like you to offer to do chores.” Her eyes narrowed on him. Out of the corner of his eye Merlin saw Uther stand upright, his head and shoulders above the trees. The robot turned towards him and began to climb over the greenery. “Um, nothing.” Merlin squeaked as panic hit him, praying that his mother didn’t see. “I just, love you so much, mum. You’re so good to me. Really, you’re the best.” Hunith smiled just as brightly as Merlin had. Morgana peeked her head around the corner of the house; she appeared to be giggling at what Merlin was saying. Merlin began to wonder where the hell Arthur had got to, as all the robots began trampling through the garden, following in their leader’s wake. Merlin thought his heart was about to escape from his throat. “That’s so sweet of you to say so, love. But don’t think you’re off the hook.” “No, I know. I’ll be in in a minute.” Hunith smiled and moved back into the house with Merlin yelling ‘love you’ after her. Neither of them noticed Magic had slipped out. He pulled the door shut with a huff of relief and turned to face the garden, ready to start a new battle. “What the hell are you doing? I told you to stay over there, oh no, don’t oh… mum’s roses. She’s going to kill me.” Merlin winced as his
mother’s pride and joy got trampled by heavy metallic feet. “Oops sorry.” Pellinore murmured as yet more of the garden was trampled and he looked down as if noticing it was there for the first time. “Just stand still!” Merlin yelled his hands frantically pulling at his hair. All the robots comically froze in place. Merlin sighed, rolling his eyes. “Now, just wait here while I try and find the compass. I can’t do that if you’re down here making a racket. Please leave the rest of the garden in tact.” “Sorry.” Uther told him, sounding far from apologetic. “Ugh, what is that monster?” Merlin turned to look at Pellinore who was aiming his guns at the small black cat that was hissing and howling for all she was worth. “You have a rabies problem in the area.” Merlin ran to the cat and picked her, trying to sooth her and ignored the painful scratches she left down his chest. “No! Put the guns away. This is Magic. She’s my cat. My pet. And she doesn’t have rabies.” Pellinore grumbled as he turned away, “Looked like a monster to me.” Merlin shook his head in disbelief and turned and ran into the house, taking Magic with him. The last thing he needed was for the cat to get trampled too. Uther turned to the group of robots that had begun inspecting the garden again. “Recon.” He told them firmly. All of them nodded and began inspecting the house as well as the garden. -xMerlin ran up to his room and inspected the mess. He couldn’t see the compass anywhere. He ran his fingers through his hair as he started to panic. For once he really did wish he had kept the place tidy. “Hi.” Merlin jumped as Arthur crawled through the window, helped by Uther. “They really want that compass of yours.” He stated simply before glancing around the room. “Wow Merlin, have you never heard of cupboards?” Merlin blushed. “Well, if I knew you were dropping in I would have tidied up a bit obviously.And where the hell have you been? I told you to watch them and now they’ve trashed mum’s garden.” Arthur held his hands up defensively. “Well, sorry for not being able to stop house high robots. I’m not superman you know.” Merlin gave a sigh that suspiciously sounded like ‘prat’ and began searching through all the stuff on his desk. “Look, why don’t you look over that side of the room, while I check this side.” Arthur nodded and they both set to work. Arthur ducked under the bed. “Oh hello. Porn stash Merlin?” He held up a copy of Attitude that Merlin had hidden under the bed. The one that just happened to have the fit blonde, that very much resembled Arthur, on the front cover. Merlin turned a fetching shade of red.
“Um- I –uh.” Arthur smiled. “Hey, it’s ok. We all have them. Perhaps not Attitude but-” He paused thoughtfully, inspecting the cover. “Do you think he looks like me?” He held the magazine up again. Merlin looked away. “Well- I – uh don’t think I could say.” Arthur smiled. He knew exactly what Merlin was thinking and secretly he was rather flattered. Then Merlin spun around to face him and nearly fell over some of the clothes that were on the floor. “My back pack. Can you see my back pack?” Arthur scanned the room quickly. “No, why?” “I put the compass in there.” “Well, it’s got to be somewhere, despite the fact that your room looks like it could hide the Titanic or something in here..” “Oh shitshitshit!” Merlin hissed. If only he could remember where he had left the sodding thing. He couldn’t think under this pressure. He placed his hands against his head in a futile attempt to help himself think better. Unnoticed by the boys in their search, a pair of blue eyes peeked out of Arthur’s jacket pocket, it watched the events briefly before tucking themselves away. It wasn’t the right time yet. “Calm down, Merlin. You’ll burst a blood vessel like this.” Arthur said half serious. Merlin was pulling at his hair with his eyes closed tightly; trying to remember what he had done with his back pack. He opened his eyes and glanced out of the window. “Oh god! When I said don’t move I didn’t mean turn the garden into a sleazy truck stop! Mum’s going to kill me!” He turned back to the room, watching as Arthur continued to look around and through his stuff. If he wasn’t so concerned about finding his compass, he may have thought that was a little intimate, but then again if he wasn’t looking for the bloody thing, Arthur wouldn’t be in his room to begin with. A blessing in disguise then. “You need to hurry.” Uther’s booming voice at the window made Merlin jump. “We need the compass.” Merlin span round to face the leader of the Camalotians. “I know! I know! Just give me ten minutes, ok. Just ten minutes, so I can think.” Uther sighed and nodded. “Just be quick.” Outside, the vehicles were back in robot form and were wandering again. They couldn’t help their interest with the planet, curiosity was getting the better of them. Gaius began studying what was left of the flowers with great concentration, until his knees gave out on him and he fell forwards landing heavily on the ground. This in turn broke the water pipe, the electrics and managed to take the phone line down too.
“Wow. That was more fun than I’ve had in years, you should try it.” He told Pellinore, lying in a tangle of wires, and debris while water sprayed over him. Pellinore, who was far from impressed, snorted and turned away. From his position on the ground, Gaius could see that Owain had somehow ascended the wall and was now moving across the roof, dislodging some of the tiles as he went. Inside Hunith panicked. “An earthquake?” She managed as she felt the ground shudder. She heard the tiles clattering off the roof even as the room plunged into darkness. Her first thought was to get to Merlin. She navigated the front room and found her way into the kitchen and into the drawer where she kept a torch for such emergencies. Switching it on she gave a sigh of relief as she was able to see again and made her way upstairs. She frowned as she noticed a bright light escaping from under Merlin’s door. She knocked on it hard. “Merlin, are you alright?” She tried the handle and found it locked. “I thought we agreed that you wouldn’t lock the door. Merlin, open the door.” Merlin heard his mum at the door and panicked. Morgana had been shining a light through the window, so the boys could still see what they were doing. “Cut the light! Cut the light!” Merlin hissed before making his way carefully to the door. Finally, to Hunith’s relief, her son opened his door, looking a little flustered. “Merlin, are you alright?” She asked, full of concern. “Yeah, I’m fine.” “Why didn’t you answer the door then?” “I was lying on the- uh- on my bed. It was dark, I didn’t want to get up and hurt myself.” “Well, if you tidied your room up. Merlin, are you alright? You’re a funny colour… Oh gosh, I didn’t disturb you did I?” Merlin turned a shade of red a beetroot would have been proud of. “Mum, I wasn’t-” Hunith continued with a knowing smile, seeming far from embarrassed. “It’s ok dear. It’s perfectly natural for you to be masturbating. A boy your age should be. I would be more worried if you weren’t.” Merlin just wanted to be swallowed by a very large and deep hole. “Mum. Please.” He was struggling to breathe right now. “Will you let me in? I just want to check that you’re ok.”
“Not-” Hunith pushed the door open anyway. She was surprised to see Arthur sitting on the bed looking a little embarrassed from the fact that he had just been caught in her son’s bedroom, especially while mother and son had just been having ‘that’ conversation. “Uh, hi Mrs Emrys.” Arthur smiled politely. “I’m Arthur, a- friend of Merlin’s.” “Oh gosh, aren’t you a handsome boy. If only I was a little younger, but then again if you’re with Merlin then it wouldn’t matter what age I was... Oh, I’m sorry that is rather presumptuous of me.” Arthur continued to smile, despite the fact that Merlin’s mother had just given him a gay label. At least she didn’t mean it harmfully and she seemed happy enough that he was there in the first place. Most parents would have gone nuts if they had just found someone in their son or daughter’s bedroom. Plus she had called him handsome. Arthur liked Merlin’s mother already. “That’s alright, Mrs Emrys.” “Oh please, call me Hunith.” Arthur nodded. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Arthur, that you had to hear our little conversation.” “Its fine, Mrs E- Hunith.” It would make brilliant blackmail material one day. “Mum, have you seen my back pack?” Merlin asked quickly, stopping the conversation becoming any more embarrassing than it already was. “Oh, yes, it’s in the kitchen where you left it. Um- I’ll just go back downstairs. You boys be careful now.” Arthur wasn’t entirely sure what she meant by ‘careful’ exactly and quickly decided that it was probably best not to ask. Merlin looked completely mortified. Arthur gave him a friendly smile. “It could have been worse. She could have actually caught you doing it.” “Yeah. But I wouldn’t have been doing that up here with you in the room.” Merlin wasn’t sure if the small ‘pity’ he heard was actually said by Arthur, or if he had completely imagined it. After a moment of slightly awkward silence both boys headed downstairs. -xOutside, on the main road a row of black cars parked up and a group of suited men climbed out and studied the area. An old man with bright white hair and a proud if not somewhat sour face, made his way to the front door of the Emrys residence.
Chapter 12 Hunith went to the door, expecting to see a member of the electricity company, not the strange old man on the other side. He looked at her calculatingly, before finally asking, “You are Hunith Emreece?” Hunith winced, why could no-one get their name right? “Emrys. Who’s asking?” She replied firmly. “Your son is Merlin Emreece, descendant of Benedict Emreece.” The man replied without answering the question. She pulled the door a little tighter to herself. There was nothing about this man that she trusted, especially when he knew their names and seemed to be after Merlin. What had he done this time? And why was he talking about Benedict. She corrected him once more. “Emrys. Who are you?” “I am Agent Anhora. We are UNICORN.” He replied, as if that answered everything. “Never heard of you.” “We are a special sector of the government.” May we come in?” Hunith paused for a moment before widening the door, “I guess I have little choice.” “Very wise.” The old man walked in followed by his team. The men began walking around the front room. Hunith would have mentioned something about manners but these men seemed to be the sort that wouldn’t care. Anhora looked at Hunith as if she was something in a specimen jar. “Your son phoned the police last night, reporting a stolen car.” It was a statement rather than a question. “We believe this is now a matter of national security.” “National secure-” “Mum, what’s going on?” Merlin walked into the room with Arthur following closely behind. “Ah, Merlin? We will need you to come with us.” Hunith moved forward in front of her son protectively, her face a picture of anger. “He’s not going anywhere. You come storming into my house without as much as a ‘by your leave’ and now you want to take my son. I don’t think so. Not until you tell me what the hell is going on?” Merlin wasn’t sure if he wanted to be embarrassed by his mother or proud. One of the men who came in with Agent Anhora whispered by his ear. “We believe there may have been… direct contact.” Anhora’s head shot round to stare at Merlin with a look of pure delight. A sort of expression a lion would have
given before sinking its jaws into a fresh kill. “Really?” “Yes sir.” “Excuse me, madam. Young man, would you care to step forward.” Anhora was handed something that looked like a staff, it certainly wouldn’t have looked out of place in a ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie. Hunith tried to hold both of the boys back but Merlin put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and did as was requested. “What are you guys after anyway?” Anhora held up the staff and then gasped. “We’ve never seen levels this high. Bring them all.” “What! What are you-” Anhora turned away as the men all closed in and cuffed Merlin while also grabbing Arthur, Hunith and even Magic who howled and spat while she was picked up by the scruff of her neck. “Don’t you dare hurt my cat!” Hunith yelled at the man, murder in her eyes if he did any more than hold on to the furious feline. The man didn’t look too impressed about his job either. Arthur looked like he wanted to go on a violent rampage and Merlin didn’t doubt for a second that he couldn’t give a few of the guys at least a broken nose, but considering that he was only being held rather than in cuffs like himself, they either didn’t think he was a threat or hoped that Merlin was enough to keep him controlled. As their eyes met, Merlin gave him a reassuring smile, grateful that he was keeping that anger in check. Merlin realised that this was the second time in as many days that he had ended up in handcuffs. It was definitely not a good week. They were all bustled out to the cars outside and were shoved in none too gently. Arthur and Merlin were pushed into the same car, while Merlin had no idea where his mother was taken. As they drove away with no idea where they were going, Merlin slipped into a fitful doze, not having slept much, with all the goings on that had happened. It had all been a little too much for him. -xWhen Merlin awoke once more, it was still dark. The first thing he realised though, was that he was surprisingly comfortable. As reality slowly sank back in he jolted upright, realising exactly why he was comfortable. Arthur looked at him with a slightly amused smile. Merlin went bright red and was glad that it was dark. Arthur’s shoulder had clearly been a very comfy place to fall asleep on. Merlin had felt safe there, he didn’t mention the fact he could still feel Arthur’s arm wrapped around his waist. It helped lessen the strain on his back where it curved around his handcuffed arms. “Uh… sorry.”
“It’s ok. At least you didn’t drool down my shoulder.” It was meant to lighten the mood but his tone was too kindly for it to be too mocking. “Ah, welcome back to the land of the living.” Anhora stated as he turned back to face the boys. “You are Merlin Reginald Emrys?” “Shouldn’t you have checked that before you dragged me out like a criminal?” Merlin replied coldly. Anhora continued on undeterred, “You are eBay user Magic_man69, are you not?” “It was a miss-type.” Merlin winced; he wanted to pinch the top of his nose to help ease the headache that was quickly developing. He hated the fact that his hands were behind him. “Is this your mobile phone?” Anhora pressed a button on the phone he held. “Ok, if someone finds this, I’m probably dead. I chased my car and it turned into a robot.” Arthur sighed and looked out of his window. “Yeah, that sounds like Magic_man69 alright.” Merlin briefly wondered why Arthur had used his eBay name, but didn’t dwell on it. “You told the police that your car… stood up?” The old man stated with a hint of curiosity. “No, what I said was that, uh… my car was stolen, but then, it came back so everything was ok.” “Not that it came back by itself or anything.” Arthur interjected, quickly realising what Merlin had said would sound like to the agent. “Coz you know, that only happens in movies and stuff.” “And would be totally weird.” Merlin agreed. “And impossible.” Arthur finished with a semblance of a laugh. Merlin gave a feeble chuckle. “So, do you young men believe in aliens?” Anhora cut off the laugh, his voice far too serious. Merlin tried to look sceptical. “What? As in Independence Day, War of the Worlds that kind of stuff? Hardly.” “It’s all just a big government cover up.” Arthur said darkly, glaring at Anhora. “Don’t you get smart with me, young man. Not when your Uncle’s parole is coming up.” “Parole?” Merlin turned to look at Arthur. He nearly objected to the fact that the blonde suddenly pulled his arm away.
“It’s nothing.” Arthur told him sharply. “Nothing. You were in a lot of trouble. You see Merlin, this one has his own little cover up, he has very own juvenile criminal record.” “What?” Merlin’s eyes grew wide at this new bit of knowledge. Arthur looked at him guiltily as he started to explain, “You know I said my uncle was really into cars and stuff? Well, it was usually other people’s cars. My uncle has brought me up since I was a baby. I was too young to be left behind so he always brought me with him. And I sort of became a bit of a rebel.” Anhora snorted, “A bit?” “I, uh… stole a few things myself, for my uncle. I just… I don’t know, wanted his approval or something, wanted him to see that I was worth keeping around, that I was useful. Not just a kid he had dumped on him and he had to put up with. He always said I found the best stuff.” Merlin watched Arthur as he gazed out of his passenger window. His hair glowed in the orange light of the motorway. “I’m not proud of what I did.” “Huh, you’re nothing but a dirty criminal.” Anhora sneered. “You should have been properly punished. Your age was no excuse.” Anhora only had a moment to see Merlin’s eyes go wide before the car jerked to a painful halt, tyres squealing, and then was dragged up into the air. With creaking and tearing metal the car returned to earth with a bone jerking drop. All four people in the car looked up. Merlin and Arthur grinned. “Gentlemen.” Merlin leaned forward on the seats. “I would like to introduce you to my friend here.” He looked up again, his grin only growing. “This is King Uther.” The two other men in the car slowly stood up. “Wow, he’s big.” Anhora whispered. Uther lowered himself to their level. “You should not have taken the boys.” He growled out. “There are protocols in place.” Anhora stated. “I can only make contact with you to say I cannot make contact with you.” Uther snorted. He seemed far from impressed. “You do not look surprised to see me.” The old man simply shrugged. Arthur climbed out of the car and then helped Merlin out, holding onto him for a moment. “Look, before we go any further. The only reason I was given a record was because I wouldn’t give any information on my uncle. After that…” He sighed heavily. “I already had a record so I gave them a reason for me to have it. I’m far from proud of what I did-” “It’s ok. Honest. You had your reasons. I just wish… maybe you could have told me.
Perhaps that’s a little presumptuous of me. We haven’t known each other that long. But really, it’s ok.” Arthur gave him a guilty smile. Anhora and the driver climbed out of the torn car. The car that had been following behind them had stopped and the men also got out, all of them stared up at Uther. Then the other Camelotians arrived and the men all turned to look at them as well. They all pulled their guns from their holsters, not sure which robot to target first. “Owain, relieve them of their weapons.” Owain clearly had something like a magnet, as all the guns flew to his hand. Arthur grinned then turned to face the now weaponless men. “Everyone line up!” He barked at them, shouting orders like a pro. Merlin was impressed. The men grudgingly lined them up and found handcuffs placed on each of them as they were chained up together. They did not dare argue while they were being watched by the robots that towered over them. Carefully, Arthur linked them all up, leaving Anhora where he was. Merlin wandered up to the elderly agent. “What is this all about anyway?” Anhora gave a smile. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” Merlin tilted his head thoughtfully. “Alright then. What’s UNICORN stand for? Isn’t it a rather unusual name for a government group?” Anhora studied the young man in front of him before finally saying, “United Nations Investigations Concerning Organic Robots.” Merlin thought for a moment. “Hang on; what does the ‘N’ stand for?” “None of your business.” Merlin gave a sarcastic smirk. “Yeah yeah, very funny. Did you come up with that yourself?” Arthur moved back over to Merlin and showed him the key to his cuffs. “I’ve got a good mind to leave you in them though.” Arthur told him with a smirk that was downright dirty. Merlin raised an eyebrow. “Oh?” “You seem to get into less trouble this way and I know exactly where you are.” Merlin rolled his eyes. He was fairly sure that wasn’t what Arthur was thinking but the blonde was hard to read. The fact that Arthur was practically breathing down his neck as he unlocked the cuffs certainly didn’t help Merlin’s libido though. Arthur moved over to Anhora. “Take the suit off.” Anhora’s eyes went wide. “What?” “You heard me. A man in a suit has power. No suit, no power. And I would never take orders from a half dressed man. Off.” Anhora slowly complied.
“Damn kids. No respect for their elders.” Finally he handcuffed Anhora around the nearest lamp post and fixed the others too him. Merlin was trying not to laugh hysterically about the bright pink boxer shorts complete with a white unicorn the old man was wearing. Merlin and Arthur walked away smirking. “We need to contact everyone.” Anhora hissed from the side of his mouth to the agent that was handcuffed to him. “Don’t worry, sir. They already know. My phone is on speaker in my pocket.” “Good man.” “Sir.” -xOnce Uther could see the boys were alright, he turned to his team. “Everyone, move out!” The robots all transformed back into their vehicles and began racing away. Uther picked the boys up and began running, just as helicopters began to fly onto the scene. With his enormous stride he quickly outran them. Following the road, they quickly came across a bridge that expanded across a wide river. Merlin managed to recognise it as the Severn Bridge. Uther swung himself over the side and underneath leaving Merlin and Arthur staring down at the flowing water underneath. “Steady now.” Uther muttered to them. “Shitshitshit.” Arthur murmured under his breath. Merlin looked up at him worriedly from his perch. “Arthur, are you alright?” “Heights, not good with-” He didn’t manage to finish the sentence as his hands, from shaking so much, slipped and not being able to grab onto anything else, he slid from Uther’s shoulder. Merlin launched himself forwards without a thought and grabbed Arthur before he fell. “God Merlin, don’t let me fall! Please don’t let me fall!” Arthur begged, his eyes wide with fear. Merlin had never seen Arthur look so afraid and would never have imagined the blonde would have been afraid of anything until now. Merlin clung onto him with as much strength as he could muster but he could feel Arthur slipping from his grip and then he felt his own feet slipping. He shut his eyes, hoping that he could hang on but his jeans were too slippery against the smooth metal. Both boys fell. Uther tried to grab them but missed. Their fall came to a sudden halt as they were grasped by solid metal. Merlin looked up to see that Morgana had grabbed them. She had climbed down the side of the
bridge and had swung across using some sort of cable which she now climbed up and back onto the road. Then the boys were flung into the air once more as something wrapped around Morgana’s wrist and pulled, jerking her around. When Merlin got up off the floor he could see the helicopters had caught up with them and were now capturing Morgana. He screamed as another cable connected to their guardian and swung her round just as another helicopter fired another cable which wrapped around her legs and pulled her down. “Morgana!” Merlin yelled and tried to run towards her as a fleet of cars turned up. Men came and grabbed both he and Arthur. Not that Arthur had managed to move much from the shock of his fall. Merlin managed to wriggle out of the arms of his captors and raced towards his car. He could see men surrounding her and firing what looked to be something like fire extinguishers at her. “Pleayse heeelp.” Morgana cried out to the boy as she saw him running towards her. She tried to reach out to him only to have her arm pulled back again. Merlin ran at one of the men who surrounded her. “Stop it! Stop it! You’re hurting her! Morgana fight back!” Morgana gave a sort of whining noise but did no such thing. More men ran up to Merlin and pulled him away as he struggled and fought against them, trying his best to reach the downed robot. Merlin was quickly pushed to the ground however, easily overcome, his hands once more cuffed behind his back. He growled in anger and looked up. He met Morgana’s glowing green eyes, his own filled with tears. The robot gave a soft whimper. “I’m sorry.” Merlin sobbed an apology as he was hefted off the ground and led towards the collection of cars once more. Anhora stood there with a smug smile on his face. “Surprised to see me? Thought you could get away didn’t you? Well, not this time. I have friends in high places.” He smiled at the helicopters that continued to do their job. “I want that thing frozen and transported” He turned to one of the men that were with him. “I need a helicopter. There’s someone else I need to speak with.” The man nodded and walked away to carry out the instructions. “Stop this. Can’t you see you’re hurting her?” Merlin tired pleading but it fell on deaf ears. Merlin was shoved into a car once again; his last sight of his protector was to see her writhing on the ground in agony as the men continued to spray her with ice. -x“What are we going to do, Uther?” Owain asked their leader as he appeared from under the bridge. All of the men had gone. The other Camelotians had remained hidden and out of sight after seeing what was happening to Morgana. Without Uther’s orders, they could do nothing. While he was trapped under the bridge, they couldn’t reach him to find out. “We can’t leave Morgana in their hands, like.” Uther gave a heavy sigh and watched as the rest of the Camalotians approached.
“There is little we can do without hurting the humans and we swore we would not do that.” He looked down at the ground and noticed something glinting in the light. He knelt down and picked it up. It was Merlin’s compass.
Chapter 13 Bayard frowned at the man standing in front of him. “The Russians and Chinese are closing in on our bases, sir. What are your orders?” Bayard ran his fingers through his long hair in frustration. “We do nothing. Do not engage unless they strike first. We cannot afford to start a war, especially as we do not know who to blame. It would be pointless.” The man nodded and moved away. Bayard rubbed his eyes tiredly. When he looked up once more, it was to see a white haired man walk through the door as if he owned the place. “Who are you?” Before the question could be answered the whole room was in an uproar. Bayard turned and bellowed, “What the hell is going on?” One of the technicians jogged up to him. “The whole room’s gone down sir. The virus has destroyed everything.” “The virus will be world wide. There can be no communications anywhere.” The strange man told the Secretary of Defence. “You mean I can’t even pick my phone up and call home?” The man nodded. Bayard tried anyway and didn’t even get a sound out of the phone. “So, who are you?” “I am Agent Anhora, sir. I am a member of UNICORN. Under direct orders of the Prime Minister.” Bayard sniffed, far from impressed. “I’ve never heard of you.” “You wouldn’t have, sir. We are a secret organisation set up in the early 1900’s by Minister David Lloyd-George. Do you remember back in 2004, the European Space Agency sent up the Mars Express Orbitor to Mars, with it went the British lander, the Beagle 2?” “Yes. I don’t know much about it but it was deemed a failure. The Beagle 2 disappeared.” “That’s what we told them to say. It managed to film twenty seconds of footage. Here.” He placed a case he was carrying on a desk and opened it up. Inside was a laptop. Anhora quickly set it up and then found a file. Clicking on it opened a video. As the video played, it showed the red landscape of Mars and then a dark shadow loomed over it. The camera turned to see a dark silhouette against a bright sun. The footage ended. “I wouldn’t call that a failure, would you sir?” Bayard shook his head, stunned at the revelation. “This is a still of the footage.” He handed over a photo of an image that they had seen on the screen. A silhouette against a sun. “This was taken by your special ops team that has just arrived back from Iraq.” He handed over another picture. Bayard compared the two. “These are different.” He finally stated. Anhora nodded. “We believe them to be the same sort of structure, but yes, these are two separate
entities.” Bayard looked up from the photos as the meaning of what was said sank in. “There is more than one? So this could be an invasion?” “With the attack on the survivors of the Griffin base, we learned we could hurt them using high heat missiles. They know we can hurt them. They had to shut us down. We know too much and we could tell the rest of the world. That is what the virus was for. So yes, potentially, we could be looking at invasion.” “My god.” Bayard breathed. -xIt was raining as Lancelot stepped outside, Gawain beside him. Both men raised their faces, letting the water fall against their skin. “Oh, now I know we’re back home. I never thought I would be so happy to see rain.” Gawain nodded eagerly. “It can rain for a year and I wouldn’t care.” Their happiness was short lived as a man in a dark suit approached them. “Captain Du Lac. I need you and your team to come with me.” Lance gave a loud groan. “No rest for the wicked.” -xGwen was startled awake as more men walked into the room where she and the Dragon were waiting. They had yet to be officially accused of anything. She was startled further awake as the Secretary of Defence walked in with them. “I need you to come with me.” He stated simply. Gwen looked at him then at the Dragon. “It seems you are the only one with any idea what’s going on. I need you to be my advisor.” Gwen looked at him as if she couldn’t quite believe what she was hearing. “Oh… alright. But what about him?” She indicated the old man across the table from her. Bayard looked at him. The Dragon looked back, a superior smirk across his face. “Who is he?” Gwen shrugged. “I guess he’s my advisor.” Bayard looked at them both then nodded. “They both come.” He told the men. Both Gwen and the Dragon were led outside where there was a helicopter waiting for them. Gwen was surprised to find there were also two boys sitting in there already. When they all had head sets on and
Gwen had carefully looked the two over, she felt brave enough to talk. “So, why are you guys here?” The dark haired one replied as the blonde looked a little out of it. “I bought a car a few days ago. It turned out to be a giant, alien robot. I guess you just can’t make this stuff up.” Gwen nodded. “Is he ok?” Gwen asked a little concerned, as the blonde closed his eyes and let his head fall back. “He’s not very good with heights.” Gwen gave an understanding nod. “I’m Merlin by the way, this is Arthur.” He gave a cheeky smile which Gwen had to reciprocate. “I’m Gwen, and this is Dragon.” The old man nodded in a sort of mysterious way. Merlin wasn’t sure if he liked the way the man was looking at both he and Arthur with that hint of a smile. He looked like as if he KNEW things. It made him feel slightly uncomfortable. “Nice to meet you.” Merlin said finally. Gwen smiled brightly and that made Merlin feel a whole lot better. Without even thinking about it, he took Arthur’s hand and squeezed it gently just to tell him he was there if needed. Arthur’s hand flexed slightly in response. It was going to be a long flight. -xThe forest they had hidden themselves in was quiet enough, but the Camelotians were still on edge in case they were discovered. Here, they had the element of surprise. If they were found it would be possible for the Avalonians to find them. They really needed to keep the upper hand. Uther held the compass carefully, the small object looking miniscule and far too delicate in his large hand. “So that’s the thing that will tell us, like?” Owain asked quietly. “As long as it works.” Uther replied, still studying the small object. “Why are we saving these humans anyway? They have caused nothing but trouble.” Pellinore mumbled. His feet were hanging off a small cliff face as he sat gazing out at the forest. “They are still a primitive race, Pellinore. They have much to learn. Were we so different? A war was started on our own world, brother turned against brother. They are just afraid of us so react with anger and fear. They do not really understand. We need to give them that chance.” “And what about Morgana?” Gaius asked cautiously, “We surely cannot leave her where she is.” “Morgana knew what she was getting into. We will help her if we are able, but we must not hurt the humans. We must destroy the sphere before the Avalonians find
it. I will place it in my chest." “But Uther. You can’t do that. The sphere is pure, uncontrolled power. It would destroy you both.” Gaius was startled by the idea, he had no idea that their leader had been thinking of doing such a thing. “I am old, let me do it.” Uther turned to him. “I have known you a long time, old friend, but even you can see what must be done. I will not let you sacrifice yourself. Especially not for me.” “There must be some other way?” Gaius argued. Uther only nodded, “If there is then we must find it quickly.” “I can sense the Avalonians are nearby.” Owain stated. “This isn’t good.” “Alright boys. Let’s move out!” -xThe helicopter touched down on the ground and allowed the passengers to get off and then flew off again. Merlin held on to Arthur, while the blonde worked on trying to stop shaking. Merlin was surprised that he didn’t get down on his hands and knees to kiss the floor, but he did look very pale. They leaned against the bars that stopped people from falling into the sea. “Where are we?” Gwen asked looking around, noticing the large building that looked like it’s roof tiles were made of copper. Just across from it there stood a tall, metal object that didn’t seem to have any purpose. “Nothing like having a phallic symbol in the middle of the square.” Arthur murmured. He must have been feeling better if he was able to start making comments like that. “We’re in Cardiff.” Merlin finally said. “Cardiff Bay actually. That’s the Millennium Centre.” He pointed to the large building. “Alright, so what are we doing here?” That Merlin couldn’t answer. While they were all talking, no one noticed the little robot that climbed out of Arthur’s pocket and jumped into the sea behind them. -xThe Secretary followed Anhora across the plaza until they came across two soldiers standing to attention. “These are two of the men from Iraq. Captain Du Lac and Sargeant Green.” Anhora told Bayard.
“Good work men.” He told them. They both saluted. “Thank you, sir.” “LANCE!” A loud squeal from across the square had the Captain looking up in shock. He was surprised to find his arms suddenly filled with his wife. “Gwen? What are you doing here?” Her smile was radiant. “I’m working for the SoD as his advisor.” “That’s my girl. God, I missed you so much.” He held her as tightly as he could. “I thought I’d lost you.” Gwen sobbed into his shoulder. “When I heard about the attack… I… I thought the worst. “You would never loose me.” He whispered back, his voice catching in his throat. He kissed the top of her head, grateful that he could do just that. He would never tell her just how close she had come to loosing him. Merlin and the others were being led across the area by another member of UNICORN. Anhora stopped Merlin and Arthur before they could go any further. “We need you to tell us everything you know about these guys.” Merlin looked back at Arthur. “Ok. Ok if…” Anhora looked slightly taken aback. “If what?” “I want my car back and let my mum and my cat go, from wherever you’ve taken them. They have nothing to do with this.” “Sure, we can do that.” Anhora readily agreed, he had what he needed. “And.” Anhora gave a deep frown. “Arthur’s record. Needs to go. I mean completely. It never existed.” “You drive a hard bargain.” The agent told him thoughtfully. “But I suppose we can manage that.” “Good.” Merlin missed the amazed look on Arthur’s face as Anhora led them into a building nearby. -xThey followed some stairs down that led them deeper under the ground until they found themselves in a huge bunker. Anhora turned to everyone who was present. “What you see here is completely classified. Got that?” Everyone nodded. Anhora led them through to another room which opened up into a huge space. At the far
end there was a giant figure that despite the fact was covered in ice, still seemed oppressive. The deep red of the metal body reminded Merlin eerily of dried blood. “That’s… that’s Nimueh.” Merlin murmured in wonder. “RET 1. That’s what we call it.” Anhora corrected him. “RET?” Gawain questioned. The old agent turned to him. “Robotic Extra Terrestrial. Remember that.” He turned back to the frozen robot. “All the technology we have now, computers, TVs, even your Play Station, everything, we gained from that.” He pointed at the frozen robot. “Play station’s Japanese.” Merlin told him. “We sold the information on of course.” He started moving forward so the group followed him. “We believe that entering our atmosphere with the Earth’s magnetic field messed up with its direction sensors or something, which is why it crash landed here.” Bayard looked up at the robot with wonder. “But why Earth?” Merlin was looking up too, when he replied, suddenly realising what was happening and he knew all about it. “The Water of Life.” “That’s just a myth, a legend.” Bayard told the boy. Merlin shook his head. “Not to them. It’s this sphere thing, a giant source of power. That’s what RET 1 here AKA, Nimueh, that’s what the Camalotians call her, who also happens to be the herald of doom, destruction and death, was looking for. She wants to use the sphere so she can take over the universe.” He paused and looked around and noticed that Anhora wasn’t looking at him, in fact was actively avoiding his gaze. “You know where it is, don’t you?” -xMerlin looked out of the window at the giant glowing sphere. It was easily one of the biggest things he had ever seen, not including the room that it was in. The pale blue orb shimmered and pulsed slightly. The surface swirled and shifted as if it really was made of water. “We believe the sphere to be from around 10,000 BC but that’s a rough estimate. We can’t do any true carbon dating on it. When it was found under the sea, David Lloyd-George, Prime Minister in 1916 to 1922, managed to get this built around it. It has been rebuilt over the years as necessary. The combination of the thick concrete and the sea above us shields its power from the outside world and apparently these things too.” -x-
Mordred had managed to find a grate which led to a series of tubes and tunnels and had found his way into the bunker. He gazed up at Nimueh with interest before moving on his journey. He quickly found the room with the sphere in it. Creeping up to it, he gazed at the blue orb with interest until it shot out a wave at him that engulfed his metal frame. With a shudder, Mordred stood up again and found that the sphere had restored his body. The robot chuckled evilly. “Mordred has located sphere and Nimueh. Avalonians intercept.” -xA phantom jet that was flying over empty countryside banked and changed direction. “Edwin, copy and out.” A JCB revved into life before driving out of the yard where it had stayed. “Tristan reads. Moving out.” A Devastator Challenger 2 tank slowly roared into life from its stationary spot on a target field. It took the small hills easily as it made its way out. “Tauren on route.” The huge Hercules Transport was flying over the sea and continued on its course but picked up speed. “Valiant heard and understood. All hail Nimueh!”
Chapter 14 Gwen looked at the sphere with interest before turning to face Anhora. “You said that this place shields its power. What power is that exactly?” Anhora gave a slow smile and looked around the room at everyone there, Rex Bayard, his ‘advisors’, the soldiers and the two boys. “That sphere there can create life. Create more of ‘them’. Would you like to see?” Merlin and Arthur looked doubtful and the soldiers didn’t look too happy about it either but no one said no. Gwen, Dragon and Bayard had never seen one of these things beyond the frozen Nimueh in the other bunker, so were too curious. Anhora nodded, then shepherded them out of the viewing area. He led them into a smaller room where he gave them all what appeared to be sunglasses. Inside the room, in the centre, there was a clear box that reminded Merlin of something like a glorified fish tank. Wires and cables were attached to it and filled the room. Everyone filed into the room and surrounded the box. “Have you seen this?” Gawain looked across the wall and noted the deep gouges and pits in the concrete. “It looks like a giant cat got loose and caused hell in here.” “Oh hell indeed, Sergeant” Anhora agreed, “Especially when the ‘cat’ as you put it, had claws as long as carving knives.” He turned to look everyone. “Has anyone here got a gadget, a phone, a blackberry, and ipod?” Gwen reached into her pocket. “I’ve got my phone.” She handed the item over not really considering what was about to happen. “LG chocolate. Interesting. You will soon find this phone is not as sweet as you think.” He placed the phone in the box and sealed it. “The sphere’s energy gets collected and we filter it through into this box.” Anhora explained. “Put your protective glasses on if you wish to keep your eyesight in tact.” Everyone slid on the dark glasses and watched the box expectantly. Anhora pushed a button and the box filled with blue light. When the light dimmed, there was a buzzing noise and the phone suddenly sprouted legs and a head. Its eyes glowed the deep red of it’s keypad as it glared at the people surrounding it. It started running about and throwing itself against the glass. The box started to crack. When the tiny robot saw that it still couldn’t escape, small laser guns formed at its sides and it stared firing at the glass instead. “That’s horrible.” Gwen nearly shouted. “Gremlins have nothing on this guy.” Anhora said. “Look, the little demon is breaking the box.” He pressed a button again. A large shot of electricity filled the box and when the light dimmed, all that was left of the frenzied phone was a few charred pieces. “Oh well, I was thinking of getting a new phone anyway.” Gwen sighed. As they all stared at the box alarms suddenly started wailing loudly.
“We’ve been found.” Anhora stated. “They know the sphere is here.” -xMordred sneaked around the base, avoiding detection. It was the reason he had been given his role in the first place. He was a master of infiltration. With his small, slight frame he was able to blend into his surroundings, hiding behind posts, disguising himself within wires. Continuing in his stealth mode, he quickly found the control room. Inside, he knew he would find the controls to the power that controlled the pressure of the base and the controls that kept Nimueh in stasis. He knew exactly what needed to be done. Avoiding the people in the room, he managed to sneak over to the controls. Playing with switches and buttons, alarms began sounding loudly. Mordred giggled to himself. The pressure of the underground bunker would change and the men would be too busy trying to reverse it so that disaster could be averted, to notice anything else going on. As predicted, the men in the room rushed over to the panel to attempt to fix whatever the problem was before the place flooded with sea water. Mordred slinked into the shadows and watched the men acting like headless chickens before he found the stasis controls. “Lady Nimueh.” He hissed as he switched off the power that kept his leader frozen. With the alarms already going off no-one noticed that another switch had been thrown. -xIn the cavernous room that held the Avalonian leader, alarms began sounding and warning lights flashed in violent orange and red. “Defrost mode on.” A feminine voice echoed around the room. “We’re loosing RET 1” One of the men cried as they all tried to keep the robot frozen. Icicles fell and smashed to the floor. The thick ice coating the metal frame cracked and broke. Poisonous blue eyes began glowing through the ice, and finally, the robot shook her head to free herself from the ice that contained her like a cocoon. A clawed hand flexed, broke free before the arm pulled away sending huge chunks of ice flying across the room. She grabbed for the men on a platform at her head height, watching as they tried to leap away from her. The metal gangways they had been standing on crumpled in her grasp. She didn’t care whether there was a human in her claws or not. It felt good to move again. It felt good to destroy again. A loud cackle escaped her throat as she finally realised she was free. Nimueh had returned. -x-
“Take me to my car.” Merlin told Anhora firmly, grabbing his arm. “I can’t do that right now.” Angora shrugged the boy off. “She can help.” Merlin pleaded. Anhora continued to walk until Lancelot grabbed him, spun him around, thrust him against a wall and held him gun point. “I have no idea what the fuck is going on here. My base got blown up , I’ve lost the life of one of my team members and another who is in hospital. This kid says his car can help, from what i’ve seen lately, I believe him. I really suggest you give the kid his car.” He hissed at the agent. All the other members of UNICORN that were following them all pulled their guns on the captain. In turn, Lance’s team, who had all been brought to the base, pulled their guns on the agents. Merlin tired not to be embarrassed by the fact that he had to have a British soldier standing up for him but it was far more effective than anything he could manage. Anhora looked at the Captain calmly as if his life wasn’t in the balance. “I’ll give you to the count of five Captain, to take your gun away.” “Really? I’ll give you three. One…” Bayard interrupted. “I would listen to him, Agent Anhora. These guys really don’t know how to loose.” Anhora stared at Lancelot for a moment before holding his hands up in surrender. “Fine. The boy can have his car.” Lancelot lowered his gun and the rest of his team did the same. Anhora moved out of Lance’s reach. The UNICORN team led the group to where Morgana was being held. Other worldly howls filled the room and Merlin ran to the men who were trying to keep her frozen even as small zaps of electricity were shot through her body. “Stop it! Stop it!” Merlin yelled and pushed one of the men out of the way. “You can stop.” Anhora told the group that was restraining Morgana. A few men began freeing the holding cables. Everything stopped, even as Morgana continued to moan slightly. Once she realised she had been set loose she sat up, her hands glowing with her energy, ready to fire at someone. “Hey! Hey, it’s ok.” Merlin held his hands up and approached his car. “No-one’s going to hurt you.” Morgana still looked around furiously waiting to see if anything would happen. Finally, she relaxed. “Did they hurt you?” Merlin asked carefully. Morgana nodded slowly. “I always get the fuzzy end of the lollypop.” Marilyn Monroe’s voice purred out of the radio. “I’m sorry. But we need your help now.” Morgana aimed her glowing hands at the people around her clearly still upset by what they had done to her. Merlin understood and if he had the chance he would have killed them all, but right now their help was needed.
“You can ignore them. They’re not going to hurt you now. They have the sphere. They had it hidden here. They’re going to take you to it.” The robot seemed to perk up at that. She nodded happily and jumped off the platform waiting for the men to show her the way. -xIn the room that held the sphere, Morgana slowly walked towards the glowing blue orb. She stood beneath it for a moment, looking completely dwarfed by the thing. Knowing how tall she was compared to him, Merlin felt really tiny. Slowly she raised her hands to it; her palms glowed with her power just as she reached for the surface. “She looks like she knows what she’s doing.” Gawain murmured. Lance stood beside him and nodded. Where Morgana touched the sphere, the swirls became more violent as if the water that it appeared to be made of, was caught in a whirlpool. As she held it, the sphere began to shrink. The swirling became more frantic the smaller it became until Morgana could easily hold it in one hand. Carefully, she handed the sphere over to Merlin who stared at it with a mixture of wonder and horror. He could feel the power pulsing through his fingers and it frightened him. He never thought something the size of a football could make him feel like that. “I’ve never held so much power in my hands before. I literally hold something that can give life or take it.” He looked up at the soldiers. “Is this what holding a gun feels like?” Lance nodded. “Something like that.” He had to agree. Merlin stared at the glowing sphere intently, the blue glow reflected in his eyes making him seem other worldly. “I don’t like it.” He finally said, almost slurring. The pulse of power flowed through him made him feel almost dopey. If this is really what it felt like to be on drugs he was definitely glad he didn’t take any. He felt like he was loosing control and yet at the same time there was a growing need. A need for more. “And that makes you stronger than a lot of people.” Arthur told him. “Many people would kill to have power like that.” Merlin blinked at the blonde, having nearly forgotten he was there. The dopey feeling left so quickly it was almost like it hadn’t been there at all. “We need to get this to King Uther. And quickly.” He looked at Arthur and wondered if his eyes were as glazed as they felt. “Right, let’s get on with it then.” Lance agreed and moved into true Captain mode, taking over control so that everyone knew what they were doing. “Cardiff city is within walking distance but we’ll need to get there quickly. I suggest we hide the sphere there until we can get it to this King Uther. It is clear it’s not as safe here as everyone thought so we need to get it away. We will need the air force to back us up. I can see us getting into big trouble if we stay here.”
“All communications are down.” Bayard told him, none too happy about it. “Damn it! We can’t do this without them. We need to get a message to them somehow.” Lance murmured thoughtfully. “How about radio?” Anhora suggested. “There’s an old radio in the archives, maybe if we can get that to work?” “Good. That’s good.” Lance confirmed. “You need to get on with that. Merlin, I need you and Arthur to transport the sphere. Take Morgana here and head to the city. These guys will protect you.” He indicated to his team. “Mr Secretary, I suggest you remain here. I think it will be the safest place for you at this time. As were moving the sphere, I have a feeling attention will shift from here.” Bayard had to agree. “Fine. I will try and help here.” Gwen ran over to her husband and hugged him. “Please be careful.” She begged him as she placed a gentle hand to his cheek. “I will do my best.” He told her. They never promised each other anything as they understood better than most what could happen. “What shall I do?” “Help those guys out. Here you will be safe and I think they will be needing your skills. Here, take this.” Gwen gasped as she was given a hand gun. “I can’t-” “Yes you can. You may need it. Please, it will make me feel better.” Gwen nodded despite the slight tears in her eyes. Before she could think on it she pulled Lance into a kiss. “I love you.” She whispered against his mouth. “When I come back, we’ll make that baby, right.” She nodded, “That a promise?” After a moment he nodded, “Definitely.” She gave him a watery smile and pulled away. She walked back over to the Dragon. “Come on. We have work to do.” She pulled the old man with her as she followed Bayard and Anhora to wherever the radio was being kept. “Was that wise? To promise her that.” Gawain asked his friend, placing a firm hand on the Captain’s shoulder, knowing the rule they had always set themselves. “Absolutely. It gives me something to live for, and I would have promised her the world if it meant I could see her smile like that.” Gawain shoved him playfully. “Yeah, you’re getting soft in your old age.” Lance smiled. “Right everyone. Let’s get
moving. Find any weapons here that may be of use and head towards the city centre.” The soldiers watched as Morgana shifted into her Beetle form. Gawain whistled. “Now there’s something you don’t see everyday.” Merlin grinned as he patted his car and then climbed in. Arthur got into the passenger side and with a loud wheel spin, Morgana rushed to freedom, happy to get away from the horrid place.
Chapter 15 Nimueh pulled herself free of the last of the clinging ice; it fell in dangerous shards to smash into pieces at her feet. Kicking huge chunks away, she watched them smash into pieces against the walls. Men were still running away from her, screaming loudly. “Such pathetic creatures.” She sneered at them with a smirk. “So easy to break.” She grabbed some more of the metal work that surrounded her and crushed it, not caring if there was a human there or not. She grappled her way to freedom and using a glowing red ball of flame, she released it into the room. Objects blew up, fabrics began to burn, people screamed. Nimueh watched it all with a look of rapture, the flames dancing in her vibrant eyes. She had been trapped for so long; it was pure ecstasy to be able to wreak havoc on these defenceless beings. She would punish them for holding her prisoner and she would show no mercy. But first, she had to find the Water of Life. Seeing that her handiwork was complete, she twisted herself into a semblance of a fighter jet and flew out of the base. -xMorgana drove down the road as fast as she dared. Merlin could feel how tense the car seemed to be. She felt as if she was shivering in anticipation. Not that he could blame her. He wondered if she felt the same things he had when she had touched the sphere. Or was it different for them? After all, the sphere belonged to them and not humans. It was never meant for human hands. Merlin knew that much. Even now, he could feel an almost greasy feeling on his hands from where he had held the blue sphere. It just felt wrong. “How’s the sphere?” Merlin asked Arthur. He would have kicked himself for that comment alone. He couldn’t forget about the damned thing even now and it wasn’t because the bad guys were after it. His fingers itched to touch it again. He loathed it and loved it at the same time. He clung to the steering wheel more firmly and kept his eyes forward. The sooner that thing got to Uther the better. The blonde looked on the back seat where the sphere was nestled into his coat. “It’s fine.” Arthur looked back at Merlin and noticed how tense he was. His knuckles where white as he gripped onto the steering wheel, even though he wasn’t driving. His shoulder muscles were so tense, it was straining his neck. Arthur thought that if he was to tense any further he would snap. “Hey, relax.” Arthur murmured, so as not to make the brunette jump. Merlin turned to look at him, his eyes wide with panic. At that moment, Merlin looked like a spindly rabbit in headlights. “God, Arthur, I’m so scared.” Arthur’s hand wandered over to Merlin’s knee and he squeezed lightly. “Everything will be ok. Just relax. And I will be there with you all the way.” Merlin gave a strained little smile. Arthur. Ever since the beginning of this crazy escapade, the rugby captain had been a constant support. Merlin had never asked him to be
and yet here he was. Merlin could have kissed him at that moment but didn’t. Firstly, because he wasn’t sure if the action would be appreciated. He still didn’t really understand where he stood with Arthur, or if Arthur even really liked him, despite the fact that his hand was still on Merlin’s leg. Secondly, if he did, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to stop. The sphere had filled him with an excess of energy and he felt almost hyper. Kissing Arthur really wouldn’t be a good idea right now. “Thank you.” Merlin finally managed to whisper. -xOn the barrage around Cardiff Bay, Nimueh landed firmly on the bridge, cracking the stonework beneath her feet. It was a quite time of day and it didn’t seem that anyone was walking across the barrage. Looking up at a loud roar of engines, she watched a Phantom jet fly above, bank firmly and turn back. In mid-air, the plane transformed. The robot landed just as firmly as Nimueh had and bent down on one knee. “My lady Nimueh. It is good to see you again. I am sorry to say the humans are in possession of the sphere.” Nimueh snorted and her face twisted with anger. “Once again you have failed me, Edwin. I don’t know why I let you live.” “My lady is merciful.” Edwin grovelled. Nimueh sneered. “It is only because you have your uses. Now go, you know what to do.” Edwin bowed his head, jumped back into the air and flew away, knowing when to retreat. Nimueh was left to stew in her anger. She couldn’t understand why she was always left with slimy idiots like Edwin. He had never proven himself worthy of his position and she was fairly sure that he was trying to undermine her. Well, he could try. Nimueh was the far more powerful. If Edwin ever tried to turn against her, he would pay. -x“Ah, here we are.” Anhora said at last. Underneath old paperwork and general rubbish there sat an old fashioned radio system. Anhora twisted a few dials and a loud humming filled the room. “It’s alive!” The others ran over to look at the antique, giving doubtful glances to the dubious old piece of equipment. “We can use this. It still works.” The old agent told them with a grin as if he had just won the lottery. He didn’t notice the looks of worry that surrounded him. “All well and good, but where are the mics?” Gwen pointed out. “Mics? What mics?” Anhora’s smile turned into a frown. “How are you supposed to signal anybody if you haven’t got something to speak into?” Dragon told them with a knowing look. All of them groaned in annoyance.
“Well that ruins that idea.” Bayard raised his hands in defeat, sighing heavily. “Those brave men have all gone to risk their lives, two of them only boys, they are all relying on us and the Earth will be destroyed and we can’t help because we haven’t got a microphone.” Gwen began searching around the room again for anything that might be of use. “Hey, what about this?” Pulling more papers and rubbish out of the way, Gwen uncovered an old IBM screen. “What good is that?” Anhora wondered, he never had been good with computers, probably one reason why the old screen was in here in the first place. This room wasn’t so much of an archive but rather a dumping ground. Gwen picked up the screen and hefted it over to the radio. “Dragon, could you link this up to the radio?” The old hacker eyed the screen critically, “Perhaps. Is there a keyboard?” This time Anhora and Bayard joined in the search and quickly came up with a keyboard to match the old screen. Dragon clicked his fingers and set to work. “And then what?” Bayard asked, genuinely interested as to where this was going. Gwen knew this explanation was going to happen at some point. “We type in a code which passes through the radio as a tone.” “But how are we supposed to pass on a message like that?” Anhora didn’t understand any of this computer business. “Morse code. It was the old fashioned way to pass on messages. Nearly everyone knows S.O.S. All the military know Morse code as standard,” She left out the point that Lance had told her that. “In case of emergency, so that they always knew they could contact someone.” “Alright, let’s do it.” Bayard said confidently. -xAs Morgana neared the city, Merlin noticed something that made him smile. He tapped Arthur on the shoulder and pointed. The blonde looked in the same direction. A brilliant smile broke across his face. “Uther and the others.” Merlin said brightly. The tense look that had swallowed him earlier vanished like a mist in the sun. This chaos would soon be over. Arthur began to truly feel hopeful. -x-
There was a loud bang against the door and all four people turned to face the solid metal, eyes wide. “I think we’re in trouble.” Gwen whispered. The door bashed forward again, a huge dent appeared, breaking the doors open slightly. Behind the doors they heard a wild cackle. Suddenly, two round blades flew through the room, ricocheting off the walls. The four had to dodge the lethal weapons. Bayard and Anhora pulled guns from holsters and carefully moved over to the door. When they were nearing the gap they began firing. Outside they could see a pair of blue lights dancing about, dodging the bullets. Then everything fell silent. “I think we got it.” Anhora whispered quietly. Bayard paused then nodded. They relaxed, shoulders slumping and breathes released. “Right. We’re in.” Dragon said from across the room. He typed a final code on the computer. Bayard walked over to him. “Listen very carefully. Type exactly what I say.” Dragon nodded, fingers poised. -x“Sir, we have an incoming message.” One of the air force radio team called to his superior. “What’s that?” The officer replied confused, as far as he knew all communications were down. “It’s in Morse code sir.” He listened in as the message continued. “It’s an authenticated command message from Sec Dev. He wants us to send up the jets, sir.” “Right. Get to it.” -xJust as the group got back together and all of the Camelotians were following Morgana, a new enemy made itself known. A large JCB moved more quickly than it should have, dodging around other vehicles and obstructions. As it raced towards them it transformed revealing itself to be one of the Avalonians, the large fork end of the JCB became a deadly weapon. Uther noticed the incoming danger and transformed himself and turned to face the new robot. “Everyone keep going! Tristan!” Uther yelled. The other robot’s eyes narrowed in a grin of delight just before both robots clashed, sending them both flying through the air.
Tristan pushed Uther back and swung the forked weapon at him. Uther ducked and flung a punch towards Tristan. The robot was hurled back, smashing the road as he fell. He flipped himself back up and raced towards Uther once more. Uther twirled around the attack and brought his arm down hard on the bright yellow enemy’s back. Tristan went down but managed to swing his leg round and tripped Uther backwards. Tristan rolled over Uther and punched him in the face. Tristan plunged the fork forward again, hoping to smash it through Uther’s face but the King twisted himself out of the way and managed to dislodge the JCB robot. Uther managed to roll him over and stood up while Tristan rolled and stayed low. Just as Tristan pounced towards Uther, the King swung his arm upwards into his face then smashed into his midsection. As Tristan buckled forwards, a sword slid from its concealed position on Uther’s arm and he thrust it upwards into Tristan’s neck, with a viscous twist he removed the head from the shoulders. Tristan’s body slumped to the ground. The glowing eyes of the JCB blacked out. -xJust as the four in the UNICORN base began to relax once more, there was an ominous tapping noise that seemed to stem from the air vents. Three out of four pairs of eyes turned to the air vent in question. Dragon continued on with his work, trying to ignore the disturbance. Bayard and Anhora pulled out their guns once more and fired at the tube that ran across the ceiling. This time, Gwen took out her own gun that Lance had given her and fired at the noise as well. The holes left in the metal weakened it and the small robot burst through and into the room with a cry of success. The Secretary, the Agent and the advisor all continued to fire at Mordred while the crazed robot danced around the room, laughing. The robot hid himself behind a pillar to dodge the bullets sniggering to himself. “The Air Force are responding!” Dragon crowed happily. “They are sending their planes now.” “Good work.” Bayard replied while still concentrating on his own task. Just as he replied, Mordred threw two more disks at them. Once again, everyone in the room had to dodge the lethal weapons. Everyone managed except for Mordred himself, who was having so much fun watching the humans that he forgot about where he was positioned. The blades smashed into his head. “Bugger.” Mordred managed to spit before he fell apart. The people in the room gave a true sigh of relief knowing this time that their foe was well and truly destroyed.
Chapter 16 Gawain looked at the blocks that were thrust at him as if they were something unpleasant. “What. The hell. Are they?” He looked at his Captain in complete surprise. “Have you gone completely insane?” “These, my friend,” Lance waved one of the blocks, “Are short wave radios. They’re the only thing that will work at the moment.” Gawain grudgingly took the radios. “They’re not radios, they’re bricks.” He groused. “Suck it up, soldier.” Lance slapped the sergeant on the back. They had reached the main road in Cardiff and were surveying the area for a good place to hide the sphere. All of the robots had switched back into humanoid form and were now standing in wait for the next move. Morgana had changed from the car and was now holding the sphere, gently rolling it about in her hands. The tension was building. They were waiting for Uther to catch them up, knowing he would have defeated the JCB. He was a great warrior after all. It didn’t stop them worrying however. People were collecting around them, wondering what was going on, and thinking that it was a special display. The Captain was about to tell them all to leave quietly when a plane flew over head. Gawain used the radio to contact the jet. “Phantom, this is Green. We have friendlies south of orange smoke. Targets will be marked. Do you copy?” The radio only returned static. “Phantom, this is Green. Do you copy?” The jet flew below the buildings and towards the assembled robots and humans. “That’s Edwin!” Pellinore shouted. “Everyone down.” Both he and Gaius grabbed a nearby empty truck, pushing it up onto its back tyres, the only thing that could give them any sort of cover. “Please say you copy.” Gawain tried again, hoping that it was just the old technology failing. The jet fired at the group. The world became a mass of pain, light screaming and dirt as Merlin hit the ground once more. Curling up and trying to breathe became a struggle. As the pain ebbed he felt a hand grip his. Slowly, he blinked open his eyes to see Arthur gazing back, dirt smeared across his face and debris collecting in his blonde hair. “You ok?” He whispered. Merlin nodded and heaved himself off the floor. He had too many bruises to count and his body ached in places he never realised he had. He saw people who weren’t hurt running from the scene. Merlin looked around and spotted Morgana crawling out from under a piece of building. Merlin didn’t realise anything was wrong until the blue robot tried to stand. “Oh god Morgana! Your legs are… stand up. Please stand up. You can’t quit on us
now.” Merlin begged. She moaned but did little else. She gazed at Merlin pleadingly. Merlin looked at the damage done to the robot and felt his breath catch. Her legs had been severed from the shin down. There was no way she would be able to stand up. The remnants of her feet were buried beneath the building. Merlin’s stomach twisted to see the warped bits of metal lying under the rubble. “You’ll be ok.” He managed roughly. “Gaius!” He yelled out across the street hoping to see the luminous yellow robot somewhere nearby. Lance stood up from his position on the ground. “Gawain, what the hell was that?” He turned on the Sergeant who was making his way onto his feet. “Don’t look at me. You gave me the crap tech and that thing was below building height. Phantoms aren’t allowed to do that. Our own planes aren’t allowed to do that. That thing wasn’t friendly.” “And you gave it our exact position. Well done!” Lance snapped back. “Well, that’s not going to help now, look.” Gawain pointed to the corner of the road where a tank was making its way round. “Shit. We’re screwed. Right. Everyone move out!” Everyone began moving. Arthur looked around the area, after seeing what had befallen Morgana. Tucked into a side street he noticed a pick up truck. Probably left when everyone had run. More people were running, now with the approach of the tank and Arthur had to use his rugby skills to dodge between them. He reached the pick-up truck in moments. Hoping, he pulled the door handle, only to find it locked. “Damn it!” He hissed. He cast a quick glance around to check that no one was watching him, the last thing he needed was for Merlin catching him doing this. With a piece of wire he kept for such occasions, more out of habit than anything, he slid it between the window and the door and freed the lock. The door opened. Leaning over the seat he pulled under the steering wheel, taking the cover off and found what he needed. Touching the two wires together started the engine. “Thanks, Uncle Ector.” Arthur gave a big grin before climbing in the driver’s seat, shoving the gear into reverse and slamming down on the accelerator. The truck screeched backwards and performed an impressive 180 degree turn. Arthur turned the gear back to first and headed towards Merlin. -xMorgana beckoned Merlin forward and he knelt down beside his fallen guardian. “Thank you for doing everything you have.” He told her. Her head tilted thoughtfully. “Because you’re worth it.” Merlin gave a sad smile at hearing the make up advert. Morgana reached across from where she was lying. When she pulled her
arm back she was holding the sphere. She held it out to Merlin. Merlin flinched back and shook his head. “I can’t! Do you have any idea what it feels like? What that thing does to me?” She held it out again, her eyes pleading with him, a puppy couldn’t have managed a more pleading look. Merlin looked at her and sighed. “Alright, but I don’t like it.” He finally gave in and took the sphere from Morgana’s outstretched hand. Merlin stared at the orb, panic overwhelming him. The feeling of ‘more’ clinging to him, filling him, a pleasure so powerful that he almost wanted to cry. He wanted to throw the thing away. This really was too big for him. What was he supposed to do? -xOwain raced at the approaching tank. Using his smaller stature and speed to his advantage, he leaped onto Tauren, yanking on the main gun. “Come on, you bastard. Fight back.” He yelled at the tank. The tank finally transformed and made a grab for the smaller robot but Owain was fast. He dodged the slower arm that swung for him, using it to fling himself up onto the Tauren’s shoulders. Using a sword of his own, Owain swung at the tank, sending sparks flying. Tauren roared and flung the annoying robot away from him. Owain landed gracefully as a cat, in a crouch and resting his weight on one arm. From his athletic position he was able to leap forward once more, attacking the tank around its middle. Tauren fired shots at Owain but couldn’t keep up with the smaller robot. His attacks hit nearby buildings instead, sending rubble flying through the air. Owain climbed up Tauren once more, trying to grasp his head and wrench it from his body. Sparks flared from the tank as it fell to it’s knees. Too focused on the fight, Owain didn’t notice another plane land on a nearby building. Nimueh gazed down at the world below with a smile. Soon this would all be hers and she would squeeze every drop of life out of the place. When she found the sphere. -xMerlin continued to stare at the sphere, fascinated by the swirling patterns within it. The harder he looked the deeper it seemed to become and the more drawn into it he became. Breaking just behind Merlin, Arthur jumped out of the truck. He saw Merlin staring at the blue orb in his hands. He didn’t like the way Merlin acted with it. There was definitely something wrong with that thing. He needed to get it away some how. Arthur approached Merlin, who didn’t even notice him until Arthur’s firm hands rested on his skinny shoulders. Merlin pulled his eyes away as if he had been caught doing something naughty. Arthur noticed how dilated his eyes were, almost as if he was aroused. Arthur quickly ignored that thought.
“Are you ok?” He asked cautiously. Merlin shook his head and nodded. He then turned and saw the truck that Arthur had found. “Do I want to know?” Merlin asked with a worried look. “Probably not.” Arthur shrugged. “No, I don’t think I do.” Merlin couldn’t help but smile. “Let’s hook Morgana up to this and then I can get her out of here.” Merlin nodded and helped Arthur use the cable from the pick-up to wrap around Morgana so that she was elevated off the ground. The blue robot let the boys work around her without argument, almost purring at them for their concern of her welfare. When Arthur was just checking over their work, Morgana looked at Merlin. “What?” He asked quietly. She held out her hand towards him, he carefully took it. She didn’t say anything but Merlin understood enough. She was supporting him all the way. -xNimueh saw the events unfolding below her and saw the small robot attacking her own soldier. Changing back into a plane she swooped down and exactly as she had predicted the Camelotian jumped from his adversary and tried to take her on. “Right bitch, you’re mine.” Owain growled at her. Nimueh laughed loudly. “I think not, you little virus.” She switched back and landed on the building once more. Out of reach of the Camelotians. None of them had the ability to fly. Fools. No-one would be able to help this little bug. “I’ll rip you apart.” Owain threatened, climbing over Nimueh trying to grab something, trying to break her. In his enthusiasm of trying to defeat their biggest adversary Owain was careless. The leader of the Avalonians was bigger and stronger than Owain and managed to grab hold of him. “Not if I do it first.” She grinned at the wriggling robot that was kicking futilely in her grasp and swearing colourfully at her, then grabbed him with her other hand and tore him apart. She threw the pieces from the building, laughing loudly. The tank below watched with delight as he watched his mistress then turned his attentions to the soldiers. It stood up and lumbered towards them. Lance watched with frustration. “Damn it! Do these things not die?” He had been watching as Owain had bravely tackled the tank that was easily three times his size. Lancelot had believed the tank to be defeated and seeing it stand now filled him with dread. He turned to Gawain. “This isn’t good. They’re all focusing on here. They know we’ve got the sphere. We
need to get it out of here and into safe hands.” Gawain solemnly agreed. “I’ll call in merlins. They can come in close and fast. But how are we going to get that thing to them? They can’t land here. They will be taken out by these monsters.” Lancelot looked around. Then dashed down the road as far as he dared then raced back. “The white building over there. It’s a good height, we just need to get the sphere there.” Lance looked around and noticed Merlin nearby. “Right, Gawain, make the call. I’ll deal with the sphere.” Gawain nodded and began giving information on the radio. He had finally got through to the air force. Lancelot dashed over to the boy. Merlin looked a little out of it even as he was holding the sphere. Arthur stepped away from him, letting Lance talk to Merlin. “We need to get that thing out of here.” He told Merlin calmly, pointing to the pulsing blue ball. Merlin tried to hand it to the Captain. “Take it! I don’t want it!” He sounded almost panicked. Lance shook his head. “No. I can’t leave my team here. We’re calling in the RAF merlin helicopters but we need to get up high. Just through there, is a tall, white building, it’s a hotel. You need to get up there, to the roof. Hand the sphere over and they will take it to a secure location. They will take you too if necessary.” “Merlins? You are kidding me?” Lance looked at him with a smile. “Well, if that isn’t fate, I don’t know what is.” “But I can’t-” Merlin blurted. Lance grabbed him by the shoulders. “Yes you can. You have to. You are part of the British army now. Everyone’s fate is resting on your shoulders. I know you can do this.” Looking around Merlin could see people running in fear, the Camelotians making their stand, Morgana watching him hopefully, Arthur. Just Arthur. In that second where their eyes met, Merlin made up his mind. Finally Merlin nodded. Somehow, as much as he was fighting it, he knew this was what he was meant for. This was his destiny. “Take this.” The captain handed him a flare. “Set it off when you get up there. That will signal to the hawks and let them know where you are.” Merlin took a deep breath, feeling his blood racing and his pulse beating so fast, he thought his heart would explode. “Ok.” He said, sounding far more confident than he felt. “You’re a good man, Merlin Emrys.” Merlin gave a small smile. That gave him more of the strength he would need to do this. He knew as soon as he would start moving, all attention would be turned to him. The fate of the world was literally in his hands. He would not fail. The Captain gripped his shoulders then darted back to his team, leaving Merlin with all the weight of the world on his shoulders. He carefully slipped the flare into his back pocket and prayed that it wouldn’t slip out or light itself there. Gaius and Pellinore had overheard the conversation and were watching him intently.
“We will cover you as you get over to that building.” Gaius told him. “We’ll hold off the traitors the best we can.” Pellinore added. Merlin nodded, feeling more confidant now that even these two robots would help him, even though he wished it was Morgana watching his back. He nodded his thanks at the two, knowing the danger they were putting themselves into. “When you are ready.” Before Merlin could make his move, he was grabbed by the shoulder once more. He turned and was met by a pair of concerned blue eyes. “While you run off playing all action hero, I’m going to get Morgana out of here.” Merlin glanced over Arthur’s broad shoulder. His guardian looked disappointed she wouldn’t be joining in the fight. Merlin gave her a comforting smile then looked back at the beautiful blonde in front of him. He had never considered Arthur beautiful before but standing there, clothes torn, hair full of dust and face smeared with dirt, Merlin decided he had never looked better. It reminded him of when they had first properly met, as brief as it had been, on the rugby field. He seemed almost vulnerable while Merlin was looking at him. Merlin would cherish this moment for as long as he lived, even if it was for only a few more moments. He very well knew that he could be facing his demise. “Thank you.” He whispered. Arthur moved closer to him and placed his hands on Merlin’s slim waist. “No matter what happens, I’m really glad I got in that car with you.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips against Merlin’s. Merlin was sure that his heart stopped for a second, that he stopped breathing. It was only when Arthur pressed a little harder against him that he seemed to return to life and kissed back with as much fervour as he could manage, telling Arthur everything he could that he couldn’t say in words. His free hand wrapped around the blonde’s neck and he clung to him like a drowning man. He was sure he was drowning, in kisses. If these really were his last moments, at least he had this. They broke apart after a moment longer, their lips still brushing “Be careful.” Arthur murmured. Merlin nodded, as he couldn’t manage anything else. That had answered his question of how Arthur felt about him and had laid his fears to rest. Now he was determined to do this. He pushed back the feeling the sphere gave him, working past it, using Arthur as his anchor to ground him. They pulled apart as slowly as they could, hands sliding together, fingers parting last and both grudgingly turned their separate ways, Arthur to Morgana and the truck and Merlin to Pellinore and Gaius. Merlin only managed a few strides before he paused. He took a deep breathe and turned back round. “Arthur!” His voice carried across the street just as Arthur was about to climb into the truck. The blonde looked back, expectant. “I love you.” With that he turned back and ran, leaving Arthur to watch him run into his destiny, stunned beyond words.
Chapter 17 Edwin watched with interest as the events unfolded below. His sharp eyes had quickly found the boy in question, holding the sphere. He would prove himself to Nimueh. Show her that he was better than any of them. He would kill the boy and take the sphere for himself. Then he could control the universe and Nimueh could bow to him. With his mind made up, Nimueh’s second jumped from the building and shifted into his Phantom form and headed directly for the boy. What he hadn’t counted on was the fact the boy would be protected so fiercely. The stupid Camelotians always got in the way. He fired off some missiles towards the group before pulling up. As he banked to make a second run he saw the approach of a Hercules transport. Edwin gave a wicked chuckle. Now the humans really would have something to deal with. While they were distracted by Valiant, he could get to the boy and take the prize. However, the arrival of a blood red lorry dampened his spirits. Uther was a force to be reckoned with. Nimueh also saw the approach of the red Volvo Globetrotter XL. “Uther!” She howled from her vantage point, diving into her plane form and headed directly at the Camelotian leader. “Nimueh!” Uther had enough time to switch before Nimueh barrelled into him and they both smashed into a shop front. -xMerlin ran for his life. He knew if he stopped for even a second, he would become an easy target. He focussed on the building he had to reach and tried to ignore everything else. Even as shots were fired and cars blew up around him, he ran, jumped and dodged for all he was worth. He briefly thought if he fell over he would die, then steeled his mind against the thought. He would not fail in this. He would not fail Arthur. The taste of the blonde still lingered on his lips, the memory still crystal clear in his mind. He used that recollection to urge himself on. Even as his lungs burned and his legs threatened to buckle, he ran on. Just on either side of him, in his peripheral vision, he could make out the legs of Pellinore and Gaius. They gave him the courage to continue. He felt a little more protected, knowing they were there. He didn’t like the fact that they were putting themselves on the line for him, but he appreciated it. Until they both skidded to a halt that was. Merlin slid to a stop himself seeing what they did. The Phantom jet was sweeping round for another attack. They were close now. Merlin could see the building he was aiming for. Pellinore looked down at the human he was protecting.
“Run. You need to get that sphere to the building.” Gaius prepared himself for the oncoming attack. “We can deal with Edwin. You focus on your task.” Merlin noticed Gaius’ hands glowed green in a similar way that Morgana’s did. It made him think of magic, real magic, like in fairy stories, not the card slight of hand and rabbit-out-of-a-hat tricks. Real magic. He briefly wondered why they didn’t all have such power but he guessed they weren’t so different from humans. They were all unique. He began to run again, once he realised he was stalling. But he paid for his moment of distraction. As Edwin’s missiles hit, the explosions caused Merlin to fall and the sphere landed firmly on the ground. Merlin thought it would shatter like glass and tried to reach for it but it fell from the tips of his outstretched fingers. Instead, it landed with a dull thud as if it was made from rock, denting the concrete beneath. A wave of light exploded out of it and rolled away. Almost instantly, previously inanimate objects came alive. A lamppost nearby stepped out of the ground, long arms began swiping at anything close to it; its light became a laser that it swung around violently, scorching the tarmac. Someone who was talking on their mobile phone suddenly got attacked by a miniature robot that latched onto their face. A man who was using a street sweeper was suddenly thrown from his seat as the vehicle reared up brandishing the brushes as weapons as well as the vacuum, and the new born creature eyed everything menacingly. Merlin swore at himself. He knew he would be clumsy, but he had no idea at what cost that would be. He snatched the sphere from the ground before it caused any more harm. Its power still made his fingers tingle and to have seen what it could really do at close hand made it feel worse. It felt like it was burning him now, branding him. He would be glad to be rid of it. He hoped when it was gone the feeling would go with it. He began running once more. Edwin, realising his quarry had escaped switched back into jet form and flew off. There was no point risking himself when the sphere wasn’t there. -xNimueh had pulled Uther through the shop and out the other side. Glass smashed around them but neither of them paid any heed. Uther found his feet once more and charged into Nimueh. Her slighter body hit the wall and caused a huge dent in the brickwork. She managed to raise her leg between them and pushed Uther away. He stumbled back before finding his feet once more. The sword slid out by his wrist and brandished it at Nimueh. She threw her head back and laughed. “Think you can stop me with that?”
“I’ll do more than stop you, Nimueh.” He charged towards her, sword raised and she twirled out of his reach. Uther slid to a stop before twisting round and swinging the sword with it. Nimueh ducked and kicked out, buckling Uther’s knee. He stumbled and she kicked once more, sending him back again. When he rushed forwards again he sidestepped her fist and drew his sword down on her arm. Sparks flew from the impact but did little damage. Instead he threw his weight against her which sent her crashing into the building next to them. He tried to follow with a thrust from his sword but she dodged it. “Is that all you have, pathetic.” She laughed. Uther roared and charged her once more. Raising her hand, Nimueh formed a ball of fire and thrust it into Uther’s chest. The king flew across the space and into another building. Nimueh took her chance and leaped into the air. She quickly found Merlin just as he reached the white building. Through the windows, she could see him climbing the stairs. She thrust her fist in through a window and made a grab for him. Merlin threw himself down on the floor and covered his head as more masonry and glass fell around him. “Don’t think you can escape me, boy.” Nimueh snarled as she watched Merlin scrabble from the floor and climbed up the stairs once more. Using her clawed hands she followed him up and once he was in reaching distance again, she thrust her hand forward to make another grab. Merlin managed to back away just out of her reach and nearly fell down the stairs. As he gazed down, he started to understand Arthur’s fear of heights. Regaining his balance, he leaped over Nimueh’s arm and onwards. He was nearly to the roof now. He kicked through the doorway at the top and ran out into open space. He grabbed the flare from his back pocket, unbelievably thankful that it was still there, smacked it on the floor to light it and ran forwards. In the distance he could see a group of helicopters approaching. He waved the flare in hope that he would be seen. He ignored the howls from Nimueh who seemed to have got stuck below. Merlin tried to not fiddle with the sphere as he walked closer to the edge of the hotel. He prayed for the helicopters to get there faster. -xArthur dove away from the scene of battle with Morgana in tow, until he found a quiet side alley. He switched the engine off and sat back in his seat. He ran his fingers through his hair and looked in the rear view. Finally, he got out of the truck and walked round the back to Morgana. “I’m not going crazy am I? He did just say that?” Morgana nodded enthusiastically. “It’s a nice day for a white wedding.” Arthur looked at her with surprise. “That might be taking it a bit far.” The robot slumped, her bubble clearly popped. He gave her a shy smile. “It’s a nice thought though. I don’t know if I could put up with Merlin for life. He’s a complete idiot. He drives me crazy.”
“You drive me crazy, I just can’t sleep. I’m so excited, I’m in too deep. Ohh, crazy, but it feels alright. Baby, thinking of you keeps me up all night.” Arthur flushed bright red, reading more into the song than he should and knowing it was too close to home. He had been awake all night thinking about Merlin. He was not about to admit that though. He hid his embarrassment instead. “You used Britney. That doesn’t even deserve a reply. I’m going to ignore that.” He heaved a deep sigh, running his fingers through his hair once more. “But I guess you’re right, before him, my life was… well, boring. I caused a lot of trouble; I went with a lot of girls, not that I did much with them you understand. Despite what everyone says about me. But Merlin… there’s just something about him. And now I just let him run away on this crazy mission and I may never see him again. He might… you know. I don’t think I could cope with that. Not now. I feel like such a coward. Oh god, what would I tell his mother? Sitting here like this is stupid. We need to help him all we can.” Arthur paused for a moment then looked up at Morgana with a grin. “Shall we join the party?” “Saddle up. Lock and load.” With a look of determination, Arthur jumped back into the truck. “I’ll do the driving and you can do the shooting. Ready?” “Cowabunga!” Arthur grinned and put his foot down hard once more. With a loud screech of tyres the truck raced backwards through the street until Morgana was near enough to fire at the tank that was closing in on the huddled soldiers. Morgana fired her blue energy at the tank constantly. The tank stumbled back and tried to return fire, it’s speed too slow to make a hit while the truck dodged it’s way down the road towards it. Just before they got too close Morgana aimed at a vulnerable spot on Tauren’s chest, the blue light seemed to sink into the tanks chest and filtered through its whole body. Tauren shuddered and jerked as if having a fit before it crumpled to the ground. The tank fell in a mangled pile of metal and destroyed what was left of the shelter that the soldiers had taken shelter in. They climbed from their sanctuary cautiously just in case, before seeing the light of its eyes had truly gone out. “Well it’s dead now.” Gawain said casually, while he kicked the torn metal. “Good shooting.” Lance told Morgana. The robot giggled happily. Lance would have told the pair off for putting themselves in danger, but they had just achieved something that the soldiers hadn’t. -xMerlin began to breathe again when the choppers finally reached him. The merlin couldn’t touch down, as the point on the hotel roof prevented them from doing so. The merlin moved in sideways as far as it could instead. “Alright, son.” One of the soldiers shouted over the sound of the spinning blades.
The air whipped up around Merlin and made him squint from the dust that was being raised. The soldier leaned as far forward as his safety harness would allow. Merlin leaned forward as far as he could dare, fully aware that he had no safety attachment what so ever. He tried stretching a little further but there was still too much space between them and there was no way Merlin was going to throw the sphere. Knowing that if the soldier failed to catch it, what it could do on the world below. He couldn’t risk that. He tried just a little further, nearly loosing his balance, when something caught his eye. Pulling the sphere back, he looked fully to see that Edwin had landed on another tall building nearby and had fired missiles at the choppers. Merlin’s eyes went wide, he screamed as loudly as he could, “Get away! Go!” But it was too late. Each merlin took a direct hit and they went down in flames. Merlin’s hope burned with them. He had a vision of himself doing exactly the same thing, crashing to the ground as failure. He watched as the debris fell, and then heard a loud chuckle behind him. “So this is where you were hiding, little play thing.” Nimueh smirked down at him, her blue eyes glowing almost painfully. “Give me the sphere and I shall let you live, as my little pet.” She almost snarled. Merlin gripped the orb tighter and shuffled back. He felt his feet reach the edge of the building. He took a quick glance back and wished he hadn’t. Bad case of vertigo. Not good. He turned back to face Nimueh. “I will never let you have this sphere!” He yelled at her. She pouted then, if that was possible for a robot to do. “Pity.” She formed a new fire ball in her hand and flung it next to Merlin. The impact of the shot made the concrete he was standing on fall apart. Merlin swung an arm wildly knowing he had to keep hold of the sphere at all costs, he still lost his balance and fell. His fall was halted as Uther had been on the way up and caught Merlin as he dropped. “I’ve got you. Better hold on to your stomach.” Merlin didn’t have enough time for his heart to stop hammering and realise he wasn’t going to become a red mess on the street below before Uther jumped from the hotel building wall onto another building then swung around and leaped to another before falling to the ground as the brickwork gave way. Both Merlin and Uther groaned with pain. “Merlin. If we can’t defeat Nimueh, we will have to destroy the sphere. You will have to place it in my chest. I will sacrifice myself to save your world.” Merlin stood up and gazed at the destruction around them before looking back at Uther as he carefully got up. “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat. It’s our old family saying. Mum taught me it years ago. It’s only now that I really understand it. We can’t believe that Nimueh will win. If we think like that, she’s already won. We will stop her.” Uther paused and looked down at Merlin who had a face full of determination. “She will not have this world. We will not let her win. You with me?”
“All the way.” The leader of the Camelotians slowly rose to his feet, eyeing up his adversary as she made her way back down from the hotel by leaping off. Before she had time to regain her balance Uther ran at her. “For Albion and Earth!”
Chapter 18 Just as the soldiers began to relax, they found themselves facing an old foe. “Oh no,” was all Lancelot could manage as he saw the robot that had started all the trouble in the first place at the Griffin base. It looked just as menacing now as it did then. Just across from them, something caught Lance’s eyes. A man had just been riding down the road when Valiant had appeared. Deciding a giant robot was too much to deal with; the man had fled and had left his bike. Lance looked at Gawain. “Get any jets in to take this fucker out.” Lance had had enough. This one needed to pay for what he had done. Gawain nodded, agreeing completely with the captain, raising the radio once more. “Air force this is Green. We have enemy mixed with friendlies. Target will be marked.” A scratchy voice replied, “Copy that Green. ETA thirty seconds.” When life hangs in the balance, even thirty seconds can seem like a lifetime. Gawain became impatient and he pointed a small infra red laser at the violent robot. The soldiers watched as the thing readied its weapons as it snuck up on Uther and Nimueh, who were fighting on the other street. “Dirty cheat is going in for a sneak attack.” Galahad whispered beside Gawain. The sergeant turned and looked at him and didn’t realise the target light had slipped, right into Valliant’s view. The robot seeing the laser maker on himself made a quick turn and spotted the soldiers hiding away. He changed his direction of attack, and headed for the soldiers instead. Lance was having none of it. Armed with a gun full of high heat bullets provided by UNICORN, the Captain revved the bike and raced it towards the imposing robot. Just before he got to close, he swung the bike sideways, tipping it over. At the speed he had been travelling, he continued to skid across the road and through Valliant’s legs, he fired as he went. Each bullet hit true and one found Valliant’s main control section. His chest blew up in a series of sparks, and the Hercules robot slumped to the ground. “You’re not taking out any more of my men!” Lancelot shouted, before joining his team in a mini celebration. “You’re the man, Captain!” Kay hollered. Lance knew that today his wife could be proud of him. -xThe air force still travelled across the skies over Cardiff when they started having their own problems. They suddenly realised their numbers were diminishing. There were only brief flashes of a robot but then there was a plane. One that looked just like theirs. In the confusion, no one knew who to shoot. Edwin started picking them off easily. But before he could he finish them off, they had reached their destination. Below them, there was a deep red robot fighting a bright red one. It didn’t help at all.
“Confirmation of target.” The pilot requested. Gawain looked at the clashing robots and noticed the dilemma. “Target dark red. I repeat target dark red.” “Copy that Green.” Just as the radio silenced, jets swooped down, focusing their weapons on Nimueh. The Avalonian leader stumbled back and away from Uther. Enraged she tried to grab for the planes but they were out of her reach. Seeing Nimueh distracted, Merlin took his chance. He ran towards her without a second thought. Jumping over rock and glass, his mind set on what he was going to do. “Merlin, wait.” Uther cried out to the boy, but he was ignored. The planes doubled back and fired a second round at Nimueh. This time she fell to her hands and knees, giving the opportunity Merlin needed. Raising his arms, he pushed the sphere towards Nimueh’s chest. The orb glowed before it jumped from his hands and exploded into Nimueh. The Avalonian scratched at her chest in vain, cries of horror and hatred escaping her throat which was replaced by gargles as blue light shone through her body. With a heated glare, she kicked out at Merlin. With a final scream and a flash of light that everyone had to shade their eyes from, Nimueh fell to the ground, a heap of dead metal. Everybody watched as the blue light died from her eyes. The group paused in the silence before moving towards the broken Nimueh. Pellinore kicked her just to be sure. Gaius frowned at him for the unscientific trial even as he held the remains of Owain in his arms. Uther looked around for Merlin. Arthur suddenly realised that he could no longer see the brunette and panic filled him. “Merlin? Merlin, where are you?” He started moving around the war zone that had once been Cardiff High Street. Out of the corner of his eye he suddenly spotted something. Climbing over the rubble he saw a hand and as he got closer he realised it was indeed Merlin. Filled with dread and with no concern for his own safety, Arthur managed to reach him. Merlin looked too pale against the red brick and was lying far too still for Arthur’s liking. Kneeling down beside him, Arthur grabbed his hand. “Please say you’re alright. You can’t do this now. You’re a hero for god sake. C’mon, you can’t leave me.” Arthur leaned down resting his head against Merlin’s shoulder. “Please Merlin, I love you too.” He jumped when he felt arms curl around him and he knelt back. “Really?” Merlin croaked. With tears in his eyes Arthur nodded. “More than anything.” Merlin smiled and then tried to sit up.
“Oh god! Did someone get the number of the ten ton truck that hit me?” Arthur managed a laugh, then carefully helped Merlin to get up. Once he was upright, as much as everything hurt, he was fairly sure nothing was broken. He would never understand how he managed that. “So, it’s all over then?” “Yeah, and you’re the big hero of the hour.” Merlin blushed. “I was just doing what I had to. Anyone else would have done the same.” “But you’re not anyone else, Merlin. You’re just… something else. You’re special. Unique. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He kissed Merlin’s forehead carefully. “Maybe I should try this saving the world thing more often. You’ve gone all sappy on me. It’s sort of cute.” Arthur frowned. “I am not cute!” Merlin laughed. “So are.” Arthur couldn’t help but smile. Together, they managed to join the rest of the group. Uther looked down at him gratefully. “I owe you my life. We are all in your debt.” Merlin felt very conscious as even the soldiers were looking at him. “I didn’t do anything really.” Merlin replied nervously. “On the contrary, you risked your life for all. You deserve more than we could ever give you. Thank you, Merlin. The sphere is destroyed.” Merlin gave a weak smile, suddenly more exhausted than he had ever been and only just realising the pent up energy the sphere had given him was well and truly gone. He was grateful for it. Arthur knowing that Merlin was alive, pulled him into a tight hug, the shock of the events finally getting to him, any moments of playfulness quickly gone. “I thought I’d lost you.” He whispered, Merlin could hear his voice waver slightly. “It would take more than a giant robot to get rid of me.” Merlin jokingly replied. Arthur took his face in his hands and kissed him anyway. Gaius made his way over to Uther and sadly showed him the two halves of Owain. “Oh, Owain. We will never find another soldier as brave as he was.” Arthur pulled away from Merlin and looked up, suddenly realising what Uther was holding. “Oh no! Not the Bugatti! Not the Bugatti” He turned back to Merlin. “That’s just mean. God, I would have had you over the bonnet of that thing.” Merlin looked shocked for a moment and then flushed bright red. Arthur suddenly realised what he had said and blushed himself. “I… uh… I mean.” Merlin smiled. “It’s ok. If it makes you feel any better, I would have let you, but I don’t think
Morgana would take too kindly to the snub.” Arthur nodded regretfully. “Sire, may I speak?” All eyes turned to the blue robot who was still attached to the pick-up truck while Gaius began working on fixing her legs. Uther turned to face the new speaker. “Morgana? Of course, please.” “I wish to stay with Merlin, if he will let me.” She turned her green eyes to Arthur and Merlin, as did all the robots. “If that is what he wishes, then I will grant your request.” Merlin gave a bright grin. “Of course I wish it.” He was thrilled that his robot could now properly talk to him. “So you can speak now?” “Yes. I think the sphere’s power finally fixed my voice mechanism.” “That’s great!” Merlin laughed with a huge grin. Morgana gave a happy laugh. -x“From this time, UNICORN is to be disbanded. Any operations that this group is carrying out need to be ended immediately. The robot known as Nimueh and any other remaining parts of the extra terrestrials shall be dropped into the deepest part of the planet, the Marianas Trench in the North Atlantic. Under the pressure and intense cold, there will be no worry as to any of the hostiles causing further trouble. The robots that remain on planet Earth are to be kept secret, their identities hidden. No one is to know their where abouts or who was involved. The civilians who were also involved are to remain anonymous. For all sense and purposes these events did not happen.” Bayard finished his report to the Prime Minister. -x“Hey baby!” “Is that you Lance?” Gwen walked from the kitchen, drying her hands on a towel. When she saw it was indeed her husband, she ran at him and hugged him tightly. “I’m so glad you’re safe.” “And you, love.” Gwen gave a smile that was positively radiant. “I have news for you.” Lance frowned at the seriousness in her tone.
“Oh?” Gwen tried to hide her smile but found she couldn’t. “The Secretary of Defence has hired me as a full time advisor.” She squealed at the last bit. “Oh Gweny, that’s great.” He picked her up and swung her around and she giggled and laughed loudly. That simple noise of happiness was enough to give him a smile of his own. Then it fell. “So I guess, no kids for a while then?” The bright smile became devilish. “I didn’t say that now, did I?” Lance gave her a smile to match her own. “I suggest that we celebrate then.” He swept her off her feet and began carrying her up the stairs. “But what about dinner?” Lance paused in the middle of the stairs while he thought for a moment. “Dinner can wait.” -x“This should have still been on the Bugatti.” Arthur pouted. Merlin ran a butterfly soft finger over Arthur’s bottom lip. “Oh don’t say that. Morgana saved your arse.” “I know. Which is why this feels slightly wrong.” He smirked anyway as he leaned against Merlin, sprawled as they were, against the blue Beetle. Morgana didn’t seem to mind. “But talking of arses.” He gave Merlin a look that had him whimper with need. Arthur’s hands ran down Merlin’s sides and he hooked his fingers into Merlin’s belt loops. “Your place or mine.” He began nibbling along Merlin’s throat. Merlin bit his lip before he managed a ‘yours’ that was nearer a whimper. Merlin couldn’t help but raise his hips against Arthur’s. Arthur had to bite his lip then. “Naughty boy. It’s only because we’ll have the place to ourselves.” The nibbling became long, slow kisses. “What will your mother say?” “She’ll say she doesn’t mind, as you’re such a good boy and she knows I’m safe with you.” Merlin managed a small smile. “Is that right?” Arthur raised his head so he could look straight into Merlin’s eyes. “Yeah, and I would have to agree with her, although I’m not sure about the good.” A raised eyebrow was the only reaction he got. Merlin dropped his voice to a purr. “You’re down right positively evil.” Arthur grinned. “You love it.”
“I love you.” Merlin murmured quietly. Arthur gave him a soft smile before their lips touched and began a long, slow kiss. Uther turned away from the sight knowing that all was well. He looked up to the last sun beam streaked sky thoughtfully. The first star of the evening had just shone into life. “With the sphere destroyed, we can no longer restore our home. Instead, we shall remain here, on Earth, protecting its people against threats that may befall it. To any Avalonians that remain. Be warned. This planet is protected. We will hunt you down and destroy you. To any Camelotians that remain in the stars, join us in our crusade to protect this planet and the people that live here, know that we are watching over them. And we are waiting.” -END-
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