Realms of Eden: B4 - First Battlebysddconst©
Act 1 -- High Seas
Chapter 1 - Paul's horror
Newly promoted Sergeant Paul Keane, Paulie, to his friends, slumped into the recliner lounge in his small but comfortable quarters at the base north of Townsville. He eyed the bottle of rot gut sitting on the table beside him, a present from the captain of his squad and grabbed it up pouring a quarter of the contents down his throat as he reclined the chair to its limit. The liquid burned his gut and throat and he almost coughed the whole lot back up again but forced his protesting stomach to suck it down.
He turned his eyes to the picture on the wall to his left and holding the bottle up saluted the picture of the smiling black haired, dark-blue eyed man with his arm around the second man in the picture, himself. "Goodbye Sydney," he whispered as his hand reached to the blocky 9mm pistol that sat beside the almost empty bottle and raised it towards his head.
At that moment the door chimed its 'Permission to enter' music and he giggled hysterically. In a high pitched voice he called, "No one home!" His finger pulled the trigger as the he felt the gun muzzle touch his forehead.
In his haste to end his life Paul had pulled the trigger too soon. The bullet he had meant to put through his brain bounced off the thick part of the front of his skull as his body subconsciously ducked. The bullet burned across his skull leaving a furrow just above his right eyebrow ending just past the centre of his forehead.
"Fuck!" was the next thing he heard as his brain registered the presence of another person in the room with him.
Miraculously his eyes re-opened, the man from the photograph stood over him. Drunkenly he spoke to the man. "Sorry Sir been a rough day." Paul slumped unconscious in his chair dropping the pistol to the floor as he did so.
Paul's next conscious thought was several weeks later when he awoke in a hospital room and the man from the photograph sat in a chair watching him resurface to the living world. He turned his head slightly to better view the man, envying the cool and calm face that watched him open his eyes. Through parched lips he said, "Fuck you, Sydney!"
The man smiled and whispered back, "You already have."
Paul's eyes closed again and when he awoke the next time the man was gone.
The room was dimly lit and he sensed rather than saw a nurse hovering over him checking his pulse and scanning his head with a handheld unit. She looked familiar and after a few moments he looked harder at her and asked, "Wendy?"
She smiled at him. "Yes Paulie, it's me," she said softly. Paul heard the catch in her voice as she answered and saw her eyes mist over. Tears dripped from her incredibly long lashes.
"Not for me I hope," he muttered and was only slightly surprised when her hand slapped across his face and her fiery visage loomed large in his eyes.
"Of course they're fucking for you!" she hissed. "You and fucking Sydney! Why do I love such fucking idiots!" She stormed out the door of the room and cursed again when she couldn't force the automatic doors to slam.
Paul grinned in spite of the pain in his cheek and drifted back to sleep.
When his eyes opened again the sight in front of him made him snap his eyes closed again. Hoarsely he croaked, "Go away! All of you!" Taking several deep breaths he added, "Please."
"No Paulie," a young feminine voice replied from his left.
He knew he was doomed to live and with a small flicker of his eyelids he whispered, "Why couldn't you just let me die?"
Harsh sobbing broke out from someone close to his bed and he reached out a hand that was immediately clasped in two soft hands and lips kissed his knuckles. "I am sorry for hitting you," came Wendy's tear riddled voice.
He just clasped her hand harder. "I needed it."
He felt rather than heard Sydney move over him but was extremely surprised when the man's lips sought out and captured his in a fiery kiss. He struggled to breathe and his lips opened of their own accord as the beardless face nuzzled across his open mouth. A soft whisper came to his ears, "Sorry mate."
The face disappeared and he felt his upper body hugged upright by the man he loved and considered his best friend from the past 15 years. He drew his hand from Wendy's and hugged him back and was heart-broken to feel the shoulders under his hands heaving in suppressed sobs as the man nuzzled his neck.
Other hands and bodies surrounded them and he knew that Jenny was there. Feeling her warmth burn through all of them he braced himself for the love that would fill his heart again from just being in her comforting arms. "Damn it all," he whispered, "why is it all so hard?"
Jenny's voice spoke softly in his mind, Because you are a good man Paul Keane and you cannot forgive yourself for what you did.
He nodded slowly. But we, and Mrs Compton can! was her fierce admonishment and he lay back as Sydney relaxed his grip and finally he forced his eyes open to view his wife and his lover.
Sydney looked pale. Paul shook his head slowly then looked from him to the young girl on his left, Jenny. In all her radiant beauty the woman within her gazed back at him. Holding his eyes with hers showing nothing but love for the man who held a little piece of her heart. The major part of it belonged to the man she was being protected by sitting on the edge of his bed.
His eyes finally turned to his wife, Wendy. Again he wondered why she ever agreed to marry him, why she never took up the position that was so openly available to her in Sydney's entourage. The wisps of hair surrounding her face were tinged with blonde and red giving her the strawberry blonde look that he had loved to see on her since the days of Sydney being in hospital with her.
Those thoughts caused him to chuckle. Looking up at his wife he said, "Well this is a change Nurse Keane. You being in a hospital to see me and not him," as he nodded at Sydney.
Wendy giggled despite her tears and hugged her husband's arm to her breasts. "Yes, and I never thought it would happen. Don't you ever put me through this again." Her brave demeanour threatened to dissolve again as Paul slowly shook his head in the negative.
The four friends sat in silence until Paul finally broke it. "She was a brave woman," he stated.
Sydney nodded and clasped his friend's hand tightly, sombrely telling him, "You did what she wanted, Paulie. No-one will ever blame you for doing that."
The silence between them lengthened and eventually Jenny gave Paul his reprieve. "Well Syddy and I have to go and meet with the President so we will leave you with Wendy and see you tomorrow."
Her cheery tone belied her greater concern for him and he decided that he needed to set her mind at rest and quite likely everyone else's at the same time. "With a bit of luck I will be allowed to go home tomorrow," he stated. "Wasn't anything but a knock in the head and I have had a few of them before."
His shy grin relieved them all and Wendy's heart beat a little faster as she felt his hand softly caress her breasts as the other two rose to their feet ready to depart.
Jenny looked at Wendy and saw her eyes sparkling as the errant hand found its way inside her nurse's uniform. The little redhead sighed as she grabbed Sydney's hand and pulled him towards the doorway. "Tomorrow," affirmed Wendy as she waved the couple away.
Sydney and Jenny met President Weir, Thelma and Bonnie, surrounded by a security detail three quarters of the way down the corridor exiting the hospital. The women quickly embraced as the two men regarded each other quietly.
"How is he?" asked Weir.
Sydney's reply was cut off by Jenny's curt, "He will be fine Mr President. As long as there is no interruption to a bit of wifely healing in the meantime?"
Thelma's soft chuckles brought the President up short and she crooked her finger at him. "Not even for you Mr President." The party turned and retraced their steps back to the waiting hovers outside the main doors.
Once outside the party split into several groups with Bonnie and Jenny bidding Sydney goodnight with a few quick kisses to his lips and warm hugs before Thelma dragged him into the hover impatiently waiting with the President already ensconced in the comfortable interior.
President Weir issued instructions to the driver and the hover moved off quickly down the brightly lit streets. "You know that he should be brought to trial, don't you?" the President remarked. Thelma's eyes narrowed as she regarded his face to determine if he was serious. She accepted the drink he passed to her and watched quietly as he passed Sydney a wine and fruit juice cocktail before settling back in the comfortable leather seats and sipped his own scotch and cola.
"The people would take your balls with a blunt knife," said Sydney quietly as he took a sip and his eyes glistened as he too regarded the President with serious intent.
President Weir shook his head sighing as he raised his glass saluted both of them. The most powerful man in the known world whispered, "Vale Margaret Compton."
Thelma's glass met his in a soft clink, "Vale Frank Compton."
Sydney's glass touched both of theirs and his eyes never left the President's as he spoke softly. "Mary Compton, Louise Davies, Sarah Wilson, Peta Wilson, Alison White and Juanita Headly." Tilting his head back he drained his glass.
Thelma grasped his hand hard and swallowed her drink as well.
Sydney leant back in the comfortable seats and the events of six weeks ago replayed in his mind.
A courtroom full of military and civilian personnel and he sat, disguised as an old man, in the upper balcony in the shadows out of sight of the main audience. He had just returned from having successfully played in his second overseas series of one day internationals for Australia. He did not want to distract from the hugely important events that would be unfolding over the next few weeks in the room below him.
This was to be the first court case against the perpetrators of Project BF and he wanted to be able to hear first-hand the evidence presented against these mongrels. His own hand in bringing down the scheme hidden from the public and he was a little fearful of what might be mentioned regarding him.
Eleven men were led into the room surrounded by a security team with bullet proof shields and armour. The soldiers sat them in chairs shackled and handcuffed facing the main part of the court. Five judges followed them and stood at the raised benches at the front of the courtroom. A voice intoned, "All rise for the honourable judges." As the people stood he observed the men in the chairs and saw the major players on show.
Whitbourne, MacIntyre, Jeffries were present as well as faces that he only recognised from vid casts, all of them looked arrogantly at the courtroom. He noticed that Whitbourne even smiled at Jeffries as the court resumed their seats. Glancing around the room he wondered what the hell Whitbourne was finding so fucking amusing. Quickly Sydney established that there were a few faces in the crowded balcony that were staring intently at the 11 men and occasionally they were making eye contact.
Sydney focused internally. Alfred's face appeared in his mind's eye as he reported that it appeared that there may be trouble at the first day of court hearings. He gave Alfred some visuals and relaxed when Alfred said to keep his head low.
Shortly afterwards armed guards appeared in the balcony area and the occupants of the seats that he had recorded as possible trouble were discretely asked to accompany the guards out of the area. Whitbourne suddenly looked uncomfortable as he scanned the balcony and failed to recognise anyone in the front row seats.
Paul Keane stood, as part of the security team, impassively at the side of the court and his eyes roamed the building checking its inhabitants. He spotted Sydney. At first he wasn't sure that the old man who gave him a small smile was his friend until briefly the disguise dropped and he saw the familiar dark-blue eyes and black hair. The man was in the shadows of the balcony and Paul's eyebrows lifted in surprise. He didn't even know that his friend had returned to Townsville after his exploits with bat and in the field in the recently completed one day series against New Zealand that Australia had won against all odds 3-2. It was the second time they had beaten them in the last two seasons. He grinned to himself and made a mental note to keep an eye on him with a view to catching him up at a recess.
He received a call over his earpiece to send some men to the balcony to investigate some people of interest. Richardson, his Captain, sent a couple of his comrades upstairs leaving him on duty.
The first day dragged interminably as the judges took turns in reading the charges against the 11 men in the docks. The charges ranged from treason, kidnap and rape, the mere word sent shivers down both his and Syd's spines, to robbery, murder and embezzlement.
By lunch time recess Paul was resigned to spending the rest of his life in this courtroom as he escorted the accused back to the rooms at the rear of the court. He thought to himself that the whole country will go broke feeding and clothing this useless scum while the case dragged on.
The final charges were read by late afternoon and the central judge asked the accused how they pleaded.
Paul was not surprised that they all answered, "Not guilty." However, he was pleased when Whitbourne answered that the court had no right to be ruling on anything he did as he was the saviour of the entire region. It gave Paul the opportunity to give the ex-general a bit more lip as he hauled him protesting from the courtroom and threw him into the transport hover with the rest of his crew.
The following days were filled with boring and long winded summaries of the case that would be presented and defended as the teams of lawyers pranced and primped across the floor in front of the jury. Paul was only able to keep awake because of the long hours he had spent on guard duty that trained him for this sort of inactivity. When finally the opening arguments had been presented the panel of judges called the day to an end telling the prosecution to begin the presentation of witnesses the following day.
The next day the court resumed the prosecution began its case. The first witness to be called was an attempt at shocking the jury right onto their side and keeping them there. It was deemed a master stroke by pundits after the event, for Paul it was a sickening joke and one that he ended up very much regretting being part of.
Mrs Margaret Compton was called to the stand. Both Paul and Sydney watched the little woman take her place in the witness stand facing the 11 accused. The two men detested the lawyers within the court and it was all Sydney could do to keep his mouth shut as he watched from his place in the audience.
The Compton's plight was well known. As were the reports of the abduction of her 20 year old daughter and 5 of her classmates some three years before. An under-age sex trade with an off shore country was blamed but only recently did the public find out their actual fate.
All of the girls had been found within the clutches of Project BF and it appeared they would be one of the only groups of women who were returned, successfully, to their parents. The six young women were inseparable. Thelma and Martha had tried to find them loving partners but the women had steadfastly refused anyone else to enter their group. The arrival of the girls' parents had been a blessing as the women flung themselves into their arms and appeared to be in need of the parental love that the psychiatrists observed. After several months they were allowed to leave with the parents and established themselves in the large housing area that was reserved for them in Cellarium.
Tragically the girls had not been able to cope, it had been an elaborate ruse. In a murder-suicide pact they had taken their own lives in the basement of the Compton's home. They had taken their lives two days before Bonnie's twenty-first birthday.
Margaret Compton spoke in a low harsh voice and her deadly whispers were picked up by every ear in the room as she told in harrowing detail of the injuries to her daughter and her girlfriends. She turned to the men seated in their shackles and raised her voice only slightly. "Do you know that as you raped my daughter and her friends that you not only broke their bodies but you broke their minds as well?" she glared at all of them.
Whitbourne ignoring her sneered and remarked to Jeffries beside him. "I think I remember the tight cunted little sluts!" The courtroom erupted in pandemonium as the judges banged their gavels.
Syd and Paul had eyes only for Margaret Compton who in the ensuing melee removed two guns from her blouse and pointed them straight at the men and pulled the triggers 6 times. The heads of Whitbourne, MacIntyre and Jeffries disappeared in a spray of blood and grey matter, as did the heads of several more to the left of them. The others sagged in their seats as bullets entered their hearts or throats. Margaret Compton was a deadly shot.
Both Sydney and Paul heard the click of the pistol in her right hand as it failed to fire a bullet. The central judge also heard and rose to her feet shouting, "Hold your fire!" The security team had unholstered their weapons and trained them on the sobbing woman in the witness stand. None of them had fired a shot. Paul believed he had held his own fire because the woman in the stand deserved her justice. Let the Gods determine if they were wrong he thought as he trained his weapon on the woman.
Margaret Compton raised her hands. "They are empty. I only had 11 rounds." The courtroom was deathly silent with the only sounds coming from the sobbing Mrs Compton as she held the guns aloft.
"What happened to the twelfth round Mrs Compton?" Paul found himself asking and her pitiful eyes turned to him.
She looked directly into his soul as she stated softly, "These are the guns the girls used to kill each other with. Frank and I couldn't stop them. We were locked outside the door and could only see in through the window as the Wilson twins hugged each other and then stepped back and shot each other through the heart."
Her voice broke but she took a deep breath and continued to tell the story of what they had seen. To Mrs Compton the only person in the room that could save her was the big blonde sergeant who locked eyes with her. "And then Alison and Juanita picked up the guns and did the same to each other and finally my Mary and Louise kissed each other goodbye and and and ..." The woman stopped and squared her shoulders.
Paul saw the anguish in her eyes, she was pleading with him to end her misery. He asked again, "Mrs Compton what happened to the other round?" He hated himself for asking but they had to know.
"I used it to shoot Frank this morning before I came here... He begged me to kill him because he couldn't kill me first..." her voice trailed off.
"I was running late and I couldn't find any more ammunition so I just took them as they were." She looked at the judges and then turned back to Paul. Mrs Compton's pitiful eyes pleaded with him, silently begging him to save her. She spoke directly to his soul.
"The last bullet was going to be for me if you people didn't shoot me first and now it seems I have failed..."
Paul's hand shook slightly. Of all the security people there he was the only one that hadn't lowered his weapon. Margaret Compton lifted the guns to her head and pulled the triggers and her mouth twisted into a sorrowful scowl as neither of them exploded and ended her life. Her eyes pleaded silently with Paul again. He squeezed the trigger on his 9 mm and the deadly projectile slammed into Mrs Compton's chest killing her instantly.