Authors: Christopher Nuttall
Christopher G. Nuttall
All Comments Welcome!
Britain – and the European Union – is struggling to remain civilised. Unemployment is high, ethnic and religious tensions are rising sharply, crime is skyrocketing, the value of money is falling and the whole system is on the verge of collapse. Across the continent, united only in name, countless individuals struggle to keep themselves afloat and survive for a few more days.
But weakness invites attack and covetous eyes set their sights on the remains of Europe’s industry and trained population. As a military juggernaut descends on an unprepared continent, the remains of Britain’s once-proud military must fight to defend their country ... or watch helplessly as Britain falls into darkness.
The Guardian. 1
Following questions in Parliament, Scotland Yard confirmed that the prime suspect in the rape and murder of Judy Lewisham near RAF Mildenhall was Corporal Michael Collins, an American serviceman stationed at RAF Mildenhall, a base operated by American forces in Britain. Collins, one of thousands of Americans stationed in Britain, was apparently confined to the base following the rape and murder; the Police investigation conducted by Inspector David Briggs was taken over by the Home Office, following the use of DNA remains to trace the murderer. The attempt by the Home Office to hush the entire affair up has caused great distress to the people of Judy’s community.
Unconfirmed reports have further reached this reporter that allege that Collins was flown out of the country as soon as the Home Office contacted American authorities regarding the possible extradition of Collins for trial and sentencing in Britain. Protesters, led by Judy’s family, have surrounded RAF Mildenhall and have refused to be dispersed by either police or American guards; a number of violent incidents have already been reported near American bases in other locations, with Americans attacked and in some cases banned from pubs and shops.
Condolences, many directly addressed to Judy’s family, have been flowing in from all over the world. President Nekrasov of Russia has offered his sympathies and support, if necessary, to ensure that Collins is brought to justice. General Henri Guichy, who is in line for a seat on the European Defence Commission, called for the incident to be treated as a symbol of American arrogance in the world and for Europe to insist on revisions to the various Status of Forces agreements, particularly the ABM bases established in Poland against the expressed resolution of Brussels.
Although neither Ten Downing Street nor the White House have commented, it strikes this reporter that relations between Britain – and to some extent the European Union – and America have reached an all-time low. Between inflammatory comments made by Senator David Howery and Congressman Reaper, and calls for American bases to be placed firmly under British jurisdiction by a multi-party group of Members of Parliament in London, it seems that relations between Europe and America are about to go through a very rapid series of changes, perhaps even a total break. This reporter says; not a moment too soon.
The problem with the British Army is that there is a British Army.
Unnamed Progressive, 2007
It was turning into a very bad day.
“They’re about to begin the march,” Sergeant Harold Page said. “The Superintendent wants to ensure that everything is ready for them.”
Inspector David Briggs said nothing, merely looked down at the images from countless CCTV cameras scattered around the centre of London, from the park where the marchers were gathering to the entire region of Hyde Park, which had been designated as the endpoint for the march, where the leader of the Front for Peace, Freedom and Progress would address the crowd. There were thousands of people there, some of them dedicated marchers, some of them students or tourists drawn into the excitement, some of them there merely to pick up girls…and a hardcore of real troublemakers.
“We have over a thousand police officers on duty,” he said, knowing that the Metropolitan Police had drawn in other officers from all over the country, as well as calling up all of the reserves. The remainder of London would be shorthanded for the duration of the march, something that worried the Superintendent enough for him to pass local control over to Briggs. The Superintendent was a political animal; he knew that little good would come out of the march, and it would be a career-wreaker for any officer if something went wrong. “We have medics, riot control squads and even armed anti-terrorist units on alert. What could go wrong?”
Page shrugged. The Metropolitan Police dreaded a repeat of the protest marches that had occurred in America, where a handful of local terrorists had used car bombs to slaughter the protesters and incite anger. The American War on Terror had been going on for twenty-three years and the British public – along with the remainder of the European Governments – feared that it would one day spread back to Britain and Europe. It would only take a handful of hardcore troublemakers – and the Home Office had warned that several dozen known troublemakers were planning to attend the march – to kill thousands and further stain the reputation of the Police.
Briggs was, for a moment, lost in thought. If it had been up to him, he would have banned the protest from taking place, no matter what the law said. It was a disaster waiting to happen…but the Prime Minister would never allow the Metropolitan Police to prevent protesters from marching. The protesters had played a major role in the fall of the British Government after the RAF Mildenhall Incident…or perhaps it had been after the Sudan Disaster. They would never dare prevent the people from asserting their right to protest, no matter the dangers, or the extremists who would use it as political leverage. Peace was important, the Government said, peace at any price…
The Sergeant coughed. “Yes, I know,” Briggs said, more in private irritation than in anger. The Metropolitan Police had what seemed like a permanent manpower shortage and they couldn’t afford to lose anyone. “Tell the Superintendent that everything is ready and we hope that it can be concluded quickly.”
He leaned back in his chair and muttered a curse under his breath. It was just like the Metropolitan Police of 2024; they could build a mobile command centre that was capable, in theory, of commanding a police operation over the entire United Kingdom…while at the same time, they could neither provide the manpower to police Britain effectively, or even comfortable chairs for the officers on duty. He would have preferred to have handled matters from New Scotland Yard, but procedure called for the officer commanding – at least until politics decreed his replacement – to be on the scene. At one point, that had meant something; now, all it meant was chaos.
The protesters hadn’t waited for the police go-ahead; that would have been dreadfully conformist of them. The stewards provided by the Front for Peace, Freedom and Progress hadn’t attempted to stop them; three of them were already cooling their heels in a police van, handcuffed to the side of the van, until they could be transported to the nearest police station to be charged with assault and attempted rape. The Front for Peace, Freedom and Progress was a genuinely transnational organisation; Briggs had been disgusted with some of the stewards who had been brought in to provide crowd control. The Superintendent hadn’t allowed him to use that as a cause to have the march cancelled; politics, once again…
The bastards would probably get away with it as well.
“Two pickpockets caught by the crowd,” Page said, interrupting his thoughts. The dumber of London’s petty criminals had gravitated to the crowd as well, seeing an opportunity for quick profit; the crowd might allow them to get away with it, or they might turn on the crooks. Socialists, in Briggs’ experience, tended to get very irate when it was their pocket being picked. “The local officers have them in custody.”
“Good,” Briggs said. There had been several marches where the crowd had fought police officers to free criminals, for whatever reasons made sense to the vast human body; this march, so far, hadn’t turned nasty. “Get them to the vans and transported to the police station.”
He flicked through the images from different CCTV cameras. The march organisers had predicted that over ten thousand interested people would come; it looked to Briggs as if they had been out by an order of magnitude. The elaborate programs scanning the images faster than the human eye could begin to grasp were reporting well over a hundred thousand people in the nearby vicinity, including identifying thousands of people known to the police though Facial Recognition Software. Some of them were people who had had a brief run-in with the police, some of them were famous figures; he spotted two MPs, one MSP and five candidates for the local elections, coming soon. The Mayor of London was there, glad-handing with his constituents, including some that Briggs would never have expected to see together…
Before the world had gone crazy.
One large body of marchers were very openly homosexual; they wore garish clothes and marches with exaggerated movements, designed to shock as much as attract. A second body – several bodies – of marchers was composed of Muslims, marching in a bizarre combination of groups, united temporarily by their dislike for the Americans and suppressing their dislike for the homosexuals. Iran had put a dozen gaysexuals to death the week before the Iran War had begun; the homosexual marchers could expect nothing, but death under Islamic rule. Briggs knew, even if the government ensured that the general public knew little about it, about the young Muslim men killed by their peers…merely for being gaysexual. To Briggs, a practical man, it made no sense; why were two groups with so much reason to hate each other allied?
The answer made itself clear as the first American flag burst into flame. Everyone knew that North Korea had been rattling the sabre – again – in Korea and the South Korean Government had screamed for help. Despite America’s overstretched position in the Middle East, the American Government had organised the hasty dispatch of an American force…ignoring the protests from Europe and Russia alike. American spokesmen had pointed to the ongoing Chinese Civil War; Kang Seung Jae, the Dictator of North Korea, had to know that North Korea was finally coming to the end of its existence…and appeared to be preparing one final gamble.
Everyone also knew that North Korea had nukes.
Page was tapping instructions into one of the consoles. “Sir,” he said, “is that her?”
Briggs peered past the ‘BUSH; WAR CRIMES,’ RAPE KIRKPATRICK NOW’ and the ‘NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL’ signs, and nodded. “That’s her,” he said, shortly. “Daphne Hammond, otherwise known as the Leader of the Front for Peace, Freedom and Progress, cast-iron stone-cold bitch. Those stunning looks, Harry, conceal a mind that is cold and very calculating.”
Page cocked an eyebrow. Daphne Hammond was around thirty and looked twenty, with long blonde hair, a balcony that someone could perform Shakespeare from, and stunning blue eyes. She was also a trained lawyer, a woman who had outlasted at least two husbands, and privately considered to be the most dangerous woman in the world. He had been on the receiving end of her tongue more than once; as the leader of the Front for Peace, Freedom and Progress, she was formidable…and perhaps destined to be Britain’s second female Prime Minister. Certainly, her name had been put forward as a possible candidate…
Briggs shook his head and wondered; what was Daphne playing at? She might have been blonde, but she was no dummy; she had brought together a coalition that included factions that wouldn’t be impressed by her good looks, or would regard a woman in power as an abomination. The Front had smaller sections all over Europe; as a mainly European Party, it might even have more clout than the figures suggested.
“That’s definitely one of the troublemakers,” another operator injected. Briggs pushed the issue of Daphne’s actions to the back of his mind – it wasn’t as if anyone had any proof that she was involved in anything other than political actions, even if her two husbands had met early graves – and turned to the console. The Facial Recognition Software was certain; the CCTV cameras had locked onto a known troublemaker, someone who had caused more than a few riots…and somehow never jailed. “That’s Baz Falkland, all right. I’m not sure if he is chatting up that girl or if he is up to something.”
Briggs scowled. “Have supporting units moved up,” he said. If it did turn nasty, a lot of people were about to be hurt. “I want…”
Page interrupted him. “Sir, the stewards just muscled him off,” he said. Briggs blinked; he hadn’t known that the stewards had either the knowledge or the determination to move the troublemaker along. Baz Falkland was trouble, everyone knew it; a reputation that had started in Manchester and moved through many of England’s cities. Only sheer luck had saved him from a jail term. “It looks as if they were pretty rough.”
Briggs nodded. “I want additional constables in the area,” he said. He would shed no tears for Baz Falkland, but if the stewards started muscling innocent people around, the police would have to intervene quickly, even if it meant his career. “And someone reassure the Superintendent; everything is under control.”
It said something about the general opinion of the Superintendent that no one even blinked at the scorn in his voice.
“I would have thought,” Caroline Morgan remarked, as her shoulder-mounted camera sensor tracked a set of marchers carrying BUSH MUST FACE THE ICC signs, “that beating the President Bush horse is just a little outdated by now. It is 2024, after all.”
“But it was President Bush who started the American grab for the Middle East,” Daphne Hammond said, her voice almost girlishly innocent. Caroline would have been fooled, perhaps, were it not for her instincts; Daphne Hammond was bad news. She seemed young, and sincere…except for her eyes. They were cold and hard, as if she had seen everything a thousand times over, and hadn’t been impressed the first time. “Even now, the Americans are fighting to hold down the Middle East and extract the last drop of oil from its soil.”
Caroline almost tuned the speech out of her mind, knowing that it was all carefully prepared to impress people who were already inclined to distrust America. According to Daphne Hammond, after CIA operatives had carried out the terrible atrocity of 9/11, the Americans had used it as an excuse to first invade Afghanistan, and then Iraq, before luring the Europeans into first Iraq, and then Sudan…before cutting off their supply lines and leaving General Éclair to take the blame and kill himself, incidentally weakening EUROFOR to the point where it could not provide the counterbalance to America…and then luring Iran into a war. Americans had bombed Israel, for some reason that had only made sense to them, and then allowed their own soldiers to endure two nuclear attacks…and a long and bloody occupation of the Middle East.
As history, it was utterly grotesque.
“Thank you,” Caroline said, as soon as Daphne had finished. “But tell me, what do you really think?”
Daphne’s eyes flickered with rage, just for a second, and then the mask was back in place. “I think that the European compliance with the Americans has gone on long enough,” she said. “It wasn’t anything like enough to evict almost all of the American forces from Europe after that
incident in Mildenhall, but instead we have to created a United Europe which can provide a strong and positive voice in the United Nations towards creating a strong and dignified Earth.”
Caroline took a moment to sort it all out in her mind. “You must be aware that the European Union has become much more unpopular in both Britain and France, to cite, but only two cases,” she said. It was true; the British believed that Europe had been ruining British industries, while French opinion blamed the endless influx of Algerian and Palestinian refugees on the EU. “Why do you feel that your…transnational group would win elections to the European Parliament?”