Sergeant Glasser again paused for effect. Aside from Amy and Cybil glancing nervously at each other, the Sergeant’s words were met with polite indifference from the others. Professor Hill and Doctor Awolowo were very well aware that exploration in recently radiation cleaned areas was dangerous, both had lost friends and colleagues in the past. Bodil was also pretty sure that the three very experienced members of the Troy family security team were not unaccustomed to danger, especially now knowing how old at least two of them were.
The sergeant continued on, apparently unphased.
“There are many ways you can die in the greater London basin. A lot of people like you who come here to dig around in the ruins are under the impression that just because the area has been cleaned that it is safe. This is not the case. It isn’t even true to say that there is no longer any radiation to worry about, but I’ll get on to that in a moment.”
Glasser made herself comfortable by sitting against the edge of a vacant desk.
“Right now I want to go through the list of local fauna that can cut your visit here very short.”
Victor held up his hand.
The sergeant sighed and looked at Victor.
“Put your hand down. Look, I don’t know who you are.” She stood up, put her hands on her hips and turned to Gregor. “But I sure as hell know who you are, which means,” Now she stepped over to stand directly in front of Ellie sat at her desk. “That I’ve a pretty good idea who you are too.”
The sergeant, head bowed in thought, walked back to stand in front of the blackboard where she turned to face her ‘class’ and only then looked up again.
“There is a platoon of thirty rangers based here to look after nearly two hundred scientists, archaeologists, anthropawhatjacallums and whoever else from any one of a dozen museums or organisation. These teams are spread out over the three hundred and eighty square kilometres of what was inner London, which makes our job damned hard.”
Glasser folded her arms.
“Now, the platoon is headed by my lieutenant, but I didn’t get my orders to babysit you seven from him. In case you didn’t know it, this platoon is one of three similar platoons that make up a company. That company is commanded by a captain, but I didn’t get my orders from him either. Nor the major above him or the colonel above him etc. No. My orders came from the commanding officer of the whole damn Ranger force, personally, by video link… and I hadn’t even done my fucking hair.”
There was a collective chuckle from the seven ‘students’. Sergeant Glasser waited for it to subside.
“So, ladies and gentlemen, you’ll excuse me if I don’t care about your ‘training’ or your jobs,” She looked directly at Ellie then. “Or your title. I’m going to treat you all as if you are innocent babes who can barely wipe their own arses. That way MY arse is covered when…” She held up a hand. “I’m sorry, IF any of you get yourselves killed out there.”
Once again she paused to let her words sink in and Bodil wondered if this was the way she handled the rangers, kind of ‘intimidation by bullet point’. The pause ended. Glasser stared at Victor.
Victor slowly shook his head from side to side.
Sergeant Glasser resumed her place perched on the corner of the vacant desk.
“London Ticks. These giant insects are over fifty centimetres wide across the carapace and are usually found in woodland, caves and anywhere that is dank and dark. Which is pretty much everywhere in the greater London basin. They are slow but persistent when they attack…”
Two hours later Bodil filed out of the classroom with the others, having learned far too much about what was likely going to kill her the first time she set foot outside of the Wembley base. She needed a drink.
Apparently, she wasn’t the only one who felt that way and all seven members of the expedition made their way together to one of the ‘Eastern Slope: Accommodation and Recreation’ area’s several bars.
After they had collected their drinks and pushed two tables together to accommodate the whole team, Bodil and the other three academics squeezed in together against the wall. Ellie, Victor and Gregor lagged behind and were still at the bar. Bodil glanced over and noticed they had not been joined by the others. Ellie, dwarfed on either side by the two men, was doing the talking. Victor and Gregor were doing the listening. Whatever Ellie was saying was drowned out by the chatter of other patrons but when it came to an end Gregor efficiently encouraged a clear path to where Bodil and the others waited.