Larry sat at the head of a long table that took up much of the cabinet room in Number 10. The gang were seated along its length. Barrymore was pouring out shots of Havana Club at the very cocktail cabinet after which, so it was said, the room had been named. It was all 1950s Formica and mirror glass on spindly legs.
“Rum for the boys,” said Barrymore, “and what will you girls be wanting?”
“A Mah-Jongg cocktail for me, please,” said Flo.
“Ooh, what’s in one of those?” asked Beryl.
“Dry gin, white rum and Curaçao.”
“Oh yeh, I’ll have one of those too.”
“Tiger beer for me please,” said Lady Augusta, “And Zelda will have a dandelion and burdock.”
The young punk sighed, “But…”
“Small sherry please,” said Aunty Stella, “I’ve things to do this afternoon.”
“Now,” said Larry, “let’s get down to business. Situation reports please.”
Boz coughed, “The counter revolution has collapsed. The Yanks are somewhat averse to failure, particularly spectacularly embarrassing and public failure. Following on from the Überkatzen disaster the Multinationals have withdrawn funding from the British Government in Exile. There will be no more trouble from that quarter. Consuella and the Kittens will shortly be returning from Jersey, by air.”
“Les Chats have remained conspicuously inconspicuous since their ticking off,” said Lady Augusta. “I think now would be a good time to take Zelda home and for me to return to Shambhalla.”
“Looks like you can go back to not being in charge, Mr Acting Prime Minister,” said Flo.
Larry gave a satisfied sigh.
As the pals sat back, tucked into their drinks and wondered if biscuits would be arriving any time soon there came an edgy whistle from outside. They crowded the windows in time to see a fireball glowing emerald green and gouging a smoke trail across the sky. As it passed there was the double bang of a sonic boom and the whistle tone dropped an octave. Soon after the object passed beyond the horizon there was a momentary intense white flash that cast deep, sharp shadows even within the cabinet room and, some seconds later, a dull rumble like distant thunder.
“What now?” asked Larry.
The good ladies of Maldon clustered at the landward end of Northey Island’s tidal causeway. A sudden shockwave had shattered windowpanes, dislodged roof tiles and chimney pots in their town and a disgruntled deputation had marched to the source of the explosion. Many carried infants within the folds of their shawls, most were knitting ganseys for their men folk as they surged forwards. At the far end of the causeway a menacing assemblage of junkyard scrap metal crafted into the form of a humanoid robot stood sentry, gleaming chrome-like in the watery Essex light, Behind it a freshly ploughed crater still glowed dimly and smoked. The mayor’s wife pushed through the crowd and stepped onto the narrow land bridge. A small creature dressed in a silvery space suit with a bubble helmet approached from the island.
“Now look here. Someone’s going to have to pay for all our broken windows.”
“Madam, we have come to negotiate the retrieval of a long lost artifact, whose power is beyond your comprehension. Take me to your leader.”