The Slow Passage of Time
A/N; Final chapter. I know this story is short but it was always going to be. I hope you've all enjoyed reading it and I look forward to reading what you've all got to say about it.
Chapter 5; Beings of Legend
Danvers had given them the benefit of the doubt in that he gave them an hour to get themselves together while he and Robin waited outside in plain view of the doors to the shop. Alan was lurking on the roof of the building and his heightened hearing could easily monitor what was happening within. With Will and Much in danger as it were they weren't going to risk being betrayed. This Slayer was their best option right now and he didn't want to have to kill her if she betrayed him. The only remaining option to him if that happened was to threaten the United States Government but he didn't know whether that would do any good unless he put action into his threat and he doubted that his Queen would appreciate such a thing.
He was going to give the United States Government a warning with this though. The Project wasn't a brand new concept, perhaps a different name to an old idea but a few Presidents had created groups to study demons and vampires and it rarely ended well. Danvers was talking to the Captain of the Predator on satellite phone and arranging a quick get away from the United States if it was necessary. Danvers didn't keep it near to Britain all the time and since the HMS Britannia had been decommissioned it had become a world famous symbol of Great Britain and it was often visiting different parts of the British territories or Commonwealth. At the moment it was in Halifax but within the hour it would slip its anchor from the middle of the harbour and be southbound at its full speed of thirty knots. That way it could be off Washington before sunrise the next day and ready for them to fly out to it and sail into international waters. If the US Navy wanted to attack him in international waters than they were insane.
" Danvers." Robin warned him and Danvers said goodbye to the Captain and ended the call and pocketed the phone before looking to see the four humans coming towards him.
"For the sake of the two Vampires we shall leave as soon as the sun sets." Danvers announced, cutting Buffy off sharply. "A helicopter will be on the hospital helipad at six pm sharp. I suggest that if you're late you and your family begin running for I shall find you and cut you to shreds."
"Make sure there's enough seats for six of us then." Xander announced.
"I will not be held responsible if one of these humans is killed." Danvers told the Slayer simply.
"As if you care." Buffy raised an eyebrow.
"Why should I?" Danvers scoffed before half turning. "I do not trust Slayers or Watchers in general so one of us will be following you for the rest of the day. If you attempt to contact this Project prior to our rescue then you will all die. Is that clear?"
"You can't just murder humans in this country." Xander pointed out. "I don't know how things are run in your country..."
Danvers moved before anyone could blink and even Buffy was taken by surprise as Danvers grabbed the human by the front of his shirt and hoisted him three feet into the air. "Listen to me you little worm. There is nothing this country can do to touch me. I am a Predator." He hissed close to his face before dropping him and turned to Buffy who was eyeing him with concern. "Stop playing games with me, Slayer. I'm growing tired of merely handing out threats."
"If you kill any of them I won't help you." Buffy warned.
"And after I kill the second?" Danvers asked. "How many of your friends are you willing to lose just to protect this Project? I doubt you're willing to lose even one. In contrast I am willing to destroy half of this country to get my friends back."
Danvers and Robin turned and in a blur they were gone without any sign that they'd even been there.
Danvers watched from the edge of the grass beside the helipad as the sleek black helicopter touched down. The air washed over the three Predator Vampires and Danvers turned his head away from the downwash to look at the approached figures. Angel and Spike didn't look happy to be out in the daylight but the sun was just below the horizon so they weren't in any danger. The helicopter wound down and the co-pilot got out to open the rear door for them. These men were used to Danvers or his people calling on them when they were in the US and they were the type that didn't ask questions. For enough money they'd put you anywhere in the country as long as it wasn't too badly outside of the laws.
Danvers waited for Buffy to finish giving their destination to the pilot who nodded to Danvers to say they could do it. After that Buffy got in with the two Vampires, two witches and the single human and finally Danvers, Robin and Alan climbed up and closed the door behind them. Danvers quickly pulled a headset from its hanger and slipped it over his head.
"Any idea for an ETA?" He asked after the co-pilot was back inboard and the rotors were powering up again.
"An hour out sir." The pilot interrupted. "It isn't far."
"Keep low if you can for a while." Danvers told him knowing that he didn't want a burst of sunlight coming in and hitting Angel or Spike.
"What do you want us to do afterwards?" The co-pilot asked as the pilot pulled them into a hover and turned them towards the setting sun and pushed them forwards.
"Land nearby." Danvers ordered. "We'll need picking up afterwards and taking to the closest airport." He'd already arranged for a private jet to be available for them at the nearest airport and it would have them to the east coast within an hour of take off. Hopefully they'd be far into international waters before anyone senior enough to mobilise against them even heard of the attack.
The chopper held position about eight hundred feet above the complex that Buffy had given the pilot and Danvers opened the side door after checking with the co-pilot and looked down over the mountainside complex, his eyes easily finding all of the entrances on the ground. He looked at Alan and Robin who moved to the opening.
"Sir, we've got some sort of ATC trying to contact us. They're saying we're in controlled airspace." The co-pilot told him.
"Are we?" Danvers asked back.
"Nothing civilian or military." The co-pilot assured him. "What do you want us to say?"
"Pretend to think they're a couple of kids with a toy radio." Danvers said simply. "Take a slow loop of the valley then set down just outside of the main gate."
"With what kind of firepower down there, sir?" He asked almost in accusation.
"I'll signal you once the way is clear." Danvers told him before turning to Buffy and met her eyes with dangerous glittering ones before he flowed backwards and burst into black mist that spirally up through the rotor blades before spinning around towards the ground.
Danvers flowed around the base in only a few seconds before entering what was the command hut for the defences and reformed himself right between the three guards. In only a second they were all dead. He wasn't going for subtle this time. The world knew what happened when his family were attacked. He was out of the door a second later after smashing holes in their computer defences. This was only an outstation but it would give them pause for thought.
He flowed back across the grounds as mist towards the main gate to find Robin and Alan standing in the centre of the road waiting for him. He gripped his knees as he leaned forwards letting Robin rub his back for a moment while he got over using the black mist.
The two had taken out all the perimeter guards and dogs as well as smashed open the front gate and taken out the gate video cameras. Danvers nodded to Alan as he straightened up. "Go." He whispered and Alan was gone in a blur, off to scout out the main entrance and take out anybody coming out. The people inside would know the surface had been taken out by now but they'd have little chance against Alan until they realised what they were up against and by then it would be too late to call out the big guns.
Danvers lifted a penlight and blinked it up at where he could see the helicopter lingering in the air. Nothing visible came out of the penlight but the pilots could see the laser marker with their night vision goggles and almost instantly the helicopter banked around and within twenty seconds was touching down on the road.
Buffy and her five friends jumped out and Danvers waved the helicopter off and it disappeared over the trees to land and wait for Danvers' call. "Did you kill all of them?" Xander gasped.
"All of them." Danvers nodded.
"All they did was capture two of your friends." Buffy accused.
"Careful." Robin spoke silkily. "You helped."
"You're supposed to be the great Robin Hood!" Willow frowned.
"Welcome to the real world." Robin told her darkly. He was acting dark but Danvers knew he just didn't care anymore to explain himself to people like this.
"Did you guys leave us any?" Spike asked smoothly.
"Spike." Danvers sighed before turning and starting to walk up the track towards the main entrance. The others followed behind him. "You still don't understand how much I know."
"How did you find out about this damn chip?" Spike wasn't really shocked.
"The Duchess of Norfolk." Danvers said simply and Willow and the other witch gasped in surprise. "She has requested that I do not aid you."
"Wait, you could get rid of this thing?" Spike asked.
Danvers tilted his head slightly. "Possibly. But it doesn't exactly damage your persona, my dead Spike."
"Fuck you." Spike snorted in amusement.
It wasn't long before they approached a heavy metal door, firmly closed, but being watched by Alan who turned to glance at them. "I can hear six people behind the door. Nobody else around. This is the only entrance."
"Oh and you're sure?" Xander laughed and Danvers just looked at him and he shut up. The human was more overwhelmed than anything else, they were basically hostages right now.
"What do you think?" Robin asked. "They look like they open outwards."
"So you're not strong enough to knock them down?" Buffy grinned, finally happy that she had something that Danvers, Robin and Much couldn't do.
"It's about a foot thick." Danvers said. "Any sort of explosion would only press them in on each other."
"So we knock?" Spike asked.
"How about I knock from the inside?" Danvers took a step forwards and burst into black mist, vanishing in the dark of the night. He flowed at the door and the mist spread out around the seams seeking the smallest of holes to get though and he found hundreds and soon the humans on the other side were panicking and several opened fire but their bullets just shot through him. Danvers attacked them with the same level of mercy as those outside and soon all six were dead. Finally he turned to the doors and eyed them before looking at the box on the side. He hit the button and there was a thud as the locks disengaged and the doors began to pivot outwards.
The others moved into the lit complex and the humans looked physically ill at the site of the dead bodies even though Danvers had barely touched them. They all had broken necks but that wasn't immediately evident. "Welcome to reality." Danvers said simply. "It's time for you to start helping."
"We've never been here before." Buffy defended.
"Bullshit." Danvers said simply and grabbed Willow, the wicca witch, on the arm and half pushed and half threw her down the corridor ahead of them. "The slayer and the witches scents are already here. If you don't help then we won't protect you when the bullets start flying and don't forget the fact that as far as they're concerned you helped us break in."
"That's a lie." Buffy accused.
"Oh dear, is it?" Alan hissed and grabbed the back of her neck. "You know what, Slayer? You are really starting to piss me off. Let me just point something out to you, we've broken into this facility without a scratch on us and without really actually trying. You think we really need your help? You're only here because Danvers thinks you should have the chance to redeem yourself and see the light that you can't hurt us and shouldn't try next time but I say we just kill all of you for helping capture our friends."
"Alan, that's enough." Robin spoke too quietly for even the two Vampires to hear and Alan released the young woman.
"You know what?" Buffy started. "You don't scare me. There's only so much you can kill me, beyond that you've really got nothing to bargain with and guess what I've already died once. It's not so bad. So threaten me all you like."
"Alright then." Danvers shrugged and blurred forwards even as Alan slid out of the way seeing something snap in Danvers. Danvers struck Buffy with almost the full power of his strength and he felt her ribs give way in the instant that his force travelled into her. She flew backwards through Xander and Willow and smashed the back of her head into the ceiling before crashing into the wall with another sickening thud and then finally came to a rest on the floor. Angel launched himself at Danvers but Danvers merely caught him by the throat, ignoring Angel's return grip on his arms. Angel was trying to crush the bones in Danvers' arms but Danvers' arms weren't easy to damage. Angel's face twisted and deformed as he let his demonic side loose but Danvers merely lifted him a foot off the ground and shook his right arm sending Angel flying backwards into the wall.
Angel caught himself just as the sound of footsteps came to them all but Danvers ignored that for the time being, spun around and slammed his heel into the Vampire's chest, breaking bones and if he had been a human he would have probably put his foot all the way through him and into the wall. Angel slumped to the ground and Danvers finally turned to the next greatest threat, the dozen soldiers that had just run into the corridor and taken up a blockade type formation.
He dimly noticed Spike and the three humans diving for the ground but Robin, Alan and himself didn't even flinch until the twelve soldiers opened fire on fully automatic. All three of them fell into their true beings and the world almost seemed to slow down. They could focus on the bullets flying towards them and with deft movements, only what was necessary, they dodged all of the bullets. Robin was the first to attack and he paused in his movement only long enough to grab a handful of arrows from the quiver on his back. He tossed them into the air and he, along with Danvers and Alan, grabbed a couple each and even while still dodging bullets threw them at almost the speed of a bow down the corridor.
Before the soldiers knew what was happening half of them were thrown back by arrows burying deep into their necks and a split second later three forms were blurring through them and that was that. The twelve soldiers were dead.
Danvers looked at Robin and Alan who both had stern gazes as they looked down at the bloodied bodies and then around for the next danger. Danvers walked calmly back down the corridor and saw the three humans watching them in fear. The whole thing had only taken about ten seconds and most of that had been the three Predator Vampires merely dodging bullets. "Do you get it now?" Danvers hissed dangerously. "I couldn't really care about her, if she dies then another will awaken and the Watchers Council can't really complain about the loss."
"Except that you killed somebody that only wanted to better the world." The final witch, who had yet to say anything, spoke softly.
"Perhaps she should have been a little more open to the concept that we're not Vampires destined to be killed." Danvers said simply. "Look up the Duchy of Nottingham and see what you want in it but only the British Empire has bettered the world more than I."
"That doesn't justify this kind of slaughter." The girl told him.
"Who said I was trying to justify it to you?" Danvers chuckled derisively. "The humans and the Wizards want to go to war with us and this is to show them that it's not possible for them to win."
With that Danvers, Robin and Alan were gone from the corridor and were deep within the complex, following the scents of their two friends, in a matter of a few seconds. Eight more humans died on the way until not even a minute later they were breaking through a containment door only to be deafened by a loud alarm. Finally the humans had declared their loss and were evacuating, fleeing from the three demi-gods ripping through their soldiers.
"Will!" Alan shouted even as he hit the bars between him and his husband in anger. They bent but it would take more to actually break them. Another alarm started as Alan broke a connection on the bars but they didn't really care about that. Danvers travelled through the bars as black mist and knelt beside Will's weakened form and he knew instantly how they'd weakened them. Without much of their powers and beaten to an inch of their lives they'd then had most of their blood drained out so they couldn't heal. He put an arm in front of Will's mouth and used his other hand to lift Will's semi-conscious form so that he could bite down on his wrist.
Danvers shuttered his eyes as he felt his blood being drunk and it wasn't long before Will pulled away. It didn't take much of another Predator Vampire's blood to bring them up out of such a state but Will, Much and Danvers would have to feed on a human pretty soon to bring up their reservoirs. Robin appeared on the other side of the bars and Danvers travelled back through the bars as mist again, leaving Robin and Alan to blow apart the bars. To avoid reforming himself and putting up with the nausea he flowed straight to where Much was in the same state as Will and within a minute he was pulling away from Danvers' wrist and letting Danvers help him to stand on his own feet.
"It's time to go." Danvers told him and put a supporting arm around Much's back to reassure him.
Two hours later
The Merlin helicopter which lived onboard the Predator was a Royal Navy aircraft on permanent station on the Predator which the Navy didn't mind because it was fuelled and maintained at the cost of the Duke of Nightmares and proved to be a good training platform for new pilots. In fact as one of the only flight decks built to take the weight of the Merlin at the time of their design a lot of the research was done on board. The Predator was designed with a flight deck on the back of the superstructure and while higher than normal for a ship that wasn't an aircraft carrier it was large enough for a Chinook to land.
The Merlin came in land with the permission of the Washington air traffic control to pick up the Duke of Norfolk and his entourage and while this was all done very publicly they were relying on the fact that word had yet to spread to the authorities about what had happened in California. Danvers had a bit of immunity to most of the laws as a visiting diplomat but that wouldn't stop the US military if it wanted retribution against him or his friends. The Merlin travelled high for most of the journey until it came within a few miles of the Predator at which point it rapidly descended. In the darkness of the new moon the ship showed up as a collection of lights but most of those lights became only a glow as the Merlin lined up with the stern of the ship and soon only the stern light and flight deck lights were obvious to the pilots. To the five Predator vampires in the back of the Merlin though it the wake of the ship was obvious where it had just turned to steady up on the correct course for landing.
The Merlin settled down with a small bump and the crewman paused by the door until he heard permission on his headset and he slid the door open and waved for Danvers, Robin, Alan, Will and Much to disembark. They kept to the rules let themselves be escorted off of the flight deck by members of the flight deck party and the Merlin began to shut down even as they felt the ship roll ever so slightly as it brought itself back onto course.
"Duke Orion!" A man called to him. One of the third officers on board. Danvers didn't know all of the crew but he knew most of the permanent members of the crew. The rest were normally merchant navy or navy moonlighting or on loan from the Royal Navy who lights to be able to have a presence on the ship, especially for formal occasions after HMS Britannia had been decommissioned. "The Captain wishes you to know that he is on the Bridge if you wish to speak to him. He says he is happy to come to you if you are tried for time."
Danvers smiled in the dark knowing that meant that the Captain wanted to talk to him about the situation and that was his subtle way of saying he wanted to talk immediately. He might be the Master and therefore responsible for everything the ship did but Danvers was the owner and that made him just as liable for recrimination if the ship did something it wasn't supposed to. Then again the presence of a navy flight, navy crewmen and officers and lastly the presence of British Peerage did give it the grey card to wave around if it was required.
Danvers turned to the others who nodded to show they would look after themselves and Danvers moved forwards passed the open helicopter lift that led down to the hanger at the bottom of the ship and along the top of the superstructure and up the steps that led onto the large bridge wings. The door was open and Danvers ducked inside, his eyes adjusting to the nearly pitch black room, lit only by control lights and red and black radar and ECDIS, chart, screens.
"Captain." Danvers greeted quietly since even though the man's eyes were adjusted to the darkness he probably couldn't see Danvers in his dark clothing. "I am sorry for the departure from your planning passage."
"No need for apology, Duke Orion." Captain Isles told him as he moved over to him. "I only wish for an explanation."
Danvers jerked his head and the two walked out onto the bridge wing, lit with a gentle glow from the portholes and windows of the ship. Out here the Captain could make out Danvers' face a little easier and Danvers could see him just as he could in the daylight. "Much and Will were in the United States tracking down a group of Vampires and Demons that had crossed our radar so to speak." Danvers explained. "They reported in before following the gang to the town of Mulderik in California and the next morning British Surveillance Satellites caught photos of the remains of a slaughter in the town and Will and Much did not respond to communications."
The Captain waited patiently knowing that what he was being told was GB Top Secret, not even for the eyes of their allied nations especially since Danvers had just admitted that their own surveillance satellites had been recording over US soil. Danvers continued with a sigh. "Robin, Alan and I went to investigate. The US Military although late to prevent the Vampires and Demons from slaughtering the entire town were in time to capture Will and Much with the help of a the current Slayer and two Wiccan Witches of admittedly great power. Part of the US army called the Project detained Will and Much. Robin, Alan and I have just been to rescue them."
"And that is the reason we are remaining in international waters?" The Captain asked.
"It is." Danvers nodded. "The US military were well aware of who they were detaining unlawfully and Will and Much had to be extracted with all haste. Unfortunately that meant we had to be brutal." Danvers nodded in the darkness.
"I'd suggest then that we plot a course across the Atlantic as soon as possible then, Duke Orion." The Captain suggested. "The sooner we put distance between us and them the better."
"Do it then, Captain." Danvers nodded. "I shall check in with the British Military Command immediately and I will forward anything pertinent to you and your Navigator."
Danvers left the man on the Bridge making phone calls and headed down to the forecastle to make a few calls. The first call was to Djaq to tell her that Will and Much were safe and to tell them where they were.
"What do you plan to do?" She asked him.
"We're going to sail back to Britain as soon as the ship has the course planned." Danvers told her.
"The only problem I see with that is the US task group operating off the east coast. They're about five hundred miles from you right now and at thirty knots they can get to your current position in under seventeen hours. That's not counting anything coming out of harbour but I don't think they'll bother with that when they've got eight ships out with submarines directly in your projected route." Djaq told him. "And of course if you start travelling east at thirty knots you'll slam straight into them in less than eight and a half hours."
"We're transmitting as a passenger ship with over two hundred civilians on board. They can't really do anything to us without the world press getting wind of it." Danvers pointed out. "And they can't charge us with anything if they board."
"But out in the mid Atlantic they could cause an accident." Djaq grumbled. "It's a small chance and only possible if there's someone pulling the strings who really got hurt when you wiped out of the Project base but I think you need another option."
"What?" Danvers asked.
"I've been on the phone to Fleet Headquarters since I heard you were moving the Predator down to escape on. There's a small task group just off of Newfoundland doing submarine detection exercises with the US. HMS Illustrious and seven Frigates and Destroyers. Give the world and they'll be down to escort you back across the Atlantic." Djaq told him.
"And what will Whitehall tell the world press?" Danvers asked even though they both knew he'd say yes. There was too much riding on restraining the US military.
"They already plan to tell the world that they received a bomb threat against the Predator and that you went to sea to avoid land based attacks." Djaq informed him. "It won't be difficult to tell the press that worried over a possible asymmetric threat at sea they sent the task group to escort you back to safe waters. The British public will love it to add to that. If anything Whitehall is eager to do it. They want to show the world that the British fleet is a world power still and this will do it. Especially to the US."
"Alright, Djaq, tell the Navy that we'll head straight for them at best speed. Have them send us their positions and courses. Plotted speed will be thirty knots." Danvers said. That would be pushing the ship's designed speed but Danvers knew that she could do it and with the five Predator Vampires on board they'd be able to hear any problems long before they happened.
"Work out the triangle, Danvers." Djaq warned. "It's going to close. Very close."
"I know, Djaq. We'll see you in a week or so." Danvers promised before hanging up. The triangle was rather despairing with about a thousand miles between the Predator and the British and US task group up north and only five hundred miles between them and the US destroyers that would soon be chasing them. If the British task group did sixteen knots and the Predator thirty they'd meet in just over twenty-one hours and assuming the US destroyers started the chase soon at thirty-five knots then they'd have about six hundred miles to run to catch them and that would take them only seventeen hours. There were a lot of assumptions but at sea there generally was and unfortunately Danvers couldn't rely on the US destroyer misinterpreting their intentions since their friends currently working with the Royal Navy up north would certainly report in within the next few minutes that their British allies were turning south west at best speed. Their only hope was that the British Frigates and Destroyers came ahead at their top speed or the Predator would have four hours alone with the US destroyers. Luckily he knew Djaq would personally see to them.
Danvers turned and ran up the steps to the Bridge and straight through it and down again into the chart room which was fully lit. He flinched slightly at the bright light and that gave the Captain and Navigator time to turn to look at him. He eyed the large scale North Atlantic chart and grabbed a pencil and drew a cross right under Newfoundland. "Get us there as fast as possible, Captain." He ordered and knew his tone got results.
"Go, Chris." The Captain ordered. "Tell the Officer of the Watch to change course in that general direction then we'll worry about passage planning." The Navigator nodded and almost ran from the room and within five seconds the ship was heeling over again and turning into the north east.
"Care to explain?" The Captain asked him after a moment. Danvers checked the scale of the chart and drew a loose circle around an area approximately five hundred nautical miles east of them.
"That's the position of a large scale US destroyer and submarine exercise. Whitehall expects them to turn to intercept us. If we start across the Atlantic on our own we'll be blocked. If not by orders than actual ships sitting across our bow." Danvers told him before drawing a line from their own position, already plotted by the Captain and Navigator up to the first circle he'd drawn, where the British and US exercise was. "Up here is HMS Illustrious and seven British Frigates and Destroyers that are about to be ordered to come to us at best speed and escort us across the Atlantic until we're back in safe waters."
"What about the US ships up there?" The Captain asked telling Danvers he already knew of the exercise up there.
"They'll realise something is up and will undoubtedly report to the Pentagon that their British Allies just turned south west and the Pentagon will put that together with our position." Danvers nodded. "That's why we need to be on the fast side."
The Captain sighed and moved to the phone and Danvers' hearing picked up the phone on the bridge above them ringing. "Officer of the Watch, call the engine room and have the third and fourth generators brought online and put full lever ahead on. Thirty knots or better."
He heard the Officer of the Watch agree and ignored the conversation he could hear on the Bridge talk boxes. "If you would like, Captain. I can have the Merlin put you ashore and I can take official Command of the Predator." Danvers offered knowing very well what trouble a Master could get into.
"I'm the Captain of a British Flag ship." The Master told him simply and that was that and technically speaking just because a US destroyer ordered the Predator to come to a full stop to be boarded didn't mean they had to comply. Not in international waters and not if they were a British flagged ship with full rights to trade in Canadian waters. The Predator hadn't even sailed into US territorial waters.
Danvers turned to leave but the Captain's drawn in breath made him pause. "Captain?" Danvers prompted as he turned back to look at him.
"Will you be sleeping, Sir?" The Captain asked.
"No, Captain." Danvers shook his head. "I shall be awake until this is over and we are safely being escorted by our own ships."
"You know we have two members of the BBC press onboard from Halifax?" The Captain asked.
"Yes, I do. And right now I plan to make use of them. Soon everyone will know that the only reason we are running at full speed towards our own ships is because we were threatened by terrorists." Danvers smirked and the Captain smiled for the first time that night, taking reassurance in Danvers' presence even though the Captain looked to be older. In truth Danvers was almost eight hundred years older than him.
The next day
Danvers had been either been talking to the press, in his own operations centre or up on the bridge for the entire rest of the night and into the next day and as afternoon began to creep up on them Danvers began to worry. The Destroyers behind them were now well within missile range and were only a hundred miles behind them not yet visible on their radar but Djaq was keeping them well informed and the British Frigates and Destroyer racing towards them from the north east had picked up their radars on their own systems but they were almost three hundred miles away still with the HMS Illustrious and two escorts even further back.
Danvers was standing on the bridge wing when his ears picked up the sound of distance jets and he turned and his eyes picked up four small dots above the horizon, not even twenty miles away. Danvers turned and was inside the Bridge within a second and he called down to where he knew Robin, Much, Will and Alan were entertaining guests and keeping the press away from Danvers while the more underhanded things got done. He told Robin, who lifted the phone, that they were about to have four US jets converge on them before he hung up and looked at the Officer of the Watch who had heard him.
"What do you want me to do, Sir?" The man asked.
"Call your Captain." Danvers said simply. "I'm about to deny them permission to fly over and declare that we do not require protection from them against terrorist attack."
The Officer of the Watch blinked. He knew perfectly well, like all the bridge officers did, that they weren't there to protect them but Danvers knew how to play this game. "They should be monitoring channel sixteen, Sir." The Officer told him.
Danvers nodded and moved to the radio and checked the bearing. "Military wing bearing 235 degrees from my vessel, this is the Cruise Liner M/V Predator. I say again, Military wing bearing 235 from my vessel, this is the Cruise Liner M/V Predator. We are on high alert for terrorist attack and request that you identify your country of origin and your intentions, over."
"Bridge, Ops room." A voice announced from the talk back box just as the Captain ran up the steps.
"Bridge." The Officer of the Watch acknowledged.
"We have identification on the inbound flight. Range is twenty miles, bearing 235 degrees. Showing as friendlies from the United States Air Force." The voice told him. Danvers jerked his head and the Officer of the Watch thanked them.
Danvers paused for the slightest of moments before turning to the Captain. "I'm declaring a twelve miles exclusion zone." He told him.
"We're far enough out." The Captain nodded.
Danvers turned to the radio. "USAF wing inbound on my position, this is the M/V Predator. You are not permitted to overfly my vessel without permission and such permission is not granted. I say again permission is not granted. We are in international waters and declaring a twelve mile exclusion zone around my vessel. Alter your course and do not encroach on our position. We have been threatened with a terrorist attack on your continent and as a vessel with special permit we are entitled to defend ourselves and declare a no fly zone around us."
He watched out of the window as the four planes came closer. F-35 Raptors. He turned back to the Captain. "Flares and decoys ready?"
"The first sign of a lock and they'll deploy automatically but then the press will be well aware we're under attack." The Captain pointed out darkly.
"That'll be the USs fault." Danvers said simply before turning back to the radio. Those planes were now inside their twelve mile exclusion zone. "US military flight, this is the Royal British vessel M/V Predator under the protection of the British Crown, your actions are hostile and will be viewed as such regardless of your allied status with our country. Break off your attack and exit our declared exclusion zone or we will take steps to defend ourselves against all action viewed as aggressive."
"That's not working." The Captain pointed out needlessly.
"Fine then, we'll make them think twice." Danvers snapped. "Captain, as of my last radio communication this is a British vessel under royal protection and thus is entitled to protect herself under any power and ability available to a British warship in international waters. Open out the Phalanx and lock onto those aircraft with the weapons radar."
He said it more for the voyage data recorder than anything else and it took only twenty seconds for the Royal Navy team to raise the built in Phalanx gattling gun with its radar out of one of the buildings on the top of the ship. The ship altered course to clear the line of firing for the automated system and when the radar came online it sought out the four aircraft and within seconds tagged them even though they were still out of range but approaching fast.
Danvers let himself bare his fangs as the four aircraft banked away from the ship as fast as they could and the Phalanx whirled around keeping its lock on the lead ship. The aircraft just skimmed its outer range but the system wasn't even loaded and the safety was still on. The aircraft got the hint though.
Danvers turned to the Captain with a nod. "I'm going to give the order for the Phalanx to be loaded and brought to full standby. Intentions are for it to only shoot down incoming missiles. I don't want the world to hear about a British cruise liner shooting down an American Pilot even if we have the right to."
"Yankee-Alpha-niner-two-one, this is RN-seven-four-five." A voice announced over one of the closed circuits only open to decrypted military vessels and aircraft and that the Predator was tied into. "The British Vessel, M/V Predator is a British vessel under the protection of the Royal Navy and the Crown of Great Britain, any further aggressive moves made towards it in the current situation will result in immediate and fatal measures being taken."
"Who's saying that?" The Captain turned to the Officer of the Watch who moved to the talk box and requested the origin of the message from the operations room.
"Flight inbound from the north east. Four Tornados from the HMS Illustrious." The operations room informed them and Danvers looked out ahead of them and sure enough his eyes could just detect a small dot above the horizon at extreme range. He nodded to the Captain. "Captain," The voice continued. "We are being targeted by the Destroyers in our wake. We can't discern what they are using but their missiles could reach us in six minutes."
Danvers ran his tongue over his fangs and moved to the microphone attached to the encrypted radio. "All British units, this is Duke Corvil of the Predator. We are being targeted by allied vessels and have been aggressively manoeuvred towards by US military aircraft. We request close in protection and weaponry support and we request that an explanation for their hostile actions is requested from the US government."
"Predator, this is military flight A-2 from HMS Illustrious, we will provide close in support." The same voice as before announced. "US destroyers on this channel, you are ordered to sector your targeting radar away from a British flag vessel and to remain outside of the declared twelve mile exclusion zone. We have permission to defend the M/V Predator with all means and will fire upon you if we believe that the vessel is in danger. US aircraft you are ordered not to operate within firing range of the Predator. Failure to comply immediately will result in action being taken to the entirety of our means." Meaning they were willing to launch all twenty-five Tornados from the HMS Illustrious to intercept the ships. Danvers was impressed, he'd been expecting the Royal Navy to place meek and nice, merely there regardless of the USs attempts to 'protect' the Predator from terrorists. They were actually warning the US not to threaten them.
Danvers stood on the bridge for the next hour watching as the US destroyers on their starboard beam at twenty miles and then closed to within fifteen miles before turning to parallel their course just as the British Frigates and Destroyers appeared in a line abreast ahead of them and rapidly closed within only fifteen minutes, turning to form a sector with the newer ships only half a mile off of the Predator and two Frigates actually forcing the Us destroyers away.
They were still outnumbered by the US destroyers and a battle would become extremely bloody but the US wouldn't dare begin a fight in this situation and there was no way to accidentally cause problems and soon, within the next hour, the small fleet met the HMS Illustrious making a rather impressive sight. The Predator had sailed in company of warships before and most often as not she refuelled from them and did operations with them to keep in practice and most notably during the Falklands war she acted as either a hospital ship or a troop and stores carrier just like Danvers had intended for her all along.
It was six days of open sea before they made their way up into the Solent. The US ships had turned back for the coastline after only a day seeing no way for their government to be able to resolve the situation and Danvers had monitored all of the diplomatic channels for the entire crossing to find out what the fallout had been. The Wizarding World was nearly in a state of panic as Danvers showed them rather brutally what he and his friends were capable of but he knew that in a few years they decide that he'd tricked them and be back at his heels again. None of that mattered to him as the Predator sailed through the entrance into Portsmouth Harbour with HMS Illustrious, HMS Daring and HMS Defender behind her and HMS Manchester and HMS Somerset ahead of her. Danvers stood on the starboard bridge wing with Robin next to him simply staring at the crowds of the large Portsmouth Carnival. They'd arrived with perfect timing to be greeted back by millions of people and it was like nothing had ever happened.