Author's note. These stories were written before I had got a serious grasp of the complexities of the character of Ed Straker. Please forgive me. Archived here after reconsideration. All stories/art work etc available on my website: Lightcudder's World

Prologue

He regretted it the minute he had spoken. Shit. If only he'd thought for a moment or two. But it was too late now.

Shit. And shit again.

There was nothing else to do but grin and bear it. If that was at all possible. Next Thursday. Yes. That particular day. The one after Wednesday and the one before Friday. Why couldn't it have been either of those days? Why did it have to be Thursday?

If only he had not been so pleased at finally managing to track down that damned UFO that had been hiding underwater for the last four days. Four days. Four long tiring days spent tracking, trailing, investigating, searching until eventually it emerged from its watery lair in an attempt to escape and was targeted very successfully by Sky 3. But it had taken too long and he was tired, tired of standing here in this damned underground prison working every hour, while his fiancée waited for him at home.

Shit. And then Alec had sneakily put in that request for a day off from his set shift pattern to attend a wedding. Yeh. Right. A wedding. An old girlfriend's wedding. Really?

Alec didn't attend weddings. Alec was trying to get out of coming to work next Thursday. But he hadn't realised that until too late, until he had seen Alec's sly grin when he agreed to cover Alec's rota so that Freeman could have the day off.

Shit. He knew what was going to happen. And there wasn't a damned thing he could do to stop it.

Or was there?

Ed Straker began to smile.

Chapter 1

Paul Foster arrived at HQ rather earlier than normal on the Thursday in question. He parked his lilac BMW in its designated space, wishing, as always that he had waited the extra four or five months for the 'New York' colour scheme of metallic black paint with dark grey leather interior, instead of opting to take the first new vehicle that arrived in the showroom.

How was he to know that, having paid a very considerable deposit, he was going to have to accept a brand new BMW in a tasteful shade of Rodeo Drive with Hollywood interior. In laymans terms; lilac and pale blue. Quite fetching, if you were female, but it did very little for Paul's reputation with the ladies.

Ed Straker however, had a really classy car. Not too flash; Paul would have gone for an Audi R8, given Straker's wealth, but the Saab was a beauty. Not that Ed let anyone else drive his car often. Paul had only managed to get behind the wheel on two occasions, both times simply to bring Ed's car to the Main Entrance. But it was a dream to drive, responsive, smooth, speedy. And upgraded to SHADO top specifications. He knew what that meant. Foster wondered if he would ever get his BMW to have the same as high specs as Straker's car. Unlikely. At least not until he was in charge of SHADO.

Furthermore the Saab was a decent shade of dark grey with black leather interior. Not quite the same asNew York; the Saab colour was called Lava, or perhaps Charcoal, but the interior was certainly not the crappy pale blue that Paul had to tolerate every time he got behind the wheel. It was the lilac that really jarred on Paul's nerves though.

But today, well he was going to enjoy today. This was a day that only came round once every year, and he intended to make the most of it, Straker or no Straker. There was very little that could spoil today. Maybe an alien invasion, but even that would probably have little impact on his plans.

It was a pity that Alec Freeman was off attending that wedding, but Ed Straker would be coming in this morning, and there were plenty of other staff members working. Especially Keith Ford.

He rubbed his hands together, grinning. Yes, it would be a good day, today.

Ed Straker winced as his fiancée placed the cold pack on his knee. 'Serves you right for not warning up properly before your run.' she scolded him. 'You won't be able to walk far today. You should go and see Dr Shroeder when you get to work; he can strap it up for you properly.' She nodded to his two agents watching worriedly.

'I'll be alright,' he grumbled, gingerly stretching the wrenched joint. 'I'll take it easy today, and rest it. The worst part will be having to use the lift here. At least I can be driven into work, but it's going to be a nuisance.' He stood up and tried walking, but it was clear that it was too painful. 'Damn.' he muttered, sitting down again. 'I'm going to need a stick until it eases up.'

She looked at him, thoughtfully. 'Are you sure?'

'Yes. Otherwise I won't be able to walk anywhere. I think there's one outside in the entrance hall,' he said to the agents, one of whom went out and returned quickly with an elegant ebony walking stick which he handed to his employer. 'Thank you. That will do.' Straker smiled, standing once more and trying once more to walk across the room, successfully this time to his obvious relief. 'Right gentlemen, shall we go?' and the SHADO Commander limped slowly, and painfully, out of his apartment and into the lift.

Rachel watched him go, and then waited on the balcony until she could see him exit the building and get into the back seat of the chauffeur driven car that would take him to work. Straker's own Saab was still there, parked discreetly in its allotted space. She smiled again. Excellent.