Earth is under attack by aliens and the various governments, under the auspices of the UN, have formed a military force to try and deal with it; a secret force composed of several nations who fight, both on Earth and in Space, the ongoing attempted invasion of Earth by aliens.

Still in the setup stages, the studio has opened and begun operations. The year is 1976, and building and gearing up to fight back against the alien invasion is going full bore.

Unfortunately for their commander, he must also deal with some of the movie types who take an interest in the studio for its more mundane purposes.

Keeping in the S.H.A.D.O.s


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Whoever had thought it a good idea to hide an enormous and secret military complex beneath a movie studio must have been insane. Oh, sure, they could explain a lot of equipment bring brought in by calling it props... but just how did you explain a real, honest-to-goodness Minuteman missile? Particularly when they weren't filming anything that could explain its presence.

Not even with the trailer draped with tarps could it be mistaken for anything but what it was.

Worst of all, they didn't even have any reason for having the blasted thing.

Colonel Alec Freeman looked at the shipping documents and wondered who the hell had sent it to them. Looking up at the driver, he asked, "Why are you trying to deliver this here? This is a movie studio, not a military installation." Security was going to go nuts. Even if he signed for it, there was no place to store the thing.

"Look, I'm just deliverin' where I'm told. This is Harlington-Straker, right?"

"Yes," Alec replied cautiously.

"Then this is where I'm deliverin' it." The driver thrust his clipboard out for Alec to sign.

Alec shook his head. "Give me a minute. I need to call someone on this. He stepped away and pulled out his cell phone. Quickly dialing a number, he waited for it to be answered.

The studio's executive secretary, Miss Ealand, had just finished serving the boss and his guests coffee, when her phone rang. A quick glance informed her that it was 'business', and nothing to do with the very bad movies they made. She scooped up the receiver and said, "Harlington-Straker."

"Miss Ealand, is he available?"

"I'm afraid not, Mr. Freeman. He's got those people from that little independent company in at the moment. Is it urgent?"

Alec looked at the enormous trailer that blocked the road by the gate. "Well, I suppose not, providing someone ordered a Minute Man missile...."

She didn't even blink. "Who sent it?"

Alec looked at the forms, and chuckled. "Says here that Mr. Harlington ordered it."

There was no Mr. Harlington.

Miss Ealand frowned and considered interrupting the boss, then considered further. "Perhaps Mr. Graham could be of assistance?"

"He left this morning on his business trip, if you recall." 'Business trip' being a euphemism for going to MoonBase.

Miss Ealand looked at her watch and realized that the liftoff had just occurred. "Let me get him for you." There was no choice, really.

"I don't suppose it's just a mock-up?" she asked, hopefully.

"It's got a warhead."

Without another word, she set the phone down and pushed the button to alert the commander that he was needed immediately.

Straker hated dealing with some of these people. They wouldn't know truth if it was dancing on their grave. The two pitchmen insisted that they wanted to just rent studio space. He wished someone were here so he could push them off on him. He frowned slightly as he wondered where Alec had gotten to. The tiny vibration of the signal from his secretary gave him just enough time to prepare when his phone rang.

"Excuse me, gentlemen. My secretary wouldn't interrupt unless it was urgent." He smiled insincerely and lifted the handset. "This had better be important, Miss Ealand," he said in an annoyed tone of voice.

"Yes, sir. Mr. Freeman is at the delivery gate. Someone wishes to deliver a MinuteMan missile...he says it's got a warhead...."

Straker scowled. What on earth? "Is he certain?"

"Quite certain, sir."

He glanced over at his two visitors and wondered if he could get rid of them. Remembering that he'd been dodging them for the past several weeks, he sighed. No. He'd have to let them wait. "I'll be right there." He hung up. Standing, he looked at the two men apologetically.

"Forgive me, I need to go and deal with a minor emergency. If you'd care to wait...?"

The two young filmmakers looked at each other and shrugged. "Sure, Mr. Straker. We'd be glad to wait," the taller of the two men agreed. With a quick nod, Straker made his escape, pausing just long enough to inform his secretary to keep an eye on them.

Straker hurried out, hopped into one of the studio cars and lead-footed it to the delivery gate. Pulling up, he saw the worried face of his friend and second in command arguing with the lorry driver, who insisted on making his delivery.

Straker took one look and began to laugh. "Alec, it's all right."

Freeman turned, gaping. Straker was grinning and shaking his head. "Charlie, what the hell is this?"

Charlie grinned. "What do you think?"

"I think that someone's going to be in a lot of trouble if that's what it looks like."

Charlie climbed out of the lorry. "Who, me?" he asked innocently. "What makes you think I'd be party to some kind of practical joke?"

"Oh, I don't know, maybe a good memory?" Straker replied, giving his old friend a hug. "What are you doing here?"

"Told him. Making a delivery."

"And what am I supposed to do with a missile?"

"Oh, I don't know. Shoot someone with it?"

Alec had watched the exchange in confusion, but the idea of using a missile like that for shooting 'someone' struck him oddly and he started laughing.

"Sorry, Alec. This unfortunate individual is Charlie Wilson. We went through the academy together. He's probably the best scrounge in the entire Air Force. But where did you get this?"

Charlie chuckled. "Found it?" At Straker's frown, he shook his head and continued. "Nah, not really. Someone really did order it."

He flipped the pages on the bill of lading and pointed. "Harlington. Right here."

"Charlie, there is no Harlington."

Charlie frowned. "There isn't? Then who signed this?" He showed them a photocopy of an order form. Straker and Freeman looked at it, then at each other.

Alec struggled to keep a straight face and when he saw the shock on Straker's, couldn't help himself and started laughing. Straker shook his head. "That's not Harlington. It's Henderson. You remember James Henderson, don't you? Three stars, no sense of humor?"

Charlie scowled and looked again. "That misbegotten..." He snatched back the papers and headed back to the lorry. "I'm...When I see him, I'll...." Exactly what he planned was lost in the slam of the door and the overly enthusiastic firing up of the lorry. Straker and Freeman watched as he backed up and ground his gears going into first and then roared off down the road.

"Now, I wonder what that was all about?" Alec asked, glad that this particular problem was over.

Straker shrugged, still grinning. "I've no idea, but Charlie and Henderson go back a very long time...they're cousins."

Alec stared at him and shook his head. "Who would have thought that Henderson was capable of a practical joke?"

"Who said it was a joke?" Straker replied, lighting his cigarillo. "It could just as easily have been a test for us, you know."

"Either way, I think we passed."

"I hope so." Straker puffed away for a moment, then sighed. "I'd better get back to my 'guests'," he bemoaned, wondering if there was any chance of passing them off to his friend.

"What are they pitching, anyway?"

"Space Opera. Some huge thing about aliens and wars." He noticed Alec wince at the hit just a little too close to home. Ed shook his head.

"I just may go for this one. It's nothing like most of the current crap out there. They've got some good ideas, and we have the technology to do the special effects they want. It's rather innovative, actually."


"Care to come and listen in? You just might enjoy it," Straker was almost cajoling.


"If Graham were here, I'd turn him onto it, but since he's not...."

Alec shrugged. "I suppose you want me to take them over?"

Ed smiled to himself, hiding it by taking another puff. "No. Not completely. But I think you might enjoy the premise."

"Space opera? Aliens and war...attacking the earth perhaps?"

Ed grinned.

"With intrepid humans fighting a secret war against the invasion?"

Ed shook his head. "Nothing like that. It's actually an interesting premise." They walked back to the studio car Straker had arrived in. Alec nodded to the gate guards to go back to work.

"So, what is it, a fairy tale or something?"

"Somthing, that's for sure."

They returned to the office and Straker introduced Alec to the two young filmmakers. Taking a glance at the script, Alec had only one comment. "What do you mean by starting with part four?"

the end.

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