In which secret experiments are revealed; we meet a man with a mohican; cars are dangerous and Samuel makes a friend.
“And this is the main kitchen and canteen. Most personal come here for their three daily meals. We cater for most tastes, so don’t ever worry about eating here; you won’t have any problems.”
The tour had been going on for an hour already and so far Samuel had not seen anything particularly interesting. There were all the facilities one might expect in a complex that employed a large number of staff, if on a larger scale than most. Real estate was apparently not hard to come by underground.
He had spent the previous evening with his mother, talking about their family. She had explained how the real reason for his father’s absences had been his research and work; trying to infiltrate the rogue family, and that she was so sorry for lying to him for so many years. Samuel could not be angry with her. He was too overwhelmed with trying to process all he had learned that he spent most of the evening consoling her as she brought up memories. They had then gone to their respective (and huge) bedrooms to sleep in their incredibly comfy (and equally large) beds and both slept like the dead.
Come the morning, a jolly man had turned up to give the full tour, and here they were now, at the canteen on level five. Still, the guide seemed to be enjoying himself.
“Most of the staff you see here now are the remainder of the graveyard shift taking their dinner, or breakfast, however you see it. Now, on to the research centre,” the guide finished with a flourish and grinned, as if he knew how mind numbingly dull he had been so far, and had saved this part for the exact purpose of rejuvenating his charges.
They left the canteen and went off down another of the smooth concrete corridors they’d spent all morning in, down a lift and through a few more corridors. Turning a corner, Samuel saw a nondescript steel door facing them at the end of the passage. It was both unimposing and unimportant in appearance, especially inside what was already a predominantly grey facility, but this served only to make him more excited to find out what was behind it. Would there be steam pouring from vents, flasks full of liquid bubbling over, coloured in red, blue and green? Huge mechanical suits being tested inside bombproof firing ranges, with white coated scientists looking on and nodding? Lasers pointing at tiny points of matter, glowing sparks flying and lighting up the air?
The door opened as they approached, and it seemed one of his predictions would turn out to be true. The occupants were in fact wearing white coats, and three of them met the tour party at the door.
“Welcome to the research labs. We’ll take it from here, thank you,” one of the three began, and their guide up to that point left with a smile and a wave. The door closed, and they were in a small room, like a lobby, with a door at each end and whitewashed walls. At least it made a change from grey. The man who had welcomed them continued.
“My name is Dr Walter Raleigh,” Here he paused here and looked at them carefully, “No relation. My colleagues here are Dr Sally Dillinger and Dr Ernest Audrey. We are the management team for the research centre here at Facility One. We’re going to give you the whistle stop tour, and I regret to say I cannot show you everything. I will endeavour to demonstrate what I can. Now, the esteemed doctors must get back to work, and I shall conduct the tour from here.”
The esteemed doctors did just that, but not before shaking both his mother’s and Samuel’s hands. Dr Raleigh then took them through the doors, out of the lobby area and into the lab complex itself. And it was massive. The scale of the facility amazed Samuel. Just these labs were bigger than most buildings above ground, so how did a place like this exist without detection? But then he remembered what he had been told. These people, or perhaps he should think of them as his people, had footholds everywhere. If anyone could get everyone else turning a blind eye, it was the Families.
They saw testing bays, chemical laboratories, mechanical engineering, rocket engineering and a machine that seemed to be something to do with nuclear fusion, but Samuel got the impression from the sudden escalation to technical jargon and question avoidance that it was going about as well as anyone elses attempts. Good at eating money, less good at powering things. But regardless, this was more like it. What was the point of a secret underground base without someone performing crazy experiments?
Dr Raleigh had apparently saved the best till last, and they finally arrived at what seemed to be a test track. Samuel could hear a low rumble, and as they stood there it got gradually louder until it was not just a rumble but a roar, and suddenly two matte black sleek vehicles, more like planes than cars, came rocketing around the corner, careening towards the onlookers. Before they could be run down the pair of machines changed direction far more quickly than he had thought possible and instead screeched to a halt next to a couple of garage doors nearby.
While Samuel and his mother looked on in amazement, the roofs of each car swung open like cockpits and two people emerged, removing gloves and helmets as they clambered out. They were bickering.
“You tried to ram me on that last corner, I know you did! Mistake my arse,” This was the smaller figure, who turned out to be a girl, perhaps around Samuel’s age. She shook long dark brown hair out from where it had been cooped up within the helmet, her cheeks still flushed red from the rush of driving. She was slim but not tall, and wearing a tight fitting black jumpsuit, looking very much like a motorcycle outfit, just like the man she was accusing of foul play.
He was much taller and for a second Samuel thought he had short hair, but as the helmet rose, his hair rose with it. Shaved at the sides, it rose in a ridge of spikes from front to back along the centre to form a mohican. He was otherwise clean shaven, all the world an ordinary business man if it was not for the outlandish hair style and his black jump suit. He snorted before retorting.
“I rammed you? I think not young lady! It was only your trick on the previous corner that nearly sent me spinning off that made me come that close to your front tyre! I insist on racing cleanly,” His voice had a commanding tone to it, but he did not seem angry. For a second they faced each other off, glaring, until neither could keep a straight face and they both burst out laughing. Samuel could only stare.
It was Dr Raleigh who brought the two strangers back into the moment by clearing his throat loudly, at which they straightened up and turned to face the small party, suddenly remembering they were there.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you sir, but the two you see before you are Mrs Jennifer Trevithick and Samuel Trevithick, the only true surviving member of our eighth family. Samuel, Mrs Trevithick, this is the director of the facility, William Kempthorne, and his niece, Aerfen Kempthorne,” Raleigh introduced them before stepping aside. William strode forwards, his niece following, and kissed Samuel’s mother’s hand.
“Enchanted to meet you. I knew your husband Douglas very well, a wonderful man. So sorry to hear of his death. And Samuel, you look very much like him.”
He shook Samuel’s hand with a smile before turning back to talk of his dead father to his mother. Dr Raleigh had excused himself to get back to his work, and now Samuel was left a bit shy of the situation. He wasn’t quite sure what to do.
“So, you’re this Trevithick he’s been rabbiting on about. You don’t seem all that special,” he spun around to see Aerfen standing with her hands on her hips, head to one side and staring at him. For a moment he thought she was goading him, but her face broke into a smile and he realised she was joking. He smiled too.
“Er, yeah, I suppose I am. Though as far as I knew my name was Samuel Trevelyan. I thought Trevithick was my mother’s maiden name until now. Though with the amount that’s happened these last few days, I’m not sure what to believe anymore. Still, secret organisation, and I’m part of it? Not really complaining, ” Samuel let out with a laugh, and she laughed with him.
“OK, maybe you are special. Most people would panic at finding out so much about themselves like this. You don’t seem all that phased,” She laughed again, “Now, if my uncle doesn’t mind, do you want to go on the real tour?”
“I’d love to. Today has been…informative.”
“Brilliant,” she grinned and span off to punch her uncle in the arm and make her request, and it seemed it was accepted when she came bounding back, still looking ecstatic. Though it did seem to be her general state of being.
“I’m going to change into some normal clothes, then we’ll get started. I’m Aerfen by the way. I know Raleigh introduced us, but I’m just so excited to have someone else my age around here. I mean, Rachel isn’t much older, but she’s so…military, plus she’s always going off places. This should be fun!”
Samuel just nodded as they headed towards a door to some changing rooms. It looked like things might get a lot more exciting from now on.