She sat in the room, quietly waiting. She knew what was going to happen, and she knew exactly what she was going to be asked. And she knew all the reasons why she couldn’t answer even one of them. She’d been here before, more than once.
The door opened, and Brigadier Bambera paced in.
She looked like she hadn’t slept in a couple of days, which was probably the case. Her uniform was - as ever - immaculate, but there were rings under her dark eyes, and her face was set sterner than usual. She looked down at the woman in black before her, not expecting a salute. She wasn’t disappointed.
‘We’ve gone over this Manchester event with a fine tooth comb,’ she said, sounding for all the world as if she was reading from a prepared speech. She knew the drill, too.
‘And?’ the woman in black said, already knowing the answer.
‘D-Division say its got all the symptoms of a classic Police Box Incident.’
The woman nodded, said: ‘Lot’s of dead bodies and nobody knows exactly what happened.’
Bambera took off her hat, ran a hand through tight black curls. There was a touch of grey starting to show at the temples - the lifestyle getting to her at last. The light glistened off the wedding ring she wore, reflected in the woman’s eyes. She didn’t look her commander in the face, concentrating instead on the threads in her own black overcoat. She knew what was coming.
‘Geneva’re worried,’ Bambera said quietly, ‘We’ve got ourselves a highly motivated, highly organised, well equipped team that say they’re UNIT, and nobody anywhere have heard of. We’ve got a lot of dead bodies, and the Doctor’s involved somehow. It wasn’t that long ago they shut UNIT down, for less than this. We’re only here on sufferance. And we’ve got this phone call from -‘
‘From Ace,’ the woman interrupted.
Bambera sat right in front of her, demanding her attention.
‘We were thinking you might be able to shed some light on it.’
The woman shook her head slowly.
‘Sorry,’ she said, and meant it. ‘We went through all this with the Broken Arrow. I can’t tell you anything.’
‘Not even a hint?’
‘Only what you’d do anyway,’ she smiled apologetically. ‘Stay on alert. Have a team ready to move in. Eyes and ears.’
‘And you’re still off active duty? Both of you?’
The woman in black nodded, resolute.
‘Shame,’ breathed Bambera.
And from somewhere below them, the soft sound of purring filled the air.