Sherdan set his alarm an hour earlier the following morning and asked for an update on the emergency cabinet meeting less than five minutes after opening his eyes. They’d adjourned the meeting very late in the night to continue the following morning. He ate breakfast while getting ready to leave and woke Anya to tell her he was going.

“Already?” she asked through blurry eyes.

“Yes. Keep a radio with you at all times. I don’t know what might happen today.” She nodded and laid her head back down on her pillow.

He went straight to the command centre. The night team were still there and they looked tired but relaxed. There wasn’t anything new to report. Mark Jones was still inside the cabinet meeting and they hadn’t stirred for a few hours.

“Have our request for recognition sent to the relevant official at the UN,” Sherdan ordered as the first call of duty. If he could get the UN involved quickly it would increase his chances of getting England to accept what he’d done. As soon as the first task was completed he phoned the government in Ireland.

“Prime Minister please?”

“Who’s calling?”

“Dr Sherdan Harper, Prime Minister of the newly formed country, Utopia.”

“One moment please,” the woman informed him. He had to wait almost half an hour before the Irish prime minister took his call.

“Dr Harper, this is quite a surprise.”

“I wished to personally inform you and your country that, despite our relatively exclusive view to how we operate, we’re open to diplomatic relations with the Republic of Ireland.”

“That’s a nice gesture, so it is. Am I right in understanding your country is the one that’s claiming independence from the UK?”

“Yes, we’re a small country currently. My residents and I are very determined to be recognised as such.”

“I understand. I’ll have to talk to my ministers here. We’ll be in touch.”

Sherdan thanked the man and said goodbye.

He spent the rest of the morning contacting as many governments in as many different European countries as he could. Very few of the secretaries would actually let him through to their leaders. One or two didn’t even know who he was. He tried to explain and get them to believe he wasn’t a prank caller.

By the time Sherdan stopped for lunch he felt exhausted so he went to his private room to take a break for a few minutes. It jogged his memory about Hitchin asking for him the night before. He’d put it off for as long as he could and would have to tell Hitchin his ability had gone.

With a sigh, he trooped through the building on his way to the lab. Everyone stayed out of his way. He had a permanent frown fixed to his face. Hitchin noticed it too and put down the folder he carried as soon as he saw Sherdan. Neither of them spoke for some time. Hitchin knew to wait when Sherdan looked like this, and Sherdan still didn’t have the words to say what he wanted.

“I think my abilities are gone. It’s not worked since Anya arrived… At least, I don’t think it’s worked since then,” he finally got out. Hitchin frowned.

“That’s not possible.”

“It shouldn’t be.”

“Let’s do some tests to be sure.”

“I don’t have time for many.”

“We’ll start with the faster ones then.” Hitchin guided him over to the other side of the lab. They started with the simplest of the tests and Hitchin took three samples of Sherdan’s blood. He put the pots aside and labelled them so he could identify them later, then led Sherdan towards the MRI lab to check he still had the increased activity in the correct areas of his brain.”

Before they reached the room, Sherdan’s radio called for his attention.

“What is it?”

“The Prime Minister called for you again.”

“Okay, keep him on the phone. I’ll be right there.” Sherdan left Hitchin without even saying goodbye. He went back to the command centre as fast as he could.

“Good afternoon Prime Minister.”

“Dr Harper.”

“How did your emergency cabinet meeting go?”

“You seem to know a lot about my doings.”

“I like to be informed.”

“Well then, you’ll appreciate me telling you that, unless you open up your barriers and give up your attempt to form a country, we will send in the army to do so for you.”

“Did you not see what happened to the police?”

“We don’t think you’ll endanger the people there with you and, if you do, you will prove that you don’t have their best interests at heart.” Sherdan couldn’t help but laugh when he heard this.

“You really believe you’ve got me backed into a corner? Well good luck to you. I will not be opening up my barriers.” Sherdan hung up.

Graham already had his radio in his hand, informing the guards of the expected attack. Once he was done he also told the residents while Sherdan contacted Anya. She seemed reluctant to leave his house even when he stressed the danger she was in.

As he talked to her on her way over he watched the screens. The army were no longer sitting around with nothing to do. Ranks were forming and vehicles were being started up.

Graham scanned the radar for signs of the military in the air. RAF Lyneham wasn’t far away and was the number one site for establishing temporary bases. They also had a lot of planes at Lyneham and Brise Norton. He soon saw the blips on the radar that indicated planes on a flyover trajectory probably with the intention of dropping troops. He informed Sherdan straight away.

Everyone in the security team was alerted and prepared. They’d increased the number of security guards over the last few days. There were over a hundred in total now and all had been put through very thorough training.

As they were being deployed Anya arrived at the command facility. She’d brought a book with her and curled up on the bed. Sherdan promised to check in on her regularly but she didn’t appear to want to talk. He soon left her to go back to watching the TV screens.

Each guard carried the same shield device as they’d used when the police had shown up. There was also a shield attached to each residential shelter, the command room, and one large one that encompassed the whole country and shielded the country from outside forces.

No bullets or weaponry could penetrate from outside, only the weaponry each soldier brought in with them could cause any damage. Not even grenades could harm people.

Sherdan watched on the cameras as the soldiers tried to advance through the barriers. The guards didn’t even acknowledge them as they walked into the barrier, went dizzy and retreated. A few tried to push on, having been trained to keep going and obey orders. They soon lost control of their bodies and had to be pulled out by their comrades.

Shortly after, the first few troops parachuted into the country. The guards watched them approach long before they landed, and snuck in groups to surround the expected landing points. The soldiers rose to their feet to find many guns aimed at them already.

Each soldier was moved to one of the various safe houses to be imprisoned and the guards went straight back to work on finding more. Less than a third of all paratroopers made it past this initial net. Still, none of the troops had got in from the streets.

Sherdan sat in the command room with a very large grin on his face. Graham issued instructions behind him as he watched and waited. His pulse felt a little elevated but his worry was not apparent to anyone else.

The guards were fed information from the command room to help them go after the remaining soldiers still loose. Four of them had managed to group together and there were another twelve scattered in different areas in ones or twos. All of them moved in the direction of Sherdan’s house. It almost made him laugh out loud.

Despite their tactics being flawed, they were wiser than the police officers from two days earlier. Sherdan noticed they moved faster and more confidently than the police had. They also regularly checked behind themselves, making it difficult for the guards to sneak up on them.

Ten minutes later only two of the sixteen soldiers had been stopped in their tracks and escorted out of the way. The four moving down the high street were the ones of most concern, especially when they were joined by another two soldiers the guards hadn’t circled in time. If the group got too big there would be the risk of gunfire and related problems.

The smile on Sherdan’s face disappeared and he sat up a little more, his eyes never moving from the far wall, while he listened to the orders being given around him. Very occasionally he spoke out and gave a command of his own.

Thankfully, the second the soldiers spotted a guard up ahead they stopped. A large group of experienced security members then closed in on them, ignoring the warning shots and yells they were given. All six soldiers moved to the best defensible position nearby, a civilian house.

The guards rushed over as fast as they could but all six made it inside before they could be stopped. Again, the soldiers fired warning shots.

“Move inside,” Sherdan said into the radio in his hand. It would not be good if the troops found the shelter for the house and the people hiding inside.

Five men rushed around the back of the house as another seven went in the front door. Gunfire erupted. Nothing could be seen on the cameras, only the sounds could be heard over the radio of one of the guards.

Almost ten minutes later the guards emerged, escorting the six officers; with their hands tied and weaponry confiscated. Sherdan was gaining a very large weapons cache at a very low cost.

“The family weren’t even found. We’ve checked on them. They’re all just fine, alarmed by the gunshots but otherwise nothing wrong,” one of the guards informed Sherdan.

“Well done. Keep up the good work, all of you.” Sherdan beamed. No one harmed and only eight soldiers left to detain. As this very thought ran though his head another soldier was surrounded by six of the security team and captured. Only seven of the initial sixty to go.

The guards knew what they were doing and were well practised. Even when bullets came flying towards them they did not flinch. Sherdan had never seen a more decisive and bloodless battle between two armies. Despite all the weapon fire no one had been hurt.

He continued to watch as the last soldiers were rounded up and put with the rest. The security team made it look effortless. As soon as they were done they waited for further instructions. Sherdan had them stay on duty until the rest of the soldiers outside gave up trying to get in.

All they while the command room had been focusing on the air-dropped squads, there had been activity on the edges of the country.

Several soldiers had decided to try driving in and had fired up the tanks. They drove forward to a certain point and the tanks slowed to a stop. They still revved but went no where. The soldiers couldn’t even get them to reverse out of whatever they were stuck in. Before long, all of them were abandoned and the soldiers went back to their waiting.

Within a few minutes the whole area was back to the way it had been before. Except for the moved tanks, everything was just the way it had been before the attack.