Read Department 19: Zero Hour Online

Authors: Will Hill

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #Action & Adventure, #General, #Horror & Ghost Stories

Department 19: Zero Hour

BOOK: Department 19: Zero Hour
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For Jamie.

Thanks for changing my life. And sorry for everything

I’ve done to you.

About the Author

Before quitting his job in publishing to write Department 19, Will Hill worked as a bartender, a bookseller and a door-to-door charity worker. He grew up in the north-east of England, is scared of spiders, and is a big fan of cats. He lives in east London with his girlfriend, where he splits his time between staring out of the window and staring at a computer screen. The latter tends to be more productive.

READ ALL THE BOOKS IN THE THRILLING DEPARTMENT 19 SERIES:

DEPARTMENT 19

THE RISING

BATTLE LINES

ZERO HOUR

HUNGRY FOR MORE? DON’T MISS THE DEPARTMENT 19 FILES – AVAILABLE AS EBOOKS ONLY:

THE DEVIL IN NO-MAN’S LAND: 1917

UNDEAD IN THE ETERNAL CITY: 1918

THE NEW BLOOD: 1919

THE SECRET HISTORY OF A TEENAGE VAMPIRE

THE SECOND BIRTH OF FRANKENSTEIN

Table of Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

About the Author

Read all the Books in the Blood-Pounding Department 19 Series

Epigraph

Prologue

7 Days Till: Zero Hour

1. Safety Measures

2. Playing Rough

3. Questions and Answers

4. The Needs of the Many

5. Chewed up and Spat Out

6 Days Till: Zero Hour

6. Home Sweet Home

7. Positive Male Role Models

8. Eye in the Sky

9. Business as Usual

10. The Myth of Sisyphus, Part One

11. North of the Border

12. The Myth of Sisyphus, Part Two

13. The Grey Area

5 Days Till: Zero Hour

14. Which do you want First?

15. By a Thread

16. The Man you Want to Be

17. Retraced Steps

18. If at First …

19. No Regrets

4 Days Till: Zero Hour

20. The Chosen Few

21. Homeland Security

22. Your Dead Body

23. Broad Horizons

24. The Spirit of Cooperation

25. An Unlikely Source

26. Into the Wild

27. On the Trail

28. Deep Cover, Part One

29. Everything is a Choice

30. Deep Cover, Part Two

31. A Hundred Small Pieces of Bone

3 Days Till: Zero Hour

32. The Centre Cannot Hold

33. By Dawn’s Early Light

34. Let the Past Rest

35. A Hard Day’s Night

36. The Old and the Forgotten

37. Down the Rabbit Hole

38. Cold War Echoes

39. Stay Buried

40. Safeguard

41. The Prodigal Son

2 Days Till: Zero Hour

42. The Locked Room

43. Lying Down

44. The Wall

45. Journey’s End

46. Out of the Bag

47. Be Careful what you Wish For

48. Night Falls

49. Side Effects

50. No Time to Lose

51. Deadline

52. Perimeter Breach

1 Days Till: Zero Hour

53. The World of Common Day

54. Everything you have Left

55. Veterans’ Association

56. Why We Fight

57. The Calm Before

58. The Storm, Part One

59. The Storm, Part Two

60. The Storm, Part Three

61. The Storm, Part Four

62. Leave It All on the Field

63. Time Waits for No Man

Zero Hour

Epilogue: Happily Ever After

To Be Concluded…

Acknowledgements

Copyright

About the Publisher

It would be easy to be clever

And tell the stones: Men hate to die

And have stopped dying now forever.

I think they would believe the lie.

Robert Frost

Surely there is some horrible doom hanging over us that every possible accident should thwart us in all we try to do.

John Seward

Eight black-clad Operators made their way silently over the lip of the canyon, spacing themselves evenly out along the length of the ridge.

They bristled with weaponry, although not the kind they were used to carrying; they wore no stakes on their belts, no ultraviolet grenades or beam guns, no T-Bones. Instead, each Operator was carrying a suppressed SPAS-15 shotgun loaded with wireless taser cartridges that could immobilise a human being from four hundred and fifty metres.

Their target lay fifty metres below them: a wooden cabin built into the steep slope beside the dry riverbed that wound its way along the canyon floor. It was a small square building, with a white roof and a stone chimney emerging from its centre, and a wooden porch on its far side. The cabin was the last-known residence of an individual who was, as far as anyone was able to ascertain, unique: a vampire who had been cured of his condition and now went by the name of Adam.

The team had lifted off forty-five minutes earlier from Papoose Lake, the headquarters of National Security Division 9 that lay inside the military facility known throughout the world as Area 51. The flight time had been barely twenty minutes, but the team’s orders had been to set down more than ten miles from the cabin, drive to within two, and hike the rest on foot. Adam was apparently no longer a vampire, and it was assumed that his supernatural senses had disappeared when he was cured, but General Allen, the NS9 Director, had no intention of leaving anything to chance.

The eight Operators had made their way silently through the barren rock and sand of the desert as the sun pounded down from overhead, the climate-control systems inside their black jumpsuits working overtime to keep them cool, until they arrived at the perimeter of the target zone and the squad’s leader, Special Operator Tim Albertsson, had called in for final clearance to proceed. The response had arrived directly in his ear in the form of a single word.

“Go.”

Albertsson led them down the canyon, moving silently at the centre of the wide spread. As they approached the cabin, his team spread out as if by remote control. The three Operators to Tim’s right, and the three at the opposite end of the line, broke away and circled round the cabin. Two stopped on each side, facing the flat wooden walls with their shotguns raised, as the Operators who had been at the ends of the line met silently on the far side. Tim and the final member of the squad stopped five metres short of the rear of the cabin, forming the final edge of a perimeter of matt-black uniforms and steadily pointed weaponry.

Satellite reconnaissance had shown heat inside the cabin, but had been unable to positively identify its source. It was too diffuse: the product, it was suspected, of a wood-burning stove in the centre of the two rooms. Privately, Tim Albertsson believed they were going to find nothing in the cabin, and was highly sceptical of the intelligence that had been provided; a cured vampire, who had supposedly
been
cured in Nevada as part of a highly classified NS9 research project that nobody inside the Department was aware of, and whose existence and location had come from a source that General Allen would not discuss with anyone.

There’s so much wrong with this story,
thought Albertsson, as he made a final check of his squad’s positions.
I’m not sure I buy any of it.

Despite his reservations, Albertsson understood why his squad had been sent to the desert. If Adam was real, and
had
been cured, then he was quite simply one of the most important people in the world – perhaps
the
most important. What had been done to him might offer clues that led not only to victory over Dracula, but to the complete eradication of the vampire threat. The Director could hardly ignore such a possibility.

“Ready One,” he said, speaking into the closed communications link that carried his voice directly into the ears of his squad. “Non-lethal only.”

Seven Operators chorused their agreement back to him. Albertsson moved, stepping lightly on the balls of his feet, and approached the window in the rear wall of the cabin. John Brady, a third-year Operator who had come to NS9 from the Marines, shadowed him, keeping the distance between them constant. Albertsson reached the wall of the cabin and set his back against it, his shotgun raised to his shoulder. He took a deep breath, then darted his head out beyond the window frame and looked inside the cabin.

The main room doubled as both kitchen and living room; below the window was a metal sink, with a battered sofa sitting in the centre of the floor beyond it. To the right stood an antique chest of drawers, the top of which was patterned with angular lines of dust. To the left, a wood-burning stove vibrated gently as it coughed smoke up the chimney and out into the clear desert sky.

There was no sign of their target.

As I expected,
thought Tim, cursing silently.
He’s gone, whoever he is.

“Bedroom,” he said.

“Clear,” came the immediate reply.

Tim stepped out and took a closer look through the window. There was nowhere the man could be hiding: no cupboards, no trapdoors. And as he scanned the small dwelling, he realised what the lines of dust on the dressing-table top were. They were the marks left by photo frames that hadn’t been moved for a long time; the kind you only moved if it was necessary, like when you were leaving a place with no intention of ever coming back.

“Jameson,” he said, addressing one of the Operators positioned along the cabin’s front wall. “Move in. I want the place swept in five minutes so we can get the hell out of here.”

“Roger,” said Chris Jameson. As Albertsson and Brady made their way round the cabin to join up with the rest of the squad, Jameson pushed open the unlocked door and stepped inside. The last thing he would ever hear was a tiny click from beneath one of the floorboards, as his boot stepped heavily on to it.

BOOK: Department 19: Zero Hour
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