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To my shame, I realise that it's been nearly a year since I posted the previous chapter, not only that, but I've had the next one ready to post nearly all that time . . .   :o    :-[    :icon_crap:
So here is the next chapter, but before you read on, for various reasons, I've decided to change the outside appearance of the Device. Please refer back to Chapters Five and Ten, for the updated Device . . .


The Prime Minister  was thirsty, and he needed the toilet. 'I could do with a cup of tea,' he suddenly said, almost without thinking. 'Certainly, Sir', replied Goss. 'We'll go across to the Officer's Mess, get a  Cup'o'Char, and by the time we're done, the aircraft will be ready for takeoff.
The hangar now empty of personnel, the handling party having disappeared through the same door as the Device Technicians, Goss led the Prime Minister, Wells, and Redgrave back into the ante-room. As they sat down on the hard chairs again, Goss locked the inner door behind them. After what seemed like an age, but in reality was only a couple of minutes, the outer door was unlocked and opened, and the stone-faced soldier re-appeared. Without a word, he saluted the Officers, turned on his heel, and marched back outside. The party followed, and found him sat in the driving seat of the decrepit car.
They trundled off through the maze of sheds, huts, and hangars that made up the Martlesham Station, finally arriving at a somewhat smarter building, that Lloyd George correctly devined was the Officer's Mess. Although it couldn't compare with the opulence of the Hotel back at Orfordness, it was decent enough. Everyone in the party took the opportunity to empty their bladder, before being served with a good cup of RAF tea. To be honest, Lloyd George found it a bit too weak for his liking, but decided against commenting, or complaining about it. in any case, he only had time to take a couple of sips, before the Mess telephone rang, was answered by an orderly, and Goss summoned to it.
After a few, brief words, Goss returned to the table. 'The aeroplane's ready for take-off', he said, 'so we'll go out onto the airfield and watch it depart. Drink up!' Lloyd George decided against drinking up, and waited whilst the others did so, then followed them outside. Private 'stone-face' was waiting with the 'car', and, after climbing aboard, drove out on to the edge of the aerodrome proper.
There, sitting in the afternoon sun was the Handley-Page. The engines were started, puffs of smoke emerging from the exhaust pipes while the propeller blades blurred into spinning discs, the sun glinting off their polished brass leading-edge sheathes. The chocks pulled, the giant aeroplane taxied across the aerodrome, rocking and waddling in response to the uneven surface. Eventually, it reached the far, downwind edge of the airfield, and turned clumsily into the wind. A figure emerged from the hut that served as the flying control office, raised a Very Pistol into the air, and discharged it. As the green flare arced through the  air, the bomber's engines rose to full revolutions, and the aircraft lurched forward. Gaining speed, the tail rose to the horizontal, and daylight appeared under the mainwheels. Now gaining height, the aeroplane flew straight ahead for a minute or so, before turning South, and disappearing behind a stand of trees, not far outside the aerodrome boundary.
'Right', said Goss, primarily to the Prime Minister, but also addressing Wells and Redgrave, 'Let's get you back to the tender care of your man Doolittle, then you can go and watch the drop . . .'
Having been dropped off at the inner gate, Lloyd George, Wells, and Redgrave said goodbye to Goss, re-entered the Guardroom, where their wallets and other possessions were returned to them, albeit with another multitude of forms to sign, exited the Guardroom once again, and finally passed through the outer gate, where Doolittle and the Vauxhall was waiting to collect them.





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