fredbassett: (Default)
[personal profile] fredbassett
Title : Silk and Steel, Part 79
Authors : fredbassett & munchkinofdoom
Fandom : Primeval
Characters : Becker, Thomson, Ditzy, Leek, Lyle, Nick, Connor, Annie, Blade, Helen
Rating : 18
Disclaimer : Not ours, no money made, don’t sue
Spoilers : None
Summary : Thomson returns to the ARC with news of Ditzy’s fate.
Warning : Slave!fic.
A/N : The links to all previous parts can be found HERE. Captain Thomson appears by kind permission of [livejournal.com profile] deinonychus_1.

Becker leaned back in his chair and watched the feed from the security cameras. He saw Thomson slam the door of his black Range Rover with unnecessary force and then stride in through the huge doors to the atrium looking like he was crushing insects underfoot with each step.

A white-coated laboratory technician made the mistake of getting in his way and was knocked down with one hard blow from the captain’s gloved hand. The woman sprawled on the floor, wide-eyed with shock, blood trickling from a split lip. No one moved to help her. Becker sighed. No one could say that Thomson wasn’t an equal opportunities bastard when his temper was up.

Earlier in the day, the captain had been summoned to explain to their superiors in Section 42 how he’d managed to allow a condemned prisoner to die before their paymasters in government had been able to extract their pound of flesh. Becker debated following the same course of action that everyone else would no doubt adopt and simply staying out of the Thomson’s way, but that would almost certainly end up with some other poor bugger bearing the brunt of the man’s notoriously short temper.

Becker’s arse had barely healed from his recent encounter with Thomson in the same sort of mood, but the last thing he wanted was Matt, or anyone else for that matter, being on the receiving end of the man’s attentions. With a detour via the recreation room to equip himself with a pot of coffee – black, sweet and strong enough to corrode metal – Becker made his way to Thomson’s office and gave a respectful knock.

“Enter!”

Thomson looked up as Becker came through the door. The hard mask of his face eased slightly at the sight of what Becker was carrying. He gestured to the chair in front of his desk and, to Becker’s surprise, fished a spare mug and a bottle of whisky out of a drawer and laced both coffees liberally with alcohol.

Becker sat down and sipped at the coffee. The whisky made it surprisingly palatable, even though he didn’t normally take sugar.

“They wanted Owen’s head as a substitute,” Thomson said flatly.

“Are they going to get it?” Becker asked keeping his tone as neutral as possible.

“No, they fucking well aren’t.” Thomson drained his mug in three long swallows, poured a second one and spiked that with whisky as well. “The man’s a good soldier.”

“So was Ryan, but that didn’t save him,” Becker said quietly, and instantly regretted his words when he saw the flash of anger in Thomson’s dark eyes.

“Ryan was a pawn in a much bigger game and you know that as well as I do, but I’m damned if I’m losing any more men just to keep those bloody idiots in Downing Street happy.” Thomson finished the second coffee as quickly as the first one and then poured some neat Scotch into the mug. “Christ, Becker, we’re stretched thinly enough on this project as it is.” He swallowed the rest of the whisky in one gulp and stood up. Becker confidently expected to be told to get to his knees, but all Thomson did was gesture to the door. “Come on, let’s put Owen out of his misery, then I’d better report to Leek.”

They found the medic in the recreation room, sprawled out on one of the sofas, staring blankly at the white-painted wall. He looked like a man who hadn’t slept much the previous night. It was a look he shared with just about everyone in the building. Ditzy opened his eyes as the door opened and came smoothly to his feet, saluting smartly, his brown eyes wary. Becker was under no illusions. Ryan had been liked and trusted by everyone in the ARC, whereas Thomson and – by association – Becker himself, was viewed with distrust at best, and active dislike at worst.

“At ease,” Thomson said. “If this was going to be formal I’d have called you into my office.”

Ditzy adopted a posture of parade rest.

“Ten lashes, to be delivered at a time of my choosing,” Thomson said, getting straight to the point. “It was the best I could do, Owen. They started off by wanting you to take Ryan’s place.”

The medic’s eyes widened slightly, but Becker knew from the look on his face that he’d been more than half-expecting a death sentence. It was the risk Ditzy had taken when he’d engineered a quick death for his commanding officer. Becker wondered for a moment if any of his own men were loyal enough to take the same risk for him. It was a sobering thought, and one that he didn’t really want to think about too closely.

“Thank you, sir,” Ditzy said, not bothering to disguise the relief in his voice.

“Thank me afterwards, Lieutenant,” Thomson said with one of his rare smiles. “I’m told I have a heavy arm. But I do believe we can defer the matter of punishment to a more appropriate moment. You’re a brave man, Owen, and a loyal one. Now phone your girlfriend and put her out of her misery.” Without waiting for a reply, Thomson turned on his heel and left the room, leaving Becker and Ditzy to stare at each other in ill-concealed surprise.

A moment later, feeling uncomfortably like a well-trained dog, Becker followed the senior captain from the room. As Thomson crossed the atrium no one made the mistake of getting in his way. Connor Temple was in his accustomed place at the ADD, looking as pale and drawn as everyone else in the building. Becker could see that he was doing his best not to flinch at the sound of Thomson’s heavy boots on the tiled floor. The lad’s nerves probably hadn’t been helped by the fact that Sergeant Miller was lounging at the bottom of the ramp up to the first floor, leaning on the handrail, his trademark leer firmly in place.

As Thomson approached, Miller straightened up but didn’t immediately come to attention. Thomson paused long enough to eye his subordinate with obvious displeasure. “I do believe the perimeter fence is in need of checking,” Thomson commented. “Deal with it personally, Sergeant. I shall expect a report on my desk by the end of the day.”

Becker stifled a grin. It was pissing down outside and had been for the past hour.

Without waiting for an answer, Thomson swept on up the ramp. Lester’s secretary was at her desk. She looked up and said coolly, “Mr Leek is expecting you, Captain.”

Becker wondered if Leek would make any complaint about Thomson’s delay in reporting. Lyle, in his now-accustomed role as Leek’s bodyguard, stood up as the two men entered the room and snapped off an immaculate salute. Thomson nodded at him and, to Becker’s amazement, went to his knees in front of what had previously been Sir James Lester’s desk. With only the barest of hesitations, borne out of surprise more than anything else, Becker followed suit.

“Your report, Captain,” Leek said.

Oliver Leek couldn’t match the former incumbent of that room for composure, but Becker gave the man decent marks for effort.

“You have the full support of my superiors, master,” Thomson said. “My men and I are to remain at your service. I was able to convince them that nothing useful would be served by Lieutenant Owen taking Ryan’s place in the Punishment Room. He will receive ten lashes at an appropriate time to encourage him to be a little less trigger-happy in future.”

Becker saw the relief bleed into Lyle’s hazel eyes. The lieutenant let out a long, slow breath and Becker knew that his captain had just gone a long way towards gaining some much-needed loyalty from Ryan’s former second-in-command.

“Good,” Leek said quietly. “Do take a seat, Captains. I’ve had Downing Street on the phone most of the morning. To say they aren’t exactly pleased with yesterday’s events would be an understatement but appropriate apologies are being tendered to the Saudis, complete with a neatly gift-wrapped parcel of Captain Ryan’s head, and this will no doubt blow over.”

“What of Sir James?” Thomson queried.

“One scapegoat is deemed adequate,” Leek said. “James Lester has powerful friends and the PM is anxious not to antagonise more people than strictly necessary, not with an election rapidly approaching. I will be holding an internal enquiry into the sabotage of the Anomaly Detection Device but I fully expect our former Director to be cleared of all complicity in the matter by the end of the week.”

Becker watched the exchange with interest. The intelligence he’d read on Oliver Leek had labelled him as a man hungry for power, someone who had believed himself wrongly passed over for promotion on numerous occasions. He’d been the perfect cat’s paw for the machinations of their superiors, but now Becker was beginning to have his doubts about how malleable the man would actually prove to be. He’d expected Leek to glory in Lester’s fall from grace rather than make an effort to clear the man’s name. Another thing he couldn’t understand was Lyle’s apparent loyalty to the man. He’d read the punishment logs but it looked very much like the reports only told part of the tale.

He knew that Lyle was reputed to be in a long-term relationship with Cutter’s assistant, one that had started before Stephen Hart’s forcible return to Indentured status, but there was also an indefinable air of… something that he couldn’t quite put his finger on, between the lieutenant and Leek that made him suspect there was more going on between them than met the eye.

Becker was rapidly reaching the conclusion that there was a lot about the inhabitants of the Anomaly Research Centre that he didn’t understand. He knew he’d made rather too many errors of judgement in the time he’d been there and he was anxious to avoid any more but at times it felt like he had shifting sand beneath his feet rather than firm ground.

“The ARC feels like a powder-keg at the moment,” Leek commented. “I shall expect Ryan’s…” Leek frowned and corrected himself, “…your men, to remain with the civilians in their care, not least of which to ensure they remain free of Mrs Cutter’s attentions. We can well do without her making matters worse.”

To Becker’s surprise, all Thomson did was nod in agreement. “I shall ensure your orders are carried out, sir. Is there anything else you would like me to attend to?”

“Ensure that Mr Temple has access to every computer in the building. I want a full examination carried out to ascertain how our systems came to be compromised. I also want his assurance that we are no longer vulnerable to any unauthorised access.”

“And if anyone objects?” Helen Cutter’s name was unspoken, but still contrived to hang heavily in the air.

Leek smiled without humour. “Then I will expect their objections to be overruled, Captain Thomson. This is, after all, a matter of internal security, which naturally supersedes any other considerations. Please ensure that Connor Temple is able to do what he needs to do whilst remaining free of molestation, either from our esteemed Science Director or your sergeant. Do I make myself clear?”

Thomson glanced out of the window at the teeming rain. “Miller has served his purpose, sir. He’ll be kept on a short leash from now on.”

Leek stood up and treated them to an ingratiating smile that Becker was beginning to realise was an integral part of the man’s armoury. “Splendid. I value your loyalty, gentlemen.”

Recognising polite dismissal for what it was, Thomson stood up and Becker followed suit. Leek was right. The atmosphere in the ARC was still redolent with tension. Becker very much doubted that anyone in the building had achieved anything even remotely resembling a decent night’s sleep. He certainly hadn’t and Thomson didn’t look like he’d fared much better.

It had been a long day and, a moment later, the shrill sound of the ADD alarm announced that it wasn’t over yet.

Their footsteps quickened and they reached the bottom of the ramp, with Leek and Lyle immediately behind them, as Joel Stringer entered the atrium at a run, demanding to know the location of the anomaly.

“Not too far to go this time,” Connor said, already in the process of pulling up a map and sending the location to the GPS units in the response vehicles. “Looks like it’s slap bang in the middle of Epping Forest.”

The scientists were almost as quick off the mark as the soldiers. Nick Cutter arrived, accompanied by Annie Morris, and the two professors promptly started checking readings on the ADD while Stephen and Abby headed for the vehicles armed with their usual selection of tranquilliser guns.

A computer technician slid into the seat next to Connor and started to take over the monitoring. In something under five minutes, the whole response team was assembled and ready to move out, all pieces falling into place with the ease borne of long practice as Becker and Thomson watched without interfering.

The sharp tap of heels on the tiled floor attracted Becker’s attention and he watched as Helen Cutter strolled into the atrium, a smile wholly lacking in sincerity quirking her lips. “Annie, just the person I was looking for. I’d like to discuss some aspects of your research this afternoon, if you can spare me the time.”

“Can it wait, dear?” Annie replied, picking up a capacious handbag that as far as Becker could see appeared to contain everything apart from a rocket launcher or the kitchen sink. “I have some tests I’d like to run on an active anomaly.”

Becker watched as a slight frown settled on Helen’s face, but a moment later, the Science Director’s smile widened. “Yes, of course. Why don’t I come with you, then we can use the journey to catch up on a few things?”

Annie Morris kept her own expression strictly neutral, but Becker knew the suggestion hadn’t gone down well. Before she had chance to reply, Leek cleared his throat ostentatiously, obviously intending to draw attention to himself.

“Dr Cutter, I hate to interfere with your plans, but there are some budgetary matters I need to discuss with you that won’t wait.”

Helen’s smile slipped from her face to be replaced by a frown. “Are you sure it can’t wait, Oliver?”

“Quite sure.” For a moment, Becker half-thought Leek was going to top off his Uriah Heep impression by actually wringing his hands. “The Home Secretary is going what his Private Secretary so colourfully describes as ‘ape-shit’ on the subject of budgets at the moment and none of us are exempt from his attentions.” Leek waved one hand at the rapidly-disappearing response team. “I’m sure there’ll be plenty of opportunity to discuss research with Professor Morris later today or tomorrow.”

Leek bobbed his head in something resembling a bow and made his way back up the ramp, clearly expecting to be followed. Becker had to hand it to the man. The new Director of the Anomaly Research Centre managed to combine obsequiousness and authority into a seamless whole that seemed to do a remarkably effective job of wrong-footing Helen Cutter on nearly every occasion they crossed swords.

As Cutter and Annie Morris made good their escape from the control room, Helen stalked up the ramp, shooting a poisonous look at Leek’s retreating back. A faint prickle of unease raised the hairs on the back of Becker’s neck. He wasn’t in the least bit surprised that Leek now kept Lyle at his side 24 hours a day.

Helen Cutter clearly wasn’t a good woman to be on the wrong side of. Given a choice, Becker realised with a degree of surprise that he’d actually prefer to be on the receiving end of his commanding officer’s attentions rather than hers.

The wry look that Thomson directed at him made Becker think he might have done a bad job of concealing that thought.

Date: 2012-05-09 07:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] knitekat.livejournal.com
*purrs* I didn't think I'd ever say it, but go Thomson. Go Leek as well.

Great chapter and I hope they all watch out for HELEN, she is up to no good *nods*

*purrs again*

Date: 2012-05-09 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
It's only in a world like this that anyone would end up cheering for Leek and Thomson.

Date: 2012-05-10 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] knitekat.livejournal.com
Definitely. *purrs again*

Date: 2012-05-09 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reggietate.livejournal.com
I never thought I'd be cheering Leek! :-D And thank goodness for Thomson protecting Ditzy. Excellent chapter!

Date: 2012-05-09 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Neither of them want to lose any more men, and the ARC is a dangerous place.

Date: 2012-05-09 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] judithjohn.livejournal.com
"A faint prickle of unease raised the hairs on the back of Becker’s neck. He wasn’t in the least bit surprised that Leek now kept Lyle at his side 24 hours a day.

Ah........

Great chapter!

Date: 2012-05-09 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
*g* Thanks.

Date: 2012-05-09 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bigtitch.livejournal.com
Excellent chapter! Nice to get Becker's POV on things. Go Leek and Thomson!

Date: 2012-05-09 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Did I hear you right? You're cheering for Leek and Thomson? *g*

Date: 2012-05-09 07:51 pm (UTC)
fififolle: (Primeval - Becker Neck by reggietate)
From: [personal profile] fififolle
Heh, brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this chapter. Thomson really is an enigma. Seeing him through Becker's eyes was awesome.

Date: 2012-05-09 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
I have altogether too much fun with Thomson.

Date: 2012-05-09 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] freddiejoey.livejournal.com
fabulous instalment - and a great dose of Becker.

My cup runneth over.....

Date: 2012-05-09 09:07 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-05-09 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natchris.livejournal.com
Just terrific!

Date: 2012-05-09 09:07 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-05-09 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkhorse-99.livejournal.com
I do like how they're all working together to give Helen the run around and I'm SO GLAD that Ditzy and Owen aren't in ~much~ more trouble.

But there wasn't any Lester/Ryan reunion yet? I can't stand the suspense here!

Date: 2012-05-09 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Ooops, you might have to stand it a little longer...

Date: 2012-05-09 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkhorse-99.livejournal.com
/throws self in a pit of tigers to end the agony

Date: 2012-05-09 08:52 pm (UTC)
ext_27141: (Becker)
From: [identity profile] telperion-15.livejournal.com
I second knitekat's comment! The way you've developed Thomson and Leek throughout this whole story is brilliant! :)

Date: 2012-05-09 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Well, you know I like playing with the dynamics of shades of grey.

Date: 2012-05-09 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clea2011.livejournal.com
Poor Ditzy, nice (for him) as he's being, I can't imagine Thomson's not going to want to put on another good show.

And I suppose Becker should just be glad that Helen hasn't noticed him yet!

Date: 2012-05-09 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
LOL, yes, indeed.

Date: 2012-05-09 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lukadreaming.livejournal.com
Can't believe I'm cheering Leek and Thomson!

And erk! HELEN!

Date: 2012-05-09 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
*g* You're not alone, by the look of things!

Date: 2012-05-09 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaynedoll.livejournal.com
I'm glad Ditzy has been saved. And I love the way you've done all kinds of twist-y turn-y ambivalent things with the likes of Leek and Thomson. I still don't know whether they're to be trusted or whose side they're really on & that's what keeps the story so interesting.

Date: 2012-05-10 08:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
I'm glad we're managing to keep you guessing!

Date: 2012-05-09 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aunteeneenah.livejournal.com
Brilliant! and thank you for putting Miller out in the rain, he was making our Connor nervous. Okay, you've done it, you've made me cheer (softly) for Thompson and Leek. It's also nice that no one has felt the need to "shove" their authority either down someone's throat or up their arse! You've made me look forward to Wednesdays even more. Hump day is now S&S Day!

Date: 2012-05-10 08:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
LOL, Miller deserved some payback.

Date: 2012-05-10 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tay-21.livejournal.com
This was a great chapter, probably one of my faves since you started back. It was light, but there was a very steady undercurrent of tension.

I can't believe you have me freaking rooting for Leek and Thomson. That being said, I am so glad they both went to bat for Lester and Ditzy. I nearly LOL'd at Thomson sending Miller out to fix the fence in the rain. I was all: \o/ Hahahahahaha

OH and Leek soooo needs to wathc his back for HELEN!

Great choice of perspective by using Becker. He's nice and confused and neutral. LOL

Can't wait for next week. :-D
Edited Date: 2012-05-10 01:51 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-05-10 08:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Thanks :)

It was nice to be able to use Becker as a POV character here.

This was actually the first chapter I wrote when we got back to this after the gap. We then filled in the earlier ones after the severed head idea sprang up.

Date: 2012-05-10 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joshinator.livejournal.com
Awesome. I love our Leek's character is......I was going to type "coming" but then that just sounded very wrong......

Date: 2012-05-10 08:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
LOL!

And that's a totally gorgeous PriWriMo icon!

Date: 2012-05-10 02:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flaccidduck.livejournal.com
really clever to use Becker like this. It works so well

Great chapter.

Date: 2012-05-10 08:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Thanks. He made a useful POV character for this.

Date: 2012-05-10 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] auntypam.livejournal.com
Love Becker's perspective on this AU. And damn you're good! You made me like Ollie and....*shiver* even Thomson:)

Date: 2012-05-10 08:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Aw, fabulous icon!!!

Thanks. I'm glad they're working.

Date: 2012-05-10 07:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goldarrow.livejournal.com
Great chapter!

Yippee for Ditzy, kudos to Thomson for the save; and I never EVER thought I'd say this - but Bravo Leek for backing Lester, and corralling Helen! Eep. That almost hurt to write... *eg*

"The new Director of the Anomaly Research Centre managed to combine obsequiousness and authority into a seamless whole that seemed to do a remarkably effective job of wrong-footing Helen Cutter on nearly every occasion they crossed swords." Terrific line.

"The wry look that Thomson directed at him made Becker think he might have done a bad job of concealing that thought." Great ender!

"so colourfully describes as ‘ape-shit’" Snorfle.


Date: 2012-05-10 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Leek finally getting the top job is rather fun to write.

Date: 2012-05-10 01:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nietie.livejournal.com
Ten lashes for Ditzy! Phew and meep!

And eek for everybody walking on eggs.

Date: 2012-05-10 01:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
It could have been a lot worse.

Date: 2012-05-11 04:17 pm (UTC)
celeste9: (primeval: mussed!becker)
From: [personal profile] celeste9
Ditzy's safe! YAY!!!

Nice reminder at the beginning that Thomson is a total bastard, but the rest of the chapter reminded me that I seem to like him anyway. :) Leek is definitely getting better at dealing with Helen, which is very much of the good! But I'm sure she has something nasty up her sleeve.

It was great to get Becker's POV on everything, as he is still something of an outsider. I really liked the moment where he couldn't help but wonder if any of his men would do what Ditzy did for Ryan.

Date: 2012-05-11 05:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
I imagine that is quite a sobering thought for both Becker and Thomson.

Date: 2012-05-14 05:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] talliw.livejournal.com
OMG I love authoritarian Leek. He is dealing with Helen quite well. The question is how long will Helen take up with it.

Date: 2012-05-14 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Leek wrong-footing Helen is always fun.

Date: 2012-05-21 06:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lsellersfic.livejournal.com
It must be said that the idiots in Whitehall do sound like idiots...

Date: 2012-05-21 06:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
It's probably a job requirement.

Date: 2012-11-28 01:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] comnena39.livejournal.com
Poor Becker, he really is caught between a rock and a hard place in this universe. *pets*

Thompson and Leek are still unpleasant people I would happily see eaten up by a T-rex, but Miller and Helen are worse... just.

Date: 2012-11-28 01:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
*g* I think you're right in your assessment.

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