Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

I come through the doors at a run, dodging consoles and furniture while trying to figure out how they got past our drone hunters.
“Give me the casualty count first.”
Might as well get the worst out of the way. Then I can focus on catching the clever bastards.
“Two. One dead, one with serious injuries to their hands.”
“Only two? What were they firing from the drone? Fireworks? While we’re on the topic, how did it slip past our watch? We’re meant to have the best drone screening in the world.”
There’s silence. Nervous side-glances are exchanged.
“Come on, people. Now’s not the time to get shy about a cock-up in the detector net.”
Michael steps away from the group. I point at him.
“You’re the winner. Tell me.”
“They used a sword. A medieval longsword, to be precise. Early examination indicates it might be the real thing, too.”
I take a huge breath and lean against a desk while I recalibrate my expectations.
“They dropped a sword from a drone and hit two people?”
He shakes his head.
“Hit one and killed him. The injuries were caused to his partner when they tried to pull the sword out of him. They hadn’t noticed it had gone clean through and driven into the pavement. Emergency services had to use a sledgehammer to free it.”
One of the operators swings away, hand going to her headset. She turns back, face ashen.
“A Met armed response vehicle got a sword through it’s roof. Killed the driver. Car went off the road, then through a café. There are multiple casualties.”
Another operator ducks and turns to take a call. He raises a hand as he turns back.
“Got a report of a tanker going off the M25 into an industrial estate. Motorway surveillance shows something falling from the sky onto the cab moments before the tanker swerved.”
“How bad is it?”
He grimaces.
“Tanker blew up. There’s a lot of fires. Emergency crews are still arriving. They’re expecting multiple fatalities.”
Good God. We build the finest explosive and bioweapon detection system on earth and they make it look idiotic by flying through with drones carrying swords?
“Get the programmers working on some suitable metal-spotting routines for the detector nets. I’m not too fussed if we get a few false hits to start with. Let’s stop the attacks first, then refine if needs be.”
Swords. Impractical, but the emotional impact is huge. They could have used bricks or hammers – even spears – but a weighty sword? The extra penetration offsets the few misses or flat-of-the-blade hits.
“Get me the PM and prepare a briefing pack for PCCs, DMC&Ps, and Chief Constables. We’re going to need to raise the alert level, and recall personnel UK-wide. I also want our raptors up. Scramble the drone pilots – or whatever the right word is to make them get their toys in the air immediately. If they can’t interdict enough of them, we’ll have to jam the control frequencies and live with the late delivery chaos it’ll cause while we get on top of this.”
This is going to be a nightmare. I need coffee.