PART TWO: MASTERMIND

The cost of freedom is always high, yet one path we shall never choose - and that is the path of surrender, or submission.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

SIX

From: Private F. Cleary
UK Division, UNIT
Good Friday 1970

Dear Mum

Well, I've finally got a chance to write home and tell you how I'm doing at my new posting. We're based at a barracks to the west of London - I can't say exactly where, otherwise they'll have to cut it out of my letter. Something about special restrictions with this new outfit we've just joined, or so Sergeant Benton says.

Like I said in my last letter, I'm joined something called UNIT - that stands for the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. What exactly it is we're going to do here seems pretty hush-hush right now, but apparently it's a bit like peace-keeping work. They showed us a copy of the charter from the UN but I could hardly make head nor tale of it. Something about First Contact, special investigations, and defending the world against external attacks. But if UNIT operates around the globe, who is it meant to be defending the world against?

I asked the sergeant about that. He said UNIT investigates problems at secret research centres when things go wrong and provides security for peace conferences and the like. Because we're meant to be a neutral force, it means we can act as peace keepers. As for the external attacks, he says that's mostly terrorists and 'hostile incursions' - whatever they are. (I just hope we don't end up in Northern Ireland, that's one of the hostile places I volunteered for this bunch to avoid!)

Apparently UNIT seconds troops from the Army at regular intervals but they only accept volunteers who aren't married. That worried me a bit when we were first offered the chance to sign up but my extra money was hard to turn down. (I've put a little bit extra in with the letter this time to help you and the children out. Hopefully it'll be more from now on.)

The squad I'm in are a really decent bunch of guys and everyone pitches in when there's work to be done. All in all, it's a bit of a cushy number from what I can tell. The sergeant says it could be months before we see any action. That's got to be better than those poor guys on the Ark Royal. Word is, things are rough and getting rougher out in South-East Asia where they're going.

Anyway, I better get myself going because we've been given a half days' leave. I'm hoping to do some shopping, especially since they've said shops can open this year. I know, I know: the Good Lord didn't make Good Friday for shopping, but the Army doesn't follow the Pope when it comes to church times either. Before you ask, I'm hoping to go and see the chaplain tonight.

Give my love to Susie and the others, and look after yourselves. You don't want to be catching that Asian Flu!

All my love,
Francis

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