During the night, two helicopters full of US Navy SEALs landed in Ashbrooke, one on either side of the geothermal power station. They rushed into the building before the security guards could even squeak into their mobile phones. Soon they’d secured the whole complex for Uncle Sam.

Nobody thought to tell the British government what was going on: they wouldn’t find out till days later, when it was all over. Which was a teeny bit cheeky, when you think of it.

But when President Lacy Lee decided to do something, she didn’t muck around. As the mission commander said, “The gravity of the situation called for expedient action.”

And, as the US Defense Secretary put it, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” (You can get away with that sort of thing when you’re the USA.)

The first Dyspepsia and Spookie knew about it was at daybreak, when the doorbell rang. Mummy had to pad downstairs in her dressing gown and slippers to answer the door. She called back up the stairs to Dyspepsia that there were two marines outside who wanted to see her. Still in her nightie, Dyspepsia was down in a trice.

“We’re taking you to Earthspot-Zero,” said the marines. “Come with us. Come now. Don’t go back for anything. Give your mommy a hug and tell you won’t be coming home tonight.”

“What about my toothbrush?” said Dyspepsia.

“We’ve got plenty of those. We can find you one.”

“What about my teddy?”

“We’ll send someone round to collect it by bedtime.”

And, with that, the marines drove Dyspepsia away in their truck.

Spookie dashed upstairs and grabbed Dyspepsia’s teddy from her bed. Then she ran after the truck as fast as she could. She caught up with it at the traffic lights on Ryhope Road and clung tightly to the spare wheel with her claws, the teddy held in her teeth. She hadn’t wanted to let the truck get away. She had no idea where the marines meant by Earthspot-Zero.

Only when they arrived at their destination did she realise. It was the US Navy’s code name for the Ashbrooke geothermal power station—and its huge mysterious underground complex.

Dyspepsia was so relieved to see Spookie, she gave her a hug and a kiss on the nose.

“Glad you came along, Spookie,” said the first marine. “We were going to send another truck for you later. But right now the President is waiting inside to see you both before she flies back to the USA, so there’s no time to lose.”

The marines took Dyspepsia and Spookie to the director’s office. But it wasn’t the director sitting behind the desk, it was President Lacey Lee. The lava lamp was gone, too. Now there was nothing on the desk but a polished wooden disc supporting a pair of crossed flags. The stars and stripes (of course). Plus the Monstosaurus flag. Both Spookie and Dyspepsia were tickled to see that.

President Lacey Lee rose to her feet and came round the desk to give them both a hug and a kiss on the cheek. She placed her hands on Dyspepsia’s shoulders, saying “Admiral Dyspepsia—I’m leaving you in charge here. I’d love to stay and talk, but I’m addressing Congress on the State of the Union this afternoon and I simply must get back to the White House. Nobody knows I’m here—and I want to keep it that way.”

“How will you get back in time?” said Dyspepsia, glancing at her watch.

“Oh, don’t you worry. There’s five time zones to cross. Right now it’s only 3 AM in Washington. Plenty time to get back, take a shower and do my hair.”

Surrounded by her Secret Service bodyguards, she made as if to go. But at the office door she turned and said, “I’d better just mention—I’ve appointed a Chief Science Advisor to help you. Once you’ve got your uniforms on, I recommend you talk with him as a matter of priority.” She blew a kiss. “Good luck to you both, now.”

With that, she left the building. Her Secret Service bodyguards drove her away to Teesside Airport, where Air Force One was waiting on the tarmac with its engines warmed up. Nobody knew it was Air Force One because they’d painted out the name.

The marines took Dyspepsia and Spookie to the suite of rooms they were to share, and a man called Lieutenant Blowhard came in with their new uniforms. Dyspepsia’s had a badge saying: “Admiral Dyspepsia”. 

Spookie looked at her own breast pocket, and saw that her name badge only said “Capt. Spookie”. She was miffed about that.

“Admiral Dyspepsia is in charge here,” the Lieutenant explained. “So she needs to have the rank of admiral. But we wanted to give you a rank too, and Captain sounded okay.”

“Will I get to command my own vessel?” she said.

A voice replied from the doorway “No doubt about it, Pookie.”

Spookie looked up with a frown, wondering who was calling her by her old name. It was the last person in the world she wanted to see.

“Oh,” she said. “And I suppose you’re the new Chief Science Advisor?”

“Good afternoon, Professor Schrodinger,” said Dyspepsia. She felt she ought to be a little more polite than Spookie to the new Chief Science Advisor the President had found her.

“Good afternoon, Admiral Dyspepsia. Well—come and see what we’ve found.”

…to be continued.