Here we have a brand-new fan fiction story for you. We all know the book The Valley of Adventure. We’ve read about what happened to the children once they boarded the wrong plane, and their adventures in the valley. But Bill is absent until Phillip lands in Gairdon and he is summoned to rescue the rest of the children.
This story covers what Bill – and his eighteen-year-old trainee agent Anatoly Petrov – got up to while hunting for the missing children.
It works on the premise that Bill Cunningham has been an agent of the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service now known as MI6 and previously the SOE [Special Operations Executive]) all along, and his title of Detective Inspector as used in Valley is part of a false identity.
As Bill Cunningham ambled over to the group of SIS agents in the aerodrome for the new plane’s test run, Anatoly Petrov couldn’t help notice the four children that seemed to have been left standing by the entrance of the airfield, with a vague comment of “Wait for me by the aeroplane” from his boss. Being the most junior in the group tonight, and a trainee to boot, Anatoly didn’t dare ask Bill why he had brought four children with him. He wondered if it had something to do with the woman Bill seemed to be getting sweet on recently.
After orders from his boss and a last-minute run through of procedure, Anatoly positioned himself at the huge radio set and set about preparing everything up for the take-off, zoning out on what else was happening around him, which was his first mistake of the night.
Gun shots rang out around the dark aerodrome. Anatoly jumped from his position at the radio station, drawing his gun from the holster inside his jacket and moved to cover his fellow agents who were rushing towards the sound of gunfire. He released the safety catch from his weapon and tried to figure out where the rapid shots were coming from. He flinched as his colleagues started firing from behind whatever safe spaces they had found, and towards the new plane that Bill was about to take out. He had had plenty of practice with guns during his National Service, but having started that after the war had ended there had been few opportunities for him to experience enemy fire.
Steadying himself he watched the direction of the dark shadows moving across the space towards a second plane, a similar model to Bill’s which had been parked a few spaces down. Moving quickly, Anatoly rushed towards the second plane, firing his revolver at the shapes just before the huge engines started up. He stopped and aimed, the gun wavering as he tried to work out where to shoot to best hinder the aeroplane’s take off.
One of his colleagues seemed to realise what he was thinking and forced the gun down. “Don’t do that, you idiot,” he snapped. “You’ll cause a massive explosion that we can’t cover up!”
Anatoly put the safety back on his gun, shame-faced. He knew that he still had a lot to learn, and moments like that just proved it. All he had been thinking about was stopping the men from taking off, he hadn’t considered the consequences of shooting at a moving aeroplane with its tank full of fuel.
The plane taxied down the runway past them and with a deep rumble that threatened to shake the earth, it took off into the night sky. Anatoly watched it go, and turned to the man who had stopped him from making a grievous error. “What do we do now?”
“We find Cunningham, get fresh orders,” his colleague replied curtly.
Anatoly grimaced. He should have known that. What a night this was turning out to be.
“I’m over here, by the plane,” Bill’s loud voice called out as they approached. “A plane we can’t take,” he added in frustration.
“How come, boss?” asked one of the others. “This plane is brand new!”
“It might be brand new,” snapped Bill, his temper fraying. “But the bullet holes in the tank mean it’s grounded!”
Anatoly shuffled a little and looked around. “Are the children all right? You did tell them to get into the plane did you not, boss?”
“I did,” Bill replied through clenched teeth. He was angry, but also shaken. A bullet had zipped by his leg earlier, so close it had cut a gash in his trouser leg. There was also the matter of the four children he had taken responsibility for. “But they’re not on the plane.”
An agent appeared at the top of the steps, framed in the doorway by the cockpit lights “There’s no suitcases, or belongings of any kind, sir,” he called before he made his way down.
“They’re sensible children,” Bill forced himself to say. “They’ll have got their heads down as soon as they heard the shots. Philip and Jack wouldn’t have let anything happen to Lucy-Ann or Dinah, so they’d have all moved away from the danger if they could.” He hoped to god that was true. “I want them found. NOW!” he barked.
After a brief discussion on how to divide the large base, the agents scattered, beginning to spread out and search for the children. They looked under the bellies of other planes, behind crates and equipment, in and around the cars parked here and there, anywhere a child might conceal his or herself. Personally, Anatoly doubted that the supposedly sensible children would have moved far when they heard the gun fire start. They would have stayed where they were in the hope that they wouldn’t get caught in the cross fire. If they were supposed to by Bill’s plane, then they should still be there.
The hours dragged on and Bill became more and more resigned to the inevitable conclusion that the children were no longer in the sealed aerodrome. As daylight began to break the exhausted agents and a worried and exhausted Bill admitted defeat and acknowledged that the children must have been on the only plane that had left.
“What on earth possessed them to get on that aeroplane?” Bill demanded of nobody in particular, banging his fist on a packing crate. Mechanics were still working on his damaged plane. They had siphoned out what fuel hadn’t already trickled onto the tarmac and had then begun repairing the leak, but it was far too late to be of any use now. They hadn’t the faintest clue where the plane had been heading to.
To be continued…