James Bond Literature
Edge of Treason - A James Bond novel by Paul Taylor
Odds change the numbers remain
edited July 2013
James Bond Literature
A fan fic alternative time line following on from Casino Royale.
Based on the characters and plot line of Quantum of Solace.
One chapter per week, for your enjoyment
Odds change the numbers remain
James Bond must choose either to follow orders or take his revenge on the man that betrayed Vesper.
On the ensuing mission, he uncovers the names of the conspirators, responsible for one of the UK’s most enduring mysteries.
Bond must decide, either to suppress the evidence and allow his nemesis to become the World’s most powerful criminal or expose the guilty and risk becoming an enemy of the state.
The action takes Bond from the high Alps of Switzerland to the very edge of treason.
Odds change the numbers remain
Based on Ian Fleming’s
Edge of Treason
It was nine pm.
Sir Miles Hawthorn sat alone in his office. The envelope containing his letter to the Prime Minister containing his notice of resignation from the service was neatly folded on the desk in front of him. In the pool of light cast from the green banker’s lamp he could clearly see the small official stamp that proclaimed ‘Approved’
He reached down at the side of his leather chair and picked up his old Barbour briefcase. The brass locks clicked open. Carefully he pealed back the leather flap. He plunged his hand inside. There was only one item within. His fingers griped the edge. Quickly he took out the report.
After years of internal post use it’s plain brown cardboard folder was dog-eared, but the papers inside were pristine.
Silently to himself Sir Miles read the opening summary again:-
Following the death of Diana Princess of Wales in Paris, August 31 1997 many doubts have surrounded the official story of the paparazzi chasing a drunken driver at speed toward an inevitable and tragic accident.
The following report is an examination of the evidence surrounding the number one conspiracy theory that MI6 killed Diana...
a) A rogue "cell" within the British secret service constructed and carried out a plot to kill Diana.
b) An official operation by MI6 to assassinate Diana, sanctioned by elements of the establishment.
The Possible Motives
a) Rogue elements in MI5 (National security) or MI6 (International security) decided that Diana was a threat to the throne, and therefore the stability of the state.
b) With similar motives to the possible rogue elements, an official operation is driven by a fear of Diana's possible to conversion to Islam and the implication on the Church and State were the two Princes, William and Harry, to follow their mother's lead.
Circumstantial though it maybe, put together is it capable of raising sufficient doubt that this was an accident? Below are some of the questions and doubts that are raised by the investigation so far
Rapid disposal of the bodies
Diana had no post mortem prior to the burial in Althorp. Victims of sudden death require a post mortem by law in the UK.
- The missing white Fiat Uno: With such a large-scale investigation by French authorities could only secret agents have evaded the police's net around Paris? We know the car hit the Mercedes used by Diana and Dodi, thanks to traceable paint marks on the Benz. Witnesses refer to the car lurching around the road at varying speeds as both it and the Mercedes entered the tunnel.
- Henri Paul, driver of the Limo. The mis-information surrounding this key figure is enormous. First he was said to be driving at up to 120 mph, official reports by professional crash investigators suggest 60 mph, less on impact. Was he really drunk? It is accepted that he had two Ricard drinks at the Ritz, but no other evidence has emerged to support this claim, beyond questionable results from a blood test from his corpse.
Why questionable, because it is common for the alcohol level to rise in bodies after death regardless of consumption. The test also showed a very high level of carbon monoxide (20 per cent) in his blood. Experts say this would have incapacitated him before he set off on his fatal journey, and yet the hotel's video evidence shows him walking around and talking normally.
An alcoholic, well, as a pilot, he passed a rigorous health check two days before the accident. His liver showed no signs of abuse on post-mortem. Then there is the question of the multiple bank accounts Paul held, with balances showing income far in excess of his £20,000 salary as acting head of security at the Ritz. Some friends have suggested he was a long term "sleeper" agent for a secret service agency, almost certainly French intelligence.
- Trevor Rees Jones (Fayed bodyguard). The only survivor. One time member of Her Majesty's armed forces, rumours suggest he may have been a "sleeper" agent for MI5 or MI6, particularly as the establishment were keen to keep tabs on Mohammed Al Fayed. Why was he the only person in the car to wear a safety-belt?
- Explosion, followed by Bang- Immediately after the crash news was broadcast, witnesses appeared on US TV saying that they heard an explosion or bang before they heard the car crash. Was this a gunshot, or a bomb?
- White Light- Other witnesses describe an extremely bright white light, much stronger than a photographer's flashbulb, illuminating the tunnel before the crash sounds. Powerful anti-personnel flash-guns are available to private citizens for as little as £250. The security forces have access to much stronger tools. All of which are capable of blinding a victim for several minutes - easily enough to cause a fatal crash. Crucially there would be no physical evidence left for investigators.
- James Hewitt- Former lover of Diana claims he was warned on several occasions by elements of the security forces and a member of the royal family to stop seeing the Princess or his health would suffer! Hewitt has been exposed previously as being very willing to exploit a situation for his own ends, as in the publication of a sleazy book about Diana to which he contributed.
- Paparazzi- Initially blamed for the crash, most witnesses seem to agree that the bikes were not close enough to the Mercedes in the tunnel to have actually interfered with its progress.
There are many more questions that arise out of this incident.
Sir Miles read the various conclusions, from such diverse authors ranging from MI5 to ‘The New Scientist’
The most plausible explanation still appears to be a tragic accident - Paul who was driving to some degree under the influence of alcohol, tried to accelerate away from the pursuing photographers, lost control going into the tunnel (after the slight curve in the road, and maybe as the Uno impeded his progress) and crashed into the tunnel's thirteenth pillar.
This maybe the most plausible explanation, however, it is felt that without dramatic new evidence, such as the Uno and driver turning up, this will never be certain.
While there remains doubt as to whether it was an accident it is reasonable to question what the possible alternatives are. The most plausible of these has to involve members of the UK establishment and secret service as few others had anything to lose from Diana and Dodi's relationship.
To keep such a plot secret would, it is believed have to be the work of a small, isolated cell working under its own auspices within the system.
Former agents have told of a plot to destabilise the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the Seventies. Wilson did indeed resign from office, shocking political commentators at the time. We know that our intelligence service keeps records on Peace campaigners and Union officials for the "threat" of being radicals.
Sir Miles gripped the final page tightly and read the final recommendation. He had read this paragraph many times before, but still his eyes took in every word. His mind took in every repercussion.
For some there is clearly more evidence to support this was an accident rather than a secret service plot.
For others though, the jury is still out. I strongly recommend that in this “Media frenzy climate” we initiate an internal investigation of the two anti-terrorist departments that would have been able to influence such actions etc
With trembling hands Sir Miles closed the folder.
“If only they knew the truth” He said out loud, his voice was sad
The leather chair creaked in protest as he twisted his body to return the folder to his briefcase. Sir Miles let out a weary sigh as he stretched across the desk to seize the letter. Without a second glance he plunged this into the briefcase, and snapped the locks shut. He turned off the green banker’s lamp.
Out on the street he turned up his collar against an un-seasonal cold wind blowing in from the Thames. His footsteps seemed to echo as he walked away from the office for the last time, he felt more alone than ever before.
He had been walking for no more than ten minutes before he realised he was being followed. His hand gripped the briefcase.
Odds change the numbers remain
“You’re too late…too late Mr. Bond the money has gone” Mr. White lay on his back balling his fists to rid himself of the pain of the gunshot wound in his leg.
Bond looked down at the struggling man “Is that so?” Bond had not expected to get a lead on the money that Vesper had extracted from his account. The last Bond had seen of the aluminium briefcase was when it disappeared into the heady caldron of water in a crumbling house in Venice.
“Yes, the one hundred million dollars left from Marco Polo this morning” White looked up, ostensibly he was looking at Bond, but in reality he was surveying the grounds of the villa in a 360 degrees sweep. To the lake then back again to scrutinize the villa. Where was his support? Bond must have killed them.
Bond copied White’s movement. Although no one had appeared to be in the villa during the hour Bond had been observing, there was always the chance someone was inside. Bond had had a lot of time to think about how this interrogation would go down whilst waiting for the mysterious Mr White to arrive.
“That’s a lot of money. Le Chiffre went to a great deal of trouble to try to get it from me. I take it Le Chiffre owed it to you?” Any information Bond could extract from Mister White now would be useful in understanding who was behind the funding of the terrorist cells. That was Bond’s prime professional motive. How he went about extracting the information was his own business. Bond needed to understand how Vesper had become embroiled in the mysterious organisation behind Le Chiffre.
“Not me. I just facilitated a deal, the money is being returned to the rightful owners”
“We’ll trace it”
“It went by diplomatic bag. You’ll never be able to trace it” White spat out the words through gritted teeth.
“Then you’ll just have to tell me. Where’s all that money going to” Bond’s tone was even, he continued to move around the stricken figure, but his eyes continued to watch White.
“First stop Madrid” White knew he had nothing to lose in giving up the city name.
Bond took out his mobile and made a call
“Thank-you. Now all I need to know is in whose diplomatic bag?” Bond asked the question as he waited for the phone to be answered in back in MI6 head-quarters, London.
“Do you really expect me to answer that? I’ve given you the city, you can find out who the courier is yourself?” White was playing for time, pressing to see how much bargaining he could do with this assassin.
“I expect you’ll want to tell me in a moment”
Bond fired the gun again blowing a hole clean through White’s foot.
As White screamed, Bond replied “Yes and very quickly. You need medical attention” Bond crouched and looked into Mister White’s face. He needed to be careful not to inflict too much trauma, he still needed information.
“Panamanian Diplomatic bag” White replied in no more than a whisper.
“There that wasn’t difficult was it?”
Back in London, an MI6 operator answered. Bond straightened up
“Check all flights into Madrid from Marco Polo this morning, and tell M her package is destined for Panama City’s Tocumen Airport” Bond lowered his mobile. After another sweep of the grounds Bond asked “Where is Samir Rashid?” White looked quizzically into Bond’s eyes, then he laughed and let his head fall back on to the steps. After a moment he opened his bloodshot eyes and said
“Vesper’s boyfriend, my you have been busy. Last information I received, said he was here in Italy, at the Metovino stables in Siena”
Bond entered the stables name into his mobile. Silently he read back the information the screen now showed him.
Bond looked back at White “Why hold him there it’s too public. It doesn’t add up” Bond looked down at White, he had not meant to sound so surprised.
“Oh Mr. Bond” White tried to rest against the steps, He laughed and shook his head. “She really got to you, didn’t she? Ah poor Vesper” White had manoeuvred himself into a sitting position, easier to bargain for his life in this position.
“She really was easy to convince, but then Mister Rashid can be very convincing, where as you… No. I will not keep you in suspense any longer. Rashid isn’t there as a hostage, he’s at the stables as the Owner”
Bond stood and took a few steps back toward the lake. In one fluid movement he picked up White’s mobile from where he dropped it. Bond now closed back in on White. Roughly he searched him and removed his wallet and car keys from his pockets. White let out a muffled scream as his body was manhandled, but he did not protest.
Bond summed up that if White were lying then he was no further forward than before. If it were true, then there was a chance to recover the money as well as eliminating the terrorist supply chain and finding Samir Rashid.
It had always been Bond’s intention to free Rashid, tell him about Vesper and her ultimate sacrifice, but now it seemed another twist was in the tail.
Had Rashid fooled Vesper?
The minutes passed agonizingly slowly, White’s leg, where the bullet had struck, was screaming with pain, every nerve seemed to have been set on fire sending burning jabs of pain up through his body. His breathing was ragged and the loss of blood from both wounds had sapped his energy, making it hard for him to hold onto consciousness for more than a few minutes more. Bond could see that White was already suffering from palpitations and his face was sweaty. White had lost a lot of blood, it pooled around him. The stain on the ground was enough to suggest that he'd lost maybe a pint.
White clung on to consciousness; he reasoned that his backup should have made a move by now, unless of course Bond had neutralized them. If he had then he wouldn’t be scanning the grounds. White had to believe help was on the way.
Bond asked “Who are you working for?” he aimed the gun at White’s other foot, but knew that White was on the verge of collapse.
White was calculating who would arrive first, his back up, or his captors “If I tell you, you’ll kill me. Sorry Mr. Bond I think you should be thinking about providing medical assistance, and quickly before my friends eliminate your advantage” White looked for a response in Bond’s face.
“Name” Bond asked firmly White remained in a sitting position against the steps, he was turning very pale. His head nodded from side to side. As he looked past Bond he saw the two boats coming fast across the lake.
“They’re coming” Bond had also heard the engines, but at the same moment he heard a door opening in the villa. The battle clock in his head calculated 4 minutes had passed since the first shot; whoever was in the villa had used their time wisely and summoned help before making their move.
James Bond crouched, as if to help White, his mouth close to his ear.
“I won’t ask again” he whispered
White looked into his eyes, and knew he was bargaining for his life, help was arriving fast but it would not save him from this assassin.
He shrugged, and fought down a wave of nausea.
His head dropped “Dominic Greene”
Bond fired the gun, the noise shocked White who fell back onto the steps. The man approaching from the villa fell back onto the gravel path. Bond looked around once more, the boats would dock in one minute; he looked down at White.
“Where do I find him?”
White shook his head, “At this moment I honestly don’t know, but he will be in your data base, get your blood hounds to find him” Bond knew he was telling the truth. As if in response to the arrival of the boats Bond began to walk away, then as if a thought had just occurred to him he turned back toward White.
“Oh, I thought there should have been one hundred & twenty million dollars in that bag”
“I have my needs Mr. Bond” White tried to gesture toward the villa.
Bond aimed the MP5 Heckler & Koch, and shot him through the heart “No you don’t”
Odds change the numbers remain
Escape to Menaggio
The first of the boats slammed against the jetty. Had he left his revenge too long?
Bond ran to Mister White’s Jaguar. Two men came up over the bank. Glock machine pistols in hand the first man fired at Bond.
Bond slammed the car into reverse and tore up the driveway, the bullets hit the windscreen. The dull thud stopped the bullets…
“Bulletproof glass, very thoughtful Mister White” Bond said aloud.
James Bond put the car into drive and the car shot forward it’s wheels biting for traction. The attacker who had just shot at Bond now had only one second to react to his changing fortune. His instinct let him down the car hit him, he bounced onto the bonnet. His shoulder hit the windscreen and his ragdoll body bounced off to the left. Bond turned the wheel and went after the second attacker. The man backtracked down the road. Bond threw the car into a skid and took the second man down in a sickening crunch.
More men were now on the driveway. More bullets slammed into the bodywork of the Jaguar, Bond aimed the car back along the driveway and gunned the accelerator. The car leapt forward. With mild annoyance Bond noticed the gates had begun to close, this would be close. Without lifting his foot from the accelerator the car squeezed through the ever closing gap and its momentum carried it forward. The heavy gates caught the car in their vice like grip metal tearing against metal. The Jaguar was three quarters through but the gate continued to close, if he could just get the rear wheels through Bond hit the accelerator again and the car tore itself through the jaws of the iron gates. Bond swung the wheel and headed down the road, the Jaguar was mortally wounded it wouldn’t make it to his rendezvous point. But not to worry his Aston Martin DBS was parked just out of sight two hundred yards away. Unexpectedly Bond felt the car jolt; then the explosion hit him.
The car slewed to the left and hit the bank, Bond fought the wheel and aimed it off the road, the Jaguar hit the kerb and careered down the bank, Bond hit the brakes but it slid over the rough ground. Both rear tyres had already punctured against the ruined bodywork of the car. It was this damage that stopped the escape.
Bond was three hundred meters from his bolt hole. Knowing the next mortar shell would blow him to pieces, he leapt out of the car. Running and slipping down the bank, Bond turned and looked up onto the road, he could see the pursuers pouring out of a Range Rover, one man aimed the RPG and the Jaguar exploded in a ball of flame. Bond caught his breath and watched the men fan out behind him.
He now knew there were four men following him and one had an RPG, he heard automatic gun shots and he jinked to the left. Cover was still 30 meters away, a loose tangle of trees beckoned seductively. Bond turned and fired as he ran forward, both shots were wide of the target but the returning bullets were ripping the ground around him. This was all the information he needed to tell him the attackers were gaining. Bond slipped, but it was that movement that saved his life. A bullet zinged over his head, it thudded into the nearest tree. Bond bounced up and sprinted the last 10 meters weaving left and right with the trees for cover he focused on the parameter of the villa. Deja vouz, it was this villa Bond had used to stake out Mr. White’s place.
Suddenly he turned and fired again, the pursuers stopped in the cover of the trees and this moment’s respite gave him the impetus to sprint the last precious few meters. James Bond vaulted the small wall into the gardens of the villa.
The four attackers followed quickly expecting Bond to be running for his life they jumped the wall. Landing lightly they ran on searching for Bond barking orders at each other and trying hard to find their prey.
Bond calmly shot the man nearest to him before the others had realized he had been hiding behind the wall. Now he sprinted forward and rugby tackled the second man as he turned and brought up his weapon, both fell to the ground. Bond rolled away and shot the third man in the chest. Arms outstretched he fell backward dropping the heavy RPG, now the fourth man turned and lunged for Bond.
Rolling over he made it to his knees before the heavy boot contacted with his ribs, Bond flew back and tumbled over hitting the ground hard. Fighting for breath he parried the next attack and blocked a punch to the head, but two more blows got through. Bond sucked in more air and set about countering with a kick to the man’s knee followed by a straight jab with his gun into the man’s throat, as the man staggered back, Bond shot him.
The second man was back on his feet and closing in. Through the pain he grimaced and revealed the knife in his right hand, suddenly he changed direction. Stepped in and thrust the knife toward Bond’s exposed ribs, Bond stepped off to the left and parried the thrust with his left hand forcing the knife hand across the attackers own chest, Bond accelerated stepping through with his right foot, pushing off like a sprinter from the blocks and hit him across the neck with his forearm curling it around the man’s throat he twisted and pulled the man down. The attacker’s arms came up in reflex but he continued to spin and soon toppled over, Bond continued to run forward but the man managed to slap Bond’s ankle sending him into another fall. He rolled and made it back onto his feet darting forward picking up the RPG as he re-gained his balance.
The attacker was back on top of Bond and went for his throat; Bond brought up the weapon between the attacker’s outstretched arms and hit him under the chin with the RPG, the man dropped like a stone. Bond dropped down on the fallen man, putting his knee into his chest. The resounding crack assured Bond he would be no further threat.
Bond staggered forward and began to jog to the boat house, his breathing returning to normal, he hardly broke pace as he entered by the door which he had already broken the lock on earlier that morning.
The blood red Donzi Classic took up over half the length of the shed, the two white stripes running the length of the hull distinguishing it as the 22 Shelby GT.
Bond leapt into the red leather seat, and started the Mercury 496 Mag engine, pushing the throttle forward the boat lurched toward the mouth of the boat house. The powerful engine gurgled and echoed in the confined space. The bow lifted and the boat sped out onto the lake, where the second of Mr. White’s two boats was waiting. P
Ploughing through the swell the boat aimed like an arrow at Bond’s position. The fresh air revived Bond’s thinking, he felt calm and in control.
The two boats accelerated toward each other, through the spray. Bond saw one of the men raise his gun, first one way then the other as the boat wheeled away.
A bullet thudded into the passenger seat, Bond spun the aluminium wheel the other way and the boat jerked into the line of fire, more bullets ricocheted of the hull and seat the windshield disintegrated but he kept the lock on. A moment later they positioned themselves face on. It was a gutsy move full of danger, but one Bond felt was worth it just to get into position.
Giving the smallest target to his attackers, Bond pushed the throttle open and the Donzi swept forward it’s bow lifting. The other boat did the same. The lake boiled behind the boats, and the two protagonists were soon racing toward each other, slapping against the water neither deviating from their course they passed within a hands breadth of each other.
Both boats turned but the Donzi was tighter. They sped toward each other again like jousting knights. Bouncing through the waves at the approach, Bond killed the throttle and his boat settled the other continued to rush down upon him. The driver saw what he thought was a surrender. His passenger began to lift his gun. In one easy movement Bond brought up the RPG and fired a single round at the boat in front of him, the shell ripped through hull and tore into the engine it exploded. The hot metal shattering and tearing flying in all directions.
The fuel caught and the boat disappeared beneath an orange ball of flame. The momentum had brought the boats close together and the force of the explosion knocked Bond back over the seat. A moment later he shook his head to clear the stars; pieces of the boat were still splashing back into the water. Bond climbed back behind the wheel, he watched in fascination as the wreckage was slowly sinking.
Bond knew there could be no survivors. He smiled, then straightening his tie he smoothed his jacket, sat back at the controls and turned the speedboat away from the burning wreck.
The wind blew against his skin. He glanced at his Omega wrist watch; if he hurried he could still make Menaggio in time for lunch.
Odds change the numbers remain
Win, lose or try
In human anatomy, the biceps brachii is a muscle located on the upper arm. The bicep has several functions, the most important simply being to flex the elbow and to rotate the forearm but it is arguably the best known muscle, as it lies fairly superficially in view, its development is therefore popular amongst bodybuilders, and can grow quite large through weight training.
The man performing the bench press had increased the growth of his biceps by years of dedicated training, he had been sponsored by the army during his national service and had rewarded his regiment by bringing home trophies in weightlifting, judo, boxing, and shooting; but the role of the modern soldier was more peace keeping than killer, so he did not remain after his allotted time was complete.
He was always going to earn money in security and this led to his role as a body guard, but the sheer lust for hurting and eventually killing enabled him to move into an enforcer’s position. The rewards were greatly received and he managed to balance his lavish lifestyle and dedicated training regime to perfection, keeping his profile very low in the outside world, he was becoming a very sought after hit man. He knew in his heart he could lift more, but this would promote an attention he did not want, so he trained almost in isolation. Now he lowered the weight to the level of his chest, then pushed it back up until his arms were straight, the man spotting for him continued to encourage him and as the elbows locked he cried “Yes H yes”.
The strict exercise regime performed daily by H focused on the development of his pectoralis major muscle as well as other supporting muscles including the anterior deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, and the triceps. Two men relocated the bar on the stands and H stood up, the sweat poured off his superbly developed body, as he recovered his breath his trainer was talking excitedly the other bodybuilder using the gym that morning, declaring that H would be pressing 450kg by the end of the month, the man looked at H and placed him at 6’ 6” and 280 lbs. There was no disputing the claim.
There was a buzzing from his bag and H was intent on reaching his mobile, it continued to ring from the depths, his large hands that should have been clumsy delicately wrapped around the tiny phone. He sat heavily on a bench below his kit, wiping his face with a towel and he smiled it was a terrible thing to behold his handsome features were distorted; this happened when he was applying a killing hold on an opponent or performing a coup de gras in shooting, it had been likened to the metamorphosis of Dr Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, hence the nickname ‘H’ it was the news he had been waiting for, and without a word to anyone he pulled the heavy fleece over his head and left the gym.
‘H’ had rested on the flight. Now with the adrenalin coursing through his body he entered the church.
Copacabana is the main Bolivian town on Lake Titicaca, from where boats leave for Isla del Sol, the sacred Inca island. A major tourist attraction of the town is the large 16th-century shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana, it was cold, damp and lit only with safety lights, but H’s superb vision guided him through the main knave and into the vestry. It was exactly where he had been told it would be. He counted the cash and opened the waterproof bag. Again his smile seemed to add a chill to the cold empty room.
Contrary to popular belief, sniper rifles are not necessarily characterized by exceptional accuracy, especially when compared to civilian sporting rifles, though they always match or exceed the capabilities of other rifles in the military and police categories. A military-issue is usually capable of between 3 and 6 minute of arc (MOA) accuracy. A standard-issue military sniper rifle is capable of 0.5 to 2 MOA accuracy, with a police sniper rifle capable of 0.25 to 1.5 MOA accuracy. For comparison, a competition target rifle may be capable of accuracy levels up to 0.1 MOA but for this job that level of accuracy was not needed
The most popular military sniper rifles are chambered for .30 calibre ammunition such as 7.62×51 and 7.62×54R. Since sniper rifles of this class must compete with several other types of military weapons with similar range, snipers invariably employ skilled field craft to conceal their position. The church tower would serve as perfect cover tonight.
The roof was large enough for him to settle into his position and caress the Dragunov Sniper Rifle. The SVD is semi-automatic gas-operated with a short-stroke gas-piston system.
He locked the breech with the left rotating bolt and three locking lugs a resounding click confirmed the engagement corresponding locking recesses in the barrel extension. He checked both gas regulator positions. Then he inserted the curved magazine with its 10-round capacity, he would only need one tonight.
The moon was in its third phase, but it didn’t matter the night sight scope illuminated the entire old town square.
The car entered the square and pulled up outside the restaurant. The Presidential pennant hung limply on the standard. ‘H’ drew his bead on the rear door of the car. The door opened and the man emerged from the back seat. Even for this private occasion the target was wearing his uniform. ‘H’ registered the man as his target. Smoothly he pulled the trigger, and the high velocity shell tore into the man’s head killing him instantly.
In a moment of sheer exhilaration ‘H’ adjusted his aim and fired at the driver. The innocent chauffer dropped like a stone. ‘H’ knew he should move, but the killing lust was upon him. He stayed in position. Although time was of the essence and he knew he had to clear the tower before the authorities arrived ‘H’ stayed put.
A curious customer emerged from the restaurant ‘H’ squeezed the trigger and the man sat on the pavement. A moment later he collapsed dead. Now ‘H’ knew he had to move. But something told him to stay. Then the far side rear car door opened and the man’s wife got out, screaming she ran around the car to tend to her husband. ‘H’ shot her through the heart. His face was totally unrecognizable from the one that entered the church some thirty minutes before. The man was a killing machine, an evil monster.
Only now did he move. Quickly and with minimum effort, he vaulted down the stone steps. As he jogged through the church the local priest was about to open the front door to attend to the disturbance on the street. He saw ‘H’ but could not register who this was or why he was in his church. The priest stood transfixed at the door as ‘H’ approached him, the eyes frightened the priest, it was the first time he’d recognised the devil in human form.
“Forgive me Father I have sinned” and with that ‘H’ snapped the neck of the priest who died before he hit the stone floor.
M entered the meeting room, although small in stature the respect she commanded was immense; removing her coat she glanced at the assembled, there were still some empty seats.
Opening her case she turned to her chief of staff Bill Tanner and asked “Is 007 here yet?”
Tanner knew the question was coming and inwardly squirmed “No Ma’am, Q section reported that 007 requested equipment to enable him to continue the operation”
“So he’s going after Rashid, I thought you had made it clear that I expressly instructed him not to go.” She raised her eyebrows waiting for an explanation.
“Sorry Ma’am that instruction must not have reached him in time”
“Don’t patronize Tanner” Now it was clear that Rashid had not been kidnapped, M knew that it was odds-on that Bond was hell bent on going after him. She would deal with Bond later.
“OK, let’s begin. What intelligence do we have on Dominic Greene?
Tanner examined his notes
“Twelve name matches, including all spelling anomalies. But on the full name just two highlights. One is a 7 year old boy; his father and grandfather have variations on the name as well. The second is a 43 year old man born in Janesville, Wisconsin USA, English father (second generation Polish) and French mother.” Tanner looked around the room pausing for questions, when none came he continued…
“…He studied Law at Harvard University, and represented his house at skiing and shooting, graduated with honours in 1985 but then disappeared, ducked out of the normal career ladder opportunities. Next confirmed sighting is six months later in Liberia Africa. Although the country was ravaged by civil unrest Greene quickly secured a senior position in a local law practice giving legal and campaign advice to the incumbent President. In April 86 he sold his stake in the practice for three million USD and took a position on the board of Rylian Techsystems.
Socially he has become synonymous with winter sport academies and promotions throughout Europe. Offering scholarships to a number of students and the opportunity to study in the States. May I quote”?
M replied “Please continue”
Tanner depressed the button to start the presentation, the blinds turned closed and the lights dimmed. The first slide showed a photograph of Samuel Doe together with a young white Caucasian.
“This is Dominic Greene”
“Is this the latest photograph?”
“Yes, he’s a very private man”
“The Liberian election October 1985 featured five different political parties, the commission reported President Doe got 51% of the vote, and the opposition shared the remaining 49. Many observers charged that Samuel Doe stole the election. His campaign was characterized by widespread fraud and rigging. There were a variety of legal road blocks used by Doe's Party to prevent the registration of other political parties.
The period after the elections saw increased human rights abuses, corruption, and ethnic tensions. The resulting civil conflict was reportedly the reaction of the Liberian people to the rigging of the election.
Within the month former General Quiwonkpa invaded Liberia and almost succeeded in toppling the government. The Armed Forces of Liberia repelled Quiwonkpa's attack and executed him in Monrovia. By April 1986 Doe had an unopposed hold on the country. You could say ‘job done’ and Greene went back to the States”
“Nice background now can we look at his new employers?”
“Impress me” M sat back
“In the U.S. no single company is responsible for the production of antipersonnel mines from beginning to end. The Pentagon usually award contracts to one lead company which will in turn buy component parts from others. Final assembly of mines is often done in government-owned, contractor-operated Army Ammunition factories. Thus, the landmine industry in the U.S. consists more of component suppliers than "mine producers" per se. Human Rights Watch identified that companies have sold millions of components for use in antipersonnel mines. Many of these components can also be used in any number of consumer appliances and products, from pagers to refrigerators. Human Rights Watch asked U.S. companies to make every effort to insure that their products are not used in antipersonnel mines, so that the same chips that power children's computers in the U.S. do not end up in landmines that might one day blow up children in another country.
The main US owned company to have profited from landmine contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars is Rylian Techsystems, in Hopkins, Minnesota, they are the single largest recipient of landmine production contracts. Records show that Rylian won $336,480,000 in antipersonnel and antitank landmine production
contracts from 1986 to 1996. This doubled during the period 1998 to 2005 after the competition dropped out.
The Rylian financial report 2001 acknowledged Dominic Greene’s work in land acquisition and gave him personal credit for the winning of five government contracts, and purchasing over two thousand acres of land during the Clinton administration, and a further three contracts and five thousand acres from 1998 to 2001”
“Do we know the planned movements of Greene?”
“Yes Ma’am, he is currently conducting business in Munich with appointments over the next two days. Then he has reservations for an opera in Austria, followed by a sponsorship meeting for European ski students in Switzerland, actual location not yet confirmed”
“Good, then I want Bond out of Italy by tomorrow and on to this man in Munich, speak to their ‘prima-donna’ will you, see if you can get tickets for the opera and arrange a cover story for him to infiltrate the Swiss meeting”
“Yes Ma’am there is a worrying statistic to these ski meetings. Greene has personally attended three of these Sponsorship meetings over the past four years, all of which have reported accidents that have claimed the lives of two male German students, and ended the careers of three female students one from Belgium two from France.”
“Well, Bond likes skiing doesn’t he?” it was a rhetorical question from M.
“I’ll make the call”
“Do we have a lead on the money?”
Tanner passed a copy of the report to M. She read through the salient points then looked up.
“Who’s heading the surveillance team in Spain?”
“Torrez” M nodded her approval, then recalling another snippet of information she said
“Didn’t you report that Torrez was exploring a theory about a possible heroin route into Europe from Bolivia; We must look into that, make a note of that will you please” M continued
“Can we mark the money before it leaves for Panama?”
“Not exactly Ma’am, but we will complete the tracing during the flight”
“Can all the stacks be marked?”
“Yes Ma’am, and the diplomatic bag, just in case…” Tanner waited.
“Good, keep me updated, let me know where the money goes to in Panama”
“Yes Ma’am” Tanner replied
“Le Chiffre was gambling with his clients’ money for one reason and one reason only. Whoever he was working for is funding international terrorism. If this money, reaches its intended destination I believe the World will be a very dangerous place to live in, this is one game we must win, if we lose it will make available funds for any terrorist organization with a desire to cause mayhem. The repercussions are too horrendous to contemplate.”
Odds change the numbers remain
From the horse’s mouth
Bond had arrived at the hotel and had dinner alone. He drank sparingly and retired before midnight. His sleep was peppered with visions of Vesper. The nightmare was repetitive; Bond was swimming in the basement of the flooded house in Venice. His lungs were bursting. Each time he found her; she kissed him and then sank into the depths. No matter how hard he tried he could never open the doors that kept them apart in her final moments.
Bond got up quickly, shaved and showered and took breakfast in his room. The pain of Vesper’s betrayal had been replaced by a burning desire to hunt down the men responsible for Rashid’s kidnap. Then as Mr. White’s words came back to haunt him, the awful truth of the situation hit home. Rashid had fooled Vesper into believing he was in danger. In essence Rashid was behind the subterfuge. Along with Le Chiffre and Dominic Greene, Rashid was part of the organisation, maybe even the the power behind an organisation that played the stock-markets in order to raise funds for terrorism.
They had to be stopped. Bond found it easy to justify going after Rashid. He was the enemy, this was a professional investigation. It just so happened that he was going to enjoy killing him.
As the sun began to rise in the sky his mobile phone chirped into life. He listened to the voice…
“That’s right deliver the car to the hotel for midday”
As James Bond emerged from the elevator he identified the girl in the reception area. Her ‘car rental’ uniform was less than flattering.
“Have you driven a Ford Mondeo before Mr. Bond?” she asked
Bond took in her beauty in one well practiced sweep. She was in her late twenties, maybe just thirty, but no older. Her skin was tanned and freckly, and still moist and clear. Her eyes were copper coloured yes polished copper, shaped like almonds. Perfectly set above her straight nose and full red lips. But it was the hair that caught Bond’s attention. A thick auburn wave of curls, it tumbled playfully down and across her shoulders, pulled away with a golden slide from her face. Bond smiled as he realised what it reminded him of. It was reminiscent of a lion's mane, she wasn’t Italian by heritage. Bond guessed Polish or Ukrainian.
“No I haven’t” the lie held no malice; it was the code phrase she expected. She noticed his eyes were the same dark blue as his polo shirt. She reached into her satchel and produced a large package.
“Not to worry Mr. Bond I have a manual” she held out the book and Bond took it from her. He noticed her beautifully manicured hand had no ring. She noticed the Omega on his wrist.
Bond glanced at the package,
“Any chance, you could explain the finer points, Miss…?” their eyes finally met.
“Kohler” she replied her smile was warm and inviting, but her hands were busy collecting her things.
“I’m sorry no; I just deliver the car” with determination she picked up the signed documentation and walked away. Bond watched her body’s natural rhythm moving away from him ‘Perfect’ he thought.
Back in his room he opened the package. It contained photographs of Samir Rashid along with the directions and blueprints for the ‘Metovino’ stables.
The stables had been given as Rashid’s place of work. The information provided also showed an address thought to be his private accommodation. Bond studied all the information provided by the local police since Rashid had first frequented Siena some three years ago.
After a light lunch of Tuna salad Bond checked out of the hotel. He drove north, secure in the knowledge that the guns and equipment he had requested from Q branch were safely hidden inside the back seat.
The banners, posters and flags were everywhere. As Bond approached the town centre the traffic was heavier than he had anticipated and it was gone three o clock before he arrived on the outskirts of the town, the establishment itself was more like a large military base, a high perimeter fence fronted a 100 meter strip of grass bordering a low decorative stone wall, beyond it stood a modern four story admin building, as he drove closer to the entrance Bond
could see that the stables and training areas were in a crescent shape with a gravel drive leading to the main 18th century villa.
Bond pulled in to the entrance; and as the mid afternoon sun beat down he walked confidently to the window of the security block. In an oversimplified English accent he announced himself as Le Chiffre, with an appointment to see Mister Rashid.
The local guards were suitably impressed by this well dressed Englishman with the expensive Italian sunglasses. One guard phoned through and passed on the message, nodding in confirmation, the second guard gave directions to Bond, the barrier swung open and he was allowed to drive in.
At the front door of the villa he was met by two soldiers and a young blonde woman, she dressed in the formal riding attire of white blouse, beige jodhpurs and polished black leather boots, her golden hair was drawn back in a tight bun covered with a black net, she wore no make-up and her flawless skin was porcelain white; the riding breaches were so tight in all the right places that Bond wondered how she got into them, indeed he was wondering how he could get into them.
The first soldier frisked him, during the search he kept his eyes on her, when he was finished the soldier stood back to attention with his partner.
The girl came down the steps and said. “Good morning Senior, I am Miss Leoni if you would follow me please” she held out her hand
Bond replied “Anywhere”
She walked back up the stone steps as if she were practicing dressage; inside the hallway it was cooler with the scent of lavender heavy in the air.
“Please forgive the high level of security, but you will appreciate the high value of the animals we are holding here for tonight’s race, three days ago the owners offered the pick of their stables to the representatives of the participating Contrade. In turn they chose the ten horses that will race tonight. A lottery was then drawn to determine which horse will represent each Contrada. The six trial races were run, the first on the evening of the horse selection and the last one yesterday” she laughed as she explained “The residents of each Contrada have been busy invoking the sacred aid of their patron saints on to their chosen horse and jockey, this (they believe) will improve their odds along with more profane methods, chiefly bribery and doping. That is why we keep a close watch on the stables and the riders for these three days, there is much interest on the favourites, and there are many cameras placed at strategic positions around the actual arena and the military presence ensures that helicopters are banned when the horses are being exercised, but please try to relax”
“I will” Bond nodded in agreement and scanned the walls looking at the many oil paintings of previous winners of the race. Leoni followed him from painting to painting giving a potted racing and blood line history “You will notice both horse and rider are dressed in the colours and arms of the Contrade” actually Bond was only noticing her beauty, he realized she was pointing to another painting
“Ah this is Stelvio, one of Mister Rashid’s own horses she won the July and August 05 and July 06 race, never been done before probably never repeated” suddenly she looked sad
“Poor Stelvio, the horse died shortly after her last win, Mister Rashid took it very badly” She pointed at two other paintings of the horse a chocolate brown mare with a blue head ornaments and always the same number 17 on her well-muscled flanks.
When the heavy oak door opened three men entered the hallway, the first had the air of a military man about him. Bond guessed Brazilian. Without a word he shook hands with the other two and left, his head held high, his arm arrow straight. The neatness and formality of his dark suit completed the image. His passing seemed only to extenuate the second man’s unruly appearance. This man was a large baboon of a specimen; he wore baggy camouflage pants and a khaki tee shirt. His hair, in stark contrast to the man that had just left was a greasy mass of curls. His face would not have looked out of place on a wanted poster. He looked every inch a Mexican bandit. He scratched his ear, and Bond noticed that his build and appearance belayed his prison hard muscles and the fitness of a street fighter. The third man Bond recognized instantly as Samir Rashid.
The photos he’d received from Camille were burned onto his memory, and now standing in front of him was the man who had tricked Vesper into betraying him and sent her to her death.
Odds change the numbers remain
Samir Rashid was handsome in the way a rich man can wear anything, and look good. His features were well proportioned, with deep set dark brown eyes. Dressed casually in chinos and an expensive white silk shirt, he offered his hand to Bond
The big man made no movement to replicate the gesture.
“Mister Le Chiffre? I’m so sorry, I do not recall you making this appointment”
“Not a problem” Bond replied
“Please come through to my office. Don’t mind my Chico, he’s here for the security you know” Rashid led the way. Once inside the office Miss Leoni closed the door.
It was a large formally decorated office. Rashid put his hands in his pockets and paced around the room. He withdrew his hands, and steeped his fingers in front of his mouth.
“Now I know that Le Chiffre is dead, so I assume you must be James Bond.” Their eyes met.
Bond tensed and was coiled like a spring ready to attack. But in an instant the greasy haired baboon stepped in between him and Rashid. He held Bond at arm’s length, his thick arms flexing to the task. His smile was as greasy as the rest of his face.
Undeterred Rashid continued “Thank you Mister Babone, violence will not be necessary” Bond marvelled at how close this man’s name was to his appearance
“This encounter is a very foolish one Mister Bond. Showing your hand so soon, so unlike your methods in the casino at Montenegro” Rashid, looked for a response…when nothing came he said
“Congratulations by the way, an excellent win”
“I thought so” Bond sensed this was not the moment for action; this man’s death was going to have to wait. Bond began to put his armour back on, he satisfied himself with the knowledge that he would truly savour Rashid’s death. With his poker face in place he was ready to bluff his way to another win, or die trying.
Defusing the tension Bond unexpectedly turned his back on the group and calmly sat in the chair opposite Rashid’s desk. Patiently he waited for him to come into his eye line.
Bond leisurely scanned the office and picked out another painting of Rashid’s beloved horse behind the desk. On the desk a bronze sculpture of Stelvio stood majestically on a magnificent marble plinth. Bond noticed a receipt casually lay against it.
‘Di Varni Marble’ headed paper the figures at the bottom looked long.
Rashid looked at his own reflection in the highly polished desk
“Vesper loved me once. But she gave her life to save you, Mister Bond. You two must have had something very special” Bond lent forward in his chair but this time it was only to examine the bronze horse statue. Unhurriedly Rashid went around the desk and sat in his own leather chair. Bond looked him directly in the eye, however he had deciphered the sum in the invoice. Whatever Rashid had bought it had cost him three million euros.
“Sorry to disappoint you Rashid, but Vesper meant nothing to me. Whatever you think I’m here for you’re nothing to me, it’s just the money I want back”
“By you, I take it you mean the British government?” Rashid leant back in the chair he stretched his neck on both sides as he made a pretence of thinking about the question
“I suppose they hold you responsible for its loss” He gave a mirthless laugh
“Well I wish I could help but I have no idea where it’s destined for, that was the responsibility of Mister White. My role was to get Vesper ‘hooked’ and myself ‘kidnapped’. That way if you were to beat Le Chiffre, which of course you did. Vesper would simply steal the money back. Which of course she did” Bond continued to look him in the eye
“So what do we do now?” Rashid’s face cracked into a mischievous smile
“Let me take you to the Palio tonight we can watch the race then have Dinner at my villa, what hotel are you stopping in? I will arrange for you to be picked up.”
“I’m not booked in anywhere” Bond returned the smile
“…and with the race tonight you will not find a room within 100 kilometres. All these punters and all these soldiers…you must stay at my villa, give your car keys to Miss. Leoni here and she can drive you now.” Bond took out the keys and placed them gently into her hand.
Rashid stood up in an act of finality to the audience
“I must finish up here, with the other owners; you know Mister Bond during a race week there is a bigger military presence here than in the Vatican City, the chosen horses are so valuable, and so much money can change hands for the race. I look forward to tonight though, we can swap some stories” Rashid winked at Bond and it took all his resolve not to kill him there and then.
Leoni drove through a town full of race goers, the Alfieri (flag-wavers) were practicing in their medieval costumes the town was taking on the feeling of a carnival as she drove on to Rashid’s villa. Bond watched her thigh muscles moving through the thin material of her jodhpurs as she changed gear. In profile she was stunning high cheek bones a cute button nose, and as his gaze tracked down her body again he confirmed her delicious high breasts.
Soon they arrived at Rashid’s home, a double story modern villa with well-kept gardens. With a smile she ushered Bond into the hallway and dropped his keys into a Ming style vase on the 19th century sideboard
“Just for safekeeping”
They went outside to the pool area, where five swimwear model girls were sunbathing. Their bikinis left little to the imagination. Leoni spoke to them and in unison they all stood up, she gestured back toward Bond, and they looked approvingly. Leoni ran her hand under the bra strap of one of the girls, she giggled provocatively then begrudgingly they sauntered inside waving at Bond as they passed him.
“Don’t leave on my account” he watched them all parade past.
Soon after one of the girls returned now dressed in traditional waitress attire, and enquired if they would like drinks.
Bond removed his jacket and settled down on a sun lounger, he leant over to Leoni
“Will you be joining us for the race? He asked
“I shouldn’t think so” answered Leoni; she unzipped her long riding boots then stood up and removed the thin cotton blouse, her delicate skin seemed almost translucent in the fierce sunlight, her veins seductively showing pale blue. She wiggled out of the jodhpurs. Bond looked on admiringly
“I suppose I won’t have the pleasure of you at dinner either?” then she was naked, she walked delicately to the side of the pool and from over her shoulder said
“No, but I hope I’ll still be full from our lunch” she dived effortlessly into the cool blue waters of the swimming pool and swam the width underwater.
She turned presenting her buttocks, made it half way back before returning to the surface she shook her hair free and said “Come and join me Mister Bond, lunch is served” ***
The race itself is preceded by a spectacular pageant, which includes (among many others) Alfieri, flag-wavers, in medieval costumes. Bond had genuinely enjoyed the mounted carabinieri wielding their swords, demonstrating a mounted charge around the track, and now the spectators that had been filling the centre of the town square, and the inside track, since morning; roared their approval, as the local police sealed the entrances the festivities had begun in earnest, the horses were coming onto the track. They looked out upon the masses on the simple bleachers from the elaborate box inhabited by the owners; Bond knew the other boxes would sell out years before the day of the races. Local landlords of buildings overlooking the piazza would stipulate that tenants must be absent on the day of the Palio, in order for them to rent more space to spectators.
It was 7 p.m. and the detonation of an explosive charge echoed across the piazza, signalling to the thousands of onlookers that the race was about to begin. The crowd went wild.
The horses looked resplendent in their colours and head ornaments, the jockeys ride bareback and were jostling for position on the starting line, there was only room for nine horses. The tenth, the rincorsa, stood behind the nine. The Mossiere moved to his starter’s platform, and the crowd held their collective breath, waiting for all the horses to be in the correct position.
Like sumo wrestlers psyching out their opponent the moment of readiness was achieved, he activated the mechanism that instantly removes the canapo, the starting cord.
They’re off. The race itself runs for three laps of the Piazza del Campo, the outer course of which is covered with several inches of dirt and the corners of which are protected with padded crash barriers for the occasion.
On the first dangerous steeply-canted bend, the riders used their whips not only for their own horse, but also for disturbing other horses and riders.
Aquila Eagle led into the second corner with Bruco Caterpillar second, then a gaggle swapping places Chiocciola Snail and Civetta Little Owl, Drago Dragon had unseated his rider but was still charging in front of Giraffa Giraffe, Istrice Crested porcupine, Leocorno Unicorn and Lupa She wolf. They started the second lap Bruco cut inside Aquila and Civetta smashed into the barrier, the rider was catapulted into the path of the following horses, the crowd bayed for blood.
The leading two swapped places again but Bruco had lost its ornaments the Aquila rider had slashed at them, the third lap began Drago had come through the pack and was pushing the first two into the outside as they neared the final bend Bruco faded, the rider was unsettled and lost control, Aquila and Drago raced for the line, spittle foaming from their mouths. The winner is the first horse to cross the finish line with its head ornaments intact Aquila made it by a head. The loser in the race is considered to be the Contrada whose horse came in second, the other don’t count.
The winner slowed to a halt, the crowd invaded the course. The other horses knocking into them bowling them over it was chaos. The rider was cheered and the banner of painted silk was placed over his head, someone had gotten hold of the rider’s shirt and ripped it from his body, and then the winning silk, which was newly created for the race was passed among the crowd.
The enthusiasm after the victory continued for another hour so extreme at times that the ceremony of attribution of the Palio seemed quite instantaneous, being the first moment of a months-long celebration for the winning ward.
After the race the result of the bets was discussed by everyone. Even Bond was accused of doping a horse by two worse for wear guests. It was a wonderful light atmosphere; those from the winning Contrada were revelling in the moment.
More wine and then they were being ushered into the car. The losers knew they had to bear being ridiculed by their winning opponents for the next ten months.
Odds change the numbers remain
Flight of the General
Back at the villa Rashid spent most of the time talking excitedly about the Palio.
Dinner was progressing nicely, the first course had been a wonderful, smoked salmon salad accompanied by a chilled bottle of Sancerre.
As the main course was being served Bond decide to agitate the situation. He remarked
“No photographs of Vesper?” Rashid looked around the dining room, he looked annoyed at being brought back to reality. He wiped his mouth the white linen napkin
“Alas no Vesper was not the love of my life Mister Bond. That honour goes to my horses, not the cheap whores you can buy in any town” He watched as Bond drank his wine.
“The wine is to your liking Mister Bond?” (St Emillion 1973) Rashid held his head stiff, an expected look frozen on his face
“To see a horse grow, to respond to training, to see her win those races now that, that is true love Mister Bond”
“How much money did Stelvio win for you Rashid?” Asked Bond
Rashid laughed “She was Arabian, like me, well sort of she actually had no blood line ‘like me’ to speak of, I breathed speed into her lungs. She won me millions Mister Bond and I do grieve her. I’m constructing a shrine to my beloved horse at one of the heads of the pass” he looked thoughtful.
Resolutely he decided “After the festivities are finish here I will visit. I shall go and sit there” he seemed to have drifted to another place again. Bond wondered aimlessly which pass he was referring to, but he felt the time was right to probe
“How long have you worked for Dominic Greene?”
“Seems like forever, but in reality just over two years, Quantum have such a vision for the future… but I won’t spoil it for you, I’m sure you and Dominic will meet up soon”
Bond was formulating his next line of questions but his thoughts were interrupted, one of the girls from earlier entered the room…
…Bond looked beyond her. A figure stood in the doorway. It was the military man who was at the stables. He was standing at the door. Now he was dressed in a lightweight linen suit he looked agitated. The maid spoke in low tones but her eyes were pleading that Rashid needed to accompany him.
“I’m sorry sir but General Medrano has something he wishes to discuss, he said it cannot wait” she begged Rashid’s forgiveness. Throwing down his napkin and he stood up made his excuses and followed her into the hallway.
Bond left his food and wondered about the dining room. Looking out of the window he could see that Rashid was now remonstrating with Medrano (where had he heard that name before?) on the far side of the garden the subtle lighting shimmering their reflection in the swimming pool, the discussion was very animated. He surmised that Medrano was not Italian, but more Central American; he watched the action with interest. Medrano seemed much more forceful than he had either at the stables or in the dining room a few minutes before, the warning bell sounded in his head, something was wrong.
Then Bond saw them, shadows emerging from the bushes, two no, three shapes, the pair on the patio became aware of the intrusion. The closest shadow turned into human form. Bond saw it was a black clad figure. The figure raised his gun and fired. Medrano backed away as Rashid looked at him accusingly. The second figure was closing fast behind Rashid. He aimed the gun then flashes pre emptied their impacts, Rashid had been shot.
Samir Rashid convulsed on the ground, more bullets exploded and zinged through the gardens.
Bond watched the scene unfold from the window. To the left Medrano began climbing the wall, the three figures rushed past him, ignoring him.
Rashid’s body was now lying face down on the paved ground by the pool. Bond could clearly see the wounds. One bullet had torn into the centre of his neck, taking out his throat. Another had ripped into the centre of his skull apart. The bullet entering from the back and blowing his brains out through his forehead. A pool of blood was still seeping from both wounds. Without pause the figures in black approached the doors of the villa.
The men in black entered, the first attacker was scanning the room as Bond knocked him out with a single blow. The clatter of disturbed furniture caused by his falling alerted the others who honed in on the sound.
Bond took out a light bulb and prodded a dinner knife into the socket, all the lights in the villa fused plunging it into darkness. Just shadows now the other two figures slowed their approach.
Bond could hear them whispering, the door slowly swung open.
As the gun hand entered the room Bond put all his weight against the door and it cracked closed on the attackers arm. The man cried out and dropped the gun, Bond tried to pick it up but a hail of bullets peppered the floor around it chipping the porcelain tiles.
Bond made a dash for the doors leading to the pool area, but the machine gun fire made him change direction. He was forced over the prone figure of the attacker and into the hall. Moving quickly he arrived at the front door and taking hold of the vase, lifted it high above his head then smashed it on the tiled floor.
Bond was pleasantly surprised to find a stiletto knife among the shards of porcelain; he picked it up along with the car keys. Grasping the door knob he wrenched open the front door and escaped into the night.
His own car was but a short distance away. The weapons it hid were tantalizingly close. Bond badly needed to access a weapon other than the knife he held. Another burst of fire made up his mind and he sprinted for the car, James Bond was knocked sideways as Medrano crashed into him, both men tumbled to the ground. Bond dropped the knife but Medrano’s adrenaline had kicked in. As he scrambled to his feet he picked it up. His eyes revealed that he thought briefly about an attack but quickly decided on flight. His momentum was such that he escaped Bond’s attempt to hold him with just one threatening slash of the stiletto.
Medrano was breathing hard as he ran the final few yards into the car park; he jumped into one of the two company Landrovers that were parked there. As the high pitch scream came from the engine he gunned it down the drive.
Bond aimed the remote and unlocked his car on the run and toyed with the idea of extracting a weapon first from the back but decided he needed to follow this man quickly. Medrano had lured Rashid into the gardens. Bond wanted answers.
As they careered down the road, Bond noticed another set of lights from a pursuing vehicle illuminating his rear view mirror. Why was nothing easy?
Medrano’s Landrover entered the town. The late night revellers were still on the streets and their drunken antics were slowing the progress of the Landrover its horn blasting them out of the way. Bond was able to catch Medrano with ease, but in turn he too was now being caught in the pedestrian action.
Bond knew the assassins could have quiet easily shot the escaping man on the garden wall. But they had chosen not to kill Medrano in the gardens, so with Rashid dead it was essential that Medrano was questioned.
The 4 x4’s were more suited to the steep and narrow cobbled streets, but Bond’s driving skill was taking him ever closer to his quarry.
Medrano made another mistake trying to take a corner too quickly, the Landrover bounded over the kerb and slid into one of the stone pillars of one of the many medieval aqueducts in the city.
Fighting for momentum Medrano pulled away. Bond took the corner more sharply and angled his car into the back of the Landrover, metal crashed and tore away.
Bond accelerated and angled the car into Medrano. The Landrover span around, the two nearside wheels left the ground and for a second he thought it would go over then it dropped back down. Fuel spilled from the ruptured tank, the offside tyre punctured as the Landrover snaked down the road.
Medrano stamped on the brakes, Bond did the same and both cars screeched to a halt, the rim of one wheel had been making sparks and in the darkness they jumped and bounced in the air. It was then that one spark ignited the fuel. The small pools burned blue and hot.
Jumping from the car Bond raced to the driver’s door but Medrano had seen him coming and struggled out through the passenger side.
Bond looked through the cab for him. The man was running into a narrow alley, his shoes slipping on the cobbled street. The flames licked the street around Bond cutting off hi pursuit. Bond climbed in through the door. This was the quickest and most direct route to follow his prey. The flames reached the back of the car and the fire spread quickly.
James Bond jumped from the passenger door of the Landrover and set off in pursuit, the fuel tank exploded lifting the car off the ground the force threw Bond forward.
On the crest of the shockwave Bond rounded the corner, the streetlights illuminating the empty cobbled street Bond scanned the street, but Medrano had simply disappeared.
Bond slowed to a jog searching the shadows. The sound of the pursuing Landrover was getting ever louder; they would be upon him in an instant.
Then he saw it, a flight of steps almost hidden in the shadows. Bond vaulted down the narrow steep entrance to the 'bottini', a network of tunnels that run under Siena.
The pursuing “Off-roader” avoided the tangle of cars on the road and with tyres protesting it screamed past the burning wrecks and around the corner. The ammunition in the back of Bond’s car exploded and the zing of bullets rang through the empty night. The pursuing car accelerated past the entrance to the bottini merely seconds after Bond had disappeared.
James Bond sucked in the cold damp air in the first tunnel, his footsteps echoed as he ran into the blackness; his was the only sound of movement. He took out his mobile phone and it’s light illuminated the tunnel. In stark contrast Medrano was illuminated. As the saw the light he screamed and ran further into the interior of the tunnels.
For just a moment Bond thought that Medrano appeared terrified of being caught. Bond followed wishing he had picked up a gun. In the distance he heard the metallic sound of footsteps on iron. Medrano had found a ladder. The noise betrayed his actions and quickly he climbed back into the streets, lifting the heavy manhole cover, it fell back against the cobbled street with a reverberating clang. Bond arrived at the ladder, without pause he followed. Taking care he lifted his head above street level, a scooter sped past, narrowly missing the lifted cover its horn whining into the empty night.
More cautiously Bond peered over the rim again just in time to see Medrano enter a house on the far side of the street. Hoisting himself up he climbed onto the street and set off in pursuit. Bond hit the door with his shoulder and crashed into the front room.
Medrano was crouched on the far side of the room he was still showing signs of being terrified at the situation. Bond closed in and lifted him up by his jacket lapels, although both men were breathing hard Bond felt the change in Medrano’s muscle tone and instantly knew he was preparing to defend himself. The blade was released, Bond took immediate action, he pushed Medrano back into the wall and bounced away from him. The knife slashed harmlessly in front of him. Bond kicked at the arm increasing the speed of the swing, Medrano screamed again but this time in pain. Now to ask some questions.
Behind them the door flew open two masked figures dressed in black filled the doorway, one high one low, Bond saw the gun from the high figure arc toward him, but simultaneously he felt the pain of the dart as it hit his thigh fired from the figure crouched near to the floor.
Medrano broke free and stumbled away, as the room begin to spin Bond crashed to the floor, the figure that had shot him was almost upon him now. Bond tried to move, but the drug was paralyzing him.
The figure now stood over him, the gun aimed. Pulling off the balaclava, a mane of auburn hair cascaded into his vision and a faraway voice said, “Don’t worry James, it’s me Camille”
Bond’s world went black.
Odds change the numbers remain
A night at the Opera
The diplomatic bag was collected from the airport by Xavier Hernandiez a small fifty something official looking man from the Panamanian Embassy staff.
Hernandiez slipped his expensive Ray-bans on as he left the air-conditioned airport building. The unrelenting heat brought him out in tiny beads of sweat. He travelled back from the airport in the official car of the Embassy in Bilboa square.
Hernandiez drummed his fingers on the table as he waited for the documentation to be checked in. He could feel the sweat forming on his collar line. The fan above him was woefully inadequate. It was an old colonial style building with only a large ceiling fan to cool the occupants of the reception area. The minutes ticked by; Hernandiez could feel the sweat trickle down from his hairline in a constant bead across his forehead. The noise of the stamp being pressed onto the dockets brought him back to his senses. The slow official was now pushing the bag through the scanner. Around them conversations were starting up between the other people in the room. At the other side of the scanner they hurried back along a corridor following the signs for the administration department, Hernandiez took the bag himself. Hardly daring to breathe he waited at the lift door, alone in the lift he sighed. He spoke to two people on the way to his office; they returned his greeting but were not inclined to enter into conversation.
Once in his office he took the aluminium briefcase from the bag, carefully he put it inside his own black leather hold-all; it was the bag that he had brought to the office every working day for the past five years. Hernandiez looked at his hands and waited until they had stopped shaking.
He busied himself for the last two hours of his working day. That evening he left the embassy with his bag. No one felt the slightest reason to stop him.
Since the overthrow of General Manuel Noriega in the 1989 USA invasion of Panama, codenamed Operation Just Cause, Xavier Hernandiez had held a deep hatred for United States of America. His modest apartment was full of Noriega memorabilia.
Noriega for whatever his other sins were, was obviously no Marxist, and since the Cold War was over, it would have been tricky even embarrassing for the USA to try to paint Noriega and his tiny country as a grave threat to the United States. So they laid on the "drug" menace with a trowel, stating that Noriega; a former CIA employee had been drug trafficking.
The administration kept stressing that Noriega was simply a "common criminal" who had been indicted in the U.S. so that the invasion was simply a police action to apprehend an alleged fugitive. But what an action it was, police action over a territory over which the government had a virtual monopoly of force – involving total destruction of an entire working-class neighbourhood, the murder of hundreds of Panamanian civilians as well as American soldiers, and the destruction of a half-billion dollars of civilian property.
The invasion contained many bizarre elements of comedy. There was the U.S. government's attempt to justify the invasion retroactively by releasing photographs to the World’s media of Noriega's plundered effects: porno magazines from his desk
drawer, the obligatory picture of Hitler (displayed by an all American GI) found in his closet, and a large pile of Soviet-made arms (a Commie as well as a Nazi, and "paranoid" too – the deluded fool was actually expecting an American invasion!) was supposed to be reason enough for the invasion. Noriega's possession of a signed picture of the Pope was, of course, downplayed by the sickeningly obedient media. Hernandiez held that very photograph to his chest and wept silently.
Bond awoke reviewing his surroundings, much more Hotel than cell. He checked his body; slight swelling around the dart wound, but everything else was fine. He pulled back the sheet; he was naked save for his Sea Island cotton blue underpants.
Bond walked around the room, it was daytime but he decided to leave the curtains closed. His clothes had been unpacked and were in a neat pile in front of a large wardrobe.
Bond shaved and showered then dressed; ready for anything he reached for the door handle and stepped into the lounge area of his room.
Camille Kohler stood up and walked seductively over to greet him her hair swept back in a tight pony-tail. Its volume cascaded spectacularly. She was wearing a white silk blouse which allowed his imagination to start working overtime and a short black leather skirt
“No hard feelings I hope?”
Bond looked at her “I didn’t realize you took a late car return so seriously”
She held up her identity card flashing her photograph at him. Bond noted her hair was shorter and darker, the card confirmed her name and a rank of captain in the Italian Secret service AISI (Agenzia informazioni e sicurezza interna, internal information and security agency)
“Would you like a drink Mister Bond?”
“That would be nice”
“Martini?” She asked moving toward the bar. The legs encased in nylon, were long and pointed the way to her wonderfully pert behind.
“Shaken not stirred” Bond watched as she mixed the drink for him.
“I feel I should explain why the actions of the previous night took place”
“That would be nice” Bond took the martini.
“Your boss Mrs. M wants you quickly for a mission. Mister Tanner told me to tell you it’s the one you advised your company about in Panama. My instructions were to eliminate your distraction…”
“Rashid that’s right. Then I am to get you onto a plane to Munich.” She raised her own glass.
“Unless my geography is well off, I don’t think Munich is in South America” Bond drank, and nodded his approval at the vodka martini.
“Of course you are correct but in Munich there will be a man that M would like you to observe. She believes he is known to you as Dominic Greene”
The next couple of hours went by quickly as Bond put his thoughts in order. Rashid was dead. All links to Vesper had been severed. He must move on.
The “seatbelt” sign went out. Camille Kohler passed Bond the folder she had been given on the operation; it was a copy of the one Tanner had given to M back at MI6 HQ.
Bond read the through Greene’s details. He surmised as in many cases that his target was both clever and resourceful, and would have had success at whatever line of business he applied himself to. It seemed very much Greene’s choice to tread his chosen path ‘what is the trigger’ Bond mused ‘What is it that can turn one man with this talent to good and one to evil’ The 3 million was obviously a payoff form the government and his true value for the company was probably not one of the core activities set out on the pages of it’s manifesto. Greene had probably had more than just a passing brief in ensuring any unrest turned into a full blown war, requiring landmines either for money or land. With Rashid and White dead Greene was now the only lead on the organisation responsible for Vesper’s death. Perhaps he wasn’t moving on as fast as he wanted.
The plane touched down at Franz Josef Strauss International Airport. As he viewed his passport, Bond’s contact passed on the news that Greene had already left Munich, armed with the latest information he felt both focused and serious about his target.
Bond and Camille walked through the long arrivals lounge, the drive was going to be about 2 1/2hrs to Bregenz at last they arrived at the Car Hire.
“Gut Morgen” said the girl with a smile as false as a crocodile
“Morgen”, replied Bond “My company have reserved a car for me, it’s Universal Export”
“Let me see”, she busied herself on the PC screen “Oh yes, BMW 5 series”
“That’s a shame, what exec upgrades do you have?” Bond looked at Camille, “We should arrive in Austria in style” Bond looked back at the clerk “Do you have a Bentley?”
“Yes sir we have two, Glacier White and Titianium Grey Continental GT’s”
“Um the white sounds lovely James” Camille had begun to warm to Bond’s little game
“No Camille, we don’t want to stand out” Bond turned back to the girl “I’ll take the grey one”
The girl looked at her screen again, “Oh I’m sorry sir both are unavailable”.
Unperturbed Bond replied “Ok what do you have in the sonder class?”
“Aston Martin DB9, silver” Bond handed over his black credit card “Perfect”
Bond drove along the autobahn as Camille busied herself tuning in the radio.
Bond took out his mobile and contacted the head of section V and confirmed that tickets for the “Seebuhne” would be left at the Bregenz City hotel
“Yes that’s right Platz Der Wiener Symphoniker”
They drove on eating the kilometres, soon they past the sign which read “Vorarlberg” the westernmost federal state of Austria. As the pale sun lit their way they arrived in Bregenz.
The city is situated on the eastern shores of Lake Constance, on a plateau falling in a series of terraces to the lake at the foot of Pfänder Mountain. Camille
looked out of the window of the DB9 across the lake
“What a lovely town” she said. It was the first time either of them had spoken during the past thirty minutes. Bond replied absentmindedly
“Bregenz has about 28,000 inhabitants and has roots back to Roman times”
She pulled a face and asked “That’s as maybe but is there a bar at the hotel?”
“Yes” Bond laughed; he realized he was being boring; his mind had drifted back to Vesper. But there was something else; he realized he was fighting to resist a relationship with this girl. His gaze drifted toward her again.
Bregenz is located at the northern edge of the Alps, between Lake Constance and the Pfänder mountains. To the west lies the Rhine delta, the valley dividing Switzerland and Austria. To the south lie the mountains of Switzerland.
At the hotel reception Bond was eager to get to his room but Camille had come alive, she kissed him lightly on the cheek and asked him for more details on the town. The concierge was more than happy to oblige and take the chance to speak with this beautiful girl. Bond quickly became bored and said he would carry on to his room and agreed to see her in two hours.
As Bond walked to the lift he heard the concierge break into his tourist script “Bregenz is the capital of Austria's most modern province and Lake Constance, one of the biggest in Europe, complements our modern entertainments area. I would recommend that Madam go down to the lake this evening and see the beautiful sunset for herself” Camille thanked him and walked down to the lake as instructed. As she looked out over the lake she thought about Bond and empathised with what he must be going through ‘His lover betrayed him, then committed suicide in front of him. No wonder he was not keen on talking to her’
A smile spread across herself. She made her decision to break down Bond’s defence and make him forget about the experience he had with Vesper.
She made her way back to the hotel but not before browsing through a couple of shops with expensive labels. Back in the hotel she strode purposefully across the reception area, her new purchases swinging in their bags from her arm.
Camille knocked on Bond’s door. He opened it and was stunned, her transformation was tremendous; he’d always felt she was attractive but now she was fast becoming dangerously alluring. Her sexuality challenged every one of Bond’s senses.
“You look nice” Bond complemented her on her new outfit a gold shimmering dress low cut and clingy, her cleavage extenuated by a thin gold chain, her nails were vivid red and they matched her glossy lips to perfection
“Do you attend the Opera often?” Bond asked.
“I have been only a couple of times in my adult life, but never to a grand Opera house like here, I understand we are close to the concert hall. I’m sure we won’t be bored if Mister Greene does not show up”
Bond finished tying his bowtie
“Sorry to disappoint you but we’re not going to the Grand tonight. Bregenz features a unique Opera stage which floats on the lake so we need to wrap you up very warm. Although I will be thinking about how stunning you look underneath” They both laughed the ice was well and truly broken.
“It was lovely down by the lake James, why didn’t you want to come with me?”
“It’s been a long day, I was tired”
“You were thinking about her weren’t you? One day you will have come to terms with the emotional consequences of Vesper's betrayal”
Her words were like a slap across his face, he recognised his behaviour had been affected by his thinking of Vesper but also at the non-closure he felt over Rashid’s death. Truth be known Bond was affronted by the fact that Camille had cheated him out of killing Rashid. He looked at her again and with a conscious effort he repeated the sentence in his head
“When your heart's been broken and you don't have that quantum of solace its time to move on"
Her dress was extremely revealing, it was obvious she was not wearing any underwear, his mood lightened.
“Let’s buy you a fur coat”
As they left the store, she held on to Bond’s arm.
“Everybody who’s anybody will be there tonight; but all eyes will be on you”. Bond gestured to the poster advertising Tosca.
“Complete with that enormous rotating eye on the LED wall and 7000 spectators”
The stage itself is a key tourist attraction of the region, and due to the expensive sets used in the productions, each opera is featured for two consecutive years, Camille felt a real sense of excitement as they approached the Seabuhne, which was infectious. Bond began to warm to the night.
Odds change the numbers remain
They parked the Aston and joined the privileged few filtering under the awning and up the red carpeted steps. Camille was attracting lots of admiring looks, because of her own beauty and her new fur coat. A catalogue was handed to them after ticket inspection.
Bond tensed, a not to obvious cavalcade of three cars had arrived at the VIP entrance, two Volvo S70s and a Glacier White Bentley Continental GT on German plates.
The buzz of activity from the security announced the occupants as real VIPs the driver got out and whilst his partner was being helped from the car, by a liveried security officer a valet took the keys and waited to park the car. As it drove away he got a good look at the man.
Bond observed the man, 5’ 11” large frame but not fat, dark straight almost lank hair, thick lips and plain European features; he looked to be in his middle thirties. If this was the target he was looking good for 43. His eyes held a sparkle that captivated the women he spoke to…and he spoke to many. Kissing their hands and gesturing in a way that they either blushed or swooned. His tuxedo was well tailored and he carried himself with confidence (not the normal brash American way) through the crowd at the entrance.
During the next few minutes Bond noticed that two large men had attached themselves to the couple from the Bentley, and were constantly moving around them so he was unable to get a good look at the woman, but he knew she would be beautiful.
Bond satisfied himself that he could wait for that pleasure, for now he needed to size up the opposition, he concentrated on the bodyguards one was a couple of inches taller than Greene, the other about the same height, but both were packed with muscle, their close cropped hair and enquiring eyes set them apart from the other opera goers.
Quickly Bond came to the conclusion that this was Greene with his bodyguards who were without doubt Volvo drivers to boot.
After the performance, Bond and Camille worked their way close to Greene’s party but were un-able to gleam anything substantial except for snippets of polite conversation he seemed to be having with those he spoke to.
“No I have not visited his, but I’m going to be staying close to the young girl all this week” Bond thought about the girl with Greene, it was his first real appraisal of her. If he ever got the chance he would like to stay close to her for an entire week, Camille tugged at his hand. Bond felt a pang of guilt, he was being obvious, Camille raised her eyebrows, it was an obvious ‘I caught you looking’ look
“I do hate it when that happens” Camille laughed with him
“I am going to have to keep my eye on you” they were lost in the moment, when they looked up Greene’s group had moved on spreading laughs and smiles as they went.
Bond looked at the other guests, the men looking admiringly at Greene and lustfully at his partner. All the while the two men were observing all the people that were about to come into contact with this couple. Bond and Camille closed in
“May I introduce Mr. Slate and Mr. Elvis” the two men spoke easily with the ladies they were introduced to, but instantly they were alone they refocused on their search of the guests.
During one such encounter Bond was able to observe the woman. Her perfect face was framed by a pixie cut of short black hair, her flawless skin was a silky rich brown. She was tall with a figure to die for. Her diamond earrings and necklace were probably Bvlgari but her smile shone brighter than any other gem on show.
Her elegance captivated him; she was extraordinarily graceful for one so young, certainly not more than twenty one years old.
Bond soon lost interest in the heavies that were accompanying Greene. Soon his only desire was wanting to steal glances at the girl. He looked at Camille, feeling more lustful than shameful she too was beautiful, only different
“What?” she asked, Bond took two more glasses of champagne from a silver tray. As they resumed their observation Greene was just getting into the Bentley. One of the bodyguards remained behind to register any interest from the other guests, then he left for the car park.
Camille made a move to leave but Bond gently pulled her to him
“I know you are in a hurry to get back to the room darling, but can’t we finish these first?” he held up his glass.
She was as bubbly as the French champagne as they drove back to their hotel. The excitement of the operation was overflowing in their conversation. Bond knew in his heart of hearts this was definitely the target. The man believed to be at the head of the organization outlined in the dossier, an organization that was gathering funds with an aim to direct terrorist groups around the world.
Men, true believers were being manipulated by the overwhelming greed for money. As they drove through the hotel car park all conversation stopped. There sitting in all its glory was the Bentley flanked by two Volvos. Bond parked the DB9
“Time for a little tracking I think”
They walked back past the car and Camille made a loud exclamation about how she loved this Bentley, she went over and patted it lovingly on the bonnet, during this overt exhibition she dropped her fur coat onto the floor, then looking over her shoulder she asked in a petulant voice
“Don’t you think this looks more beautiful than our car?” at that moment she bent over to retrieve her coat, Bond was presented with the view of her perfectly rounded bottom, tightly encased in her golden silk dress.
“Yes considerably” Bond waited for her to come to him, he knew the tracking device had been planted; Camille put her arms round his neck and kissed him.
If this were just for cover it was good kiss, Bond kissed her back, then he felt her hand touching him, he grasped her buttocks with his hand and pulled her into him then he kissed her hard on the mouth. She responded, there was no doubt in his mind this was not for show.
It was just two weeks since Vesper had died. As the kiss continued Bond tried to tick off how many he had killed since his elevation to double 0 status but the urgency of Camille’s mouth drove all thoughts of melancholy from him. Reluctantly the face of the woman with Greene drifted into his mind’s eye only to be replaced by Vesper. Bond pulled away.
Camille was smiling up at him and he wanted her, suddenly he needed a woman, not to love but to use to use quickly, they hurried back to her room.
In the Morning they sat across the table from each other drinking coffee, Bond’s mobile vibrated in his pocket. “They’re on the move”
A blue Volvo came out of the car-park, indicated right and drove away, within the minute the white Bentley poured from the open mouth indicated left and purred away out of sight, followed by the second Volvo which dutifully followed the Continental.
They waited. Two minutes later the first Volvo which Bond could see was a darker metallic blue now drove past them, and took up station following the main party.
Without haste they left the restaurant. Within minutes the DB9 growled at the junction, then roared onto the road, Bond passed his mobile to Camille
“The GPS screen is under music, Verdi”
She shook her head
“Verdi? You don’t strike me as a Verdi man”
“For Greene” he explained. Camille pulled a face. She accessed the program and showed Bond the screen. There was the reassuring blip that was the Bentley showing clearly on a GPS map, the main details updating on the right side of the screen.
For the next hour or so they kept between 10 to15 miles behind (the tracker had a 25 mile radius) Camille used the time to get to know Bond better. In return he amused her with some of his naval experiences. Camille spoke about her childhood in Poland, her constant love of ponies her acquired love of Italian ice-cream and her new love for champagne; the journey passed quickly. As they continued they began passing between them the knowing smiles of new lovers.
Bond’s mobile announced a text, and Camille jumped in shock, laughing she read the message.
‘Destination confirmed Jungfrau. Your cover established. Call Swiss office for details’
They pulled over at the next picnic area and Bond complied with the text. He bought flowers from the roadside vendor. The information was passed during the transaction.
“How good a skier are you?” He asked Camille
The Aston swept majestically down the alpine road into the Bernese Oberland on the northern side of the Alps. The sun was burning brightly as they entered the valley to one of Europe's oldest mountain resorts, the glacier village of Grindelwald.
With its ice rink and snow sculptures the immediate vista is mixed with fruit trees. Futher afield maples are planted in fields full of old country charm but dominating the skyline to the south are the Alps.
On one hand are the high mountains, a playground for mountaineers and skilled skiers; on the other, between the Grosse and Kleine Scheidegg ridges lay the woods perfectly suited to cross-country skiing.
Away from the village the only scars in this winter wonderland were the roads snaking into the Bei der Strassscheuer/Rothenegg district. Dotted in the hills were the last grand chalets in the Jungfrau area.
They drove on past the Grund railway station following the road and the twinkling lights of a cable car cabin. Bond noted the many cross-country ski trail start points, with their degree of difficulty coloured signs.
Then over a rise was "Chalet Jungfrau" traditionally built in 2005 this was Greene’s mountain retreat. It’s south facing position offering a magnificent view of the spectacular mountain trio "Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau".
Odds change the numbers remain
Double Black Diamonds
Often, when alone in his home Xavier Hernandiez pondered over the past. Was all the destruction of life and property worth the vengeance wreaked on Noriega for thumbing his nose at the U.S?
This terrible hatred had built up inside Hernandiez over the years. His life alone had been miserable, after all his parents had been amongst those slain. Therefore when approached by a Saudi Arabian intelligence officer he had willingly handed over information harmful to the Americans. He had allowed the diplomatic route to be used for information to come from around the world to be assessed and used against the mighty imperial USA.
Hernandiez believed he was partaking in the actual downfall of the USA and it was all being done from his country, from his own house on Red Frog beach on the islands he had loved since he was a boy.
Undercover of the night he often took his old bag and its unknown contents down to the jetty where he handed over various contents with pride. Tonight his contact was the beautiful blonde haired woman with high breasts and a cute button nose. He believed she was Russian, he knew she would carry the information swiftly to the man who was plotting the downfall of western civilisation.
James Bond and Camille were met on the front veranda by the chalet’s housekeeper.
“Hello my name is Frau Heidi Siffert” She was a rotund country woman with her grey hair pulled back in a severe bun. Her dark grey uniform was meticulously clean, with a white crisp starched apron which rustled as she climbed the staircase to show them to their room.
The room was lavishly decorated in pine and fur. Situated on the first floor, it was warm and welcoming. She handed Bond the key on an elaborate fob.
“Dinner will be at seven”
“I’m sure it will. Thank-you”
As Bond and Camille entered the dining room the other guests appraised them.
Camille’s cover was that of a Bulgarian downhill skier who was looking to move to the USA in order to boost her earnings.
“Hello, I’m Camille” She thrust out her hand toward a solid woman
“Hello to you, my name is Maria”
“Yes, you know of me?
“Of course. So this is your husband?”
“Yes” She beckoned him over “Jean-Claude, come and meet our new guests”
Camille introduced Bond to the couple.
“Jean-Claude is a cross country ski champion. Maria is a downhill racer. Both are here to ask for sponsorship for next season”
Bond was about to answer when the group was approached by another guest…
“Deiter Ruckberg I am German. Obviously I am also a skier and am very confident of getting the backing of Mr. Greene, I am pleased to meet you all”
“Well I wish you luck with that” Bond felt a liking for this man and it seemed to grow mutually when Ruckberg understood Bond would not be competing.
“You will be competing Mister Bond?”
“No, you don’t have to worry about me”
“Then it looks like I only have one obstacle?” Ruckberg nodded toward a man that had just entered the room. Bond turned casually to see a giant taking up most of his vision.
Ruckberg took up position at Bond’s shoulder…
“He is known as H. He is Dominic Greene’s personal ski instructor”
“Looks a bit clumsy to me” Bond watched him as he strutted around the tables challenging rather than talking to Maria Cartier.
“Ski instructor, I don’t think so” Bond whispered to Camille. He didn’t believe a word of it he knew a killer when he saw one.
Frau Siffert mingled with the guests keeping their glasses full until the gong sounded.
“Please enjoy the meal, eat sensibly for tomorrow morning Mister Greene requests you join him at the ski lodge”
“Fantastic” Replied Madame Cartier “It’s his latest acquisition, and he’s dying to show it off” she said to Camille
“You’ll be able to ski our four new trails” Frau Siffert held up her four fingers
“I thought there were five?” asked Ruckberg
“There is a fifth it’s a ‘double black’ route but it is currently un-ski able, due to the number of trees as yet un-cleared” Interjected H, his voice carried throughout the room.
“You must all try your hardest, Mister Greene encourages healthy competition between potential protégées” and with that frau Siffert was gone.
“Do you ski?” H addressed Bond, his presence was overbearing and his Slavic accent seemed to taunt rather than engage. A good six inches taller than Bond he was probably ex KGB, certainly ex military, his body was packed with muscle.
“Not very well” Bond answered and tried to move away.
“Ah, English?” Bond nodded and taking his drink tried to move past him. H blocked his way, in the menacing manner of a school bully.
“What is your sport? If you’re not skier why are you here?”
“My fiancé is here for sponsorship”
H laughed, spittle flew from his mouth. Jerking his thumb he glanced over at Camille, she remained in innocent conversation with Ruckberg.
“No chance. The French woman will eat her alive, she doesn’t have the legs for the down hill” he bit into another piece of chicken from the buffet. As he chewed the meat he began eyeing up all the guests, then as if realizing the room was hushed H suddenly spoke.
“I am looking forward to seeing you all breaking your legs in tomorrow’s race” He said loudly enough for all to hear him.
Bond made light of the comment “You won’t see me, I’ll be way behind you”
“No I don’t race with you, especially you. I could beat you with only one ski and one arm tied behind my back” He sneered at Bond. The other guests had fallen quiet
“Tomorrow I will watch for potential” His elbow flicked out nudging Bond’s arm
“I watch your skinny girl very closely yes?” He laughed again; Bond had observed that he had not been drinking all evening so he knew this offish behaviour was specifically meant to goad him. It had worked.
The night passed slowly and uncomfortably. With the tension of the morning getting closer the guests retired.
Bond and Camille made the most of their time in bed, before sleeping.
The sun burned through the few whispy clouds that had hung in the sky since dawn. Now the combination of blue sky, sparkling new snow and an icy cold temperatures made it a perfect ski day.
Bond and Camille had been kitted out in black and red outfits; they had chosen ‘powder skis’ the high edges perfect for this type of snow. Jean-Claude Cartier and Dirk Ruckberg were wearing light grey ski suits while Maria Cartier wore an Ocean blue one-piece her ears encased in white fur.
The ski lift carried them high up the mountain toward Greene’s ski lodge. Waiting for them at the top were the two men Bond had seen with Greene at the opera.
“I am Mr. Slate and this is my colleague Mr. Elvis” the men that had accompanied Greene at the opera. Ex marines, maybe FBI but without doubt still perfectly capable of killing on request, without introduction Mr. Elvis explained
“Mister Greene will be arriving soon”
The group looked around the impressive ski lodge, its ambiance exuding money and luxury, Bond noted the international flavour of Greene’s organisation and settled down for the inevitable meeting.
The snowmobile entered the courtyard and stopped in a flurry of snow. As the powdery cloud subsided Dominic Greene jumped out.
Greene was dressed impressively. He removed his sunglasses and introduced himself.
“Welcome. I am Dominic Greene, and you are my future, my vision for the coming season and the wonderful talent that I want to mentor”
Then dramatically his personality changed, he became the sexual predator that Bond had observed at the opera. Greene addressed the ladies “Come ladies let us create a memory of this day” they gathered around him for a photograph.
“But gentlemen where are my manners” Greene apologised to the men and introduced his partner “May I introduce you to Nightshade” her champagne colour fur coat showed off her skin tone perfectly she shook hands with all the male guests, throughout all his changes of personality there was always the instant air of confidence about the man, and Nightshade for all her young and innocent looks was un-intimidated by the clientele.
She approached Bond and in an exotic accent (American in influence probably French Senegalese in origin) innocently asked if he had seen the latest production of Tosca. Bond replied “I was at the Seabuhne just two nights ago”
She was able to turn this information into a joke to be shared between them “Maybe you could have been following me?”
Her eyes remained cold and her smile was cruel and Bond could feel himself rising to the challenge.
“Maybe so but if I’d caught you would I have found you toxic or edible?”
Her gaze never left him “Both” she shook her head and laughed
“You English, of course if you had been an American, you would probably have asked if my real name was Eve Eden”
“Is it?” Bond was close to her now holding her stare.
“No” she dismissed him and looked out at the valley before them, Bond held her arm, the fur was soft to his touch and she turned to look him in the eye again.
“Why are you here?”
“Oh Mr. Bond, you ask such naive questions, I’m surprised you have not asked me what first attracted me to the mutli-millionaire Dominic Greene?”
“Well I don’t see anything there that I like, I’m sure you have some skills and experiences that helped him choose you from the others”
For the first time her laugh was genuine, her face lit up.
“I’m very special to him” she walked forward to the rail, Bond followed, she gestured at the wonderful vista before them and then back at the ski lodge
“Why am I here?” Bond stood directly in front of her
“Does this lifestyle really mean that much?”
“He likes to put me on a pedestal, in a glass cabinet, I enjoy that and of course I can still look” She gave the invitation and Bond decided to accept it
“You’re beautiful” he said
“I know” she replied. She turned away and returned to Greene’s side.
Greene moved about the group one moment almost effeminately with exaggerated movements of his well-manicured hands then instantly changing to the persona of a predator. There was an instant sexual tension between him and Maria Cartier but Bond sensed the same chemistry between Greene and Camille, she had no resistance to his charms
“No talk of skill or achievement this morning” (which was a relief to Camille as her skiing knowledge was minimal) “I’m not at my best until I’ve seen you fine examples race down the
piste, I’m a man of limited resource I need to understand how competitive you all are,
there’s only money available for two students next year, the FIRST two”
“And the loser?” asked Bond, stepping into his skis.
“Oh we’ll shoot the last one over the line” Greene’s face was impassive “Add’s a sense of urgency don’t you think?”
“Hey Dominic, you know what my number will be” said Cartier pulling his goggles over his eyes
“Number one” Mdme Cartier whispered into his ear “Oui mon cherie we must win”, it was intimate but loud enough for all to hear.
Bond looked at Greene his eyes narrowed. His words were meant to be understood
“How do you say ‘the number’ in French? It’s ‘Le Chiffre isn’t it?
Greene was distracted from giving an answer as the two bodyguards now kitted in Greene ski suits returned to the group, Greene explained “Mr. Slate and Mr. Elvis are here to check for style and spirit during the race. Now I wish good luck to all” The group strapped on their skis. With the preparations in full swing Greene returned his attentions to Bond
“You seem to have a preoccupation with numbers Mr. Bond? As you can see Maria Cartier wants to be number one, and with my colleagues joining the fun I’d say that makes you number seven. Are you ok with that number double o 7?” he said deliberately
“Very comfortable” Bond held his stare.
“Good luck, and remember, win if you can, cheat if you must, but do not lose, the rest of your life depends on it”
They set off, at the first turn point, Camille declared she would take the “Yellow” route Maria Cartier Interrupted, “Non, you must take the piste noir, show us your skill”
Camille replied something about just wanting to enjoy the day, but Ruckberg had now glided in-between them cutting off the rest of her sentence.
Jean-Claude Cartier skied along-side Bond
“More speed Mister Bond” he gestured back up the hill where Greene stood with Nightshade. Bond glanced back. It appeared that Greene was giving instructions to both Slate and Elvis. Bond had one fleeting glance as Slate and Elivis began their pursuit.
Bond dug the ski poles into the snow began gathering speed.
Dominic Greene adjusted the digital telescope and zoomed in on the race, he pulled Nightshade close to him “Marvellous pure and simple win or die”
Nightshade ran her fingers over his hand which gripped the telescope like his very life depended upon it. His breathing became light and shallow.
The group hurtled down the trail swapping position Cartier twice cut across in front of Bond. Bond feigned to the right; then swept by on the left. Now he raced ahead making use of his wider skis.
Slate and Elvis stayed a good 20 meters behind the group. At the next and final course point, Bond watched as Camille tried to keep left, but Maria Cartier was leaning into her cutting into her path forcing her right onto the “black” run.
Camille had no choice but to dart away to the right, she felt the sweet sensation of surrender as she allowed her skis to slide through the snow.
As she looked to the right her skis, as if connected to her eyes began to turn. She floated through the deepest powder she had ever allowed herself to experience. The wind pulled at her red hair it cascaded out behind her.
High above Camille, Greene was watching from the ski lodge. He turned to Nightshade
“Look! She appears to have flames coming from her head”
Bond knew he must follow Camille down the black route. Cartier and Ruckberg closed in behind him. Bond needed to turn sharply and he knew that breathing was the key to make this tight turn happen. A deep breath in as you edge your skis, then a long breath slowly out and let them flatten. Then, let yourself float down the mountain.
Trees were coming up fast he needed to concentrate on his own line now. He glanced at Camille she was perilously close to the trees. Bond lent into the slope and increased his speed, having no opportunity to see if his pursuers were still at his shoulder he sped on. Although he had the faster skis his opponents were more skilled, they were right behind him. Bond’s only worry was that they would run into him. Bond dismissed the idea, and checked out Camille’s route.
‘She must slow now’ thought Bond then she disappeared into the trees. Bond angled his skis and slowed aiming for the same gap that Camille had gone into. Then suddenly he felt the weight on his right shoulder, Jean Claude Cartier was on him pushing him left into a thick tangle of branches. Bond moved his weight and lent over to barge Cartier away, but his strength meant that he kept the pressure on.
It would only be seconds until they both hit the trees. Bond stood up out of his crouch breaking the vertical line. The wind hit his body slowing him. Cartier sped in front of him still angling to the left, their skis touched.
Cartier raised his pole to regain balance but overcompensated and began to fall, Bond dug in with his ski poles and carved right the impact of hitting the man’s skis jarred his back and he fought for his own balance then Cartier hit the first tree, it spun him round. There was an explosion of snow as the branches shook, Bond didn’t see the damage done to Cartier’s body because he was through the gap, the sunlight cut off visibility zero desperately Bond searched for a new horizon. In the dappled light darkness he swayed left parallel turned right through what appeared to be a small copse; then he exploded out into the glare of the sun. The trees were thinner here and the going was smoother. The tracks from Camille and Maria Cartier were plain to see. Parallel and very close together.
The ground dropped away and Bond accelerated into a gap between an ice wall and rock face, the course took a gradual turn to the right more trees sped past, but then the route was clear.
Bond followed the battling duo into another sunlite dappled copse, here there were branches devoid of snow and some were recently broken. A newly broken branch tore at his jacket but soon he was at the edge of the trees and back out onto smooth powder snow.
The glare from the sun on the snow was intense; Camille was nowhere to be seen.
The scream was so close to him he had to look left not in front. Dirk Ruckberg had hit a low hanging branch on one of the final trees, it shattered and he fell in a cascade of limbs.
Bond dismissed it from his mind as he suddenly saw a mogul rising up out of the glare, the compressed mound of snow revealing the direction taken by a previous skier.
Bond dug in the left edge of the ski and sped off in pursuit. But the terrain changed again in an instant he was skiing away from the piste and into the backcountry area. His speed was suicidal he must slow down it was too dangerous to continue at this break neck speed.
Bond felt the hardness of a rock beneath his ski, the swish turning into a series of scrapes. The hard ground threw him off line, the terrain lifted and suddenly he could see the raise. What lay beyond was a terror which reached up from the pit of his stomach. Bond flew over the raise, into nothing.
The drop was ten meters at least he landed badly and fell. The packed snow knocked the wind out of his lungs, but at least there were no rocks here. Bond looked up and realized it was probably the fall that saved him. As he shook the snow from his face a rock loomed into his vision not more than two feet from his head. Beyond that the edge of pure untouched snow simply disappeared.
Bond crawled forward and peered into the abyss, another five meters below was a narrower ledge it was no more than one meter wide and beyond that a rift sixty or seventy meters deep Bond was on a ledge no more than
four meters wide himself.
He peered down fearing the worst. It wasn’t long before he found it. There like a broken doll lay the blue ski suited body of Madame Cartier. She lay at the bottom of the ravine.
Bond scanned the area and suddenly there she was on the next ledge down, transfixed at the edge of the abyss.
In terror, Camille stared at the drop below her. How had she survived?
Camille stumbled. The powder snow was collapsing. One wrong step and she could fall to her death, consumed by the snow, where no one could save her.
Bond dropped down to the second ledge and softly called her name. Camille turned gracefully, yet tentative her face showing the full horror of her situation but still bordering on beautiful. If she was to survive this, he could make her beautiful. Make her safe.
In the depths of his mind, he knew he had somehow to become connected to her. In connecting to her, he was committed to protecting her.
In his present situation, he remembered all his fears. Amidst the crowds and confusion of Venice where lurked the potential for betrayal and violence. Perhaps unintentional, but dangerous, nonetheless true fear, now he stumbled for a course of action, his senses were lacking in logic as he was still dazed from the fall.
Suddenly, her voice broke the moment
“Help me James” Startled Bond gathered up his broken skis and crawled towards her, fear still gripped him it was different to the dangers he knew he could handle so different from the one he now confronted.
"You are going to be ok" His voice calmer then he thought possible. Could he save her from the elements? Could he save her from her own self-doubt? Bond moved toward the edge.
"Oh no…don’t come closer"
"Take hold of the ski" he held it out to her the silence was crushing
"I don't think I can. I don't know how I got here; I don't know how to get away."
“Okay. Try not to think of the mountain as an enemy. Just reach forward"
Bond’s words confused her, but the distraction worked and she reached forward and grasped the ski.
"I'm not in the mood to be challenged right now! this is not the place to learn new philosophies!" she was about to smile it was going to be alright then the snow gave way behind her pouring into the void, the ledge was cracking, breaking away from the cliff
"I'm slipping” she screamed. Bond pulled the ski toward himself, he grabbed Camille’s jacket and crushed her to his body, falling back as he did so the sound of the snow and ice cascading into the rift filled their ears, she fell on top of him one arm and one leg extend toward the sky as they sank into the snow.
Bond listened to her hysteria as they lay on the edge of the precipice. In relief, he realized that she was laughing. Her laughter was her liberation releasing all terror and tension. She looked into Bond’s eyes and kissed him.
"You found me."
"I never lost you." He kissed her. The smirk spread across his face
"Have you ever skied a Double Black Diamond before?"
"Well, you just did."
They felt their way along the ledge, the wind buffeted them soon it widened out and they began to climb. Their ski boots made the climb clumsy and the going was slow. After about twenty minutes Bond pulled Camille back on to the rocky outcrop.
Exhausted they walked arm in arm back onto the piste and came across the fallen skiers. Their limbs mangled and entwined. Cartier had somehow managed to crawl over to Ruckberg and now they lay together like lovers.
Bond felt for a pulse but both men were dead. Including the death of Maria Cartier this had been a race of gladiatorial proportions. The swish of skis alerted Bond to the presence of others. Two men burst through the trees. Mr. Elvis removed his goggles and said
“You’re a hard man to kill Mr. Bond”
Bond clamped his boots onto Ruckberg’s skis and salvaged another ski and the poles from the body of Cartier he passed them Camille
“Come on it’s like a scene from Broke back mountain here” They glided over the snow and slowly skied down the “Green” route.
In the distance he saw “H” waiting by Dominic Greene’s snowmobile.
As they reached the bottom of the slope “H” gestured with his rifle for them to separate. Behind them Elvis took hold of Bond and instructed him to lay on the ground. H held his face in the snow. His grip was ‘vice like’ Bond felt his circulation beginning to slow as Slate searched him. Suddenly the pressure ended, any longer and he was sure he would have blacked out. H whispered in Bond’s ear
“With one arm tied behind my back, don’t forget it” he was still laughing at the comment as Bond looked for Camille but she was already being driven away in the snowmobile.
“H” Slate and Elvis marched Bond back along the road to a second vehicle.
It was going to be a long day.
Odds change the numbers remain
The edge of Treason
Bond was taken to a warm room which contained a number of book cases; he thought it was too large to be a study so reasoned it must be the library. Slate directed him toward an old wing back chair. As he sat down his muscles cried out in relief (especially the ones in his neck where H had gripped him) Bond eased the pain by rotating his neck, suddenly he realized he was not alone.
Dominic Greene stood at attention by his desk. His eyes gleamed brightly in the fire light.
“H” Slate and Elvis left the room without a word. Bond took the opportunity to take off his ski boots. He tossed them into the hearth and relaxed back in the chair and continued massaging his neck. Greene smiled turned and walked over to a small bar. Once behind it he smiled at Bond then with a cocktail shaker in one hand he cleared his throat, pausing for effect. Vigorously he shook the shaker. Slowly putting the shaker on the bar he prepared two martini glasses. The whole bizarre event took more than two minutes. During this time the only sound in the room was the popping and shifting of the logs on the fire, and the ice shaking in the shaker. Without looking up Greene began to speak…
…“I have a proposal for you Mister Bond” he finished pouring the drinks, and ran his tongue over his lips whilst walking smoothly over to Bond.
He held out the glass “And I want you to know that the charming Camille has just become part of the collateral to help you choose if you accept my proposal or not” Greene returned to the bar picked up his own glass and continued…
“I can be very unforgiving. I am known as a man who bears a grudge. But I too have a benevolent side. I can be very generous. I am prepared to forgive you for your trespasses against me. I am prepared to let you and your little Neapolitan police lady go free”
“Very magnanimous of you”
“I say free” Greene’s head see sawed from side to side
“There’s a small favour I need to ask”
“I would like you to go and find something for me”
“A book?” Bond looked around the book cases that lined the walls.
“No. It’s something a tad more difficult to retrieve. I want you to find and acquire one particular package for me”
“Like a treasure hunt”
“Do you have a map?”
“No need, I know where it is. It’s currently residing in the safe of an ex MI6 employee you may even have heard of him. Sir Miles Hawthorne?” Greene sat down on the leather chair opposite Bond. Casually he lit a cigarette as he waited for Bond to confirm or deny a professional knowledge of Sir Miles.
Greene put his gold lighter on the leather topped table by his chair. He drew hard on the cigarette his piercing eyes bright with mischief…
“The package is a one of a kind. Sir Miles put it together for his retirement fund. He retired back in 2001. The package contains a veritable treasure trove of trinkets and goodies. Oh, and a couple of video tapes and documents. Basically it’s every dirty secret that MI6 have in their closet. The contents detail meetings between very prominent members of the British establishment, along with other MI6 agents and some representatives from a foreign power. It sets out a request from the highest authority in the UK to eliminate a ‘problem’ an ‘embarrassment’ for one particular family shall we say. In short it is evidence of a conspiracy, the conspiracy” with a slight shake of his hair he took another drag on the cigarette. He focused on Bond and allowed the smoke to emerge from his lips. He watched Bond with an intense stare.
“Now why would you want something like that?”
“It’s evidence of a crime Mister Bond, and its being suppressed” he nodded his head as he spoke.
“You intend to use it for blackmail?” asked Bond sipping at his martini, the log fire against the back wall was crackling and hissing as the logs burned throwing of a welcoming heat into the room.
“No” Greene was almost affronted “I merely want to un-suppress it. I would simply give it away, make it available to everyone. You see Mister Bond what was discussed at those meetings never actually materialized. But whether anyone had a hand in the tragic end result or not doesn’t matter. Make no mistake this is a conspiracy to murder. The exposure of this information will no doubt bring down the British government and the monarchy and…
…will make it easier for my organisation to facilitate more of what it does well”
“A very noble cause then”
“So you DON’T want to rule the UK?” Bond mocked
“No Mister Bond I’m not insane, the organisation I work for is not a radical bunch of fanatics. To be honest I do get a perverse pleasure out of seeing others suffer, but I thought you would have realized that from today’s little race. You see Mister Bond I am building a network to rival the Mafia, and as you will see when you view the film I took today of the little down-hill race I already have a better video camera than Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. I do hate all that fuzzy filming”
“Guess I’ve got you all wrong”
“After the attacks of September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda surpassed the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah as the world's most infamous terrorist organization ever. However many of the bombings attributed to al-Qaeda most notably Bali, Madrid, and London have actually been carried out by terrorist groups linked more in spirit than in substance to al-Qaeda.
Al-Zarqawi only officially joined al-Qaeda after he initiated his reign of terror in Iraq.
Al-Qaeda has been more than happy to take credit for these infamous bombings, but it is thought that it has offered more of a philosophical motivation than a direct support for the acts committed by these splinter groups. While al-Qaeda promotes its reputation as a vast global network, it is in fact just a small core of adherents, but serves as the virulent inspiration to countless thousands of violent Islamic extremists.
My organisation will oversee this loosely organized network of cells. We will recruit members from the thousands of "Arab Afghan" veterans and radicals around the world. We will have our people everywhere. Hitler called them his 5th column. Once they are in place it will be easy to destabilise the world's economy”
Bond interrupted, “You’re wrong Greene”
“Yes, you are insane. These extremist Muslim groups won’t take instructions from an American. MI6 and the CIA know all about you, I’ve reported in on everything”
Greene smiled having anticipated the comment he continued with his well-rehearsed justification “My infrastructure is small, mobile and decentralized. Each cell operates independently with its members not knowing the identity of other cells. Local operatives rarely know anyone higher up in the organization's hierarchy.
The government of Darfur is taking $2 million a year from the Chinese. Russia continues to violate the UN arms embargo supplying arms, ammunition and related equipment” he stood up and leant in toward Bond.
“Nobody cares where the money comes from and you have reported nothing to M. We found the tracking device on both my and your car. Both are taking a little continental tour right now, so nobody in MI6 actually knows you are still here”
Bond could not understand the comment about a tracking device on his Aston Martin, but one thing in his favour was that MI6 did know where he was.
Greene continued “My organization differs significantly from more traditional terrorist organizations. We do not depend on the sponsorship of a political state, and unlike the PLO or the IRA we are not defined by a particular conflict. Instead Quantum operates as a franchise. Quantum provides financial, technological and logistical support, as well as name recognition to terrorist groups operating in such diverse places as the Philippines, Algeria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kashmir. Furthermore, local groups may act in their own name or that of al-Qaeda if it is religious in its ideals in order to bolster their own reputation even if they are not receiving support from that organization”
“Quantum?” Bond was looking at him. Greene nodded
“It’s not an anachronism Mister Bond or at least I have not thought of anything yet, I just think it sounds scary. I simply allow various terrorist groups to lay down the rules of engagement whilst I manipulate the action with a bona fida organization, sometimes for the rebels sometimes giving help to a government, sometimes to both” he did a hurry-up motion with his free hand “I help the party go with a bang. Do you know that some of these people actually and usually blow themselves up if you ask them too” He raised his eyebrows in astonishment.
“Not the best succession plan for growth but we are still able to recruit new members, so one shouldn’t discourage”
“Why don’t you use one of the chosen ones to get your package?”
Greene smiled. He stubbed out the cigarette and returned to his seat.
“They might be suitable for blowing themselves up on a plane. But for this job I need someone with your talents. Also you have the ready-made route into the heart of British security. This evidence needs to be treated with respect”
“I think someone’s fooled you Greene. Think, if there’s only the original discs and videos and it would harm the Monarchy why wouldn’t MI6 simply destroy them?” asked Bond
“Sir Miles kept this special package very safe in order to keep himself alive. It was his insurance policy. If he were to have died in suspicious circumstances the information would have be released automatically”
“Hawthorne is dead?”
Greene merely nodded his head in confirmation.
“Then MI6 will have already destroyed it”
“No. They don’t know where it is”
“And you do?”
“Sir Miles told me…just before he died”
“No Mister Bond. He was definitely telling the truth”
“So I steal it. Then I destroy it”
“Good because if you do the foreign power I spoke about. You remember the one in the video? They will be very grateful to me for facilitating the demise of the evidence. As I said I’m building an organization to rival the Mafia. I have been assured that certain families will come under some serious federal scrutiny. Destroy it Mister Bond and I will become head of the greatest criminal organisation in the World”
“So I hand it in. I expose your backers. Not good for you”
“That has no bearing. The enemy of my enemy is my friend”
“And if I don’t accept your proposal?”
“I’ll kill Camille. I’ll kill you. Then I’ll get someone else to fetch it for me”
“I can see the positives in obtaining the package”
“You and Camille would be free”
“I would be free to come back and kill you, now that does appeal to me” Bond finished his drink
Greene smiled sarcastically
“You could try Mister Bond. I could kill you now and get someone else to do a spot of breaking and entering. But please sleep on it and let me know in the morning”
Back in his room Bond thought over the conversation, he knew this was THE conspiracy to end all conspiracies he racked his brain for an answer, he knew that in the late nineties there was a rogue element within the British secret service convinced there was a threat to the throne and therefore the stability of the state.
Bond had read the report on the elimination of such a rogue department who acted as an autonomous cell. Some documents in the report revealed a pretty strange view of what constitutes a threat to the state.
Bond remembered M telling him “They had files on John Lennon in the 60s, more recently the British Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Jack Straw and they once tried to destabilise the 1970s Labour government. It is not inconceivable that the same agents who believed Lennon was capable of leading revolution also believed other individuals were capable of fomenting popular unrest.
Bond knew MI6 had bugged Princess Diana throughout her years in the Royal limelight, and it was the belief that they were behind the leaking of the 'Squidgygate' phone tapping tapes which damaged her image during the break up with Charles.
Bond went back in his mind to a report on the Royal bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones. He was a former member of the crack Parachute Regiment one of the toughest in the British army. He also completed two stints in Northern Ireland and served in the Royal Military Police. Just the kind of background that would have seen him come into contact with members of the secret service. Theorists cite the fact Rees-Jones survived the crash as evidence that he was in on the plot to snuff out the Diana threat.
It was all pure supposition but in the early hours of the morning James Bond decided he had no option except to accept Greene’s proposal and acquire the evidence. If the evidence was as damning as to confirm the names of the conspirators, responsible for one of the UK’s most enduring mysteries he would have to decide what was the best course of action.
James Bond, a newly promoted double 0 MI6 agent would have to decide either to suppress the evidence, and allow Dominic Greene to become the most powerful criminal or expose the guilty and risk being guilty of treason.
Odds change the numbers remain
It was love at first sight. On his first day in Africa Sir Miles Hawthorne was immediately captured by the Swahili culture and rich mix of traditions. He and his wife both fell for the Lamu Archipelago with it’s stunning views over the Indian ocean. Within six weeks of his posting in Kenya the couple decided to build Forodhani House in the laid back Shela Village.
Sir Miles wanted the house to reflect the architecture of the island and the best of a traditional colonial property. So, with the best local craftsmen they started to build from the designs he himself had penned.
Three years later the house was completed. It was everything that Sir Miles ever dreamed of. A joyful celebration of Lamu’s heritage and ancestry. Which, after his retirement from the service became his home, and his castle.
The insects of the night were in full song as Bond traversed the gardens. His lightweight black fatigues made him look just a shadow amongst shadows.
The ultra-thin backpack contained all the equipment he needed for the operation. Attached to the webbing at his waist he carried a Heckler and Koch machine pistol, and under his left arm the omnipresent Walther PPK. Greene had thought of everything and provided Bond with everything he’d asked for.
‘Click’ the ear piece came to life “Freeze, left wall 2 o clock 2 bogies” Bond waited for the two guards to pass
Bond moved toward the house, secure in the knowledge that the power to the house was about to go down. Already the external alarm system had been cut. Bond scaled the wall. His shoes had been adapted from the latest style worn by free form mountain climbers.
Silently Bond landed on the first floor balcony. In a single movement he slid his surgical sharp knife into the crack between the French windows. Bond felt the lock click back and he entered Forodhani House.
Bond felt for the switch beneath the desk, Greene’s description of the room had been very detailed. The front of the false drawer opened and Bond disarmed the internal alarm.
He walked silently to the wall and took the painting down, the safe looked confident in its appearance.
Bond slid a CD sized box from his back pack and placed it on the safe door. The box glowed and lit up an X-ray of the locking mechanism. Bond began to spin the dial. The tumblers whirred around, the l.e.d lit up the number 45. He repeated the act until all six lights were lit. Taking a deep breath Bond opened the safe door. The high pitched alarm broke the absolute silence. Shutters slid across the windows blocking off his escape. The only exit from this room was through the door which would take him deeper into the interior of the house.
Bond snatched up the Heckler & Koch and opened the door. Bullets ripped into the dark wood. The flashes from the guns were close. Instinctively Bond threw the grenade he’s taken from the back pack, it exploded with a loud pop, the firing stopped.
“Click” Bond’s ear piece began buzzing “R U OK?”
“Sure, just met some more guests we’re just having a little house warming” Bond stepped through the door into a scene from hell. The grenade had exploded in front of one of the guards killing him instantly, he was spread over the landing his partner was slumped against the wall he began to raise his machine pistol. Bond fired a burst from the Heckler and Koch.
‘Click’ “Just seems a little noisy”
“A brief encounter” Bond was half way down the stairs when the lights came on.
The unmistakable figure of Mr. Babone lumbered into the hallway. Looking up at Bond he began to climb the stairs. He was wearing the same clothes as he had when Bond last saw him in Italy, with Rashid.
When he came within reach Bond could smell that he probably had not washed either. Suddenly repulsed by the man Bond launched a kick to Babone’s face. The kick connected it would have killed a normal man, and should have stopped the baboon in his tracks. But Babone simply staggered back and slipped down just one stair back. In an instant he was back onto Bond. His nose leaking blood. His hands reached forward and when he smiled Bond saw he had dislodged a couple of teeth. Babone advanced up another step his smile smeared with blood. This man knew no fear, Bond backed up the staircase. Unexpectedly the staircase filled with explosions as more bullets ripped into the wall by his head. Another attacker was attempting to spoil Babone’s pleasure by killing Bond.
Bond took shelter behind the marble pillar, but his escape route back up the stairs had been cut off. The air was thick with plaster that had been dislodged from the wall, Babone advanced up another step, he reached out and Bond deflected his grasp by hitting him on the back of the hand with the Walther.
Bond feinted right then moved quickly left and attempted to pass his assailant, Babone simple lent on him crushing Bond into the wall, the Walther fell from his hand. Babone intended to finish him with a flick of his head but Bond ducked and squeezed his way down the stairs.
His ear piece popped out as Bond came out from behind the protection of the pillar.
The guard began shooting again, Babone screamed at the man to stop shooting.
“He’s mine” He wanted Bond for himself.
In the hallway Bond used the pillars for cover against the guard who’s aim was good enough to keep him pinned down. Babone followed down the staircase, stamping on the earpiece as he followed down the stairs.
Babone began to close in. Bond un slung the back pack, withdrawing one more piece of equipment. With full force he threw the back-pack at Babone but he simply stuck out his chest and it bounced off and dropped to the floor. Babone laughed and spittle flew from his broken mouth they came together. Babaone felt for Bond’s jacket using a popular opening judo move, Bond aimed a couple of punches to deflect the hold, but
Babone twisted another typical judo move. Bond began to understand his enemy’s strength, and therefore his weakness. Bond stepped into the hold and forced his holding arm back against the joint, but with deceptive speed Babone continued to twist, taking Bond down to the floor.
Bond broke the hold and rolled away, staying down to catch his breath he laid on his back and scanned the hallway. Babone was grunting in an effort to get up, Bond timed his next move to use Babone as cover against the gunman on the landing.
Both men were back on their feet Bond had his back to the front door. He made his move with lightning speed, he snatched the vase that stood by the door and in two bounding steps was behind the cover of one of the pillars again. Struggling to hold his position bullets ripped into the wall where Bond would have been if he had continued to run. Bond spun like a discus thrower, and launched the vase at Babone. The big man saw it coming, and feeling secure in the knowledge that it was too low to strike his face he pulled his arms back and puffed out his massive chest, the vase broke harmlessly against him. But his face betrayed a problem incredulously he looked down at his chest and could not understand the pain.
Without comprehension Babone saw the knife sticking out of his heart, he had been distracted by the vase and hadn’t seen the knife which Bond had taken from the back pack. Babone’s legs buckled and he sank to his knees, his weight pushing down he became frozen in the kneeling position.
Babone’s back was to the guard who was leaning against the rail on the landing waving his gun. “Get up, or get out of the way” He began screamed.
Bond pulled the stiletto from Babone’s chest and flicked it upward, the knife entered the guard’s mouth and severed his spinal cord he toppled forward over the rail landing on the floor at Bond’s feet.
Picking up the guard’s machine pistol Bond turned and shot through the door lock. Bond grabbed the back pack and slung it over his shoulder.
The sound of the battle melted away and the noise of ever present undisturbed insects penetrated Bond’s mind.
“Do you have merchandise?” Mister Elvis asked
“Of course” Bond lied he tapped the back-pack “Drop me off at Vauxhall Cross”
Elvis aimed his gun at Bond, his head shook slowly
“Mr Greene want’s to say goodbye in person”
Seemingly reluctantly Bond jumped into the back of the Landrover Defender.
The release or suppression of the information was irrelevant to him for there had been nothing in the safe. Where the information was now, or if there had ever been information didn’t matter. Bond just needed to fool Greene’s men in order to get back to Camille then he would be free to finish this mission once and for all and kill Dominic Greene
Odds change the numbers remain
In Milan they abandoned the jet which had brought them from Manda airport.
Now Mister Elvis and Bond sat alone in the back of the Bell Ranger Helicopter as it made the short hop back to Switzerland. Bond was refreshed; he had had a good sleep and almost seven hours to think about the events of the past two days. The wind off the Jungfrau began to buffet the helicopter. The pilot looked over his shoulder
“Better buckle up”
Bond looked through the windscreen at the imposing summit. This approach into Grunwald was totally different to his previous journey. From this height the full majesty of the Bernese Alps was laid out before them. Situated between the cantons, together with the Eiger and Mönch, the Jungfrau forms a massive wall of rock overlooking the Bernese Oberland. As the mountain consumed his view Bond recognised this was his time to act.
“Why do you think they were there?”
“What?” replied Elvis
“I’m talking about the welcome party at Hawthorne’s house. Now why would there be guards there?” Bond’s tone was friendly, he gesticulated with his hands. His actions were intended to lull Elvis into accepting that Bond made these types of movements all the time.
“Just guarding the house…against intruders I guess” Elvis laughed, and Bond joined in. Then suddenly he became serious…
“But they were your men”
Elvis frowned. His face screwed up
“You talk in riddles, Bond”
“The guards were led by a man named Babaone. I last saw him with Rashid at the stables”
Elvis waved his hand across his body, his head shook in denial. But most importantly he placed the Colt pistol on his lap.
“Chico Babaone? He was in the house?”
Bond nodded. He raised both hands in a gesture of submission, and then made a big gesture for Elvis to continue.
“Babone doesn’t work for Quantum” A mischievous grin spread across his face.
“Then who does he work for? I saw him at the stables with Rashid”
“Babone was there for the security of the horses”
“Yes I figured that” Bond continued to move his arms. The flamboyant movements were now accepted as part of the conversation.
“So who does he work for, and why was he at the house trying to kill me?”
Elvis laughed, he angled his body for best effect.
“Babone works for General Medrano”
Bond’s face gave nothing away
“Medrano?” Bond played the name as if it were the first time he’d heard it
“General Medrano, deposed dictator? Bolivia. Ring any bells?
Bond’s left palm came up. He slapped it off his own forehead
“Of course” Bond’s right hand snaked out and caught Elvis in the throat. Bond’s left hand now dropped and seized the gun. Elvis moved to intercept but Bond continued the right hand movement and he smashed his elbow into Elvis’s face. A moment later Bond had the gun aimed at Elvis’s heart.
“Not a sound, not a movement” Bond quickly tried to piece the events together again.
Medrano had been instrumental in Rashid’s death at the villa. Rashid, working for Quantum was aware of the evidence held at Hawthorne’s house. Medrano wanted the information for himself; right now the why was un-important.
Elvis lunged at Bond; the bullet killed him before the movement was complete. The pilot reacting to the noise looked over his shoulder again. He saw Elvis slump back against the side of the cabin.
Bond trained the gun on him “Bring us in nice and gentle. Do you understand?”
The pilot nodded.
Bond lent forward and relieved the pilot of his mobile phone. He switched off the radio.
Bond tapped in the emergency code on the phone and waited for a response.
Bill Tanner’s voice came over loud and clear.
“Hello James we’ve been expecting you. What do you have to report?”
“I made contact with Greene. His organisation is called Quantum. He wanted me to procure some hard copy information from the house of Sir Miles Hawthorne ex MI6”
“That’s in Africa”
“That’s right, I didn’t stay long though. I was interrupted by a group of people who work for General Medrano”
“Did you find anything in Hawthorne’s safe?” M’s voice cut through the de-brief
“Hello M, I’m fine thank-you” The sarcasm was heavy in his voice.
“Let’s dispense with the formalities 007 did you find anything in Hawthorne’s safe?”
“Did Greene tell you what was supposed to be there?”
“Then you need to come in for a de-brief”
“I can’t do that just yet. I’m going to dispose of Greene”
“It wasn’t an invitation Bond”
“I have to rescue the Italian agent that you sent to bring me to Greene. He has her held for ransom until I return. Once she’s free I’ll come straight home”
“You should be aware the Bolivian President was assassinated three days ago” Tanner cut into the conversation.
“That wasn’t very nice. Did we have anything to do with it?” Bond asked
“Quantum must be facilitating Medrano’s return to power” M ignored the remark
“Medrano was instrumental in Rashid’s death” Bond added. The disappointment in his voice was not lost on Bill Tanner, after a moment’s silence Tanner said
“There’s no record of Rashid’s body been taken to any morgue or hospital or safe house”
“Bond, you should know, there was no instruction to AISI to assassinate Rashid” said M
“Camille was part of the assassination squad. They rescued Medrano from me after the hit” Bond said angrily
“That’s not what our intelligence shows. General Medrano was identified leaving Italy after the Palio” Tanner’s clam tone cut across the tension.
“Find out where he is now?” M instructed “Bond, how did Camille explain her part in Rashid’s death?”
“She told me it was on your orders”
M spoke to them both Bond and Tanner as if to deny the question “If AISI didn’t do the hit on Rashid, then Miss Kohler must be in league with Samir Rashid”
“I saw them kill Rashid” Bond answered
“He’s not dead Bond” Tanner reassured him
“Well, all the more reason then. I need to get to her fast and find out just who’s side she is on” The relief of the news that Rashid could still be alive spurred Bond on.
“How have you persuaded Green to allow you back to his lodge?”
“I said I had the information he wants”
“Did he tell you what he intends to do with it?”
“He doesn’t care. If I release it he will react in a certain way. If I suppress it the American’s will offer support for Quantum”
“What’s their angle?” M said aloud
“Greene has promised them that the family crime rate will go down”
“Then Greene will be the Worlds’ most powerful criminal, with the weight of the USA behind him in a month or so it will be difficult for us to get to him” said M
Bond looked out of the window, and above the sound of the helicopter’s rotas he spoke clearly
“He won’t get another month”
“If neither Greene nor Quantum have the information, who has?”
“What about Medrano? Rashid could have done a deal with him. Medrano’s men could have been at Hawthorne’s to ensure the deception remained a secret”
“Make everyone think they were guarding something?” M confirmed the thought process
M shot a worried glance at Tanner, but addressed the phone
“Bond, for christ sake don’t go killing anyone until we’re sure we can still suppress the information”
Bond pretended he had not heard her request his mind was searching for the answer
“If the package wasn’t in the safe, Medrano must have it with him”
“Medrano could well be blackmailing the USA . His price for non-disclosure of information they want keeping quiet. Without their support for his presidency he will release the information and destroy the relationship between ourselves and them”
Bond mulled over the relevance of the news that Greene’s comments about evidence actually existing of a conspiracy to murder could well be right.
The helicopter landed at the top of Europe landing pad. In a flurry of snow James Bond jumped out, he watched it raise turn and disappear, he was on his own at last.
Time now to think; he put on his sunglasses’ to cut out the glare of the sun and walked to the station.
At 3,454m the Jungfraubahn is Europe’s highest-altitude railway station. The railway is a cogwheel affair which brings passengers from Kleine Scheidegg. The train enters a tunnel running eastward through the Eiger Mountain running close behind the north face, stopping at Eigerwand, here there is a window about 8 m long and a meter high, halfway up the face. The windows were placed in holes that had been used to remove excavated rock from the tunnel during construction, and are still occasionally used as access points to rescue climbers.
The tunnel then turns west, heading towards the Jungfrau. There is a second stop at a window looking out on the Eismeer ("Sea of Ice") before the train continues to its destination the Jungfraujoch. The tunnel is about 7 km long, with gradients of up to 25%. After all that effort Bond thought the engine deserved more of a rest, but the guard’s whistle blew and he boarded, settling himself into a corner seat he relaxed, the journey back from Jungfraujoch to Kleine Scheidegg takes approximately 35 minutes, he wanted to sleep again but the thought of Camille’s deception burned into his mind.
Strictly, the Jungfraujoch is the lowest point on the mountain ridge between Mönch and Jungfrau, at 3471 m. It is just above this that the station is located. The Jungfraujoch is often called the "Top of Europe".
To the east of the Joch (park) rises a peak called the Sphinx, which tops out at an elevation of 3,571 metres. It begins from the Jungfraujoch on the Valais side and at the Great Aletsch Glacier. There is an elevator to the summit of the Sphinx, where a small viewing platform and scientific observatory are located.
It was from this observatory that H had been waiting for the Bell Ranger to land. The alarm bells began to ring when he saw Bond alight on his own. When the helicopter took off he knew something had gone wrong, the pilot had been given strict instructions to remain on station.
The train arrived, its dull red body perforated by the large panoramic windows eased into the station. H saw Bond; he entered the carriage behind him. The glass curved slightly disturbed his face as he watched Bond with a burning hatred.
The train began its journey slipping into the snow banked cuttings; the tourists taking their last pictures before it descended into the tunnel H started the countdown facility on his watch.
H pulled back the toggle on the waist band of his jacket and un-picked the knot, he then pulled the cord through the jacket, giving himself a 5 foot length of cord. Folding it he knotted it in the centre at one end he fashioned a loop and threaded the other end through it. The self-fashioned noose rested in his palm. The knot would bite into the throat under the Adam’s apple.
Odds change the numbers remain
A cold wind blows
Checking the stopwatch H made his move. He entered Bond’s carriage. Softly he approached Bond from behind. The train would stop at the Eismeer window in just over one minute.
H was now standing in the area by the door his full reflection smiled back at him, two other passengers had decided to get out at this stop and marvel at the cascade of ice through the observation windows.
The train stopped, everyone lurched forward and then regained their balance, the doors opened. H had exaggerated his lurch and had crashed his steel hard hand into Bond’s neck. As Bond drifted into un-consciousness H slipped the noose over Bond’s head. The other passengers got off the train. Moments later they were alone. Now he jerked back against the seat.
The knot bit into his throat, Bond fought off the effects of the blow, summoning up his strength he reached up and grabbed for his assailant’s face. H simply leant back and swayed out of the way. The other passengers that had alighted were moving away. They were all alone in the carriage. Bond’s arms continued to flail in the air searching for his assailant’s face, but H was down behind the seat exerting all his strength on choking the Englishman.
Bond could not breathe, the air in his lungs went stale his vision began to blur his arms dropped.
Bond unzipped his jacket and felt for Elvis’s colt pistol inside. He would only get one chance. He pressed the gun to the side of his own body and slid it along his ribs and without hesitation shot through the back of the seat. The upholstery padding and H’s jacket took some of the force from the shot but the impact of the bullet was enough to slacken the tension on the noose. Bond fired twice more and H dived out of the door.
Bond snatched the cord from his neck and followed H out of the carriage onto the platform. Two of the passengers now looked back down the passageway at the kafuffle.
Bond saw that H was leaning against the tunnel wall, the bullet wounds were superficial, and he was checking for any other damage. Bond gestured to the two passengers that his friend was ill. It had to be done with sign language as he was incapable of speech. Bond’s throat was burning and would not expand to get a much wanted breath of fresh air. Still he stumbled on, approaching his assailant. Taking H by the jacket collar Bond smashed a fist into H’s ribs. Quickly he forced him along the narrow arched rock passage toward the side of the mountain. Both men fought to draw lungs full of air.
The sweat was flowing freely on Bond’s face even though it must be minus eight degrees.
“Are you two alright?” One of the passengers asked
“We’re both a bit drunk” Bond answered
“This is the tunnel to the observation window. You are going down the service tunnel”
“Don’t worry, I know where I’m going” Bond waited until the passengers had disappeared
The railway guard shouted to them that the train would be leaving soon.
“Friend here’s not too well” Bond explained. Then with international sign language he gestured that they would wait for the next train. The guard pointed to his watch and said
“One hour to wait” in three languages. Bond nodded and lent against the cold stone wall and gestured at his stricken friend. The guard left them.
“Alone at last” Bond pushed H along the passageway. They paused a couple of times along the way. Each time H resisted Bond kneed him in the ribs in order to get the right response for the pretence of stomach problems. At last they were out of sight and up against the service window. The window was approximately ten meters long.
The train glided out of the station. It was maybe another two minutes before Bond could straighten up. The noise of the train had long faded in the tunnel.
Waiting to recover Bond looked out upon the sea of ice. His throat would not allow him to swallow. Gulping in the cold stale air Bond’s strength began to return.
Unlike the main observation platform there were no tourist trappings here at this service window only coils of rope and climbing equipment stored on pristine aluminium hooks in glass fronted cabinets (used for rescue ops) There may have been no need to use this equipment in anger for many years but Bond knew the equipment would be checked regularly. The breathing regime of H indicated he too was recovering fast. So as not to lose the initiative Bond grabbed him up and swung him against the glass.
“You crazy man” H shouted as he doubled up holding his wounded shoulder.
Without any preparation he charged catching Bond in the abdomen. His recovery was complete; his acting skills had been superb. Bond fell back and the Colt pistol fell to the floor. H moved quickly to retrieve the gun but Bond swept his legs from under him. H crashed to the stone floor but managed to catch hold of the gun. Fighting for breath Bond attacked butting H in the face and following it up with a right jab to his injured shoulder.
H screamed in pain but managed to continue holding on to the gun. Bond swung H around. Blood flew from the man’s nose. Bond seized H’s gun hand. H brought the gun to bear on Bond, but he forced the gun away. Bond elbowed H’s shoulder; another scream of pain was cut short by the discharge of the gun. The shots echoed in the empty passageway and suddenly the rush of freezing air assaulted their senses. Bond glanced at the window.
The window had been breached by the bullets which were now falling harmlessly to the ground 3,000 meters below.
The bullet holes in the window were the size of a man’s fist and had cracks running the length of a man’s arm above and to the left and directly below the hole making it look like a clock face at 10:30 the wind whistled and howled down the passageway.
Bond smashed H’s hand against the wall, but the giant fist kept it’s grip on the gun. Slowly H summoned up his strength and forced Bond across the width of the passage into the opposite wall, Bond’s feet sliding on the now slippery floor. Together they smashed into the equipment locker. The glass safety panel shattered on impact. Their bodies dislodged a coil of rope and an ice axe which spilled out onto the floor.
Bond twisted and turned his opponent against the wall jamming H’s good hand against the locker. H kept hold of the gun and slowly he began turning it in toward Bond’s face. This man’s strength was immense.
Bond thrust his thumb into the hollow between his lip and jaw then followed it up with a ridge hand under the base of his nose, suddenly H yielded and dropped to the ground. H’s eyes watering after the nerve point attack. Bond lashed out with his foot. He dropped onto his back and hoisted H up and over his body. The judo throw was executed perfectly, H’s body bounced on to the stone floor beyond.
Bond moved quickly and landed on top of him. Again he smashed his gun hand into the stone floor and at the third attempt H dropped the gun. Bond went for it.
H recovered fast and used his weight to turn Bond over. Both men scrambled to their knees; then H was on his feet. Bond leapt up and put his shoulder into an attack but H’s superior strength began to tell again, and he began to bundle Bond back toward the window.
As both men crashed into the glass the cracks gave like the sound of tearing silk. Face to face Bond countered smashing his elbow into H’s face.
He backed off and Bond swung him into the glass two more blows to the ribs followed by a palm heel to the injured shoulder. H grunted and slid down the window. More pieces of glass dropped onto him as the wind and snow flakes whirled about them. Inexplicably H began to smile, his whole face changed taking on the look of a maniac. His useless arm lay still at his side, blood stained his clothing. H fashioned the fingers of his good hand into a blade and stabbed forward into Bond’s groin.
Bond only just twisted in time but had to back off.
H launched himself with thighs of muscle and fingers of steel feeling for Bond’s throat. The lethal weapons and found their mark, clamping around the windpipe. H pushed on another two paces, Bond’s boots slipping on the stone floor. H’s eyes glaring in an uncontrollable rage. H brought up his injured arm to supplement the attack.
Bond thrust his left hand down in-between the attacking arms grasping his own right palm and circled his arms forcing H’s left arm against the joint. H screamed in agony. Bond fired out his right hand into the injured shoulder. Again H twisted left and changed his grip onto Bond’s jacket his almost useless left arm now guided Bond past him and with superhuman strength hurled Bond against the window.
The cracks opened to the full length of the window. The bullet holes and merged into one central hole that was large enough for a man to climb through. Bond’s elbow and upper torso were leaning out through the gap and into the void.
Then more cracks appeared and spread like a starburst at hip height, the metal barrier already bent with the constant battering began to break free from the wall.
H crouched and attacked at thigh height trying to upend Bond out of the hole, the wind was blowing a gale into the passage and flecks of snow attached themselves to their faces. Bond caught hold of the barrier and H’s jacket and levered himself back inside. The broken glass was sawing at Bond’s jacket. Bond clawed his way up H’s jacket, then almost in slow motion Bond toppled over H’s shoulder and back into safety. Realizing his attack was thwarted H stood up and lashed out with his foot but Bond rolled with the kick, he stopped rolling only inches away from the fallen gun. H saw the danger and leapt using Bond’s lower back as a spring board he landed beyond him and kicked the gun way down the passage. The metallic echo rang back at them.
“We won’t be needing that, will we?”
He turned and attacked again, but Bond simply rolled away tripping H with his arm. H fell. The momentum took him forward. He hit the floor which was now awash with ice and snow. Now sliding on the snow covered floor head first he hit the window, his good arm took most of the force and he held on to one of the barrier uprights as he crashed through. His body continued to fall through the shattered window. Finally he managed to stop the slide. His good hand grasped at the broken shards of glass. The pain of the glass biting into his hand did not show on his face. Then he adjusted his grip on the barrier. Seizing a shard of glass he swung himself around and using all his strength pulled himself inside. Like a great monster he stood upright on the very edge of a 2,000 meter drop. H laughed his face unrecognizable as he beckoned for Bond to try again.
The cold air had cleared Bond’s head and the constriction in his throat had passed. Bond’s face set in a determined grimace. He brought up both hands into a defensive guard and advanced. H could only raise one hand and through his bloody smile he laughed at the irony
“I told you I could beat you with one hand tied behind my back”
“Whatever” Bond replied
H feinted to the right and struck at Bond’s left temple, the blow blurred his vision. H rained more blows with his single fist, Bond dropped his weight and finely judging his moment fired a straight punch into H’s solar plexus. H opened his mouth but the air would not enter; both men stood regaining their senses.
H moved first forcing his way past Bond, who slipped on the coil of rope on the ground, in regaining his balance he caught hold of the rope and looped one end of the
coil back over the hook. H stopped at the smashed locker and lifted the fallen ice axe from the floor. H tested the weight of the axe in his hand.
“One hand, I told you, one hand” H turned and charged back swinging the axe, Bond used the rope for leverage and swung through the air. He landed a double footed kick into H’s midriff. H was forced back against the opposite wall; Bond fell into the snow which was being driven into the passage by the relentless wind from the mountain. As the cold wind was turning the floor into an ice rink, Bond had to use the barrier for support; it creaked and gave another inch. Bond picked up the rope for extra purchase. H attacked again, he tried to swing the axe but as he moved he slipped and crashed into Bond. Both men clung to each other in a morbid embrace, in lurid slow motion they both toppled over the barrier and fell from the service window. Both men tumbled out into the abyss.
Bond shook the snow from his face; the wind was pounding him into the icy mountain the pressure was immense, and then with grim reality he understood his position. His back was against the mountain both his arms were stretched above his head, his right hand was still gripping onto the barrier which had come away in the fall. Bond’s left hand was tightly holding on to the rope. The snow was swirling into his eyes and mouth, he fought for breath, he released the barrier and swung around catching the rope with both hands. His boots scrabbling for purchase against the icy mountain face.
Hand over hand he climbed. Now the rope was tight against the edge. Bond felt for and grasped the free end of the barrier; each movement was a massive effort. As he hoisted himself up the barrier came away. Frantically Bond felt for the rope, he slid down the mountain face snow billowed out from his body. He grasped the rough solid tube in his hand and slowly hoisted himself up again. Hand over hand Bond climbed.
Then his hand struck something solid. Bond looked up.
H was hanging from the ice axe. His boots now formed a blockage on the rope.
Using Bond’s hand as a step, H released the axe from the rock. His legs bent as the full weight of his body pressed down on Bond’s hands.
James Bond slipped down the rope again, H slid down on top of him. H thrust the ice axe into the mountain, it bit in.
Above the raging wind and swirling snow his monster like growl could be heard.
He tensed his body to thrust down again, pushing Bond toward the end of the rope.
Bond felt the movement in H’s boots, and he let go of the rope. In the moments H’s body dropped until he struck the axe into the mountain again Bond had grasped onto H’s jacket. His fingers dug into the material. Bond reached up and caught hold of H’s collar. Slowly he lifted himself up. H’s strength was immense. His single hand was clinging onto the axe which was holding both men from the oblivion below.
James Bond lifted his hand, and grasped the rope. He hoisted himself up again. The two men were now face to face. H was jammed in-between Bond and the mountain.
“One handed I will beat you” H snarled.
“One handed, I don’t think so” Bond shouted back into his face.
H wrapped his boots around the rope. He calculated that he could remove his hand from the axe, knock Bond off the rope and re-attach himself before gravity levered him from the mountain side. H braced himself for the manoeuvre.
“I’m going to push you off the side of the mountain Bond. I told you I could beat you with just one hand” He laughed.
An incredulous look spread across his face. His head snapped up. His bloody palm had frozen onto the axe handle.
Bond pulled himself up, his chest now level with the axe. Carefully Bond released one hand from the rope. He prized H’s little finger off the axe handle.
“Let me…” Bond prized H’s ring finger away from the axe handle. The bloody fingers remained frozen in an open position.
“…Give you…” Bond peeled away H’s index finger from the handle. Bond eased his hand inside H’s thumb. Slowly the hand opened. Bond brought his knees up into H’s chest as he pushed away from the big man’s body.
“A helping hand” H’s body slid down the rope, his frozen bloody hand unable to grip onto any of Bond’s clothing. His body angled away from the mountain face and tumbled into the void.
“Every little helps” Fingers numb with the cold James Bond climbed hand over hand with strength he had never needed before. Since that very first shot on the train every sense Bond had, had been heightened by adrenalin, how much more reserve could he muster. Then he put his elbow onto the edge, swinging his leg up he got purchase with his knee, his muscles shrieking at him to stop. The icy wet was seeping through the material of his clothing, chilling him to the bone.
Finally with a primeval grunt he pulled himself from the abyss. Bond stood in the passageway. Carefully inch by inch he griped the rope and shuffled away from the chasm.
Bond left the service passage, turned out of the wind and sat on the bench on the platform and waited for the train.
Odds change the numbers remain
Twists and Turns
Dominic Greene made Frau Siffert repeat the information the local police had given her earlier. He mulled it over in his mind, this was obviously a trap, but what could he do but go along with it. Her words were like slaps across his face.
“An accident involving the lodges’ ski instructor and an English holidaymaker whose address was identified as Chateau Jungfrau”
“And they want you to go to the police station?”
“Yes Mister Greene”
“Then you must go”
“But it will mean leaving your guest alone” She whispered
“I will send Mister Slate to remove the Italian agent, in the meantime you must comply with the request of the local police” Greene soothed her.
He put down the phone and worked out his next move. Bond was obviously not dead. MI6 wanted the lodge empty to enable Miss Kohler to be rescued. If Bond had come back in Switzerland he was there to rescue the girl.
Greene smiled to himself; the operation in Africa had gone well, he’d been told. Elvis had relayed the news that the evidence had been obtained. The news was better than he could have imagined, but now it would seem it was all lies.
“MI6 will be focusing their attentions on who has the information. It won’t be long before the Medrano connection comes to mind” Greene spoke to Nightshade.
Greene walked over to the ornate cabinet; the smell of the polished wood always exited him. With growing excitement opening the doors he gazed at the one hundred million dollars. Greene took two handfuls of money and went to the window.
The undulations of the boat were as gentle as a summer swing. Greene looked out upon the ocean, it calmed him.
They had been at anchor since early morning, he had been playing out on his jet ski One of the only activities he could do in private. After catching lunch with his spear gun, he presented the fish to his chef. The taste came back to mind.
“Umm this is the life”. He was the head of the most powerful company in the World. It would seem that the information was going to be suppressed. That meant that soon he would have the backing of the most powerful country in the World.
“Yes darling” She kissed him lightly on the cheek.
Greene was ecstatic he was now on course to execute the most daring of all crimes.
“MI6 have made their move, now it’s my turn”
The door opened Greene and Nightshade turned to see Hernandiez. Greene lifted the money in his fists.
“Take this money, get the Medrano election machine into top gear, let’s get the General into power” Nightshade kissed him on the cheek again and they all laughed together.
“They have no idea, really they have no idea”
“One thing bothers me” Hernandiez spoke up. The laughter stopped
“Explain” Green offered
“Suppose the information has not been destroyed. MI6 could use the information to put pressure on the CIA to suppress you”
Greene thought over the idea. Bond would soon find out about the Italian secret service deception with Rashid
“Nightshade, please can you liaise with Mister Slate. Find out just what information the Italians extracted from Rashid”
The taxi arrived, and Frau Siffert left the front veranda, quietly she got into the car and settled herself in the backseat. The car drove off and soon the chalet was completely quiet.
For more than fifteen minutes there was no movement at the chalet, and then the quiet swish of skis broke the spell. A single figure glided to a halt. Storing his skis against the steps he stepped onto the front veranda. The lock on the front door held him for no more than a second, and then he was inside. Quickly he opened the panel and entered the key to the alarm pad 4 1 5 8. James Bond pulled the black hood from his head, his ice blue eyes shone in the darkness.
Bond descended the stairs, the first door was unlocked. He entered and scanned a room full of ski equipment. The second door was locked, taking out the skeleton key he opened the door, light from the passage filled the room with an eerie half-light, in the semi darkness he could see the shape on the small bed against the wall.
Camille stirred, her hands were tied in front of her but other than that she looked fine, tired and frightened but fine.
“Hello” Bond went to her.
“Oh James, I thought you’d never come”
Bond swung the Aston out onto the road, the tyres pluming snow in great arcs on both sides. He held the drift and accelerated smoothly onto the main road. It was night now and the lights reflected the black road against the brilliant white of the snow banked at the sides.
At the first bend he trusted the car to find the grip, it did. The traction control kicked in and Bond floored it once again. He glanced in the mirror nothing was following. Another minute passed and with it another mile between him and Greene’s chalet. The car pressed on his driving style was coldly unemotional but vitally aware, he took another bend then he was through the village. The exhaust note echoed through the empty streets, then the banshee wail as he went out onto the open road. Another glance in the mirror, and it was than he noticed there was a single blob of light in the distance.
“That’s odd” Bond surged on, the walls of snow speeding past.
“What is it James?” Camille searched for the light through the rear window.
“Nothing to worry about” But the light was getting bigger in the mirror. Whatever it was it was getting closer quickly. As the light closed the light remained as one central beam, instead of splitting into head lights.
“It’s not a car” Bond was going through the possibilities in his mind when the light rose in to the air
“It’s a Helicopter” he said and his driving style changed, he searched for a bolt hole.
“Should I worry now?”
“Maybe just a little” They would be on them in a couple of minutes. Bond scanned the road ahead. To both sides of the road extended a vast unbroken field of snow, no turn offs. The snow was banked high in two solid walls trapping him like a rat.
The light from the Augusta A 109 was now pooling the road in front of the Aston, and as this was a hire car and not a Q branch issue there were no fancy gimmicks to help, Bond floored the accelerator again and the car responded.
Another bend, Bond took it at full speed and the tyres protested the traction control was struggling to cope, but he got around.
“Any other time and I’d be-loving this” Camille said her false smile told him she was more than just a little worried.
Bond concentrated on the road. Down a dip, the car bottomed out, and then he was going up-hill the car hunkered down on its suspension and roared away over the crest and swooping down faster now, faster than Bond was comfortable with.
The light from the helicopter was falling behind. The road ahead illuminated only by the Aston’s headlights. Bond smiled; up ahead he saw the signs indicating a tunnel.
The snow started to erupt on the right snow bank, the gunfire raked downward on to the road. Bond stood on the brakes the helicopter overshot the car. But in a tight circle it began to turn. Bond floored the accelerator and drove under the circling machine; he noticed that the gunman was using the left door to fire. Even with just the short glance that he’d had Bond recognised it was Slate.
The right side of the chopper was closed. The helicopter was so close he could see the pilot’s helmet. The strong light pooled around the car and the gun fired again.
Bond hit the brakes again and the Aston slewed to the side, again the Pilot brought the Augusta ‘round to the right again. The A.B.S kicked in and the car came to a halt.
“Stay here” Bond threw open the door and took his Walther from the glove compartment.
The ‘copter was overhead. Bond fired a full magazine into the pilots’ door and window. The
arc of the light changed and the pitch of the rotors changed, the machine soared high into the air. Bond re-loaded the gun, jumped back into the car and roared off. After a moment Bond checked the mirror again and saw that they were a good thirty meters behind.
“There is something terribly efficient about you” Bond smiled at Camille
“Is that a complement?” Bond floored the accelerator. The road opened into a dual carriageway. The snow was now kept at bay by an Armco barrier. The snow had been neatly flattened, there was still no way out. Then up ahead James Bond saw the tunnel entrance. He estimated it was still three miles away. The helicopter dropped down and followed the Aston just a couple of feet above the ground. The pilot was matching Bond’s speed.
Just one minute to go until they would be in the tunnel. The helicopter was right behind now. Thirty seconds to go, surely they must give up the chase.
Bond entered the tunnel his speed dropped down to 90 KPH the helicopter followed him inside. What carnage he thought if a truck were to come the other way.
“They’re keen” Bond wondered why they would they be so foolish?
The exhaust note reverberated off the tunnel walls. Bond was mentally recalling how many cars had come down the road, during the chase, the answer was zero, too much of a coincidence
“It’s blocked” Bond said to Camille.
The neon lights turned to just a blur in the tunnel as he put his foot down. Bond knew the helicopter would be unable to follow much further. But if he was right about the blockade they wouldn’t have to. He just needed to slow them down. Bond passed a fire point and an idea flashed into his mind, he hit the accelerator drilling deeper into the tunnel. As the next fire point came into view he screeched to a halt and jumped out running to the equipment alcove in the wall.
Bond smashed the glass and unwound the fire hose. The fire alarm sounded, but it didn’t drown out the sound of the helicopter as it cautiously approached, its light a glaring beam across the wall of the tunnel. Bond paid it no attention he looped the hose once over the central barrier then ran back to the alcove. Camille watched on in fascination, she could hear the helicopter now so very close that the down force from the rotors was sucking at the air around the car. Bond wrenched open the tap spinning the wheel, the alarm was screaming in his ear the helicopter buzz increasing the tension.
He wedged the nozzle in the wheel and ran back to the car. The machine was just twenty meters behind. Slate jumped down to the road and began firing; He chased Bond to the car. Bullets were raking the ground around him and pinging off the bodywork.
The DB9 squealed deeper into the tunnel, Slate was lost in the darkness. The signs were advising of a sharp bend ahead. Bond knew the Augusta A 109 would not be able to take this turn, he reasoned the road block would be just beyond the bend. He glanced over at Camille. Concern filled him. Her head was slumped forward, her body resting against the seatbelt. Bond saw the bullet holes in the window beside her. Bond felt for a pulse.
The water pressure in the hose was building up; the hose was fat and solid around the steel barrier. The helicopter was ten meters away and only two feet off the road. A fierce jet of water launched from the nozzle, it strained against the wheel, then as if it had a mind of its own it snaked upward. The chopper was just one length away when the hose released itself from the wheel; the brass end of the hose snaked up and hit the cockpit window shattering one panel. The full pressure of the water jetted up twisting and turning into the roof of the tunnel, the hose sprayed water into the cockpit and up over the engines. The helicopter rotors smashed against the side of the tunnel. The pilot fought to control the destabilized helicopter and eased forward on the joystick, it landed but the nozzle hit the rotor the metal buckled and twisted the next revolution put the main spindle out of kilter and the machine screeched as the water hit the exposed electrics.
The explosion rocked the tunnel as the helicopter tore itself apart. A great ball of flame consumed the tunnel, pieces of metal zinged in all directions. Slate ducked back into one of the alcoves as a shower of metal penetrated the wall around him.
Radio contact had been lost when the helicopter had entered the tunnel, but the terrible wrenching explosion alerted the men who were waiting at the road block.
The men were dressed in orange work overalls with hi viz jackets. Their leader led them forward, now they spread out from the vehicles and advanced into the bend, they took what natural cover there was and advanced warily.
When they found the DB9 parked beyond the apex the appointed man approached and looked inside.
The unconscious girl was held by the seat belt like a puppet on a string. Across from her body the driver was slumped over the wheel. As the man straightened up to tell his team that the danger was over, Bond shot him. Instantly a fire fight began, the others opened fire on the car. Bond rolled out and took shelter in the alcove. He aimed and shot at the fire extinguishers he had previously placed on top of the central barrier. They set off like rockets, one hit the first attacker and glanced off him into the wall, spinning around it somersaulted across the road. The second projectile angled up into the roof it shattered and the contents showered down and filled the air. The whole team were momentarily distracted. Bond stepped out from his cover and fired into the heart of the group, killing two of the remaining guards. The last attacker ran past and dived behind the Armco barrier.
Bond chased him to the bend trading shots. Here the heat from the inferno that was the Augusta A 109 halted the flight of the attacker. He turned and stood up to Bond like an eighteen century gentleman’s duellist. They both aimed but his nerves got the better of him and he fired wide. Bond’s shot took the man in the heart and he fell back, probably never knowing why he was here.
Bond’s heart rate returned to normal and as he regulated his breathing he became aware of the smell of cordite mixed with the stink of the burning machinery and the constant roar of the water as it hissed and poured. He thought about the wounded Camille, and the thought made Bond reel he ran back to the car and jumped in. Camille’s pulse was weak. A grim look of determination etched upon his face. Bond gunned the car but approached the bend with caution.
The road block was very simple but effective. A truck angled to put any car coming around the bend at speed into the wall. Bond jumped out and quickly searched the cab. He took the radio from the seat. After moving the vehicle he returned to the Aston and continued his journey. At the tunnel entrance a long line of vehicles were waiting patiently. The night brought Bond back to reality, the flashing lights of the approaching emergency vehicles, in response to the alarm were closing. Who knew what horrors they would encounter at the wreck. Suddenly the radio burst into life
“Have you got him?” Bond recognised the voice, it was Slate his rich American voice came through loud and clear. Bond pressed send
“No they failed” there was no response.
A bystander flagged him down, and as a natural response Bond stopped.
“Excuse me sir, but what happened in there?” The man asked
“Helicopter crash” replied Bond; the man stared at him incredulously as the battered Aston Martin drove away. Bond needed to find a hospital.
Odds change the numbers remain
The Stelvio Pass is located in the Italian Alps near Bormio some 75 km from Bolzano, near the Swiss border. The road connects the Valtellina with the upper Adige valley. The original road completed in 1825 to connect the former Austrian province of Lombardia with the rest of Austria, was laid out before him. Bond rose to the challenge and began to cover the climb of 1871 m.
The road had been hewed out of the rock by hand, since then the route had changed very little. The 60 hairpin bends, 48 of them on the northern side were all numbered with stones.
Bond’s black company DBS rounded the bends with poise and agility. Bond’s heart began to beat slightly faster when he saw the monument. The smile spread across his face, this was a life size copy of the statue that was on Rashid’s desk. Bond saw the number 17 stone (it was the horse’s number) he pulled over.
The shrine was beautiful, not ostentatious in the least. A large slab of dark grey marble (similar to the sample on Rashid’s desk) stood beneath the horse statue. A number of brass plaques were screwed to the plinth dedicated to all the loved ones that had lost their lives in this pass since it opened in 1825.
Bond walked around the shrine, the air was fresh and the dry cold chill made him feel alive. On the far side was another two brass plates. This first one simply stated the word Stelvio. Bond recognised it as the name of Rashid’s horse. Beneath it, the second stated all the races she had won. The dates were arranged around a central engraving. It was an Algerian love knot.
The memory of the necklace he’d first seen around Vesper’s neck made the mission very personal again.
Bond marvelled at the catalogue of events that had brought him to this very spot.
Bond’s first double 0 mission was to apprehend a bomb-maker and question him about a terrorist plot. Bond discovered the plot was to destroy the Skyfleet prototype jet liner. Following leads from Madagascar to the Bahamas, Bond finally foiled the attempt to destroy the ‘plane at Miami airport.
The result of those actions identified a man named Le Chiffre as the mastermind behind the attack. MI6 discovered he was holding a poker tournament in Montenegro. It became clear that he was attempting to cover his clients’ losses by winning the money he’d lost, gambling on the share price of Skyfleet. Le Chiffre’s plan was based on which way the shares would go.
Bond’s actions at Miami airport forced Le Chiffre into a life or death poker game in Motenegro. Le Chiffre had to win the money to pay his clients.
When Bond won the money, Le Chiffre’s employers terminated him. James Bond now understood the employers were an organisation called Quantum. As well as betting on the stock market they also indulged in extortion and blackmail. It was this activity that led treasury agent Vesper Lynd to betray Bond and steal back the money which Bon had won.
Bond’s mind returned to Venice. Racked with guilt in the city of love Vesper had committed suicide.
But she had left a clue as to her handler. The encounter with Mister White at Lake Como had put MI6 back onto the trail of the money and had revealed that Vesper’s boyfriend Samir Rashid was part of the Quantum organisation.
Bond had met with Rashid, but he’d been killed before vengeance could be exacted. Now Bond believed that Rashid was still alive, the thought spurred him on.
Bond had followed the leader of the organisation to the Alps where Dominic Greene had propositioned Bond into finding some evidence of a great conspiracy.
Greene had said the evidence was to be used to further his own organisation’s kudos.
There was an attachment between the money and the return to power in Bolivia of General Medrano.
Greene believed the evidence was held in former MI6 agent Sir Miles Hawthorne’s safe. Bond attempted to retrieve the information, but the safe was empty. However the African house was being guarded by men employed by the new president elect of Bolivia.
Bond traced his hand across the marble. The invoice he’d seen on Rashid’s desk had led to the marble company that had sold Rashid the stone.
“Where was it delivered to?” Bond heard himself say
“The Stelvio pass” Bond had picked up a company car and driven to the head of the pass that Rashid had mentioned in their conversation at the stables.
Two benches extended from the area, looking out over the valley. Bond recalled Rashid’s words about it being “a wonderful place to sit and contemplate” or something.
Bond touched the plate, he ran his fingers around the edge, pulling and trying to twist it, then he touched the Algerian love knot. It depressed inward.
Bond stood back and viewed the lower plate again. Nine ‘race date wins’ were now standing proud. The buttons were all Bond could see, he took out his mobile and superimposed the numbers on the dates. It was as clear as could be seen. This wasn’t a monument or a shrine this was a safe door. A giant ATM.
On impulse Bond keyed in the year the road had opened 1 8 2 5
Nothing, then he remembered how Rashid had described his beloved Stelvio, he’d described the training of a horse as seeing a young foal come of age, or something like that. Then he remembered Greene telling someone at the Opera that he would be spending time with his young girl, at first Bond had thought he had meant Nightshade, and then it became obvious he had meant the Jungfrau Mountain, but what if it had been this monument he had been eluding to.
Bond turned back to the marble slab, he keyed in 4 1 5 8 the height of the Jungfrau mountain. The front section of marble slid forward revealing a drawer, and there in the centre was the black leather bag. James Bond pulled it out.
Back at the car he opened the bag and poured out the contents.
The return to power of the exiled General Medrano was in all the papers and was headlining on all news channels. Bolivia, it seemed was on everybody’s lips.
As much as the election was receiving coverage there was also a dark underbelly that the corridors of news were keeping to themselves. The media had also been alerted to the problem of an influx of Heroin flooding into the UK from Europe from a Bolivian source.
The police were at a loss to pinpoint the final entry point into the country, while MI6 and Interpol were at a loss to understand how the drugs were being moved so swiftly from the other-side of the world.
The foreign correspondents being despatched to Bolivia to cover the Presidential campaign were being surreptitiously supplemented with MI6 agents tasked with trying to pinpoint the source of the pipeline.
With that element covered M turned her mind to the problem on how to tell the establishment that certain evidence, spirited away by Sir Miles Hawthorne was now missing from his African residence. As if to delay the inevitable the ‘phone rang.
“It’s 007 for you Ma’am” Tanner hit the key. She waited for the connection.
“She’s alive and in remarkable shape, we’re transferring her to Geneva”
“What about Rashid. Any trace on his whereabouts?”
“Bond! Forget Rashid, he’s a no one. The money and Greene have been connected. Whatever is going down is about Bolivia, everything that’s happened since Le Chiffre took the money off the African rebels has been about Quantum getting their man into power”
“I take it you want me to go to Bolivia?”
“Obviously. Now as I’ve told you Bond the girl isn’t in any danger, so there isn’t any reason to delay you. Is there?”
“You’ll be heading to South America straight away then?”
“Yes Ma’am” Bond disconnected the call.
The first file contained letters notes and reports which could have course all been fiction so say written in Sir Miles’ own hand. Within their pages were many references detailing the movements of Diana Princess of Wales. These on the surface were superfluous, but there never the less. There was nothing to imply they were official documents. Bond was sure the dates would tie up to actual events, but there was nothing damming in the first file.
The second file was more intriguing; it detailed three meetings with attendees identified only by their initials.
Bond glanced at his watch; he’d been reading the information for nearly forty minutes. He put the files back into the bag, and got out of the car to stretch his legs.
Looking out over the magnificent road he saw a car. Way down below he noticed the blue blur on the landscape, something was climbing through the hairpins at speed. It was too far away to recognize the make, but he was aware of an orange shimmer to the car. Bond watched it climb, his love of cars made him want to appreciate the movement, but he had other more pressing things on his mind. Without a second glance Bond set off up to the head of the pass.
Bond had no luggage except for the bag containing Hawthorne’s information. He stood at the reception desk, his ski clothing was singed and torn from the blast in the tunnel and there was matted blood on his temple and cheek.
“Crashed my car in the pass, could you arrange to procure me some new clothes?” he said in reply to the not asked question on his appearance, the receptionist looked at him.
“Of course sir, mm let me see” she eyed him up from head to toe
“Definitely large I’d say”
The bed looked more than inviting but he forced himself to work. Bond emptied the contents of the bag over the bed. Three silver DVDs slid out from between the sheets of paper. Bond decided he would play the first disc as soon as he got out of the shower.
An old American man was talking about the firepower of some tank or other, his sales pitch seemed to be setting the scene for a knockdown arms sale
“But it’s threat can be neutralized by a tenth of the cost by deploying landmines” Bond pressed the fast forward. The camera was fixed; he could see the other men in the room. Bond pressed play, Sir Miles was talking now. Bond continued to dry himself.
There was another voice off camera, it was decidedly English, although Bond did not recognize the voice his words were damming “She is a loose cannon, if the Africans stop buying your arms, there will be one hundred thousand out of work by the year end” The white fuzz pronounced the end of the recording.
Bond put the second disc in the machine, the quality was worse. The location was different, it was a much larger room, the voices were echoing, Bond focused on the words but was unable to make anything. Then he realized the language was Arabic. There were at least ten people around the table. They all seemed to be talking at once.
“This will be one for the translators” then he heard one word that he understood.
“Dodi” Bond’s mind was trying to fill the gaps, but he knew he would have to wait to get an official translation.
Bond took the second disc from the machine; he put the disc on the arm of the chair and slid the third disc into the machine.
There was a soft knock at the door. With the towel wrapped around his waist he opened the door, the receptionist stood there holding a selection of clothes acquired on his instructions.
“I have something for you?”
“That’s very kind”
Alone in the room Bond watched the third disc whilst tearing out the labels of the clothes. As he was pulling the shirt over his head he heard the voice. Bond pulled the shirt down then he saw the man. He was in profile from the side and front the camera. It had been placed well to pick him up.
Bond was listening intently when the window exploded, shattered glass filled the room, Bond threw himself to the floor, blue and yellow flames raked the room, the angle of the arc of fire changing as the attacker moved into the room, in a second Bond’s position would be exposed, he threw a cushion into the air, and it was ripped apart by the bullets, feathers and down floated around the room Bond shifted his position and kicked out hard at the chair, it toppled backward and hit the attacker suddenly the firing stopped.
Bond launched himself using the chair as a stepping stone it dropped on it its back and Bond found himself face to face with Slate. Blow after blow Bond blocked, but his counters were not making any impact, Bond broke off the engagement, his kick caught Slate in the ribs he backed off. Bond followed him and got in another punch.
Slate reached down for the fallen weapon, and at that moment the door burst open and hotel staff entered the room. Slate aimed and fired but the distraction had been enough.
Bond caught him in the face with his elbow, and got his arm around his neck, they crashed to the ground, the hotel staff were hiding in the corridor shouting for help, but Bond continued to squeeze.
Slate went limp, and Bond let the body drop. The staff and undoubtedly other guests were still screaming. Bond gathered up the files and took the disc from the player, bundling them into the bag. At the balcony he threw the bag down into the car park, and prepared to jump after it when a familiar voice stopped him.
“007 don’t leave on my account. I think we need to talk” Bond turned quickly and saw M standing at the doorway; Bill Tanner was behind her in the corridor speaking on his mobile phone.
Bond looked down into the car park. Two officers in full Bomb disposal kit were approaching the bag. Bond came down from the balcony and said
“You’ve already made your decision then?”
M approached him and replied
“Yes, best all round I think” The other guests were evacuating the hotel.
In the car park one of the officers put the Hughes blanket over the bag; it was the size of a man’s overcoat with a large tube which snaked back to a compressor (out of his sight)
“Do you know the extent of the information contained in there?”
M looked at him
“No, and I don’t need to, I can surmise it puts Sir Miles in a very bad light, and I’m sure he would have engineered his meetings with various members of the establishment, in order to justify his rogue actions”
Air was being pumped into the blanket, the third necessary element to cause fire, along with the fuel and heat.
Bond recognised the sound of his DBS being driven out of the car park.
“Something I said?” Bond asked as his car was driven away.
“Yes, you said you would be going to South America” a high pitched beep came from below
“We better go inside” as they did so there was a dull explosion from the ground as the bag and all its contents were incinerated.
M looked up at Bond
“Case closed I believe”
“So it would seem” Bond knelt by Slate’s body “I better check he’s dead, I thought I’d already killed him once in Switzerland. Bond stood up wiping his hands on his new trousers and looked at the devastation within the room
“Do you know, I think I’ll ask for an upgrade”
It was 03.00 am when Bond returned to the room, he ducked under the yellow tape at the door and in between the dark and the shadows from the pale moonlight he made his way across to the chair. He put his hand down the side and retrieved the second disc.
Putting it inside his windcheater pocket he continued out to the balcony, and leapt down to the ground, hit, bend, roll. His momentum put him back on his feet. The breath smoked from his mouth and his footsteps echoed loudly in the still morning air, turning into the car park he noticed a pale blue Ford GT its orange stripes bisecting the sleek body, he realized this was the car he had seen at Stelvio. Bond took Slate’s keys from his pocket, the ones he had extracted from Slate’s body when he was checking to see if he were really dead. The blip of the car unlocking was like an explosion, but as he checked for movement behind him he was still alone.
The Ford started and with theatrical ease he slowly drove out onto the road.
The aroma of coffee and freshly baked pastries lay heavy on the warm air currents of the hotel restaurant. From M’s table she could clearly see that the crisp morning frost had now all but been burned away by the sun. Sunlight now reflected from every snowy surface. Inside the hotel restaurant Bill Tanner made his way to M’s table.
“Bond flew out of Kranebitten Innsbruck about an hour ago, he’s heading home” Tanner said, pulling up his chair.
M finished her coffee. Slowly she replaced her cup on the china saucer.
“He’s probably sulking. Okay Tanner get us on the next flight back to London, we can all kiss and make up tomorrow, then I want Bond to take a break”
Odds change the numbers remain
Strangers are friends we have yet to meet.
It was raining as James Bond emerged from Edgware Road tube station, after a reassuring sweep of the area he concluded he was not being followed. He walked quickly to the address at the Water Gardens, it only took three minutes but by the time he arrived his black Dunhill overcoat was soaked. The Georgian pillared porch was a welcome relief.
The house in Burwood Place was warm and fastidiously clean. The Arabic maid asked him to remove his coat, Bond did so willingly. As waited for her to return he admired the strong brushstrokes of a painting by Fayeq Oweis, which hung, well lit in an alabaster alcove.
The maid came back into the hallway and ushered him into the drawing room.
“Hello brother” Felix Leiter welcomed Bond into the room.
“Hello Felix, I wasn’t sure you’d come” They shook hands.
“Well there’s still a collective in Langley that aren’t too happy about the state of Le Chiffre when we collected him”
“Not my doing”
“I told them that”
“Thank-you. And I did dispose of his killer”
“Yes you did…” Leiter let the sentence hang
“And I altered everyone to the existence of Quantum”
Leiter’s face made the slightest of movements, and Bond picked up on it
“But then again you already knew about them”
“World’s not all that clear right now. Not everything is black or white”
“The drugs from Bolivia are heading into the veins of people in Europe. I think that’s simple enough. Le Chiffre was collecting money for something that’s about to happen in Bolivia if you turn a blind eye now…you’ll be just as bad as Greene”
“But Le Chiffre is old news. Besides if my team had moved quicker in Montenegro I believe I could have saved you some trouble”
“That’s in the past now. I need to know who I can trust”
Leiter’s face did not lighten.
“Something I should know about the present?” Bond asked
“Not everyone is as adverse to Greene as you’d hope”
“Someone in Langley looking to make some money out of Medrano’s return to power?”
“Something like that”
“Sometimes it’s hard to work out who’s on who’s side anymore Felix?”
“I’m glad you appreciate how difficult this meeting was to set up”
Bond understood that although word must have reached the CIA about MI6 destroying the evidence that the USA might have been involved in a conspiracy. Some were obviously sceptical that the evidence had actually been destroyed.
“You didn’t come to London alone then?”
“Don’t worry I slipped away from my chaperone”
“Then I’m honour bound to get you home safely”
“Good, let me introduce you to our host” Leiter turned and pointed the remote control at a large wall mounted flat screen TV. The picture was instant. An Arab gentleman was reclining in an aircraft seat. Understanding the connection had been made he sat forward
The man welcomed him with a friendly Arabic greeting then in a perfect Oxford English accent said
“How do you do Mister Bond?”
“Much better for seeing you again old friend” they had never met but it was Bond’s attempt at a meaningful translation of trust.
“Please feel free to use my home as your own”
The small talk continued until the tea arrived, the maid poured the hot sweet brew and left.
Bond produced the disc from his suit jacket pocket, and handed it over. Leiter placed it in the DVD machine. The transmission was simultaneously live in the room and in the aircraft. All the men sat back and watched the film in silence.
It was well past midnight when Bond and Leiter left the house.
They walked for some distance in silence. The rain had blown over London only to be replaced with a damp cold wind that hurt the exposed eye.
“Will you go to M with this information?” asked Leiter
“Not yet, first I have to visit another friend in hospital”
“Then I’ll say goodnight”
“I promised I’d walk you home”
“You don’t need to. I’m perfectly safe now” Leiter emphasized his words.
They shook hands again.
“Good night James, now make like a friendly dog”
Bond looked at the CIA man, and was about to ask for an explanation of his words, when Leiter lent into him and whispered…
“Shake your tail”
Bond winked at him then turned and melted into the shadows.
Geneva General Hospital has an Acute Physical Rehabilitation Centre; the 15-bed unit is located close to Geneva’s world famous lakefront with excellent views of the centrepiece of the city. As a holiday destination the city offers a lot of opportunities for recreation and relaxation but it was to the hospital that James Bond was heading. From the taxi window he watched the top of the Jet d’eau spouting 140 meters into the air, it is the world’s tallest and symbolizes Geneva’s heritage as a leader in the field of hydraulic power.
The taxi progressed along the promenade on the left bank of the lake past a particularly pretty area filled with cafes and parks.
He made a mental note to visit the Bains des Paquis on the western shore a tourist favourite since 1932 with saunas and unique bathing areas.
The unit itself offers comprehensive physical rehabilitation services for patients with rehabilitation diagnoses such as stroke, closed head injury, hip fractures and replacements.
Camille had suffered such a hip fracture in the explosion, and was now making a remarkable recovery, according to the nurse on the first floor.
Bond had thought about flowers for his visit, after seeing the giant Flower Clock in the English Garden he recognized it is a tribute to Geneva’s watch industry, harmonizing Swiss ingenuity with the floral bounties of nature. The dial is composed of some 6,500 flowers and is updated with new arrangements several times per year, but he plumped for a bottle of Dom Perignon ‘55.
Her hair had been cut savagely short, and two lines of stitches were visible behind her right ear. He tapped the crystal glasses against the side of the bottle and announced his arrival
“Can Camille come out to play?” she laughed openly and accepted his kiss innocently.
“What would you like to play James?” the light was beginning to glow again in her eyes.
“Truth or Dare” Bond became serious. Camille became coy and looked up at him from under her eyelashes.
“Truth. I don’t think I’m in any position to take on a dare”
“Um, let me think” he stroked his chin and looked up at the ceiling.
“Do you know how many strings I’ve had to pull to keep you out of jail?” a guilty flush rose in her cheeks.
“A few I guess”
He poured the champagne and settled down on the side of her bed.
“Tell me about the raid on Rashid”
Carefully she arranged the bed clothes over herself and began to unravel the mystery.
“The AISI had been suspicious of Rashid since he first arrived in Italy with a seemingly limitless bank account and very fast horse. However intelligence from the CIA completely belayed our fears about him posing any threat by belonging to any terrorist organization. Rashid was accepted as an exceptional horse trainer and was taken into the hearts of the locals”
“It was that easy” Bond said ironically
“When that sort of CV accompanies a stranger into your midst, we usually smell a rat. Without confirming we were going to take action to the CIA I was put in charge of his surveillance”
Camille took a sip and giggled as the bubbles went up her nose. Putting on a serious face she continued.
“I’d been on the case over a year, nothing. Then suddenly MI6 asked for details on his stables, I was instructed to meet you. It was planned that we would hopefully work together. But things went very quickly. Bill Tanner requested we extracted you from your mission and put you on a plane to Munich, because you had a big fish to grill”
“Fritti” Bond corrected her
“Okay. Fry. I talked with Tanner, he said you were so single minded about going after Rashid that I would need to do something spectacular to lure you from Italy. We of course were interested in what mission you were being required for. When they gave us the name Dominic Greene my boss became very interested. We decided to put a show on to convince you that Rashid was no longer of interest to you. I was instructed to accompany you on your special mission. You see we are also desperate to locate Greene”
“What do you know about Greene?”
“We had intelligence that the drugs his organisation provide from Bolivia were about to start flooding into Italy” she covered her face and then continued “Everything was set, this was our opportunity to get close to Greene. Then disaster struck. The wonderful new technology we were going to use to fool you into believing Rashid had been assassinated was found wanting”
“Tell me about it”
“CGI, blue screen. It’s like a real film studio. Only thing was we had no suitable film of Rashid available for the subterfuge. The nearest film we had that could be transposed into Rashid’s garden was of Rashid and Medrano. But the rendering was not complete. And there lay the problem. After the race Medrano had taken off for ‘god knows where’ we were on the verge of abandoning the idea when our engineer Rossi, says ‘My uncle he has the look of your exiled General, so much so that sometimes I want to arrest him’ so Rossi’s Uncle Alonso is brought in and we make him an offer he cannot refuse”
“You got him to impersonate Medrano”
“You knew who Medrano was?”
“Of course, Medrano was always linked to the drugs emerging from Bolivia when he was first in power. Anyway we were on the verge of success. The film we put together was convincing yes?”
“Very. I knew there was something different about the Medrano I chased in Siena, but I didn’t anticipate this”
“Only thing we messed up on was that the real garden gate was locked so Uncle Alonso had to climb over the wall, this took him so long to do he fell over you” she laughed.
(They had cut and edited the film as Medrano walked behind a tree and the double had emerged from there, after coming from the bushes with the three other agents)
“What about Rashid?” Bond wanted his revenge
“We tranquilized Rashid and bundled him into our car. When you started to chase Uncle Alonso, he was terrified, and we had to stop you from discovering our secret”
She held out her empty glass and Bond filled it.
“You were so grumpy on the drive to Austria, that when I met with my superiors at the lake, I asked for some background details on you and they told me about the action you saw in Venice”
Bond looked at her, another subterfuge. Vesper certainly had clouded his judgement. Camille continued…
“I felt I would have to say harsh words to bring you out of yourself, how you say exercise your demon”
Bond laughed “The word is ‘exorcise’… unless you mean my…” they both laughed, thinking about their lovemaking in Austria. She’d certainly brought him out of himself.
“Oh and I put a tracking devise on your car”
Bond shook his head; at last another piece of the jigsaw fell into place that was what Greene was referring to when he said two trackers had been found.
He looked stern “But you led me to believe that Rashid was dead and all the time the AISI had him locked up”
“M wanted you on Greene’s case, she knew you were hell bent on killing Rashid, we couldn’t take the chance of losing Greene. We wanted to investigate Greene with you”
“Greene’s organisation Quantum are backing Medrano’s to return to power”
“Yes, he will obviously ensure all the drugs go to Greene”
“Instead of the American families” Bond said aloud. Camille looked shocked.
“Quantum are looking to replace the Mafia as the number one crime syndicate in America, and looking to become the major terrorist organisation that every radical goes to”
“What does this guy have on the CIA then?” Camille asked
“What information?” she asked, but then she rationalised
“Your mission was something more than just stopping Greene and his drugs, am I right?”
“Yes” Bond smiled his steel blue eyes twinkled.
“Tell me more James…”
They were interrupted by a nurse entering the room.
“Please sir, you must leave now, Doctor’s rounds”
Bond looked back at Camille
“I’ll be outside”
Camille’s eyes darted to the champagne bottle
“I’ll see what your Doctor says”
She screwed her face up
Bond left the room. He took out his mobile, but the nurse cautioned him
“Please sir, please to use your mobile outside” She ushered him away. The Doctor and his party entered Camille’s room.
“Of course” Bond strolled down the corridor. He passed a man carrying a large bouquet of flowers. The man entered the room next to Camille’s. However his progress was halted as a Doctor was about to exit.
Two Doctors on the ward? Bond turned and marched back into Camille’s room.
Bond half pulled back the curtain that shielded her bed from the door.
In one hand Nightshade held a small gun. She held it perfectly still, and pointed directly at his heart.
With her other hand she was administering a hypodermic syringe into an IV which had been connected to Camille’s arm
“Peek a boo” she said but Bond was already tumbling to the floor from the blow to the back of his neck.
As Bond came to, he realized he was being manhandled into a sitting position; he opened his eyes and took in the situation in an instant. They were putting him into a wheel chair.
“Where’s the information you took from Rashid’s statue?”
Nightshade shook her head.
Nightshade was now standing in front of him tapping a hypodermic, the fluid spilling from the needle point. Her target was Bond’s right arm. His left arm had been taped to the side of the wheel chair and now he could feel someone at his right hand pulling up his sleeve.
Bond snapped his arm and caught his attacker in the face, the shock of the movement caught him off guard and Bond leapt to his feet, he kicked out at Nightshade and connected with her thigh she stumbled back a couple of paces.
Bond pivoted and side kicked the male attacker on the side of his knee, Nightshade recovered and side stepped around the scene, Bond moved to cut off her exit, his progress was inhibited by dragging the wheel chair with him.
“Better look after your girlfriend” she gestured toward Camille; and Bond could see she was unconscious. The dirty brown liquid was tainting the clear fluid in the bag had merged and was tricking down the tube. He could see the first stain was about twelve inches from her arm.
Soon she would be treading the dark waters of a coma and then death. In the moments distraction the male attacker connected with two blows to his head, then they were at the door, in a ragged attempt to follow Bond began his pursuit, but the poisoned IV dripping into Camille was consuming his thoughts, dragging the chair he made it to the end of the bed but here it caught and Bond was snapped back against the restraint, the poison only six inches now. He lent against the bed and pushed, it slid and he forced his way toward her side, the first drop of poison was just one inch from her arm and single handily he began to pull out the needle from her arm, slowly extracting the slender piece of surgical steel the poison pumped from the end it touched her skin.
Bond pushed the IV stand away and it crashed to the floor. More commotion at the door as the nurse rushed in demanding an explanation, she hit the call button and felt for Camille’s pulse.
“Cut me loose” he said, she took a pair of scissors from the first aid cabinet on the wall and began to cut at the tape, he twisted and wrenched his arm free,
“Help her, they put something in the IV, check it out”. He ran out of the door and stopped in his tracks…
…Two nurses and a doctor were rushing through a gaggle of visitors in answer to the call, Bond drew his gun, and they all dropped to the floor, he jumped and stepped over them and set off after Nightshade and the attacker.
The lift doors were standing open at the end of the corridor; Bond turned and crashed through the door for the stairs. On the ground floor he shouted to the security guard at reception
“Man in white coat, with dark haired girl blue leather jacket, which way?”
The guard pointed down the corridor Bond nodded he turned and ran down the corridor alarms were sounding everywhere.
The first door he came to he kicked open and brought his Walther P99 to bear on… an empty MRI room, proceeding cautiously checking first behind and then inside the large cylindrical equipment. A whooshing sound made him whirl around to the adjoining control room and in one fluid motion he aimed the gun at Nightshade, but the powerful MRI magnet wrenched the gun from his grip, he turned toward the door only to see it slam to, locked.
Bond ran back to the machine, Nightshade waved at him through the window, he grabbed the mattress from the scanner bed and crashed through the observation window into the control room Nightshade’s henchman had just arrived in the room, he could not believe that Bond was there with them
“Get him” screamed Nightshade the attacker moved in, Bond’s momentum carried him forward and the two clashed they forced their way past the girl and into the corridor trading blows.
Bond swung him around and the pair crashed into a store cupboard, the attacker scooped up the items on a shelf and Bond dodging three boxes of latex gloves, then he piled in with more blows, the attacker was backed against the shelving and swung a tray of utensils at his head Bond put up his guard, as the instruments cascaded through the air, the man forced his way past, then turning he brought his Browning 9mm to bear against Bond’s forehead but as his attention narrowed Bond slashed forward with a scalpel that he had caught, it caught the man across the chest Bond brought his other arm across and swept the gun to the side, its retort deafened him in the confined space but the wounded attacker now dropped the gun and ran off, after Nightshade, Bond picked up the gun.
Out in the corridor Bond quickly regained his senses he could see they were already at the emergency exit but a Doctor was gallantly blocking their path the male attacker struggled with him for a second then wrapped his stethoscope around his neck as Bond approached his pace unchecked, he shouted “Back off, or the doc gets it” he began dragging him toward the exit, the Doctor’s hands were up at his neck trying to loosen the rubber noose, Bond continued to walk forward he read aloud the name tag “Phelps” as he raised the unfamiliar gun and fired, the bullet ripped into the attackers head just one inch from the hostage, dropping the doctor he staggered back and fell through the door, Bond leapt over the bewildered doctor and forced the door further open Nightshade drove the needle into his hand, he felt the icy numbness advance up his arm but her smile was even colder, she spat into his face and turned on her heel and ran to the waiting car, Bond slumped and fell to the ground, next to the dead attacker the car was driving away he rolled onto his back and Phelps was reaching down to help. Bond smiled and asked
“Is there a doctor in the house?”
As James Bond allowed himself to be helped to the floor he submitted to unconsciousness safe in the knowledge that whoever had the information that had been kept in the safe, it wasn’t Greene. The links to Medrano pointed to one other person. Someone who thought they had a sample of the goods safely hidden in a statue. Samir Rashid!
Odds change the numbers remain
Ships that pass in the night.
Dominic Greene was addressing what could be mistaken as a small group of businessmen. Because of the heat some of the men had taken off their jackets. To Greene this was also as a show of trust that none of them were packing weapons.
There had been many lengthy telephone conversations over four months to arrange this gathering.
The abrupt absence of the usual American contacts in Bolivia had led to a sense of panic within the local underworld and finally they had agreed to the meeting (also the cocaine crop had been harvested and all drug barons were desperate for a sale)
The man whom they had all come to meet was reading through the prospectus that was on offer.
“Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and with a total of 193 coups d'etat from its independence until 1981, the average government lasts only ten months” He looked at his audience, the drug lords nodded in confirmation
“The term ‘President for life’ means very little”
“But it just means we have to negotiate with the new man” One of the drug lords offered
“Credit for the political stability over past quarter century was largely been due to President Víctor Paz Estenssoro”
“True, but at the cost of his capitulation to the American masters, no progress for our homelands though, no free enterprise” The drug lord continued. The other men nodded in agreement. The speaker and central character of this audience of eight was in fact the most prolific and powerful drug baron of the country and along with his trusted minders was attending what had described as the defining moment in his Country’s history.
Greene paused for effect, He acknowledged El Pratrone. Greene knew he needed these men on his side. He continued…
“Now of course, in his election statement General Medrano has stated that the five hundred years of colonialism are over and that an era of autonomy has begun. For you it starts with two hundred kilos of your finest merchandise that would have swelled the coffers of the Americans. Now it being sold to the emerging European market. With our protected supply chain into Europe the prospect of you keeping much more of your well earned profit” Green grinned.
The men laughed and nodded in agreement.
“Good, I think we agree then, the policy that has been attributed to high levels of corruption and the imperialist role of foreign interference in your country since the colonization shall cease and you start to take control of your destiny”
“Yes my friend, it is time the Americans learned that they drink at our well once too often”.
“But you are an American” El Patrone said sourly.
“I’m a man of the world. I represent a new world organisation. Gentleman I give you Quantum’s vision for the future” Greene pressed the remote to open the blinds. As the sun light poured into the room the drug barons took the opportunity to take in the scene on shore.
From the large cabin windows they were able to see the whole vista of Arica and at this time of the morning Chilie’s major Northern port was a hive of activity, located only 18 km south of the border with Peru it was a hub for chemical and gas storage. The tanks and warehouses stretched as far as the eye could see to the south almost to the port of Iquique.
“In the interior valleys between the these two major shipping terminals there is a booming export industry built mainly around the avocado, chirimoyas and flowers. Without the help of Quantum they will remain the country’s most important products. With our investments the most striking recent development has been the cultivation of hill sides using high tech drip feed irrigation. This has allowed otherwise dry and unproductive land to bear high yields”
The port itself was almost the size of a town. El Patrone wandered over to the cabin window. Green continued
“A number of privately owned docks were once controlled by the copper ore companies that mine in the area, about 55 miles inland. Then one such a company was recently purchased by Quantum”
The sirens of the ships and boats sounded lazily on this temperate summer morning and had done so since the port was inaugurated on June 11 1988 by Joaquin Aguirre Lavayèn. In 2005 Rylian built the new container facility that Greene’s vessel was about to dock. It had been an exciting morning for the drug lords. With a tour around the ship came their understanding that they were going to become rich and powerful for generations to come.
“This port now belongs to you. It’s a free trade zone and the start of the sea leg of the drug trafficking route from Bolivia to Europe” Dominic Greene knew that the country was rich in natural resources, and had been called a "donkey sitting on a gold-mine". He pulled back the cloth and revealed eight piles of cash
“And this my friend is your advance share of the profits for the first sale”
The drug barons smiled. Greene continued…
“General Medrano’s government will give many tax concessions for hard working Bolivian businessmen like yourself, soon you will be able to buy back the mines, which were given away by the Incas and later exploited by the Spaniards. Tell me gentlemen can the General count on your support?”
El Patrone was the first to sign on the dotted line, giving Quantum ownership of ostensibly baron wasteland. The money that changed hands would now allow him to produce more cocaine on better land, he was satisfied. But Greene knew geological surveys had suggested differently, and it was this resource he wanted.
Bolivia sits on the second largest natural gas field in South America. Furthermore, the Santa Cruz department represents 70% of the world's iron and magnesium.
Greene knew that with the right prompting he could buy enough land from the drug barons to allow Quantum to turn this land into his own personal gold-mine. El Patrone was hooked; the other barons were looking for others contract to sign, but Greene played one last master stroke…
“A presidential election victory for General Medrano would ensure the U.S. drug-war in South America and its heavy emphasis on coca-crop-eradication would end, imagine how much more you can produce in a fear free environment. Gentlemen I implore you underwrite this voyage, and your profits will treble from that which you received from the Americans”
El Patrone called for his banker. Soon following his lead for greed, all the barons were signing up for the short term riches they craved.
“The US-supported "Plan Dignidad" (dignity-plan), which seeks to reduce cocaine-production to zero, is seen by many Bolivians as an attack on their livelihoods and way of life, would be a thing of the past” The champagne began to flow.
“Gentlemen, to ensure no one will ever stop your right to export to Europe, I now give you eight million dollars each, and now you have an unobstructed highway to immortality”
Bolivia has been a landlocked nation since 1879, when it lost its coastal department of Litoral to Chile in the War of the Pacific. Greene tapped the map
“Let’s take it back and ensure un-restricted access”
During the next hour the eight drug lords left the diplomatic immunity of the ship, and joined the heavily armoured motor convoy on the shore. During their time on the ship Greene had convinced El Patrone to underwrite the voyage to Europe. Which meant that he had only spent 30 million dollars on thirty tons of cocaine, this would yield a street value of over 300 million dollars.
The balance of the money now sat in Madrano’s safe at the villa in Bolivia.
From the back of his car, Dominic Greene glanced across at the large cargo ship that had won the hearts of Bolivia’s most ruthless gangland bosses. Suddenly Greene winced
“I really must do something about her name”.
The Perico sat at the dock silent and serine. The dark blue hull, white superstructure and a yellow and green swirl on her black funnel stared back at him. She had already had her sailing papers stamped by the Port authorities, and in twenty four hours she would sail up the coast of Chile through the Panama Canal and on to Jamaica. From there the cargo would go on to Spain, and the jewel that is Europe.
By giving the Bolivians more profit he would gain their trust, the American families would be kept at bay by the CIA and FBI. Then as Quantum’s hols slipped, Greene would let them back in and there would be war. General Medrano would be outraged. The arms race would require more funds which be given in exchange for more precious land, and in maybe two to three years’ time Quantum would have no opposition. Then they could expose what lay underneath the land. But by then it would all be his land. Greene master crime if it were to be called that was to steal all the natural recourses of the country. In summary his crime was to steal the entire continent of South America.
Bill Tanner turned away from the port hole, and began to down load the images from his camera. Spanish secret service agent Xavi Torrez sat at his lap top, finishing off the e-mail. The unlikely pair had been thrown together to stake out Greene. Tanner had flown into Bolivia with a group of journalists in order to cover the election; he had met up with Torrez. Together they had followed Greene from Bolivia into Chile. Early this morning they had seen the armoured cavalcade of cars deposit Bolivia’s eight most wanted drug lords. The men transferred out to a ship that had anchored there the previous night. Torrez had thought that all was lost but after a conversation with the harbour master it was confirmed that the Perico would be returning to port. The agents took up station on an old fishing boat, having paid for a month’s rental in advance. And slowly but surely the large cargo ship Perico eased into port and docked. The owner of their fishing boat was laughing at its name, now Torrez explained its significance "Perico is Spanish for "Parrot" and it is also a street term for cocaine, used on the east coast of the United States and in the country to which originated from; Bolivia”
Tanner replied “That’s either very stupid or a very good bluff to call your drug smuggling boat “Cocaine” but why parrot?”
Torrez wiped the sweat from his face and explained
“It’s used due to the effects that a bite from a parrot would induce. (Numbness and increased heart rate) A parrot, that is which chews the coca leaf”
“Ah that explains everything” Tanner said sarcastically as he took another drink from his glass.
“We should get some sleep, I think we will be doing much filming this week” Torrez could see the Englishman was not used to the heat or even the field duty that M had asked him to participate in, and it seemed he was still jet lagged since arriving in Bolivia from Mexico, but the final leg overland to Chile had drained him of all strength.
They had continued watching the ship all day, from its arrival in port to the elaborate docking and unloading, but of course it was the human cargo disembarking that had attracted them. The Harbour master had told them the Perico was not due to sail for seven days, and his communication to London and Madrid reflected the time window for action.
They knew it would be pointless to board the ship until the drugs had been loaded, and with Greene’s influence over the port authorities and military in both Chile and Bolivia, they believed it would be better to make the arrest in Panama. The seizure would allow a link between Greene and the ship and the drug barons with the cargo. The photographs taken today would go a long way to accomplishing that.
The two men watched and photographed the action all through the night. Trucks arrived on the dock, the boxes that were put into cages and the cargo hoisted aboard and down into the hold, work continued all night under the glare of the flood lights.
It was now three o’clock in the morning; Torrez rubbed his eyes he was feeling totally exposed, this was not his forte and the few officials from the embassy that they had mustered together were constantly looking toward him and Tanner for their instructions, he logged in to his e-mail system and reported in, he wrote that using the example of a suitcase size box carrying twenty five kilos he estimated forty tons had been placed on board over the past six hours, he requested that an injunction to stop the ship during the Canal process be requested from the Panamanian government.
They were drowsy and bored with the stake out, the lap top pinged. He opened the reply, and it gave him the best boost he’d had since arriving in South America that morning, he turned to Tanner.
“Felix Leiter from the CIA is coming to take charge of the arrests; he will fly into Panama. The CIA will be making the request for the injunction, which could take two days to get the authorization, it’s going to be close but it looks like our operation is nearly at an end”
Tanner went up on deck for some fresh air, careful to only venture on to the open water side he stretched his aching muscles, he was getting too old for this type of work, the owners son, who they had befriended on the old fishing boat came running up to him waving a scrap of paper. Tanner read it and felt his world cave in, he returned to the cabin looking like death warmed up, he read from the sheet
“He (meaning the boy) says these are the times reported on the sailing docket his local contact had copied from the harbour master. The sailing time has been brought forward, she sails at ten this morning, I’m told it takes two days to the canal and then a typical passage through the locks by a cargo ship takes around nine hours, that will put her in the Caribbean Sea at midnight. We need to hurry up the Panama end of the injunction, or she will slip away before the CIA can board”
The request for an injunction to stop and board the Perico by the DEA accompanied by the CIA dropped into the in-tray of Xavier Hernandiez at nine o’clock.
“Thank-you” Hernandiez thanked his secretary, and after she had left his office he took the document and shredded it.
Sharp at ten o clock the Perico steamed out into the centre of the channel.
The nurse had been insistent but unable to stop Bond from getting up and dressed. She had told him it was only a sedative that he had been injected with
“A powerful one, but nothing to do permanent harm”
“That’s nice to know”
He walked quickly to Camille’s room in the Rehab centre, where a plain clothed police officer was standing guard; he held up his identity card and was admitted into the room. Camille was wide awake, laughing and talking with MI6 agent Fields. Fields stood up and lent on the bed “I bet you never imagined you’d see us two together?”
“Quite the contrary” replied Bond. Fields blushed, gaining her composure she continued.
“I’m here to thank Miss Kohler for all her hard work on this case, and wish her a speedy recovery. Also to give you your new instructions 007” She folded her arms
“Do you have a problem with that 007?”
“Will you please take me seriously, no don’t answer that” She sat down and pulled the file from her briefcase.
“We were cross referencing all the reports, and came up with the name General Medrano. Now I know you two have been busy over the last couple of weeks” Now it was Camille’s turn to blush. Fields continued
“But General Medrano has been working his socks off; ever since the assassination of General Gonzalo de Sanchez, he has been fast achieving the status of a god. M has enlisted the support of a Spanish agent called Torrez. He was working on how to stop the new drugs pipeline from Bolivia to Spain by sea”
“But Bolivia is landlocked”
“They would have to come through Chile and the Panama Canal”
Bond looked at Fields
“So what are my orders Agent Fields?”
“Find Greene and kill him. The CIA are going to seize the drugs on the ship and break the drug pipeline once and for all” Fields folded her arms and looked at Bond her face said that she expected him to run for the airport immediately. Bond looked at Camille
“Who do I need to speak to in AISI to allow me to interrogate Rashid?” There was no anger in his voice Bond had to confront Camille now. He had his orders to kill Greene and break the drugs pipeline coming into Europe that he would do with pleasure. But he was worried that Rashid would slip away. Worried because Bond understood that Rashid had obtained the information that Greene thought was still the property of Sir Miles. Bond knew he had to get the information from him. As a bonus Bond would uncover the answer to the enduring mystery that had gripped the UK for many years and in finding the answer would make his own decision on how to deal with the findings.
The heartache he felt about being cheated out of avenging Vesper had vanished, because he knew Rashid was alive and waiting for him in an Italian prison cell, yes this was a wonderful day.
“007, I’m ordering you to go to South America and eliminate Dominic Greene” Fields said.
Bond ignored the young agent
“Who do I need to speak to?”
“Sorry James there is a slight problem on that front” Camille began, but Fields interrupted.
“The Italians traded Rashid for the whereabouts of Miss Kohler. He was released two days ago”
Tanner and Torrez felt sea sick. The small fishing boat followed the Perico for most of the day, but as she sailed further from the coast the gap became too great, and the smaller boat was almost at her limit of fuel. Then the radio burst in to life
“This is Captain Sparrow of the HMCS Algonquin, thanks fella we’ll take it from here”
“Thank God for that” Tanner said. Torrez spoke to the fishing boat captain, and the fishing boat began to turn back to port.
The Algonquin was a member of the Iroquois class, commonly called "280's" or the "Tribal class" by the Canadian Forces. She wore the 283 pennant and carried two CH-124 Sea King helicopters, which could be launched in even high sea states due to their "bear trap" winch system. The ship was also home to a hangar that provided an enclosed working space for both helicopters at the same time. But the helicopters were not the ship’s prime weapons. They were backed up by two triple-mount torpedo launchers firing Mk.46 Mod 5 torpedoes and a Limbo Mark 10 depth charge mortar. As the spray cascaded over the bow, the ship took up shadowing station.
Fields approached Bond at Geneva railway station, she glanced at the ticket he had just purchased “Milan? I can tell you he’s not in Italy”
“Where is he?” Bond snapped
“M knew you were too involved to…”
“Too involved to what? I’m okay to assassinate the chairman of one of America’s most influential companies, but if Mister Rashid should slip in his bath tonight, I might crack?”
“James stop being so petulant, when the Italians let him go we put a trace on him. We tracked him to Haiti. The team doing surveillance on General Medrano also reported Port au Prince as his destination. Our team took on both targets, but when no one showed for breakfast, we moved” Fields looked sad
Bond realised they had lost them both.
“You checked the charter flights as well as commercial?”
“Of course. Nothing”
“What about the harbour master, what boats were berthed in the area?”
Fields smiled. Bond looked at her. For the first time he saw a spark.
“Unofficially I checked. I found one interesting registration”
“Motor Yacht Tattoo, she is owned by the CEO of Rylian Technologies…It’s a phantom company, all profits are creamed off by Quantum”
Bond lent forward and kissed her.
Through the night and the next day the HMCS Algonquin shadowed the Perico as she travelled up the Peruvian coast, the reassuring blip on the radar never faulted, and as the dawn broke the ships remained a constant 25 miles apart during the last thirty minutes one of the ship’s Sea kings took over and shepherded the ship as it entered the territorial waters of Panama.
The plane carrying Felix Leiter touched down at Tocumin airport at the same time that the Perico was steaming into the entrance channel in the Gulf of Panama. She had travelled the 13.2 km up the channel to the Miraflores locks, passing under the Bridge of the Americas before he had cleared customs, and had been met by his contact. With a motorcycle escort they went straight to the Embassy. Leiter’s phone was almost glowing by the time he reached Bilboa square.
In the air-conditioned room at the British Embassy in Bolivia, Bill Tanner logged on to the Canal website and was watching the web cam at the two-stage Miraflores system.
Perico was moving jerkily through the 1.7 km locks, with a total lift of 16.5 m at mid-tide, he flicked through the other web cams and marvelled at a luxury yacht entering the Gatún lock, his mobile rang again.
Leiter was fast regaining bragging rights, in the Embassy. The minister for all his bluster knew exactly what had happened, he apologised for the delay and assured the CIA man that the injunction would be available within the hour, and more importantly they would arrest Xavier Hennandiez immediately.
Within minutes troops had been deployed, silently they withdrew the staff from the administration block. In a crash and flash grenade attack they burst into Hernandiez’s office to arrest him. He had been caught totally unaware, but had been expecting this scenario for over ten years. As the troops surrounded him he calmly took the Mauser 9mm from the desk drawer and fired two shots at the first soldier, both missed and thudded into the wall, the soldier returned the fire and Xavier Hernandiez died at his desk.
The artificial Miraflores Lake is 1.7 km long, and 16.5 m above sea level it flows smoothly into the single-stage Pedro Miguel lock, which is the last part of the ascent with a lift of 9.5 m up to the main level of the canal. The Gaillard slices 12.6 km through the continental divide at an altitude of 26 m, and passes under the Centennial Bridge
The Chagres River runs west 8.5 km, merging into the artificial Gatun Lake it carried the Perico 24.2 km across the isthmus.
The troops from the Panamanian commando were waiting for the ship as she docked at the three-stage Gatún lock. The Peico’s Captain reflected that they were only 1.9 km, from the drop back down to sea level and therefore just 3.2 km from the freedom of the Atlantic side.
He met the officer in command at the gang plank and read the injunction. The troops poured on board. Felix Leiter joined them and with a deputation from the Panamanian Embassy. Together they checked through the cabins and hold.
The search took just over one hour; the suitcase size boxes were all opened. They contained soil and other chemical samples. The ones taken away for analysis were rigorously checked and signed for.
The pressure from the lock master upon the troops to open up the water way finally forced the search to an end.
As the Perico began dropping down to sea level, Leiter phoned through the bad news that the ship was clean.
As he left the ship the press were already on the lock and they were asking questions. The minister whispered to Leiter
“They are here from a tip off that we and the CIA are committing an act of piracy on a Bolivian registered ship”
Leiter knew that via Greene the tip off was the work of General Medrano.
A contingency of troops stayed on board while the Perico dropped anchor in Limón Bay the natural harbour, providing an anchorage for ships awaiting transit. They could see the Caribbean 8.7 km away beyond the breakwater. Meanwhile the media frenzy was following the man from Langley back to Bilboa square.
Tanner was watching the webcams again, for him personally this had been a disaster, god only knew what negative effect it would have on M. Tanner had seen the raid, and then the arrival of the TV crews, now he could see the ship anchored in the bay he skipped
through the other cameras. Then he noticed something. He was unable to place it at first it was just a feeling that something seemed out of place. He looked at the screen
“Was this a re-run?” And then his confusion turned into concern. Was it? Could it be the same yacht he saw entering the day before? He reached for his mobile, there was just a chance he could salvage something from this whole dreadful affair.
The long-range Bombardier Global Express XRS, with its added forward fuel tank was punching a hole in the air at Mach .85 screaming through the sky. Its two rear mounted Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR710A2-20 turbofan engines had each delivered 14,470 pounds thrust at take-off but were now just a whisper in the 14m cabin.
James Bond and Agent Fields had been busy on their lap tops and mobile since take off. They had been looking for Greene’s motor yacht, then planning alternative landing spots to each of the destination simulations.
The aircraft’s range of 6,150 nautical miles afforded him the luxury of taking them directly into Panama if needed. The aircraft was fitted with the 'zero flaps' take-off ability, which would allow access to more 'hot and high' airports like Santiago or La Paz.
Bond’s mobile rang.
“Hi James, we just located the Tattoo”
Odds change the numbers remain
The Tattoo was a 300 ft ocean going yacht powered by two 4400hp diesels Dominic Greene stood on the third of its five decks aimlessly checking out the Perico, its captain pushed forward the throttles and the turbines chewed the water turning it into a boiling froth, within minutes she was making 12 knots.
Greene returned to the master suite; like the saloon and other rooms on the top decks it was decked out in 19th century French décor, a limestone fireplace in the dining area and four poster beds in the staterooms and a ladies' powder room on the main deck.
Up above it had facilities to transport two helicopters on the top two decks, although only one MD510 sat under its tarpaulin at the moment, the second helicopter was winging its way south carrying General Medrano and Samir Rashid.
The Bombardier XRS landed on the eastern runway. As the engines and brakes began to cool it taxied to the far end of the runway where one of the Algonquin Sea king was waiting for it. In less than ten minutes James Bond was back in the air, the noise and the cold assaulted his senses but his adrenalin was urging him on.
James Bond changed out of his casual clothes and donned the commando wet suit
“It’s about 600 miles to Jamaica, Commander, if the Tattoo is making more than18 knots we’re going to have trouble reaching her” the co-pilot showed him the calculations.
“How far to your point of no return?”
Bond gave him the thumbs up signal and set about checking his equipment with the third member of the air crew.
After thirty minutes Leiter called him
“You’re in the best place brother; all hell is breaking loose down here. General Medrano has just flown in and is demanding the release of one of HIS ships”
Bond interrupted him…
“Is Rashid with him?”
“I’ll find out” Long moments passed. Outside Leiter’s room the press were demanding to be let in. Leiter waited for the information from the airport.
When the answer came Leiter relayed it to Bond
“No, Medrano was on his own”
“Thanks Felix” Bond disconnected the conversation.
The CIA agents were bundled out of the back door and into the waiting 4x4
As the press rushed into the room the phone was ringing, but in the crush no one answered it. The CIA agent at the airport had been keen to tell Leiter that he had been wrong. The latest information had just been passed to him. Rashid had been on the flight.
The alarm bell sounded in the cabin, the crew were busy adjusting the controls
“We just ran out of time Commander”
“Go Higher, I’ll coast in”
The pilot pulled back the stick and the chopper rose in the air, he kept the Sea king straight as a die Bond knew they were risking their lives to get him close enough to the Tattoo. They burned up another precious five minutes of fuel tearing after Greene. Then as the pilot shook his head he pulled back on the stick and the chopper began to climb again.
The alarm bell sounded again, and the co-pilot flicked the cabin light to ‘green’ they strapped themselves against the bulkheads then opened the door. The air rushed in and the balance was lost, the Sea king wobbled as the pilot rode it like a bucking bronco, holding her steady.
Bond set the altimeter, and jumped into the darkness. Aimed like an arrow the gravity propelled him forward, the altimeter on his wrist began to wind down. He shot through a cloud and the water droplets cooled his face. He emerged into the clean air like a cannonball, the wind tearing at his body. Bond’s arms were out in front like a diver from a high board, he knew he would have to pull the chute in thirty seconds time, but there was no sign of the ship.
Twenty seconds to go, Bond had to slow down. His brain was sending alarm signals to his limbs to slow down, yet still he hurtled down toward the dark unforgiving sea.
Ten seconds, still no lights, then the altimeter began to flash red. Now was the time to deploy the ‘chute. He pulled his arms out to the sides and the wind buffeted him, he was now ten seconds past the low opening threshold.
Bond reached for the rip cord, and then in the distance, lights?
Maybe three miles away, yes there were lights.
He was now twenty seconds beyond the low limit, he fall going to fall into the sea. His body could not overcome gravity. His legs began to drop; he was losing form, thirty seconds beyond the HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) limit.
Without conscious effort he pulled the cord, and the black silk chute opened, the wind snatched at his body and he slowed like being hit by a freight train.
Bond could clearly see the water below him, he adjusted the cords and began to glide toward the ship he began to zig zag to keep the momentum going and caught a draft which took him higher. The warm air current lasted only a moment but it had taken him closer to the ship.
But he was still perhaps one mile behind the Tattoo. He knew he was too low, but then another strong breeze kept him aloft. This Tattoo was steaming away at a fair rate of knots.
The warm air created by her engines had created this up lift, if he could just stay air bourn long enough.
With 400 meters to ago he was about 400 meters up in the air. He’d gone below the warm current of air; it was a straight decent now.
The plan he had discussed with the Canadian pilot was to come in from the side of the yacht and land on the large flat cargo area, but now he was chasing her and could only hope to come in behind the main superstructure, it was an incredibly small area and had winches and equipment littering the deck. There was a helicopter (Bond recognized it as an MD 510), but then his vision was full of water, the sea boiled behind the ship as the prop turned to propel it along at an amazing turn of speed. Bond pulled on the cords again and the chute lifted. All his focus was aiming for a clear area at the rear of the yacht, but then the cushion of air vanished. The hole punched through the air by the speed of the ship, was putting him in its wash and where a few seconds before had enjoyed the current he now dropped like a stone. The sea rose to beckon him to his grave.
The black silk canopy lost its last cushion of air.
Letting go of the steering cords Bond fell forward and reached for the rear rail, his body hit the metal at about ten miles an hour. The impact knocking the wind out of him. But he held on. Below him the turboprop churned the water into a cauldron of death. Bond clung on to the back of the ship, He regained his breath.
Then the chute caught in the wind and began to pull him backward into the void, his shoulder muscles cried out in agony, he had to let go of the rail with one hand and hit the release clip, nothing. The ‘chute continued to inflate. He needed to take the strain. With one hand he pulled himself toward the rail. With all his remaining strength he hit the clip again.
With a whoosh the chute drifted away. Bond got a good hold on the rail with both hands and began to pull himself over. With one last effort he landed on the deck.
Voices sounded only a few feet away, and the two seamen pointed and moved toward him, Bond pulled the knife from his jacket and threw the weapon, it hit the first man in the throat and he dropped, the second was almost upon him, he took in a lungful of air in order to raise the alarm and Bond caught him in the stomach, with a powerful kick, gasping for air he fell back. Bond pulled the knife form the fallen sailor and span around thrusting the knife backhanded into the second man’s heart, catching him before he fell. Bond turned him and pushed him over the rail the splash was no louder than the rush of the sea.
Bond bundled the second man overboard, and ran silently to the rear of the superstructure. Climbing the stairs he went quickly around the shaded six-foot deep swimming pool, located aft on the main deck beneath a full overhang, still no sign off life. He felt his way around to the right and checked out the boat, he estimated it could be launched within three minutes. The vessel would have been great for water skiing but not fast enough if he was under attack.
He made a mental note and left the custom 40 ft Hinckley powerboat with its twin Yamahas nestled into the right side of the upper deck.
Bond crept down onto the lower levels, the corridors were all carpet lined, and helped his silent passage. Without warning a door opened; Bond froze. The man stepped out into the corridor, Bond hit him hard in the solar plexus, and finished him with a chop to the neck. He bundled the crew member back into the cabin.
Down in the hold he searched through the cargo, no drugs, but what he did find chilled his heart. The remote detonator was nestled on a rich white cotton towel within a leather hold all.
Two aluminium boxes lay open, the dark polystyrene packing was all that remained inside. Bond checked the other boxes in the room. He ventured further into the interior of the yacht. The work shop contained two jet skis and some diving equipment then he descended into the engine room the two Perkins diesels hummed, the gauges all read normal, but attached to the side of the fuel intake was the first anti-personnel mine.
It had a remote adapter fitted into the detonator mechanism. He checked around the second engine and after he had located all six of the mines he sat in the semi darkness and tried to understand what was happening.
His movements through the boat were unimpeded, this was a skeleton crew. There was certainly no sign of the thirty tons of cocaine that location and desire would have indicated had been switched from the Perico during the time at the locks.
In essence this was the perfect insurance scam. While General Medrano was creating merry hell in Panama, the drugs barons would be laughing up their sleeves knowing the cocaine had been transferred from the Perico. Then the Tattoo would explode, sinking in the Caribbean Sea, all aboard would be killed, and no trace of the drugs.
Bond wondered where the cocaine was. Probably distributed between a number of cargo vessels, traveling to different locations, for sale on any city street. But now with all the profit going to Greene; because of course Greene would not be killed, he would have planned his escape well – the helicopter.
Bond climbed the final ladder and unclipped the tarpaulin protecting the MD510 helicopter, he decided this would be the most effective way of escape, with his preparations complete he attached the silencer and worked the mechanism on the heckler and Koch machine pistol and descended into the living quarters.
He tired the handle to the master bedroom and it turned, the door creaked open and he slipped inside, there was a clear outline of two people in the bed.
It was a harsh metallic voice that bade him welcome
“Thank you for joining us Mister Bond, please don’t move I have you covered” the lights came on and music began to play. The first figure to sit up in the bed brought his gun to bear so Bond shot him, he grasped the door handle and ducked back out into the corridor, a machine pistol barked and raked the cabin wall with bullets, Bond hit the deck, as he lifted his head a swarthy looking seaman stood above him his machine pistol was aimed, and there was no room for manoeuvre. Bond stood up slowly
“Hands behind your back” as he did so he felt a second person moving in behind him
“Peek a boo” Nightshade clamped the handcuffs around his wrists.
“On your knees” together they searched him and extracted the ammunition and weapons from his belt, the seaman hit him and they manhandled him to his feet.
At a safe distance they escorted Bond onto the sun deck, and draped his arms over the rail, Nightshade produced a second pair of handcuffs and fixed him to the rail. She dangled the keys in front of his face then tossed them overboard. Bond watched them sink
“That’s going to be a hell of a dive to retrieve them”
She turned on her heel and left him alone. Bond felt along the rail, checking its resistance but stopped his reconnaissance as he heard movement from within the cabin area.
The seaman slid open the door and began setting the small table on the deck then another member of the crew brought out a tray of coffee and croissants, Bond guessed this was the captain. Presently Greene came out and drew in a long breath of sea air, he sat at the table and silently Nightshade joined him.
They started on the breakfast without acknowledging Bond, then with a large cup in his hand Dominic Greene began to berate Bond
“You have been a big disappointment to me Mister Bond” he continued to eat.
Bond remained silent; he hoped Greene would reveal something that would balance the situation.
“You didn’t get the information from Hawthorne’s safe for me”
“It wasn’t very good, Sir Miles suckered you in”
“We will be leaving shortly, so please do not attempt to poke fun at me”
Bond looked around there was no land to be seen
“Am I missing something?”
Greene shook his head
“Your friends stayed up all night and watched me load soil on that boat. Oh how we laughed. The drug barons think the merchandise is actually here on board. Oh how we laughed” Greene smiled at Nightshade
“It isn’t? I thought you’d switched at the locks?”
“Ha” Greene finished his coffee “I told you, what a disappointment you are to me. No it was never on board. But they think it is, El Patrone and all the other greasy little mobsters. Oh and when the Americans sink this boat, the Drug lords will pledge their allegiance to Medrano. Their guard will be down. In a couple of months they will be replaced and I can start to rule the first of my new countries, with Medrano as the people’s puppet. Soon all of South America will fall like dominos”
Nightshade briefly left the table, when she came back out on to the terrace; she looked cool and relaxed, carrying a small Louie Vuitton suitcase.
The captain followed her out and began to climb the staircase Bond noticed he was carrying the bag with the remote detonation device.
He returned without it, obviously he’d stowed carefully in the helicopter.
The yacht’s captain was now supervising the seaman over the launch of the Hinkley.
Greene turned to Bond
“Our Captain tells me one of his crew was found dead in his bunk and another two are missing, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about them would you?”
“Well they are going that away (he nodded toward the horizon) and we are going this away (he looked upward)”
“…And the Tattoo is found floating like the Marie Celeste?”
“Sorry James, no. You are going that away (he pointed downward with his finger)”
The Hinkley was launched; the Captain and the seaman were throwing mattresses and some plastic furniture overboard, the Captain hurled the rubber lifeboat over the far side the items began to drift on the current, returning to the power boat they threw their bags in and began to descend the ladder.
The twin Yamahas started up and it purred away from the Tattoo.
“Are you going to get Nightshade to remove the drain plug?”
“You think I would sink my own ship?. No I would not sink my own ship?”
“I’m pleased about that” The Hinkley was a good twenty meters away, it had stopped and was holding station. Greene lent forward and whispered in Bond’s ear
“I have some strategically placed explosive and nine MR 489 anti-personnel mines; that when they survey the yacht, will look to the world that the Tattoo was torpedoed”
“You said you wouldn’t sink your own ship?”
“It’s not my Ship” Ah I have waited such a long time to say that, OK time for us to go, good bye Mister Bond” he followed Nightshade up the stairs.
“Do you expect me to talk?”
Greene stopped and turned, an incredulous look crossed his face
“No Mister Bond I expect you to die” (sorry I couldn’t resist) Greene continued up the stairs and went up out of sight. Bond immediately began to feel around the handcuffs and the rail, time was of the essence he had disabled six of the mines, but that left three plus an undisclosed amount of plastique. The helicopter started up, as the pitch of the rotor changed its shadow crossed over Bond’s face then the downdraft caught him and it lifted off; it turned and banked away and performed a lazy circle before holding station above the power boat.
Bond could clearly see Greene and Nightshade in the cockpit of the MD 510 as it hovered ten meters above the power boat; they had maneuverer it so they were face on, and so both could witness the explosion and the demise of James Bond.
Greene held the joystick steady and Nightshade retrieved the remote devise from the bag. Bond had moved to a joint with an upright and was leaning his weight against the rail.
It was a low rumble then the yacht shuddered, the sea began to boil and froth at the side. Bond threw himself against the rail it gave; he strained against the restraints then hurled himself back again. Already the yacht had developed a list as the water rushed in. Then the second explosion ripped through the hull, it was a jolt that rippled from the bow through the main body to where Bond stood, the deck flexed and he looked directly at the MD 510. Nightshade held up the detonating device, she mouthed the words
“Peek a boo” then demonstratively pressed the button and the helicopter erupted in a ball of flame the rotor disengaged for the main shaft looped end over end and the tail broke away but the main wreck of the cockpit and engine enlarged by the mass of flames dropped perfectly onto the powerboat, whether or not the occupants had time to scream was unimportant as the roar of the explosion drowned out all other noise.
The fuel ignited from the Yamahas, which briefly increased the inferno then as the wreckage began to sink the hiss and sizzle of the burning metal turned the sea it steam.
“You see, there was so much I could have told you about where I’d planted some of your mines” Bond threw himself against the rail. This time it came loose from the upright, he un-looped the handcuffs and broke free. He dropped to the floor and began working his legs up until he was able to bring his handcuffed hands in front of him.
The Tattoo was taking on water fast. Bond went through to the radio area, and made his call, he was relieved to hear Felix Leiter’s voice; without elaboration on the events on the Tattoo he explained his plan.
Leiter replied “Okay, James leave the radio channel open so the Algonquin can get a GPS fix, and the chopper will find you on that heading, I am being asked to leave Panama now, so I will pass on the location details to your agent, Miss Fields” Bond left the radio channel open and ran down the stairs through the storeroom into the workshop, he grabbed the hoist and pressed the open button, the double door swung open and the floor angled down, with the list of the yacht there was a now a two foot drop to the surface of the water and he knew he was unable to push the Yamaha FX uphill, but as the vessel went down it would soon be awash, within seconds the ocean was lapping at the base.
Bond started up the band saw and cut through the hand cuffs, with the added freedom he checked the air level in a scuba tank and picked up a pair of diving fins and a mask, taking three distress flairs from a box he bundled them all into a shell bag and draped the air tank over the seat of the jet ski.
He checked the fuel level, the water was lapping around his calves, and he pressed the starter and the Jet Ski, spluttered into life, sucking water in. The 1.8 liter supercharged engine revved smoothly and as the next wave broke in Bond gunned the throttle and shot out into the ocean, he continued at right angles to the sinking yacht, and picked up the life raft, attaching it to the rear seat he checked his bearings and set off toward Panama.
The waves buffeted him and after twenty minutes he was exhausted, he reduced speed and revised his course, another fifteen minutes bounced past; the Yamaha was becoming very heavy to handle, then with a splutter the engine stalled.
Bond un-hitched the life raft and inflated it, he placed the scuba gear in the centre and climbed on board. Already he was drifting away from the Jet Ski. Totally relaxed he felt the waves rocking him to sleep, not caring if it was too soon he released the first flair.
La Paz is translated as "Our Lady of Peace" and is situated in the valley of the Choqueyapu River below a plateau with an altitude of 3,600 meters. At this elevation it is the highest administrative capital in the world. Atop the plateau is the city of El Alto, where the International Airport is located.
Transportation links between the two cities have improved in recent years but it is still an experience not to be undertaken by the fainthearted. Medrano had left Panama
earlier in the day and made a triumphant return into Bolivia, as his cavalcade entered “Chuquiago” he declared to the waiting press
“I am home” he was taking up residence at one of the fine pink and white Plantation houses owned by the Ore Company. Film crews from around the World had taken up residence on the front lawn.
Although he had not been identified by the CIA people posing as news journalists; Rashid was one of the names quoted to the local militia as one of the party who were travelling with the General under the diplomatic immunity afforded to the group.
Another recognised name on the list was that of Xavier Hernandiez although it was widely reported that he was in the pay of the CIA and had been killed attempting to escape the embassy in Panama City.
Frantic phone calls to airport “sources” revealed that he had recently taken a business trip to Bolivia. In the American Embassy the surveillance team were reviewing the film taken during that trip, and soon the pictures led them to believe he had transferred the money from Greene’s boat to the Ore & Co house and it must now be ready for use in the presidential inauguration.
After a final photo opportunity at the front entrance, Medrano closed the door on the outside world.
Inside the house his face dropped. Samir Rashid stood facing him
“Green is dead, this is a catastrophe” Medrano stormed passed Rashid.
“Green is dead, so what, Quantum will replace him within the hour. Greene was not indispensable, unlike you. Did you see the crowd? They love you” Rashid spread his arms
“The news that Dominic Greene is dead means nothing to them. Whereas it puts me on the verge of panic”
“Don’t worry General, the money is safe the campaign is successful, the drug barons are backing you”
“How long before the rumours spread that there were no drugs on the Tattoo?”
Rashid poured them a Brandy and began to piece together a plan to save their hides.
“Rumours started by the Americans. Don’t worry, I can fix this”
Odds change the numbers remain
Property of a Lady
The crowd jeered and pushed against the gates.
“Time to go sir, we can’t hold the crowd much longer” The marine said to Leiter.
“I have to make this call then I’m all yours” Leiter knew he had only a few minutes to pass on his message to Fields.
“Let’s walk and talk” The marine hustled Leiter toward the helicopter. Leiter scanned the scene at the gates, it was chaotic. Medrano had stirred up an anti-American riot, the crowd were surging forward pressing the gates. Leiter climbed on board the Sea king that was going to fly him out to the Algonquin.
Agent Fields hung up the phone and registered the relief of knowing 007 was alive, she began to follow the instructions from Leiter to the letter.
Staying well clear of the Embassy, she booked into a hotel. Alone in her room she paced the floor. The waiting was like a physical weight on her shoulders she was all alone without any back up.
The Panamanian government had wanted the CIA and all other foreign agencies out of the country. Fortunately her name was not on the official list supplied by the Embassy.
From her understanding of the TV news this was fast becoming an international incident, the British embassy was being asked to explain its actions in the
“Harassment of a Bolivian vessel” News real of Medrano was everywhere.
She waited in the hotel for another hour before her mobile rang. Felix Leiter was economic with his words. He gave an address and then hung up.
Fields followed her instructions again; she packed her bag and took a taxi from the hotel.
The city seemed to go on for ever, and the noise and the heat were thankfully locked outside; then the concrete skyline began to thin out and soon the highway was heading into the tropical forests which surround Panama City, as well as being beautiful they are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal, and provide the canal with the watershed required for its operation (a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of the forest which actually helped preserve that very nature).
Due to the importance of the Canal to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state. Along the western side of the Canal is the Sovereignty National Park the road wound its way to the summit.
Fields paid off the cab and entered the botanical gardens next to the zoo. In this national park, the best known trail is the Pipeline Road, very popular among birdwatchers, but not tonight, and especially as the Sea king helicopter had just clipped the tree line and dropped from the sky.
The downdraft form the Sea king was enormous and remembering her training she made a direct crouched run to the open door, once inside the crew closed the door.
The helicopter rose quickly, she held on to the strap. On the seat opposite her sat James Bond, he was asleep. The crew indicated they had given him something to help him relax.
Bill Tanner read the analysis of the contents taken from the suitcases taken form the Perico. He rubbed his hand over his face in frustration.
“Pure soil, some trace of lime stone but mainly soil” He threw down the document in disgust and picked up his mobile. His call to the British Ambassador was short but definitely not sweet.
“What the hell are we going to tell them tomorrow” The Ambassador shouted into his mobile.
“Let me seek advice from home on that matter” Tanner replied.
The Panamanian official who had handed the information to Tanner waited patiently as this normally calm Englishman was ranting. Gently he stroked his thin black moustache.
Tanner put down the phone. He addressed the official in a much calmer voice
“I have to report this directly to London” Tanner was already stuffing his belongings into his case
The official smiled sympathetically, his moustache spread out across his face
“Don’t worry Mister Tanner I will clear up the room, please have a good trip”
Soon after Tanner had left the office, the official took a camera from his pocket and took photographs of the documents. The man smoothed down his moustache and locked the door behind him. By the time he had left the office himself the images were being transferred to the drug lord known as El Patrone.
At midnight the drug baron El Patrone held an impromptu meeting with the higher echelon of the other drug barons. El Patrone pieced together their interpretation of the double cross imposed upon them by General Medrano and the organisation headed by Greene.
“The fact that Greene is dead is neither here nor there”
“Great idea to have a spy on the ship El Patrone” But the fact their spy on-board the Perico said that there had been no transfer of product, meant they had been betrayed. The results at the Embassy confirmed it.
“Get my cars” El Patrone said “I’m going to pay a visit to the president elect”
“I want to accompany you” Another drug lord requested. The lack of trust was on the edge of his request
“I want to explain to Medrano that my support is conditional upon us being paid our full share of the drugs profit, not my that they fault they never got to Europe”
“With respect my friends, I will go alone”
Medrano returned the ornate telephone to its cradle, his normally sun kissed complexion had turned a deathly pale, he understood that if they did not hand over the money El Patrone would withdraw his support and his campaign would come to an abrupt end.
Without the financial leverage that Greene had provided, he needed the support of the local people; he needed to talk to Rashid.
“Not a problem my dear General, we are currently selling the product in London, Madrid, Marsellies and Napoli. We still have more cocaine that can be distributed as we speak. It is en-route to Moscow”
“When do I see the money?”
“The cells in Europe will continue to generate profit”
“Of course but when we create this new market we need El Patrone to provide us with the same volume next month”
“We will talk to him again. Besides this way we protect our pipeline”
“I have to give him his share of the profit now”
“Look if we don’t make the profit we should, I cannot pay off our share-holders in America”
Medrano paced about the room
“It looks like we have lost one partner and gained another” Medrano went to the safe. Rashid was co coordinating the distribution throughout Europe, things had gone wrong but he felt they could still turn it to their advantage.
“My dear General. Mister President. Go put on your best dress uniform. I will get the money. You are going to pay this El Patrone off” They made a toast and smoked a cigar, to cement their new found friendship, and it was built on the fact that each of them needed the other to make it work. With the World’s press on their doorstep, Medrano decided he would hold the meeting on neutral ground.
Medrano and his party were going to pray at the pristine white Basilica in Copacabana, the town is situated between Mount Calvario and Mount Niño Calvario, and it was here where the previous President had been assassinated and a priest had been murdered, he would be the first to enter the church since the atrocity.
It was this very act that had started the ‘Medrano phenomenon’ something the press were keen to exploit. But on this occasion the press were not allowed to follow, the troops saw to that.
Medrano’s personal guard were stationed at every door; nobody could get in or out.
Medrano placed the briefcase on the Alter. He walked through to the vestry and climbed to the tower. Following in the footsteps of H he climbed the stairs and strutted across the roof, leaning against the sun warmed stone he looked down on the restaurant that was favoured by so many of the old regime.
Guards were posted at every entrance into the square, and now he could see two of the guards turn and prepare to receive intruders. Four cars entered the square, Medrano swallowed and loosened his colour ‘Nothing to worry about’ he thought to himself, they needed him as much as he needed them; they were all poison and antidote to each other.
Medrano descended the stone staircase and waited at the Alter.
His mobile rang and he cleared his throat before answering, he gave his permission for the group to enter.
The front doors to the naïve opened and El Patrone led the others into the church. Medrano stood behind the Alter and welcomed the drug baron along with his two bodyguards. They returned his hospitality, taking off their sunglasses they relaxed in the second row of pews.
El Patrone began; he gestured to the empty church
“We need to understand what has happened to our merchandise. I am told it was not on the Perico and it was not on the Tattoo”
“Yes, yes it was all planned; except for Greene’s death of course everything was planned. It was unfortunate that Greene could not discuss the real supply chain route the drugs would take. Greene knew the CIA were shadowing them. You can see now why he could not reveal the real route”
El Patrone nodded his head slowly, feeling that he must agree with the statement. Medrano saw the change in his adversary. The initiative shifted and he continued.
“We tricked the Americans and the British, into thinking the drugs were going by sea”
“How did my merchandise leave, what is the real route?”
Medrano shook his head and came around to the front of the Alter.
“No my friend I cannot reveal such information. We both need each other to live. We both know this to be true, therefore that must be my secret. That way we are all dependent upon each other, all I need to assure you is that your percentage of the sale is safe” Medrano patted the case.
“It may be safe but its mine” El Patrone held out his hand.
“My dear El Patrone, this is all yours” Medrano shrugged and walked away from the case. One of El Patrone’s bodyguards came up the step and reached for the briefcase, he flicked open the catches and the case exploded. The man at the case was blown apart. He took the full brunt of the explosion. The noise reverberated throughout the church. Medrano reeled back from the explosion.
As the dust settled the second bodyguard checked his boss was alive. Blood flowed from his mouth. But with a strong grip he brought the bodyguard close to his mouth. El Patrone whispered into the man’s ear…
“Kill him” the bodyguard gently laid his boss on the ground, pulled out his machete and leapt at Medrano. The weapon flashed down with ferocity. Satisfied that Medrano was dead the man stood back.
Simultaneously the doors burst open and the government troops came bustling in.
As the smoke cleared they took in the scene and began to fire. The bodyguard spun away hit by a dozen shots he was dead before he hit the ground. But not before his machete had partially cleaved Medrano’s head from his shoulder. The soldiers amassed around the bodies one kicked at the body of El Patrone it did not move.
Odds change the numbers remain
Bill Tanner poured coffee into the small cup, and with a weary smile he handed it to Bond.
“I’m not sure how much credit we can claim, but with both Greene and El Patrone dead the potential to form a lasting drug route from Bolivia into Europe is over. That’s a win no matter which way you view it” from the comparative luxury of the British embassy in la Paz, Bond was beginning to refocus his attentions on the status of his mission.
The Sea king helicopter had brought Fields and himself down from Panama, and now as Tanner updated them, Bond felt there was only one loose end.
“Is Samir Rashid still at the Plantation House?”
“Yes we think so, he didn’t leave with Medrano, and security has been water tight since the killings at the basilica”
Bond walked over to the window and looked out upon the busy street scene of the city.
“Our people were there within seconds, there’s no way that the money could have been taken”
Bond turned to look at them
“No, there was never any money in the case, Rashid still has it. He’s cutting his loses and deserting South America for good. Quantum’s plans for buying up the land here will be seriously damaged. The CIA will be taking stock of their involvement with Dominic Greene. There’s only one loose end. Can you get me into the house?”
“That would be difficult 007, there’s no evidence to connect Medrano with anything illegal. The official reason for the meeting with El Patrone, is being muted in the press that the General was insisting on a reduction or cessation of cocaine production” Tanner shrugged
Fields interjected “Keeping his memory pure”
Bond put his coffee on the table “Well Rashid can’t enjoy his hundred million from in the house. He will look to make his break soon, keep me informed”
Out of respect for the memory of General Medrano, the press began to drift away from the plantation house. Soon it would be difficult for the surveillance team to remain.
“Everyone will be gone in less than three or four hours” Tanner relayed the message to Bond and Fields.
“Everything is calm at the house”
“Then I think I need to stir things up a little, get me a car” Bond left the room.
“James we cannot sanction this action” Tanner shouted into the phone.
Bond and Fields got into the back of the taxi; it was old and damaged, very much like the city it belonged to.
“You don’t have to come” Bond said
“I know” Fields took a Sat-Nav from her bag “But with me, the action has a semblance of legal”
As they drove out to the house they observed the peeling paint and the water stained corrugated iron roofs of the inner city housing and shops, Fields was trying to track their progress on a hand held Sat-Nav, she smiled
“We’ll be there in about another twenty minutes” The taxi continued through the snarling traffic, vehicles weaving from lane to lane incurring the wrath of other drivers was punctuated with the constant sounding of car horns.
Samir Rashid was waiting for his moment, the vans and cars of the TV crews and press were driving away. Soon he would be able to slip away.
Time to go, Rashid dressed in dirty grey overalls, put the kit bag across his shoulder and picked up the tool kit, he bundled them onto the passenger seat of the Toyota van, it fired up and he drove out onto the road.
Bond’s mobile rang “Yes”
“A white Toyota van has just departed from the plantation house. The word “Camarillas” is painted in black on the side”
Bond scanned the road if it had not turned off they would be merging within minutes. He tried to filter out the other traffic, from the brightly painted busses to the bicycles weaving dangerously in and out of the path of the cars.
He opened the window and the sound, heat and smell of the city assaulted him, another minute passed without a sighting, Rashid must have turned off.
Then as a truck braked to allow a pedestrian to cross Bond saw a dirty white cab. As the traffic moved Bond saw the sign “Camarilles” on the side of the Toyota
“There he is” he tapped the driver and gestured for him to turn around.
“Impossible” the driver was unable to comprehend the request and began to argue. They were past now and Fields was straining to follow the van as it flowed away from the taxi.
Bond yelled “Stop” he pulled out the Walther P99 the driver stopped the taxi.
Bond yanked open the door and pulled the driver from behind the wheel, he jumped in and gunned the engine Fields screamed as he turned the taxi into the path of the oncoming traffic.
They glanced off the side of a bus which forced Bond to brake to avoid colliding with an oncoming motorbike. Bond swung the taxi across two lanes of the road and changed down a gear accelerating all the way.
The wheels span but the manoeuvre attracted little attention form the crowds. Bond drove smoothly up to the back of the next vehicle and swung the wheel, the car protested but made the turn, another gap and he was through
“Up ahead I can see him” Fields pointed and Bond planned his next move, a car swung out in front of him expecting him to brake, but Bond floored the accelerator and barged the car out of the way, more frantic horn blowing.
There was now only two car lengths between them, up ahead Rashid braked. The car behind swerved to avoid him and crashed into another. On the right people screamed and Bond shot forward into the space. He knocked the rear left corner of the car in front and swung into the path of the other lane. Then he was through, Bond accelerated again and moved in behind the van.
Rashid accelerated between two cars, they both cannoned of the van one mounted the path and demolished an open fronted shop, the other hit another van head on, vehicles began to pile up, a car slewed into the taxi and Bond fought with the wheel.
“He’s seen us”
Rashid swung the van into a side street, people scattered to the sides as the van careered down the narrow street, the groceries and goods that spilled out toward the road were hit and sent skyward as the van hurtled down the street, the taxi followed.
Fields was desperately trying to strap herself in but the seat belt did not work she held on to the passenger seat as Bond screamed down the street. The van shot out of the side street and hit an oncoming vehicle, the taxi hit the back of the van and slewed around. A motorbike hit the side throwing its rider high in the air. Bond kicked open the door and jumped out, Rashid lent out of the window and fired his gun.
Bond hit the deck and rolled over to the back of the taxi pulling Fields out on to the road.
The sound of Rashid’s machine pistol cut through the air, reduce all other sounds to silence.
Bond held the gun above the boot of the taxi and fired in Rashid’s direction. Cars screamed to a halt in a squeal of brakes as Rashid out of sight of Bond was running across the road, without any fire from Rashid Bond took off in pursuit.
Rashid crashed through a wire gate and left it swinging on its hinges, he ran down an ally. The building to the right of the ally was supported by an enormous configuration of bamboo scaffolding. Rashid entered the building by the rear door. Bond arrived within ten seconds and kicked the door open but side stepped from the entrance as Rashid fired into the gap.
Bond swung up on the scaffold and pulled himself up to the first level in a crouching run; he reached an open first floor window and entered the building.
Inside he took stock of his position. He was on a wide gallery; carefully he looked down into the main area of the building. It was pandemonium, the building was being refurbished. Three workers in white overalls were running from the central area, another man had been shot and lay on the floor. Rashid was moving slowly using the pillars for cover. The painters had escaped the building by the front door. The double entrance way now stood open and the sound of the traffic seeped in to the building, echoing around the volume of the gallery.
Bond concentrated on Rashid. He was still covering the rear entrance expecting Bond to crash in at any second. Rashid was now encountering a tangle of scaffolding, with an amazing turn of speed he climbed the rear of the structure.
Bond ran around the gallery. Rashid took one more look at the rear door and then hauled himself over the rail.
Samir Rashid stood on the gallery floor and as he turned he encountered Bond only three feet in front of from him.
In an instant he brought his gun up and fired, but Bond blocked and forced the gun wide the shots slammed into the wall. Bond brought his own gun to bear and fired. Rashid grasped Bond’s wrist, in a replica of the other hand positions. Rashid ducked and went forward in a low charge, Bond brought the gun down on Rashid’s spine and stepped back leaving Rashid to fall to the floor. He rolled quickly and fired up at Bond who side stepped and hit the scaffold.
Rashid launched himself at Bond and together they both crashed over the side, it was about a six foot drop to the first level of planks. Their combined weight and momentum smashed through the flooring and they fell onto the next level. The structure was not solid, and the whole scaffold structure moved. Bond caught hold of a rope and swung out. Rashid bounced up from the floor and pointed his gun at Bond.
Rashid fired but the hammer fell on an empty chamber, Bond swung into him and knocked him against the wall, he use his weight to lever himself off the wall, but again the timber planks gave way and the scaffold lurched away from the wall.
Bond kicked him in the chest and he fell through the gap between scaffold and wall Bond Dropped down on top of Rashid. They landed on cover sheets piled high on a bench, it gave way.
Rashid rolled away and Bond followed him. Bond fired again but Rashid had pushed his gun hand high, it went off again and then nothing now Bond’s gun was empty.
Rashid smiled, Bond threw the gun away then butted him in the face and Rashid stepped back. Bond took off his jacket
“I should have done this a long time ago” he hit him with a straight right followed by a left hook, stepping in he fired three more punches to the body Rashid brought his arms down to protect his ribs and Bond fired in a head shot that rocked him on his heels he fell back unconscious.
Agent Fields came in to the building via the rear door she picked up the kit bag and looked inside
“James, it’s the money”
“Good, take it back to the embassy, get Tanner to put it in the diplomatic bag and get us all on the next flight to London” Bond retrieved his gun and loaded another clip.
“James, what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to pursue Rashid and bring him to justice”
“…and that isn’t personal?”
“No it’s what I do, I’m a Double 0. Now go”
Reluctantly Fields left with the bag over her shoulder.
Bond approached Rashid. He was recovering and had turned over into a kneeling position. He looked up, seeing the gun…
“Is this for Queen and country? My sentence for daring to attempt to flood your country with drugs or is it just revenge for Vesper?”
Bond levelled the gun at Rashid’s forehead, his voice was calm.
“Anyone could bring you to justice for your criminal activities. But in truth only I know about your betrayal of Vesper, so you could say it’s personal”
“She meant something to you then?”
“She did. But if this is just revenge then your death will make amends for the work you did on behalf of Sir Miles Hawthorne”
“How did you find out about that?” Rashid laughed
“I took some discs from your memorial. Got the conversations translated. I discovered the real link between you and Sir Miles”
“My secret past life with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad” A smile crossed Rashid’s face.
“And with that the understanding as to why you were able to get hold of Sir Miles’ information from the safe in Africa”
Rashid laughed again, it was clear Bond had understood everything
“Then you know the burden I have had to bear all these years?”
“Yes, let me relieve you of it”
Outside Fields flinched as the sound of a single gunshot interrupted the flow of noise from the city.
Odds change the numbers remain
Chapter Twenty One
A current truth
It was just past ten o’clock at night when M returned home. Her driver left her at the road side, and smoothly eased the Jaguar from the kerb.
The rain of the day had left a cold damp vale over the city. M took three weary steps to her front door. Bond was waiting in the doorway, he emerged from the shadows. M regained her composure instantly.
“You look dreadful, couldn’t sleep on the ‘plane?” She asked
“I had a lot on my mind” Bond said coldly
She realized this was a critical moment in their relationship. She stopped at the door and gave him her full attention.
“Strange place for a meeting Bond?” Her smile was wasted.
“You told me never to break in to your apartment again” Bond was blunt in his reply
“Yes I did, didn’t I? I’m surprised you listened, this must be the first instruction you’ve ever abided by” Her head tilted, inviting a reply.
Bond produced the disc from his jacket pocket. He held it out for her
“It’s all here” His eyes looked out over the damp street.
M finished entering the code then instinctively she took the disc.
“Should I want to know what this contains? I told you the case was closed” M challenged his bluntness. The door opened and they entered the lift together. The door shut out the cold. And with a slight buzz the lift ascended.
They rode up in silence. M fixed her stare to the light panel concentrating on the small light as it displayed the floor they were passing.
She opened the door and M led him into her lounge, she disabled the new alarm.
“I like what you’ve done with the place” Bond gestured to the new alarm panel.
“Well, I like my privacy, you taught me that” M switched on the light. The front part of the room was illuminated; showing an ornate cabinet and a matching occasional table, which was bare except for a decanter and tumbler combination. The rest of the room remained clocked in darkness.
“Glad I could help”
M held up the disc “This isn’t helping 007”
“I think you’ll want to know what happened”
“Well, what have you discovered?” M ignored the comment and moved away from the alarm panel.
Bond watched her walk away from him. He knew she was going for the crystal decanter on the occasional table. Bond waited until she had put the disc down picked up the decanter and removed the stopper.
“The accident in the tunnel was a plot by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad to assassinate Dodi Fayed. It was a reprisal because of his family’s refusal to provide aid to their cause”
M’s face seemed to drop. She held the decanter in her hand.
“Yes please, I’ll take a glass” Bond said coldly
M poured a good measure into two cut glass tumblers. She extended her hand toward him.
Bond took the glass “It was executed by two members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The only involvement of the British state agencies was the compliance of Sir Miles Hawthorn”
“He made an assurance that the two ‘Assets’ would be allowed to move freely through Europe before and after the event” Bond took a drink.
“So in fact you have nothing” M picked up the disc and shook it. Bond quizzically looked for an explanation.
“You have confirmed there wasn’t an official operation or even an instruction to kill Diana, Princess of Wales. All you have here are some comments and views about her unsuitability. As you say Sir Miles was the only person who took it upon himself to see her relationship with Dodi Fayed as a threat to the state” M sipped her whisky, it lit up her throat. As she swallowed, her eyes opened, inviting Bond to reply.
“Hawthorne was a member of MI5 when he allowed a hit to be carried out in Paris. He offered immunity to the two assets provided by a terrorist group”
“As far as we are concerned the death of Diana, Princess of Wales was an unfortunate accident after all then” M waited for a response. Bond took a sip of whisky then spoke quietly “If you release this disc, you can substantiate that the actions taken by Sir Miles was understood and left him in exile and under constant house arrest in Africa. It would be an official end to the conspiracy theory, and explain that the Princess of Wales was just an innocent bystander”
M held up the disc “During the cold war many local, political and religious feuds were kept simmering because aid was being donated equally by the USA or Russia, and the governments were able to control the people. With the end of the cold war and the reduction of aid, the warring factions were able to seize the initiative and whip up political and racial hatred again. Unfortunately factions within the United Kingdom, the USA and Russia took the opportunity to fuel the fire with aid of a different type. This type of aid cost money, funds were redirected and the poverty spiral stared over again. Sir Miles and people like him in other countries saw an opportunity to advise business and financial investors about certain information that would benefit them in the knowledge of which countries were likely to be able to re-pay the loans to aid supplied. His views and strategic decisions were based more on his own profits than actual state requirements” she paused taking a long draft of whisky. “That is why we monitored him in Africa after his dismissal from the service”
Bond digested her statement “Are you talking about Diana’s campaign against the land mine companies?”
“Yes, Sir Miles had been instructed to frighten Diana. He felt that an attempt by terrorists would convince her to back off the land mine campaign”
“You knew about the hit?” Bond became angry
“Only in the final days of Hawthorne’s life. Before that we thought the accident in Paris was only an attempt to make her back off the charity work on land mines”
“Then we should come clean, we have nothing to hide, nothing to worry about. Hawthorn was acting on his own initiative. Hardly treason” Bond looked coldly at M
“In law 007; treason is a crime of disloyalty to one's nation.” Bond held her stare. She continued “A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way wilfully cooperates with an enemy, Sir Miles certainly was guilty of that” Controlling her anger she spread her hands in front of her passing the disc from one to another.
Bond remained stone still. His impassive face looking at her coldly. Sometimes she hated his arrogance. M looked at him again; she could easily loathe him, posing in an expensive Gieves and Hawkes suit.
She decided to rise above the situation. She steeled herself for the next sentence…
“Your actions were also very close to that description, in the eyes of the law you could be considered to be a traitor”
“And in your eyes?” asked Bond, the anger simmering beneath his calm.
M let her frustration out in a sharp sentence
“007, you have to realize this is about trust, I thought I could trust you” she paused “The official view of this department is that you were on the edge of treason” M looked directly at Bond; instantly she calmed…
“The report I will submit however will state that the world is not so black and white as to question your motives in searching for the truth” M relaxed and sat down.
“What happens to the disc?”
“Thank you for clearing up this matter 007. Now go and relax, re charge your batteries, and report back here in one month’s time, I think you need a break”
“And the disc?” Bond said again
“I shall see that it is given to the people that need to know the truth, those that have suffered the most from this whole tragic affair. I and I alone will decide when that is to be, until then I will keep it safe”
Bond slowly shook his head
“This was always about the property of a Lady wasn’t it?”
M’s frustration spilt over
“What else do you expect Bond? What you have discovered is just one facet of a very tragic episode. There is no benefit in raking up the past. We would never be able to find or extradite the two assets hired to do the hit; they would never be brought to justice”
“One already has” Bond turned and began walking toward the elevator.
“Yes, he was blackmailing Hawthorn. Hawthorn bank rolled him into Italy”
“And it was that path which led to both their deaths”
M intently looked at the disc for inspiration, a look of wonderment passed over her.
“Bond…what do you know about the other asset?”
James Bond paused at the elevator door; he turned his head slightly…
“You said I needed a break. I can have everything ended within a month”
Without another word Bond stepped into the elevator. The door slid closed.
M was static as she watched the light of the elevator confirming that Bond had left the building.
The darkness and calm of the room was broken by the wall mounted TV screen bursting into life. M turned toward the screen; the figure that looked back at her from the screen was an elderly gentleman. His hair was a dirty wavy grey, slicked back severely over a wrinkled brow. Sitting on his hawk like nose was a pair of glasses which sparkled like crystal.
“He’s a clever young man” The voice was regal.
“Yes Sir Peter, that’s why I chose him” M replied sarcastically
“I wasn’t using the word clever in a supportive term” He snapped
“He’s a bit rough around the edge I grant you” M replied in a motherly tone.
“He’s a loose cannon, doesn’t do orders to well does he?” His voice was sharp
M found it difficult to argue with the last statement. Sir Peter Marwick sat upright on the burgundy leather Chesterfield sofa staring back at her. Marwick was Prince Charles’s Principal Private Secretary. The moments drifted by. M felt she needed to get closure on their little deception.
“He trusts me. He believes what he gathered to be the truth” M nodded toward the disc.
“Then you must ensure he never discovers you deceived him”
“I haven’t deceived him. Rashid told him the truth”
“The truth as he knew it. Yes, sometimes I suppose fact is stranger than fiction” Sir Peter lent forward to close the connection. “Good night M”
…James Bond will return
Silhouettes and Shadows
Odds change the numbers remain
The new James BOND 007 2014 novel
NEVER THE DEATH by Paul Taylor