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This time I thought I'd share a short excerpt featuring one of the main characters - Sean.....here it is - enjoy the glimpse of his persona and the troubles brewing....
West End Hotel, London.
Sean wore a small black beanie hat and was ashamed of his demise. Head now shaven, a skeleton of his former self, and a man that had seen off death at close quarters - but lived - just. He bore numerous scars, hardened sores, and fresh wounds from barely surviving in one of the most dangerous locations in the world. He was pissed off he was now forced to wear some sort of headwear. Self-conscious of his look and his scorched past – damaged goods as he described himself in his mind despite harbouring a deeply held notion he was still top of his game. He was not. He wanted his life back again though – and this looked like a means to an end.
He was bemused why he had been summoned to a Mayfair hotel in the early evening with Mike chaperoning his every move – exactly as Mike had done to get Sean safely back into the UK with no questions asked.
Sean recognised Dominic Atwood immediately from his time in Central Asia, but it was clear Dominic did not recall that chance meeting with Sean all those years ago. Dominic was no longer in MI6.
The hotel suite was large with a spacious dining and living room, each room overlooking Hyde Park. They sat in beige leather chairs around an oval shaped glass coffee table littered with fashion and tourist magazines. Mike had ensured this would be a convivial meeting and poured each of them a glass of Saint Emilion Bordeaux wine to set a conducive scene.
‘I understand you had some success finding a kidnapped diplomat some years ago in Iraq Sean? Frightfully bad episode.’
Sean nodded, knowing Dominic would continue.
‘I have a job I’d like you to lead on Sean. Someone has gone missing and I fear our opposition got at him. It’s vital to the interests of this country that we find out what has happened to him.’ Dominic swilled his wine around the glass a few times to release the fruity aroma, looking across to carefully gauge Sean’s reaction – He tasted the 2009 vintage.
‘I wondered what the reason was for such goodwill repatriating me to the land of comfort. I’d be delighted to help if the terms are clear and favourable to me.’
‘Splendid Sean. It’s all rather complicated but needs a loyal crown servant like you who is, erm, not a crown servant if you get my meaning?’ Sean gave the knowing smile as Dominic continued. ‘It’s far too close hold to do this in a traditional way - as you know, Chinese whispers float across our world. I can’t afford a cock up with this so we'll configure it as a side operation, well away from any officially sanctioned work, and one that needs a good cover story and a few good loyal men.’
Dominic was not arrogant in his accounting - rather he was more impassioned that this was the right thing to do for the country. As ever, he was focussed to make sure the right course of action was taken.
‘That means I become a fall guy if it all goes wrong?' Sean said. 'A deniable operation? Look Dominic, if I do this it needs to be full details and facts on the table. I don’t want anything hidden. I’d prefer not to have any surprises and an upfront conversation of how you will remunerate me. You already know my motivation?’
Dominic turned to Mike.
‘Mike will explain the details on everything we have,' he said. 'I just need your word that this does not get out to anyone. I'm unsure of who the opposition is, but someone got to him before we did. Someone knew about his plans, and someone probably knew the extent of the nuclear fallout such a story would provoke if it was allowed to happen. I simply need to make sure that the information he was going to release is safe, and if it isn’t, whose hands is it in?’
‘Who is this guy then?’ Sean looked at each of them and sat forward to drink his wine.
Mike chipped in. ‘He’s a government Intelligence officer Sean. A good man if not a little odd and slightly insecure. We only just found out he had disappeared - just before he was about to release to the world thousands of secret files that would seriously hinder our relationship with the USA and expose some of our historical cock up’s we would rather didn’t get out into the public domain.’
‘He’s a big time whistle-blower then?’
‘Yes – he is. And a bloody dangerous one to the country.’
‘Anyone else involved?’
‘We found out he has planned this for some time and he had been meticulous in his preparation. He has a female aide, and sided with a newspaper to expose in a similar fashion to that of Edward Snowden. But Snowden was an amateur. Alfie is a careful, wise spook. The information he planned to leak would be a monumental shit-storm for us all.’
'Go on, surprise me,' Sean said.
Dominic sat forward and grimaced. 'This is high grade and very virulent stuff Sean. I don’t know who else is out there looking for him, or indeed the full extent of information he was going to supply and whistle blow on. So far as I am aware, and I believe this, only we know what he wanted to expose. I don’t believe the intelligence agencies knew of this. We just got lucky with a trusted source of information who gave us the heads up on what he was about to do. We need this to be totally under the radar. Sadly ministers get involved with all sorts of governing and prying fingers in intelligence ops these days. I simply can’t afford to have anyone else know. Keep me informed of what you discover, and watch your back a little as we don’t know who else is watching and moving in this nasty cloud. Somebody got to him and I’m pretty pissed off at that.’
Sean was courteous and polite as he bade Dominic farewell. He kept his own counsel on this case. He trusted no one. He felt an urge, based on his instinct, that something was not right. Not right at all. But on the other hand he knew Dominic could easily have him arrested and banged up again on some false pretence of absconding from international justice. At least this offered a way out even if Sean didn't at that stage quite know how. He also knew the chances of dark forces operating would mean he had to make sure he left no trails and adequately countered any surveillance on him.
‘So Mike what do you think? Was it 5, 6, the Yanks, Iranians, or the Russians who got Alfie? Who is linked in all this? Who could have got the tip off and how?’
Mike had by now rolled his shirt sleeves half way up his forearms, slackened his tie, and slouched into the chair.
‘We simply don't know. Definitely not 5, I can guarantee that, and the exact link on who would be implicated in the exposés, other than HMG, isn't fully known.’
Sean warmed to Mike and his calm, agreeable character.
'You may want to re-connect with Samantha in GCHQ,' Mike said as he began opening the files for Sean to read.
‘How do you know about her?’ Sean asked quizzically.
‘Come on Sean. You know the score. I’ve done my homework on you - every aspect of your life – as you’d expect me to.’
Sean grinned. ‘Yes I know. But Samantha? Blimey. I kept that very quiet.’ He sipped his wine and shrugged his shoulders a little. He visualised his last meeting with Samantha and the times they had shared on an undercover job in Ireland. They had always been in touch on and off over the years. But Sean found her too heavy and forthright for anything more than the occasional dalliance.
He nudged his mind back to the mission in hand, wriggling a little at his thoughts, before teeing up his most immediate needs. ‘I'll need Lewis and Billy called in to help,' he said. 'They will be vital to this operation.'
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