Mohammed Badr’s morning run proceeded as usual as he headed out of the city up into the hills on the edge of town; this was going to be a long one, twenty miles at least, as he built up his training schedule. He would visit the gym later for martial arts class, and then maybe some resistance training. The sirens were particularly busy today, the kaffirs’ stooges inflicting harassment on some poor victims. No matter, his record was clean, and he had been careful, and was headed away from the gathering commotion which seemed to be concentrated some way away. He had time to clear his head and focus on their mission.
He was in the small country lanes now, climbing a narrow hilly section passing just the odd farm driveway or cottage. There was rarely any traffic to contend with at this time of the morning up here, but he could hear an engine in the distance and moved closer to the wall in anticipation.
A Land Rover came around the bend towards him, picking up speed as it descended the hill, it was getting hellishly close to him, leaving him with nowhere to go…
“Nicely done Art”.
The speaker was trussing the recumbent body expertly, ankles, knees, elbows and wrists, while his partner gagged the mouth and checked that no evidence was left on the ground by the collision site. They lifted the unconscious man into the back of the van, which as a commercial model lacked windows, administered a sedative and drove away. It was all over in less than two minutes.
The speaker looked at the back of his companion, Art, from his vantage point in the rear of the vehicle. Art seemed a real deep dyed West Country yokel; a laconic giant of a man in his mid-twenties, strong and dextrous from a life spent sailing small craft in all seasons, but surprisingly funny when in the mood. He wasn’t in the mood now, even for a few words.
“Okay Art, you know where we have to be and when to meet the others, let’s be on time without rushing.”
Even as he spoke the words Georgios Tredare knew them to be superfluous; it must be his half-Hellenic nature, this need to talk in the silence. He was an older man, in his mid-forties, but fit and slim with thinning grey-black hair. The excitement of the taking made him itchy and again he checked his handgun and its attached silencer just for something to do. Not that their prisoner would give them any trouble for quite some time: the bruises and swelling were starting to show, and trickles of blood were apparent, but nothing significant, and it appeared there were no breaks or major dislocations, but a thorough check up would be needed when they met the others. He understood the victim was Turkish which made it all the better.
’Henry’, well, that’s what everyone called him these days, was burning up his reserves of patience, sitting here in his anonymous office in central London. The first anticipated call, the unofficial one, a text message on an unmonitored one time pay-as-you go phone, was, strictly speaking, superfluous. The official call, which should follow the first within a couple of hours, would be the one that gave him the entrée he needed. But it was the first, the waiting for it, which was consuming him; the heralding of the opening shots of a new war, well at least another side joining a war which was already raging, even if most of the powers-that-be adamantly denied it. It had been over a decade in secret, silent preparation, every step fraught with self-doubt and fear of discovery, drawing on resources and people from the most unlooked-for corners of the world. Failure now, at the outset, could prove fatal to the task he had set himself all those years ago in the aftermath of baleful times. Times that haunted him almost every……
Rescued from his unwilling reverie by a buzz on the unofficial handset, yes; the text he had been waiting for. Short, to-the-point and containing some of the most reassuring words he had ever received. Good boys. She’d be pleased if she had had any inkling of what was planned, but of course she couldn’t have. Strictly need to know. She was sufficiently professional to understand that, but a small part of him, that inner boy that can be harder to eradicate than a vampire, longed to tell her, to impress her. Pull yourself together you fool, you can’t ever go there, it would jeopardise everything; besides, he thought, you’re marked by a prior claim… You’re slipping, not back there either, concentrate.
How long for the second call? No matter, he had it planned. First a call to Gerald, Director-General of MI5, the Security Service, to explain his intervention and a request that they, his little band of brothers and sisters, work alongside their more visible and far larger sister agency. Most previous DG’s of MI5 would have told him to clear off, only not so politely, but Gerald was different, if not a friend, then “simpatico” as the Italians termed it. He understood the need for them, what they had to do, where they had to go, the places his people couldn’t, and then fade out when required, and he didn’t ask superfluous questions. Thank God for Gerald.
That second call, the official one, informing him of the killing of a suspected terrorist in Birmingham in front of an anti-terrorist police surveillance team, led by… who… Chief Inspector Andy Bowson. Must read his file while travelling to Birmingham.
The call to Gerald, straight through,
“Gerald, Henry here, you’ve heard about the shooting of Amallifely in Birmingham?”
“Just. I wasn’t aware you had an interest in this operation?”
“You know we’re always interested, sounds like a sniper. I assume it’s not anybody on our side?”
“If it’s not you or any of your confederates… No, I’d have known.”
“Don’t scare me. But yes, I’m certain.”
“I’d like to look into it, on your organisation’s behalf as well, report everything of course. If it’s internal, something new, well, you know that’s what we’re here for…”
“I see,” Gerald’s voice faded to silence, ten seconds, then, “alright, Henry. You’d better get moving, they’re planning to meet later today when the dust’s settled a little. We’ll tell them you’re one of ours and we’ll stand our people down.”
“Thanks Gerald, I appreciate it. I’ll call you afterwards with a full report.”
“Are we quits now?”
Sally Bowson felt a tear slide down her cheek as she locked the door behind her, looked around the back garden of her home once more and walked to the car in which Josiah, her three-year old son sat, already secure in his child seat.
“Where’re we going again Mummy?” he asked as she drove out of the drive of the home she shared with her husband into a residential street in west London.
“Granny and Grandpa’s in Devon like I told you”.
“Is Daddy coming?”
“Not this time sweetie, he’s got to work. We won’t see him for a while”.
“Catching bad men again?”
“Yes Josey; now here’s your lollipop.”
She felt guilty about distracting him with sweets, but it was going to be a long journey and he was a bright boy who had an unerring knack of launching into a series of questions with a remorseless child logic which she currently felt too fragile to withstand. She had sworn to herself at his birth that she would never lie to any of her children, an oath she had barely managed to sustain so far.
As the car drove onto the M4 a little later her mobile phone buzzed to indicate the arrival of a text message, almost certainly from her husband. She hadn’t replied to the last few he had sent over the past twenty-four hours, a coward’s way out she knew, but she needed space and time to sort herself out. Her mind wandered, driving on autopilot; the city was too big, too alien, and too impersonal for her to get her mind and feelings straight. Now she knew how much she missed the wide-open country and small communities of her native north Devon. Like so many of her peers she had left for college and the bright lights of the city as soon as she could, then fallen for an attractive young class mate who ended up becoming a rising star in the police of all things.
Married for seven years, they had imperceptibly grown apart since Josey’s birth as Andy had hardened in response to the unspoken things he faced in his job, especially since his transfer to the Counter Terrorist Command of the Met. Not that she thought he could see it for himself, but the cold of their growing lack of mutual understanding had chilled them both. In reaction, her love for her child had rekindled her childhood Anglicanism, just as she increasingly realised that there were unlikely to be any further children. And so, she had left, for how long exactly she didn’t know, but she had to get away. At least Josey sleeps in the car, she thought.
So, she drove steadily westwards on the M4, stopping occasionally to give Josey a break while still aiming to arrive at her parents’ house by early evening. She had called them to say she was on route; they hadn’t expressed any surprise at the unannounced news that she was coming down, but she knew the questions would come after she had arrived.
Acknowledgements to Colonies Cross and the Lady Protector
© 1642again 2017