She picks up straightaway; she guesses who it is, although it’s very rare for him to call her at work. Thanks for calling back; he was going to call her anyway. How is she, has she started the things he had asked her, the deal she had accepted?
Errr, sort of started, packed a bag anyway, will tell him where when she sees him, no progress on the other, work’s just mad and this girl phoned, had to meet her last night, seeing her again tonight. No time for anything else, understand?
Tomorrow, please, it’s serious.
Alright, I’ll try, I promise.
Can he see you for lunch?
Why, is something wrong?
No, nothing at all, just want to talk, nothing urgent, can wait a bit. Tomorrow for supper then?
Sure, no problem, come and stay over, no, you won’t be putting me to any trouble, we can talk much better, you know, just like we said, you know how I like you staying over. See you then.
At least for another evening it will seem like a proper home, get something ordered in. He’s onto something, could hear it in his voice, trying too hard to be measured, unusual for him. That small chink in his armoured skin she made has not healed over, at least not for her yet, the essence escaping warms her. How long can we keep this up before someone gets really hurt? He’s giving what you asked for, just started: what more do you want now? I know, I think I always did. Back in your cell, now! Get back to work, making money I don’t give a damn about any more.
Their allies want to talk, face-to-face, not good and too risky. Sound perturbed, yes, that’s the phrase, not frightened, not panicked, but their balance has been disturbed, not so confident now, because of what has happened. Good, whoever is doing these things could actually be helping us indirectly, making our allies humbler and more dependent on us, Allah provides. So, we should refuse to meet them but hold something open for the future, perhaps next week when I am in Belgium checking out the other end of our land supply chain, our marshalling area for volunteers, pretty secure despite the presence of NATO and EU head-quarters; the Belgian authorities don’t want the trouble, they prefer playing ostrich, so long as it’s somewhere else. They can always come to Brussels or Antwerp to meet us if we allow it, to explain why they need us so much; he would enjoy seeing their pride being made humble.
Plans starting to shape up, five, maybe six concurrent operations, about three hundred volunteers, mostly intended martyrs, about sixty percent in place already, arms too, but big shipment by sea on route. Yes, we may need our allies’ help ourselves, primarily intelligence, but this is stretching even us. Let’s decide next week, the infidels’ Holy Week, the irony amusing. It would have been nice to arrange something to mark their Easter festival, but it was just too soon. Hmm, religious dates, what comes next in the Christian calendar?
Time to think at last for you Andy Bowson, no seemingly connected incidents for well over ninety-six hours, forensics starting to yield what? Just the obvious really, two bodies in the ruins of the house, executed, hollow tipped rounds, again custom made, fired from an unidentified military pistol, lack of gunshot sounds indicates it was silenced; expert shots like those that that did for our friend Amallifely. Gas left on, small detonation charge, homemade with alarm clock timer, petrol as an accelerant around the bodies, nothing unusual about it. No one saw anything, but it was a foul night in a divided and suspicious neighbourhood, so nothing surprising about that. Girl, believed to have lived there and now disappeared, remains missing and unidentified as do four of the terrorists killed at the NEC, almost certainly foreigners who came here illegally from some chaotic hellhole.
Plenty of weapons, old eastern block and new Chinese pattern AK47’s from both sides, huge amounts of commercial explosives, where is this stuff getting in? Worst of all, the guys behind this, seems to be a minimum four, appear to know how to frustrate modern forensic science, gloves, probably hairnets, masks, disposable stock overalls almost certainly and shoes with stuck on soles, plastic coverings in vehicles which must have been removed before they were burnt and then all subsequently destroyed elsewhere. They will make, probably have already made, a mistake, we just need to be patient and spot it; the worst fear is that they go to ground, disappear for six months, a year, let the trail get kicked over then pop out again when we’re looking elsewhere.
Some sections of the media, along with the usual agitators and community leaders, are demanding a public enquiry into what they are calling an Islamaphobic ‘shoot to kill’ policy and calling for the government to introduce more laws restricting liberty. Meanwhile, the opposite camp is growing stronger, bolder, saying the Muslim population is a threat and harbouring a growing number of murderous maniacs with international resources, a ‘clear-and-present-danger’. How did that awful Yankee phrase get into our language anyway? The government, the state, seems paralysed between the two, instinctively on the side of the immigrants, but fearing the native voters’ rising exasperation.
Maybe ‘Henry’ does know what he’s talking about after all. And meanwhile Dager’s shed the blues, strutting like the coming man again, no chance of that unfamiliar sympathy for him returning at the moment. She’s always popping in to see him now, his PA loathes her, and the chief is no longer welcome at COBRA or the Home Secretary’s sub-committee meetings. It’s just pathetic.
What’s happening to you Andy Bowson, have you just promoted yourself into a higher league of cynicism and negativity? She hated that, she saw it happening to you, changing the man she had married, but you refused to listen, you said it was just greater perspective, greater maturity. What was she saying now, what would she say if she could see you like this? Perhaps ‘Henry’ could help, he must have been through this, he was a senior spook after all, he would have experienced all this and more. Yet he appeared to have retained some balance, some sense of humour and detachment; he hadn’t sensed cynicism in his voice, just acute perception. Yes, he would lean on ‘Henry’, after all there was no one else and he seemed to need my help too. Perhaps I’ll give him a call later, suggest we meet.
He had had to move fast following his conversation with the Turk’s contact man. He had never spoken with or met the Turk, just knew a little about him from contacts with his emissaries; he wasn’t even sure if he was a Turk, but he was used to such obfuscation, indeed could teach their allies a thing or two. They seemed all for pressing on, a real sense of urgency and ambition, a drive for vengeance for their losses; the contact man hadn’t been able to resist boasting a little about that, their resources, the unprecedented scale of what they were contemplating. He had tried to restrain him, advise caution, small steps in the long race, but the man’s face just replied with an expression of distaste, even contempt, saying they would be in touch with a list of intelligence requirements. They were getting above themselves, becoming over-confident, it might be time to put some distance between us, after all their objectives were hardly compatible, but it needed talking through with some of the others.
They weren’t an organisation as such, just a coalition of the like-minded, albeit with some loose structures and ways of working, but a few had a sort of emergent seniority. They were the ones who co-ordinated things if needed, discussed priorities, shared information and news, spotted talent, identified the resistant for undermining and isolation. Seventeen had made it at his short notice request to the meeting room above a pub in north London, an unusual degree of compliance; clearly, they too were starting to become worried by these unforeseen developments and had made themselves available. They had no leader, but the fact that so many responded to his call was encouraging, stimulating his ambition. Three from the broadcast media, very strong there, two from the print, not quite so there, two senior academics, another stronghold, three from the civil service including myself, two politicians of differing parties, one trade unionist, two from large company HR departments, the preferred entry point into a hostile world, and two from the entertainment industry, so-called celebrities, another sector of strength: they were all so insecure, anything to be ‘on trend.’
“Thank you for making it at such short notice,” he began, “your time is precious, and this shouldn’t take long. As you know, one of the things I have been asked to oversee is our relations with our overseas friends, who have become unsettled by these appalling incidents in the Midlands.”
They were just soaking it up, hanging on every word for their worlds were those of words and hidden meanings, incidents of action and decisive violence were things they saw only second hand and were therefore fascinating. “The security and police forces are hardly covering themselves in glory at present, have little idea as to who is responsible for these killings which may open up opportunities for us in the near future.”
A murmuring now, like that of hyenas faintly scenting freshly spilled blood in the distance, suggesting better feeding ahead.
“Our allies seem to be taking it badly, very hard, and appear to be planning an unprecedentedly large response here, quite what they will not disclose. Despite their set-backs, they also appear to be growing in confidence, almost arrogance, as if they see themselves as the senior partner. They are quite unwilling to take our advice and are just making demands for information.”
One of the media people interrupted, “It was always a massive risk working with these people, supporting them here; just because they share our enemies doesn’t mean there is any commonality of interest at all. They’re driven by benighted beliefs from the dark ages, are erratic and arrogant; how we thought we could use them over the long term I don’t know, it’s been a grave mistake…”
Here it comes, the challenge, ostensibly a fair critique of strategy, but she was ambitious too. Make a firm response. “They have had their uses, have been a big distraction to those we oppose, the consensus was, is, clear that on balance they have been helpful, but today I want to suggest we might need to commence considering a parting of the ways in the near future. After all we have made huge strides since we started to work with them. All things come to an end, but they may be useful for one more service, and then one day…”
The challenger backed down smoothly, biding her time, listening, “What do you suggest, you know them best?”
“Further major dramatics will be counter-productive for them; they are too blind to see that, but such events could serve our ends. New laws, further marginalisation of their support communities over here, a clamour that something must be done,” he permitted himself a smile here, “which I am sure my colleagues here from the press and media will be able to make resound throughout the land, and which have always given us our best opportunities for advance. I foresee changes of senior personnel in the police and security services, which have proved resistant to us for the most part, that may favour us. Indeed, there may be a prospect of placing our candidate at the head of the Counter-Terrorism Command itself, which would be a major coup. Some of you know we have someone senior in the ranks of the Met who is working to effect this amongst other things. She has proven herself loyal and capable, and I believe merits inclusion here. Who knows, she may well be able to secure our preference for the Met Commissioner next time?”
“Please feel free to speak to me about her qualifications subsequently if you wish, and I can arrange for her to meet some of you if you would value that?”
One or two nodded at that, but the challenger didn’t, he could see she was suspicious, but how could she argue against the promotion of another woman to this heavily male dominated body when she was always saying it needed to be fully representative of the people they believed themselves to be serving? That was the amusing thing; he sniggered inwardly.
“I conclude from your faces that we are leaning towards stepping back from our friends, not quite yet but perhaps after their next depravities. In the meantime, they can do us one more direct service. If the police are yielding, that leaves the security services, which are difficult for us. It is also likely that they, or some of them, are, in some manner not understood, behind these killings. The removal of some of their senior personnel may create openings for favourable new thinking in their ranks; it may merit us encouraging our friends to vent some of their excessive zeal in that direction, some names, addresses, that sort of thing, distracting both sides…”
Just nods, no dissent, he was pleased with himself, and she would owe him now, big time.
© 1642again 2018