New Bolder Days
The town of Jado, or Fess’at’u as it is best known to its Berber natives, was made up of white and beige flat-roofed buildings, jam-packed around narrow alleys and dirt roads under one of the clearest blue skies one could ever dream of.
It was one of the main Berber settlements in the secluded Jabal Nafusa Mountain region in Western Libya, situated six kilometres away from the rich port city of Sasha Bahatt.
The lush solitary villa with pitch-black windows was situated on top of a large hill looking down at the threadbare town, grandly, judging even, and most certainly an exceedingly stark contrast. Surrounded by dark grey and brown rugged mountains in the distance, the villa was stretched out between two wide pools, an artificial lagoon and a superbly kept garden on the western side. The private security firm safeguarding it was German, Stagfullër, its men donning black and tan uniforms and armed with the latest weapons obtainable on the black market as they patrolled the grounds against intruders.
The billionaire engineering magnate who owned this gem of a place within this desolate middle of nowhere was born in Gdynia of a Polish father and a Greek mother. Nobody in the town of Jado below had ever set eyes upon him but he was known there as Al Mokhabbar – the Lord.
He was powerful, rich beyond their dreams and very dangerous to cross (not that anyone from the town ever would of course). Strangely enough considering such fear, he was very generous though when it came to helping the townsfolk out. Six years ago this mysterious billionaire’s engineering company, SPEC, had signed a multi million Euro deal with Qadafi’s state owned National Oil Corporation to build a state-of-the-art refinery in Jado – of all places. The main purpose behind the deal was for international field development and downstream activities for European private investment to prosper along with Libyan partners from Libya’s oil reserves of light, sweet crude; this at a time when Qadafi had re-established effective connection with the West after years of isolation subsequent to the Iraq invasion by the US and UK.
Why the mysterious billionaire and his associates behind SPEC had wanted to set up operation away from the actual main reserves of Tobruk, Damah or Benghazi was anyone’s guess, but for the people of Jado, the man known as Al Mokhabbar was a God send, for with this audacious project, money flowed. The sophisticated plant he eventually built generated much needed jobs for the men there and the town obviously prospered beautifully.
The company eventually became known as ESSA Standard Libya Inc, the first to discover, after two long years of exploration mind, commercial quantities of crude oil for export.
But all this meant nothing to Al Mokhabbar or rather Ernst Stavro Blofeld; for all of this was a simple ‘front’ for something bigger, much bigger: DOMINION – his new organisation.
And now, sitting down at his desk typing away at his computer, Blofeld was nearing the end of his long journey; a long journey that had brought him all the way from hell to now, today, here.
The study was large and pretentious – things always were with Blofeld. They had to be. Tinted bullet proof sliding windows loomed behind him, open though to a wide marbled terrace, the lush gardens below. Night was gradually oozing in by the minute, the bright blue sky becoming tinted with the touches of twilight, and the wind had lifted, bringing in with it a refreshing coolness and pleasant smell of Libyan spices from the town; which was what made Blofeld finally pause, sit back in the grand leather chair and breathe in deeply.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
At sixty three, he was a massive man, six foot three with silver crew-cut hair and profound black eyes that were dominant, vicious and absolutely pitiless underneath heavy eyelashes. Clean shaven, his cheekbones were high, pronounced, and he had a neatly trimmed white moustache above a pallid maw. He was dressed completely in black which made him look even more sinister than he already was.
IL Demone Nero.
At precisely seven pm one of his man-servants came in from a door at the far end and placed a silver tray on a small table opposite his desk.
‘Your tea, sir,’ he said in perfect English.
‘Thank you Mustapha,’ Blofeld told him. ‘You may go. But tell Mr. Carter I will see him now please.’
Ernst Stavro Blofeld got up and filled a cup, adding two sugars. He then walked out onto the terrace to watch the sun disappear behind the mountains and finally thought of his interminable arch-enemy: James Bond, agent OO7 of the British Secret Service.
So, now, he reflected, after years of hiding, Bond finally knew the truth – that he hadn’t killed him back in Japan all those years ago. Blofeld would have paid a fortune to have seen the look on Bond’s face upon hearing his voice down there in the basement of the house in Sardegna; the look on his face when Bond finally realised that he had been living a lie all these years.
His thoughts went back to that night in Japan; the night Bond had nearly killed him.
How long ago was that?
Was Bond thinking about that event right now as he was?
Strangely enough Blofeld could never evoke exactly when it had taken place. The mind could be that way, in the wretched of moments.
James Bond was a young agent then, full of hate and revenge for his wife’s death – but who could blame him considering that it was he, Blofeld, who was to blame for that. He felt a touch of cold fear inside him, deep inside him, when he remembered Bond’s steel hands around his throat, suffocating his very life out of him, and the look in the English spy’s eyes – a look of pure hate, pure raging fury.
At some point Blofeld had lost consciousness but he was released prematurely only seconds away from mother death.
What a way to describe it!
Bond had believed that he had killed him, and what had ensued after that, his deliverance from that death, all boiled down to his partner - Irma Bunt. She had saved him from the fiery hell, Bond’s doing, that had engulfed his beloved castle.
With her bare hands, she had dragged his unconscious body out of there to safety, a miracle and no less. As for Bond, he had escaped with the belief that he had at long last killed his nemesis, had even reported to his superiors back at British Intelligence that the last survivor of SPECTRE had been finally slain, which resulted in his file as one of the most wanted criminals the world had ever seen being archived for good.
Imbecile of course, and for him, Blofeld, no less than the luck of the devil…
He sipped some of his tea.
Thanks to that incident he was free to adopt a brand new identity and brand new life as Johan Stavros Shelinger, engineer and intelligence analysis for hire. He had settled down in time in South America again, just a couple of years (he’d enough money in the banks to retire for life – money he had amassed from his espionage service RAHIR and SPECTRE) but, being the man he was, his dreams, nay, nightmares made him move to Turkey where he knew he could find men to help him, good men whom he had used in the past when he was running SPECTRE, men who would join him to build his new dream: DOMINION – the new order.
Something had happened back in Japan.
He had never failed to recognise that particular fact which was in the end the irony of it all. Death had failed to take him, which meant he was bigger than death. Death had failed to take him which meant there was a purpose to what he stood for, an unfinished purpose, task, that he had to fulfil; and that purpose was to achieve what he had always dreamed of – unlimited world chaos and bloody destruction.
Blofeld’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a voice behind him, the American.
‘This thing you’ve got with Bond is getting somewhat out of hand, Ernst, don’t you think?’
A dark shadow of mad irritation momentarily passed Blofeld’s eyes. He hated people questioning him. In the old days of SPECTRE, no one would have ever dared.
Ah, he thought, old days pass away and new bolder days arrive with new bolder ways…
He nodded once as if to beckon away the urge to break his second in command’s neck there and then and placed the cup on the saucer after drinking the tea. Control, he thought wisely. Blofeld then said simply without turning,
‘As a matter of fact, Simon, I don’t.’
Simon Carter moved beside him and leaned against the railing, his back to the view. He was dressed in expensive jeans, a white shirt, Brioni, and comfortable sneakers - Lykas.
‘Bond could jeopardise everything we’ve worked for though,’ he said after a moment of silence. He was treading carefully on the matter.
Blofeld looked at him closely and there was a deadly chill in his eyes, then he smiled confidently.
‘My dear Simon, nothing can stop what we have succeeded into putting into motion here. James Bond is insignificant. He no longer works for MI6 and even if he did find us here – tell me what could he possibly do? Nothing. No – I want Bond alive so he will see what DOMINION has in store for the world. Bit by bit. I want him to see the absolute destruction operation Apocalypse will bring in its wake. And should he, by some small miracle, turn up here, then fine. Even better my dear friend. I would give my right arm for a few hours alone with Mr Bond. Just for old time’s sake you understand.’
Carter lit a long slim cigar. ‘Which in the end is why you pointed the way to him, right?’
‘By using Number 6? Yes, I must confess that when I learnt he was in Sardegna I decided to give him a little lead I’m sure he couldn’t resist. We’ll see how he fares though when it comes to finding me – should it come to that in the end of course.’
Simon Carter turned and looked out at the town of Jado below in the distance.
This pathetic lark with Bond had been going on for far too long now and he just wasn’t comfortable anymore with the idea. Not when they were so close to achieving what they’d been working for so long now. Not after all he’d given up. He should have got rid of OO7 himself a long time ago – Mont Blanc. That had been his chance. If it hadn’t been for Blofeld’s obsession with the bastard he would have long been dead…
Carter let out a soft sigh, resignedly.
‘Well, as the old saying goes then: so shall be written, so shall be done. James Bond lives to die another day then.’
‘Good, number 2. I’m glad you still see things my way. I was getting a little worried then. I wouldn’t like our relationship fouled over something as inconsequential as James Bond.’
Carter couldn’t believe the contradictions in what Blofeld had just told him, and it was getting worse every day. One moment he would say this, the next moment…
‘Now then, dear fellow, tell me where we stand on Phase Three. I am informed that there was trouble down in the tunnels.’
‘Our men ran into some problems with the third quarter of the runway but I’ve been assured by the supervisor that it’ll be solved by tomorrow morning. Apart from that everything seems to be going according to plan.’
‘Good. Let’s hope things stay on track. However…’
‘No matter how well you plan, something always goes wrong. Yes I know. Which is where contingencies come in. Contingencies and back up plans.’
‘Which leads us to FIREWORM, Simon.’
‘The most powerful cyber virus ever invented after ‘FLAME’. ‘Yes. The total black out of all critical computer program systems used by western Intelligence agencies.’
Blofeld chuckled, a strange sound and Carter raised an eyebrow.
That’s a first, he observed of his leader.
‘A live program designed specifically to spread and attack network programs within twenty-four hours. The CIA, NSA, MI5, MI6, GCHQ and all their European equivalents, not to mention the United Nation’s International Telecommunications monitoring Union in Geneva – blinded in one swift strike.’
‘Cyber warfare at it’s best.’ Blofeld told him. ‘And who gets the blame? None other than Iran itself.’
‘With a likely helping hand from its good friend Russia.’
‘And if that doesn’t help in bringing them at each other’s throats, then Phase 3 will.’
They went inside and Blofeld sat down behind his desk again.
‘Dr Gideon Torne has done a good job, number 2. The man behind ‘FLAME’ has indeed outdone himself.’
‘If, of course, it works. We’ll know for sure on Thursday Ernst if that ten million dollars was worth it or not.’
‘I’m sure he won’t let us down.’
Carter nodded once.
‘Well I’d better be going,’ he said. ‘You sure about Bond though?’
Blofeld’s eyes narrowed threateningly. He said nothing though, turning back calmly to his PC and whatever he was doing before he’d stopped for his tea.
‘Just making sure, Ernst.’
And with that Simon Carter turned and walked out.
Blofeld sat back when the door closed behind him and looked up at the ceiling. After years of hibernating, finally the time was coming when he would rise again from the ashes more powerful than ever. 12 years ago it had just been about money. The bombs, the virus, the garden of death. Menial things in his book of life compared to APOCALYPSE. Specs of nothingness.
But all that led to another question that seemed to be forming inside his mind.
What was this all about? World domination? Absolute power? Was it about madness?
Ernst Stavro Blofeld smiled that evil smile of his.
It was simply about seeing this God forsaken world burn to the ground – that’s all.
Nothing more, nothing less…
* * *
Simon Lawrence Carter the third, born October 26, 1961 was the 63rd United States Secretary of State before having to flee the post and his country four years ago after that bastard of a British secret agent, James Bond, had exposed him as a DOMINION operative. He had served in the administration of President Nick Tailor. He was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. In the 2008 election, Carter was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. A native of Ohio, he first attracted national attention in 1981 for his remarks as the first student commencement speaker at Coltrain College. He embarked on a career in law after receiving his J.D. from Latterby Law School in 1985. Following a stint as a Congressional legal counsel, he moved to South Carolina in 1986 and married in 1987. In 1989, he was twice listed as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. After moving to the state of New York, Carter was elected as a U.S. Senator in 2000. In the Senate, he supported the Bush administration on its foreign policy issues, including a vote for the Iraq War Resolution. He even supported the administration on its conduct of the war in Iraq and on most domestic issues. Strangely enough, Senator Carter was re-elected by a wide margin in 2006. In the 2008 presidential nomination race, he won more primaries and delegates than any other candidate in American history, but narrowly lost to Illinois Senator Nick Tailor who won the election and appointed Carter National Security Advisor. He went on to put into place new harsher national security policies that included missile defence as a cornerstone and highlighted the threat of stateless terrorism, which in the end was how it all began because it was while he was abroad on state business in the middle east with CIA Director Godfrey Lucius to discuss the possibilities and prevention of terrorist attacks on American targets that he was approached by the Council of DOMINION and their ideas of a new world order. Why exactly Carter had involved himself with such an organisation is a mystery. It had nothing to do with power, that was for sure, and neither did it have anything to do with fear. It must have boiled down to the fact that life as he knew it simply bored him to the bone; the life he was leading and the policies they were pushing forward. The world bored him in fact – disillusioned him even. He craved for something that would make him feel alive. He dreamed of a new age where the world would find its purpose again- the old way. And then came Blofeld, the man behind DOMINION and things spiralled out of control. He was thrust into Blofeld’s world and his dreams of a new order to replace the broken system the world was revolving around. One thing led to another and soon he was in deep and rising steadily through the ranks till he made Number 2 in DOMINION and, thanks probably to the dark influence of the Committee which had such a strong hold on many influential people in the US, Secretary of State in Tailor’s administration...
Once downstairs back in his own office, Simon Carter took his Sat phone and called Sir William Shaw.
‘He wants Bond alive,’ he said simply when Shaw answered.
‘My men in Sardegna told me. We had the bastard and we let him go. Just like that.’
‘I don’t like it either but those were his orders.’
Carter poured himself a generous tot of Jack Daniels and added some ice.
‘Which is why I’m calling you,’ he continued. ‘We need to keep an eye on Mr. Bond – just to make sure he doesn’t ruin everything. If, unfortunately, along the way he meets his untimely death then fine, so be it. Which is where your men at Vauxhall come in.’
‘Simple William. You’re going to dispatch one or two Double O agents to Sardegna and dispose of him. Neatly of course and without any traces. Fight fire with fire.’
‘What about Blofeld?’
‘Who’s going to tell him? Besides after Thursday he’ll be too immersed in the events of APOCALYPSE to bother about Bond. If, on the other hand, he does ask about him I’ll simply say he’s disappeared off our radar. Simple.’
‘Agreed. Let’s just hope he hasn’t really gone off the radar though.’
‘I’ll leave that to you to sort out Shaw. I’ve got more important things to sort out here.’
Carter cut off then and sipped some of his whiskey. He went and sat down on one of his leather club chairs.
He hated going behind Blofeld’s back but in the end what choice had he? Bond was too dangerous and now probably fuelled with hellfire determination to find Blofeld – after all he was his wife’s murderer and knowing Double O Seven, he would stop at absolutely nothing to extract vengeance now he knew the truth.
Simon Carter shivered as if someone, somewhere, had just stepped over his grave.
Meanwhile back in London, Bill Tanner was just about to leave his office at Vauxhall when the phone rang. It was The SIS senior duty officer, an ex-Parachute Regiment Major, John Bramley, from the Double O Division’s Operations Room.
‘Bill, I need to see you. Any chance I can come up?’
‘I was just about to leave. Can’t it wait till tomorrow?’
‘I wouldn’t have called if it could. Trust me Bill, you need to see this.’
‘Ok. Ten minutes, or my wife’ll have my balls if I’m late tonight as well.’
Tanner put the phone down and crossed over to the window opposite.
London was dark and grey, depressing, rain driving with hard force against the window, the wind blowing stiff, unrelenting, and he felt absolutely awful.
He was wearing a perfectly fitting tweed suit, his tie undone and looking (not only feeling) drawn and dead-beat which in itself wasn’t the least surprising considering the events of that particular day.
Shaw, his new Chief, was onto him like a blood-thirsty leech and wasn’t letting up the least. Major changes were being implemented to the Division’s modus operandi now that the PM had placed him in charge and the bastard was pushing damn hard to run them down.
God, he missed the Colonel.
In an address to all senior personnel that morning just before that God awful attack in Oxford Circus, Shaw had told them that ‘the way things were being done by the Double O Division, the game you men and women are used to playing, is going to change dramatically in the coming days once and for all.’
There were, according to him, fewer reasons for personnel bearing Double O numerals in this day and age (something Tanner had scoffed at). Nations, Shaw had gone on to say, were relying more on ELINT (electronic intelligence) rather than HUMINT (human intelligence), and analysing that ELINT was more crucial. It was here that Tanner had pointed out that groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic extremists still posed leading threats (he was of course proven right later on that afternoon) and the country still needed troubleshooters such as their own Double O agents. ELINT and HUMINT went together, he had said. Personnel with licences to kill were sent out into the cold to sort the problem out the hard way – the permanent way. Waiting for the law courts and politicians or a lazy bloody government to make up their minds in issuing clear directives to take such drastic action would jeopardise any operations the Double O Division undertook – to the detriment of the realm. Their job was to protect it, by any means necessary, even if it meant operating outside the law, which is why the Division was formed in the first place.
Shaw had shot him down ruthlessly by telling him that ‘the days this country turned to maverick organisations like the Double O Division were simply over. Reality check, Chief of Staff. There was going to be more accountability, more caution, how they went about deploying their agents and, above all, more ‘legitimacy’. This meant, as of today, all domestic and overseas operations marked OO Action would be handled solely by JTAC (the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center) and GCHQ after going through me. This is the age of open source channels where Intelligence is concerned, ladies and gentlemen. Legitimacy and transparency were the key words to success in this division from now on.’
Tanner shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. Perhaps it was time to retire, he thought, and there came a soft knock on his door thankfully interrupting his thoughts.
The Chief of Staff of the Double O Division turned.
‘Come in,’ he called.
‘Hi Bill,’ Major Bramley said when he came in. ‘Glad I caught you.’
‘Tell me you’ve found the people responsible for this afternoon’s attack, John.’
‘Not exactly but as you know we’re working around the clock on that. No I’m afraid this is rather more, how shall I put it, intriguing.’
Bramley handed him a four by four colour photo of a man in his early forties, clean cut, dark with dangerous eyes and lips. He was fair haired and had a three inch scar running down the right side of his face. Tanner couldn’t make out if the fellow in the photo was a successful businessman or criminal – probably both, he observed and looked back up at Bramley.
‘Well? Who is he?’
‘One of my men downstairs downloaded it from the main databank linked to MI6, Scotland Yard and MI5.’
‘Believe it or not, Bill, but that’s James Bond.’
Tanner raised an eyebrow and looked back down at the photo.
‘That’s not bloody Bond!’
‘Absolutely not – but that’s what practically every computer from here to Timbuktu is showing whenever you enter that name.’
‘What the hell is going on?’
‘Log into any foreign security or intelligence agency using our CS9 code, type in James Bond in their search engine and that’s the profile picture that’ll come up. I’ve checked myself. Someone has been messing around in cyber world and I know only a handful of men and women who have the knowledge and technical expertise to do that.’
‘He almost certainly taught them.’
‘Who else knows about this?’
‘Just you, me and the analyst who came up with it. He was working on finding Double O Seven and came across that. Apparently he’s worked with Bond in the past. Served with him during his stint with the SBS. He immediately printed a copy and came to me. I should have gone directly to Shaw but I had a gut feeling you should be my first port of call, Bill.’
Tanner sat down behind his desk.
‘I’m glad you did,’ he said quietly, deep in thought. ‘I don’t know what the hell this means but something tells me I should shelve it for a while. Don’t ask me why, John. I’d like some more time to look into it from my end before Shaw finds out. Can your analyst be trusted?’
‘One hundred per-cent. He’d never go over my head on anything.’
‘Good. Where is Boothroyd by the way?’
‘Leave abroad. I checked. Somewhere in Germany. He was talking about visiting a science and technology convention in Craintal.’
‘Ok,’ Tanner told him. ‘I’ll take it from here. Whatever is going on must be big. You don’t go around changing the profile picture of a wanted man for nothing, and I’m talking Black Ops here. Who’s behind it is anybody’s guess but I’ll tell you this – I never did swallow Double O Seven assassinating the Colonel.’
‘Are you saying you think it was a mock up?’
‘At this stage I’m not saying anything. But if by some small miracle it was, then I bloody hope to God Bond and M hurry up and get whatever it is they’re up to over and done with – before Sir William Shaw runs this Division to the ground.’
* * *
M had just got off the phone with the Prime Minister on his private line, the only man except James Bond outside Salisbury House who knew he was in fact alive and well, and running things from there.
‘Things’, however, were not looking good, which was an absolute understatement considering the attacks in London, Germany and the US that afternoon.
The PM wanted M and his new organisation to concentrate on finding out who was behind it (obviously to the detriment of operation NEMESIS). M had pleaded with him not to deflect their focus on catching BLACKFOX bearing in mind Double O Seven had reported that he had found a reliable lead. The outcome with the PM was simply borrowed time though and if Bond didn’t come up with something within 24 hours then M was to concentrate all his limited resources and manpower into bringing whoever was responsible for bombing Oxford Circus to justice – even if it exposed them completely to Shaw and his Division.
M’s study in Salisbury House was on the ground floor, surprisingly small but superbly decorated – seventeenth century. Bleached oak panelling covered the walls around him, shelves lined with old books on one side, beautiful oil paintings depicting various country scenes of Salisbury Cathedral, the White Horse, Marlborough, and other delightful views hanging from the other. A thick maroon carpet, wall to wall, decked out the wood-board floor and a wide fireplace, a log fire burning brightly, warming the place up delightfully. His desk was an antique affair with red felt, the armchair he was sitting on leather, green, deep and thick – two leather armchairs of the same colour in front of it.
There was however no place Colonel Gordon Jackson wanted to be more right now than with his wife at their summer residence in Kent. The peaceful walks along the long stretch of beach, the grey angry sea thundering into shore, crashing against the black rocks there, not to mention that wonderful wind with the taste of salt and freshness in it.
M sighed heavily.
Perhaps after NEMESIS it would be high time to retire; to leave all this miserable strain behind. He’d been feeling like this for the past year now and hadn’t acted on his better judgment. Then, just before Christmas he’d received the information from the MOSSAD that had forced him to set into motion Operation NEMESIS.
Just as the Colonel was about to reflect though what exactly NEMESIS was all about and why he had set up this clandestine department nicknamed the Secret Operations Executive (an off-shoot of course of the war time dirty tricks department dubbed SOE – the Special Operations Executive), the red telephone rang.
He cleared his throat and answered. It was his personal assistant.
‘Sir,’ she said. ‘It’s Double O Seven. He’s called in.’
‘About bloody time too. Put the Commander through right away Ms Moneypenny.’
It had only taken James Bond ten minutes to open the handcuff binding him to the chair using the Russian NRS - 2 Scouting knife his captors had failed to confiscate. Finally free, he cautiously made his way upstairs, the NRS ready for use should he encounter trouble. The fact was though nobody was around. All the guards had left strangely enough and once outside he was immediately on his cell phone to Moneypenny.
‘James, thank God you’ve called in. There’s been a terrorist attack in Oxford Circus – initial reports coming in say it was Al Qaeda…’
‘Forget Al Qaeda,’ Bond snapped, cutting her off. ‘It’s Blofeld – Ernst Stavro Blofeld. London, Germany, the US. I witnessed it all live from here.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘Put me through to M but stay on the line. I haven’t got much time.’
There was a momentary pause as she patched him through.
‘Double O Seven?’ came M’s stern voice at the other end. ‘Where the devil have you been man?’
Bond immediately told the Colonel what he had witnessed and the truth behind who had actually coordinated the attacks.
‘Good Lord, it can’t be!’
‘It’s him all right. I’d recognise the devil’s voice anywhere. Somehow he survived Japan, sir. I was wrong. I didn’t kill him after all. And the worst thing about it all is that he’s the man behind DOMINION, not Carter.’
Bond went on to tell his chief exactly what Blofeld had told him leaving nothing out.
‘What about Practoz?’ M asked after.
‘Dead. They attacked his villa but I managed to establish that someone inside his organisation is working for Blofeld. DOMINION is using Practoz’s shipping company for something. What exactly I’ve no idea.’
‘Then the Sasha Bahatt lead is still open. Correct?’
‘Sasha Bahatt and a man called Washeed Ibn Al-Bahanni. It appears that he was Practoz’s contact there.’
‘There is one other thing,’
‘Blofeld wants me to find him, sir.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’m now certain I was given those leads by Practoz’s personal assistant by design.’
There was a slight unnerving pause at the other end.
‘What makes you say that?’
‘I suppose the same reason Blofeld kept me alive today. It’s personal where I’m concerned. He can’t come here to kill me so he wants me to go to him.’
‘Hmmmm. I don’t like that one bit, Bond. Personal vendettas can go either way and almost invariably end up with two graves, not one. I need not remind you Double O Seven that…’
‘Sir,’ Bond cut in. ‘I assure you I have no intention of walking that particular path again. You have my word.’
‘Then again, if you do find Blofeld…’
‘We find Carter.’
M cleared his throat.
‘All right, James. What’s your next move?’
‘First and foremost find Monetta Abruzzi. She’s the link, I’m damn sure of it now. Once I’ve got her, my next port of call will be Sasha.’
‘Ok, but I want you to tread carefully albeit hastily. This is even bigger than I thought, not to mention those three attacks gave the PM second thoughts about operation NEMESIS. If he shuts us down now it’ll be a shambles for all of us.’
‘Now then, James, tell me exactly what we can do from this end regarding your situation there.’
‘For starters, I’ll most certainly require help to get into Libya. I think my best bet would be to leave from Malta rather than here. Getting there shouldn’t be a problem with that power boat Civitillo provided me but I’ll need a contact in Malta to help me out – someone we can trust of course.’
‘I know just the person. Ms Moneypenny will set you up accordingly. What else?’
‘I have no idea where the hell I am over here so if you could possibly get Q to establish a satellite fix from my cell phone I would appreciate someone calling a taxi for me. As things stand I’m stranded, sir.’
* * *
It didn’t take long for Q to locate Bond’s position and it only took another hour for a taxi Moneypenny had called to get there. Once back at the hotel, Bond sorted himself out and after tending to his flesh wound, showered and got dressed into beige slacks and dark blue short sleeved shirt. He then went downstairs, prearranged a taxi for seven and waited for Moneypenny’s call at the bar opposite the reception area.
The double Scotch and soda was just the thing to sharpen his senses after the shocking developments that afternoon. The strange thing about it all though was that, so far at least, Bond didn’t feel a thing inside considering. One would have thought that finding out that Blofeld was actually alive he’d be in a very dark place. Instead he felt cold towards it all – disattached; and that, in itself, was indeed disturbing to say the least. Bond ordered another double Scotch and went outside, to one of the tables near the pool and smoked a much needed cigarette. Deep lungfuls of smoke, soothing, intense, lighting up his entire being inside. At that specific moment in time, Bond felt alive – truly; and when he exhaled, that dirty grey smoke, he knew that cutting smoking completely would simply be a waist of time. The fact was he enjoyed the rotten sin too damn much.
Why the hell was he thinking of that, quitting smoking. Of all the rotten thoughts in his head!
And then he heard his old chief’s voice hammer away:
‘Personal vendettas can go either way, Double O Seven, and almost invariably end up with two graves not one.’
Two graves, Bond told himself.
Ernst Stavros Blofeld and Tracy.
Bond sipped some more Scotch, his eyes narrowing as he looked beyond the scene of people swimming in the pool or sunbathing on their hired deck-chairs before him. He looked beyond, trying to find that feeling he knew was there inside him; that dreadful feeling he appreciated was burning guilt. The pathetic fact was though, Bond couldn’t find it which again was what bothered him most.
‘I assure you I have no intention of walking that particular path again.’
Could Bond stay true to those words in the end?
Blofeld. Still alive and as dangerous and threatening as ever.
Tracy. The only woman he had truly loved; the woman he had decided to marry and eventually leave the Double O Section for.
Death. The drive to Kitzbuhel for their honeymoon. Those last few minutes before the devil dealt his hand.
The fact was it had all been his fault and that in itself was the demon inside him, eating away at his soul; his very being. He had seen that damn red Maserati as they passed the filling station. He should have clicked immediately but instead he had chosen to ignore them. His guard had been down. The warning bells had actually sounded at the back of his bloody mind but wrongly he had ignored it; ignored the two people muffled up in heavy clothing and wearing goggles.
Blofeld and Irma Bunt.
Bond lit another cigarette five minutes after putting one out.
‘I assure you I have no intention of walking that particular path again. You have my word.’
Bond’s mind then went back to Japan but everything was blurred. He managed to see Blofeld’s castle going up in flames, then himself strangling the lunatic; recalled that feeling of satisfaction in finally riding this world of the man who had killed his wife. Why in heaven’s name had he stopped when he had? Why hadn’t Bond checked that he had finished him off for good?
Bond then watched himself escaping in the balloon, the plunge into the sea off Kuno Island, and finally Kissy, sweet Kissy, who had saved his life...
But is that exactly how the whole thing had happened? How could he be so sure? After all he had lost his memory!
Then of course there were the Russians and what those bastards had done to him during that year in their hands - the brainwashing at the hands of the evil Dr Stanistova Rivke.
Bond closed his eyes at that thought and felt his skin crawl.
He took another lungful of smoke and thankfully his cell phone rang. It was Moneypenny.
‘How are you James?’
‘How do you think?’ he said gruffly.
There was a slight pause.
‘M’s worried about you,’ she told him. ‘He’s worried that…well, that you might not be entirely…’
‘Up to this assignment considering that the man I’m now after is the same man who murdered my wife twelve years ago and whom I believed I’d successfully killed?’
Bond swore harshly.
‘I’ve already assured the bloody Colonel that I am up to it. He has absolutely nothing to worry about. Believe me I’ve never felt cooler about anything else in my life. Now I hope you’ve got Monetta Abruzzi’s address for me because my taxi’ll be here soon.’
Moneypenny gave him the address, slightly taken aback.
‘Good. Now what’s going on at your end?’
‘We’re trying to confirm Blofeld’s presence in Libya obviously but so far we’re getting nothing. They’re hidden deep, probably using multiple satellites to cover their tracks.’
‘Undoubtedly, Penny. What about Al-Bahanni?’
‘Clean so far but we’re digging deeper. M’s pulled out all the stops. We’ve managed to establish that Al-Bahanni’s got a load of European connections – nothing out of the ordinary mind considering he’s in the oil business. He’s filthy rich which isn’t surprising not to mention very respected in certain circles here in Britain. We’ll obviously have a better profile in the next hour or so which I’ll send directly to your phone. We’re using ‘I Tell’ so it’ll be safe.’
‘Ok. I’ve got to go, Penny. With any luck I’ll get the girl, if she hasn’t already scarpered off the map for good. If she has then Malta’s my next stop so sort it out for me will you?’
And with that Bond cut off before she could say anything else. He stubbed out his cigarette and gulped down the remaining Scotch. He had been hard on her but he was in no mood for fudging around about being ready or not to tackle this assignment at this stage. Besides, what the hell was the old man going to do if he wasn’t? Pull him out? Now?
Bond got up and went out to his awaiting taxi.
Another Dead Lover
James Bond found Monetta and who most probably was her father stone dead, their throats slit from ear to ear, laying in the kitchen of their house in Santa Marija in a pool of bright red blood.
Death, so brutal and cold – the inimitable mark of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Bond stood there looking down at them both after ‘letting’ himself into their home the old fashioned way (therefore picking the lock after waiting a while for somebody to answer the doorbell).
The lunatic wasn’t making it easy for Bond to find him, was he?
Why kill the girl, his only probable lead to his lair? Unless perhaps Bond’s perception of the whole damn thing was off the mark completely!
Careful not to step in the blood, Bond trod over their bodies and crossed to the fridge, found a 2 litre bottle of water, half full, and poured some into a glass. Leaning against the oak kitchen counter, he looked down at Monetta, slumped there on the fawn tiles that covered the floor...
The girl he had made love to so passionately the night before.
If Blofeld really did want Bond to find him then why the hell kill her? He was more than certain that Monetta was the insider within Practoz’s organisation. That was made plain to him during his meeting with him at his villa. There could be no other explanation. When Bond had approached her yesterday morning at the beach she had probably known who he was from the start. Most likely she had also contacted Blofeld soon after to report Bond’s presence in Sardegna and his interest in Practoz, hence the attack on his villa and Bond’s subsequent capture. After all who else knew Bond was going to see the Italian that morning at his villa? Monetta Abruzzi and the three other players on Practoz’s table last night, at the casino.
Hmmm, he’d forgotten all about them.
The Asian woman and the two Arabs with suspicious eyes.
They had heard everything Bond had told Practoz and, more to the point, knew he was going down to the villa too.
Had he been wrong about the girl? Was she, in the end, innocent? DOMINION or not, she had fallen victim of Bond’s eternal curse: touch him, love him, and bloody die.
Well done James, another dead lover to your name.
Bond took a deep breath to steady his burning nerves and then drank the water. He took one final look at her and walked out to the waiting taxi.
* * *
He got back to the hotel and decided his time in Sardegna was up. He now felt the cruel heat of danger getting closer by the minute, a down in the gut feeling. Moneypenny had made sure earlier that the car he’d left at the villa would not be traced to him or his hotel thanks of course to Q’s computer magic, but that of course didn’t mean Bond was in the ‘all clear’. He quickly packed his things and checked out, this time taking the taxi to Costa Smeralda. At eleven PM he was on board the sleek Stingray powerboat Civitillo had left for him and was soon on his way to Malta in the dead of night, leaving all the damn death his visit to Sardegna had brought behind him. Only God knew what miserable horrors lay ahead though.
* * *
Once again Moneypenny had sorted out all the necessary permits, bookings and transport arrangements to his apartment in Birgu in the south of Malta, just a few blocks away from the magnificent Casino di Venezia, and now James Bond stood over the king-sized bed in the ultra-modern apartment looking across the Grand Harbour, unpacking again, the soft hum of the air conditioner the only sound there.
The sun soon came up from behind the walls of Malta’s capital city, Valletta, blood red and Bond found himself pausing to look out from the glass doors, appreciating the splendour of such a moment.
Birgu was situated on a low neck of land on the eastern side of the Grand Harbour, in days gone by safeguarded by Fort St Angelo sited at its point but now just a medieval tourist attraction and fascinating reminder of a very proud Maltese history. It was, Bond observed, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, its streets narrow, delightfully ancient, massed between flat-roofed Arab-like houses, souvenir shops and baroque wine bars here and there, conveniently located around a grand church dedicated to St Lawrence in the main ‘piazza’. Bond liked the place immediately. It was, after all, the site of a major battle between the Knights of the Order of St John and the Ottoman Empire during the Great Siege in 1565.
Malta, the bulwark of Europe during that particular siege and years later during the Second World War. It was a southern European country that consisted of an archipelago in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily and north of Libya. He had been here once before, several years ago, during the notorious Riesha Goethe affair, but this time Bond was only passing through to darker, more dangerous grounds – Libya and hopefully Blofeld’s lair, wherever the hell that was...
There wasn’t much Bond could do now except wait for Moneypenny to sort out his passage. It would probably take a few days since getting into Libya so soon after the ‘revolution’ was going to be extremely difficult. For starters, Bond didn’t have at his disposal a submarine and aqua-jet like he’d had the last time he’d slipped into the country just before the ‘Midas Gold’ affair. No. This time round, he was, for all intents and purposes, quite alone save for the limited assistance M’s SOE could give him.
After finally unpacking, Bond opened the doors to step outside onto the small terrace. A soft, cool, morning breeze blew in from the sea bringing with it the pleasant scents typical of this Mediterranean island – salt, olives, carobs and lemon and, if Bond wasn’t mistaken, that sweet smell of bushtaka, the Maltese delicacy. It wasn’t at all surprising, he thought, how someone like him who lived most of his time in a city like London, with all that fog and exhaust and God only knows what else, became positively sensitive to such things in places like this. It brought them back to life again he supposed.
There were several cruise liners birthed opposite, a sharp modern contrast against the ancient Pinto Wharf and its attractive waterfront, not to mention the historical walls surrounding Valletta, the capital city, (built by and named after the Grand Master of the Order of St John, Jean Parisot de Valette, the Frenchman who had led Malta against the Turks in 1565, and against all odds).
The sea was gun-metal below a bright blue sky, flocks of seagulls dotting about to and fro above Fort St Elmo and St John’s Co Cathedral.
Perhaps a place Bond could retire to once this mission was completed?
He swore at himself.
How many times had he thought that about peaceful places like this? The tranquillity would almost certainly end up killing him.
At noon he got dressed into white shorts, leather sandals and a sea-island cotton shirt, loose against the agonizing heat, and went down for lunch at a corner restaurant opposite the Freedom Square monument commemorating the departure of British forces from the island in 1979. He sat at one of the tables outside, again enjoying the view, this time of classy yachts birthed across from him and unique Maltese features the limestone buildings and houses boasted. He ordered soup and fish, the famous Lampuka, and complemented it all with one of Malta’s finest wines: La Valette Special Reserve.
When in Rome…
It was about one in the afternoon when he finally received the text message he was waiting for.
SUBJECT CLEAN. ‘M’ NOT SWAYED THOUGH. POSSIBLE COMPROMISE OF YOUR COVER. ASSETS DEPLOYED FROM VAUXHALL WITH POSSIBLE SEVERE INTENT. DESTINATION SARDEGNA. CAUTION ADVISED HOWEVER. CALL FROM BLACK FOX TO SHAW INTERCEPTED BY ‘Q’. SCRAMBLED AND IMPERCEPTIBLE NEVERTHELESS. AS SUSPECTED MULTIPLE SATELLITE COVER. CHINESE OR IRANIAN POSSIBLE INFLUENCE. TRIP TO LIBYA ON HOLD AS YET. WORKS IN PROGRESS BUT POSSIBLE LOOPHOLE SOON. CONTACT FOR YOUR DISPOSAL AND ASSISTANCE IS BEING DISPATCHED AS YOU READ FROM ‘S’ HOUSE. ARRIVAL AT YOUR END THIS EVENING. PICK UP FROM AIRPORT NOT REQUIRED. CODENAME LEERA.
Bond sat back and enjoyed his cigarette and coffee.
Who the devil was LEERA? He thought…
* * *
To Bond’s complete and utter surprise the agent turned out to be none other than Moneypenny herself. Now there weren’t many times in James Bond’s career that had left him gobsmacked but this most certainly was one of them.
‘What the hell?’ he managed to put in as she marched passed him inside.
Bond turned after her, still staggered.
It was seven thirty in the evening and Moneypenny had arrived in Malta an hour ago. From Malta International airport she had taken a taxi to Birgu. She had got there just as Bond was about to go out to dinner, and he now watched her dump her travel bag and laptop on the sofa and stride over to the drinks cabinet opposite.
‘What an awful flight,’ she said across her shoulder.
He closed the door behind him and waited as she helped herself to some Scotch and then turned to face him, a mischievous smile beaming upon her face.
‘Well, James, where shall I start darling?’ she finally told him. ‘To begin with there aren’t many people we can trust on this particular mission as I’m sure you can appreciate considering, so we decided that our best option to get you into Libya safely would be sending someone you and we trust completely to sort things out with the natives here – Moi.’
She sat down on one of the armchairs and kicked off her shoes. She was wearing faded-black hue Piped ankle skinny jeans from Harrods, matched beautifully with a charcoal Ponette jacket with Shawl lapels. She looked absolutely spectacular, full of energy.
‘What can I say,’ Bond told her. ‘I’m impressed.’
‘You’ll also be happy to know we’ve already established a way in for you,’ she told him. ‘It is a bit tricky but I think it’ll do.’
‘Do you now?’
‘You’ll be joining a Maltese security consultant called Manuel Chevalier. He’ll be leaving for Benghazi the day after tomorrow.’
‘When you say leaving, how exactly?’
‘Air Malta commercial flight. His company has just won a contract to provide a number of security guards, mostly ex-policemen, for a place called Palm City. He’s flying over there to finalise the contract. M’s expediently pulled a few strings and he’s managed to get you in on it all as his assistant.’
‘That must’ve cost M a hell of a lot of strings.’
‘As I said he’s pulling out all the stops now we know Blofeld is behind DOMINION. Once in Benghazi you’ll both be taken to the Corinthia hotel for an overnight stay after which a Libyan contact working for the Palm City owners will drive Mr Chevalier out to the location.’
‘Whilst I do what?’
‘You James will linger at the Corinthia due to stomach complications. Something you ate on the plane I suppose.’
Bond raised an eyebrow. ‘Which means what exactly?’
‘Which means you’ll actually be waiting for your own contact to pick you up and haul you onwards to Sasha Bahatt.’
‘Who’ve you set me up with?’
‘An old friend of yours. Mulai Raisul.’
‘That old rogue?’
‘Yes, if we can find him in time that is. He’s disappeared off the map at the moment. Probably retired after your last visit to Libya.’
Bond went over to the drinks cabinet and poured himself a stiff Scotch.
‘And you came all the way out here to tell me that?’
‘Well, no, James, of course not,’ she said and took a sip of her own Scotch. ‘There is still a good deal of things to sort out with the Maltese. I’m going to work in tandem with the National Intelligence Unit on all the specifics. Remember they’re very sensitive here about foreign covert agents operating unlawfully on their soil and as things stand with you and your state of affairs back in Britain as a wanted man we can’t afford them getting peeved off because they weren’t in the ‘know’. Hence, in a nutshell, apart from being your controller for the duration of your stay here I’m also acting as M’s personal envoy.’
‘I see,’ he said, now genuinely charmed by her impetus. ‘One thing though. I thought we didn’t actually officially exist. The Secret Operations Executive that is. Wouldn’t you be exposing us to the Maltese that way, Moneypenny, with the possible result of baring open NEMESIS to our own SIS? Is M so buoyant the NIU here won’t throw us out to the wolves?’
‘We know what we’re doing James. Trust us. We got you this far didn’t we?’
‘You got me this far?’
He moved across the room and stood facing her, his eyes dead-set on her own and then he looked her over, coolly, as if sizing her up.
She was a stunning six-footer. Her reddish-brown hair was close cropped to her skull and her eyes were the colour of greyish blue pearls through clear water, her skin perfectly tanned on an oval face. Her mouth was small, aesthetic, and she had a firm sexy body with perfectly curved breasts.
She smiled again, sensing his thoughts from the look in his own eyes.
‘Of course the devil is in the detail, James, which is all stowed away in my little bag here and will come to light to you better tomorrow morning.’ There was a twinkle in her eyes which he simply adored. ‘For now let’s just say I’ve given you a very basic sum-up.’
‘You call that a sum-up?’
‘Yes, and it’s been a rather long day and tell you the truth, darling, I’m famished now.’
‘You’re enjoying this aren’t you?’ he said cheerfully.
‘Yes I am so kindly stick it out.’
‘Oh, James, you scoundrel. You know what I mean. This is my first time in the ‘field’ and I want to relish it all. Now then, I rented this pretty apartment for you myself. I also handed down strict instructions to the landlady to ensure the fridge is topped up with all the ingredients necessary for you to cook me one of those delicious omelette-royals you’re so famous for.’
‘Tell me you’re joking.’
‘Absolutely not, Double O Seven. Now go and put on your nice little smock or whatever you wear and get cooking. In the meantime, I’ll pop down and buy us a very expensive bottle of red wine if you haven’t already got one then I’m going to grab a shower, after which we’ll talk more shop and see where you actually stand with that horrible man called Blofeld.’
‘Ok,’ Bond said. ‘It seems you’ve got everything worked out then Penny. Or should I call you agent LEERA? ‘
‘James, darling, after tonight, you can call me whatever you fancy.’
And with the deliciously playful smile she gave him, James Bond knew the cast was set for a very exciting two or three days.
Where This Is Going
The omelette turned out to be nothing less that a delicious affair – as was the wine Moneypenny had bought, a superb Chardonnay. They now stood outside on the terrace smoking (She had broken character once again by accepting one, to Bond’s delight). The night air was warm, silky, and the exquisite view before them moving: the walls surrounding Valletta suffused brilliantly in yielding ashen illumination - a scene out of the history books. It was exceptional. An occasional ship passed by, through the Grand Harbour, like a lone dinosaur drifting into the black night beyond the old breakwaters on their left, its destination most likely mainland Europe.
They stood there in silence for a long while, enjoying this moment, secure in each others company.
‘Yes, James,’ Moneypenny said at last. ‘You are a good cook, I’ll give you that.’
Bond raised an eyebrow.
‘Thanks. Where omelettes are concerned mind.’
She blew out a stream of smoke and Bond pushed the million dollar question he’d been meaning to ask since they had sat down to eat.
‘Now then, Jane, perhaps you’ll tell me why you’re really here.’
She looked at him but said nothing.
‘Oh, come on,’ Bond went on. ‘You know fine well you could have sent anyone over to sort things out with the Maltese. You broke cover, Jane, and that was dangerous especially if they’re watching Heathrow and the other airports. Why?’
She breathed in the fresh salt air and Bond couldn’t help observe, and not for the first time, just how beautiful she was.
‘I wanted to see you, James. Simple as that. Before you left for Libya. It took a lot to convince the old man but I did and here I am.’
‘But you still haven’t told me why?’
‘Isn’t it obvious?’
She smiled softly and there was something in those warm eyes of hers as she looked out again.
‘Because I care about you, James. And as you know fine well, I always have.’
‘You know, I remember vividly how it was twelve years ago – what you became after Tracy was killed.’
‘Do you now.’
Where the hell was she going with this?
‘Yes and your thirst for revenge took you to a very dark place, and who could blame you. You forgot what it meant to live though and I couldn’t do a damn thing to help you. I wanted to, James. I really wanted to reach out to you but you shut me out back then, you shut the whole world out. As always, the job got in the way too, MI6, the fact I was M’s PA and all that rubbish.’
Bond recalled the time she was referring to in his mind and in those few moments relived the shock, the pain and above all, the gloom that had overwhelmed his life. He had truly gone to pieces.
‘Then you left for Japan – that damn job Sir Miles gave you.’
‘Hmmm,’ Bond said softly. ‘The old man had thought that giving me a desperate situation would bring out my reserves again.’
‘When I’d read your obit I was shattered because, in the end, we all knew you weren’t ready for that mission. Well now Blofeld is back from the dead and I wanted to be with you before you left to new indefinite perils.’
‘How poetic of you, Ms Moneypenny. New indefinite perils?’
Moneypenny and Bond went back a long way – a relationship that had stood on ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ due to their particular jobs, her as PA to M and Bond as a Double O agent. ‘Ifs’ and ‘buts’, and that one night in Kent soon after the Nightingale Affair two years after joining the Double O Division.
They had both promised to leave it at that back then – a wonderful night that had had to happen but could not be unfortunately continual. The flirting had gone on of course, the passionate innuendos, direct references to the powerful sexual attraction they felt for each other, but that was where it had stopped.
Bond took a deep pull from his cigarette and blew out the smoke.
Where were they now though?
Where did they stand after all these years?
She was undoubtedly one of the sexiest women he had ever known, bright, intelligent, sincere and passionate in everything she did. But, could they possibly go anywhere after all these years of professional relationship enveloped within the cruel world of espionage, if not to spoil what they had built?
Bond moved in closer and smelled her fragrance: Clive Christian’s Valentine. The aroma was simply delightful.
‘Jane, I’m not that man anymore,’ he said finally. ‘I learned to live with Tracy’s death a long time ago. Ever since I got back from Japan, after the Scaramanga job to be exact, I buried what had happened once and for all.’
‘But you thought Blofeld was dead, James. You thought you’d extracted retribution. How do you feel now that you know it was a lie?’
Bond drank some wine and gazed out into the darkness beyond.
He cleared his throat.
‘Not bad enough to go where I went back then,’ he said. ‘Not that I don’t want to kill the bastard – I do with all my heart. And I will, eventually. I want him dead for what he did to Tracy but believe me I’m actually clear about it all, if that makes sense. In other words I feel totally focussed. Yes, it is personal and all that but I know I’ve a job to do and that comes first and foremost.’
Moneypenny nodded and there was now a sad look in her eyes. She couldn’t explain what she felt then. Whatever it was it crippled her thoughts; her vision. James Bond was, to her, the man who should have been but never could be. But tonight would be different. Tonight he would be hers, albeit for one last time. What possible harm could there be in giving herself completely to a man she had wanted badly for years but could never have? After all, the main reason she had come out to him was in fact because after he left Malta, there may never be another chance…
She turned to face him and touched his face gently and he smiled down at her, those devilishly delicious eyes of his glowing warmly – bright blue grey pools. She ran a finger along the scar that gave his face that look of a handsome buccaneer.
‘You do, you know,’ she said out of the blue.
‘I do what?’
‘Look like Hoagie Carmichael, James. A friend of mine in records division fancies you and said you looked like him. She’s right.’
Their lips met and she felt his tongue push hers apart and then they were kissing passionately.
‘You do know where this is going, Penny, don’t you?’ he asked when they finally came up for breath.
‘I wouldn’t want it any other way, James.’
They went inside through to the bedroom and got undressed and then Moneypenny walked over and put her arms around him. They were then on the bed and she kissed him, hard, a wild animal, hungry for it. She moved on top of him, easing him into her. For a moment she lay there, her head on his chest, listening to his breathing, enjoying it fully.
‘You feel so good, James,’ she whispered. ‘It’s been a long time since that night in Kent.’
His hands were holding her buttocks and he helped her move so they did so in rhythm, together. When they finally came, Moneypenny arched her back, wanting to feel him more. She then slumped down against him breathless, their skins hot and moist, glistening in the velvet dark.
‘Let’s not wait several years to do that again, Penny dear,’ Bond told her after several moments.
‘I do hope not, James.’
He stroked her hair.
‘I wonder what M would say if he saw us now?’ he said, a soft smile on his lips.
Penny laughed. ‘I can imagine,’ she said and put on a deep, gruff voice, imitating their chief. ‘OO7! What the devil are you doing to my PA? This is outrageous! Where’s your sense of discipline man!’
They laughed and Penny moved, nestling back against him. He kissed the back of her neck, his fingers caressing her back all the way down to her sumptuous buttocks. After a while, they made love again – longer, more passionately and intense, and when they were done and spent again they lay together, his strong arms around her waist, his breath on her neck, and as the clock struck one in the morning, they finally fell asleep…
The Devil Of A Place
The sun came up at quarter to six and Bond stirred awake, instantly aware of the warmth and sound of traffic outside. He looked down at Penny’s slender body as she lay naked on her front.
Smiling, he kissed her back until she too woke up.
‘You said you wanted to be up by six,’ he said.
‘What better way, James.’
They made love again and there was something deeper there this time, more feeling, more intimacy, in the way they kissed and converged. Later, they showered together, laughing, joking around and Bond was indeed thankful for her company.
At around eight thirty they had breakfast down at the small restaurant on the waterfront opposite the apartment, the view of Valletta across the waters in the morning sun dazzling. An hour later, Bond enjoyed a cigarette outside on the balcony while Moneypenny busied herself making some calls, fixing a meeting with Chevalier for eleven thirty and most importantly establishing contact with the Maltese National Intelligence Unit.
Bond needed a Maltese passport to get into Libya and considering the Maltese were very sensitive to foreign intelligence agencies operating clandestinely there, M didn’t want to take any chances. At the price of possible exposure, he had decided that Moneypenny should go through the NIU Chief, Charles Spiteri, an old friend of the Colonel’s and someone he trusted completely. Bond had met him briefly, again during the Riesha Goethe affair...
Before coming out to Malta, Moneypenny had got her hands on some good guide-books and a couple of maps and it was about eleven fifteen when they eventually got through the mad traffic to the capital city, the historical, cultural and main commercial center of Malta.
It was a walled fortress city built in the sixteenth century on a ridged peninsula between two harbours. Bond was impressed. Valletta had a unique character, just like the rest of the island. Bastions and ravines formed impregnable dark grey walls down to the sea and, within these historical walls, an intersecting design of narrow sloping cobbled streets lay. From what Bond knew, even the savage blitz by Italian and German bombers during the Second World War didn’t manage to change this uniqueness, not even after the rebuilding was complete.
Bond, wearing a light blue suit and white shirt open at his neck, and Moneypenny, alluring in a soft taupe summer dress, walked down Republic Street from City Gate, bustling with people, the heat from the morning sun already becoming unbearable. This particular street used to be called Kingsway until Dom Mintoff had become Prime Minister in 1971 and set in motion a long-dispute with the British government. They reached Republic Square, dominated by the high walls of the national library and an unamused, stern-looking statue of Queen Victoria. The square was stocked with tables and umbrellas belonging to the three main Café’s and patisseries there – Cordina, Regina and the Britannia; smartly dressed waiters and waitresses carrying trays above their shoulders with drinks and pies, serving the drove of Maltese and tourists there. They found a free table and ordered two cocktails: Mimosas, and waited beneath the wide sun umbrella, an enchanting place and something out of a Franco Zeffireli film, Bond observed. It was about fifteen minutes afterwards when a tall dark lean man with black wavy hair and auburn eyes walked up to them. He wore a silver grey suit, perfectly fitted, and complemented by a light blue silk tie.
‘Mr Shane and Ms Porter I presume?’ he asked in English. ‘My name is Emanuel Chevalier. Good morning.’
Bond and Penny got up and they shook hands. When the waiter finally came along, he ordered a Mimosa and two ‘Pastizi’.
‘Where I come from they call it a Buck Fizz. Best thing before noon for a wretched hangover.’
‘I always considered the Bloody Mary to have that honour, Mr Chevalier,’ Bond told him.
‘What exactly are Pastizi, Emanuel?’
Chevalier arched his head slightly to the right, narrowing his left eye at her and smiling crookedly as if he was about to gently chide a little child.
‘Please, don’t tell me you have never tasted our beloved Pastizi, Ms Porter?’
‘Jane,’ she told this rather handsome Maltese man and Bond could tell she was taken by him.
He smiled softly at his stitch of jealousy, if it could be called that. Hopefully it wasn’t, he contemplated. That would be dangerous.
‘A Pastiz, Jane, is a traditional Maltese pastry snack,’ Bond told her.
‘That’s right Mr Shane, well done. We call them Ricotta or Pea, Pizzelli, cakes. Adorable, believe me, albeit rather uncompassionate on the stomach at times. But, having said that, I find that a tiny peppermint soon after soothes that area perfectly, if you know what I mean. Once again though, they are nothing short of adorable. You should try one.’
‘I might, thanks. But I’ll see how you fare first.’
Chevalier sat back, unbuttoned his jacket, relaxed, and produced a packet of Royals Red.
‘Do you mind if I smoke?’
‘Not at all,’ they told him.
‘Thank you. Now then, Mr Shane, you want to get into Libya using a false Maltese passport I understand.’
Down to business finally.
‘That’s correct,’ Bond said.
‘And acting as my personal assistant where security consultancy is concerned.’
‘You will be paid handsomely.’
‘So I was told by a mutual friend of ours.’
‘Charles Spiteri,’ Penny put in.
‘Exactly. Mr Spiteri and I go way back. I am, you see, an ex-NIU agent myself, retired after twenty five years service in the Force.’
‘Who went on to become Managing director of Chevalier Security Services who has just won a contract to provide fully trained security personnel for a place called Palm City. Yes, that much we know.’
Chevalier looked Bond hard in the eyes, sizing him up.
‘Mr Shane, I am sure you also know that the Libyans can be very odd when it comes to the British – unsettlingly brutal to be more frank, especially now after the revolution. If we are caught trying to get you in by circumvention, God knows what they would do to you, and me of course for being an accomplice. Please, before we go any further, could you give me one good reason why I should take such a mad risk?’
Bond nodded and lit one of his own cigarettes.
‘Let’s just say the security and well being of the western world depends on me getting into Libya safely and finding a man we’ve been looking for for a very long time now.’
‘The man responsible for the three terrorist attacks in Germany, the US and Britain yesterday afternoon, Emanuel,’ Moneypenny told him.
Chevalier raised both eyebrows at that.
‘That bad?’ he said.
‘Couldn’t be worse. He’s planning another terrorist attack in a couple of day’s time. My job is to stop him.’
The waiter returned with Chevalier’s drink and Pastizi and after examining them closely, Moneypenny decided to opt out and wait for lunch.
‘Very dramatic I must say, Mr Shane. However, I will do it. Not for the money mind – although I do need it. I will do this because I think that it is the right thing to do considering what you just told me. I don’t want to know what you are actually up to, though, or how you are going to find this man in the end. That is your business. My business is playing the part of your boss on this security project of mine and get you through arrivals. As you know, the less said in these matters the better.’
‘Without a doubt.’
Chevalier sipped his Mimosa, or as he had referred to it, his Buck Fizz.
‘I will meet you at Malta International tomorrow evening at sixteen hundred hours then. We leave at six sharp. Will you have your passport ready by then do you think?’
‘I’m picking it up for him tomorrow morning,’ she told them. ‘I should have all the paperwork sorted out by tonight.’
‘Good. Good. Once we reach Benghazi my contact there will take us to the Corinthia hotel after which the devil of a place will be all yours and I will be on my way as if you never existed, mind.’
‘I wouldn’t want it any other way.’ Bond assured him.
‘Fair enough then. I don’t know why, Mr Shane, but I like you. Call it instinct. May I offer you another drink before we part ways till tomorrow.’
‘That’s most kind of you. But this time let’s make it a Scotch and soda shall we.’
* * *
It was rather cold in the long bright tunnel, fifty meters underground. But then that was obviously to be expected what with the powerful air-conditioning and oxygen pumps filtering clean air non-stop for the workers down there. It took Blofeld and Carter at least ten minutes in the white tunnel-tram to get to the main Operation’s Center – a wide, well lit, spacious computer room where roughly a dozen men and women busied themselves at their work stations.
There was a large glass partition, thick, looking out to the underground runway where two fighter jets, one of them a Eurofighter Typhoon, the other a US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, both complete with RAF and USAF roundels respectively, stood rather menacingly in the darkness...
They were all young, the men and women there, not older than thirty two, three the most. They were all computer scientists from various countries around the world and who had everything they needed – kitchen, rest rooms, dining hall, sleeping facilities and finally state of the art recreation rooms.
Blofeld called the place Hell’s Gate and from where it would all happen.
APOCALYPSE – his ultimate terrorist act and one which would plunge the world into absolute bloody chaos. APOCALYPSE – his ultimate life’s work during which he would watch the bastard world eventually burn to bits.
Blofeld was still smiling at these thoughts when he and Carter walked into the room. They were both dressed in black, sinister looking. Indeed, they both looked like characters out of some old Vampire movie, Dr Gideon Torne thought as he got up rather hastily from his computer to greet them.
‘Good afternoon, gentlemen,’ he said, an old plump man in his early sixties, bearded and bald, looking scared to death, as if he had done something terribly wrong. When it came to Ernst Stavro Blofeld however, who in their right mind could possibly blame him? The man put the fear of God into the devil himself.
‘I do believe it is going to be, good doctor,’ Blofeld told him. ‘Should FIREWORM be ready to launch that is.’
Blofeld was now towering over the old man, making him more nervous than the poor bugger already was. ‘Number 2 here tells me that you are finally ready to unleash it, so to speak.’
The doctor almost fell over himself then.
‘Yes yes, of course,’ he said. ‘I am ready. We have just completed all the relevant checks necessary and the beauty of it all is that we’ve established that this particular virus can actually attack critical infrastructure and areas by manipulating computer programmes used to control machinery, believe it or not. It is a masterpiece, Mr. Blofeld. A masterpiece.’
Blofeld had noted the change in the man’s character when he talked ‘shop’.
‘Which would also make this one more advanced than even ‘Flame’. Correct, doctor?’
The old man caught a whiff of violent scented breath.
‘Much more advanced and ten times more sophisticated, sir.’
‘Not to mention more brutal,’ Carter put in, more to remind them both that he was also there. He glanced at his watch. Almost one pm – Dead Time as he liked calling moments like this one. ‘Now perhaps you would like to show our leader what you’ve actually got, doctor. Please prepare your countdown. Remember you have precisely four minutes left.’
The doctors eyes widened and he nodded.
‘Four minutes,’ he repeated and turned and crossed over to his computer station. ‘Of course.’
Doctor Gideon Torne’s heart was pounding like a drum inside his chest now. He’d never felt so excited or scared before, not even after he’d strangled his nagging old wife to death five years ago. This was different. In fact it was very different than anything he had experienced, and he boiled it all down to Blofeld and his ways. If ever he had set eyes upon evil incarnate throughout these years, then he was it. This whole thing was about plunging the western world into sheer chaos.
Five years ago he had released one of the most powerful cyber Trojans the world had ever seen for Iran – FLAME, a live program that communicated back to its master who could control its very move. He’d unleashed it first in the Middle East and soon after it had spread world wide. It had had the ability to search for specific info, uncover and retrieve even the most complex of passwords, record audio and even take screen photos. It was, in the end, a work of art and if it weren’t for those bastards at the Moscow-based Kapersky lab, FLAME would still be functioning today. But then again, if Kapersky and its damn cyber-virus countermeasures, hadn’t found and neutralised FLAME for the Americans and the Israelis, then he might not have gone on to creating FIREWORM – his masterpiece and ticket out of here, not to mention ten million dollars.
FIREWORM – the tip of DOMINION’s iceberg mind. The second phase of what Blofeld called APOCALYPSE. Once unleashed by their men in London, the US and in strategic places within the European Union, FIREWORM would spread like a bush fire across the web and instead of acting as an espionage tool or a tool to secure technical documents, it would actually attack the settings of the targeted computer (which in this case were the computer networks of all major western Intelligence agencies from the British Secret Service, the French Security Service to the American NSA). Within a span of a few seconds, it would wipe out all existing data within such systems and render all their computers literally blind. Whereas FLAME however was not seen by the United Nations International Telecommunications Monitoring Unit as an act of war by a nation state, this time Iran and Russia were definitely getting the blame – which is where Dr Torne’s magic came to play and which is why DOMINION were paying him such a sum. The fact that FIREWORM was also going to be directed in the coming days at UK and US air traffic control, disabling both heir collision avoidance systems and all on-board computer systems on in-bound flights to these two countries was simply an added bonus he had thrown in for good measure.
Finally, Dr Torne sat down at his computer panels, put on his half-moon glasses while Blofeld and Carter stood over him, watching intently, two evil vultures waiting to swoop in at the kill, and began typing away the codes that would enable access to his greatest invention.
Blofeld sensed his excitement.
‘Let slip the dogs of war, doctor,’ he said from behind him. ‘For a brave new tomorrow, gentlemen. For a brave new tomorrow.’
No Deals OO7
They got back to the apartment two hours later after having lunch at a quaint Italian restaurant opposite St John’s Co-Cathedral. Moneypenny was immediately on her lap-top busying herself filling in M on the developments and preparing the necessary organization for Bond’s departure. It was about 1645 when she confirmed Mulai Raisul’s help. He would meet Bond at the Corinthia as planned and together they would drive down to Sasha. Bond was pleased. The man called Raisul, a veteran Libyan sleeper agent for MI6, was very tough and resourceful and he and Bond went way back together when Bond was still in the Royal Navy. He couldn’t have been given a luckier break.
‘How are things at Salisbury House?’ He called from the kitchen as he made two coffees.
‘M says they’re still trying to decrypt the call they intercepted to Shaw’s mobile but its proving a very tough nut to crack,’ she told him. ‘Black Fox is using latest Russian technology called the GS337 system for encryption which Q still hasn’t found the codes for.’
‘That’s a first,’ Bond said when he appeared with the coffees.
‘We’ve only just come across such a system. As for the terrorist attacks, M’s thankfully convinced the PM to stay focussed on NEMESIS now that he knows Blofeld’s back from the dead.’
‘What about Bill? How’s he getting along?’
‘Surviving, so M says. Before we launched this operation Q installed a number of surveillance cameras in their offices and the Operations Room. We’re able to monitor what’s going on at Vauxhall at all times.’
‘Spy on the spies. I like.’
‘Another thing, Bill’s aware M’s assassination was bogus and you and he are up to something. They came across your altered profile picture which obviously sounded Bill’s alarm bells.’
‘Did he go to Shaw with the info?’
‘He wouldn’t, knowing Bill. Which should mean M ought to rope him in.’
‘He’s decided to hang in on that one for a while. Don’t ask me why, James.’
‘Maybe because the Colonel’s a ruthless bastard most of the time,’ Bond said and sat back to drink his coffee.
‘He knows what he’s doing, James.’
‘I bloody well hope so,’ Bond huffed and let her get on with her work.
In the evening they went down to one of the waterfront restaurants. It was a splendid evening with lots of people about, their last evening before he left for Libya. They promised each other that it would be something special. During this brief time together they had indeed shared something very deep and personal – something that had been diluted down throughout the years by force of work. The question now was would it go on after this mission? Was either of them prepared to give up their careers for each other? Would it be necessary? What had they actually shared during this short time in Malta?
Something beyond just friendship, no doubt, but could it be called love?
The food was superb and they sat outside, soft jazz music from a small live band. They talked about their pasts, their hobbies, and although they had known each other for such a long time he found that he had missed out a lot where her life was concerned – who the real Jane Moneypenny, away from the office, actually was. The dark shadows of MI6 had engulfed them into obscurity throughout the years. Pity, he thought. She was such an interesting and intelligent girl and, again, if it hadn’t been for the fact that he was a Double O he would have most certainly pursued what they had shared several years ago in Kent.
The scenery was magnificent and Bond promised himself he would be back one day, for a holiday. Jamaica was splendid but Malta had something else, something entirely unique which Bond took too immediately. One day, he promised himself. Whatever darkness lay in wake in Libya; whatever horrors the mad Blofeld and his organisation were planning – they were all insignificant against what he had experienced now, there in that specific moment in time on the enchanting island of the George Cross.
They decided to have coffees in the apartment, out on the terrace where it had all started for them, and after settling the bill they made their way back passed the super yachts birthed there on the pier, the floodlights set on St Angelo giving the fort an impressive effect.
Bond lit one of his cigarettes as they walked passed the rustic façade of the Casino di Venezia and he resisted the urge to ask Penny to go in for a game or two – not tonight, he carefully decided. Tonight belonged to Jane Moneypenny.
Further on, however, in the darkness of an entrance two men waited, watching Bond and Moneypenny approach. One of them moved closer to his partner.
‘We should take them out now,’ he said, his accent Eastern European, Bulgarian probably.
He made a move but the other quickly grabbed his arm as Bond and Moneypenny finally walked passed.
‘Quinn said let them pass,’ he hissed. ‘He knows what he’s doing.’
‘I could have had the bastard.’
‘Son, you wouldn’t have stood a chance.’ The other man’s accent was Scottish. ‘Bond’s hell on wheels you idiot, and you’ve still got a lot to learn in this trade if you couldn’t see that. Now shut the F*** up and do as we’ve been told. If you’re careful you might, just might, live to enjoy that ten thousand he’s paying.’
They reached the apartment block and as Bond opened the downstairs door leading to the stairwell, Moneypenny’s cell phone rang. It was Charles Spiteri, head of the NIU. Bond’s passport was ready and he had sent a man down to Birgu with it. Could she meet him at the waterfront entrance?
‘He’s waiting near the telephone box there. He’s wearing a light grey jacket, blue shirt and black trousers. He’s also carrying a rolled up newspaper and will answer Eleven O’clock to your question regarding what time the busses stop running to Valetta.’
‘Come on then,’ Bond said. ‘I’ll come with you.’
‘No, James,’ she told him sternly. ‘You get the coffees ready and get comfortable darling. This is my field operation and I’m the one always behind a rotten desk so let me play spy games on my own for once. Besides it’s only a couple of minutes down the street.’
She blew him a kiss and left the way they had just come. Bond walked inside, closing the door behind him. Penny had her own keys. He climbed the flight of stairs to the third floor. He was grinning when he got his door open, thinking of what Penny had just said: ‘This is my field Op and I’m always the one behind a rotten desk so let me play spy games on my own for once.’
But James Bond’s grin was wiped clean off his face when he walked in and found the man called William Quinn sitting crossed legged on the sofa, a silenced pistol in his right hand, pointing straight at Bond’s face. The smile on Double O Nine’s own face was indeed the devils.
‘Hullo, James, fancy meeting you here,’ he said.
* * *
Moneypenny reached the end of the waterfront and once through the stone arch spotted the man sent by Spiteri exactly where she’d been told he would be. What she hadn’t noticed however were the two goons behind her and who’d been ordered by Quinn to follow her as soon as Bond had walked into his apartment alone. She made contact with the agent as directed by the head of the NIU and took over the packet containing Bond’s passport and visa.
‘If there is anything else I may be of assistance with I am of course at your disposal.’ He told her as she placed the packet into her handbag.
‘Thank you,’ she told him. ‘I think that should do it. Please give my regards to your Chief.’
The Maltese agent bowed slightly. ‘Ms Moneypenny.’
He watched her turn and go back the way she had come. It was just as he was about to leave himself that he noticed the two goons opposite in the shadows, themselves watching Moneypenny. The Maltese agent couldn’t explain it then but he felt uneasy. There was something about the two men he didn’t like one bit – it was that down in the gut feeling most policemen, soldiers and spies are instilled with throughout their training – a sort of sixth sense that warns of danger. He reached into his jacket pocket and produced a packet of cigarettes, Benson and Hedges. He lit one, inhaled deeply and thought it over as the two men turned to follow Moneypenny. Which is when he decided to go after them too – just to make sure. Besides, the British agent he’d just met was absolutely stunning – too stunning to let something happen to her if his gut feeling was right and the two men were actually hostile…
* * *
The one with the Scottish accent reached for his radio as they walked passed the restaurant Bond and Moneypenny had eaten at and spoke softly into the mouthpiece.
‘Quinn,’ he said. ‘The girl’s heading back. She just collected a packet from a guy and is making her way back to the apartment. What do you want me to do? Shall I pick her up?’
‘No. Let her come. I can’t wait to see her face when she walks in. You should have seen Bond’s. Get back to the boat and wait for me there. A soon as I’ve done what I’m here to do we’ll leave.’
* * *
‘Crickey, James me old son, haven’t you got yerself into one hell of a fix,’ Quinn told him and pulled out a packet of cigarettes from his pocket.
Bond stood there, a yard from the door. It would have been pointless trying to reach for his own gun, for Quinn was an exceptional shot. ‘Did you actually believe you’d get away with M’s assassination?’
‘So you’re here to take me in then? Bond asked.
‘No, James, of course not. I’m here to send you to your creator, you silly feck. Surely you know there’s a shoot to kill order on you and the agent who does it gets a nice juicy bonus at the end of the month.’
‘And who else man if not him.’
‘Who also works for DOMINION of course?’
‘Now that’s a fact, me old son. So do we.’
Bond raised an eyebrow. ‘We?’
‘Dacre Stokley, John Hunt, myself and last but not least Ryan Sterling.’
‘OO3, 4, 9 and OO12. You bastards.’
Quinn laughed. ‘Rich bastards though, James. Rich bastards. Now, I know you were really pissed off when the JIC sent you packing because of that botched up operation back in Switzerland, but sweet Jaysus man, why the hell kill M? It wasn’t exactly his fault you got the boot was it? Not that we minded though. Killing the old git that is You did us all a favour, I’ll give you that.’
‘Not that it matters but I had told him we’d been compromised before we even got to Switzerland by someone in MI6,’ Bond told him calmly. ‘He had the power to initiate a full blown inquiry and clear my name with the JIC.’
‘Why didn’t he?’
‘He decided to go political and abide by the JIC ruling. Told me MI6 couldn’t afford the stink if what I had reported turned out to be true.’
‘So it was a question of him throwing you out to the wolves. I thought as much.’
‘Fed me is more apt a description.’
‘So you shot the Colonel a year later.’
‘Why take so long?’
‘Revenge is best served cold?’ Bond said playing for time, assessing his situation. He hadn’t anticipated this – probably because Moneypenny’s presence had distracted him; made him lower his guard. One hell of a fatal mistake!
‘Besides,’ Bond continued. ‘Getting to the head of the Double O Division once you’ve left the service isn’t exactly a picnic you know.’
Quinn took a long pull from his cigarette. He was a small man, five feet five, from Londonderry, with closely cropped fair hair and bright green eyes that were hard, touched with a very dangerous and cruel streak.
‘For a man with your experience Bond?’ he said finally, blowing out a cool stream of smoke. ‘I find that bleedin’ hard to swallow.’
‘What are you getting at?’
‘Well, me old son, let’s just find out when dear Jane gets here shall we? I’d love to know what you two are actually up to you see, apart from sharing that double bed in there and acting like two love birds on heat.’
Bond said nothing to that.
‘Now get down on yer knees with yer hands behind the head.’
Bond did nothing, just stood there calmly.
‘Now!’ Quinn shouted and the madness showed in his face. ‘Or I shoot the bitch as soon as she opens up that feckin’ door!’
A few more moments of stoic defiance, then Bond did as he was told – thinking of Penny more than anything now.
‘So, Quinn, how did you find me?’ he asked.
‘Let’s just say, in this day and age anything is possible thanks to satellite and computers, James, you know that. It’s a new world and old dogs like you are past you’re best before date. Is all we had to do is log on to one of our EU Satellites and trace yer steps. We followed you after you left that farmhouse back in Sardegna. Amazing what modern technology can do in the world of espionage. Not like the old days, eh?’
It was then that Moneypenny reached the door, produced her key and opened up which is when she received the shock of her life.
‘Moneypenny darlin’,’ Quinn said quickly, enjoying every moment of it. ‘Come in, come in. Speak of the devil.’
She looked down at Bond and was white as a sheet.
‘Come on, move that sexy ass of yours girl and close the door behind you please.’
Penny did as she was told.
‘Hello Quinn.’ She said. ‘What’s going on?’
‘Just about to do what I was ordered to do, dear.’ he told her. ‘Double O Seven here is a wanted man, as you know very well, and I’ve been ordered to put a bullet between those eyes of his. But before I do, I’d really like to know what the hell both of you are up to here. Weren’t you supposed to be taking care of yer sick aunt or somethin’?’
Moneypenny tried hard to look as calm as possible considering the situation – however she was certainly not used to having a gun pointed threateningly at her.
‘First and foremost Lieutenant Quinn, put that bloody gun away now. I certainly do not have to remind you that as far as you’re concerned I am a senior officer within the Intelligence Service and your direct superior. As for your question as to what I’m supposed to be doing, that is absolutely none of your business. Now then, Commander Bond has agreed to come in for questioning on the sole condition that I’m the one who brings him in. That’s what I’m doing here. He called me yesterday from Sardegna and we agreed I’d fly out and talk things over.’
‘He knew you lot were onto him of course. He needed to get out of there fast and this is where he chose.’
‘And you informed who exactly about all this?’ Quinn asked and he still had that devil of a smile on his face, which obviously meant that he wasn’t swallowing Penny’s story one bit.
‘Bill Tanner. He sanctioned my involvement considering James contacted me.’
Quinn burst out laughing.
‘Bloody hell Moneypenny,’ he said. ‘Now that’s what I call an act worthy of an Oscar and no less. Brava indeed.’
Moneypenny stood her ground, looking Quinn straight in the eye. Very impressive, Bond thought, the girl was good. But knowing Quinn he wasn’t buying it.
Penny sighed and told him,
‘Look Quinn, I’m ordering you to put that blasted gun away and get on the phone to Tanner. Call him and confirm what I just told you.’
She made to move across the room and Quinn calmly fired once, just above her head, hitting the wall behind her. Shocked, Moneypenny froze on the spot.
‘Don’t move another inch or I’ll put the next one between those lovely eyes of yours instead of his.’
‘Quinn, let her go.’ Bond shouted. ‘You’ve got what you came for.’
‘No deals Double O Seven,’ he said seriously. ‘No deals, pal. You of all people should know that in this game. I wish I could but I can’t. After I kill you, old man, I’m going to have to pump this bitch for some straight answers. Something’s going on here and I have no idea what the hell it is. Anyway, I know I’m not going to get anything out of you – ex-SAS and all that. Nah, men like you don’t talk under torture. The girly here on the other hand, well she’s another thing completely. She’ll talk, after I’ve had her ass mind. So, to conclude, Jimmy boy, as much as I’ve enjoyed our conversation and company here, I’m afraid yer time in this world is finally up. Time to pay the devil his humble due.’
William Quinn raised his gun and pointed it at Bond, his eyes dark and evil, a cold brutal smile on his lips.
‘I sincerely hope you get to heaven half an hour before the devil knows yer dead fella.’
Bond’s own eyes widened and he held his breath as Quinn finally squeezed the trigger…
END OF PART TWO