Dear CBn members: I just wanted to let you know that over the years different fan fiction authors have taken a crack at writing a Christmas/Holiday themed Bond (or Bond universe) story. They're still accessible. For example on page 2 you can find "The Naughty List" by Klinkeroo; Joyce Carrington's "Right Christmas" and my own attempt "Let Nothing You Dismay". On page 3 there's Matt of Steel's Knife Before Christmas. Previously I know there's been at least one John Bryce Holiday Story (if you're not familiar with Bryce the author and his alter ego "living the Bond lifestyle so you don't have to" you should check him out) and a wonderful haunting story, whose title I forget, but whose substance I remember by Scrambled Eggs. So, if you've written a Bond Holiday story I've omitted and would like to tell us where on the site to find it, I encourage it and if you want a little Bond themed for the Holidays, there are some offerings. Of course, I've always thought OHMSS was Fleming's holiday Bond. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (whichever ones you celebrate). Jon a/k/a MHazard
Holiday Bond Stories
Posted 24 December 2014 - 05:46 PM
I think the story by Scrambled Eggs was titled "Christmas with Clive" - hopefully it's still somewhere on the fanfic board.
Posted 24 December 2014 - 08:18 PM
I remember this tradition from a few years back. Wish we still had he friendly contest to see who could come up with the best Christmas story each year.
I did one a few years back and wouldn't mind giving it another go for a quick holiday-themed entry. Would be a good way to get back into the swing of writing before I continue work on the fanfiction effort I started this summer but had to put aside due to various things that tend to come up in real life.
Posted 24 December 2014 - 08:50 PM
Most of the stories are linked in this thread. Read and enjoy.
As for my own entry this year, I was pondering a story where Bond meets a Christmas fanatic in the Rocky Mountains, a guy who lives solely on milk and the flesh of female humans. For some strange reason I just find it hard to incorporate the holiday spirit in this...
Edited by Dustin, 25 December 2014 - 08:39 AM.
Posted 26 December 2014 - 03:41 PM
Thanks for the link, Dustin. MkB is right, Scrambled Eggs' story was called Christmas with Clive and, as I said then "it's a damn fine story" as are the rest of them. I haven't been so active on the site lately as I've said most of what I have to say about Bond, but its nice to see my old friends are around (Hi MkB!). I'm still partway through a Bond story I started two years ago that takes place in Austria, possibly on his way back from the trip he schedules at the end of my last Bond story. Maybe next year we can revive the tradition-by the way MkB, you still haven't done a holiday Bond and since you're a "slow writer" now you've got plenty of time. I'm taking a trip over New Year's so I'm going to double check and make sure I haven't overlooked any holiday Bond reading for my trip.
Posted 28 December 2014 - 01:23 AM
Yes, it is that time of year again. I've dusted off a few pieces here and there and although Christmas has passed, in the "Bryce-E-Verse" (haven't really come up up with a better title for it yet) there was a bit I started but am now continuing on with.
While modeled after Bond, it's just Bryce and his fellow cohorts in the this particular universe based very much and grounded here in CBn. I've attempted (long ago) to write Bond, but it's just not me. I salute the fine work that has been done by many of our great talents here. Some DAMN FINE WORK. No BS. Worth a read. All of them.
Long before Skyfall (December 2010) I wrote the attached, but now have something new and it continues. Still hammering it out now that I've returned from my own holidays.
To whet your appetite, here is the first part of a two parter that gives a glimpse and a taste as to my own adventures. I've looked for the link, but I'll just C&P here.
I'll field any questions, but probably easier to just message me here on CBN.
THE HIGH ROAD
The mere notion of stepping out of a perfectly good aircraft is insane….Unless you’re trained for it.
John Bryce and Harry Fawkes did so willingly.
Both had checked their HALO rigs, masks and oxygen before they dropped from the rear of the RAF C-150 at over thirty thousand feet.
Matthew O’Shawnassey’s voice barked into their ears.
“See you lads down below….Presuming I won’t be scraping you up.” He banked off to the right and headed down on his approach to the field.
Bryce flew past in a full “bullet run” and Harry followed. He was ahead by about five meters and flipped over long enough to, with his arms extended, give the finger before spiraling himself around and then, with his back arched, shooting down into a cloud and through it.
“The Hell you did!” from Fawkes.
“The Hell I didn’t.”
They both passed the three thousand foot mark and the landing area was in clear view. At two-fifty, Bryce crossed his arms and tucked his chin down as he pulled the D-ring. The snap and whiplash effect was harsh while the chute deployed. Grabbing the toggles he slowed himself and hit the bulls-eye crosshairs spot on. He actually came in slow enough so that the impact was light and allowed him to tread out of it without a tuck and roll. He collapsed the chute and removed his helmet. The Jump master supervising from the ground approached.
“Impressive Commander. Good time, pinpoint accuracy and nice landing. However, Mister Fawkes touched down two and a half seconds ahead. Sorry about that. I had a fiver on you. Still…Very well done. I’ll give you a ninety-five rating which is better than most of our lads who are on active duty. You didn’t hear that from me.”
Bryce laughed and saluted the Sergeant Major. Harry’s voice came from behind. “Hey John.” He turned to see the S*** eating grin and Fawkes extending both his middle fingers in triumph. The shook hands and Bryce bowed and then gestured in the direction of the officer’s club. They had agreed that the last one down would buy the pints. Matt joined them there and they laughed as he handed over a ten note to Fawkes and reached for his own pint. He scowled at 003.
“See, that’s what I get for betting my money on you. Wanker.”
“Trust me with your life, not your money or your wife.”
“Thank God I never married.”
All three returned to the quarters and cleaned up. Harry explained he was on duty watch for Christmas but that he had bargained with his C.O. for adding and additional seventy-two hours of liberty which gave him almost ten days total anytime in the next year. He was thinking about someplace warm and considering the Bahamas. Matt offered the number for the manager at the Atlantis resort telling him it was nice. Especially if a soldier on leave liked tropical drinks, college girls in barely there bikinis and some casino action.
Harry gave a low whistle of admiration as he walked them out to the lot approaching Matt’s Lagonda.
“I really need to think about getting work with you guys. She’s a beauty. I bet you can blast around in this like nobody’s business.”
Matt smiled; “You have no idea how right you are.” Bryce winked and gave a ‘thumbs up’. Harry saluted.
With that, they said their goodbye’s and both agents rode back into London.
Two days later Bryce cleared the inbox sitting on the desk finishing one last folder and signed off on the circulation list. It was just after three. He checked the computer and only a few updates appeared. The third of January for his range qualification was the only thing of note.
He found himself yawning and slowly glanced towards the decanter on his filing cabinet debating an end of the day sip. He paused and then took the stack from his tray and walked out to Loelila. She held a cup of tea as some pages printed out.
“Saving me a trip?” She smiled as she retrieved the documents.
“’Tis the season to be jolly…and yes.” He placed the folders on her desk and asked if there had been any word from the man upstairs and she removed her glasses shaking her head but offering to call. He waved a hand telling her not to bother. If he hadn’t heard anything by four, he’d go himself. He had put in the leave request at the start of November for just five days. It was to begin on the next day – 22 December.
Having earned nearly three months for the year, which, aside from a few days here and there, he hadn’t taken, he figured it wouldn’t be an issue unless something major happened.
The Admiral had the final say, but both Tanner and Asterix had given him the clear. Still, it was up to the man at the top to confirm. There was a soft rap on his open door. Athena, looking nothing short of fabulous in a sleeveless royal blue roll-neck sweater and snug black knee-high skirt with black velvet boots, strolled in.
“Hello handsome.” She flashed a grin and added with a husky whisper batting her eyes; “So sailor, you want to fool around in the supply closet for a pre-Christmas ‘quickie’?”
He tapped his keyboard. “I just emailed Father Christmas to confirm you were on his ‘naughty’ list. You’ll be getting a lump of coal for certain.”
“Thank God. You know what they say, nice girls go to Heaven and naughty girls go anywhere.” Both laughed and she explained she was dropping off some files to Lil’ and that the Admiral wanted to see him. He nodded as he stood.
“You know, I often wonder if you don’t run MI6.”
“I’ll tell him you said that.”
“Do and I’ll take you over my knee and spank your bum red.”
In a mocked way, she paused and stared off dreamily at the ceiling letting out a sigh; “Promises, promises.” She giggled and moved out the door.
He rolled his sleeves back down before buttoning his shirt at the top and correcting his tie and cuffs. As he slung on his jacket he adjusted the Browning in it’s scabbard rig. Lastly though, he did take a small box from the bottom of his desk before heading to the lift.
Athena wasn’t at her desk when he entered the outer office and the door was ajar. He tapped twice.
“Come.” The Admiral sat at the desk looking over some documents and gestured to one of the two high backed leather chairs. After a moment he looked up and offered a slight smile.
“Good to see you. Also, you’ve made me quite proud with the Monte Carlo assignment. We were able to freeze the accounts in Geneva after the event when the Countess made her deposits. That’ll put some pressure on the bastards. I also received the report on your jump. Fawkes offered a letter of commendation as well. Nicely done on all.”
“Thank you Sir.”
“I’ve approved your leave, but I have a favor to ask.”
“What’s the score?”
He stood and crossed to the bar taking one of the decanters with two tumblers offering 003 to smoke if he wished. Pouring them each a glass he sat in the second chair. They toasted. Bryce took note of the forty year old Glenmorangie with the port wood finish. It was the ‘good stuff’ and he took a slow pull savoring the bouquet.
“I’ll cut to the chase.” He went on removing a memory stick from his waistcoat. It contained the sonar/radar technical information that North, the newly minted 0011, had retrieved. It was to be passed on to the development and research division at the Royal Navy shipyard’s intelligence HQ in Edinburgh and sensitive enough that it would need to be hand delivered and done so by someone with better than level eight clearance and, preferably, a Navy man. Knowing that Bryce was heading up that way, he asked, not ordered, that 003 take on the errand.
He nodded and was given the folder. Athena would confirm it with the yard’s security and the Commander of the base there.
“Seems pretty cut and dry then Sir.”
“Right then. Sorry to barge in on your travels.”
“Not too much of a detour from where I’m going. Don’t worry about it.”
They finished their drink and both stood shaking hands.
“By the way, Athena does not run this division. I do.”
He gave a smile as Bryce dropped his head.
“Get out of here and have a Happy Christmas. Where are you headed anyway?”
Bryce paused as he stepped towards the door turning back; “Home. Cheers Sir.” and gave a nod.
Exiting the office, Athena was half bent at the file cabinet with her back to him. He palmed the box he had taken from his desk placing it next to her keyboard and then, with only about a third force, smacked her on the bum. She jumped and spun around with wide eyes and then became somewhat flushed. He grinned.
“You wicked girl…You told him. Don’t act like you’re offended or embarrassed. That swat turned you on….and my hand tells me you’re either wearing a thong or nothing at all under that skirt.”
She blushed even more then hugged him wishing him well. He gave her a mutual squeeze and kissed her cheek before heading out. She sat down and saw the box. Pale blue with white ribbon - the one that every girl in the world wants and the distinct ‘Tiffany and Co.’ lettering was clear.
The card read: “For Special Services” – JB
A smallish, but elegant pair of silver and emerald ear ring studs. She smiled and then began removing the ear rings she was wearing. Damn if the man didn’t know a woman.
Later, at his townhouse, there had been only two messages on the voice mail. One from Athena thanking him for the gift and the next from Loelila offering mutual appreciation for the silver bracelet set with a few sapphire stones that she had received.
He had cleaned out the fridge of any perishables and taken them down to Ellie, the manager of the building and also had rewarded Angus, her small black Scottish Terrier, with a bit of smoked sausage which was devoured happily. A fitting reward for the most trusted and vicious attack dog in all of London. Even if he did like having his ears and tummy scratched by those he knew.
He emptied his trash down the chute to insure that he wouldn’t be returning home to anything short of a bio-hazard. As he had left Vauxhall, the Jaguar was fully serviced and tanked up. Freddy assured him that both he and the Quartermaster had given the “Big Blue Cat” – as it was known around the motor pool - a full once over mechanically and with regards to some of it’s other “refinements”.
In the bedroom he had continued packing with the dryer finishing up the last of his laundry while, with an occasional pause, enjoying one of the Dean Martin ‘Matt Helm’ films on a movie channel between sips of scotch, when there was a knock at the door up top.
Gala Brand stood with her trademark beret – at a rackish angle – and a bag on her arm. He invited her in and they hugged. He pointed to the light fixture above them. The mistletoe hung from it. He kissed her full on the mouth and she let out a soft sigh and hugged him again.
“Now that we’re co-workers, actions like that will get us into trouble.” She removed her coat which he took and placed on the rack in the corner.
“Hey, that was for two very good reasons. First, holiday tradition.”
She placed her beret on one of the hat pegs and tucked her gloves into the pocket of her coat; “and the second?”
“I always enjoy it.” She grinned as he picked up the bag. Moving to the kitchen, she undid her jacket revealing the holster at her hip and the Beretta Model 70-s – the same pistol that had saved his life in Japan two years before – which she then removed and set it on the counter after checking the safety before taking the bag and the box from it.
“Loch Dhu – ’71. Joyce and I found it at El Vino. Ace tipped me off that it was one of your favorites. Cheers.” She smiled.
Bryce returned the smile and thanked her with another hug and a soft kiss.
“Much appreciated luv. So, aside from ‘bearing gifts’, what’s got you over here? Not that I mind the company.”
She crossed to the sofa and explained that she had heard of his ‘errand’ from Loelila. As he brought her a cup of tea and sat down from her, she told him the Admiral had requested that she go up and oversee the examination of the intel. Essentially, she was asking to tag along rather than fly up or take to the rails.
It made sense. Bryce liked the idea and agreed. He told Gala to pack and to be back at the townhouse by ten o’clock the next morning ready for the road. She left with another hug and, finishing his own packing, he caught the last fifteen minutes of “The Ambushers” downstairs before showering and then turned in scanning CNN to see what the rest of the world was up to.
Just before 1pm, they turned off to a roadside pub having just crossed into Scotland. Gala had returned spot on at ten that morning. Having made good time getting out of the city, they enjoyed a light lunch of proper cheddar and pickle sandwiches along with a large shared bowl of vegetable soup accompanied by a plate of chips with vinegar and pepper.
The Jaguar loved the road eating it up and purring happily as some smooth Miles Davis jazz filtered through the sound system. The weather was grey but the traffic light. Gala had spoken of catching up on some of the archived files and was quite devout in reading about her new division.
Bryce told her of the more amazing bits he had read and the many incredible parts he’d come across himself. As he finished speaking of one, she looked at him wide-eyed.
“You’re having a go at me…Truly?...A hollowed out volcano, an international crime organization, a reusable spacecraft that gobbled up other spacecraft of the time and one hundred Japanese SIS trained ninjas raiding the place backing up an established double-o who’s death had been faked? Sorry, but I just don’t buy it. It’s like something out of movies.”
“Truth can be stranger than fiction. If Oliver Stone ever got his hands on this information, we’d all be in trouble. Wait until you read about the super tanker that scooped up ballistic missile subs in the late 70’s.”
She shook her head and after a minute asked; “Does that rocket pack down in Q Branch actually work?” Bryce rolled his eyes.
The Jaguar shot down the road and continued up the coast.
They had another ninety minutes of driving and were booked into a two bedroom suite at the Balmoral where he’d promised Gala a proper dinner after. They’d deliver the memory stick at the shipyards in the morning and 003 had brought his Commander’s uniform. Not that it was a requirement, but he felt he should prove his worth beyond both his RNVR and MI6 identification cards. Also, it would be best if they didn’t stand out as civilians. Gala had procured a ladies Lieutenant’s uniform complete with proper insignias, shoes and cap. Bryce assured her a formal inspection of her attire would be conducted.
The rolled along for another ten minutes. As Gala was selecting some more music from her iPod, a motorcycle screamed past at well over a hundred mph. It flew on ahead. The sky was getting dim and there was mist. Bryce’s internal radar – aka: his gut – made him check the road behind. Nothing of notice but he couldn’t shake the feeling even as the Rolling Stones “Gimmie Shelter” began to play.
The man on the motorcycle spoke into his headset as he coasted off into some trees from the highway; “The plates and make of the car check out. It’s him and there’s a woman with him. Remember: We need to recover the item. Get them off the road, but don’t destroy it. He most likely has it on his person. Now, perhaps the girl might have it as well.”
“Understood.” was the response.
The pair of bikes roared onto the highway two miles back and kept a careful, even speed but slowly increased it as they came up. Both
fitted the mini-Uzi’s on the bracket mounts and accelerated.
Just as they rounded a bend, they fired and the sparks lit up the rear window and were deflected from the glass and coach work on the boot. Gala crouched down in her seat. Bryce swore and put his foot down. Damn. The first bike was a scout and the other two had come up in tandem to give the illusion of an auto. Somebody was on to them, but the who or why wasn’t the concern at the moment.
The Jaguar soared approaching one hundred. The cat wouldn’t be taken by some alley kittens. Bryce reached below the headlamp knob and pressed the recessed flat button. The digital and dated trip computer set in the central dash flipped down and a flat screen slid out and then tilted upwards. It immediately showed a rear view of both the motorcycles as they sped along.
Then the voice came. American accented and a sultry cross between Kathleen Turner and Susan Sarandon.
“Armament systems, offensive and defensive, activated and readied.”
Gala was awe struck. Bryce held a tight lipped smile.
“Nobody puts kitty in the corner.”
He swerved the car purposely but then straightened it out. C’mon you bastards…Just a bit closer. He told Gala that it was a touch-screen and to tap it as he focused on the road ahead. She did so. It was like looking at iPhone applications.
“Rams…Aft. Level Five.”
She selected it from the screen as another volley of bullets bounced off. The next icon was flashing “deploy”. Not touching the brake pedal, Bryce shifted the gear lever into neutral but revved the engine and slowed.
He barked; “NOW!” and Gala tapped the screen.
The rear rubber coated steel bumper shot out nearly a meter in less than a second slamming into the front wheels of both the motorcycles. The rider on the left was thrown over his and tumbled on the road as his bike dropped down hitting him, spinning as it did. The second collided with the first and went off wildly into the brush to the right. Bryce saw the body launch airborne behind it. The bumper retracted back into the Jaguar.
The automated voice spoke again; “Deployment successful.” Bryce had already shifted back into Drive and the car kicked forward. They raced down the highway.
Seeing the Jaguar pass intact, the first man spoke into his headset again. With no response from the others, he contacted the back-up group of sedans. Prepping the charge, he went onto the roadway.
Gala saw the single headlamp in the off-side mirror and gasped.
Bryce caught it the central mirror and put on more speed.
“Ever get the feeling somebody didn’t like you?”
“Only an ugly little boy in grade school.” was her response. The third bike was coming up fast. As Bryce debated his options and negotiated the road, he was surprised as she reached to the center console opening the sunroof and chambered her pistol.
She then undid her seatbelt and stood out the top leveling her gun over the back. She fired twice and then steadied herself taking careful aim. Three more and he witnessed the approaching motorcycle veer and then there was a tremendous explosion.
She sat back down smoothing her hair while closing the roof and fastening her seatbelt. Offering a smile, she gestured to the control panel while placing a fresh clip into her Beretta; “I wasn’t going to be out done by whoever she is.”
Bryce laughed as they continued on. As he was beginning to explain exactly who the voice of the Jaguar had been provided by, they came over a rise to see two BMW sedans blocking the road just a quarter mile ahead nose to nose and men were visible. He reached to the screen and tapped another icon.
The front turn indicator lights retracted and a set of twin barrels extended from behind each. Two buttons snapped out from the center panel of the steering wheel. Bryce depressed them and the .30 caliber guns fired. Both cars were immediately riddled with the rounds and blown apart leaving just enough of a gap for them to pass through without losing speed. As they did, one exploded leaving a fiery mass in their wake.
Gala sat stunned and then asked; “This has to be the most elegant and lethal tank I’ve ever been in. Anything it can’t do?”
“Mix a good martini, but I’m working on that.” He quickly, and abruptly, took the next exit. It was becoming dark and he activated the GPS from the screen. After a moment he reached under his seat removing what looked to be a pair of ski goggles and fitted them on. The newest in night-vision from the Quartermaster. Switching off the headlamps, he took them onto the road heading west into the hills.
“Time to go ‘off the grid’ and we won’t be going to Edinburgh.”
“We’ve been spotted and nearly taken out. Whoever it is will have people waiting for us there. We’re taking the ‘High Road’. Not to worry, I learned to drive on these and I’ve got a safe place for us. I think you’ll like it. It’s where I was headed anyway.”
Just over an hour later, they came into the small township. Light snow was falling as Bryce slid up to the curb. The drive through the hillsides had been lovely for what Gala could see once her eyes had adjusted. It was chilly and she slipped on her coat as 003 gave the car a walk around inspection. Not a scratch. He patted the bonnet adding “Good Kitty”. Gala snickered.
“I grew up here. The theater down the street is where I saw ‘Star Wars’ and that shop over there is where I bought my first Flake bar.” They moved to the corner.
“I had my first legal pint here after Mum and Dad. Ever heard the phrase ‘Hair of the Dog’?” She nodded. He gestured to the board above the door. “This is the Scottish version around these parts. The ‘Feather of the Duck’ Pub and Inn.” He held the door for her as they entered.
It was warm and a large fireplace burned with two kettles on iron swing racks simmering. About a dozen patrons sat about. Oak and brass railings and some strung Christmas lights were lined over the bar. Bryce stepped forward slipping off his coat and, along with her own, placed them on a rack.
“Well…A man would die of thirst before he was offered a drink around here.”
The woman behind the bar looked up and then beamed. She was in her sixties and clasped her hands together and came around spreading her arms and taking Bryce about the neck.
“JOHN! Oh my sweet!” She hugged him.
She looked him over after the embrace and patted his arms.
“Handsome as your father ever was. He only had eyes for Kathleen though.” She took note of Gala; “Oh my…Aren’t you lovely?”
Bryce made the introductions and then came the obvious from Sabrina of their relationship to each other. Gala delivered; “Oh no…We work together. I recently joined Universal. We got a late start out of London and with the weather, he offered me a night here.”
“Well, you won’t be staying here dear.” She turned to back to Bryce; “Peter and the boys opened up the place and I grabbed three of the girls that work here to help me dust everything off and take care of all the linens. The Rover is up there. I tended to what needed to go from the freezer and stocked the pantry along with the icebox. We even strung some lights and the tree arrived yesterday.”
Bryce gave her a hug and thanked her. She treated the two to some incredible eggnog for Gala and a healthy brandy and ginger ale for him. They returned to the Jaguar after Gala had made use of what was perhaps the nicest ladies room in all of Scotland.
“Sabrina is a delight and the eggnog is destined to become the new crack. Promise me I can have some more before I go into withdraw symptoms. Now where is this ‘place’ she spoke of?”
“My family home.”
With the light snow falling they went off the main road. Gala had contacted Tanner and given him an evaluation of what transpired. A Navy helicopter would be waiting the next morning for her and the stick on the property. They turned off onto another side road past a stone inscribed “Bryce Manor”.
As they came over a small crest, it slowly came into view. Gala stared and gasped; “Good God….Are you Royalty?”
“Officially the title is ‘Landed Gentry’. My great-great-great-great Grandfather founded the township and built this place in 1826.”
It was at least four floors with a tower that went up another three on the left. He slowed to a stop. The large oak drawbridge lowered. They drove across the moat and the bridge closed. Bryce explained there was a sensor in the nose of the car that triggered it. He pulled into the open courtyard. Blue and green spotted with few purple lights ringed the area - The family tartan’s colors. An older Land Rover sat in one corner along side a slick looking Jaguar E-type coupe.
Bryce retrieved a remote from the map pocket and a large wooded panel slid back across one wall. He rolled the Jaguar into the garage and they both climbed out. Gala was all but speechless.
They took their bags from the boot and walked up to heavy door as she continued to look about. It was like being at Disneyland. Bryce closed the door of the garage and then took out an iron key and worked the lock. What happened upon their entry was a complete surprise.
Music, loud but not too loud. The Hives – “Tick, Tick, Tick Boom” sounded from the left. There was an elegant study on the right and a master stairwell in the foyer like something out of ‘Gone with the Wind’ and the walls were stone with wood paneling. Fitted gas lights and modern recessed soft lights illuminated the area. It was amazingly warm.
Bryce set down his bags and then moved towards the music. A roaring fireplace was set against one wall amongst the Victorian furniture and leather bound sofas and chairs amidst the twenty foot raftered ceilings and two gas burning elaborate chandeliers. However, that was not what caught Gala’s attention.
She stood dancing to the music in front of the fire wearing a snug pair of boxer shorts patterned with the Union Jack and a black mid-rift tank top holding a snifter. There was an open crystal decanter on the coffee table. Tall, slender with an ample bosom and a mane of reddish hair that flowed wildly about her down to her lower back. Her eyes were closed as she gyrated to the pulsating song.
Bryce barked; “Turn that down girl!”
The eyes snapped open as she spun about. In one movement, she set down the snifter and raced across leaping into his arms wrapping her legs about him kissing him all over his face. She giggled as he hugged her tightly.
He turned about holding her as Gala stood perplexed.
“Gala Brand – meet my sister. Katherine Bryce. You can call her ‘Kate’”.
She flashed a grin; “Hello.”
Gala’s jaw fell open. She had read his dossier. There was never a mention of any siblings. Feeling faint for a brief moment, she managed to close her mouth. Kate put her feet back on the floor and stepped towards her. She waved an opened palm in front of her face and glanced back to Bryce.
“Is she a mute or handicapped? Granted, she is gorgeous from what I can see and I know how you love brunettes - well blondes, redheads and anything with breasts, a vagina and a pulse - but did you steal her away from a clinic or something to keep her as a love slave?”
He shrugged and poured himself a glass; “She’s a dominatrix. I pay her to spank me and talk trash in my ear.”
“Cheers then.” She turned back to Gala; “Good for you. I thought about it as a career path if I didn’t go into pole-dancing. Sadly, I didn’t follow through on it, but it was always the dream.”
“Well, you were considered the town bicycle…Everybody got a ride.”
“That tears it!”
She pounced on him taking him to the sofa and scolded him.
“I was the town skateboard. Not everyone got a ride and you had to know how to do it properly without getting hurt.”
Gala burst out into laughter as did both. No mistaking it. She was certainly of the same blood. Seeing them together, she couldn’t deny the resemblance in the eyes and face. He kissed her brow and she hugged him for a long moment.
Possibly in her thirties but could have been twenty-five. Fair skinned and a stunning, toned body with long legs that were flawless along with her bum. Drop dead gorgeous was an understatement.
She looked to Gala; “It was one of the local boys my first time. He broke my heart and John broke his leg.” She gazed at him adoringly as he smiled at her.
“You had been crying for four days. He needed a reminder. Besides, he was a prick and you only did it once and he went on to the next. He deserved a full leg cast for eight weeks.”
“Gala, this is – amongst many reasons - why I love my big brother….and then there was his first.”
“Don’t…” he scowled.
She smiled devilishly; “Debbie Harrison.” She went on about walking in on them. Bryce cringed.
“He had her bent over across his bed with her school skirt pushed up around her waist and her knickers around her ankles. She was certainly enjoying herself. They were both sixteen. It was legal.”
Gala laughed again and then blushed. Kate narrowed her eyes and looked between the two. She figured it out in a nanosecond.
“You are both sooooo busted.” She picked up her snifter.
Bryce gave her a long look; “What happens in Japan stays in Japan.”
“What about the Bahamas?” Gala offered with a sly smile.
“Please luv, don’t give her anymore ammo.” Kate all but spit out her scotch, but that would have been a sin in the Bryce household.
She took Gala by the arm and led her towards the kitchen offering to dish more dirt. Bryce filled his glass almost full and gazed at the framed portrait of his parents over the fireplace raising the snifter.
“You’re missed. Happy Christmas...But did you really have to have her?” The combined laughter coming from the kitchen told him to just stay by the fire…or dive into it.
Posted 28 December 2014 - 02:02 AM
There is a Part two. But, to bring matters current, here's the tease/twist written over the last year with more to follow. I've go this week off and the blessings of the other characters.
2014 - Here we go.
THAT’S THAT THEN
The Admiral sat in front of the blank screen.
He glanced as Athena entered with a cold pint of Guinness and set it down. Her eyes were still red. Three weeks and no word. He himself could not believe it but acceptance was a part of the world he had committed to.How should it read?
MI6 – INNER OFFICE – EYES ONLY
It is with great regret that I am to inform you of the following here within our house.
Commander Jonathan S.E. Bryce RNVR/CMG – 003, Wing Commander Matthew M. O’Shawnassey RAF – 004, Major Joyce C. Carrington BA – 009 are all, at time of writing, missing and presumed dead.
Lieutenant Gala Brand SB – 005 remains in an induced coma and has yet to regain consciousness but her outlook is better and the swelling has been reduced by such actions per medical evaluation.
The combined efforts of the agents of this division during the operation known as “Destiny” did, without question, foil an attempt by a terrorist group to detonate a nuclear device aboard the Cunard Lines ship Queen Mary 2 during a transatlantic crossing whilst protecting the Royalty on board.
SBS teams dispatched were not put to sea in a timely manner and it should be noted that it was against the relentless yet official protest of liaison officer Harry Fawkes who stood his ground and, in my opinion, had his challenge of Whitehall directives. Had they listened, perhaps I would not be writing this as such.
He read through it twice between two sips from the pint. Athena still stood before the leather topped desk. Gesturing towards the bar, he smiled;“Pour yourself anything and sit down…Please Athena.”
She crossed and did just that. After adding some ice to the nearly three measures of Grey Goose, she then opted for a splash of cranberry juice from the small refrigerated cabinet below. She looked up. Her eyes continued to sparkle though somewhat hazed. Taking a long pull, she locked a stare with him;
“No….I am not in denial either…The three of them…They can’t…ARE NOT…..” Her voice trailed off.
The Admiral didn’t buy it either. In the aftermath it had been clear. Twenty dead. All of them baddies. The device was in the possession of the Americans. The yacht that had been trailing the ship was gone. An explosion had seen to that.
The Royal’s had been lifted immediately. Hell, William’s own brother had been flying the helicopter that plucked him and the Duchess from the forward deck. Brand was found floating on debris but there were no others. Of the weeks that followed, bits and pieces had been few and with the current swells and depth, it was difficult to decipher what or who was left. The only answers where in that of the mind of the one witness.
The CCTV cameras aboard the ship had captured some amazing bits from when the bridge had been taken. Within a matter of fifteen minutes, the eight men who had seized control seemingly found themselves at odds.
In digital color, the men had been taken out it what looked like a movie. It was, however, all too real.
Two had dropped immediately and there was a great commotion. Bryce had appeared quite suddenly, weapon in hand, and fired point blank at a third whose head exploded in a fine red mist. Two others had moved in and knocked 003’s pistol away, but he countered delivering a flurry of blows to both sending one slumping to the floor and then exchanging punches and kicks in a myriad of fighting styles with the other before flinging the man out of the frame and launching himself over the helm controls in the same direction.Five men in less than twenty seconds. One man in a tuxedo.
It had also been the last image of Bryce that appeared in any of the footage.
On the port side promenade deck, 009 and 005 had their hands full. The time code had determined that the agent’s mutual counter strike had been coordinated. They were soldiers first. Spies second.
The sight of a thug crashing onto the deck through a pane glass window had been sudden. Brand appeared stepping through and kicked the man across the jaw snatching up his pistol and running aft, away from the camera, in what looked to be a lovely grey cocktail dress. Before she had disappeared, Carrington had come through with another thug grasping her and driving her to the railing.
Once there, she had broken his grasp and double chopped him on either side of his neck before driving her knee into his groin and then clipping him across the jaw with her elbow. This was followed by a step kick which drove him back and what looked to be a very solid left cross. The figure reeled and she grabbed his collar and had then flung him over the side.
Immediately, she had snatched up a machine pistol, an Uzi, and then threw herself against the wall. Sparks lit up the deck near her. Checking the weapon as she crouched, she spun out on one knee raising it to her shoulder and fired two quick bursts. A couple of advancing thugs were blown off their feet.
At that she stood about sweeping her perimeter and then snatched two additional magazines from the unconscious one Brand had put down. She also had grabbed what looked to be a mobile from the figure before stomping him twice to the head. She ducked back through the broken glass and out of sight.That was the last any camera had caught of Joyce Carrington.
The third night aboard had been the traditional formal night as the ship approached the midway point in its crossing. It was during the late dinner that the trouble had begun. Passengers had noted that the engines had stopped and even the staff and officers had exchanged looks of concern.
As two officers moved towards the exit, both Bryce and Carrington had casually followed. Across the grand salon, Brand had stood arm in arm with O’Shawnassey at the Royal couple’s table. He had offered a proper bow and she a traditional curtsey. The Prince had stood and offered a hand to both as did the Duchess. There was some conversation and the Duchess appeared to be taking an interest in some of Brand’s jewelry. Whether monarchs or spies, girls were still girls. The Prince had gestured to one of the waiters who handed a glass to O’Shawnassey.
The Admiral gave a slight grin at this point. Two of his agents chatting away with Royalty and both presenting proper courtesy. The sort of thing that wasn’t taught anymore.
The “screening room” as it was nick-named was, pretty much, just that. A large nearly seven meter flat screen set into the wall and two technicians on either side controlling the images or direct camera exchange. Essentially, either used as a war room scenario or as a diagnostic tool for examining evidence after the fact.
The latter was the case that evening with all seats filled and standing room only. The Prince and Duchess were safely at the Palace. Their own debrief would follow later. It had been less than eighteen hours and the QM2 – the ship’s international designation – was being escorted back to Southampton by two RN destroyers and flanked by one American attack class submarine. Three more ships including one submarine had remained in the area and retrieved Brand giving her immediate medical attention. A ten man SBS squad lead by Fawkes remained on the QM2 and Lloyd’s had signed off on the refund for all passengers, and, minus some cosmetic repairs to the ship, she would sail again in two weeks time.All that remained was the footage being screened and to be sifted through.
When the trouble presented itself, it had happened during the dinner. Six men in tactical paramilitary garb wearing masks and toting Uzi and HK assault weapons. Two each had come in from either side of the salon and two from above atop the staircase with one of them firing a burst into the ceiling.
Four men at the Royal’s table had stood, drawn pistols and immediately formed a blockade in front of the couple and two others standing near a galley access door lead them out through it in less then ten seconds.
Brand had immediately gone to the side of the staircase and O’Shawnassey had moved low amongst all the other tables. As the two above came down the stairs, Brand had lunged reaching through the banister grabbing one at the ankles. The thug pitched forward and proceeded to tumble down the staircase. Moving with purpose 004’s hand went in his jacket and his left reached behind his hip raising his Beretta and drawing his PPK in one movement. His first two rounds dropped the second one on the stairs. Brand had produced her own pistol and put two into one of the other men on the main floor. Another turned to fire when the Royal’s men had opened up on him with trained precision and 004 had spun in one motion towards the last two firing both pistols two handed. The first had dropped having been slammed into the wall by five rounds.
Having retrieved the HK from the man at the bottom of the stairs, Brand had taken her aim and fired one three shot burst which had taken the last one dropping like a rag doll.
Five down, one incapacitated. Of the Royal’s remaining team, one was speaking into a two-way and the others checking to fallen men as did O’Shawnassey with Brand sweeping the room with the HK eyeing all exits for any additional threats. She was an oddly attractive sight with the weapon and mane of raven hair.
It was this point before any additional footage had been screened that the Admiral called for a halt and then addressed the room.
“Gentlemen and ladies present, there’s clearly more pieces to be put together, but it cannot be denied that my agents with the combined effort of the Royal detail did put a stop to what could have been a catastrophe of epic proportions. Our continued investigation will determine what, how and why we have arrived where we are today. I thank you for time and will keep you advised of any and all developments. A complete media blackout is in effect.”
With that, the group had mumbled and then left. The PM’s aide had spoken briefly directly with the Admiral; “You’ve clearly got your plate full. Be at number 10 by 1400. Bring along anything else you’ve found. Also, he’d like to know why four double-o agents happened to be aboard. See you then.”
The Admiral watched him leave and then gave orders to the tech staff to research it all and give him the highlights. He then moved to Athena sending her back to his office to have her pull up all the depositions from the Royal’s security men as well as the ship’s officers.
Lastly, the chief technical officer and latest addition to Q Branch, a Miss Ann Reilly, had approached him suggesting the utilization of some experimental facial recognition software. He gave her the go ahead as it made sense and her intuitive notions had proved her worth to the division in the mere three weeks since she had come aboard.
As he rode the lift up, he thought back to catalyst of what had put all four aboard.
A simple request from 003 in August.
Bryce had returned from an assignment in Buenos Aires and come directly from Heathrow. The operation had gone off well and discreet. The best kind.
With the help of the station chief there, a fine chap named Nicholas who knew both his country and city like his daily sink, he and 003 had recovered a few missing STA rockets from an arms dealer and also managed to “leave him to dry” in the eyes of some of the cartels that operated in Argentina.
After the debrief in the office, 003 had a good glass of scotch in him and just one cigarette. Then he had gone back down to his own and dictated his initial debrief to Loelila and written up his own as well. Later, he returned and Athena had sent him in.
“Sir, I’d like to take some leave at the end of the year, just ten days or so.”
“For the Holidays then...Fine. Just remember, you’re never ‘off duty’.”
Bryce had smiled; “Never on the firm’s time Sir and I accepted that the moment I signed on with the Navy.”
“Cheers then John...May I ask what your plans are?”
“Asking of me...That’s a first.”
The Admiral had laughed leaning back in his chair; “I suppose it is.”
“Matt and I were chatting while I came back in. Aside from assignments that have had us working together and grabbing a bite or a pint here and there, we really haven’t had a “boy’s night out” in some time. We’ve known each other for nearly twenty-five years and been in the section for almost twenty of those and oddly enough, we haven’t resigned, been dismissed or been killed.”
“We’re taking to the seas for the New Year. I’ve got us booked on Queen Mary 2 for their transatlantic. A pair of their more pricey suites adjoining one another....Largely because he snores like a broken chainsaw. It can be annoying if one is not sleeping alone and with six nights on the water, I’m not buying ear muffs for any company I may have. Should be the other way around for his benefit and envy.”
He had laughed aloud pondering how many times over the years that the two men had shared quarters in the field. He approved the request adding it should also, of course, be submitted in writing. Bryce agreed and they shook hands.
Later, in November, word had come from the Palace. Although not announced to the press, the Royal couple would be on the same cruise. Once aware, Bryce had come directly to the office somewhat miffed and said he’d cancel his and O’Shawnassey’s plans. The Admiral had offered the other option as he explained it.
“I know you two bastards wanted this and at this point were looking forward to it. You should still go. I was thinking of having Carrington sent along, but I can only imagine the mayhem that would create with the three of you. Brand is back from her Germany assignment in a few days. She did well on that. I’m pleased and our man Heiko, head of station, spoke highly of her. Her German is getting all but fluent. At any rate, I told the powers that be that I would send a Double-O along.”
“What? The Palace asked for one of us?”
“You were at the top of the list by name. You made a memorable impression when I attached you to that detail back in the day.”
Bryce’s mind knew what he was saying and his own memory flashed back to the charm of the Prince’s mother. He’d even shared one dance with her once upon a time and then, fighting his own grief, walked that long mile behind her casket and thought only of her boys. Now they were men. He’d vowed then that no harm would come to them. Not on his watch.
The Admiral continued; “They’ll have the usual eight man team watching over them. 0011 is working an op right now, but 005 should be available. You and 004 should make your presence known to the security division and the two man team that sails with the line.”
While not widely known, with world tensions and piracy making rebirth in the modern day, cruise ships had become major targets. As the Cunard line operated worldwide with their three flagships, aboard each and with every sailing were a pair of Royal Marines to insure the safety of both ship and passengers. Outside of the community, it wasn’t the sort of thing advertised on the line’s website or brochures.
As with any travel though, as he reflected at his desk, all plans were “subject to change.”
Posted 28 December 2014 - 03:32 PM
Posted 28 December 2014 - 05:35 PM
Cheers MHazard! Yeah, I did enjoy these two bits. I'll include the follow up to "The High Road" below. As to this latest bit, part two is in the works and titled "Three if By Sea" and actually is (per my current notes and outline) beginning to snowball. I'm going to catch Joyce (Fenna) on Skype soon and track down Gala who is currently celebrating the holidays in Zagreb. I've already ran my notes past 004 and he's given some good notions. When I write these, I always check with the true people/characters. "Professional Courtesy"
Now, the follow up to The High Road.
NO WORRIES FOR THE NEW YEAR
Then a blast from what had to be a shotgun startled Gala from her sleep. She sat upright in the ornate four post bed in one of the manor’s guest rooms.
The same sounds again and laughter followed. It was from outdoors. Stepping into the padded slippers bedside, she took the heavy terrycloth robe putting it on over her T-shirt emblazoned with the Batman logo and sweat pants. Tying it off, she swept her hair back and ventured out of the room at the end of the hall listening again.
There was a Post-It note which read “Take the lift” on a smallish door.
She looked about. Slowly pulling it open, she found a compartment not much larger than a phone box. She pressed a brass button labeled simply “The Top” and was moving upwards. It came to a stop and she then opened the door.
It was, indeed, the top of the tower and the view of a snow covered landscape was remarkable. It was quite cold and then she saw the pair of them.
Both wore kilts and roll neck sweaters. He held a vintage three wood golf club and she a long barreled Holland & Holland shotgun.
Bryce swung hard launching a small black ball into the distance. Kate took the range and then brought the gun to her arm. The heavy blast from both barrels echoed and the black dot vanished from the sky.
“Nice one! That’s six for six.” He turned noticing Gala; “Good morning dear…Hope we didn’t wake you.” Kate cracked the barrel and pulled the two empty shells greeting Gala as well.
“Welcome to the morning ritual.” Bryce smiled as he plucked another black ball from the bucket at his feet while Kate reloaded. She snapped it back shut and gestured to Gala.
“Care to try one?”
She then took note of their mutual slippers. His were blue and hers pink but both fuzzy bunnies. She had to giggle as she took the rifle.
John hit the ball square on and Gala raised the shotgun. As it began to drop, she fired. Amazingly, with her skill, it vanished. Kate smiled; “Bloody well done girl.”
Gala handed over the gun and looked at the bucket.
“I’ve heard of ‘blue balls’, but never seen black ones.”
He laughed; “The finest Scotland’s sheep have to offer.”
Kate jumped in; “They’re S*** balls. They help fertilize the ground when we blow them apart. A friend of Dad’s started making them for fun and then made quite a bit of business out of them to the local clubs. He’s got two flocks of the little beasts dedicated to it beyond the wool.”
“I have to say that you Scots are odd lot.”
Both smiled and Kate mentioned that it was the way they liked it. As she removed the shells from the gun she chided John telling him that, given her shooting, he was required to prepare breakfast.
Later, in the kitchen, both were treated to a delicious traditional morning feast of eggs, grilled potatoes, beans, mushrooms, thick cut bacon and fried tomato with toast and juices as well as coffee and tea.
Gala was stuffed and enjoyed the meal. Since he had done the cooking, Kate was responsible for the clean up. She had agreed as it was always the rule about the house. John had taken his coffee to the study to get on the computer from the roll-top desk and confirm things with Vauxhall. Gala insisted on helping and she was taking quite a liking to her.
As they finished and wiped their hands, Kate turned to her.
“Gala, you’re a gem. I wanted to tell you something.”
“Anything. We’re all but family to a point. Are you asking me my intentions with John?”
“No…Whatever you have between you is none of my business unless either of you choose to share it with me. However, he told me about Japan. You took a man’s life to save his. He’s forever grateful and so am I. I just wanted to say thank you.”
“When I was still with ‘Five’, we had several assignments together. Crazy stuff. Riding on the back of a Vespa scooter handcuffed through the streets of Rome, being shot at on a wet-bike in the Caribbean and then Japan. After last Christmas with Katrina…What a horrible night. But, I’m honored to have met you as a result of all this.”
Kate smiled; “That sounds like John. He doesn’t have many friends beyond Matt and Joyce and he’d walk over hot coals for Sir David or the Queen. That business last year was a long time coming. Victoria was a delight. I held his hand through it all. She was everything to him. Whether it’s serious or not, you’re a good friend to him too and he sure as Hell has trust in you. So do I. You’re welcome in my own home or in this manor anytime.”
Gala was most flattered by the sentiment. Kate headed up the stairs to indulge in her bedroom’s Jacuzzi tub. With a fresh cup of tea in hand, she ventured into the study and found 003 at the computer.
“Hello Luv.” Gala crossed to him setting down her cup and hugged him from behind in his chair.
“You have the most remarkable sister.”
“Yeah I do.” He smiled as he sipped from his coffee. “The helicopter will be here in an hour. They’ll call when they’re ten minutes out. Then you’re off to the base. It should give you enough time to clean up and get into your uniform.”
Forty-five minutes later, Gala stood at the bottom of the stairwell every bit as a proper Navy officer. Bryce walked around her slowly. She kept her eyes level. He stopped in front of her and looked her toes to head.
“What’s your Fourth standing order?”
“Sir, my fourth standing order is only to surrender my post when properly relieved or ordered to do so by a superior officer. Sir!”
“Where did you serve on your first deployment?”
“Second division as Chief of the watch aboard the Lancaster under Captain Hadley.”
“How long have you been enlisted?”
“Four years with another two to come.”
“What do you think of ‘Her Majesty’s’ Navy?”
“They make a fine cup of coffee.”
“The ‘Battle of Hastings’, Sir!”
“Is any of your attire inappropriate or not to military standards?”
“Not a stitch beyond my red satin knickers.”
Bryce stared at her hard and then burst into a grin adding that she put on a proper show of being a Navy girl. The old adage of a lady loving a man in uniform was reversed. She looked damn good. His mobile buzzed. The helicopter was just on its way to the manor.
Kate came in from the kitchen with two cups of tea and complimented Gala on her appearance as the sound of the rotors approached. Finishing their tea, they hugged and exchanged email addresses promising to stay in touch.
Bryce slung on his coat and escorted her out and across the drawbridge. The helicopter hovered and a deployment bag dropped with a line trailing from it. Before it had hit the ground, a figure was already descending. The second their feet touched down, they released the harness and the line was retracted as the olive drab beast began to lower. The figure charged towards them. He raised the visor on his helmet.
Harry Fawkes smiled and offered a salute as the helicopter set down behind him.
“Hey mate! Understood there was an important package to be picked up, so I tagged along to insure proper delivery.”
Bryce laughed and they shook hands. He greeted Gala; “Your chariot awaits….Lieutenant.” he added with a wink. Gala hugged Bryce and then Harry was taken aback as Kate walked over bundled in a heavy sweater and scarf with a thermos. She gave it over to Gala adding that it was something for the ride up. As they said their farewell, Harry turned aside to Bryce.
“You old dog…I don’t know who she is, but she’s gorgeous. I know why you’d want to keep her locked up in this fortress of yours.”
“She’s a friend…Known her for years.”
“She available then?”
Bryce smiled and added; “I’m afraid you’re out of luck there Harry. She’s as fond of the ladies as you and I are.” He shrugged.
“Damn…Always the case…They’re either taken or likened to the same…Nothing wrong with that mind you.”
“Not at all. Just a friend though. We grew up together.” Bryce all but bit his tongue.
They wished each other best of the holidays and with one last hug and a kiss from Gala, Harry escorted her to the helicopter. They were soon climbing into the sky. On board, Gala opened the thermos.
She smiled at the scent of Sabrina’s eggnog. Kate had warmed it as well. She glanced down at the manor and waved. Both returned it with a salute and trudged back inside. The pilot informed them they’d be touching down in thirty minutes or less. She shared the cup with Harry and he admitted it wasn’t really his thing, but couldn’t deny it was all but nectar of the Gods.
Joyce Carrington sat at her desk when the call came. Gala had arrived at the base and the intel was proving to be quite a bit to fathom, but it was during their conversation that she had inadvertently mentioned Kate.
She tried to back-peddle, but Joyce pushed her. She listened intently. After the call, she slumped back into her chair somewhat stunned. She stood and marched out.
Stepping into 004’s office, she closed the door abruptly with her heel staring at him hard.
“A sister! A sister!...Seven years of working together and you two keep this from me!?” Her blood was up and at a fine boil. Matt sat back.
“What’s that’s supposed to mean?” She was pissed and armed. Matt wasn’t about to dismiss her or even attempt to.
“You’ve met her. You just didn’t know who she truly was.” He tapped a few keys and swung his monitor about. The picture came up. She looked at it and then her mind reeled back to the dinner at Scott’s two years before. She had figured she was yet another one of Bryce’s conquests and had given up trying to keep track of all the consistently beautiful women that were taken by him long ago. She did recall that she was quite charming and funny.
“The Canadian girl from dinner. Corporate office design executive or something like that. Jillian…Gala called her ‘Kate’.”
“Katherine, actually.” She was slowly starting to cool down, but promptly grabbed a tumbler and the bottle of Speyside 18 from the table. She poured herself an all but full glass. After a sip, she demanded the details.
“What’s the one thing that can truly compromise or be used as leverage on a spy?”
She thought and then it became obvious; “Family.”
“Right…When John was screened for the service, he told them of her. Before he signed on as a member of the section, he had her given a false identity to protect her and, to a point, himself. Since their parent’s death, they were all each other had. She was only nine and he was sixteen.”
“I know, I read his file. There was no mention of her.”
“Which is exactly what he wanted.”
“How many people know?”
“Myself, the Admiral, the PM and the Palace have access to the information of course, but I doubt either is fully aware and now, Gala and yourself. If it hadn’t been for that attempted hit on him that I read about and Gala wasn’t with him, you’d still be in the dark.”
Joyce thought a bit as she sipped and Matt took a glass of the same. She now understood why she hadn’t been included.
The train wreck, quite by accident, in Ireland. Lord…How long had he been tortured by the memories of both Victoria and his parents?
“I want to meet her. Properly and let her know I’m in the ‘loop’ as it is.”
“He’s going to be angry with Gala.”
“Blame me.” She finished her drink and wagged a finger; “I understand why I wasn’t told. If the two of you don’t trust me to keep a secret though, that just hurts.”
“John was adamant. I argued with him as well over it.” He paused; “I’m sorry dear…You’ve saved our lives far too many times to count.” He took her in his arms. “I’d be dead if it weren’t for you.”
“Likewise.” She gave him a soft, but not too soft, smack on the face and then kissed him gently before leaving his office.
Christmas morning had been lovely. Both had found their hand-knitted stockings (mysteriously) filled with candies, snappers and a stuffed animal beanie. They had laughed and hugged by the fireplace. Under the tree, decorated with their Mum’s favorite ornaments, had been two wrapped gifts.
For John, something he didn’t expect. Three of his Dad’s favorite ties and two pairs of vintage cufflinks. Kate explained that she had kept them for years. Lastly, a vintage Ronson gunmetal lighter from the 50’s in the original box thanks to Kate’s diligent searching of e-Bay.
Upon opening her single present, Kate’s hand went to her mouth and her eyes began to well. Mum’s single strand of large pearls which had been a staple of her formal attire.
Her voice somewhat choked as the emotion took over; “Why is it we always give each other something of family?”
“Because they gave everything to us.”
She had burst into tears and he cradled her rocking her gently. The tears passed and then laughter followed by some of the really good one hundred year old scotch over their dinner. A happy Christmas indeed.
They enjoyed the week with conversation and Kate’s schedule in her “other life” had promised she’d ring in the New Year with no other man than her brother before flying back to the states. Her Jaguar was moved into the garage and covered.
Locking up the manor, John warmed up the XJ6 after having set the security system and Kate put her bags in the boot.
“John....I know Mum willed it to you....I learned to drive in this car too....I don't care what bastard making of it you let those 'whiz-bang' experts in your division do. It was Mum's car...Not Dad's. Please?”
He couldn't deny the look in her eyes and tossed her the keys.
“Just don't press any buttons I tell you not to.”
She smiled as she caught them; “Is there an ejector seat?”
He raised an eyebrow.
“Maybe…How do you know it doesn't eject the driver?”
“Oh....That's just devious....Clever...but devious.”
“Tony's funny like that.”
They were on the road and made good time. Kate handled the car with casual ease enjoying the drive while he texted. He then called Matt and was made aware of what had been revealed. There’d be a long talk with both Joyce and Gala. Finishing the call, he told Kate that they were now in the know. As they came into London and up the square, she added her two pence.
“Don’t be too hard on Gala and Joyce deserved to know for a long time, but I’ve always understood your position. You’re still telling any man that inquires about me that I’m a lesbian but at least I’m a girly one right?”
“Well you sure as Hell couldn’t be a “butch” and I know you can be a bitch.” Kate laughed as they moved into the garage beneath the building. The next morning – New Year’s Eve day – they made plans for ringing in 2011 over drinks at the lounge of the Westbury hotel within walking distance of the townhouse.
After a lazy morning about the townhouse watching some movies, they had ventured down to Covent Gardens and she found several pieces of jewelry and a new hat and scarf from one of the many vendors.
Having feasted on her specialty of onion breaded chicken for dinner, they sipped from the tumblers of scotch and prepped for the end of the year. Slinging on his favorite double breasted Dunhill jacket, John adjusted his tie and cuffs. When he came up to the living room, Kate turned about in a crimson satin blouse with a snug skirt and black leggings with knee-high boots sporting her new hat and scarf over her shoulders. She looked radiant with her hair down and every bit their mother. It was then that he noticed the pearls.
She straightened his tie; “You clean up pretty well too.”
“So I’ve been told.” He kissed her cheek and they hugged. Puting on their coats and gloves, they hit the square and then moved down to the hotel arm in arm.
As expected, it was crowded but far more as there had been a wedding that afternoon. They elbowed their way into the bar, but quickly agreed that it was just too much. Opting for some champagne back the townhouse they left and strolled back. Kate had made the joke of being all dressed up with no place to go. With an hour left of 2010 and the weather chilly they continued.
They rounded a corner and a figure sitting on a steam grate asked for change if they could spare it. Kate always kept a few pound coins in her pocket and offered them. As she did, he snatched her at the wrist and jerked her forward. She caught herself on the side of the building as the man, suddenly very spry, stood.
As she tore her hand away breaking his grasp, three more figures came from the shadows and moved in. One held a bottle and started to bring it down on Bryce. He blocked the arm landing a solid right cross which sent the bottle to the ground and the bastard spinning into a parked car.
The other one who had grabbed Kate reached for her again. He roughly pushed her back against another car and she brought up her right leg planting her heeled boot to his chest while simultaneously launching herself over the car’s bonnet in a backwards somersault coming down on her feet like a cat on the opposite side. She took a stance with her arms raised and fire in her eyes.
The next came at Bryce and swung twice at him with some sort of heavy stick. He caught the second blow on his right arm when the last thug came in and kicked out his left knee from behind. Folding, he managed to seize the man’s wrist in a leverage Aikido grip and snap it outward. At the crack of both cartilage and bone, he screamed with a yelp of pain. The other was moving in quickly.
As he did, a voice barked from the shadows; “Hey! Tough Guy!”
The SOB turned as the hulked figure stepped in with a slamming body shot to the ribs on the right and a second to the left. He followed with a nasty elbow-clip across the jaw and then a straight right armed jab to the face which took him off his feet and sent him to the ground out cold.
Bryce was getting to his feet as heard the war cry from the street. He’d had managed to get himself up in time to witness it.
Kate leapt into the air and delivered a scissor-kick to the thug. The first with her right foot, under his jaw snapping his head back and the second with her left into his chest putting him flat on the icy pavement.
Bryce had moved and drawn his PPK from the ankle holster as the figure turned towards him. He offered a hand and then was revealed. Alec North smiled as he helped him up.
“Didn’t like the odds…Thought I’d lend a hand…Well, two at least.” He gestured to his fists. Bryce burst into a grin as the thundering snaps of boots came towards them. Three Metro officers ran up.
Within seconds, two Rovers appeared with more officers. Both men produced their official identification. It took about ten minutes, but all the goons were soon carted off. Bryce and North assured the chief officer that they – via the MI6 liaison - would give full statements as to the event. Kate had shown her Canadian passport and agreed to giving a statement as well playing her usual act.
The ranking officer apologized for the incident explaining that these sort of “wolf packs” – as he had put it – preyed on both tourists and locals in the well to do area’s when everyone was a bit tipsy upon ringing in the New Year or visiting an ATM.
Bryce made a quick call to the concierge at the Ritz as the police bundled up the blokes and took them away. North had approached Kate and introduced himself. She had taken his offered hand thanking him for joining in the fray. Not knowing if she was truly aware of what himself and 003 did, he made it casual.
Kate smiled maintaining her Canadian accented voice; “Thank you very much for stepping up as you did Mister North. I’m Jillian. Jillian Peters. I’ve known John for years. He’s like a brother to me.”
Bryce was finishing his call and heard the comment. Kate could sell a pair of shoes to a snake or a popsicle to an Eskimo when she had to. North nodded.
“Well, first, call me Alec and second, you’re quite welcome. I don’t want to intrude on your evening.” Bryce approached pocketing his phone. He had reserved a table at the Rivoli bar even with such sort notice. It wasn’t too far of a jaunt from where they were.
As they walked, he and Kate shared a cigarette while 0011 explained his presence and also bummed a smoke stating that he rarely partook of one, but as it was the eve of a new year, he’d indulge himself over the lack of good cigar.
“Quite by chance actually. I was going to join a new friend of mine at the Westbury, but he’s on call with Virgin Atlantic and, well, he got the ‘call’. Fine money to be made on the holidays. Sir Richard is quite good about seeing to those that work for him as I’ve been told.”
He went on that he had decided to dodge out of the bar and had seen both strolling down the street. Recognizing John immediately, he thought he might just catch up to say a quick hello and, taking note of Kate, and not wanting to take away from their evening, do just that. As he did, the brawl had erupted and he certainly wasn’t going to waste any time in assisting. He then kindly added for “Jillian’s” benefit that he had just joined Universal, but that Bryce had been quite welcoming.
The lies of spies. For once, Bryce was the only one telling the truth.
The three crossed a gridlocked Piccadilly and entered the famed hotel. Handing over their coats and Kate’s hat to the cloak room, they settled in and North insisted on buying the first round but allowing the lady to choose. Kate nodded her approval and ordered all three a snifter of the Speyside twenty-five neat. 003 agreed to split the charge but North waved a hand adding that he knew what he was getting into. They agreed that the first round in the New Year would be Bryce’s treat.
As the bells and whistles went off, all three had toasted with Kate drinking down her entire snifter. Both men, not wishing to be out done, followed suit. Bryce smiled as they finished while gesturing to the bartender.
“No worries for the New Year then.”