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ROYAL GAMBIT by Harry Fawkes

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#1 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 05:31 PM

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The author acknowledges all copyrights for the James Bond character as created by Ian Fleming.
Harry Fawkes is the pseudonym of Roger Mulvaney MRQ.

© 2012

And this one, in closing, for my two sons

Perhaps one day I'll tell them the truth


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RAF Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft cashes near Shayif, Libya, whilst leading air strikes against Muammar Qaddafi's military

- Conflicting reports on whether pilot ejected plane or not
- Mayday call made at 1.50am then the aircraft crashed
- Special SAS Search and Rescue team deployed from HMS Lancelot

An RAF Eurofighter Typhoon has crashed whilst supporting operations to restrict the activity of forces loyal to Libyan leader Col Muammar Qaddafi and attacking key regime communications targets in Shayif. It is understood that a BBC correspondent was filming as the aircraft plunged into the ground by a river that runs through the village of Yellixa. Eyewitnesses describe a dramatic rescue attempt by onlookers and members of the rebel forces opposing the Libyan leader, who jumped into the water of a lake and tried unsuccessfully to pull the pilot out. It is still not clear whether he managed to eject or not.A Ministry of Defence spokesman told this newspaper that the name of the pilot is being withheld, along with details of whether he was hurt or not. He said this particular RAF fighter operating with NATO had been playing a "significant" role in the effort against the Libyan regime when the accident happened. ‘After the Typhoon went down, two other RAF warplanes rushed to the crash site about 20 miles northwest of Tripoli and circled above. Unfortunately their endeavor failed due to the fact that they came under heavy fire from Qadafi’s forces who were also armed with ground to air missiles and therefore were forced to return back to base. ’ The RAF, which released a statement on the crash, didn't have any information on the suspected cause or the fate of the pilot.But Al-Jazeera television showed videotape of the wreckage in a field, as opposed to original reports that the Typhoon had crashed into a lake, and what appeared to be portions of a tangled parachute nearby. The broadcaster said the video included scenes of the dead pilot but that they were too graphic to air. One shot showed a Royal Air Force seal that said NATO Air Combat Command. Mohammed Al-Obshahi, who lives in the nearby town of Karmah, said by telephone that he saw the Typhoon flying erratically before it nose-dived and exploded into a field.


Meanwhile, back in the UK, Commander James Bond, R.N.V.R C.M.R., was forced to resign yesterday because of a backlash over claims by politicians of a botched up secret operation in Switzerland several months ago, marking the first time that a high ranking officer has been openly forced out of the British Intelligence Service, more commonly known to the public as MI6. In a rather short statement from Number 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Leslie Scott-Chambers said Commander Bond was found guilty by the Joint Intelligence Community’s Internal Investigation’s Board of gross negligence. Such disciplinary action would, he continued to say, guarantee the upholding of the Government’s policy of ‘transparency and accountability’ to the British public for all of Her Majesty’s Armed Services. "Nobody is above the law in this country, especially not MI6 operatives. Simply put, justice has been served." It appears that on February 10, last year, Commander Bond was involved in a top secret mission to capture one of the world’s most wanted criminals who was hiding in Switzerland and who was purportedly the mastermind behind a failed attempt to blow up London and New York with what experts referred to as two Anti Proton Energy Bombs stolen from the world's largest particle physics laboratory situated in Geneva. ‘‘If these two bombs had exploded it would have undoubtedly been the biggest and most atrocious terrorist act history had ever seen,’’ one high official said yesterday. Reluctant to expose what exactly went wrong during the MI6 mission in Switzerland though, the JIC Investigation’s Board did state that considering information Commander Bond had received from unnamed sources at the time, he could have easily avoided what one Board member viciously called ‘‘a debacle that blatantly cost the lives of two other MI6 agents’’. last night, however, a Principle Officer with the Ministry of Defence wishing to remain anonymous contacted this newspaper to express his belief that Commander Bond was in reality taking the fall for a couple of high ranking officials within the Joint Intelligence Community and MI6 itself, making him an unfortunate scapegoat.
"My conscience is clear about it all, and that is what really matters," Commander Bond said during a very brief interview. "If someone's got an agenda, then there's not much I can do about it…



#2 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 12:00 PM





London With A Kill

The Stanford was a charming gem of a hotel, grey slate rooftop, white façade and classic Victorian portico that extended beyond the main entrance.
It was situated in Smith Square, overlooking St John’s and facing Baker House, the British Conservative Party's headquarters between 1958 and 1966, and now the main conference centre for Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence and Security Services.
Away from the commotion of Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Soho and Covent Gardens, the Stanford was originally built in the 18th-century, its design and interior making for an experience true to the hotel’s past, yet taking into account every allowance to the 21st-century.
He was shown to the eye-catching single room on the fourth floor, which he’d specifically requested over the phone two days ago in the name of Charles Geraghty.
He placed his two black Precision Team Kit-Bags on the bed and when the concierge left, he crossed over to the curtained window and looked out over the Square across at Baker House.
Most of the Director-Generals and Department Heads of the Intelligence and Security Services had already begun arriving.
He observed a couple of men in dark blue Counter Revolutionary Warfare suits and berets on the roof-tops of the blocks opposite, armed with Heckler and Koch MP7s - three of them positioned on the roof-top of Baker House itself whilst four armed plain-clothes officers were located in the street below.
They were SO13 Anti-terrorist troops…

* * *

Meanwhile, a couple of miles away, a dark red Jaguar Daimler was admitted through the security gates at the end of Downing Street.
As soon as the car pulled up at the kerb the rear passenger door opened and the man known merely as M within the innermost circles of the British Intelligence and Security Services got out wearing a long dark topcoat with a grey velvet collar over a navy blue suit by Henry Huntsman.
An young aide admitted him inside No 10 and up the elegant stairs, past the portraits of previous British Prime Ministers, and finally along a long corridor to a large white door at the far end.
The aid knocked once and opened it.
‘M, Prime Minister.’
He went in and the door closed behind him.
The Prime Minister was typing away at his computer, in shirt sleeve, glasses perched on the end of his nose.
The office was stylish enough, with ivory walls, beige curtains and dark brown leather chairs, a fireplace burning brightly in one corner.
M crossed the carpeted floor and stood in front of his desk. The Prime Minister finally put down his pen and removed his glasses to look up at him.
‘Tough approaches for tough situations,’ he said and sat back in his chair. ‘That is why your Division was set up way back during the cold war and which is why, in this day and age, men like yours are still given the double O numerals.’
‘Violent days, Prime Minister,’ he said. ‘And no end in sight it seems.’
‘When did you receive the information in this report?’
‘The first signal came in twenty-four hours ago from the CIA, then from MOSSAD precisely three hours ago, sir.’
The Prime Minister got up and crossed to the bullet-proof windows opposite.
‘Which is why I’ve come up with this strategy to try and get to the bottom of it all, sir.’
The PM turned to face him.
‘If, of course, the information is indeed accurate. It’s rather sparse and inconclusive, wouldn’t you say? Not to mention far-fetched.’
‘True, sir. But I agree with my analysts that where DOMINION is concerned we simply cannot take any chances. If we’re going to move Prime Minister then it will have to be now.’
‘Operation ‘NEMESIS’. What exactly do you require to get it off the ground?’
‘Just your signature, sir, after which everything will be given an immediate green light.’
The Prime Minister nodded once.
‘It’s a cold and cruel world we live in and it is people like you, M, people like you and your men who have to go about doing all the dirty work for the protection of this realm of ours.’
‘By any means necessary, Prime Minister.’
He sat back down at his desk and signed the twenty-two page dossier marked NEMESIS.
‘That’s right. An unfortunate and violent reality. Which is why I am now giving you total authority from this office to get the job done. You will be answerable to me and me alone on this one. I want you to find out what they’re up to, M, and stop them once and for all. This may be our last chance, so for God’s sake make it count.’
‘Prime Minister.’
The door behind him opened and the Aide appeared.
The Prime Minister picked up his pen and returned to work as M was ushered out.

* * *

Back in the single room at the Stanford, the man stepped slightly sideways but still kept to the safety of the withdrawn curtains, just in case one of the SO 13 men spotted his probing watch.
After about ten minutes, satisfied nothing was out of the ordinary, he crossed over to the mini-bar and helped himself to two miniature bottles of Scotch, which he poured into a club glass, adding two fingers of Soda just for quiet measure.
He then went back to stand at the window, concealed by the thick curtains, his cold grey-blue eyes scrutinising the goings on below beyond the glass...

* * *

Sir William Shaw was filling his pipe when the cobalt Jaguar XJ turned out of the high gates of his Elthorne Park lodge, and when he was ready, struck a match and lit it, puffing out dirty clouds of smoke.
‘Cold this morning, George,’ he murmured round the pipe’s stem that was now clenched firmly between his teeth.
The driver turned up the heater for him as he filtered into the flow of traffic towards the M4 to Bayswater.
‘Aye, and by the looks of it I’d say it’ll get worse, Sir William.’
Shaw unfolded that morning’s Financial Times and sat back to read it. He had wintry grey eyes that seemed to look at everything with disdain, the driver noted.
He was sixty, of medium height, five five or six with slim shoulders and a very straight back under a Delby-Faulks coat which he wore over a blue pin-striped suit.
‘I’ll be in conference all day by the way,’ he said as they approached Brentford.
‘That’s fine, sir. I’ll take the car to the garage for a quick service if you don’t mind. May I ask if you’ll be lunching at Baker House?’
‘Yes, but do have her ready by two just in case I decide to leave a little early.’

* * *

Five minutes into Sir William Shaw’s drive to London City, the man who was calling himself Geraghty answered his vibrating Sony Ericsson Xperia back at the Stanford.
‘What?’ he said simply.
‘Your man’s just left. The bike’s at the back exactly where you requested.’
‘It’s been a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Geraghty. Frankly, however, I sincerely hope our paths never cross again.’
‘They won’t.’
The line went dead and he sank the remaining Scotch in one slug and crossed over to the bed.
Out of the first bag, he produced a pair of skin-tight leather gloves which he put on, and then went about extracting the carefully wrapped assortment of black components, laying them out neatly before him.
Meticulously, he went about assembling the XM2010 ESR American sniper rifle – breech and barrel, upper and lower section of the stock, drum, trigger, and lastly the rather odd looking River silencer.
Satisfied, he loaded it and glided the AN/PVS-29 telescopic sight into place, clipping it down firmly. He then got up and removed a forty metre semi-dynamic rappelling rope, belt harness, 3 ‘crabs’ and a small descender from the second bag.
In the next four minutes, he placed the gear near the door and swiftly got dressed into a classic one piece black motorcycle leather suit, folding his dark blue Savile Row suit neatly away in the first bag.
At 0915, James Bond finally settled down on a chair back at the window, squinting through the AN/PVS-29 telescope, the killer’s spectre looming over him as he waited calmly for his target...

* * *

Sir William Shaw’s face was ‘plummy’ with rosette blushed cheeks, slim and somewhat effeminate lips and a bulging nose. His snow-white beard was close cropped, as was the measure of residual hair on the sides of his shiny bald head. The half-moon gold-rimmed spectacles gave him the look of a bouncy, eccentric university professor though, the driver observed as he glanced at him through the display mirror above his head; which, of course, was a description far from the truth considering who he actually was: acting chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and one of the most ruthless men within the entire British Intelligence and Security Services community.
Twenty five minutes later and the driver of the Jaguar, a huge Scotsman from Glasgow, manoeuvred the car round Marble Arch monument just off Oxford Street and trailed the course of traffic through Park Lane and down towards Westminster and the Thames.
It was indeed cold outside; cold and dishearteningly grey on this Monday morning, but, notwithstanding the wretched weather (it was supposed to be summer and they were having this shameful weather), the London pavements were still overwhelmingly busy with hundreds of heavily dressed pedestrians going about their doleful and inconsequential affairs.
Shaw smiled malevolently at them as he looked up from his newspaper inside the comfortable warmth of the Jaguar.
Little did the people out there know that life was soon going to change, he pondered.
Gone would be the days of free thinking, free enterprise and so-called social parity and justice. Soon, he thought, they would know what true fear in its vilest manifest would mean. A new order was at that very moment in the process of being affirmed; a new order that would revolutionise the very fundamentals of their existence itself.
It was now simply just a matter of time…

* * *

James Bond elevated the rifle slightly and peered through and down at the car that had just arrived in the street below. It was a Ford Mondeo and the man who got out was Sir Gerard Sinclair, Director General GCHQ.
Bond now had him in his sight, a short, stocky man, head completely bald.
He shifted slightly, picking out a man now descending the steps to greet him, his full profile in the telescopic sight.
Dark-grey suit, a size too large; tall and rather lanky with flaxen hair.
Sir Gerard’s personal assistant no doubt.
A few moments later and the two men disappeared inside Baker House, the Ford Mondeo driving off down the street.
Not long now, Bond thought and waited still…

* * *

And at that precise moment in time, M, proceeding in heavy traffic and driving rain along Victoria Embankment inside the comfortable Jaguar Daimler, was going through some files from his briefcase.
He was sixty two years of age, but didn’t look a day over fifty five with a strong, healthy but somewhat dark face and firm jaw.
He also had the shadowy, unsympathetic eyes of a man who had seen everything there is to see in life, and more, much more.
His active career in the military went back a long way: an MC earned in recognition of his services and an OBE. He had fought with the SAS from 1965 to 1976 in the campaigns of Malaya, Borneo, South Arabia and the wild colonial war of Oman.
In December 1976, he left the 22 SAS and spent five years in Intelligence, working against anything from Marxists, Anarchists, Urban Guerrillas and last but not least PIRA terrorists - a different kind of war they called it then, and one in which he’d lost his left arm by picking up the wrong briefcase in Ulster.
Notwithstanding such an encumbrance, he still went on to become a leading figure in British Intelligence throughout the eighties and was consequently chosen by the previous Prime Minister himself, several years ago, to take on the role as head of the elite and ultra-secret Double ‘O’ Division.
Initiated in July 1937 as a sub-section of the Secret Intelligence Service to conduct warfare by means other than direct military engagement, the Double O Section, as it was known back then was, however, reorganised shortly after the end of the cold war to combat the ever increasing wave of terrorism and other forms of crime.
Its sphere of responsibility involved the handling of extremely delicate cases - cases MI5 or MI6 wouldn’t dare touch.
One could say it was a special government organisation that dealt harshly with men and women who simply could not be touched by the law.
What was it the Colonel had told its twenty or so OO agents during his first meeting with them all, on taking over from Barbara Mawdsley just after the July London bomb attacks?
We are going to trade violence with violence, gentlemen, more than ever, however unpalatable that may seem to some out there. We are at war and this division is going to hunt down these terrorists and subversive activists and, for want of a better word, dispose of them. Simple as that. To do so though one will have to unleash the proverbial dogs of war. You lot. After this morning’s meeting with the Prime Minister I can assure you all that the Double ‘O’ Division has seen the last of pompous Whitehall politicians and their pathetic directives dictating our policies with respect to our role in the war against terror, and that’s the way it should be. What was it Sir Miles used to call you in the old days, eh? The country’s troubleshooters. Well, under my command that is exactly what you are going to be. Troubleshooters…
That was a long time ago, M thought as he looked up to gaze outside from the file he was reading.
And now they were once again flowing into unchartered waters with this new mission he’d just got authorised by the PM - one in which his top agent would be playing a most vital role, and definitely one of the most perilous of his career.

* * *

The Double O Division’s Operations Room back at MI6 Headquarters in Vauxhall Cross was a hive of activity which was actually not remarkable one bit considering these perilous whiles post 9/11.
It was a large and spacious site with cinema-sized audio-visual screens on the walls bounding the fifty or so of its staff who were quite busy working at the banks of mainframes, listening through headphones or talking in low tones into telephones and various other communication links to the outside world, recording messages and analysing every scrap of information that came in from the ‘field’, while senior officers examined maps, photographs and latest satellite imagery handed over to them for evaluation and subsequent action.
The senior duty officer, an ex-Royal Signals Major, was coordinating everything from a leather chair in the centre of the brightly lit room and when Bill Tanner, the Division’s Chief-of-Staff, came in, he got up and greeted him.
‘’Morning, Bill,’ he said. ‘Thank you for coming down.’
‘No problem. What’s up?’
‘I’ve just been on the phone with the Chief of Operations for MI5.’
‘Bertrand Holloway?’
‘That’s right. She was asking about Commander Bond.’
Tanner raised an eyebrow.
‘Bond? What about him?’
‘Well apparently he turned up at Smith Square in Westminster half an hour ago and went into the Stanford hotel opposite Baker House. She sent a couple of snap shots of him getting out of his car, carrying two kit-bags and disappearing inside the hotel.’
‘So?’ Tanner grunted.
It had been approximately a year since he’d last seen or heard of Double O Seven.
‘That’s what I said, Bill. But then she reminded me that today is the first day of the annual general intelligence and security community forum which is being held at Baker House and which will be chaired by Sir William Shaw, Acting Chairman JIC.’
Tanner clenched his teeth at that and seemed to age slightly.
‘I see. Go on.’
The Major then handed Tanner a file which he opened and glanced through the contents.
‘It’s a conversation between two chaps on their cell phones concerning the acquisition of a rifle. An XM2010 ESR American sniper rifle. The conversation was intercepted forty-eight hours ago by one of our ‘listeners in the sky’. At first I thought nothing of it and passed it down to Special Branch, but now…’
Tanner breathed in deeply and his eyes said it all as he read through the transcription.
‘We ran a voice match a couple of minutes ago, Bill, and the second male’s voice is beyond doubt Double O Seven’s.’
‘Is MI5 aware of this?’ Tanner asked.
‘Not yet but Holloway’s sending two men over as we speak. Apparently she’s just established that he’s using the name Geraghty.’
‘Right. Who’ve we got down there now?’
‘Falkirk and Rawlings. Both Single Os. They’re with John Debney, head of Inland Operations. He’s been assigned to accompany M throughout the forum.’
‘Get them onto it fast and send down any other double Os we can spare. I’ll inform M.’
And with that, Bill Tanner turned and made for the lift...

* * *

James Bond glanced at his watch.
It had started raining ten minutes ago, which was fine with him. The rain always added to the confusion, at the best of times.
There weren’t many people about below, just the plain clothes SO13 men.
All the Director-Generals and other Department Heads had arrived and were now gathered inside waiting for Shaw and the Colonel.
At 0940 precisely, thunder rumbled in the distance, an eerie resonance and one that fit his frame of mind like a dream.
Bond watched as the cobalt Jaguar XJ finally turn the corner of the street and come to a halt in front of Baker House.
A young man with an umbrella appeared from the main entrance and rushed down the steps as the rear passenger door opened.
Sir William Shaw got out and the young man was at his side, holding the umbrella above his head; and Bond got him into his sight – dead on target. His finger tightened about the trigger.
Carefully, he measured his breathing.
One shot. One kill.
And then, from the corner of his left eye he glimpsed the dark red Daimler Jaguar appear from St Travis Street.
It pulled up in front of the cobalt Jaguar and Shaw turned to greet M as he got out.
No umbrella for the Colonel, Bond reflected.
Old school, no less.
Colonel Gordon Jackson then walked on towards Shaw and at one point turned to face Bond’s direction, as if seeing someone across the road.
James Bond’s eye narrowed marginally and he squeezed the trigger, shooting M twice in the chest...

* * *

Bond got up without second thought and dropped the rifle onto the bed.
He gathered the rappelling kit and calmly walked out up the carpeted staircase to the following floor.
There was a wide window at the end of the hallway, on his right, and he went about setting up the anchor point directly opposite it, fastening one end of the rope onto the lower part of the banister.
Rolling out the rope as he advanced to the window, he unlocked it and threw the helix of residual cord out.
Dropping fast, the cord unfastened to its full length.
Bond then connected his descender and climbed out, giving one last glance back into the hallway.
He could hear yelling, from inside the hotel, a couple of floors down, then the sound of a group of men scurrying up the stairs.
With a swift push, he abseiled down the hotel’s rear towards Lynen Street below.
As soon as he reached the bottom, Bond casually disconnected himself from the cord and crossed the street to where the bike was parked, a sleek black Honda.
As he put on the sinister looking full-face crash helmet, he could hear sirens in the distance.
He mounted and brought the striking beast to life with one smooth kick.
With a twist of the wrist, the Honda burst forward and a couple of moments later was speeding through the rather narrow, old-fashioned streets of Westminster towards the M4.

#3 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 08:12 PM


Dangers New

It was still raining when he finally reached the old airfield in Kent, rather heavily now, and James Bond was soaked. There was a disused tarmac runway, a large hangar and an abandoned control tower with Nissen hut.
The place was confined by shadowy trees, fields and hills – an out of the way place if ever there was one and perfect to fly out of ‘unnoticed’.
He pulled the Honda in alongside the hangar and dismounted.
Removing the full face visor, he ran a hand through his hair, then reached for his cigarettes and lit one. Fifteen minutes later, a dark blue BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo came up a rough path further on and pulled up in front of him.
Jane Moneypenny, M’s personal assistant, stepped out wearing opulently tight jeans that left nothing to the imagination and a white shirt under a leather jacket.
‘Penny,’ Bond said. ‘Fancy meeting you out here.’
She was a stunning six-footer. Her auburn hair was close cropped to her skull and her eyes were the colour of greyish blue pearls through clear water, skin perfectly tanned on an oval face. Her mouth was small, sensuous and she had a firm, sexy body with perfectly rounded breasts.
They went back a long way together, more than anyone back at the Division could ever imagine, and if it weren’t for her role as M’s personal assistant, what they had secretly harbored for each other and shared on occasions throughout all these years, would have no doubt flourished into something more, much more.
If, Bond thought, it was always if with darling Moneypenny…
‘I’m head of operations on this one, James, which means I’ll be filling in for M until he’s able to resume full control of NEMESIS.’ She told him.
They crossed over to take shelter under one of the hangar’s wide doorways.
‘I couldn’t be in better hands then,’ he said. ‘Now tell me, what the devil is this all about? I was simply ordered to shoot M and get my [censored] down here and wait for a contact; which turns out to be you.’
‘Well, to begin with M’s ‘death’ will provide him some much needed breathing space from his enemies, I think that much is obvious to you.’
Bond nodded and blew out grey smoke.
‘It will also allow Sir William Shaw to take over the Double O Division, which is what he’s always endeavored to achieve for no other reason but to run it into the ground. Right?’
‘Precisely. Well, we’re going to let him do exactly that, to a certain extent of course. He’s working for DOMINION - that much we know - but since M’s failed assassination attempt during the Midas Gold affair last year he hasn’t made one mistake. He’s been squeaky clean all along. With M finally out of the way and us now monitoring him 24/7, he just might decide to re-establish contact with Black Fox. And when he does we’ll pounce on him.’
‘What about Bill?’
‘M left him out, James. He’s better off not knowing about NEMESIS, or that M is actually alive. He’ll be working with Shaw as his Chief-of-Staff when he eventually takes over and we’ll need someone we can trust in the fray when the time comes. Having said that, we will bring him in when we find out exactly who is on Black Fox’s payroll. The fact is we simply don’t know the extent of infiltration into five and six, which is also why we’re going to go way anti-establishment here. We’ll be operating out of Salisbury House in Durrington so you’ll be working directly with M, Major Boothroyd, myself and four other ex-members of the Division we had to pull in especially: Mark Tripitz, Kyle Peters, John Corley and Patrick Connors. Nobody, except the PM himself, knows what we’re doing, not even our cousins across the pond. As for you, we’re sending you out to the dogs with this mock assassination in order to have Black Fox, who seems to be a fan of yours, believe you’re up for grabs. From what you told us about his video conference on Monte Blanc, he seems genuinely intrigued by you. He wouldn’t have left that message and 3 minute warning if he weren’t.’
Bond nodded,
‘Knowing I’m on the run for killing my own chief because he allowed the JIC to hang me out to dry, he might just try and find me himself for some crazy reason.’
Moneypenny nodded.
‘I know its wishful thinking, not to mention dangerous and all that, but it just might work, James.’
‘And if I’m caught or killed in the process the government can simply disavow me.’ Bond told her.
‘A spy out in the cold and bait on a hook.’
‘You know, Penny, you’d make a charming M, d’you know that?’
‘Why thank you, James, I’ll keep that in mind next time I apply for promotion.’
‘The question is though, how the am I going to move around without restraint with everyone after me - now that I’m on the most wanted list that is?’
Moneypenny took his cigarette and stole a drag.
‘This is the part I like best,’ she said blowing out a stream of smoke. ‘We’re giving you a new identity, James, which will allow you to move freely through any airport you choose to custom.’
She passed him a leather briefcase.
‘All computer data, domestic and intercontinental, with regards to the man called James Bond has, this morning at 0730, been perfectly altered by Q. You’ll find your new passport in there. Once you pass through passport control, and they check the photo and info on your papers, the image will not match the one on the international wanted list they’ll most certainly have on their own data base.’
‘Who am I this time?’
‘James Durand. Managing director of a South African Security firm called Transvaalor.’
‘James Durand.’
‘Believe me, Q’s worked wonders, James. He spent all night hacking into MI5 and MI6’s entire main data bases in order to alter every single photo they have of you.’
They went inside the hangar through the large sliding door then, and came face to face with an FSL Microjet BD6 F gleaming brightly in the center of the large room. Bond had used an earlier version of this aircraft during the second Iraq war whilst on a sabotage mission - the Bede BD-5J.
‘Again, compliments of Q, James,’ Moneypenny said as they crossed over. ‘You’re ride out of here.’
The small and sleek BD6 F was a racy looking thing, Bond observed as he walked round admiring it. Completely black, it had a small, streamlined fuselage with a low Plexiglas canopy over a semi-reclined pilot seat and the Rotax 618UL 74 hp jet-engine was installed in a compartment in the middle of the fuselage.
‘You’ve enough fuel to get you to Calais, Chemin de Vendome to be more precise, James,’ Moneypenny told him, breaking the silence. ‘An old acquaintance of yours has a Chateau there, just off the coast. You worked with him on the Tri-Star affair several years ago.’
‘Guillaume Canet,’ Bond said. ‘Ex-Direction du renseignement militair.
‘That’s right. Now the landing zone is marked on that chart over there. Once there he’ll sort out your onwards conveyance to Paris from where you’ll catch a flight out of France to Sardegna.’
Bond looked at her, raising an eyebrow.
‘M wants you to look up a man called Practoz. Shyla Practoz.’
‘Sounds like a case for sexual harassment,’ Bond said.
‘I wouldn’t take that name too lightly, James. He’s a very dangerous individual; even the Mafia are afraid of him, and as you know fine well they don’t scare easy.’
‘I’m sure.’
‘All the relevant information is in that briefcase. Study him well, James.’
‘And where exactly does he fit into all this?’
‘That’s what you’re going to find out. We managed to trace a couple of calls he made to Sir William Shaw’s mobile phone three days ago, which is what aroused M’s interest in the end.’
‘Shyla Practoz.’
‘His father was Russian. Moved over after the Second World War. Again, everything you need to know about him is in that case.’
Bond nodded.
He moved over to the desk at the far end and examined the chart, the approaches to Calais marked out with yellow highlighter.
‘Why do I have a prickly feeling that I’m not being told everything?’
‘Because in all probability it’s true, James,’ Moneypenny told him. ‘You’ve been in this job long enough to know the way things work on missions as sensitive as this one. Put it down to being on a need to know basis. It’s safer for you like that.’
Bond looked at her.
‘Help if I need it?’ he asked.
‘Unfortunately you’re on your own on this one, James. Sorry but the less people we involve the better.’
Bond took a final look at the chart and then raised the BD6 F’s canopy. He threw in the case and climbed inside, sitting there familiarising himself with the controls.
‘It never stops does it, Penny?’
‘Touch the devil, James, and you can’t let go.’
‘Beautifully put.’
‘Thank you. Are you sure you know how to fly this thing, James?’
Bond smiled that rogue smile of his,
‘Penny dear, it’s quite like making love you see – you never forget how - ever.’
‘Very poetic, James.’
He flashed a wink and placed the chart near his right lap where he could see it. Unless he encountered problems, he should make it to the coast in just under an hour, then again maybe an hour fifteen due to low flying to avoid radar.
‘So this is au revoir then, if you’ve nothing else to add that is.’
‘Just come back alive, that’s all.’
He didn’t say anything to that, just looked at her for a while, fusing those eyes and that beautiful face into his head. God only knew if he’d see her again. He nodded and fired up the Microjet. He took her out of the hangar and paused to make a thorough cockpit check. He strapped himself in and taxied across the apron and down to the end of the runway, Moneypenny watching from the doorway, sheltered from the rain.
James Bond then turned into the wind and started forward.
He boosted the engine and gave the beautiful jet everything.
After one year of idling about doing nothing after his forced resignation by the JIC, waiting to be contacted by M day after day, night after bloody night, month after month, it felt bloody good to be back in the ‘game’.
The Microjet lifted exquisitely, whooshing past the abandoned control tower, distinct against the grey sky, climbing steadily, and then he pitched in a smooth curve towards his new heading for Dover and whatever new dangers lay ahead for him...

#4 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 05:03 PM



James Bond hired a deckchair and sunshade for twenty Euros knowing fine well the young dark-haired Sardegnian with bronze coloured skin and a heaving physique that no doubt played well on the female tourists there, was ripping him off, but he decided to let it pass, took off his shirt and settled down about twenty meters or so away from the girl he was following, lying back and enjoying his third cigarette of the day.
Baia Blu in La Tortuga was a wonderful seaside resort located along the north-western part of Sardegna. The beautiful white sandy beach, already crowded at nine thirty, was over eight kilometres long with incredibly sparkling and translucent waters. There was a beach restaurant opposite his spot, the Laguna, from where he had hired out the deckchair and sunshade and from where, when the time came, he would have a memorable lunch, if of course the girl was staying that long.
Bond had been to Sardegna several years ago and had accompanied an Italian Secret Service agent to this very beach whilst investigating a British businessman involved in a drug smuggling operation with a notorious Sardegnian crime lord. Although it had turned out to be one of the most uninteresting assignments ever handed down to him by the previous M, Barbara Mawdsley, he remembered that particular lunch at the Laguna above all. In fact, truth be told, it was the only tangible highpoint of that mission...
James Bond didn’t like crowded beaches. He loathed the hullabaloo that inevitably came with them: nauseating children blaring gleefully as they wallowed in the crystal clear waters, some crying their eyes out for God knows whatever reason; that annoying cacophony of people’s voices chattering simultaneously; the American and English holidaymakers and their condescending yelping about how beautiful the bloody scenery was or how cheap this and that was compared to where they lived; the overweight women - mothers, grandmothers, girlfriends and wives alike - bulging out of their one piece swim-suits everywhere around him; the Sardegnian men, worse still, with their enormous pot bellies and their sickeningly constricted bathing costumes. And, last but not least, the ones acting the hard bod just because they had, or believed they had, the physic of Conan the barbarian– that doleful look in their eyes and faces, synonymous with whatever famous actor’s mien they must have burnt into their minds and which, in those miniscule ape-like minds of theirs, made them feel as if the whole world would recognise they were ‘it’ – God’s gift...
Ghastly indeed, he reflected and then smiled softly at his own sad inexcusable egotism.
What a snob, James!
Bond pulled on his cigarette and through his black Oakley sunglasses glanced casually at the girl as she stepped up to the water’s edge opposite him, clad in a skimpy pink bikini that tantalised his nerves dreadfully.
Very gifted, he held.
‘Ray Ban, signor?’
Bond looked up at a Negro dressed in baggy jeans, flip flops and checked shirt and cocked an eyebrow.
Venti Ewro, si?’
He carried a box-full of fake sunspecs and women’s purses.
‘No,’ Bond told him and glanced back at the girl.
Dieci Ewro allora e facciamo pace, si?’
Bond sighed.
‘P*ss off!’ he said, which seemed to do the trick because the poor fellow grinned brightly, shading his humiliation with two nods of his shaven head, and went on to haggle the couple on Bond’s left.
Serves the bugger right, Bond thought.
Too insistent...
The girl was now waist high in the cool water in front of him, her hands trailing lazily behind her, her long straw-coloured hair blustering back in the soft, cool north-westerly breeze.
A princess, no less.
Monetta Abruzzi dived headfirst and Bond caught a brief glimpse of the thin pink string of her bikini slicing her absolutely perfect behind, and when she finally resurfaced, bolt straight, that beautiful face of hers beheld the dreamy azure sky like a golden angel.
She kept on swimming further out then, strong strokes, arms and legs perfectly harmonised, an experienced swimmer no doubt, towards the luxurious boats and yachts bobbing up and down further on in the distance beyond the marker buoys that signalled the swimmer’s safe zone…
He had arrived in Sardegna fourteen hours ago after a rather humdrum journey from Calais to Paris from where he had caught a plane direct to Costa Smeralda Airport.
Hertz, ever reliable (And even more so in view of the class of funding Bond had been granted by M) had just the car for him: a brand new convertible white 911 Carrera GTS, and Bond had beamed as that undeniably unique purr of its V8 engine rang out charmingly behind him when he had turned the key in the ignition. Twenty minutes later he arrived at Porto Rotundo where he booked into the luxurious Hotel Abi d'Oru with its typical Mediterranean architecture, languidly enfolded by the deep blue sea, facing lush gardens in bloom and looked down upon by high green mounts behind it.
His room had a terrace which opened onto a long beach of white sand and he had spent an hour or so out there relishing a well-earned cigarette, a handsome glass of fine Scotch whisky, neat, and a delightfully warm night air that carried with it the exciting aroma of the ocean to top it all, before going back into the air-conditioned lavish suite to finally go over the file Moneypenny had supplied back at the airfield.
Born 1964, an Italian businessman worth well over four billion dollars, Shyla Practozfounded his firm in a two-room office in Rome in 1971. Deregulation of brokerage commissions and the birth of online investing propelled his company to immensity which now manages billions in client assets. Practoz left the chief executive post in 2008, however, but still sits as chairman. In January 2011, the firm fended off a drawn-out lawsuit over its mortgage-bond mutual fund Lipto CAS, with a one hundred and nineteen million dollar settlement. Last March, the firm bought online brokerage services provider Fakir for six hundred million dollars to capitalize on options trading. Practoz is also managing director of two Formula one racing teams, most recently with Renault F1 and part-owner and chairman of London's Queens Park United F.C. In 2009, Practoz was forced to resign from the ING Renault F1 team due to his involvement in race fixing at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix (Bond had raised an eyebrow at that – Race fixing?). After the FIA conducted its own investigation, he was banned indefinitely from any events sanctioned by the FIA, although this ban was later overturned by the French Tribunal de Grande Instance.He was born in Petrella Tifernina near Campobasso in rural Southern Italy when his father emigrated from Russia after the Second World War to Italy to work in a shoe factory where he met and married Practoz’s mother. He studied at the University of Bologna and in his twenties he claims to have earned a small fortune importing pørno DVDs and imitation designer clothes from Hong Kong – which in the end is what relatively started him off in the business world. He lived in Rome until 1989 and then moved to several locations: Los Angeles between 1989 and 1992; England from 1992 to 1999; and later, Italy from 1999 to present-day. In February 2012 Practoz quit as an independent director of Italy's largest insurance company, SARTOFER. He also owns a twenty percent stake in the renowned Italian holding company TECHNEK Financial Corporation and is managing director of a shipping company called MARE PRACTOZ
Before grabbing a shower and heading off to bed, James Bond had gone through the supplementary specifics listed as annexes in the file, which took him well over another hour to cover: Practoz’s Italian assets; his Swiss bank accounts; additional summary points and figures relating to his business properties and interests worldwide, and finally, all the relevant information concerning known associates and family members (wife deceased and two daughters).
In the end though nothing actually pointed him anywhere near the answers he needed as to pin down why such a man would be connected with Sir William Shaw or Black Fox, other than being filthy rich of course. The fact was, as things stood, is all Bond had to go on were the three calls to Sir William’s cell-phone – which in the end could have concerned anything and nothing. Indeed, he would have to scratch much deeper than the information MI6 had in that file, and he knew fine well from past experiences that doing so one almost always unearthed the proverbial lair of worms. Question was though: would the proverbial king worm be Simon Carter – Black Fox?
Finally, Bond decided that he would drive up to Practoz’s estate, Villa Carmine, in Chiaramonti first thing in the morning and see what he could suss out there, and at 0200 hrs, he lay back naked on the double bed and fell asleep promptly, the soft purring of the air-conditioner in the ceiling serving as a welcome appeaser.
He woke up at 0530 and went about doing his morning ritual of 20 slow push ups, as many leg lifts as he could, 20 reps of touching his toes and 15 minutes of arm and chest exercises combined with deep breathing, after which came the refreshing cold shower.
After shaving he got dressed into slim-fit white shorts, a sky-blue Sea Island cotton shirt and comfortable white daps. At six twenty five, he decided to phone down and order breakfast which consisted of fresh scrambled eggs, toast, an assortment of Sardegnian fruit, yoghurt and plenty of black coffee.
He ate at the small table on the terrace enjoying the beautiful view and fresh summer air, and at eight fifteen, James Bond gave one final look-over the attractive room and left to drive up to Practoz’s estate.
Chiaramonti had turned out to be a very charming and characteristic 14th century village situated on an extensive tall hill and looked over by the grey ruins of a Norman castle. It had taken him just under an hour to get there and the drive through the rolling valleys and breath-taking countryside around it was tremendously soothing and worthwhile to say the least.
Standing in a large sumptuous orchard with tall palm trees and surrounded by a low stone wall running its boundary, Shyla Practoz’s striking villa was located in the village centre amongst the colourful flat roofed buildings, narrow alleys and cobbled streets.
It was one of the most attractive houses he’d ever seen.
Bond parked the Porsche opposite and got out.
There was the fresh smell of the Mediterranean Sea mixed with the pleasant scent of lemons and jasmine.
He caught a glimpse of two black surveillance cameras, one on either side of the main entrance: an iron gate from which though he could see the grounds beyond.
There was a small open air Café on the corner further down the street, two old men sitting down reading newspapers on one of the metal tables and Bond decided it was high time for a drink.
He crossed over and went inside, a pleasant enough place, multi-coloured with half a dozen tables and chairs. It was run by an old man who was sitting down on a stool listening to the radio and he smiled amiably when Bond walked in.
Buon giorno, signor.’
Buon giorno. Un Americano per favore.’
‘Certamente. Siediti fuori se vuio e te lo portero. E troppo caldo per sedere qui dentro.’
Bond went outside and found a table, nodding to the two old men opposite who had looked up at him from their newspapers. His drink came and he sat back, surveying the area through his Oakley glasses, contemplating on how he was going to go about this recce and how when the time came he was going to approach Shyla Practoz.
So far, the answer, of course, lay in his current cover: Managing director of Transvaalor Security.
It was as Bond stubbed out his cigarette though that the gates to Practoz’s villa opened and moments later a yellow Lamborghini Miura emerged and came to a halt beside Bond’s white Porsche.
A very striking young woman got out from the drivers side, the Lamborghini’s engine still running, and made her way hurriedly to the Café.
Bond took a sip of his Americano and watched her approach. She was exquisitely garbed in a pink and silver sport shirt, a very expensive ruddy leather skirt, both Versace, Bond noted, and a fawn woven leather hand-bag by non other than Missoni Di Caruga hanging from her shoulder. She was tall and svelte, with a body to die for, and her hair was straw-coloured, straightforward and shoulder length. Her eye-catching face shined healthily and her eyes were deep tarns of cobalt. There was an excitement in them, he noted, a sort of glowing fire that burned brilliantly and that would melt the heart of any man with one simple look. She had sumptuous, rosy lips, the tips aquiline as if she was gifted with a permanent smile...
It took Bond a few moments to shake himself out of the trance her appearance had brought on and as she passed him she looked down to give him a fleeting, yet approving, look.
Bella giornata, Monetta.’ One of the old men said, folding his newspaper. ‘Stai andando alla spiagia?’
Si Carlo,’ she said and smiled gorgeously. ‘E la mia giornata libera.
Ah, allora divertiti, bambina mia. Lavori troppo sai.’
Ma no. Il mio e un lavorro troppo facile, dai. Insomma, voi state benne?
Si, Certamente, cara.
Benne. Compro da fumo e poi fugo. Vado a Tortuga stamatina.
Bel posto. Ciao cara e guidi piana e, dai.
‘Per te, il mondo, carrisimo.’
She went inside then and Bond watched through the doorway as she bought a packet of Benson and Hedges, again spending a few moments to chat with the old man behind the counter.
Whoever she was, she was indeed well liked by the locals.
This time, as she passed Bond’s table, she smiled gently at him, a challenging smile, and crossed the street back to her waiting car.
She got in and with a screech of rubber, the Lamborghini shot off down the road...
Bond gulped down the Americano and went inside to ask the old man who she was.
Ma, signiore, lei e la signorina Monetta Abruzzi - l’assistente personale dell signior Practoz.
Bond raised an eyebrow.
Practoz’s personal assistant?
How interesting, he thought, and the devil’s smile touched his face as he went back out, hurriedly got into his Porsche and sped off after her…
Lovely place.
Further down the road leading out of Chiaramonti, Bond had called Moneypenny from his Sony Ericsson Xperia and asked her to send anything they had on this Monetta Abruzzi.
‘Practoz’s personal assistant you say?’ Moneypenny asked.
‘That’s right.’
‘I’ll run the name through the mainframe and see what we come up with. Think she’s worth it, James? Looking into that is?’
‘In this kind of job, Penny, leave no stone unturned. She just might turn out to be my ticket to Practoz. We’ll see. How are things going over there anyway?’
‘Nothing new so far. We’re still settling things down here. M’s bogus funeral is on this afternoon which I’ll have to attend of course. He gets down here tonight by the way and I’m sure he’ll want to speak to you, James, so please be available. As for Shaw, he’s getting ready to take over the Division as previsted.’
‘And how are you going to explain your absence from the office now you’re operating from Salisbury House?’
‘I’m on compassionate leave for the next six weeks. I’m taking care of my very sick Aunt.’
‘Let’s just hope Shaw buys it.’
‘He will.’
‘Call me as soon as you get something on the girl.’
‘Remember what they say about Italian girls, James dear.’
‘What’s that?’
‘That once you're with one, you never go back.’
Bond had smiled at that and the line went dead.
He focussed on his driving and thought about the girl he was now following: One thing was for sure about the mysterious Monetta Abruzzi - she bloody well drove like a man…
And now, back at the Baia Blu in La Tortuga, James Bond was watching her swim in the bright blue sea from his spot on the crowded white sandy beach, enjoying the hot sun and taking this moment to relax a little as he designed a plan how to get his claws into this rather promising delight of an Italian girl and get to the man called Shyla Practoz...

#5 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 06:40 PM


Vodka Martinis Al Fresco

James Bond finally went for a swim and it was five minutes later that he decided to make contact with the girl, who was now drifting serenely on her back halfway towards shore from where she had first swam out.
‘Beautiful isn’t it,’ he called as he came within her reach.
She raised her head and looked at him.
‘The waters. Beautiful don’t you think?’
‘Hmmmm,’ was all she replied as a concede to his remark.
Bond went in closer.
‘Are you from around here, Ms…?’
She turned round to look at him long and hard as if resolving to either allow this conversation to take place, or more likely, tell Bond to get lost…
‘You’re English?’ she asked lastly.
‘Yes. Name’s James.’
His smile was charming, she thought, boyishly playful and she liked that a lot. His eyes were devastatingly piercing, icy, and there was something else inside them, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
‘Monetta,’ she told him. ‘And I’m from Chiaramonti. But I think you already know that, don’t you?’
‘What on earth do you mean?’ He raised an eyebrow, his eyes playfully shrewd.
‘The Café on the corner of the street earlier. I went in to buy a packet of cigarettes. You were sitting outside on one of the tables. I never forget a face, James, especially one as fetching as yours.’
Fetching? Now that was one for the great book.
‘Guilty. So it seems I owe you an explanation then, Monetta. You see I drove up to Chiaramonti for a little site-seeing but then you appeared and, believe it or not, the whole world changed before my eyes.’
Monetta’s eyes shined with laughter.
‘That’s one of the most artless pick-up lines I’ve ever heard in my life. Surely you can do much better than that to impress a girl like me in this day and age.’
‘Have lunch with me and find out.’
She drifted in closer to him.
‘And what makes you think I’m foolish enough to have lunch with a complete stranger who’s been following me all morning?’ she asked and her face was only inches away from his now.
Bond looked into those eyes of hers and was indeed spellbound by their scorching excitement; her lips wide, inviting. He brushed a lock of straw-coloured wet hair away from her cheek behind her ear.
‘What’s life without a little risk, Monetta,’ he told her simply, his smile winning her over completely.
She nodded once and then turned to swim off.
‘Ok, James,’ she called. ‘Meet me at the Laguna in fifteen minutes.’
He watched her and after a few moments swam back to shore.
His claws were in…

* * *

The Laguna featured boardwalk wooden floors, comfortable and multi-coloured sofas and cushions, large parasols and vases, lots of canvas on the wide terrace to keep off the sun and rows of recently planted sea-almond palms, also fashioned into canopies against the sun.
It was an attractive place and soft Jazz music played in the background. Unsurprisingly it was quite busy at that time of the day and Bond was shown to a cool table at the beachside, al fresco.
He sat back, lit a cigarette and glanced around while he waited for the girl. Fifteen minutes dead on time and she showed up and sat down opposite him.
She was wearing a pink Alpari sarong which hung lightly from her splendid golden neck, tied up with a double twist at the front. She no longer wore her bikini top and Bond, with the force of a slap across his face, couldn’t help taking in the outline of her apple-sized breasts with the two dark brown shadows of her nipples pointed firmly against the soft fabric...
‘So, James, what brings you to Sardegna apart from the beautiful beaches and sun?’ she asked, indolently checking her cell-phone for any messages, as if not really interested what he was going to answer which made her even more exciting.
‘Well I’m thinking of buying a place out here,’ he told her.
‘Oh?’ she looked up at him.
‘Yes. Either here or the Bahamas that is. Tell you the truth I still haven’t made up my mind yet.’
‘And do you always chase after girls like me as if there’s no tomorrow?’
He smiled handsomely.
‘If they’re as beautiful as you are then yes.’
She helped herself to one of his cigarettes and he held her stare in his as a waiter came with two menus. Bond ordered drinks for the both of them.
‘Vodka Martinis – shaken not stirred.’
‘That sounds exciting,’ she said.
‘It’s a delightful drink, trust me.’
She nodded.
‘Just this once.’
There was a moment of silence then as they both seemed to sum each other up. Then Bond said,
‘Tell me something about yourself.’
‘What’s to tell? I live with my father and work as a personal assistant for a very rich businessman, so you could say I lead a rather boring life. Most of the time anyway.’
‘At least you’re not boring.’
‘You’re trying too hard.’
He smiled and decided to throw in a catch.
‘Who is this rich businessman or can’t you say?’
‘His name is Practoz.’
‘You’re joking? Shyla Practoz? The Italian billionaire who was involved in some kind of race fixing at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix? I remember reading about him in the newspapers.’
Sounded dingy, but
‘Bravo. As you English say, spot on, James.’
‘I also know he’s part-owner and chairman of London's Queens Park United. You could say I’m a fan.’
‘Was. He sold his 85 per cent share a week ago.’ She drew in some smoke. ‘Are you married?’ she asked, veering the conversation away.
Bond’s eyes wolfed hers and she found herself truly thrilled by this tall, dark handsome man.
‘No. Are you?’
The waiter appeared and placed two frosted glasses with the pale golden drinks in front of them.
Bond raised his glass to her.
‘Cheers,’ he said.
‘Cin cin.’
The Italian toast, and so sexy the way she said it
‘Well?’ he said.
‘Well what?’
‘Are you married?’
‘I wouldn’t be sitting here with you if I was, James.’
‘That's decent.’
He drank some of the Martini.
‘Why Sardegna?’ she asked.
‘Why Sardegna? Let’s see. Ah yes, wild mountains, dazzling towns with local traditions, colourful festivals, people are warm and friendly. What else can I say? Let me see. Hmmm, of course: And beautiful and mysterious women like yourself.’
‘Absolutely, Monetta.’
‘I’d still go for the Bahamas nevertheless.’
Bond leaned forward and took one of her hands, holding it lightly, smiling with such allure that she found herself wanting to give herself completely to him - strange and crazy considering they'd only just met.
Mia carra, spiegami come potro mai lasciare quest isola ora che ho trovato un tesoro come te qui?’’
Which made her laugh wholeheartedly.
‘Now that, James, indeed tops them all,’ she said.
The waiter came again and took their food order.
She recommended Spaghetti with Mediterranean Clams and Squid with a piquant Sardegnian sauce made up of pine nuts, capers, mustard salve and lemon beurre blanc for starters, trailed delightfully by Filet mignon & shrimp brochetter on a skewer.
With Monetta’s consent he picked the wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, a firm red with black fruit, oak and herbs.
‘Perfect,’ she told him admiringly as the waiter retired.
The wine arrived as soon as they finished their Martinis and then the food, which was a magical affair indeed.
Casual conversation ensued throughout. She probed into his life in England (which she confessed she utterly detested), his hobbies, work, likings, and Bond gave her the background without actually scraping the surface of course. He in turn asked about her and she told him she had grown up in a place called Montecappello before moving to Chiaramonti. She had lost her mother at the tender age of twelve, cancer, and her devastated father had sent her off to some relatives in Rome where she went to school and then university. As a teenager she had been somewhat of a rebel and often got into trouble for her radical views with regards to human rights and state corruption which was rampant under the Uccelli government. She had read law at Calvani and actually considered becoming an avocato – a lawyer for the underdogs of society; a noble cause she decided to pass over though which she boiled down to simple languor. After a rather messy love affair with a married man she had tragically fallen in love with, she decided to come back to Sardegna and live with her father. She loved travelling but when it came to extended holidays it was either France or Switzerland and her ultimate passions was skiing and paragliding. She’d recently been to North Africa with Practoz and that proved to be a wonderful experience.
‘North Africa?’ Bond asked.
‘Yes, he’s been trying hard to expand his shipping business there for quite some time. Competition is outstanding though. Too many other European businessmen are vying for the same thing.’
‘I’m sure.’
‘There was one company he managed to close a deal with mind.’
‘An import/export company in Sasha Bahatt.’
Sasha Bahatt? Never heard of it.’
‘It’s in Libya. A very rich city that lies between Al Bayada and Tobruk. We were there last month, an enchanting place despite the past troubles in Libya.’
She took a sip of wine.
‘However, James, enough of my boss and his business. This is my afternoon off and I most certainly do not want to spend it talking about him.’
Bond smiled.
‘Of course not,’ he said. ‘Which leads me to the million dollar question.’
‘Which is?’
‘When can I see you again?’
‘Ah, that question.’
‘Tonight? I do hope you realise that now that I’ve got you, I’m not going to let you go easily.’
‘Very charming James, really, but tonight is out of the question unfortunately.’
‘Mr. Practoz is holding a charity fund raising event and I’ve got to be there.’
‘Charity event?’
‘You are very inquisitive, James. It’s in aid of an organisation called the Children’s International Action Fund. I’m sure you've heard of them. It is after all based in the United Kingdom. ’
He nodded.
‘One of the largest charities in the world which focuses on improving the lives of children living in poverty in developing countries. North Africa again?’
‘That’s right. Mr. Practoz’s pet hobby.’
‘I’m sure,’ Bond said. ‘Perhaps I should come?’
Monetta laughed delightfully.
‘I would love to invite you, really, but the guest list is very restricted. We can meet tomorrow evening though if you like, for dinner. Where are you staying?’
‘The Abi d'Oru.’
She got up then and stretched out a hand.
‘It has been a pleasure meeting you, James. Thank you so much for lunch.’
He took her hand in his and held it gently.
‘No dessert?’
She looked deep into his eyes and he felt an electrifying power emanate from them.
‘Thank you, but no. It was a wonderful lunch, very much worth the risk after all. You were right. A domani serra James.’
And with that Monetta Abruzzi turned and walked off.
Bond sat back down to finish the wine.
He felt like some sweet and coffee and signalled the waiter.
What was it the girl had said before leaving?
A domani serra – till tomorrow evening.
James Bond smiled softly at that and sat back in his chair admiring the bright blue sea and clear sky.
What an exceptional girl, he thought...

* * *

Bond got back to the hotel at four in the afternoon and showered, steaming hot and then icy cold, after which he sat down outside on the terrace with a fine Scotch and Soda from the minibar, smoking and enjoying the magnificent view. He called Moneypenny from his Sony Ericsson and was answered straightaway.
‘So how did it go with the girl?’
‘What can I say, Penny, except that she took the bait.’
‘Which we all knew she would. And the next meeting?’
‘Tomorrow evening.’
Slight pause at the other end.
‘You must be getting old, James.’
‘Rubbish. Practoz has organized a charity event and she’s got to be there. Something to do with the Children’s International Action Fund. Which is where you come in.’
‘I need to know where it’s going to be of course.’
‘Gate crashing again, James? Couldn’t you have simply asked for an invitation?’
‘The guest list is very restricted.’
‘We could try and fix that from here. I’m sure Q’ll sort something out.’
Bond took a deep draw at his cigarette.
‘No need. I’m going to flush my hand out and see what comes of it. If Shyla Practoz is actually involved with Black Fox then I’m sure the name Bond will ruffle his feathers a bit.’
‘M won’t like that.’
‘Who's M? By the way, anything on the girl that I should know?’
‘She’s been working for Practoz for over three years now and is employed as his personal assistant, which you already know. I could give you the whole kit and caboodle on her background but to tell you the truth it’s quite, how can I put it, lacklustre. She’s what my mother used to call whiny clean.’
‘All the more to look into her from my end then.’
‘Which I’m sure you’ll do intensely once the time comes. Now then, James, what about you? Uncover anything new?’
‘Just that our man is trying to expanded his shipping corporate over to North Africa. According to the girl they were in Sasha Bahatt last month, somewhere in Libya. Apparantly he's just closed a deal.’
Sasha Bahatt. Never heard of it.’
‘Neither had I which obviously makes it more stimulating. Could very well be my next stop, if nothing crops up here.’
‘So the Children’s International Action Fund and Sasha Bahatt. Good work, James. We’ll cross reference everything on Q’s mainframe and see what we hit.’
‘How is M anyway?’
‘Thankful you’re an exceptionally good shot. He’s settling down in his new office at the moment. He’s a bit grumpy considering he’s just watched his own funeral on the telly.’
‘What? Nobody turn up to see the old dog off?’
Moneypenny laughed delightfully at that.
‘Jokes apart, Penny, did you know Practoz sold his eighty-five per cent share of Queen’s Park United last week? Any chance you could find out who bought it. Could be nothing but…’
‘Leave nought to chance, I know. No problem. I’ll get back to you as soon as I’ve got something.’
And with that Bond hung up.
He stayed out there a while longer then went inside into the fresh air-conditioned room and took a nap.
Only the Gods knew what tonight held for him...

#6 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 03:55 PM


Of All The Devil’s Nights

Hidden along Sardegna’s northern coast and sited in the interior of a wide and lush valley of the Coghinas River is the town of Valledoria strewn with rich woodland, canals and lagoons of sparkling water and silver mountains that look out over the Gulf of Asinara, and it was here that James Bond pitched the Carrera GTS for all she was worth through a couple of miles of immaculate straight and stunning scenery.
His two hour drive led him through Castelsardo, Mimosa Bay and Isola Rossa and then Costa Paradiso after which he finally reached the beautiful holiday resort of Costa Smeralda in the north east.
Bond settled back into a calm drift then, the Carrera’s engine purring delightfully, towards his destination: the summit of Monte Mora where the lush and sinful CasinoSardawas located. At exactly nine thirty, he curved into the parking area, found a space beside a very sexy BMW M6 Convertible and got out wearing a flawlessly fitting classical midnight-blue dinner suit by Edinen and Hawks in Mayfair.
Spotlights rolled back and forth upon the bucolic façade and Bond looked out across the line of exotic cars parked opposite as he decided to smoke a cigarette before going inside.
From the looks of things, Shyla Practoz had enticed nothing but the elite, the rich and the eminent to show up that night, to dole out some of their money into his worthy, albeit no doubt shady, cause.
Bond had purposely arrived an hour and a half late in order to ensure Practoz’s guests would be inside by now, settling down to the event. This ‘time delay’ should, in theory, leave him with a little elbow-room where the casino reception was concerned…
He smiled and took one final pull of the cigarette and walked inside where a silver-bearded and rather largely built duty manager greeted him in the ante-room.
Buona serra,’ he said. ‘Welcome to the Casino Sarda. May I see your invitation please?
‘Would you believe I haven’t got one,’ Bond told him coolly.
‘But I’m sure you’ll find that Mr. Practoz will instruct you to let me through once he knows I’m here. Please tell him my name is Bond. James Bond. I've just flown in from the UK to see him.’
In that one moment in time, Bond had indeed taken the cliché ‘playing it off-the-cuff’’ to absolutely new and daring heights with this performance. A tense flux formed in the air between the two men and the manager carefully contemplated the situation before him.
‘One moment please,’ the older man said finally and crossed over to his station.
Pronto,’ Bond heard him say whilst he turned to gaze at the attractive wall paintings of several Sardegnian backdrops...
Che un Inglese qui che sta dicendo che il padrone lo conosce. Non ha un invito e non so che cosa fare. Sembra genuino. Se lo capito bene lo ha dimenticato o lo ha perso.
There was a moment of silence. He had told whoever was at the other end that there was an Englishman saying that the Boss knew him and that he had forgotten or misplaced his invitation. Should he let him through?
Sichiama James Bond.’
Silence, then,
Va bene… Aspetto.’ The manager hung up.
‘Just a few moments, sir.’
Bond nodded and continued admiring the wall paintings as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
The phone rang after about five minutes.
Ok… Perfetto… Grazie.
Bond still had his back to him when he came round again.
‘Mr. Bond, you may go through. Please excuse the delay. Procedure. I am sure you understand.’
Bond flashed a cool smile and finally went through the baroque hall and on into the main roomwhere hechanged a sizeable sum of four hundred thousand Euros into bank-chips from the cashier. He then proceeded across to the swish bar opposite to enjoy a well-earned glass of champagne.
I’m going to flush my hand and see what comes of it,’ he recalled telling Moneypenny back at the hotel. ‘If Shyla Practoz is actually involved with Black Fox then I’m sure my name will ruffle his feathers.
Had Bond ruffled Practoz’s feathers by announcing himself like that?
He sipped some champagne: a limited edition of a multi-vintage blend of Collet's finest cuvées.
Shyla Practoz had definitely pulled out all the stops to make sure that his guests relished themselves that evening. He had spared nothing: the best food, drink and entertainment money could buy; not to mention the line of smart servants to go with it all.
There was enough perks to satisfy them all through the night, Bond noted.
The Casino Sarda was an elegant affair and he compared it to his favourite casino in Monte Carlo. There were two dazzling crystal chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling and the walls were painted in bright gold and mauve. French windows opened up onto a widespread veranda looking over the splendid Lago Cappezone and the delightful hamlet of Campello, which looked like something out of a magical fairy-tale that night. There was a wide and thickly carpeted staircase at the far end, shut off from the rest of the place with a velvet covered chain and which led upstairs to the Salon privè where only honoured affiliates of the casino would be permitted to venture.
Bond scanned the myriad of people playing at the various tables and the watchers engaged in quiet conversation around them. He was eager to catch a glimpse of the girl but so far there was no sign of her, or of Practoz. He could almost feel the raw nervous tension in the air which was so common in casinos the world over. He called it the gambler’s air.
A soft smile touched his lips as he downed the delightful champagne and made his way to one of the Roulette tables further on. The croupier was a very attractive woman, which, to an extent, was what attracted him there in the first place. There was the usual clutch of people watching and five players: Italian, French and a couple of Americans. He found an empty chair, sat down and immediately felt that superb charge that went with high stake gambling. He decided to play seventy-five thousand on red, seven, and a further thirty-five thousand, rather daringly, on doubles with a black nine...
Thirty or so minutes into the game, Bond ended up winning a fetching fare of 50,000 euros, with twenty-five per cent of his takings going to Practoz’s cause – the children’s fund. It was a further ten minutes later and just as Bond was considering smoking a cigarette outside on the terrace, however, that one of the casino employees, a wiry man in his early thirties with curly black hair, came over and bent down towards him.
‘Excuse me signiore,’ he said softly into Bond’s ear. ‘Mr. Practoz would like to see you. Upstairs.’
Bond looked up at him and nodded once calmly, threw in a couple of chips to the croupier as was the custom and got up.
He followed the man through the crowd and up the stairs to the grand privè hall. Two large crystal chandeliers, similar to the ones downstairs, sparkled above them, causing the white and beige walls there, adorned charmingly by extended burgundy drapes, to glimmer radiantly. What caught Bond’s eye though was the elaborate painting on the ceiling – a representation of the Garden of Eden. It was, to say the least, fascinating, he mused. There were about five other velvet covered kidney-shaped tables up there and the man called Shyla Practoz was playing with three other players at the far end. There was a thick pile of thousand euro plaques in front of him; very thick indeed, and which obviously indicated extremely high stakes Bond couldn’t possibly match for more than one game, possibly two...
Behind Practoz sat the beautiful Monetta Abruzzi, albeit looking rather solemn and uninterested. She was wearing a very sexy black dress and striking diamond necklace at her throat and Bond recalled that moment of breathlessness when he’d first glanced into those deep tarns of cobalt eyes of hers. And indeed that breathlessness took over him again when she looked up directly at him now, confusion on her face at seeing him there...
‘Ah, the mysterious Mr. Bond,’ Practoz called, folding his cards down on the green baize. ‘Please, sit down and join us.’
One of the casino staff stepped up with a fine leather-covered chair and placed it at the other end of the table for Bond.
‘Thank you.’
Shyla Practoz was a strikingly good-looking man with long slender eyebrows above Albino eyes that were reticent, menacing somewhat. He had high cheekbones and the type of long straight aquiline nose the ancient Romans held to such high esteem. His thin, cruel lips were now curved into a wicked smile. Practoz was completely bald and reminded Bond of the great actor Yul Bryner. Rather tall and well built, he wore an elegant white Fortinude and Royal dinner jacket with shaull collar, trim silhouette, cummerbund and bat-wing tie.
‘My men tell me you misplaced your invitation,’ he went on. ‘Which I’m sure you will agree is rather odd since you’re not even on my guest list. You also told the duty manager downstairs that I know you which makes me even more puzzled because I’ve never met you before in my life.’
His English was very good, Bond noted, and with only a slight suggestion of an Italian accent.
Practoz lit a long slim cigar and blew out a flow of dirty grey smoke as he sat back in his chair, himself sizing Bond up carefully. There were three other players at the table beside him, an Asian woman, tall and quite sexy, and two Arabs - old men with dark suspicious eyes.
‘It seems we have a mutual friend, Mr. Practoz.’ Bond told him.
‘So what? I know half the world and the other half know me, but where exactly does that get you?’
‘A man called Simon Carter?’ he said.
Practoz narrowed his Albino eyes and there seemed to appear a new interest on his face.
Bond wasn’t quite sure though if it was a sign that he’d touched a raw nerve of sorts.
‘Never heard of him,’ Practoz said after a couple of moments and shrugged his shoulders. ‘My patience is about to wear very thin, Mr. Bond, as is that of my guests here. You are, as you can see, keeping us from a very exciting game.’
Practoz was either genuine or a bloody good actor. It was possible on the other hand that he knew Carter by a different name though, so Bond decided to press him with the only thing he had left…
‘He’s one of the world’s most wanted criminals, Mr. Practoz. Perhaps that rings your bell.’
‘Now that’s what I call a mouthful, Mr. Bond.’ Practoz told him. ‘One of the world’s most wanted criminals you say. Please continue.’
Bond raised an eyebrow as he looked across at the other three people at the table.
‘Don’t worry about them, Mr. Bond, they are very close and trusted associates of mine.’
Bond produced his wide gunmetal cigarette case and lighter and placed them in front of him while he stared deep into Practoz’s eyes. He needed something, a sharp reaction or tell-tale sign, which would tell him the bastard was in league with Black Fox because so far he had zilch.
‘What can I say,’ Bond said finally. ‘Except that he’s the mastermind behind a failed attempt to blow up London with an Anti Proton Energy Bomb stolen from the world's largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva.’
Practoz suddenly laughed.
‘And where exactly do I fit into all that?’
‘A couple of months ago I was forced to resign from the British Intelligence Service,’ Bond told him totally caught off. ‘It’s a long story but before I left I came across a file on Carter that had your name written all over it.’
‘There is more of course but I’m sure you’d prefer hearing that part of the information in private. I was told by a close friend of mine that you would pay handsomely for it.’
There was a long silence before Practoz spoke again.
‘Of all the devil’s nights,’ he said somewhat jadedly.
Bond’s face remained fixed. This was the moment the whole thing could sway practically anywhere…
A maître d' walked up to their table and Practoz ordered a double Cardinale.
‘And for you?’ he asked looking at Bond.
‘Scotch and Soda, no ice.’
The maître d’ took the other three player’s order, then Monetta’s behind them, and backed off the way he had come.
Practoz took a deep lungful of smoke and when he blew out, he looked Bond straight in the eyes again. This time there was a skilled gravity in them.
‘You certainly took one hell of a chance coming here tonight, Mr. Bond. In fact, you have what my father used to call in his day 'very big orbs'. Which is probably why I’m going to keep you alive. You see, you have succeeded in rousing my curiosity considerably.’
‘I can assure you the information I have with regards to your involvement with the man British Intelligence calls Black Fox is hot, Mr. Practoz. As you said I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t worth it.’
‘Which means we’re going to have to talk more. But not here. Not now.’
‘Name the place.’
‘My villa tomorrow afternoon in Chiaramonti, and something tells me you already know where that is, am I right?’
Bond nodded.
No use lying.
‘Now then, the game we were playing before you tactlessly appeared into my life, Mr. Bond, was Chemin de Fer, and up here the bank stands at one hundred thousand euros a game. Shall I count you in or is the stake too high for your purse?'
There was a very nasty dare in the striking bastard’s eyes and as Bond lit one of his Moreland Specials he genuinely found himself liking him.
Talk about unexpected turns, he thought.
‘I just might be able to manage a game or two, Mr. Practoz.’
‘Good luck then.’
Bond smiled charmingly.
‘Luck is strictly for birds,’ he said and blew out a cool stream of smoke...

#7 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 06:49 PM


‘So That’s Why I Bloody Lost …’

‘What on earth happened?’
‘What do you mean what happened? The bastard wiped me out, that’s what happened!’
There was a long pause at the other end and Bond looked down at the emerald lit Sony Ericsson connected to the hands-free system on the dashboard, his eyebrows grimaced.
‘Are you still there?’ he called out sharply.
‘Of course I’m still here,’ Moneypenny said finally. ‘It’s just that you lost four hundred thousand euros in less than three hours. How do you propose I explain that to M?’
Bond played the Carrera through a tight turn somewhere between Castelsardo and Mimosa Bay and pushed her up to seventy.
‘How was I to know Practoz was such a formidable player,’ he said and lit a cigarette. ‘But I assure you it was money well spent.’
‘Oh? How’s that?’
‘Half of it is going to charity.’
‘Very reassuring, James.’
Bond rounded onto a wide snaking road strewn with rich forest and canals towards Valledoria. He was all alone out there, the bright beams from the Carrera’s headlamps slicing through the night like some kind of ominous space-prod. He was pushing the car fast, well over eighty and increasing and although he was quite irritated at himself for suffering defeat, all five games and no less, he was constantly checking his mirrors and heads-up display for any signs of other vehicles following him.
‘By the way what are you doing still up?’ he asked. ‘Isn’t it passed your bed time?’
‘I am in bed, James. You called me remember?’
Bond smiled at that.
‘Don’t mention it.’
‘Anything on Sasha Bahatt?’
‘I would have called you if I’d had. Do you know how you’re going to play it tomorrow with Practoz?’
‘By the beat and cuff again?’
‘Much good that did you this evening,’ Moneypenny told him. ‘Anyway, James, I’m off to sleep. Busy day tomorrow. I’ll wire your accounts with an extra five hundred thousand but please, no more card games.’
‘Penny if you were here right now I’d have you across my knee, and that’s a fact.’
‘Oh, but for wishful thinking, darling.’
‘Oh and by the way, I need some hardware. Anyone you can send over in the morning?’
‘Anyone in mind?’
‘I’d have to say Civitillo – if he’s still around. Last time we used him was several years ago on the Zographos affair.’
‘I’ll see what I can do.’
And with that she hung up and he was alone again, alone in a murky world gone suddenly foreign on him...
Bond sighed and finally slowed down.
He couldn’t help his thoughts going back to the games he’d lost against Shyla Practoz. What was it he had told the Italian before they had started playing?
Luck is strictly for birds?
If lady luck had ever favoured anyone in her life, it was most certainly Practoz that night. In the first game, Bond had drawn an eight and King of clubs. Not bad, he had thought and decided to up the waver – mistake numero uno.
More often than not, James Bond was a very cautious gambler and on average would never have dreamt of taking such risks but tonight was quite different, somehow, and with Monetta watching from her chair he just wasn’t thinking straight. He placed an additional ten thousand euros on the table and stood his hand (the wise thing to do considering) with all eyes fixing on Practoz as he turned his own cards.
An eight of clubs and an ace of hearts.
Damn him!
Bond remembered the faint murmur from the crowd watching over them.
It was during the second game, however, that Bond had become dreadfully nervous of Practoz’s luck. The spectre of defeat was looming over him but he just couldn’t bring himself to back off. Instead, Bond doubled. He felt Practoz’s eyes cut into him knowingly from across. He was obviously enjoying the discomfort Bond was in.
Un banco de deux cent mille! Faites vos jeux, messieurs. Il reste a completer. Un banco de deux cent mille!
Two hundred thousand.
The cards were dealt and Bond turned his over.
A five and a Queen.
Bond’s heart rose.
He could feel the sweat on his palms.
He had the option to either draw or stand.
Bond decided to stand.
Practoz however asked for a third card, still smiling with devlish poise which was rather strange considering the third deal almost invariably spelt disaster.
He was dealt a seven of clubs and turned over his own cards as Bond held his breath – two pictures: a Queen and a King.
Sept.’ the croupier cracked and it felt like a slap across Bond’s face.
Le banque perde.’
James Bond sat back and gave a slight shrug.
‘Easy come, easy go, Mr. Bond.’ Practoz offered.
‘You don’t say.’
‘Est Un banco de deux cent mille! Faites vos jeux, messieurs. Il reste a completer. Un banco de deux cent mille!
Bond lit another cigarette and thought it over.
He’d lost quite a sum already but the flavour of gambling at high stakes felt too good to throw it all in now. He smiled confidently – it had been a while since he’d been engaged in a game like this, so, for all it was worth, he decided to play on...
Banco.’ he said finally which meant he was betting against all.
‘How brave, Mr. Bond.’
The dealing started again and Bond shifted in his chair and took a sip of his Scotch and Soda.
The cards flicked out of the shoe as if in slow motion this time and Bond watched them carefully as they were passed over to him and Practoz on the black spatula.
Bond flipped his card over.
Yet another five – the five of diamonds.
Practoz’s card on the other hand was a seven and a king of hearts.
‘Sept a la banc.’
Bond nodded.
The croupier scrambled one out and flipped it across.
An ace!
Six. The bank loses.’
Bond recalled the annoying sound of that wretched rake as the croupier pushed the pile of plaques towards Practoz.
‘Birds and luck, Mr. Bond?’ he had quipped over another Cardinale. ‘I would re-think that aphorism if I were you. Another game?’
‘Well, your luck’s bound to change at some point or another,’ Bond told him dispassionately. ‘I just hope it’s before you wipe me out completely.’
Bond decided to go into partnership with the sexy Asian woman this time, betting his final one hundred thousand against Practoz’s standing two (the Arabs had backed off after the second round and were still licking their wounds).
Not surprisingly Practoz won again, this time with a nine and ten against an eight and king for the table – two points off, an apologetic look from the Asian and the final coup de grace – that wretched devil’s smile from Practoz.
Bond did his very best to bear his losses.
Although it was company money, Bond obviously felt bad losing. He tipped the croupier and nodded towards Practoz.
‘Thank you for seeing me.’
‘I’m sorry you had such bad luck tonight,’ he said. ‘But then please have solace in the fact that half of what you lost is going to a very worthy cause.’
‘I’m sure. Perhaps one of these days though you will allow me the chance to try and win my money back in a rematch.’
‘I look forward to it, Mr. Bond. Until then, I will see you tomorrow for lunch.’
Bond looked long and hard at him and there was an intensity in his eyes which Practoz obviously noted. He then paid one last hopeful glance at the girl, who simply looked away, coldly rather, and left…
He arrived back at his hotel well past one in the morning and was exhausted. He unlocked his door and slipped out of his jacket and tie and checked everything was as he had left it prior to leaving, beginning with his case and carrying bag. Satisfied he got undressed and went into the bathroom turning on the shower. It was cool, refreshing. He stood there for a whole twenty minutes.
Shyla Practoz. He had gone to the casino to ruffle the bastard’s feathers and had come out ruffled himself. And what of his reaction to Bond’s appearance and the information he’d parted with regards to Black Fox?
Nothing, bar puzzlement.
Staged puzzlement?
Possibly, Bond thought and towelled himself briskly.
There was certainly a connection between him and William Shaw but where Carter was concerned - he wasn’t so sure anymore. The signs when he’d mentioned his name and what he was wanted for simply didn’t register as those of someone mendacious.
Practoz actually seemed genuinely at a loss.
Which meant what exactly?
A dead end?
Bond went back to the bedroom, slipped on a pair of shorts and went out onto the balcony to smoke his last cigarette that night.
The air was cool, fresh and it carried the soft fragrance of Carob trees and cactus, not to mention the crispness of the ocean. The sky was lucid, the stars glowing brilliantly and he blew out a stream of smoke as he thought of Monetta Abruzzi.
Bond wondered what she now held of him, having seen him there at the Casino tonight facing off her boss. Would she even look at him again or would she give him the cold shoulder for his icy and deliberate ‘deception’ at the beach that morning; the same cold shoulder she’d given him when he’d tried to catch her gaze before leaving the casino after the game?
He wouldn’t blame her if she did.
Bond smiled sympathetically.
It would have been wonderful to have got her into his bed though.
He stubbed out the cigarette and went inside, slipped out of his shorts and naked got into bed.
Ten minutes later, and James Bond was fast asleep...

* * *

It was about an hour later that he was woken up by a knock at the door.
At first he thought he was dreaming and it took him a while to recognise what had roused him. He instinctively slid his hand under the pillow for his Walther PPK and with stark alarm realised that he was unarmed; had been ever since he got to Sardegna.
Again a knock.
Bond got out of bed and put on his shorts. He then opened the door and found Monetta Abruzzi standing there in the hallway, remarkable in that black velvet dress and diamond necklace.
‘Monetta,’ he said and moved aside so she could come in.
‘What the hell are you up to, James?’ she told him once inside.
‘What ever do you mean?’ Bond closed the door behind him and leaned against the wall. He wasn’t expecting this. True, he had taken advantage of her but he could detect that there was something a little more than simple anger at him for that; something more emotional.
‘This morning at the beach,’ she told him. ‘It was all a set-up wasn’t it? You wanted Practoz and you somehow used me to get to him. That damn charm of yours, the lunch. It was all just a load of [censored], right?’
Bond crossed over to the bedside locker and took a cigarette from his case.
He didn’t want to hurt her any more than he already doubtlessly had, but, for the sake of the mission, there was no way he was coming clean with her now. For all he knew, she could be in on the whole damn thing with Practoz and Carter.
Bond went to the balcony and lit up, standing in the open doorway, looking her over, thinking what to say.
Damn she was sexy!
He ran a hand through his tousled hair and blew out a cool stream of grey smoke, his grey-blue eyes dazzling.
‘I didn’t mean to mislead you, believe me,’ he said softly and with candour.
‘That’s hard to believe.’
That hint of an Italian accent was so attractive, he thought.
‘Who the hell are you, James, and what do you really want? Please I want to know.’
‘As I told your boss, I’m ex-British Intelligence. I’ve information that could be very useful to him – for a fee of course.’
‘What information?’ She looked at him sternly, like a mother a child when demanding an explanation for some wrongdoing, which indeed made her look even more devastatingly pleasant.
Bond took another deep pull on the cigarette and curbed a breezy smile at such an attractive display of personality oddity.
‘I’m afraid that’s for his ears only, Monetta,’ he told her lastly, perhaps a little too formally.
‘James, you’re crossing the wrong man.’
Bond stubbed out the cigarette in the crystal ashtray and went back inside.
He moved in closer to her.
‘And you came all the way down from Monte Mora to tell me that? At three in the morning? That’s very thoughtful of you.’
Bond looked into those damned eyes of hers and an overwhelming desire flowed through his entire being. Her scent filled his nostrils. Donna Trusardi, without a doubt; that passionate combination of mandarin, hyacinth, ginger and spicy coriander.
Italian women!
Bond wanted her badly then and if his instinct was correct, the feeling was absolutely mutual…
‘I came all the way down here to warn you, James, not tell you. You’re on dangerous ground with the game you’re playing.’
‘Look, I appreciate your concern, Monetta, but I know what I’m doing. I’m also old enough to take care of myself. As for this morning, I abused your trust. True. But I promise you my interest in you was not just about Shyla Practoz. When I saw you outside his villa for the first time, I was hooked. I could have gone to your boss there and then but instead I decided to follow you.’
‘Because I wanted you the moment I saw you, that’s why.’
Bond leaned down then and kissed her overpoweringly, pushing her teeth apart with his tongue. After a few moments of hesitation she yielded to him and he felt her hands against his bare back, her mouth cool and fresh as his tongue fondled around her own and she countered beautifully. One of her hands caressed his face.
‘Damn you, James,’ she said when they finally broke off. ‘What the hell am I doing?’
She pulled away and grabbed one of his cigarettes, breathless and flustered. Crossing to the balcony, she lit it, inhaling deeply. She then looked across at him, as if thinking something over.
‘I wasn’t going to come here,’ she told him calmly. ‘But I couldn’t resist. I can’t explain it. After you left the casino I felt like killing you - literally. I knew the moment you approached me this morning you were too good to be true. Deep down, I knew there was something more to you that met the eye but in the end I wanted you to be true. I thought I’d finally met someone true and sincere. Instead you turn out to be the devil’s own, James. God, the trouble I can get into if Practoz ever found out we’d met this morning. It would probably cost me my job.’
‘You had no idea who I was so how can he blame you.’
She shrugged her shoulders resignedly.
‘I watched him play cards for another hour after you left. He likes me there when he plays. He told me once that I brought him luck.’
‘So that’s why I bloody lost,’ he said lightly and there was an earnest and affable look on his face and she felt safe, comforted somehow that until this man was with her, no harm would ever befall her...
‘And then I went looking for you,’ she continued. ‘I wanted to know what the hell was going on; why you had fooled me this morning. I felt used. So, in the end I decided to drive down here to see you, to have it out with you and to warn you. And now this – this lovely warm ache inside me.’
She finally came back in and stood beside the bed.
‘We have an old saying in Sardegna, James,’ she said and there was an electrifying look in her eyes. ‘Il colpo di fulmine é la cosa che fa di un cuore la passione mai perso e mai reuzato.
She had spoken in a Sarda dialect which he couldn’t understand.
‘Sounds nice,’ Bond asked. ‘What does it mean?’
‘After you make love to me, I will explain it to you, James. But for now, come and take me. I want everything you have to offer.’
She then slipped out of her dress and let it drop to the floor and Bond’s eyes scoffed every inch of her.
Her bronze body was slender, athletic, with perfectly shaped hips, breasts well-toned and supple, nipples pointed. She was wearing sexy T-back pink lace panties and he watched her run her thumbs along the thin waistband and peel them deliciously off.
Bond got out of his shorts and kicked them away and she then went to him.
His lips flowed down to her open mouth and Monetta felt his stiffness against her abdomen, then his warm and strong hands feeling her buttocks, fingers exploring her lovely slit. She ran her own fingers through his hair and then down his back, her sharp nails biting deep into his flesh.
‘Make it last, James, please.’
Bond’s mouth moved from her neck to her splendid breasts, his tongue caressing her nipples. And then he went down on his knees and his hungry lips found that golden triangle of finely cut hair between her legs. Monetta moaned out as she stood over him, her back arching, her head tilting backward, thrusting herself into his mouth as he worked his tongue inside her, kissing and sucking, his hands clenching her buttocks, pulling her tighter into his face. She was hot and moist and her scent was irresistible. She closed her eyes in burning sensuality whilst he gave her altruistic enjoyment; an altruistic enjoyment that sent powerful shock waves through her entire system and Bond felt her fingers clutching his hair as she moaned softly with pleasure above him.
He got up after a while and then lifted her up.
She enfolded her legs around his upper thighs, her face buried into his neck.
Fami del male,’ she murmured. ‘Fami del male, James. Te volgio.
He lowered her down to the bed and kissed her again with vicious hunger, chewing her lips and tongue with fervent passion, his fingers stroking her body passionately.
Then came that blissful shock of burning decadence shooting through her entire being like a powerful lightning bolt when he finally thrust his hard and long body inside her.
‘Oh, James …’
And then she closed her eyes and let it happen.

* * *

An hour or so later, Bond lay there in the darkness, his heart thumping wildly against his chest, perspiring and ultimately gratified fully. Monetta was beside him, spent, lying on her front, her skin sparkly with perspiration despite the cool air from the air conditioner, and the left side of her face resting on her forearms on the soft pillow. A picture of beauty at its best…
Bond reached for his cigarettes on the bedside locker, (always his blasted cigarettes, he thought), and lit one, inhaling deeply on the comforting, sweet smoke.
The sex had been perfect – hard, very hard, and ruthless - absolutely no holds barred. They had given themselves entirely to each other, two wild animals, with the sole purpose of gratifying their most intimate fancies.
He blew out a stream of smoke and listened to her steady breathing.
‘You make love as if you won’t live to see tomorrow, James,’ she told him softly, breaking the tender silence.
Bond looked down at her but said nothing.
Her extraordinary body shone in the darkness, golden-like, slender, the curves faultless.
She then turned around to face him and reached out for his cigarette. Her breasts, the rosy nipples still erect, jutted towards him enticingly, the blonde triangle of hair between her legs a soft shadow against her skin and Bond felt the want again, red-hot inside him.
She took a pull from the cigarette, gave it back and touched his scar, her eyes radiant.
‘A violent man, but with cuore - heart. Before I go you must make love to me again, James. I want to feel what you did to me just now one last time. Let me rest a while though, darling, and then you will take me again, as the sun rises.’
James Bond smiled and lay back against the pillow, listening to the purr of the air-conditioner as he smoked.


Villa Carmine

She left at about six thirty after giving him her cell phone number. They agreed to meet for dinner at the hotel and that it would be best she kept out of his way and feign not to know him when he went down to see Practoz that afternoon. Following her departure, James Bond went about his morning custom of physical exercise which, this time, lasted roughly sixty minutes – ten minutes more than usual.
An energising shower and shave later, he got dressed into comfortable grey trousers, a white clover sea-island cotton shirt from Turnbull & Asser and a light weight navy blue slim-fit single-breasted Blazer from Saville Row, explicitly tailored for him by Butler and Webs.
He glanced agreeably in the cheval mirror.
The tie was Benson and Cleqq, knitted and silk with military red and dark-blue broad bars against a navy blue body, impeccably tied with a Royal Cavendish knot. Bond smiled then, recalling what his father had once told him when he was just a young boy: ‘Never trust anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity and was often the mark of a cad.’
Comfort played a large part in Bond’s line of work, he observed and not for the first time, which comfort, in the end, was what made him extremely fussy about his likes and dislikes where clothes, food, cars and women were concerned. Indeed being fussy about what he liked and disliked was what made all the difference.
At seven thirty he finally phoned down for breakfast.
Once again he ate at the small table on the terrace after which he smoked for ten minutes. The special brand of Balkan and Turkish mixture with the three gold bands, expressly made for him by Morelands of Grovsener Street, settled him down.
What would he be without his Morelands? he asked himself as he blew out a dark grey stream of smoke towards the clear sapphire sky.
Definitely healthier, James, definitely healthier
At about eight thirty the receptionist called to tell him that a Mr. Civitillo was downstairs requesting to see him.
Moneypenny! What an angel.
He told the receptionist he’d be right down and sorted out his things.
Renato Civitillo, a freelance arms dealer amongst other things, was a powerfully built Sicilian in his early fifties, skin dark with a silver beard and dashingly kind green eyes. There weren’t many men in Civitillo’s trade whom Bond trusted but this particular Sicilian rogue had come highly recommended by a very close friend of Bond’s the last time he was working ultra-covert in Sicily, and he had used him several times after.
They met in the charming cafeteria in front of the open air pool area and Civitillo wore a loosely fitting beige linen suit and white shirt open at the neck.
‘James, your friend Miss Moneypenny is the dragon lady herself, no less,’ he declared after ordering two strong black coffees and a croissant for himself. ‘She called me at three this morning and told me, no, commanded me, to get my ‘[censored]’ over here with these items – her words exactly. Now the fact that I am from Palermo and would have to wake up my poor brother-in-law, who has only one eye by the way, to bring me over here in his speed boat did not sway her one bit. My sister was very, very annoyed to say the least.’
Bond smiled.
‘Nag nag nag, James. That’s all she does. But, alas, money has a way when it comes to pacifying women like my sister.’
After their coffees were brought over by a young waitress, Bond took over the black attaché case Civitillo had brought for him.
‘So what have you got for me?’ he said.
‘Unfortunately James I could not get my hands on a Walther this time,’ the Sicilian told him. ‘But I hope you will agree that the Heckler & Koch P30 is the next best thing.’
‘Not bad.’
‘It’s the basic version mind. That’s all I could do at such short notice. I also took the liberty to opt for three hundred rounds.’
‘What else?’
Civitillo took a bite of his delicious Croissant then wiped his mouth with a napkin.
‘Ever heard of the Russian NRS - 2 Scouting knife?’ he said.
‘It’s a beauty. State of the art and no less. Double-edged blade of drop-forged heat tempered hi-carbon steel with an extended thin ebony-hilted handle. It also has a single-shot firearm integrated in its handle.’
‘You’re joking.’
‘It was designed by the KGB a couple of years ago to attack the enemy in close-quarter combat with the blade when stabbing, or fire a bullet silently and without flash up to a range of twenty five to thirty meters.’
‘Indeed. The barrel is in the back of the handle. The muzzle in the butt end is covered with a split rubber plug. The knife is aimed with the help of a notch in the crosspiece and a foresight. Concealed at the small of your back, or taped to the inside of your leg, even the best of pros have a tendency of missing it during pat-downs, most of the time at least.’
Civitillo sat back and finished his Croissant.
‘I’ve also hired you a Power Boat just in case you need to get out of here fast,’ he continued. ‘It’s a very sleek 26 Outlaw with enough fuel to get you to mainland Italy or perhaps Malta to the South if the need arises. The details where she’s birthed and all the paperwork is in the case, as is my mobile number should you need me. As for a new passport, I took the liberty to select one for you in the name of Jules Sinclair. Nationality – Irish.’
‘And all this in seven hours, Renato?’ Bond told him. ‘I am impressed.’
‘I aim to please, James, especially clients like yourself who have always paid handsomely for my little items and service,’ Renato said with a devious smile. ‘Ah yes, I almost forgot.’
From his pocket he produced a gold lighter and placed it in front of Bond who instantly recognised the make.
‘Caran d'Ache.’
‘The Clou de Paris. I have a contact in the French secret Service who sold me quite a few a couple of years ago and they went like pasticini believe it or nor. Unfortunately it is the last one in stock.’
‘What does it do?’
‘It is the equivalent of what your English SAS soldiers call a ‘flash-bang’, on a smaller scale of course. Press this little catch on the side here for six seconds and five seconds later – Ka Boom, James. The flash of light and blast will give you approximately eight to ten seconds and I guarantee it will disorient the whole room.’
‘Eleven seconds to get it charged. Not bad. You’ve most certainly outdone yourself this time, Renato.’
Bond drank his coffee and after ten minutes or so of small talk, the two men bade their goodbyes and he went back up to his room to check out his newly acquired ‘tools’.
It was around ten thirty when he finally went downstairs again – this time to the white Carrera to drive to Chiaramonti once again

* * *

…When Bond got to Practoz’s villa just before half eleven, he stopped the car in front of the high gates and waited, taking off his Oakley glasses for the CCTV cameras above. After a couple of moments the iron gates opened automatically and he drove through, stopping near the gatehouse beyond to be inspected by two men carrying shotguns which looked like Sicilian Luparas.
Bond was only permitted to proceed up the gravel drive to the main building after yielding his HK P30 for the duration of his visit. As for the NRS Scouting knife, now snugly taped to the inside of his leg, he cautiously decided to hold on to it, for insurance of course.
He looked out the window as he drove to the main building, a luxuriously converted farmhouse. Four of Practoz’s men were at that moment patrolling the lush grounds with Alsatians. Nobody could accuse the Italian of not taking his security seriously, Bond thought; but then who could blame him considering such wealth?
When he reached the main building, a young red-haired man in a light blue suit came through a great oaken door and down a wide flight of steps to greet him.
‘Good morning, sir,’ he said when Bond got out. ‘Mr. Practoz will be down shortly.’
‘Thank you,’ Bond said and followed the young man inside through a beautifully decorated wide hall then on into a large living room with French windows opening out into a charmingly kept wide and vibrant garden beyond.
A wonderful breeze blew in through the soft curtains then, bringing with it the enchanting fragrance of ghiaia and narcissus wild flowers.
Bond looked around.
The room was grand, imposing, with old books lining one of the walls from floor to ceiling and antique oil paintings hanging from the other. The furniture was classical, Italian, and whoever had chosen it had very good traditional tastes. There was a piano by the window, a Lurgenstein which was probably imported from Austria, Bond noted, and a couple of priceless budvases that would fetch a fortune on the open market.
The young man crossed over to a marble table in the centre where there was a silver tray with two bottles of wine – San Giminiano Di Maggio - red and white.
‘Some wine while you wait, Mr. Bond?’ he asked.
‘Thank you,’ Bond told him. ‘Red please.’
The young man poured some into a fine Paris goblet and handed it to him.
‘Should you require something else, I will be in the room next door.’
Bond nodded and the young man turned and left.
He walked over to the oil paintings and admired their splendour, all four of them depicting various Sardegnian landscapes. Bond couldn’t place the name of the artist but indeed recognised the work. They were truly breath-taking and probably worth nothing less than a bomb...
‘They belonged to my father,’ came a voice from behind Bond and he turned to find Shyla Practoz standing in the doorway sporting a finely cut Giorgio Santini cream suit. ‘He bought them soon after the Second World War from a poor painter he came across on the streets of Rome shortly after moving over to Italy from Russia. He paid a few Italian lira for them – probably the price of a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine, believe it or not. Little did my father know that today those paintings would be valued at almost a million dollars each.’
‘The artist?’
‘Deodato Malesci.’
‘I should have known.’
Practoz poured himself some white wine.
‘Rather intrepid of you persisting like that last night, Mr. Bond. I hope you are not considering extorting back the money you lost at Chemin with the information you have for me?’
‘The thought had crossed my mind, Mr. Practoz,’ Bond said and there was a twinkle in his eye. ‘But then I’d rather wait for the re-match.’
‘Of course,’ he told him. ‘Now let us enjoy the wine outside in the garden before the sun gets too hot for comfort.’
They went out and sat down at a table on a wide marbled terrace.
Bond was impressed for the garden was bursting with colour, displaying various Chestnut, Oak and Pine trees, magnificently preserved, and which provided fresh shade from the sun. There was also bright green shrubs that consisted of rhododendrons and holy, beautiful Jasmine and Rose plants and other indigenous wild flowers all over the place.
Bond’s attention was drawn to the sound of a helicopter in the distance but thought nothing of it after a few moments.
‘Mr. Bond,’ Practoz said sitting back and lighting a cigar. ‘What you told me last night, I need to know more – much more. So please begin.’
‘As I said last night at the casino, you’ve been marked as a known associate of Simon Carter and his organisation. Somehow MI6 believe you’re their golden ticket to catch him.’
‘I have never met or had any business dealings whatsoever with this Simon Carter in my life. Are you sure you have the right man?’
Bond nodded.
‘It’s possible you know him under a different name – an assumed name. Coupled with that, five days ago you made three phone calls to who MI6 believe is his right hand man: Sir William Shaw.’
Practoz shook his head slowly in disbelief.
‘This is ridiculous,’ he said and looked Bond directly in the eyes, challengingly. ‘Another man I have never met or spoken to in my life.’
‘What about DOMINION?’
‘You’ve completely lost me, Bond.’
‘I find that hard to believe,’ Bond pressed hard and ruthlessly somewhat. ‘MI6 doesn’t make mistakes like that.’
‘The only plausible explanation I can think of then is that I’m being framed with the sole intention of bringing me down. I have many enemies, business rivals, who would do anything to take my place.’
Bond looked at him closely.
He could tell when a man was lying or not and Shyla Practoz was showing all the signs that he was telling the truth.
‘What can you tell me about Sasha Bahatt?’
‘What about Sasha Bahatt?’ he asked.
‘You were there last month.’
‘You are right in one thing, Mr. Bond. MI6 is well informed. Yes, I was there on business. But what has that got to do with anything?’
‘Tell me about it – the visit.’
Practoz swallowed his remaining wine.
‘You sound as if you’re the one investigating me, Mr. Bond, not MI6.’
‘I’m trying to determine why British Intelligence has associated you with Carter, Mr Practoz. You’re in its sites for a reason. The question is: which reason exactly.’
‘I am head of a large Shipping company amongst other business ventures,’ he told him. ‘There is nothing outstanding in me opening up a branch of my shipping company there, surely. I am starting a new container service between Sardegna and Libya that’s all.’
‘Have you signed any deals yet?’
‘Of course I have. The vessels I am deploying will start their first Rotation from Sardegna on Tuesday morning.’
‘And your contact in Sasha Bahatt?’
‘Certainly not Simon Carter, Bond,’ Practoz told him. ‘I looked him up thoroughly last night when I got back from the casino instead of retiring to bed with that very sexy Asian woman you ganged up with against me before I wiped you out at cards.’
‘Don’t remind me please.’
‘His name is Washeed Ibn Al-Bahanni. He’s a very rich and respected Libyan businessman. The introduction of this service I am providing is in line with all MTL strategies and procedures. Do you know how many government representatives were with me throughout the whole deal? I have been working hard for some time now to increase my company’s activity within the Mediterranean, Mr. Bond, as well as expand the scope of connections for the benefit of my clients between Europe and North Africa. Well, the Libyan crisis has opened up new avenues in this particular area.’
Bond sipped some wine.
‘Tell me more about Al-Bahanni?’
‘He is head of a group of Libyan businessmen partnered with an Qatari-based group called Mashala Haq who have at their disposal a very handsome capital of over one hundred million dollars, Mr. Bond. Their focus is on Libya's reconstruction and expanding their business to Europe. To reach that aim, they’re partnering up with international companies like mine to invest in various fields such as infrastructure and the oil industry. Al-Bahanni is the go-between connecting my company to Mashala Haq and there is absolutely nothing criminal about it I assure you. ’
Bond lit a cigarette, his mind playing wildly with what Practoz was telling him.
‘Nothing criminal that you’re aware of,’ he said after a few moments. ‘Which leaves the three telephone calls to Sir William Shaw you say you didn’t make.’
Practoz looked at him steadily, evaluating what he had just said.
‘Unless there is someone else within my organisation who made those calls.’
‘From your cell phone?’
‘Give a dog a bad name, Mr. Bond?’
‘Maybe. Question is though: who?’
Bond noted that the sound of the helicopter he’d heard earlier on was getting closer. He took another drag from his cigarette and the young man who had greeted him earlier appeared at the open doorway.
Scuzatemi, Signori,’ he said. ‘Il pranzo e pronto.’
Practoz nodded.
Grazie Carlo. Entriamo in un momento.’ He looked back at Bond. ‘I’ve always believed that the people who work for me were one hundred percent loyal, Mr. Bond, but now I am not so sure.’
‘The connection must be your shipping company. Carter’s using it somehow – perhaps through Al-Bahanni.’
Bond stubbed out his cigarette and stood up.
He looked at Practoz for quite a long time again, thinking about the information he had just gathered.
Was the Italian playing him? If he was, then he was indeed a formidable liar and manipulator.
Bond was about to say something then when all of a sudden a sleek black Agusta A109AII MAX helicopter came thundering in from the right side of the villa and all hell followed...


The Place of Execution

Bond turned sharply and saw a man dressed in black lean out one of the helicopter’s doors with what looked like a CZ Scorpion EVO 3 sub-machine gun.
‘Get down!’ he called out and threw himself onto Practoz as a hail of bullets pounded violently into the walls and windows just inches away from them, fragments of glass and wood flying all over the place.
‘What the hell is going on?’ Practoz yelled above the deafening blast of thrashing rotor blades.
Four abseiling ropes were then thrown out from either side of the Augusta cabin after which four figures wearing Kevlar cover-all suits and black balaclavas appeared and climbed out onto the skids, armed to the teeth.
Seconds later they were abseiling down into the garden.
Bond cursed.
He had no weapon except for the bloody knife!
He quickly got up.
‘Friends of yours?’ he hissed. ‘Come on, move!’
He pushed Practoz on and just then two of Practoz’s men raced into the room, panic on their faces.
Ma che sucede?’ one of them shouted.
Bond grabbed him by the arm.
Dami la pistola,’ Bond ordered.
The man looked at Practoz for his consent, white as a sheet, and then handed Bond a silver Glock 45 from his shoulder holster. He then raced out after his partner, both dashing for cover at the top of the terrace though as another round of bullets rutted the walls around them.
Who the hell were these assailants? Bond asked himself. Were they here for him or Practoz?
Practoz’s men didn’t stand a chance. Not with the Luparas they were brandishing. The two men he had passed just a few moments ago were out of their league matched up to the fire power he had noted the attackers were carrying – which also meant so was he.
One thing was certain though: he needed to keep Practoz alive.
‘Where are we going?’
‘I’m getting you out of here!’ Bond shouted once they were in the main hall outside the living room. They rushed to the oaken door and Bond yanked it open. There was a loud blast of gunfire again, head-on this time, and Bond ducked just in time, falling to his right knee, the pistol he was carrying now in the two handed grip.
A couple of bullets ricocheted off the wall to his left with a high pitched flinging sound. Three men who must have abseiled down there before the other four, were at that moment running up the gravel drive opposite towards Bond’s position and had let off a deadly burst from their sub-machine guns.
Jesus! There was no way out!
Bond fired three shots, hitting one of them in the head, killing him instantly. He fell back with the force of the blasts as his colleagues fired wildly in Bond’s direction again, blasting the place around him.
Bond darted back inside and grabbed Practoz and hauled him up.
Bond hard-pressed him on and they raced across the hallway to the marble staircase opposite. It was just as they reached it though that another rupture of bullets slammed into the walls just inches away from them.
Stooping low, they darted up the steps three at a time. At one point Bond turned and fired another three shots from the Glock towards the direction of their attackers and as they reached the landing, they were just in time to see a man below sprawled to the floor dead.
‘Good shot.’
‘We’re still out-numbered.’ Bond told him.
He found the break he needed up there at the top of the stairs and he squatted behind the wide arch that gave way to a broad carpeted corridor clear of the stairs; six doors, bed-rooms, on either side.
Bond had already fired six shots, which left him four.
Six shots he needed to count.
‘I need more ammo, Practoz. Anything up here?’
Shyla Practoz nodded once and got up, running along the corridor to his bedroom three doors down, disappearing inside.
Bond could now hear more gunfire coming from outside which meant Practoz’s guards were giving the attackers a run for their money. How long they could last, only God knew.
Two down, four left to go – or was that five?
He heard the helicopter hovering around outside above them. Could there be more men coming in?
Another rupture of machine gun fire came at him from below, the bullets pinning Bond against the wall.
Sono su le scale!’ he heard someone shout and he quickly leaned out just in time to shoot a man racing up the stairs towards him, squeezing the trigger twice in succession, blasting the assailant’s face to a pulp of bone and dark red blood.
Practoz got back just in time and fell in beside Bond, breathing heavily after the run.
‘Here, compliments of my wife.’
He handed him an AK 56.2 and two banana-shaped magazines, full, whilst he showed off a sleek black Makarov 9mm.
‘Your wife?’ Bond asked, raising an eyebrow.
‘She was a gun collector, God bless her.’
Bond checked the AK’s action.
‘And kept them in your bedroom?’ he said and let off a long burst as, once again, a dark figure darted for the stairs. There was a brutal scream as he was thumped back with the force of the bullets shredding into his face.
Headshots – the only way to down the bastards!
Two or three left.
‘This is my house you arrogant pigs!’ Practoz shouted furiously and fired four shots from behind Bond. One of the attackers who had just ran through the main door and was making for some cover further on fell back dead, blood spurting upwards from his open mouth.
Practoz fired off another three rounds at what appeared to be more movement at the bottom of the stairs.
‘Who the hell do they want? Me or you, Bond?’
‘Both of us?’ Bond said and it was then that he suddenly remembered Monetta and that she had to be there at the villa this afternoon.
His heart sank.
Christ, please let her not be here!
‘Your assistant,’ Bond hissed. ‘Where is she?’
‘Monetta? She left a few moments before you got here – said she had to see to her father. Why?’
Thank God for that, he thought. He didn’t want anything happening to her.
‘Forget it. Is there any other way out from up here?’ Bond asked.
‘We’re upstairs for Christ sake. Where do you want to go? The bloody roof? Then what?’
Bond had counted seven assailants and if right then only one or two attackers remained – the fact was though he couldn’t actually be sure.
The roof!
He’d completely neglected that end!
Bond turned swiftly just in time to see a man run out from one of the doors behind them. Bond was just about to shout out for Practoz to move but the man, who must have abseiled onto the roof from the Augusta and made his way down to the floor they were on, raised a CZ Scorpion and let off a long burst of bullets, ripping Practoz down brutally, the impact of the rounds into his chest and head sending him flying back against the wall with a cold-blooded scream.
Meanwhile, Bond had instinctively flung himself to his right, falling on his side on the small landing. He’d been hit, in the right arm, the bullet grazing him just below the shoulder. It felt as if he’d been hit by a sledge hammer. He brought up his AK despite the sharp pain, but the commando or whatever he bloody well was was certainly quick, and he violently kicked the weapon out of his hands as Bond was just about to fire. The commando then raised his foot to stamp Bond in the face and he managed to grab it firmly in both hands and twisted.
The commando stumbled, losing balance and fell back.
Bond jumped up and shot forward, a driven man, his hands clenched into iron fists as the commando regained. Bond kicked out and hit his sub-machine gun as it was about to come up and flung out of his hands. He then lunged in with a sharp right hook to the man’s chin.
The man fell back again but Bond didn’t relent. Instead he went in to deliver a terrible blow to his kidneys before he could react.
Bond followed up with a devastating kick to his groin, swiftly, and as the man fell to his knees groaning, he rammed a knee into his face sending him flying back to the floor, this time unconscious.
Fermati o sparo!’ barked the remaining attacker as he came up the stairs, his sub-machine gun pointed treacherously at Bond.
Stop or I will shoot, he had said.
Bond clenched his teeth and turned and as he did so, looked down at the body of the man called Shyla Practoz slumped there on the floor in a pool of dark blood.
Bond’s eyes narrowed in anger but said nothing.
The Commando stopped halfway up the stairs, Scorpion’s muzzle aimed directly at Bond’s head.
‘Raise your hands,’ he said in English.
Bond did as he was told.
‘What now?’ he asked throatily.
‘What do you think, Signor Bond? You come with me. Punto e basta. Resist and I will kill you. Those are my orders. The choice is yours.’
Bond’s face was a granite carving, his grey-blue eyes hard, dangerous.
Whoever he was he knew his name so it was him they were after.
‘Lead the way then.’
The commando smiled maliciously.
‘Yes sure, you wish.’
Bond breathed in and went forward down the stairs followed by his captor.
‘Where are you taking me?’ he asked.
‘You will find out soon enough.’
Once outside Bond watched the Augusta settle down in an open area further on.
‘At least tell me who sent you.’ Bond said as they made their way towards it.
‘No more questions.’
The commando hadn’t frisked him, one hell of a mistake because Bond still had the lighter, the NRS Scouting knife and his cell phone – not that he could use them right now of course.
After being manhandled into the Augusta’s cabin, Bond sat back in the leather seat cradling his arm, the pain a living thing now, the commando sitting opposite, Scorpion still pointed threateningly at him. He beckoned the pilot and the Augusta’s blades thrashed harder and harder as they gathered momentum. A couple of moments later, the helicopter rose smoothly, clearing itself of the boundary walls surrounding it. For a few moments it hung there and then stolidly it began moving westward, higher and higher.
Bond looked out of the window down at the grounds below – the place of execution, and thought of Practoz and Monetta.
What the hell was going on was anyone’s guess!


#8 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

    Lt. Commander

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  • 2229 posts
  • Location:Malta G.C

Posted 29 May 2012 - 07:48 PM


The Devil Himself

It took roughly twenty five minutes to reach their destination, Stintino, an isolated part of Sardegna on the North West coast, miles of green and brown fields, wild angry hills, valleys and dark woodland bordering Sassari.
The Augusta landed gently in a bleak field opposite a solitary old farmhouse which looked abandoned and was surrounded by trees and bushes.
‘Hands behind your back,’ the commando told Bond above the roar of the rotor blades.
‘Bit late for that isn’t it?’ Bond said but did as he was told and he felt the tight clasp of the handcuffs against his wrists and winced with pain.
Although the gunshot he’d sustained back at Practoz’s villa was only a flesh wound, the thing stung like hell.
Two more men with sawn off shotguns appeared from the house – they were dressed in caps, jeans, waist coat and white shirts.
Bond felt a rush of adrenaline as he walked up the rough path towards them, the commando’s Scorpion pointed at his spine.
Was this Carter’s work? Was he finally being taken to face the man he’d been hunting for years now?
So many questions.
The room they took him to was in the basement.
It was bare, no windows and probably hadn’t seen any maintenance in years, just like the rest of the house; paint peeling off the walls and black mould covering the ceiling.
There was a leather chair in the middle, new, facing three 14 inch LED screens fixed to the decrepit wall.
The man who’d accompanied him on the helicopter released one of his hands and pushed him into the seat. He then coupled the other part of the handcuff to a long iron chain bolted to the concrete floor beside Bond’s feet.
‘You will wait here.’
‘You sure about that?’ Bond said.
The man smiled sardonically and then they left him there.
About ten minutes later he heard the Augusta take off and fly directly above the house eastwards. Bond was just about to reach for his cell phone to check if there was any reception down there when all three LED screens came on with the words LIVE on them.
The image on the screens turned into video snow for a few seconds, after which they all depicted separate images.
The first showed Oxford Circus in London, the second a location in Berlin, Germany, whilst the third screen showed a Boeing 757 parked on a runway at JFK airport in New York, people climbing the mobile staircases into the plane.
Bond felt the hairs at the back of his neck stand up.
Someone present in these three locations had a video camera and was sending what he supposed were direct signals by satellite.
Then, a young man came into focus on screen number one, looking up towards the camera. Whoever was filming the scene was doing so from above; a rooftop on a building somewhere close to Oxford Circus underground station, Bond observed.
The young man was Caucasian, mid-twenties and wearing jeans, leather jacket and baseball cap. Across his left shoulder he carried a laptop case. Oxford Circus was, as was usual at that time of day, a hive of activity with hundreds of people crowding the pavements and streets going from one place to the other. The young man smiled once at the camera then turned, waiting to cross the street at the traffic lights opposite.
Above the din of confusion there, he could hear, or rather thought he could hear, the faint beeping of the traffic lights when they turned red and watched the crowd of people cross the road, hastily, the traffic there coming to a halt. He watched the young man stop in the middle of the road and turn to look up again towards the video camera.
And then came a bright flash of light from the young man’s laptop case, followed by the blast of a very, very powerful bomb.
The whole area shook with the blast as did the cameraman above. At one point, he or she fell back, the camera pointing towards the dull grey sky. A few moments later, after recovering, the cameraman readjusted himself and panned back into the scene below.
It was ghastly, chaotic.
People lay in the middle of the road and pavements, blown up to pieces, blood everywhere, grotesque and tangled pieces of metal that had once been vehicles all over the place; shattered windows, wounded people walking around like zombies, covered in blood and screaming for help, traumatized, bright red and yellow flames and white smoke in the middle of the road where the young man had been before being blown up to bits by his own device…
The screen went completely dead.
Bond gazed at the two other screens, a look of complete and utter dread in his grey-blue eyes.
Berlin and JFK airport.
Another young man came into view, a Negro this time, mid-twenties. Jeans, light tan rain coat, large duffle bag across his shoulder.
Bond recognised the location.
He was walking towards the Charlottenburg city hall in Berlin. There were a lot of people about, tourists mostly, mothers pushing prams, going about their business, school children running along the pavement beside them on their way home.
The young Negro turned once to the camera and like his predecessor in London smiled. He then produced what looked like an Uzi sub machine gun from his bag and begin firing riotously at the bystanders around him, cutting them down ruthlessly.
Bond went white as sheet as he watched the brutal killing of at least forty or fifty people, innocent people, cut down by the hail of bullets.
Once the young Negro emptied the Uzi’s magazine, he flung it out of his hands and reached back into the bag, bringing out what looked like a hand grenade. Without wavering once, he released the pin and tossed it hard at his feet. Again a white flash burst into the screen followed by a terrifying explosion.
Bond felt absolutely appalled but didn’t have time to think because as the second monitor went blank, the third and final screen depicted the Boeing 757 at that moment taking off from the runway.
The screen then went blank again and after a few minutes, it came back on, this time showing a young Arab male, same age as the others, take up an FM Stinger Surface to Air missile launcher from the rear of a grey van parked on a road opposite the airport.
The Boeing 757 came back into view, mere minutes after its take-off, and the Arab went on to fire a devastating missile towards it.
Bond watched as the video taker followed the trail of white smoke as the projectile shot up and finally hit the Boeing centrally as it climbed upwards from the airport.
The jetliner blew up before his very eyes into a red and blue fire ball against the clear blue sky…
James Bond felt sick, terribly sick.
He had just witnessed three brutal terrorist attacks that had cost the lives of probably hundreds of innocent people.
The third screen went blank.
Bond, his hand shaking, sweating profusely, reached up to get his cell phone out when a voice spoke from a hidden loud-speaker somewhere within the room.
As bad as James Bond felt, the voice that spoke then made his skin crawl like nothing he had ever experienced before...
‘Good afternoon, double O seven, I do hope you liked my little symphony of catastrophe I’ve just played for you,’ it said and there was a moment of dead silence. ‘A suitable cacophony of horror to accompany my return don’t you think dear fellow. The least I could do considering. But believe me those three attacks are nothing compared to what terrors I have in store for humanity next. It is just a matter of time. A new order is forming, Mr. Bond, and from the ashes of such destruction will arise a brand new world. Now, the only reason you are still alive though is because I want you to witness it all. Do you hear me Mr. Bond? I want you to witness the suffering, the killings, the war that will assuredly follow, and you alone will know who it was who brought it about. And in that knowledge will come you’re dead sentence.’
Silence again, then:
‘You thought you killed me back in Japan, Mr. Bond. You were wrong though. Unequivocally wrong. You simply gave me time, much needed time, where I could evolve and reorganise. Believe your own ears, Mr. Bond, for I am back from hell.’
Bond couldn’t believe it.
His head was spinning nauseatingly.
Japan! The garden of death! His cramped hands against the powerful neck, the golden dragon on the black silk kimono, spitting flames at him!
Bond remembered. His mind flashed with dark vivid images he’d completely erased from his memory banks a long long time ago: He remembered unclasping his aching hands from round the neck and, not looking again at the purple face, getting to his feet. He remembered staggering; he remembered how much his head hurt; but the rest, what happened after that, was just a distant blur.
Think man!
What had happened after?
He saw himself again, inside his mind, back in the castle naked, tearing the Kimono off the corpse and putting it on. It had felt cold on his body, like a snake’s skin. He had looked down at Irma Bunt, breathing heavily with a drunken snore.
Had he been breathing?
Had Bond failed to notice?
Had he stopped strangling him too soon and therefore simply put him unconscious?
He could have sworn he had killed him.
That is what he had always believed.
But, and there was a big but. He had lost all traces of his memory after escaping from the castle. Was therefore what he had remembered after all that had happened just before he lost his memory simply a lie – some sort of sub-conscious formation of belief, of comfort, reassurance even, that he had killed the monster once and for all? For dear Tracy.
There was no other explanation, for the voice he had just heard was simply unmistakable.
It was the devil himself:
Ernst Stavro Blofeld!


#9 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

    Lt. Commander

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 11:50 PM










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.

Blofeld smiled...  

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?

11 years?


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.

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.’

Carter nodded.

‘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.’

‘Go on.’

‘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.’ 







Two Graves


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.’

‘I see.’

‘There is one other thing,’

‘Go on.’

‘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.’

‘Of course.’

‘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?

Why indeed?

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...

Monetta Abruzzi.

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.

Poor bitch.

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…

Bond smiled.

It was about one in the afternoon when he finally received the text message he was waiting for.






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.’


‘Yes, me.’

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.’

‘Pardon me?’

‘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.

Chevalier nodded.

‘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?’

Moneypenny nodded.

‘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?’

‘Apparently not.’

‘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.’

‘Yes, Chief.’

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.’

‘No problem.’


*         *         *


‘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.’

‘That’s right.’

‘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.’

‘Why Malta?’

‘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…








#10 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

    Lt. Commander

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:31 PM












‘What is your name?’


No use lying.

‘You American?’


The Libyan punched him in the face and Bond went down hard.

‘Get up!’ the man screamed. ‘Get up!’

‘You are British Intelligence!’

Another man’s voice; behind him.

Bond swore at him and received another blow, this time to the side of his head just above his left ear. Someone rushed in from the man’s left and thrust his boot into Bond’s chest. He fell heavily to the floor, winded badly but managed to curl up into a ball, knees up to his chin as the four of them kicked into him like a bunch of rabid brutes.

He closed his eyes, clenching his teeth.




Several moments passed and then a boot struck the back of his head.


Pain – white pain; sharp, unbearable.

A strong pair of hands pulled him up and someone tried straightening him out.

‘Why are you here?’ The voice was gentle now, pleading, his breathing heavy though. ‘Who sent you? Tell us. British Intelligence? The Americans? Israeli Intelligence?’

Bond was now on the verge of passing out.

He swayed and someone behind him held him up.

‘No, no, no, no. Talk. Talk. No faint. Talk.’

His sense of direction had completely gone off the radar ever since they had dragged him into the lift from where they’d captured him. They had rode the lift down, deep underground, and had then dragged him out into a tunnel, that dark long tunnel. Two giant Libyans had then pulled him up and brusquely propelled him into the back of what looked like a tram-cart.

The place was hot and stank, vehemently – petrol and dank air mixed with urine.

After the initial pasting upstairs and this fastidious reek, Bond felt dreadfully ill. Nobody told him where they were going or why they had come down here (God knows how deep they had gone down).

He had tried to focus on his course but the tight blind-fold didn’t help at all. After eight minutes, the tram-cart came to a halt and Bond was lifted up like a dead-sack and yanked into this very cold room.

The walls, bare stone, glistened with damp, the concrete floor pitted and uneven.

The Libyan doing all the talking at last removed Bond’s blind fold. And then the questioning started…

‘How are you feeling?’


Useless engaging with this bastard brute.

‘You must answer my questions. Talk.’

‘I’ve already told you who I am…’

‘Yes, yes. But now tell me why you were in the plant?’

Bond’s mind was rushing, demanding to do several things at once, actually making him more woozy. He was listening to the Libyan and at the same time he was considering his position, his options, his escape, what he was going to say.

The problem was the sharp pain inside his head.

It delayed him from thinking straight.

Bond knew fine well that the worse was yet to come in the form of the evil fiend called Ernst Stavro Blofeld, when, of course, he found out that Bond was now within his lair...

If only he could sit down but he knew more beatings were coming his way rather than rest. They would no doubt be doing it to ‘soften’ him up for when their master got there...

The Libyan snatched a clutch of Bond’s hair and lifted his face up for the looming steel fist.

‘No talk?! Then this is what you get English pig!’

A blinding flash of white pain again, exploding inside his head. Bond was on the floor then, curling up slowly, like a wounded beast, as they filled him.

He shut his eyes tight and retreated into the dark chasm of his mind.




The pain was horrifying.

This time the violent beasting lasted much longer.

They were going to kill him at this rate. The idiots.

Blofeld wouldn’t be too pleased at that. No, Bond thought and inwardly smiled. He’d want that pleasure for himself, the evil bastard.  

He vomited, almost chocking on it as he gasped for air.




In the end, Bond passed out and unexpectedly but thankfully found himself back in Malta two days earlier….


*         *           *

…There are moments in a double ‘O’ agent’s life when he or she is called upon to act with what is generally referred to in the trade as ‘lightning speed’. One cannot afford to hesitate in situations such as these – that is, when faced with someone about to pull the trigger of a gun with a bullet meant for you. One’s actions therefore must be precise and directly designed for the counter-kill. If the agent does actually hesitate in the end, then that moment is summed up as the instant before death. However, worse still, there are moments when an agent is unluckily pinned down and can do absolutely nothing whatsoever to rectify his ‘spot’, which ultimately makes death even more fated. And one such moment for James Bond was now, as William Quinn raised his gun at him, his eyes dark and evil, that cold brutal smile on his lips. Not that Bond had hesitated mind. It was just that there was utterly nothing he could do, and, as he stared fixedly at death’s sting head on, he suddenly realised that his time on this earth had finally and conclusively come...

But, in the end, it was Moneypenny who saved him by rushing in before him as Quinn fired, catching the bullet square to the chest, an invisible force knocking her back against the wall behind her and falling to the floor like a broken rag-doll.

With the lightning speed that came from years of training and experience as a double O agent, and taking advantage of Quinn’s own hesitation brought about by realising that he’d just shot Moneypenny instead of Bond, he produced and pitched the SK hunting knife from the small of his back in one swift move and the sharp silver blade sliced through the air into Quinn’s throat with a spongy thust sound, bringing on his vicious death amid a cold, gurgled scream...

James Bond then turned sharply and fell down beside Moneypenny, his face white as a sheet as he cradled her limp body in his arms, gritting his teeth.

‘Oh no, Penny,’ he said softly, tears welling up in his eyes. ‘Not you too. You silly silly fool!’

Suddenly though Moneypenny moved her head, took a shallow breath and groaned.


Bond’s face lit up.

She was alive!

‘God, Penny!’

He placed her gently down, darted for the phone, called M directly and quickly explained what had happened. It didn’t take long for the ambulance and paramedics to arrive, thanks to Charles Spiteri’s timely intervention. As for the two goons downstairs who had followed Moneypenny earlier, they had been arrested by her contact who too had acted fast when the alarm had eventually been raised by Spiteri.

And so now, Bond found himself in Mater Dei Hospital, sitting beside Moneypenny’s bed after a three hour operation. The bullet had missed her heart by an inch and it was simply a miracle that she was still alive. She wasn’t out of the proverbial woods mind and it would still take a hell of a battle on her part – but, thankfully, he knew she would make it...

Bond’s thoughts were interrupted when Charles Spiteri walked into the gloomy room on the third floor, a tall bearded man in his early sixties, handsome with white hair perfectly combed back. The light grey suit and silk-blue tie were Italian as were the laceless shoes. He hadn’t changed one bit since the last time Bond had seen him several years ago during the Riesha Goethe affair.

‘I’ve been assured that your friend will make a full recovery, Commander.’

‘Yes,’ Bond told him somewhat dourly. ‘She’s a strong girl.’

‘Quite.’ Spiteri crossed over and looked down at her.

Bond cleared his throat and sat up.

‘Anything on the two men you detained, sir?’ he asked.

‘Nothing that would shed light on who exactly is behind this mess though. One’s Lithuanian and the other’s a Scot. They’ve given us the standard cock-and-bull story one expects from simple hired hands.’

‘I need them to disappear for as long as possible.’

‘M made that clear to me the last we spoke.’


‘I’ve authorised two of my best men to camp outside this room which means Ms Moneypenny will be completely safe whilst you’re away. Libya I believe.’


‘Very dangerous grounds lately so I’d watch my back there, Commander. The Libyans don’t take too kindly to British spies.’

He looked up at Spiteri, his eyes weary and rather distant.

‘That’s an understatement if ever I’ve heard one.’

Spiteri glanced at his watch.

‘Is there anything else you might need before you leave?’ he asked.

‘You’ve done more than enough sir.’

‘Very well. I must go now. I understand you fly at sixteen hundred hours. This is my number, direct, so if you need any help whilst over there I am of course at your disposal. Now then, I suggest Commander Bond that you go and get ready. You might wish to put in a couple of hours of sleep as well.’

And with that, the Maltese NIU Chief left.

Bond ran a hand through his hair.

Spiteri was right. He needed sleep.

He glanced at his watch.

Three in the morning – the devil’s hour.

He finally got up, moved beside Penny and took her hand.

‘I’ll be back for you, girl dear,’ he said softly. ‘I’ll definitely be back for you.’

He bent down and kissed her once on the lips, turned and left.








Meanwhile in the extensive basement under Salisbury house in Durrington, Mike Justin, SOE’s acting Chief of Staff, was in the process of conducting a briefing session before M joined them to review the latest developments they had. There was a long table in the center of the room and six men and two women sat there, two large screens on one wall. This particular area was partitioned by glass walls though, sound proofed and built with a state of the art obscuring device so that when occupied, the personnel would be completely cut off from the rest of the hall. Outside this glass conference room, the whole place, roughly the size of a football ground, was brightly lit. There were about twenty five to thirty men and women down there, trusted personnel selected by M himself, most retired. They were seated at desks with computers, working away anxiously; annalists and intelligence experts, each handling different aspects of operation NEMESIS.

This was the Intelligence and Command Center of the newly formed Secret Operations Executive.

The final option…

A tall man, well built with sharp brown eyes, Mike Justin was a retired long-time veteran of the Intelligence Service, Chief of Operations when the former M, Sir Miles Messervy, was in charge of the Double O Section. He had also served with the Colonel in 22 SAS in the early seventies with the rank of Lieutenant.

People called him C, the Caretaker, God only knew why.  

‘Right, let’s begin with the latest from our Libyan station shall we?’ he said. ‘What have you got for us Mark?’

‘Not much regrettably,’ Mark Hitchens told him, an ex-MI6 intelligence annalist administrator. ‘A couple of hours ago confirmation came in that our contact – Mulai Raisul – managed to pick up the hardware package we sent in a top secret diplomatic bag to our Embassy in Benghazi last night. Thankfully we had an asset there who helped us keep it off 6’s radar.’

‘Gala Richards,’ Justin observed.

‘That’s right. Raisul has also paid two men from Sasha Bahatt two thousand dollars to keep an eye on Al Bahanni until he and double O seven get there. A taxi driver and a security guard I believe. They’re reporting directly to Raisul.’

Justin nodded.

‘Lara – Pakistan.’

‘Two arms dealers are being questioned in Kulampa as we speak,’ Lara Maidstone, the alluringly beautiful controller from GCHQ, said. She had left the Service to assume full-time duties as a mother to two beautiful girls, only to be pulled back in some three months ago, again by the Colonel himself. ‘Our man there has assured me that they had business connections with Shyla Practoz.’

‘When you say business connections you're obviously referring to arms dealing, right?’

‘We’re not sure yet but things seem to be leading in that direction.’

‘Ok. Vague, but I’ll go with it. Have we established who these arms dealers work for or are they independent?’

‘An organisation called the Shin Kahad is behind them,’ she told him. ‘I’ve looked it up and it’s a splinter cell of Al Qaeda.’

‘Interesting - but I'm not sure where you're going with this.’

‘The thrust of it all is that we think the explosives used in the London and Berlin attacks were acquired from them. If they were then we will have established a direct link with DOMINION - the much needed stepping stone. I’m sure you’ll appreciate that the man questioning them is Captain Andrew Asher. If anyone can get answers then he will.’

‘Which in plain language means we can expect a lot of towel and water buckets and plenty of sleep deprivation.’

Maidstone tucked back a loose strand of hair. ‘Extreme situations call for extreme methods.’

Justin’s eyes looked down the table at the lot of them.

‘But so far we have absolutely nothing we can work on to establish when the next attack is going to happen or where. Am I right?’


‘Ok,’ he said. ‘What about Shamlou Hamman? Peter give me an update will you.’

Peter Lascow, a Signals officer, was a large man in his late fifties, ruddy of complexion and upright in his brown tweed suit – an MI5 surveillance expert in the early eighties who went on to work for the Colonel as an intelligence analyst before retiring.

‘Well, Mike, we’ve looked hard at all his accounts in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and North Africa and there are strong indications that he was also involved with Practoz’s network. His company Hamman Freight Ltd was a front for smuggling and selling of arms and a front my team also believe Practoz absorbed into his own company a year ago, just before the troubles there started.’

‘OK, but what are you implying apart from the bloody fact that Practoz is, or rather was, into bloody arms dealing?’

‘Several options with the main one linking him particularly to Al Bahanni.’

Justin nodded. ‘Who Bond is on his way to look up anyhow. So? Do you think Hamman's worth looking into too? And if so, who’ve we got in Egypt?’

‘At this stage I would have to say Al Bahanni remains our main priority. Having said that, we are still scanning the data we’ve got and if we do come up with something more I’ll see who I can contact.’

Justin sighed. ‘The home front then people. Have we managed to at least establish a reason why the attacks took place in London, Berlin and the US? Where’s the connection? And more importantly, why the hell did DOMINION use Muslim nationals? What are the intelligence and security services thinking? Come on. We're secretly linked to all their mainframe data bases for Christ sake! Surely by now someone out there has come up with better leads?’

Again an uncomfortable silence.

‘Then notwithstanding this ultra hi-tech set up we call NEMESIS we’re still at groundbloodyzero! We have over thirty expert annalists and controllers outside these glass walls working round the clock, sifting through all sorts of data and info in cyberspace. We have at least four intelligence operatives working in the field from here to Timbuktu and our main asset, a double O agent, is on his way as I speak to one of the most dangerous countries in the world and we have absolutely nothing to either help him out with or send him off in the right direction – except of course a couple of bloody names and cracked up theories! Please, somebody tell me it can’t get worse than this!’

At that precise moment, Justin’s personal assistant opened the door abruptly and peered through, looking very flustered indeed. She was a young red haired woman in her early thirties and there was a commotion coming from outside.

‘Mike, you’d better come,’ she said, her voice trembling. ‘We’ve just been hit by a virus that has destabilised every system and analogical data base we’ve got. In short, somebody’s just shut us down.’

‘This is all we need!’ is all Mike Justin could say to that.


*           *           *


James Bond looked himself closely in the mirror and the person who looked back was a complete stranger. He thought of what his younger self would have had to say about what he had become today – the young self that had looked towards his future with starry optimism and false potential.

A mess!

Bond sluiced his face with water and began shaving.

Sparkling optimism and fairy tale promises – what a load of crap. He had lost those a long time ago; the day he’d learnt his parents had died in that cruel accident...

The cruel hands of fate - the story of his life.

​Focus on something else James.

You're slipping down a bottomless pit here.

Think positive old boy! 

Completely naked in the bathroom, Bond focused on the fact that his body was well toned, demonstrating the fine results of his hard training. He actually felt up to the dangers he would surely face once in Libya. Bond wasn’t a body builder in the strictest sense of the word but before flying out to Sardegna he had devoted a lot of time at the gym in Perkins Street, and his upper body proved superbly the commitment he had put in during those 12 months ‘out’ of the service. Even his face looked healthier despite the fact he smoked and drank so heavily.

Bond breathed in deeply.

Of all the thoughts!

His body?

He swore violently and drank some water.

Dear Penny – what a girl.

Who would have ever thought M’s personal assistant would have ended up saving his bloody life.

She’d been his guardian angel from the start and what they’d shared in this small apartment in Malta would not end here – that he promised himself.

He looked down at his hands and they were shaking.

Bad. Very bad James.

James Bond finally got dressed in a very fine linen light blue suit, Sea Island cotton short-sleeved shirt, and slid on his sunglasses. He then went downstairs and out to the waiting taxi.

Next stop: Libya…

*         *         *


M was sitting at his broad desk reading a file marked PRIORITY ONE when Mike Justin walked in. He made a formless wave with his left hand towards the chair on the other side of the desk and Justin walked over and sat down.

After a few moments, the Colonel looked up.

‘Tell me the worst,’ he said harshly and sat back in his chair.

Justin sorted out his thoughts.

M was very fussy when it came to verbal reports – no ‘ums’ or ‘urhs’. He insisted on clear-cut narratives.

Justin gave him the technical details his annalists had collated in as short a form as possible.

‘The United Kingdom and most of Europe’s intelligence and security services, including the United States, were hit by a malicious virus attacking every single computer network, mainframe and database in existence. NATO believes that because of the level of sophistication and the identity of the targets hit, a nation state, possibly Iran, is behind the attack. In short, sir, MI5, MI6, GCHQ, the French, Germans, Italians and the Americans are now completely in the dark ages where ELINT, IMINT and SIGINT are concerned.’

‘Total shutdown in the Intelligence cyber world.’ M breathed in deeply. ‘What’s Kapersky saying?’

‘They’re with NATO sir.’

‘I see.’

‘But we believe its DOMINION.’

‘Of course it’s DOMINION man. The question though is to what end?’

‘Absolute chaos and disorder – the hallmarks of Blofeld.’

M nodded.

‘But obviously we can’t prove it, can we?’

‘At this stage unfortunately not sir.’

‘We’re cut off from the rest of the national and international intelligence community, and so are they. In the blind, what. But for how long?’

‘Q and his team are working on it but from his initial report the virus has not only destabilised us but is also programmed to ‘adapt’ to any ‘cures’ and, worse still, spy for its masters.’

‘Spy for its masters. Isn’t that what we’re up to here? Or rather what we were up to.’

‘Any attempts to put us back on-line and linked to, say, six’s mainframe will alert the aggressors of our existence. If it is DOMINION, it will only be a matter of minutes that Shaw finds us out. Any which way, we lose. Nobody, not even the Israelis saw this coming.’

M got up and moved to the window, looking out into the driving rain.

‘The fact is we can’t walk around in the dark like this can we? Our advantage was our unique capability as a non-existing entity to spy on Shaw and Six and any other intelligence agency DOMINION has their crooked finger stuck in. To do so we need direct link to their intelligence data which is what NEMESIS is all about: secretly sifting through the Western Intelligence agencies’ mainframes in the hope of uncovering the extent of our enemy’s infiltration. Might as well shut down now and send everyone bloody home.’

He turned and looked Justin in the eye as a challenge to gainsay what he’d just thought out loud.

Justin cleared his throat, undeterred.

‘You forget, sir, there is one link that could possibly keep us in the game where Shaw is concerned at least.’


‘Exactly. I believe its time we pulled him in with the obvious intention of having him now become SOE’s eyes and ears at the Double O Division.’

M’s jowls tensed.

‘Of course,’ he said as if it was a stated fact. ‘That would seem to be the most logical course of action.’

M sat back down.

‘Apart from Tanner’s involvement though, is all we’ve got is double O seven then and whatever he digs up in Libya. Which leads to the next issue: with our computer network down and/or being spied upon, how the devil are we going to communicate with him, not to mention analyse the Intel he sends, clearly considering Bahanni isn’t just a dead end of course?’

‘I’ve been assured by Q that he’s setting up a safe portal Mulai Raisul and Bond could use if they need to send any data outside our own systems, sir. He believes he can by-pass FIREWORM with a new program he’s designing.’


‘It’s the name of the virus attacking us sir.’

‘They gave it a bloody name?’


M nodded.

‘Then let’s hope James gets somewhere,’ he said softly. ‘Very well, Mr. Justin. I’d better inform the PM of the latest from our side. To say he’s going to hit the roof would be an understatement. He’s invested a damn lot into this clandestine operation, both politically and financially, and the whole thing has turned out to be nothing short of a major shambles poor fellow.’



#11 Harry Fawkes

Harry Fawkes

    Lt. Commander

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  • Location:Malta G.C

Posted 29 December 2013 - 09:54 PM


To God We Belong


The flight to Libya took three hours and apart from Manuel Chevalier’s company and his compelling insight into what to expect once there, not to mention his brief recount of how Malta had played an integral part during the Libyan crises, and of course the four stiff double Scotch and sodas, it was a rather lacklustre one.

It was indeed a welcoming brief though, although Bond knew most of what the Maltese man had passed on, but the fact that he hadn’t been to Libya for several years served as an important prep of sorts. More importantly Chevalier had succeeded in turning his thoughts off dear Penny and how she must have been faring...

They landed at Benghazi airport dead on time at 2130 and the ambience there was much cooler than it was in Malta. Every country has its own characteristic scent, taste even, Bond observed as he stepped out of the Air Malta Boeing 747, and in Libya’s case it was instantly the smell of bloodshed, gunfire and chaos that had hit him first.

Bloodshed, gunfire and chaos – the scars of the recent revolt against Qaddafi and his bloody regime.

Things had, so far, calmed down but as Chevalier had told him on the plane, it was simply a powder keg waiting to blow again.

Bond had been through many airports during his time in the Service but Benghazi definitely topped them all as the most shambolic and messy. Obviously one had to appreciate the fact that the revolution had brought the country to its knees but, still, Bond couldn’t help feeling utterly appalled at what he saw.

The one hour wait to get through customs and passed the confrontational Libyan soldiers armed with black AKs who were acting as controllers, raised the hairs on his neck. Luckily though, the fact that he was in possession of a Maltese passport helped in no small way, for the Libyans were indebted to the Maltese for their vital role of support to the ‘Freedom Fighters’ when the troubles were in full swing; and the fact that the two filthy soldiers towering over Bond and checking his passport (praying to Allah the Great for an excuse to arrest him and make their day), had simply waved him on, was indeed the equivalent of the red carpet treatment here…

Once outside they found an old Ford Transit waiting for them with the words PALM CITY in English and Arabic printed on the sides in big white letters.

‘Don’t think we are out of the woods yet though my friend.’ Chevalier told him as they loaded their luggage.  ‘We could still run into a rebel roadblock on our way to the hotel and they don’t take kindly to well dressed men like us – even if they do hold Maltese passports.’

Bond sat back in the seat at the back as the bald Libyan driver drove off.

So far so good, he thought.

They had in fact run into a roadblock an hour into the drive but Chevalier had paid a handsome sum to get through.

The price of freedom these days?

4000 Dinars.

Road blocks like these were becoming very common in Libya and it wasn’t the first time high ranking officials, both European and Libyan, had been killed or even kidnapped for ransom trying to pass through...

They got to the hotel at 0030 after one hell of a rough drive during which Bond had forced himself to sleep most of the way, a rather difficult feat considering.

Although Benghazi was a major city with modern architecture, it had been hit badly during the troubles.  It had also been the turning point of the war when the Libyan Army attempted to score a decisive victory against the NTC by attacking it, but was forced back by local resistance and thankfully intervention from the French Air Force.

The Corinthia was situated on the water-front in central Benghazi and the site had once housed the former historic Al Jazeera hotel. It was a striking building, unscathed by the ravages of the war, with glass-fronted towers reflecting the city and sky. Bond could truly feel the luxury as they walked through the lobby and he knew from what he had observed so far that the management was definitely trying hard to set the hotel back on the map.


Always hope.

There was elegance and indeed tasteful appointed decorations and fittings that would have put the best hotel in Europe to shame. After checking in, they were shown to their rooms on the fourth floor and Bond and Chevalier shook hands and bade each other farewell.

‘Good luck for whatever devils you seek here, Mr. Shane or whatever your real name is. I sincerely hope our paths cross again but naturally under healthier conditions.’

The room was perfect and Bond went outside to finally smoke a cigarette, the first since arriving in Libya. Ten minutes or so later, he gratefully took off his clothes, moist with sweat, and went and stood under the shower for fifteen very refreshing minutes, head bowed, both arms outstretched and hands on the tiled wall.

The stress was setting in dreadfully and he was dying for another stiff scotch – could kill for one in fact!

At about 0130, Bond slipped beneath the fresh sheets naked and finally relaxed.

What was it Manuel Chevalier had said before they had parted ways?

Ah, yes: ‘Good luck for whatever devils you seek here!

How perfectly fitting.

Bond turned on his side and gratefully fell into the soft hands of sleep...


*         *         *

 He woke up at around six in the morning. After a twenty minute workout which felt like torture he showered and got dressed, white shirt, beige slacks and sandals. The breakfast lounge was almost empty, just four others there, French journalists by the looks and sound of them. Bond found a table near the window and ordered black coffee, Arab mix, palm dates with Ghadames bread made of real wholemeal flour, ripe figs stuffed with vine leaves and lemon, a slice of melon and finally fresh yogurt with Besisa berry.

Hearty breakfast would be an understatement

The view he had from his table was of the city and Bond noted how modern Benghazi was, which when it came to Libya, people had a very bad perception of. Tall modern buildings, daring architecture that would no doubt put the most audacious western architect to shame, palm trees everywhere and the traditional flat roofed buildings under the brightest and clearest of blue skies, not to mention a beautiful sandy beach that stretched to infinity…

Simply put it was breathtakingly attractive in no small way. Perhaps now that Qadafi had been ‘removed’ from power, Libya would open up more to the West and tourism.

Still a long way to go though, he thought, recalling what Chevalier had told him about it being a powder-keg waiting to explode.

Asalam Aghlikum, James Bond,’ a voice said from behind him and Bond turned to find the man called Mulai Raisul.

Allah ibierek lilek ukoll, Mulai Raisul,’ Bond answered with a smile.

Raisul was a tall, well built man in his late fifties. He wore a long black robe, elegant and regal, complete with cape made from the finest of Arab silks, and a Mistara turban. There was something powerful and sinister about him, Bond thought as he sat himself down at his table. He was a striking man, skin healthy and bronzed with a silver beard and dashing green eyes.

A prince of the Arabian desserts

‘I was wondering when you’d show up, you old rogue,’ Bond said and continued eating. ‘Hungry?’

Raisul lit a black cheroot and sat back watching Bond closely, as if sizing him up.

‘I’ve eaten,’ he said. ‘But I’ll have some tea.’

Bond raised an eyebrow at the cheroot and Raisul shrugged his shoulders.

‘European laws don’t apply here,’ he said simply. ‘And even if they did I wouldn’t give a toss.’

The young waiter appeared, bowed as if Raisul was royalty and took his order.

‘Welcome back to Libya, by the way,’ Raisul said when the waiter left. ‘The last time you were here I was almost killed trying to outrun those Barbajans who were in turn out to capture you. Not to mention the fact you actually left me for dead, stranded in the middle of nowhere. Why is it, dear friend, that every time you pay me a visit death and destruction follow? If I didn’t know better James I’d swear you were the devil himself.’

Bond smiled at his friend. ‘How many times am I going to have to tell you that I just work for the bastard?’

Raisul raised his eyes towards the ceiling. ‘The Great Allah himself forbid. That dear James would make me an accomplice which in turn would mean hell in the end for both of us not just you and I have absolutely no intention going down that road when my time comes.’

Raisul’s tea was brought over by the waiter who also placed an ashtray on the table.

‘Now then,’ the old Arab said and lowered his voice. ‘Let’s talk shop. M called me last night. There’s been another attack – this time through cyberspace believe it or not.’


‘Yes. And it’s bad. It’s affected practically most Western control systems and mainframes. FIREWORM. It seems NATO believes that such a sophisticated attack could only have been conducted by a nation-state.’



‘But we know DOMINION is behind it.’

‘Knowing it isn’t proving it.’

‘Obviously – which makes tensions in the West towards Iran increase dramatically.’

‘An understatement. The CIA, MI6, DGSE, the German BDUI – you name it – they’ve all been hit so hard that practically they been put back into the dark ages where intelligence networking is concerned. Total wipe out. To say they’re on a collective warpath would be putting it mildly and all their guns are being pointed towards the Persian Gulf.’

‘They probably think Iran is trying to even the score for the STUXNET computer worm the US and Israel created to attack its nuclear facility two years ago.’

‘Operation Olympic Games,’ Raisul said. ‘Yes but this attack makes STUXNET look like a computer hiccup apparently.’

‘So where’s SOE in all this?’ Bond asked.

‘Completely out of action too. I don’t know all the details but M told me the worm spread like a bush fire through every linked intelligence network system. In less than twenty-four hours it had attacked and infected nine countries, including the UK.’

‘Which leaves you and me where exactly?’ Bond asked.

‘Sounds like a cliché I know but as things stand, out on our own. Q is trying to set up a safe portal we can use should we need to upload any Intel you might retrieve from Al Bahanni’s. How they actually manage to analyse it and build upon such Intel with their systems down is anyone’s guess.’

‘Bahanni,’ Bond said softly. ‘What exactly do you know about him?’

‘He owns a shipping company called Al Bahar Almutasezt Mediterranean shipping. He has a warehouse in the main square of Sasha – Lemwaha Elmhedawi. I’ve checked most of his services activities, affiliated organisations and contacts but there’s not much to go on of course which isn’t surprising. His company practically acts as an agent for various Libyan groups and shipping lines.’

‘Nothing out of the ordinary you mean,’ Bond said over his yogurt.’

‘Apart from Practoz shipping of course.’

Bond nodded.

‘And the shipment his company deployed over here and which arrives in Sasha tomorrow afternoon.’

‘That’s right.’

‘The question is what’s shipping in and where the hell is it heading.’ Bond finished his coffee and lit a cigarette, much to the obvious displeasure of the French journalists opposite. ‘What can you tell me about the Mashala Haq?’

‘A completely legitimate group of Qatari businessmen,’ Raisul told him. ‘Billionaires who have at their focus Libya’s reconstruction and the expansion of their own businesses to Europe.’

‘With what seems Bahanni as the go-between connecting Practoz to them.’

‘Exactly. Believe me James I have pulled in a lot of favours and talked to all my key assets here. Whatever Practoz, or whoever was acting in his name that is, and Al Bahanni are really up to – not to mention the million dollar question regarding if they are actually connected to DOMINION and hence Blofeld – they have managed to keep the lid very, very tight indeed.’

Bond breathed in deeply and sat back. ‘Well that’s why I’m here, Mulai,’ he said with the devil’s smile on his face. ‘To find out using any means necessary.’

‘The old fashioned way,’ Raisul said to that. ‘God help them then.’

‘How do we get to Sasha?’

Mulai Raisul’s eyes suddenly glowed. ‘First and foremost, dear James, you need a change of clothing. You’re not running about the streets of Sasha dressed like that. You wouldn’t get to within a mile of Bahanni’s warehouse, or anywhere else if it comes to that. You’ll find two packages in your room with more appropriate attire and a shopping list Q sent over. Get dressed and meet me on the roof in say, thirty minutes. I’ll sort your bill out.’

Bond raised an eyebrow. ‘Roof?’

Raisul laughed. ‘Yes, James. The days of horses and camels are long bloody gone – ‘specially with my back. Today, the sky’s the limit.’

And with that, Raisul finished his tea, stubbed out his cheroot and made for the lobby.

Bond couldn’t help smiling.

‘And a comfortable Free Lander didn’t cross his mind?’


*         *         *


When Bond came out of his room he was now dressed in a sky-blue and beige robe and cove cloth to cover his head and face, leaving only his eyes exposed, He was armed with a Walther PPQ 9mm and it felt reassuring and comfortably snug in the Raven leather shoulder holster. The PPQ had a quick defence trigger and pre-cocked striker assembly – a true tribute to German engineering and sleek design.

He made his way to the roof where he found Raisul outside, waiting beside a sleek dark blue MD600c single engine helicopter, notorious for its speed and agility.

‘Mulai, you’re an enigma my dear friend,’ Bond told him as he loaded his carrying bag in the small compartment near the door. ‘You never told me you could fly.’

‘I got my PPL way back during my Oxford days, James,’ the Arab told him and climbed into the pilot’s seat. ‘Before I was recruited by British Intelligence that is, and way before your time, young man. Now strap yourself in tightly and enjoy Libya to the full. We should make Sasha in an hour.’

Bond did as he was told and donned a head-set.

‘Must’ve pulled some strings for this,’ he said.

‘With that bastard Qadafi finally gone and the revolution over, money buys many friends in high places these days.’

‘I’m sure.’


*          *         *


The flight turned out to be a satisfying affair indeed and Raisul proved to be a very good pilot. Flying over Benghazi was splendid – truly a brilliant gem – as was the crossing over the Hamwadi dessert outside the city, where Bond caught a glimpse of a group of Berber nomads on camels, several black shadows against the vast ocean of golden sands. And then came the flight over the Al Jabal Al Akhadar region, the green mountains, a hilly plateau cut by several eye-catching valleys and wadis.

Bond was impressed by the sheer splendour of it all.

This was hill country, filled with rocky defiles and great cliffs, bright yellow and brown.

‘Further on lies the city of Bayda, James,’ Mulai told him through his mouth piece. ‘And this is where the great Omar Mukhtar himself fought the Italians when they came over to colonise us. To say he gave them a bloody nose would be putting it mildly.’

The lion of the dessert.

A great fighter, Bond thought as he gazed down.

After twenty years of fierce guerrilla warfare against the Italian armed forces, he was captured and hung – way back in 1931. Before hanging him though he was asked if he wished to say anything as last words. Mukhtar replied with a phase from the Koran:

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.’

To God we belong and to Him we shall return.

He was 73 years old and one of the greatest warriors the world had ever seen.

The helicopter swooped down and flew over the ancient city of Appolonia beyond the Hallali mountains where the temple of Zeus stood, watched over by the magnificent Greek Sphinx, and the Odeon of Cyrene.

Bond took it all in, enjoying this rare privilege of witnessing such beauty, such history, in a land that had just came out of one hell of a violent and ugly war.

‘They call this place the tears of Allah himself, James, because only the tears of Allah shed upon this earth could have transformed such desolate and violent land into one of such beauty.

As soon as they cleared the Shahat forest, Raisul climbed up to 1000 ft and pushed the MD600c towards their destination some twenty five minutes away.

‘Now enough site seeing,’ he said. ‘Let’s get to Sasha.’

Hmmm, Bond thought. Sasha Bahatt. Dangerous grounds indeed…







#12 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 08:21 PM


It’s Always Wise To Look Ahead


Sasha Bahatt was situated just a few miles east of Tobruk and only some fourteen miles from the Egyptian border.

The port city in the Hellenistic period was part of the Libyan Pentapolis – the collective name anciently applied to several groups of five cities (Apollonia, Arsinoe, Bernice, Cyrene and Ptolemais) from the 14th Century BC to the 7th Century AD. At the eastern end of the Jebel Akhadar and on the north-west Mediterranean coast, it was comparatively a large city with three main squares and in the center a beautiful Islamic old city (the Medina) with remarkable architecture. With a population of just below 18100, its port was known as Qasr Ahmamada and it was established as a free port rather recently – one of the first transhipment hubs in the Med to be set up soon after the United States removed Qadafi’s regime from its list of states sponsoring terrorism.

There were few high-rise buildings here but plenty of white flat-roofed houses, narrow alleys and cobbled streets. The port area, which was fairly busy, was overflowing with coastal ships, fishing boats and sailing vessels of every size and description, not to mention the busy free port itself, four massive blue cranes hoisting up the range of containers there, heaping them up within the terminal on land...

They landed at what looked like a deserted airfield and were met by Raisul’s contact. The morning wind blustered in from the sea, warm, with a feel of spices to add to the delight, and Bond smiled as he got into the white battered Mercedes. Once in the city they made through the narrow streets down towards the port and he noticed that there seemed to be a market in every street. The people there wore anything from jeans and t-shirt to traditional Arab dress and turbans. Some of the younger women however donned more modern Islamic clothing, elegant, daring even, whilst the older men wore the Chechia hat which was mostly used in Turkey.

The two bed-roomed maisonette Raisul had hired was on the first floor and sited just off the harbour in the pictorial bay of Qasr Bin Ahmamada, the free port parallel. Bond settled himself, unpacked, and after a cold shower shared a frosty beer and smoke with Raisul outside on the terrace facing the Mediterranean Sea.

‘You know I hardly ever drink beer, Mulai,’ Bond said irritated and sat back in a snug wicker chair. ‘Would it be too much to ask for a straight bloody bourbon?’

Bond drained the last of his beer from his glass and noticed Raisul’s judgmental look.

Bond raised an eyebrow.

‘What?’ he said defensively.

‘I’ll have you know the devil drinks bourbon, you infidel dog you!’

‘Oh, don’t start that again. You’re just as bad and don’t think you’re not. Remember that time in London when you stayed at my place, a couple of years ago? I didn’t hear you complaining or quoting the Great Book then – and you used to drink me under the bloody table every time.’

‘That was then, James – a long time ago and a different me.’

‘Bollocks!’ Bond spat.

Raisul threw his head back and laughed.

‘Remember that night at Tanner’s flat? I’d never seen you so drunk! You were absolutely legless James.’

Bond smiled.

‘Don’t remind me. The hangover lasted three days.’

Raisul nodded and looked out across the roof tops to the free port.

‘You do realise, dear friend, that if Blofeld is really somewhere here, in Libya, I’m pretty certain that you won’t have to search too hard for him.’

Bond looked at him closely.

‘What do you mean?’

‘He’ll find you, James,’ Raisul said and opened another beer. He poured it into his glass and tossed another over to Bond. ‘He’s probably got more spies out here in Sasha than the now defunct Mukhabarat el –Jamahriya had back in Qadafi’s day.’

‘The Libyan secret service,’ Bond said referring to the MeJ. ‘Yes, I’m sure he has.’

‘And that doesn’t scare you?’

Bond drank some beer and nodded once. ‘Of course it does,’ he said. ‘But I’m here to do a job and if the bastard catches me first, then fine.’

‘But then what?’

Bond shrugged. ‘It’s always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.’

‘Churchill,’ Raisul said.

‘That’s right. For now, tonight we’ll take a look at the port then later on Al Bahanni’s warehouse. What comes after that I shall boil down to ‘Inshallah’.’

Raisul nodded. ‘Allah’s will, James. I couldn’t have put it better.’


*          *           *



It was at that precise moment in time, hundreds of miles away from where Bond was drinking beer, back in the UK and within SOE’s Intelligence Command Center, that senior analyst Roger Lewlston sat in his private cubicle sifting through all the hard Intel that he had managed to save before what everyone was calling the FIREWORM crises hit them. The whole place was a hive of glowing and palpable tension, had been for the past twenty four hours since the virus had ‘blinded’ them, and every intelligence operative down there was working hard to remedy the situation that was threatening the total shut-down of SOE. It was a crisis that was indeed seeing this Center and all the personnel there tested to their limits...

Roger Lewlston was a small man; small but well built – not bad for a man in his late fifties. An ex-Royal marine commando Captain turned Intelligence analyst way back during the Cold War days, Lewlston never missed a day at the gym, except Sundays of course. His skin was well tanned and his eyes, deep set, were the brightest of blue.

Leave nothing to chance, Lewlston was telling himself as he read the report he had just come across; no matter how trivial, unimportant even, something may seem. Those were their orders. To go through everything with a fine comb – once, twice, three times even. This was uncharted territory and the only way they were going to prevent whatever it was DOMINION and that mad man Blofeld was planning was through scrutiny and brainpower.

The report he was now going through was written several months ago by an MI5 operative codenamed ‘E’. It concerned a high-tech theft of aviation fuel from Boscomb Down and Lewlston had no idea whatsoever why his mind – or rather sixth sense – was sounding off his damn alarm bells. His finger, the middle one of his right hand, tapped anxiously on his desk as he fixed his computer screen with wide, intelligent eyes that were soaking up all the info and sending it fast to be processed within the depths of his wits.

Aviation fuel…

Boscomb Down…

6000 Litres of DEFSTAN 91 – 96 AVCAT/FSII…


Lewlston leaned back in his comfortable chair and sighed heavily.

He was tired; they all were.

What the hell had a theft at Boscomb, of aviation fuel, got to do with Libya and DOMINION?


Double ‘O’ Seven…


The rule of Intelligence.

Seek the connections; follow and join the dots, no matter where they led.

Aviation fuel, Libya…aircraft.

Lewlston rubbed his eyes. How would you connect those three points, he asked himself. And why? What common factor did each of these words posses that had made his sub-conscious alarm bells ring?

Aviation fuel (Military grade), Libya, aircraft (RAF).

JP-5x is a high flash point kerosene meeting the requirements of the US Military specifications MAL-PVR-56245 Grade JP-5. The UK Military specification for this grade is DEFSTAN 91 – 96 AVCAT/FSII – NATO Code F-44.

He had come across a report in 6’s archives yesterday, just before the virus attacked them, concerning that RAF Eurofighter Typhoon that had crashed near a place called Shayif in Libya whilst leading air strikes against Qadafi’s military in 2012.

Lewlston nodded.

The connections?

Aviation fuel used by Military aircrafts, Libya, and the Typhoon.

He leaned forward and went through ‘E’s report again:








The high-tech theft of jet fuel from MoD Boscomb Down military aircraft testing site located at Amesbury in Wiltshire took place on 13 January 2013. Subsequent investigation by this division has revealed that four armed men had successfully stolen 40 to 60 kilalitres of DEFSTAN 91 – 96 AVCAT/FSII fuel which was physically stored at Area C, Hangar 4. The thieves had managed to ram the locked gates just off the main road towards Durrington just after 2 a.m. – killing four security personnel. These four soldiers who were on duty at the entrance had no advance warning before what is believed to be a tanker was driven at high speed through the gates. MI5 believes this was indeed an insider job and the Army Press office confirmed that the tanker used in the raid was allegedly stolen two days earlier. It is still not known how the thieves retrieved the DEFSTAN 91 – 96 AVCAT/FSII from its storage tanks but it is believed that hi-tech equipment, most probably Russian – possibly Chinese – was used. It took the thieves approximately 35 minutes to load their tanker with 6000L of the above fuel. It is also believed that the men conducting the raid were experts in arms and military tactics who had probably belonged to a Special Forces organisation. It was also established that the response time delay by the security forces and local police within the area was due to a computer black-out that destabilised the alarm and activation system used to alert such personnel when required. Section 3 of MI5 are tracking 30 high-priority suspects involving 200 networks possibly involved in this theft. There are approximately a further 23 suspects who work at Boscomb who may have aided these thieves, many of which are currently under surveillance (See CODE 4x110 222). A spokesman for the MSB confirms that the Army’s views and direction regarding this theft is that fuel laundering and further thefts worth over 500,000 Sterling in a series of targeted raids around Maidstone, Swindon and Kent give this trail of investigation credence. The undersigned case officer believes otherwise however considering the fuel description and quantity. Recommend PRIORITY V with assistance from our cousins at 6.


Lewlston looked up and rested his chin in his left hand, left elbow on his desk, looking into the beyondness of things, working his mind on what he’d just read again.

What was it trying to tell him?

MSB believed the theft was part of a fuel laundering racket but the case officer believed otherwise considering the fuel description: DEFSTAN 91 – 96 AVCAT/FSII.

That type of fuel was used to fly Typhoons.

What was he trying to read between the lines?

Why the hell was he dedicating time – precious time – on two stories that were millions of light years apart?

RAF Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft crashes near Shayif Libya, whilst leading air strikes against Muamar Qadafi’s military…

Millions of light years apart my arse!

His mind was racing wildly now.

Practoz shipping – the connecting link!

It had to be!

Lewlston’s eyes widened suddenly.

He got up as if hit by a lightning bolt out of the blue.

‘Who was covering Practoz shipping please?’ he called out, rather a bit too loudly, to his colleagues.

Heads turned; a few moments of silence.

‘Me,’ came a voice.

A young man, a few desks away, raised his hand awkwardly.

Lewlston crossed over.

The young man was blond and wore a close-fitting dark blue suit and white shirt, no tie. His name was Walther Lucien – Special Branch, MI5.

‘What can I do for you?’ he asked closing a manila folder and then ticking off one of the boxes on the front.

‘I need shipping history,’ Lewlston told him. ‘From the 14th December 2013 onwards. Out of the UK back to Sardegna or wherever. Please tell me you have a data base running.’

Lucien nodded. ‘No problem,’ he said. ‘Any specifics?’

‘Not really – just the history band and if possible a DMS tracking of the cargo contents, listing type, perhaps package tracking too.’

Again Lucien nodded and turned to his computer.

‘Ok,’ he said simply and began typing at the keyboard. ‘Give me ten minutes and I’ll be right with you.’

‘Good,’ Lewlston told him and went back to his station, feeling rather light headed.

What on earth was he looking for here? What the hell was this gut-feeling he had?

The degree of connectedness.

The mechanics of interconnectedness.

This was what it was all about.

Analysing information and intelligence with the objective of finding the specifics to connect each case; each possible link, every piece of story concurrent to specific issues, topics and investigations to ultimately set out targets, history and exacting goals in relation to specific objectives – in their case: NEMESIS. Several words had caught Roger Lewlston’s attention within two or three reports he had read; several words that were in some way or the other related – in other words had some sort of link, if only by name alone.

Libya, aircraft fuel and RAF Eurofighter crash in Libya.

That had been enough for him to start an analysis and attempt to build a case that could solve what DOMINION was up to. Lewlston now decided he needed much more information into the downed Typhoon case though. He had a rush of excitement and moved his chair closer to his computer desk. He interlocked his fingers and cracked the joints, a soft smile on his face. He then began typing, accessing the existing files he had saved on the RAF Typhoon which had been shot down in Libya…



#13 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 08:23 AM


A Lock Is Like A Woman


At nine thirty in the evening there was a pleasing, cool breeze as James Bond lit a cigarette near the iron railings opposite where the Mercedes was parked. The free-port was still bustling with activity – almost a scene out of a science fiction movie. Bright lights, the four enormous cranes hoisting containers off the cargo ships there, revolving perfunctorily and receding to their programmed positions to lower them into place in the terminal; and the occasional ship streaming deliberately through the port like some daunting dinosaur in a world gone alien.

Bond stood there relaxed, smoking, watching it all intently, thinking.

Practoz’s shipment arrived here tomorrow afternoon and this is where, whatever that shipment was, would end up and which, in the end, he hoped would lead him to Blofeld and Simon Carter.  

He was fully clad in the sky-blue and beige robe, the cove cloth covering his head, face exposed. The PPQ was snug in the Raven holster, spring loaded. Underneath the robe, Bond was wearing a 5.11 tactical outfit, black. He carried a silencer, a small torch, the Russian SKV and a convenient ‘tool kit’ in the form of a black utility belt – the hi-tech spy’s best friend in the field.

The 5.11 tactical suit was made of 80% polyester and 20% spandex and had an excellent athletic feel and fit to it – the ideal outfit for tonight’s break-in. The ‘tool-kit’ consisted of an assortment of ‘perks’ that ranged from Infra-Red goggles, a Breaking Point C21 high-end network infiltration stick designed by Q to access any PC or Lap-top and retrieve its data, even if it was encrypted, and an ultra new E.M.P device the size of an Android Note.

All the exciting widgets one needed for a job like this one, Raisul had told him.

But then, Bond thought, no matter what state-of-the-art gadgets one carried, one always required physical opportunity and ability to survive - two simple principles that applied to any form of situation or problem. Foresight and action-plans for worse case scenarios were the seals of any mission’s success – not the gadgets a spy carried; opportunity, ability, planning and project/mission poise. That was what counted most in his book. On the other hand, Bond knew fine well that there were no absolutes in the field – there never were – and no matter how well one planned, something always went wrong; which, in the end, is where ingenuity and sheer grit came into play. Ingenuity and sheer wit was what had kept him alive all these years – nothing else...

Bond took another pull of the cigarette.

It was a charming evening with a full moon reflecting poetically upon the water. There was the distant sound of the free port, animate, a mechanical tune of clashing steel echoing through the night air. The bright yellow and white lights lit the opposite bay up eerily, as if it were another world entirely from the one Bond was living in at the moment – an alien spacecraft of vibrant colours even, he thought, glowing around the steel containers stacked upon one another neatly, and of course his four sentinels watching over prevailingly, lifting and turning.

There were a few people about on this side of the bay, dressed in traditional robes, strolling up and down the waterfront while Bond watched, disattached. They were ordinary people who had just been liberated from an evil dictator who had held this country in his evil grasp for over 46 years – finally enjoying the splendour of an unfortunately threatened and unstable peace. And then there was Practoz, Al Bahanni, Mashala Haq, DOMINION, Simon Carter and finally, last but not least, the bastard called Blofeld and whatever deranged plan he had in store for the world this time.

All those ‘roads’ led to here and now – Libya - Sasha.


James Bond flicked the cigarette away into the darkness, filled his lungs with fresh sea air and finally turned towards the Mercedes.

Next stop: Al Bahanni’s warehouse.


         *           *          * 

At 2300 hrs, Bond was a sinister silhouette against the black night. He moved like a panther, silent and dangerous, darting from the Mercedes across the street to Al Bahanni’s warehouse when all was clear. Once in position, a blind spot, he triggered the portable E.M.P device and waited. The electromagnetic pulse released was dominant enough to kill the electricity supply in the building, destabilising alarms and all CCTV for at least half an hour – if he was lucky that is. Apparently, according to Raisul, this was the first time ever that such a device was being used in the field, and Q was dying to know the full outcome of its effect.

Sure, Bond thought, if he lived through tonight he’d write the bastard a report commending him; but on the other hand, he couldn’t help feeling like a bloody Guiney pig in for the slaughter!

The building was a two storey modern concrete block with wide tinted windows and red aluminium border, looking over the deserted street and square. There was a large black door, a wide sign above it with the words تطلب إلى الأمين printed in bold red letters: Al Bahar Almutasezt Med Shipping.

From this blind spot, Bond made his way along the front of the building ignoring the two small CCTV cameras beaming down at the front door region, and hastily, he knelt down, setting to work picking the lock...

Two minutes short and he was in.

As he swung the door shut behind him though, he saw a beam of light coming his way from what appeared to be a corridor further on. A security guard coming to check the front. Bond flattened himself against the wall on his left, shrouded by the dark shadows, just as the guard came through, the torch beam swerving across the room only a few feet away from his position. He held his breath and prepared for tradecraft response. The guard finally passed him and Bond extended, delivering a devastating hack to the side of his neck. The guard whirled backwards with a startled yell and almost dropped, but, such action wasn’t enough to knock him out and down. Bond had severely miscalculated the guard’s build and strength in the dark.

So much for precision tradecraft response you idiot!

The guard turned hard and pulled a gun from his waste-holster, a Smith and Wesson, but Bond had the clear lead. He kicked the gun out of his hand elegantly and with flawless equilibrium delivered a knee into the man’s groin. As the Libyan came down with another cry, Bond brought both his fists crashing down into the back of his head, this time with all his strength.

He crashed to the fall, out cold.

Bond made a quick scan of the guard’s equipment, catching his breath in the meantime. Good, he thought, no radio which meant he had no immediate ‘coms’ with his partners other than a mobile phone. He dragged him away, concealing him behind a switchboard operator’s stand on his right. After tying him up with some cord he carried, and slapping some duct tape across his mouth, Bond put on the infra-red goggles, the view through which was outstandingly clear. He looked around at the non-descript area. Four comfortable looking armchairs, club-class, a large round glass coffee table with a couple of magazines on it and four paintings on the wall – forests, beaches and mountain views.

He crossed the room through to a wide carpeted corridor that led to a flight of stairs and paused before ascending, listening for any signs of movement.

Nothing – only dead silence.

Bond advanced, this time PPQ drawn and in a deadly poise, ready for use. He obviously didn’t want to kill any of the guards but fighting them hand to hand was too risky if the proverbial mess hit the fan. Then again, killing them was indeed a hideous thought. What if Al Bahanni wasn’t involved with DOMINION after all? He’d be killing innocent men. He would use the PPQ as a last-ditch effort, he decided as he got to the first floor.  

Bond supposed this was the main work area.

He was impressed. The place was rather nicely set up with expensive furniture, Libyan art, antiques and comfortable work spaces for the staff. It looked like Al Bahanni had a proficient set-up here. As he proceeded along the short corridor at the top of the stairs, a dark shadow, he pondered where the other guards were stationed and how they must have been reacting to this sudden black-out. Almost certainly used to it considering the ‘troubles’ they’d just come out of. Then again they could be trying to ‘fix’ the generator, Bond considered, and no doubt wondering why the hell it wasn’t working. Little would they know that the EM pulse deactivated all forms of electrical systems and although most generators ran on fuel, they still had electrical circuits that the powerful pulse attacked and destabilised.

Bond finally counted on the Arab laissez faire mentality to just wait it out over a cup of coffee.

Further on he came to three doors – two facing each other and one directly in front of him. Main offices, doors solid oak. He glanced at his watch. Soon the EMP effect would wear off and the electricity would come back on. His half an hour was almost up. Bond guessed that the office door facing him could only be Bahanni’s with the two doors opposite each other belonging to associates. For starters the targeted door was operated by a number pad in conjunction with a card reader and secondly the fact that it was facing the work area implied the boss’s office.

Bond had precisely eight minutes to pick the normal lock that served as back-up in the case of electricity cuts and generator failures.

Only one key would exist where these types of locks were concerned and which would only be given to the person whose office it belonged to. Bond nodded – the Jatson and Perks Hammer Slide Pitch Case lock from Berkins, USA.

He had spent three long weeks on a lock picking course way back upon joining the Double O Division a million and one years ago – a lock picking course co-ordinated and conducted by the great Franz Gugasian, one of the most sophisticated and most cunning, not to mention most wanted, high-tech thieves to grace the cells of any UK prison. He had been employed by the Service to teach new Double ‘Os’ like Bond all there was to know within the art of cracking open safes, doors, and practically anything else that had a lock to it. Using specifically designed tools like the ones he was using now, Bond was taught all it took in order to prise open the most sophisticated of locks.

Six minutes was all it took in the end and Bond was finally in, the lock prising back and the oak door opening with a sharp ‘click’.

He smiled as he slipped inside, closing the door behind him and holstering the PPQ back into the Raven.

What was it Gugasian had said once during his lectures?

Ah, yes, Bond thought as he crossed the room to the large desk. ‘A lock is like a woman, Monsieur Bond, handle it with style and respect, charm it, tease it, but be firm and demanding, mon ami, and in the end she will indeed open up for you.

As Bond sat down behind the desk the electricity within the whole building came back on.

‘Right on time,’ Bond said softly to himself and booted Al Bahanni’s computer.

The drive and fan began its whirring noise and the monitor’s screen blinked on with a Window’s start up message. Then the screen blinked again, and the password menu appeared.

It was thanks to the Breaking Point C21 high-end network infiltration stick which Bond had just inserted into one of the tower’s USB ports that he managed to obtain access. Just by typing in eight random letters, the C21 took roughly sixteen seconds to decrypt the password and command the PC to log on.

Like all the ‘tools’ Bond was putting to use that night, the C21 was designed by Q himself and simply put, it was a work of genius and no spy worth his or her salt should be without one...

The screen cleared again, going completely black, then a moment later the application program on the hard drive allowed user entry. Bond clicked the mouse on the My Computer icon and accessed the C21’s search engine which was listed as removable disk. He typed in PRACTOZ shipping and the date Practoz’s ship was expected to arrive in Sasha.

The C21 did the rest when he pressed enter.

The screen went blank but after a few more seconds it blinked on again, this time with hundreds of small random digital numbers and letters filling the screen. Within a few more moments, the C21’s program was sifting through all the hard drive’s data, searching for the words Practoz and any numbers that matched the date of arrival. Then, the screen finally filled with the data Bond was looking for.

A list of files spread themselves over the screen, each in a little yellow folder icon. The folder icons each had a name: Practoz أهلاًو سهلاً, Practoz متشرف بمعرفتك, Practoz سهلاًشرف, and finally Al Mokhabbar Gulf Arabian Oil بالرف.

Bond’s eyes focused on the last name – Al Mokhabbar Gulf Arabian.

He raised an eyebrow.

Practoz shipping’s final destination?

He quickly copied the data to the C21’s drive and finally logged off.

With any luck, SOE would have a field day with all this information.

He got up and crossed over to the door, giving one last look around. He produced the E.M.P device and activated the final pulse. Immediately the lights crashed within the complex once more and Bond slipped out of the office into complete darkness.

It was, however, as he made his way back towards the stairs that a noise alerted him.

It was a gun being cocked behind him to his left…




#14 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 09:41 PM


Fatally Close For Comfort


James Bond opened his eyes and it was as if time had stopped. In fact, more to the point, time was playing dreadfully on his mind…

The first thing he became aware of was a sickly smell around him; a sickly smell that he could only distinguish as the smell of death - rot.

His hands were handcuffed behind his back and the steel bit into his wrists appallingly. And then he realised that he was hanging upside down, hoisted from his ankles and suspended from a ceiling, completely naked; an unyielding rope running through a pulley system back down to the other side.

He kept perfectly still, trying to work his thoughts, making an effort to remember who and what had brought him here - when. He tried to determine how long ago it had been that those guards had tried beating him for answers. It felt like a million years ago inside his mind, but, his aching body was telling him otherwise.

The brightly lit room was small, not more than ten feet by twelve. It was bare but for a black leather chair in the middle, the floor cemented...

The silence was deafening.

Lord, he felt terribly sick and confused.

The severe pain all over his body from the guard’s beatings was a living thing, clouding his thoughts. He simply couldn’t think straight.

Concentrate, he told himself but the pain was a brick wall his brain could not break through.

Harder, he willed. Try and remember what happened. Remember what brought you here…

And then it all came back to him.

The plant; the chase; his capture – Blofeld!

A terrifying darkness moved in on him then and complete panic seized his very essence. He started shaking and he couldn’t tell if it was shear fear or the terrible cold. He sought to breathe, deeply, to calm himself, but the air wasn’t getting through his blood filled nostrils and mouth.

His heart rushed madly and the anguish he felt at that moment was horrifyingly physical in its intensity…


*          *          *


…Bond clenched his teeth and spun around, aiming instinctively, blindly. The PPQ spat twice. Two flashes. The guard who had cocked his gun as Bond appeared from Al Bahanni’s office stumbled backwards, his hands pawing at the gapping hole at his throat, knees buckling, blood gushing between his fingers.

Don’t scream – for God’s sake don’t bloody scream!

And then Bond detected another guard further on who had now dropped to one knee and was already aiming at his shadowy figure. With the grace and reflexes of a ninja though, and thanks to the infra-red goggles, Bond rushed to his right just as the guard’s Smith and Wesson blasted two shots, shattering the glass partition behind him, missing him by an inch. Intuitively, Bond lunged to place himself in the two handed pistol-grip position and the PPQ spat again. The bullet struck the guard’s right shoulder, spinning him around. Bond fired another shot, this time hitting him to the side of the face as he turned with the force of the first bullet.

Quickly Bond curved to leave but another dark figure loomed, this time rushing in fast like an oncoming train into him. Both men crashed back and Bond, the guard still on top of him, landed heavily on a glass-topped coffee table which shattered into pieces. Bond’s own gun flew out of his hand and he was now severely winded by the violent rush and tackle. The guard wailed in ire and raised a fist, bringing it down into Bond’s face. Another punch followed, and then another – fierce with brute might. Fraught, Bond summoned up all his muscle and struck the side of his hand against the guard’s face but he kept on clobbering him in savage rage.

He was now at a complete loss, shocked, blood pouring from his nose and mouth. The guard snatched at his neck with a grasp of steel, crushing the very life out of him. Cardinal mistake though. Bond quickly lashed out and succeeded in shoving his arms through the guard’s own forearms, finally breaking his hold. He then propelled his head up in a classic, brutal head-butt to the guard’s nose sending him backwards simultaneously along with a sharp blow to the man’s throat with his elbow.

The guard held his neck and gasped for air, totally disoriented.

Bond took advantage of the opening, twisted to the side and reached out for the PPQ only a few feet away. He grabbed it, turning fast as the guard moved in to attack again and shot him coldly between the eyes. The guard’s mouth fell open in a silent scream and the look on his face and in his eyes during that split second when death hit him was a look of stark realisation that life was simply iniquitous and savagely unjust...


*         *         *


Bond got up, chest heaving, swallowing blood.

He stared down at the corpses and there was a strange, hunted look in his eyes.

He wiped the blood away from his mouth and grabbed the infra red goggles that had flown off his face when the guard had charged him.

His hands were shaking.

He felt choked.

Christ what a mess.

Everywhere he went, death followed.

Everywhere he went, people died.

Practoz, Monetta, Practoz’s security personnel, OO9, these men here, the hundreds killed in Blofeld’s terrorist attacks three days ago, Moneypenny…

Bond swore violently.

Death, so bloody cold.

His face was now white as a sheet.

From the distance he suddenly heard sirens – Police!

Steadying himself, he quickly made his way down the stairs when there was a loud crash and the front door burst open, a torch shining through.

Damn his luck!

Within a few seconds four figures entered the front office shouting out in Arabic along with the barking of dogs.

Bond’s heart dropped.

He turned and ran, jumping over one of the dead guards and as he did so, one of the police men spotted him.

Hemm hu el Halliel!!!’ came a shout.

Bullets flew, forcing Bond to duck.

No way could he get caught by the Libyan authorities!

Downstairs, more police swarmed into the place, the sound of running footsteps and fierce shouting coming from all directions. As Bond crossed the hallway he paused to topple a large wooden cabinet, blocking the police’s path. Not that it would delay them more than several moments mind. He reached the end of the main office area and came to a narrow flight of stairs. Desperate, he dashed up them and came out onto the roof. The air was cool against his sweating body. He rammed the door shut behind him as two or three police men pursued, firing wildly at their target. He looked around to see if there was anything he could block the door with.

Bond winced.


He darted over to a roof ladder opposite which led to the roof of the next building. From the corner of his eye he saw an armed police man burst through the roof door below as he scaled the ladder.

Angry shouting.

Then bullets flew in his direction again, exploding into the wall inches away from his head. Every muscle in Bond’s body tightened as he reached the top and he rolled, turned onto his front and, gun in two handed grip, let off three taps at the oncoming pursuers. He didn’t waste time to see if he had hit any of them and was back on his feet in a flash, running towards the low wall opposite. Without second thought he leapt over it onto the next roof terrace, instinctively crouching low.

Street level – he thought. His only way out of this mess.

The roofs here were flat as were most Libyan buildings. He would have to cross over them until he found a way down. Thank God it was night time. The darkness gave him an advantage considering he was dressed completely in black. Then again, he thought as he jumped over yet another boundary wall, the Libyan police chasing him right now weren’t taking that fact into any particular consideration, for as Bond reached another flight of stone stairs leading to another higher roof top ahead, a burst of bullets ploughed their way into the floor and walls around him, fatally close for comfort and which made Bond slip and fall back to the ground, landing hard on his back.

It took him what seemed like ages to recover. He stumbled to his feet, gasping and in great pain. He had dropped the PPQ and as he turned to see where his pursuers were, he saw it a couple of feet away.

Bond cursed.

He hurled himself towards it, scooping it up and turned fast, the PPQ coughing three times. Bond had fired blindly at the sound of oncoming footsteps and saw a dark figure drop. He heard a thud and then a groan, followed by a choking sound of someone fighting for life.

Ejjew! Ejjew!’ Bond then heard someone call out.

Despite the pain in his back and all along his left arm, he darted back up the stone stairway. This time, notwithstanding the long burst of automatic gunfire followed by another hail of bullets smashing into the walls surrounding him, Bond made it to the top.

He pondered simply dropping there and trying to shoot his way out of this. The pause to reflect on that option was immediately discarded though, knowing fine well that the rule in situations like this was simply to get the hell out of there. Bond had counted at least six police men enter Al Bahanni’s warehouse, with more on the way, which meant the odds of standing to fight his way out were entirely against him...

And then, as if he hadn’t had enough bad luck for one night, Bond came to what looked like an unfortunate dead end. There was a wide gap, an alleyway, between this building and the other opposite. He came to a stop near the low wall and looked down and across.

Three stories at least; buildings level – certain death if he missed.

He looked back.

Certain capture if he didn’t jump.

Bond felt a sudden chill.

Simply put, he was cornered.


Bond back-tracked a couple of meters, turned, took a deep breath and then shot off again, going for the jump. With his right leg forward, both arms outstretched, now flapping wildly, head and upper body arched back, he actually soared across at least eight meters of open space towards the other edifice...

Fortune favours the mad!

Bond landed, rolling hard, scouring his arms and legs badly and then knocking his head when he finally came to a break. It took him several moments to recover and get up. He had made it though. He couldn’t help thinking of the amount of times he had cheated death in all his life but this jump definitely topped them all.

Despite the excruciating pain he was feeling, he stumbled, limping badly, to the boundary wall opposite and went over. He lurched upon an aluminium door on his right which led into someone’s wash-room. Finding it locked, Bond shot at the handle and bar-lock once. He burst through, now running towards the other end. Thankfully the door here was open and Bond came out onto a narrow landing over a wide terrace, stone stairs leading down to the maisonette. The occupants would no doubt have the fright of their lives but Bond didn’t hesitate. As he descended the steps, he changed clips just in case, went through the terrace door and into a long dark corridor with rooms on either side. Darting through, he found another flight of stairs, ceramic, leading to the front door.

Funny how you seem to notice little details at the worst of times, Bond thought.

Xad Jigri? Min hemm! Hallaie al Puluzia!!’ came a frightened voice from one of the bedrooms.

‘Avon calling,’ Bond called back with a cruel smile and had the door open in a flash.

Finally he was in the street just as he heard footsteps pounding down the stairs from above and what sounded like violent swearing. Bond pushed onward though, fast, heading directly to the main road but keeping to the darkest side of the street. He scanned around for any open doorways, or threat that would pop out of the shadows. The adrenaline was keeping the cold pain at bay for the time being. He surveyed his surroundings.

Dog barking.

Sirens in the distance.

Some odd night owl calling from the darkness...

Gritting his teeth against the first signs of pain sneaking into his being, he snaked through the deserted streets, moving east, waiting to find a car he could break into and get out of here, back to the safe house.



#15 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 06:17 PM


Stone The Devil


It was just before dawn when Bond finally got back to the safe house thankfully in one piece. He told Mulai about the stolen car he’d parked just down the street and one phone call is all it took for his man to suitably ‘dispose’ of it within half an hour of Bond’s appearance.

Bond went into the bathroom and stripped, leaving his blood stained clothes crumpled on the floor. After showering, he set to work cleansing the cuts and bruises with Peroxide Plus that Raisul had supplied. Thankfully he didn’t require any stitches. He daubed an antibacterial ointment into them and gritted his teeth. The bastard stung like hell. He examined the large colourful bruises and gashes just below his chest, arms, legs and back, and then dabbed a cold wet towel against them. How long could his body possibly take this kind of punishment at forty-five? He swallowed three paracetamol tablets to take care of the excruciating pain, then slipped into comfortable slacks and polo shirt. After calming his nerves, Bond went out to find Raisul already on his lap-top going through the files he had uploaded onto the C21.  

‘There’s a bottle of Teachers in that cabinet over there,’ Raisul said without looking up. ‘After what you went through last night I’ll close a blind eye to your filthy drinking.’

Bond thanked God for small miracles, found it and poured himself a very generous four fingers into a glass. He swallowed it in one go as if it were the very essence of life itself, and then immediately poured himself another.

‘You?’ he asked.


Bond sat down in one of the armchairs opposite.

‘Suit yourself.’ he said lighting up a cigarette. ‘Anything interesting on that drive?’

Raisul stretched in his chair. He’d been at it for the past hour and a half since Bond got back.

‘Most of the files deal with the major aspects of Practoz’s business operations in the Med. Times, dates, services, affiliations in Libya, you name it.’

Bond blew out a cool stream of smoke.

‘But nothing S.O.E didn’t probably already know though,’ he said.

‘There’s obviously more, much more James, but I’m no analyst which is why I’m sending it all over to Justin and his men.’

‘What about the shipment’s final destination?’

‘Al Mokhabbar Gulf Arabian.’ Raisul told him. ‘Apparently it’s a European company and multi-billion Euro deal with Libya’s National Oil Corporation. They have a refinery in Jado – not far from here.’

‘Why would they set up operation away from the actual reserves of Tobruk and Benghazi I wonder?’

‘Whatever reason, they’ve ordered a ship load of capital oil drilling equipment, which is obviously where Practoz shipping comes into it – They’re delivering spares according to the info here. Bop control systems, diverters, hydro pressure control valves, dampeners, you name it. The ship hits Sasha at 1400 hrs – The Europa Septum.’

‘Nothing out of the ordinary on that list though.’

‘Except this here: commercial aviation fuel.’

Bond raised an eyebrow at that.

‘I didn’t know there was a shortage of aviation fuel in Libya. Besides what would an oil company like that need it for?’

‘Questions I have no answers to, which is why I’ve also highlighted that particular fact for Justin.’

Raisul finished what he was doing on his lap-top and finally turned to face Bond.

‘Sent,’ he said. ‘Now then, James, what’s your next move? You do realise that after tonight’s debacle, Blofeld will know for sure you’re onto him now.’  

‘If he really is in Libya that is. Yes, that thought did cross my mind but what’s done is done. As for my next move, I think we should take a look at this Jado refinery, don’t you?’

‘We’re talking about the Libyan government’s national oil corporation, James. Shouldn’t we clear it with M first?’

‘Send a request. We’ll fly out first thing tomorrow morning though. In the meantime, the bean bloody counters at S.O.E will have all the time in the world to evaluate that info you passed on while I rest and gather back my strength. If they come up with something better then we’ll obviously act accordingly.’

‘Ok.’ Raisul lit one of his cheroots and looked closely at Bond. ‘You look absolutely terrible, James.’

Bond stubbed out his cigarette.

‘I feel worse. Which is why I’m going to put to use that fine bottle of Teachers over there and get rotten drunk. Afterwards, I’m off to sleep for a year.’

And with that James Bond got up and filled his glass to the rim…



*          *          *


The sun shimmered brightly on the marbled terrace and lush gardens below Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s inner sanctum whilst he enjoyed breakfast out there. At precisely seven a.m. one of his man-servants came out and took the silver tray.

‘Will that be all, sir?’ he asked in English.

‘Yes, thank you.’

Blofeld sat there, finishing his lemon tea, enjoying the fire up of a brand new day over Jado.

His body weighed about twenty two stone. It had once been all muscle, he remembered fondly, having been an amateur weightlifter in his younger days. In the past twelve or so years it had noticeably softened however and he now had a sizeable stomach that he veiled behind generous sized trousers and well-cut single breasted suits made from the rarest fabrics and stitched entirely by hand. Notwithstanding, his appearance was, even now at sixty-five, still as astonishing as it had been at the height of his days as Supreme Commander of SPECTRE...

SPECTRE – those were the days, he reflected regretfully, and yes, although his belly had grown and the hairs had greyed considerably, he still exuded that dominant animal magnetism; that eminence of relaxation and inner confidence that was always identifiable by the ‘herd’ as the unmistakable signs of a great ruler…

Blofeld smiled at that: A great ruler.


His thoughts were abruptly interrupted when Simon Carter came out onto the terrace and sat down at his table.

‘He’s finally reached Libya, Ernst,’ he said. ‘We believe he broke into Al Bahanni’s offices in Sasha last night.’

Blofeld gave a little nod.

‘Then the end is finally in site, Simon,’ he said, his voice soft, even.

‘The end?’ Carter asked.

‘The end of James Bond what else.’

‘I hope so because he killed three of Bahanni’s men and two policemen by the way. Doesn’t that worry you?’

‘Now why on earth should such an insignificant thing as that worry me, pray? I’ve told you before, he is just one man, Simon, one man against all this; against all odds. Besides, he no longer has British Intelligence behind him, which we now control, and more importantly Double O Seven has got so far because I simply wanted him to get so far. Remember that.’

Carter’s brow creased, his eyes becoming wary. ‘But he could turn out to be our downfall Ernst. I’ve got a very bad feeling about it.’

Simon Carter knew that he was making Blofeld weary. They’d had this discussion a million times before to no avail. In fact the Pole looked at him coldly then, very coldly; more coldly than he had ever dared before. He then calmly reached into his side-pocket, drew out a gold vinaigrette that looked like a miniature Faberge egg, and prised it open with his thumbnail. Carter watched him as he took out a violet-scented cachou and slip it into his mouth. It was, the American observed nervously, a custom his leader employed when unpleasant things had to be said, to sweeten his breath...

And finally, when Ernst Stavro Blofeld spoke again there was indeed an unadulterated and nasty evil in his voice:

‘Know this, Number 2, I am literally inspired by the pictures inside my mind of the slow, very painful death I shall deliver personally and with much gusto to the one man I see as the straight line leading to my deliverance from all the nightmares I have ever had, still have, ever since Bond killed me back in Japan that fateful day – an inspiration that will become the making of me, not my downfall. Do you understand that Number 2?’

Carter said nothing. The fact that Blofeld had just said ‘killed me’ instead of ‘nearly killed me’ summed it all up dreadfully.

He was raving mad – worse even than himself.

He then noticed that the Pole was holding Carter’s own eyes with a nasty stare. ‘I asked if you understood Number 2.’

‘Yes, Ernst, yes, I understand.’

There was nothing more he could say that would change his leader’s mind. It would simply be futile. Besides, he was scared to death of Blofeld, so instable and punishing he could be at times if he became truly aggravated. Carter would just have to hope that in the end, Bond wouldn’t jeopardise everything like he had the last time their paths had crossed – albeit Blofeld having given his reassurance then too that it had in fact all been part and parcel of his ‘great’ plan...

Great plan my arse!

Black Fox finally got up.

‘The shipment leaves Sasha tonight,’ he said severely. ‘So we should expect the fuel by tomorrow morning. I imagine Bond will follow of course.’

‘Like an ominous storm coming. I hope he does. And now, Simon, what about the aircraft though? You haven’t mentioned one thing about the final and most important phase of Apocalypse. I’m surprised.’

‘Bond disturbs me, Ernst. I’m sorry if that bothers you but it’s the truth.’

‘Of course he does, Simon. He’s the devil himself after all.’

Silence, then:

‘They’ll be ready to fly out by Thursday,’ Carter said.

‘I want the strike to happen on Sunday. That is critical. Kindly assure me that the Egyptians and the Saudis will cooperate fully when such time comes.’

‘The Brotherhood is behind us completely.’

‘That is good.’

Carter looked down at his leader for a long moment, suddenly having a vision inside his mind of the last days of Hitler. The comparison was eerie. Was this how Hitler’s top Field-Marshals, Rundstedt and Rommel, had felt when they had tried to convince the German leader of saving their troops, and Germany itself, from all but certain destruction by the British and Americans in Normandy?

No doubt, Carter concluded with a heavy heart and left him...

Blofeld turned back to the view beyond the terrace, the mountains in the distance, the deep blue sky and a soft, evil smile on his lips and in his eyes.

The silence then was total.

‘Stone the devil,’ Blofeld said softly to something to and beyond what he was actually gazing at. ‘How delightfully put…’



#16 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 03:43 PM




National League accused of ‘exploiting’ Oxford Circus Bombing

The National League has been accused of exploiting the deaths of the hundreds of innocent victims of the atrocious Oxford Circus bombing after holding a demonstration, the biggest yet, in London yesterday.

Thousands of members congregated for around an hour at 10 am, and marched from the cenotaph to Marble Arch, holding a minute’s applause in honour of the fallen.


However, some onlookers have accused the group of displaying Nazi imagery and using the victim’s deaths for political gain and to ferment hatred at the Muslim community in Britain.

Jonathan Brand, deputy chairman of the National League, said the event went without incident and they received positive feedback. However this newspaper has received reports that some National League members attacked a Mosque in North London, setting it on fire and injuring 7 people. When asked to comment on this report, Brand said:


‘The Oxford Circus bombing was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was an attack on the Christian society on a whole and the time for us has come to stop sitting around idle, waiting for this absolutely lazy government to take action. We are saying that the time has come for us to let the enemy know that we have had enough. The time has come when drastic action, just like the action taken on Iraq and Afghanistan years ago, needs to be taken now on a much wider scale.’



Asked by our journalist what he meant by a wider scale, Brand went on to say:



‘Isn’t it obvious? We need to liberate this country and others like it from the grasp of Islamic terror. We need to unite. Yes, we want war to be taken to their communities; to their lands. Enough is enough. I guess we can say "told you so". This is just the beginning of things to come. We are already seeing a full takeover of the Middle East by the Muslim Brotherhood, and then it'll be full on Jihad toward the Kaafir west. Of course our government and the Americans will continue to deny that there's a problem, which is why we are here today to expose the truth. If anyone one wants to take me to court for saying this then go ahead. I don’t care. The truth is the truth. The government needs to act decisively to this act of war and if it is incapable of doing so then we need change. Iran, Russia, China, Libya and the rest of them. They need to be taught a lesson. ’



From statistics gathered by this newspaper, it appears that the threat of violent far-right extremism against Islam has reached new levels in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States owing to the latest attacks in London, Berlin and the USA; and should not be underestimated. Most far-right terrorist groups like the National League are seeking to change the entire political, social and economic system on an extremist right-wing model mirroring more stringent national security and extreme laws reflecting NAZISM.  


It is also feared that the threat of terrorism by these far right organizations against the governments of the West and Islamic communities throughout  are most likely to emanate as attacks on major scales. There have been several cases of planned and foiled violent attacks against the Muslim communities by far-right actors across Europe over the last decade and these latest atrocities by what is believed to be splinter cells of Al Qaeda have sent such organizations up in arms like never before…



#17 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 09:56 PM


All The Loose Ends


The office was thick with smoke when M finally put the newspaper down and his only response to what the National League Deputy Chairman was reported to have said was a snorted Hrumph followed by a solid ‘What absolute tripe!’.

M got up and put his pipe, which had gone out five minutes ago, into the crystal ashtray. He then walked out with a slight expression of tension around his eyes and his personal assistant in Moneypenny’s absence, Ms Sarah Templean, got up from her desk in the outer office carrying her Android Note. She accompanied him to the lift down the corridor, stepped in with him and inserted her card into the slot. Moments later the doors slid silently shut and the box dropped rapidly to S.O.E’s Intelligence and Command Center three stories down.

They walked out into the large open work space, bustling with tense activity, and made their way to the ‘conference room’ where they found Justin, Roger Lewlston and six other heads of sections waiting around the long table. The Colonel crossed to his chair at the end and sat down, while Ms Templean sat on a normal chair to his side, ready to take minutes.

M cleared his throat and spoke.

‘This morning the Prime Minister gave me till nine this evening to convince him this operation is still relevant,’ M told them severely. ‘From Q’s latest report on the matter I doubt I will. So, please tell me the reason you’ve summoned me down here is important because I am in no mood for half-baked elucidations or ideas.’

Justin’s eyes shone with poise as he took a deep breath and spoke. ‘Thanks to Mr Lewlston here we may just have the major breakthrough we’re looking for, sir.’

M raised an eyebrow and looked Lewlston over once. ‘Very well, enlighten me then.’

Lewlston’s face reddened blazingly, now feeling everyone’s eyes on him which made him even more nervous than he already was (he was never comfortable delivering presentations; especially not to men like the Colonel). He stood up and began speaking in a soft, methodical tone (just as Justin and the others had suggested – no ‘ums’ or ‘urhs’ but clear-cut narrative).

‘Well, sir, in order to explain what I’ve come up with, first I would like to take you back to February 2012. The 14th to be more precise. 1145pm. Libya. One of our planes, a Typhoon, was shot down over Shayif whilst engaged in an air strike against Muamar Qaddafi’s forces.’

Lewlston pressed a button on the remote control he held and the screens opposite flickered on with The Time’s front page report, together with the section vis-à-vis Double O Seven’s ‘exile’ from the Intelligence Service.

‘A fateful incident that caused hardly a ripple here at home however. People hear about these sorts of things almost every time there’s a new conflict you see. Friendly fire, downed fighters, soldiers and civilians killed every day. Casualties of war. Naturally people are becoming immune to such news nowadays which is a great pity. Ever since the first Gulf War, the media has saturated people’s minds with it that one more incident such as a downed Typhoon resulting in the death of one pilot didn’t touch that deep. Even more worrying though is that it wasn’t much of a big deal to the powers-that-be either I found. It was simply dismissed as ‘regrettable’ and soon disremembered.’

M raised an eyebrow, shifting uneasily in his chair. He didn’t like that last pitch, neither the man’s choice of word: Disremembered.

‘Your point, Mr. Lewlston?’ he said.

‘Not yet, sir. Kindly forget the Typhoon for a moment, I’d like to fast forward things to the 13th January 2013. Ten months ago – Boscomb Down.’       

M watched the screen again – the front page of the Daily Telegraph appeared this time with the headline:

Hi-tech Theft From MoD Boscomb-Down Military Aircraft Testing Site

‘Stolen aviation fuel,’ Lewlston went on. ‘Approximately 6000 liters of DEFSTAN 91 – 96 AVCAT/FSII; stolen and transported off into the dead of night in one of these type of trucks.’

Lewlston pressed the button on the remote again and this time a picture of a fuel truck flickered onto the screen.

‘This is where it gets complicated so kindly bear with me sir – you will find that the pieces all come together in the end.’

M’s face and sturdy eyes remained as reserved as ever.

‘Hours after the theft, a nation wide hunt for the truck was held but it had literally vanished into thin air from the start. MI5, Special Branch, Military Intelligence, the lot. Each of those organisations were designated a particular area within the UK to find whoever was responsible for the theft and bring them to justice.’ 

‘To be expected,’ said M sternly as ever.

Lewlston nodded. ‘Now my job here sir like all the other analysts outside these glass walls is to try and make connections with the aim of finding specific links leading to a set target, history or a particular objective – in our case BLACK FOX and Blofeld. As analysts, we do this by asking questions and demanding certain responses from each mainframe computer link we have, or rather had, and then select the apposite bits and pieces to see if there are particular relations...’

‘Mr. Lewlston,’ the Colonel interrupted icily. ‘I need not remind you that NEMESIS is my initiative so there is no need for you to clarify what you do here since I selected you in person to do it in the first place. Yes, yes, from the most delicate information to the absolute mundane, your task is to go through all the information out there and see what you come up with. You seem to have lost me now so, again, kindly come to the point please. My time is limited.’

‘Of course. I apologise. To cut a long story short, before we were attacked, several words caught my attention within a couple of reports I came across skimming that Intel data - several words that in some way or the other were related, if only by name alone. Libya, primarily of course, aircraft fuel and RAF Eurofighter to name but a few. Upon closer scrutiny, this is what I came up with: First and foremost the common binding factor between Shyla Practoz’s shipping and the Boscomb Down theft.’

M looked at Lewlston, now skeptically. ‘Surely you’re not about to tell me there is one?’ he asked.

‘Indeed I am sir. You see the same type of truck used in the theft as reported by an eyewitness at Boscomb, was on one of Practoz’s cargo ships which left the UK from Southampton to Sardegna on the 14th of January 2013. Twenty four hours after the theft.’

‘Which could clearly be boiled down to coincidence, don’t you think?’ M said, not impressed at all. ‘I gather you obtained the cargo listing.’

‘Yes. Cargo listing, contents and package tracks – the lot. Rather detailed thanks to our system here. The colour of the truck was poles apart of course. The one used in the theft was black whilst the one on Practoz’s ship was red.’

‘Again, chance, Mr. Lewlston. It happens you know.’

‘Exactly what I told myself, sir.’ Lewlston told him. ‘But then I discovered that all MI5 customs officers at Southampton that day were recalled in-land to concentrate their efforts locating the truck used in the theft, just hours before an MI5 customs squad was essentially scheduled to inspect Practoz’s cargo.’

‘Now that was inappropriate.’ M observed after a moment.

‘Precisely, and the man to issue such recall was none other than Sir William Shaw. His unassuming excuse, which is recorded in the Southampton Custom’s daily log book? Lack of man-power.’

Everyone in the room was now looking at Lewlston fixedly and there was a moment of complete silence as the latest sunk in.

It was the Colonel’s tight voice that broke the silence in the end.

‘Continue, Mr. Lewlston, as you can see you have our total attention.’

‘Thank you. Logically of course I went on to dig deeper. The cargo listing did in fact show that the truck on Practoz’s ship carried fuel registered down for aviation. However it was listed down as commercial fuel. All relevant certification of codes and documentation were duly submitted by the Captain which is where I got them from, the data base of HMS Customs to be more precise, but, and there’s a big but, I also managed to establish that there exists absolutely no documentation whatsoever during that year prior to and leading up to January 2013 of any commercial aviation fuel being sold within the UK for export abroad.’

A long pause; just the right time for it to sink in.  

‘I see you’ve made an effective and very interesting correlation here, Mr. Lewlston, in that Practoz’s network may have been behind the theft and illicit smuggling of military grade aviation fuel, with Sir William Shaw’s oblique involvement, if one may call it that. But to what end, and, more importantly, what the devil has this got to do with the Typhoon shot down over Shayif?’

‘A few days after the incident over Shayif, an RAF engineering team was secretly dispatched out there from Malta to locate the wreckage and salvage what they could. Consequently, they found absolutely no trace of it.’

‘What on earth do you mean? No trace of it?’

‘Just that, sir. It had vanished. Not even a piece of scrap.’

‘Perhaps the locals cleared it up before the team got there?’ One of the head of section’s ended up saying.

‘Possible, but unlikely considering that eye-witnesses reported to the engineering team that the Typhoon did not in fact crash but had landed safely and in one piece on one of the main roads there.’

M stiffened at that. ‘Landed?’

‘There’s more. They also described that the plane was whisked away on a strange-looking truck an hour later. The fact is though, the RAF team’s hard copy report, once submitted to the relevant authority, was unfortunately lost and the case of the ‘downed’ Typhoon eventually shelved and forgotten – shelved mind you on none other than Sir William Shaw’s express orders yet again. Another thing is that I found out that anyone working on it was either transferred out of SIS or promoted. After a couple of days, people forgot about it. As I said in my opening brief - the powers-that-be simply dismissed the whole incident as a ‘regrettable’ loss that happens during times of war; and that was that.’

‘If the hard copy was ‘lost’ as you said then, Mr. Lewlston, how can you substantiate this information?’ M asked.

‘If it wasn’t for NEMESIS enabling direct access into all the intelligence data within MI6 and MI5’s computer-banks, and me not asking the right questions of course, I would have never been able to. However, after an intense search trying to find out more about this downed Typhoon everybody had conveniently ‘forgotten’, I finally ended up unearthing one last surviving copy which had been submitted to MI5 via e-mail and addressed to the Head of Division at the time. It had then been deleted from his inbox.’

‘But not completely erased,’ M put in. ‘And you found it in the trash folder I assume.’

‘Exactly sir.’

‘Well I’ll be damned. But now tell me, Mr. Lewlston, where precisely this investigation of yours is actually connected to our main target: DOMINION?’

‘Connections, sir, the rule of intelligence gathering. Seek the connections, follow and join the dots and you’ll discover the degree of connectedness within the mechanics of interconnectability.’

M nodded, a slight smile on his face. ‘Major Lawrence Grand,’ he said. ‘Section D of SIS during the Second World War. I knew the fellow well, Mr. Lewlston, practically taught me all I know within this world of cloak and daggers.’

‘And who was one of the originators of the wartime S.O.E. I know sir. Well, in this case, the so-called interconnectable factors he lectured us about were the pilot of the Typhoon and his girlfriend: Flt Lt Jeremy Pullman Blake and Sara Churchly, who of all things bright and beautiful, worked as a quality control supervisor at Boscomb Down before she died in a car crash - two days after the theft.’

‘How very convenient,’ M uttered.

‘Not only that, sir, but Flt Lt Blake and Ms Churchly had spent one month abroad together on holiday, in Sardegna of all places, just before Blake was posted to Gibraltar. I also established that Sir William Shaw made at least two calls to him during that month from his mobile.’

The Colonel’s brow was lined in thought now and his finger was drumming on the desk as what he had just been told sunk in even more.

‘And all this can be verified?’

‘I have all the facts disclosed in one complete report. However, sir, I also have two more points that make the connections to DOMINION absolutely inclusive.’

‘Have you now? Impressive, Mr. Lewlston. Impressive indeed. Do carry on then.’

‘Number one is that the ship which left the UK hauling the commercial aviation fuel is the same ship that reached Sasha Bahatt this afternoon at 1400 hrs, and according to the Intelligence Mr. Mulai Raisul sent over this morning, its final destination is Al Mokhabbar Gulf Arabian.’

M raised a curious eyebrow.

‘I forgot to mention that the RAF engineering team had reported that the truck used to whisk the plane off had the words Al Mokhabbar Gulf Arabian printed on the sides of the doors.’

And with that, Lewlston finally sat down.

His evidence had been very clear and convincing and, mildly put, sent a chill down M’s spine...

The Colonel leaned back in his chair, crossed his legs and adjusted his artificial gloved limb to rest on his lap. ‘Now then, ladies and gentlemen, your theories behind all these details just revealed?’ 

It was Justin who spoke. ‘Simple sir,’ he said. ‘Blofeld is planning to use the Typhoon for an attack. He was presented with the perfect scenario with the Libya crises. Physical opportunity at its best.’

‘Quite. Trouble is - what’s the bloody target and when is it going to happen?’

Lara Maidstone from GCHQ said, ‘I’d put my money on the Middle East and that Blofeld is out to stir the proverbial pot there, sir. Not to mention give a dog a bad name – the west that is, with us primarily the culprits.’

‘And considering he’s behind the attacks in London, Berlin and the US, it would seem he intends pitting Islam and the West at each others throats.’ M told them. ‘Things are already escalating here with the National League harping for a change in government, war against Iran, not to mention more stringent laws homeland reminiscent of National Socialism. And all this resulting in violence against the Muslim community increasing dramatically. But back to the lost Typhoon, what exactly are we dealing with here, Mr Justin?’

‘She’s armed with the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, manufactured by MBDA.’ Justin answered. ‘It’s a highly-advanced long-range weapon that can be used against a range of targets, sir, giving pilots a greater choice of weapons depending on their mission objectives. In addition to the missile armament options, the Typhoon also carries a specially developed variant of the Mauser BK-27 27mm cannon armament that was developed originally for the Tornado. It’s a single-barrel, electrically-fired, gas-operated revolver cannon with a linkless feed system, capable of firing up to 1700 rounds per minute.’

‘Dreadful,’ M said. ‘Absolutely dreadful if one is in Blofeld’s hands. Nevertheless, somebody now explain what the devil this Al Mokhabbar Gulf Arabian is.’

‘It’s a European company, sir,’ said Peter Lascow, the Signals Officer. ‘A multi million Euro deal with Libya’s national oil corporation. They own a refinery outside Sasha – a place called Jado. Commander Bond broke into Al Bahanni’s offices last night and established that it’s the cargo’s final destination.’

‘What do we know about them?’ M asked.

‘The company is perfectly legitimate and although we’re off line and in the proverbial wilderness where data links are concerned, as soon as Double O Seven’s report came through we siffed through what Intel we had managed to actually save resulting in one particular name cropping up – Anton Shelinger.’

‘Who is?’

‘A polish billionaire engineering magnate and head of this Al Mokhabbar,’ cut in Justin.

‘Polish is he?’ M’s voice was colourless.

‘Yes and he also designed the refinery. We haven’t got anything absolutely concrete on him but we do know he stirs absolutely clear of the press.’

‘An article in the New York Times dubbed him a genius recluse,’ Lewlston said. ‘They ran a profile on him several years ago but nothing substantial and, in particular, no photos. Having said that, we do know he was based in Turkey from where his business was located and that he’s terribly cautious whom he meets.’

‘The main concern is that no one throughout the Intelligence community knows exactly how he obtained the money to start such a business in the engineering field in the first place.’ Justin told him, cutting in.

‘Money on that scale does not on trees grow, sir, as we all know fine well,’ Peter Lascow said. ‘Where exactly he’s located is anyone’s guess at the moment. The French believe he’s somewhere in South America while the Israelis think he’s based in Libya – which is our guess too. The fact is though, he’s completely invisible and off all our radars.’

‘Am I right to presume then, ladies and gentlemen, that you believe this Shelinger fellow is in fact Ernst Stavro Blofeld?’

Justin looked at the Colonel firmly.

‘That is indeed our trail of thought Colonel. But as you can see there’s not much to go on and nothing substantial exists to prove it from here considering our present status, which leads us ultimately to Commander Bond’s request to check out the Jado refinery more closely.’

M grunted and there was a sharp twinkle in the old SAS Colonel’s eye. ‘Now that’s a first!’ he said gruffly.


‘Double O Seven requesting to ‘check’ something out, Mr. Justin.’                

‘The fact is the refinery also belongs to the Libyan government, sir. If Bond is caught and Blofeld isn’t after all behind it all, God knows what the political ramifications for the PM would be.’

‘I see your point, Mr. Justin, but as cruel as this may sound you forget that Bond is a wanted man and no longer works for Her Majesty’s Intelligence Service. He was kicked out for conduct unbecoming an officer within such Service.’

‘Does that mean that if anything goes wrong, you leave him out to burn?’ Lewlston asked.

‘The idiomatic expression you are seeking, Mr. Lewlston, is leave him out to dry. And Yes – that is exactly what I will do if something goes wrong, as you put it. Double O Seven is a professional however. He knows the risks fine well – always has.’

The Colonel stood up.

‘So, Mr. Justin, get the bugger on the phone immediately and tell him to pull out all the stops. I don’t care how he does it but tell him he can pull that refinery apart for all I care. I want results fast. From what you’ve reported during this meeting I have a terrifying feeling crawling up my spine. If what I think Blofeld’s target may be is true, then God help us all – we could be looking at the dawn of a clash of civilizations, ladies and gentlemen!’

‘Back up for Commander Bond, sir, just in case he does unearth the proverbial viper’s nest in Jado?’

The Colonel nodded.

‘Activate Force Intrepid, Mr. Justin. The code to proceed to stand-by position in Malta is BEDLAM.’

He crossed to the door and left.

It was Lewlston who spoke as the glass door closed behind the Colonel.

‘Force Intrepid?’ he asked Justin.

‘A top secret four-man SAS hit team on a one hour response and deployment time,’ Justin told them all. ‘The PM authorised their attachment to us a month ago. Not even 6 or 5 know it exists. The CO of 22 SAS happens to be the Colonel’s nephew so their use will be off the record and will go unnoticed. They’ll fly out on an XR72 Valkyrie Jet from a disused airfield not far from Stirling Lines and remain in Malta until Double O Seven sounds the alarm; after which they’ll be in Libya within one hour – licenced to kill of course.’

Lewlston got up, gathering his papers.

‘So let’s just hope Commander Bond is in a position to sound off the alarm if he’s caught. What if he can’t?’

‘Then, Roger, we’re simply screwed aren’t we.’



#18 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 01:09 PM


Bellum Justum


…They were flying quite low, having come in from the Nafusa mountains above the town of Jado and at that precise moment in time, unperceived by James Bond, Blofeld had looked up when the MD600c passed over the villa and had smiled nefariously as if, somehow, he knew deep inside that Bond was close by...

Double O Seven had woken up at five o’clock that morning with one hell of a splitting headache. He didn’t know if it was down to the drinking yesterday or the thrashing he’d received at Al Bahanni’s warehouse a night ago. Whatever it was, it felt as if he had a thousand out of sync orchestras booming uncompromisingly inside his skull, not to mention the fact that his mouth felt and tasted as if someone had poured a bucket of cement down it.  

He lay there, trying to focus, and then reached out for the bottle of Teachers that stood on the bed-side locker. His lips stung when he took a swig. There was just enough whisky there to set his nerves alight again. At five twenty he forced himself out of bed and after a shower minus shave, he got dressed and went out to find Raisul who had just made breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs with chives, mushrooms, plum tomatoes and Jibn Akawi cheese.

‘Justin called last night,’ Raisul had told him placing the food and a mug of strong black coffee in front of him. ‘He wanted to speak to you but you were out cold.’

‘What did he say?’ Bond asked.  

‘They want you to pull out all the stops and if necessary take the refinery apart.’

‘Which means Al Bahanni’s break-in paid off then. ’

Raisul then told him about the Typhoon and fuel theft from Boscomb and the connections to DOMINION. When he was finished, Bond’s eyes were vexed.

‘That’s all we needed,’ he said. ‘A British fighter jet manipulated to send the Middle East up into a ball of flames with the West ripe for the blame.’

‘Which is what everyone else back at S.O.E is thinking,’ Raisul told him lighting a cheroot.


‘Come on, James, the Muslim community would never believe the British would dare attack a Middle Eastern country unprovoked.’

‘Unless they were made to believe it was in retaliation for the attack on London last week.’

‘Even if the plane was used to strike a Muslim target, the British would strongly disavow it – all the way up to the UN. Again, nobody in their right mind would ever believe your Prime Minister would have been so senseless as to trigger World War Three.’

‘Thousands of Islamic extremists would though. Especially if Blofeld is working hand in hand with Al Qaeda and God knows who else here to control the propaganda circulated. It would be an excuse many have been waiting for. Just think of it. Such an attack would unite the Arab world against us. Simple as that. The great Western-Islamic clash – a reality.’

Al-jihad fi sabilillah you mean,’ Raisul said softly.

‘That’s right. The equivalent of the western notion of bellum justum – the just war.’

Raisul leaned forward. ‘I see your point, but it sounds too far-fetched to me, James,’ he said. ‘Surely Blofeld’s not that mad to think he’d get the reaction from the Muslim world you’re talking about.’

‘Then you have no idea who we’re dealing with, old friend.’ Bond told him sipping some coffee. ‘Not only is he barking mad, he’s the personification of all evil believe me. And remember, it only took two aeroplanes crashing into the World Trade Center for the United States and the UK to invade two countries – Iraq and Afghanistan. These days could be the dawn of the Arab equivalent of 9/11; this time with the attack carried out by the West.’

‘OK then, let’s say for argument’s sake you’re right, what do you think his target could possibly be?’

‘In all probabilities Iran. The Ardakan Nuclear Power Plant comes to mind at the moment – that’d do the job.’

‘Now that is what I call a doomsday scenario, James. Yes, the Iranians would go absolutely livid.’

‘And in counter to such a strike, they’d almost certainly launch missiles at Israel, being the closest semi-western country.’

‘Not to mention at the same time order Hezbollah and Hamas to launch theirs too, which no doubt would result in all out war, with the Americans joining in to stand up for Israel.’

‘And Russia and China for Iran.’ Bond told him. ‘As I said, the Middle East up in flames, if not the world. There are of course a dozen other targets DOMINION could go for. Take for example the Dome of the Rock Mosque in Jerusalem. One British Meteor is all it would take to bring it down and in turn send Muslims around the world up in arms against the West like never before.’

The Dome of the Rock was a 7th-century edifice located in Jerusalem. It enshrines the rock from which Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven. Sometimes erroneously called the Mosque of Umar, from a tradition that it was built by Caliph Umar I, the Dome of the Rock was actually built by Caliph Abd al-Malik between 687 and 691... 

‘A terrifying scenario, James.’

‘If we don’t find Blofeld soon, I have a feeling we’ll be dealing with a terrifying reality, Mulai.’ Bond told him.

Mulai Raisul sat back thinking about it all, his brow creased in concern. It was too horrifying to even contemplate.

Truly the ultimate nightmare.

‘Let’s hope I’m wrong naturally,’ Bond told him. ‘Now then, what time can we leave for Jado?’

‘Just as soon as you eat that. On the other hand, are you sure you’re up to it though? You still look as if you’ve been through the killing grounds twice over.’

‘I’m fine,’ Bond said quietly and continued eating.

Mulai Raisul looked at him doubtfully but said nothing – he had never seen James Bond look as bad as he did then, and it wasn’t down to his physical appearance. No, there was a coldness about him that morning – an eerie coldness that made the Arab shiver, as if somewhere, death herself had just passed over his grave...


*         *         *


…The dessert they had just flown over was wild, ruthless. At one point it had appeared to support no human settlement at all and the only things they had set eyes upon apart from the ocean of golden sands and hills, were a long railway track running non-stop from Sasha to Jado, flanked by a single major road and an oil pipeline.

‘There she is – Al Mokhabbar Arabian Gulf, James,’ Raisul’s voice crackled through Bond’s headphones ten minutes approximately out of Jado.

The refinery had a total of eight oil units, which was rather small compared to other refineries Bond had ever come across. Notwithstanding its size, the plant was still a horrific jumbled network of steel and concrete towers spewing white miasmas of smoke into the stunning blue sky. It was a terrible scar in the golden landscape – a scar of twisted metal pipes, cross section plates with steel tower catwalks every where one looked and four huge and wide silver tanks, two to three stories high, making out the plant’s perimeter. The whole place was cut off by a high wire fence. Raisul flew past, keeping relatively high and making directly west so as not to make it obvious they were conducting an aerial reconnaissance.

‘Shall I pass over again?’ he asked.

‘That’ll do. Put her down somewhere and let me out though.’


‘I’ll make my way to a vantage point and await darkness,’ Bond told him. ‘You get back to Sasha and wait for my call. If you don’t hear from me by midnight I’ll leave the rest to your better judgement, old friend.’

Mulai Raisul looked at Bond as if he’d gone completely mad.

‘James that’s utterly pathetic. First and foremost do you have any idea how hot it gets out here till the sun downs? Besides what the hell are you going to do all alone?’

‘You forget I fought in both Gulf wars,’ Bond told him. ‘I know how unforgiving a dessert can be.’

Raisul shook his head but put the chopper down some two miles north of the plant. Bond got out, took the back-pack he’d prepared earlier at the maisonette and slung it across his shoulder.

‘Remember, give me till midnight before you call in the cavalry.’

‘You’re a bloody lunatic, Bond!’ Raisul shouted above the noise of the whirling rotors but he had already made his way onwards…


*         *          *


The sun burned like a living thing in the perfect blue sky and five minutes into his march, James Bond was reminded of the true meaning of the word hot. He had now stripped down to his waist, wearing a flimsy charcoal grey t-shirt, having tied the sleeves of the 5.11 tactical suit around his waist. Before leaving Sasha that morning, he had applied a very strong sun block to his face, neck and arms. He was now sweating like a pig and the sun seemed to fill the whole sky. He kept going, pausing to rest every so often and taking sips of water from his bottle. It was indeed rough going in the soft sand and he cursed himself for drinking too much last night. Further on, he came across the remains of a fort dating back to when the Italians occupied the country and strangely it made him call to mind his time in the Gulf Wars; behind Iraqi lines with the SAS before the wars actually started. (Seconded to Hereford from the Double O Division to lead a four man SAS team, their task was to locate and destroy Scud launchers which everyone knew Saddam would use on Israel in order to cause a split in the anti-Iraqi coalition and possibly get Iran on his side to join the fight against the west. Bond had volunteered then and it took a hell of a lot convincing the Division’s preceding M, Barbara Mawdsley, to accept his request for secondment. It had been a younger Bond then though, fresh faced and full of youthful strength and dare, who had marched and fought with the SAS and the SBS in those two wars)...

It took him well over an hour to reach the high part of this area, called the Jebel Kafra, passing the great Harouji Mountains to the east. Thankfully a wind had stirred earlier, cooling his body somewhat but Bond had to cover his mouth and nose with a scarf against the fine particles of sand carried with it. It was 1500 hrs now and he was exhausted, mentally and physically. He would rest once he found an adequate ‘observation post’ though. He had really given it all he had marching up to this point – a featureless ground, most parts soft golden sands, others hard bedrock and crimson feldspar. The isolation out here was uncanny to say the least. Bond pushed himself through a dried up wadi and from the looks of the white clouds of smoke lifting into the blue sky, appreciated that he was close to the refinery. He climbed over the frame of another rise and scanned the area for higher grounds. Bond found it – a suitable rocky hill to his right. He heard a dog barking in the distance and pulled his knife out of its sheath intuitively. It was probably part of the plant, a guard dog. Could be more around but Bond had no problem killing them when and if the time came. The wind moaned stronger now, more sand carried with it as he drifted on up the rough climb to the front. Finally he reached what he decided was the perfect ‘Obs Post’, a group of rocks, cave like, halfway up the slope and overlooking the plant below. He climbed in, gratified to be out of that roasting, vindictive sun and in the cool shade of cover. He un-slung the haversack and slumped down, drinking water. He could kill for a cigarette but that was definitely a no-go; the smell would be carried a mile away out here.

Bond had a small pair of binoculars and he looked down at the plant and its surroundings. He noticed there were several oil trucks, water bowsers and a couple of civilian Land Cruisers near what looked like the plant’s office and accommodation blocks. Looking north, Bond saw some pylons some kilometres away that ran towards Jado, almost certainly parallel to the road and train track. He breathed in deeply and checked his satellite phone for reception. Strong.

Good, he thought and after sorting himself out, decided to rest and hopefully gather his strength…


*          *         *


James Bond had no idea how long he had dozed off. Half an hour? Two? Perhaps three the most. When he eventually did open his eyes (something had caused him to wake up) a sharp blinding pain shot through his head and he winced. It took a few moments to subside and he felt nausea overcome him. He took a few sips of water and sought out what had disturbed him. It was the sound of a helicopter, coming in low towards the plant; an Alouette III – that unmistakable unique sound of its engines disrupting the stillness out there. Bond watched it swoop in and land on the concrete pad near the office block. He grabbed the glasses and focussed on the two men who got out; and it was there and then that he finally saw evil in its most vile...

Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Bond felt his skin crawl.

Blofeld – the man who had crawled from the depths of hell; the devil bound to dear Tracy’s death!

For want of a damn good sniper rifle to send him back to hell along with the man SIS had codenamed BLACKFOX – Simon Carter.


He watched them both being greeted by a man who had just appeared from the offices further on, a Libyan wearing boiler-suit and yellow safety helmet. He actually gave them a low bow. They spoke for a couple of minutes, clear from the slowing Alouette rotor blades and Bond focussed the glasses on Blofeld’s face. He hadn’t changed one bit! Older, yes, but still the same man Bond remembered and had had only God knows how many nightmares about. He then fixed them on the man accompanying him. He didn’t look one bit like the Simon Carter he knew from all the photos and video footage he’d scrutinised at SIS; but then that was to be expected of course and he recalled that fateful day on Mont Ciel in Switzerland when Carter had told him:

I want you to take a really good look at this face, Mr. Bond, and remember it because it’s the last time you’ll ever see it. D’you know why? Because by tomorrow night I’m going to have a new one. Total face transplant is what they call it nowadays and for two million dollars I’m getting the full works. A whole new face and a whole new identity, Mr. Bond, which’ll obviously get all you dogs off my back once and for all...

Bond watched them make their way to the offices and disappear inside. He sat up with his back against the wall. Now what?

Call in the cavalry?


First he needed to find out what was going on down there and by the looks of it they were going to take their time, the Alouette’s rotors coming to a complete stop and the pilot getting out to stretch...

Bond fixed his thoughts.

First things first.

He needed to put in a call to Mulai and advise him of the developments. After which, he would go down and take a look inside what he now referred to as the vipers nest







#19 Harry Fawkes

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 11:27 PM


The Devil Will Take You Now, Mr. Bond


…‘Good evening, James.’

The voice was familiar, pulling him back from his dream. It was a voice from the past. Bond opened his eyes and found himself still dangling there from the ceiling. He was facing the furthest wall, his back towards whoever had just spoken.

Focus, James. Clear your mind. Remember, strength depends on the absolute clarity of that mind…

‘Are you all right up there, old boy?’ the voice said. ‘You look a little pale.’

Bond finally realized who it was who was speaking – Simon Carter, the man they called BLACK FOX.

‘Wakey, wakey, James. Come on, time to face your fate. He’s been waiting for this moment for years you know. I’m sure you understand who I mean.’

‘My people know about this place, Carter.’ Bond said finally. ‘They know about you and Blofeld.’

Carter sneered. ‘Bluff will get you nowhere. Your ‘people’, as you so confidently put it, now work for us. We know you’ve been solo for the past year – out in the wilderness, Bond, all alone, after being fired. We know everything you see, old boy, not to mention we’ve been watching your every move ever since you got back to the UK after the Mont Blanc fiasco.’ He waved a dismissive hand. ‘You’re just a pathetic insignificant gnat. That’s what you are, Bond, an insignificant gnat in Blofeld’s great scheme of things.’

‘And you?’ Bond asked.

‘What about me?’

‘What are you in all this – in Blofeld’s great scheme of things that is?’

‘Oh, my goodness gracious me, of all the questions,’ Carter said. ‘I could tell you all about it but you wouldn’t understand, old boy. You’re the enemy, Bond.’

‘You’re just as mad as Blofeld.’

‘And you’re dangling upside down naked from the ceiling, bitch.’ Carter breathed in deeply and delivered an overwhelming blow to Bond’s kidneys. The force of the punch made him swing forwards and he couldn’t help letting out a cry in pain. Again Carter punched him, twice, three times, a cold fury, a boxer beating a punching-bag hysterically. Bond swung to and fro, twisting around wildly from the rope around his ankles. It took several moments for Carter to stop and then when he finally did, the sound of footsteps echoed down the corridor outside, getting closer…


Bond’s heart sank at the echo and he suddenly felt the clammy hands of fear run down along his spine making the pain of Carter’s beating seem trivial.

The devil and his reckoning, Bond thought. Finally here.


The breaking key in all torture sessions.

Whoever had been approaching this cell was now inside…

‘Ah, Ernst, we were just wondering when you’d show up,’ Carter said rather breathless as Blofeld came in. ‘I do hope this set-up is to your pleasure.’

Blofeld’s eyes, as they took in the scene before him, said it all.

‘Yes, I thought it would,’ Carter said, licking his lower lip, a wild crazy smile on his flushed face. ‘The devil will take you now, Mister Bond, and I do hope you enjoy it, old boy. I’m sure Ernst here will. Perhaps I’ll join you both later. We’ll see. Lots of things to do and not much time to do it as the old saying goes.’

Carter then turned and laughing like the mad hatter left, the iron door clanging shut behind him…


Blofeld stood there, looking up at Bond, eyes glowing – the hunter devouring his prize catch. His hands were clenched behind his iron rod-straight back. Meanwhile, Bond had caught his breath, severely winded from Carter’s violent punches. He managed to coil himself towards his arch-enemy, looking up at the face he recognized simply as the personification of evil itself...

‘Welcome, Double O Seven,’ Blofeld told him, his voice echoing in the room. ‘I’ve been expecting you. I much regret that it has taken so long for our paths to cross again though.’

To say the devil’s smile then put the fear of God into Bond’s being would indeed be putting it mildly…


*       *       *


James Bond had decided to put in the call to Raisul and inform him of Blofeld’s presence at the plant just before making his way down to the ‘vipers nest’. He knew what the Arab had had in mind before he had spoken the words.

‘Let me call the stand-by team in Malta, James. They’ll be here in an hour. Let them do their thing. I want you to stand-down now. Wait until INTREPID gets there and I’ll come for you.’

Bond had disagreed.

Now was the moment.

He couldn’t afford losing his targets now that he had found them.

‘There’s no way I’m going to be hauled in now Mulai,’ he had said. ‘Do not, I repeat, do not activate Force INTREPID. I’ve still got to find out what’s going on down there which means I’m going to play this one by my own rules and alone.’

‘I’m sorry James I don’t see any sense or logic in that…’

Bond swore. ‘Mulai for God’s sake we’re wasting precious time here. Please do as I say. If you don’t hear from me by midnight then make the bloody call.’

And with that Bond cut off and made his way down to the plant…


*          *          *


He had come prepared. The PPQ complete with silencer and eight fully loaded magazines, the Russian SKV and the ‘tool kit’ minus, unfortunately, the EMP device.

It was now getting dark and the air was suddenly cooler as he came up a low rise closer to the plant. Bond stretched out and surveyed the plant again: beyond the wide, twisted heap of metal pipes, concrete towers, cross-section plates and steel tower catwalks, stood the long and wide oblong building Blofeld and Carter had been ushered into.

The compound was neat and orderly.

The moon, not quite full this evening, illuminated the ‘Vipers nest’ eerily; a pale glow that filled James Bond’s gut with a tight knot feeling.

As he finally reached the fence, he found himself thinking of other missions he’d been on, or rather, had survived. He also pondered on the other dangerous criminals whom he had fought throughout the years and had nearly died fighting – men like Dr No, Sir Hugo Drax, Auric Goldfinger, Buonaparte Ignace Gallia (alias Mr. Big), Riesha Goethe and last but not least the man called Midas Gold, to name but a few.

None of those villains though chilled his blood, his very soul even, more than Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Hence, most probably, the depressing feeling he now experienced as he cut the wire fence before him.

A close friend had once told him nobody cheated death for as long as he had and that it was only a matter of time until that death would have Her way.

True, he thought, he had been lucky a hundred times over. He had suffered greatly though, both mentally and physically, at the hands of the likes of Le Chiffre, Colonel Moon, Amon Locke, and all the other numerous sadistic demons he had crossed in his life.

But when it came to death, luck had been his partner…

So far, that is.

Could this last mission he had embarked on, codenamed ROYAL GAMBIT by Moneypenny a year ago, be the one Bond finally lost the game?

He breathed in deeply to steady his nerves and went through the gap he had just cut.

Not without taking Blofeld with him to hell, he thought and was in...


*          *            *


The Libyan guard lit a cigarette with cupped hands and Bond moved so swiftly that he didn’t know what hit him.

The razor sharp blade drove into his back, slicing through his spine like a red-hot knife through butter, and his mouth dropped open. Bond’s left hand, cupped, covered it though blocking the scream that was coming and the Libyan stared into the beyond in complete horror as his life slipped away. His body went limp in death and Bond guided him to the ground.

He extracted the SKV and wiped the blade clean on the Libyan’s green shirt, dragging him away and concealing his body as best he could in some shadows opposite. He took his radio and darted forward, a sinister silhouette in the night.

There was another guard further on, beyond the oil trucks, water bowsers and civilian Land Cruisers parked there. He had an AK slung across his left shoulder, looking bored rotten.

He stamped his feet against the cold and Bond was onto him like a panther, slitting his throat from behind.

The guard only had time to open his mouth soundlessly before dying.

Bond then darted along a narrow path towards the oblong building further on. Arc lights illuminated most of the entrance area but the corners of the building were darkened – only a light in one of the windows facing him. As he progressed to the darkest side however, he noticed a camera above the only door – on the left side, arcing towards him. Bond inclined, and then veered towards the aluminum window, crouching low.

Once there he paused to catch his breath and listened...


*          *          *


There was only the deep powerful sound of the plant, alive, booming and thumping like the profound heartbeat of a gigantic monster, dormant.

The dragon of Jado, Bond reflected grimly.

Et tu, Bond?

St George perhaps?

Bond smiled at that.

He checked the window, peering through into a brightly lit locker room. No one was about and thankfully the window was unlocked. In the distance he heard a dog bark. Bond lifted the latch and quickly slipped through the opening. There were about twenty metal lockers there, some of them open and showing various items of clothing.

He produced his PPQ, screwed on the silencer and advanced to the grey door. He tried the handle and it opened into a dimly lit lino-covered corridor. At a farther doorway he halted, hearing muffled voiced. Two men. Laughter. The sound of music, low, Arabic music.

How long did he have until someone stumbled across the two dead bodies he’d left littering the compound?

He then heard the flooring creak behind him – a feint sound, footsteps approaching.

Bond turned.

The sound had come from the corridor on the left of the locker room. He darted to another door on his right, took a deep breath and pushed it open, ready to shoot whoever was in there. Thankfully though the room was empty. A kitchen, spacious, fragrant with the lingering smell of oil, garlic and other spices from no doubt the evening meals. He saw the illuminated clock above the oven. 1915.

Bond moved behind a long counter, the PPQ in a deadly poise just in case whoever was coming down the corridor decided to come inside here.

Bond’s muscles were tense, his eyes black slits. Two minutes. Three. Four. Five minutes

No one entered.

Bond relaxed and moved to the window just above the sink, looking outside. Nothing – just empty darkness. Then he spotted a glow – red, from a cigarette – revealing a guard near the fence further. He would have to locate Blofeld and Carter fast. Again, it wouldn’t be long now until someone stumbled upon the two dead bodies...

Bond proceeded out and this time opened the door he had checked out earlier; just an inch, enough to peer through. The room was an outer office, three men chatting at a round table, filling cabinets on their left, a wide mahogany-topped counter on their right.

The building’s reception area.

Bond closed the door silently and continued along the corridor deeper into the building, the PPQ ever ready. The place was air conditioned and he felt cool in the 5.11 tactical suit. He came to a flight of steps leading down deeper into the building. Bond raised a curious eyebrow and followed the stairs down into what looked like a large underground storage area. He paused and took the place in – there were water and fuel pipes (???), air condition channels and what looked like state-of-the-art underground life-support systems. A corridor further on led to a longer, central passage that in turn led to a glowing-red tunnel.

‘Tis the way to dungeons and dragons, Bond thought as he advanced cautiously – making sure there were no CCTV cameras in the ceiling.

Security seemed rather lax somehow, considering, Bond observed. The walls of the tunnel were coated with Amotex Linum and Bond noticed the large pipes set below the ceiling all the way along the tunnel walls to the furthest wall ten meters away facing him. All the pipes and underground life-support-systems broke off and trailed downwards beneath the floor he was on.

Bond came out of the tunnel, approaching a metal door.

It was secured with an electronic swipe card lock.

He cursed – for want of the EMP device!

There was no handle and no lock, therefore no way of ‘picking’ it.

Bond looked around desperately.

The whole place beyond the tunnel was well lit, with white lighting strips protruding from the ceiling. The size of this place did not tally with the way it looked from the outside, he thought.

Very efficient, Blofeld. Very efficient indeed which meant the answers to his quest lay beyond that very door…


*          *          *


Bond had no option but to wait for someone to either come out of that door or go in.

He had moved over to a neat stack of empty crates on his left, not far from what looked like a fire door, crouching low out of site, and silently prayed it wouldn’t take long. It was about twenty minutes later however when a young man dressed in black and carrying a large tool box appeared. Bond thought it was probably the same man who had joined the other two in the outer office earlier. He stopped before the door and swiped his card. There was a loud ‘bleep’ and ‘snap’ and the indicator flashed red. The door opened to his touch.

Bond quickly shifted and darted across like a flash.

As the young man was about to close the door behind him, he suddenly felt the cold metal of Bond’s pistol dig hard into his neck, just below his ear.

The man froze.

Bond pushed him on into the dimly lit room and closed the door. They were in what looked like a private office – a computer stood on a wide desk, two filling cabinets and a leather couch. There was another door, steel, to their right and Bond knew that was his next point of entry.

The young man turned towards him, instinct no doubt – face the danger, and Bond immediately recognized him as a thug. Everything about him told him so and from his eyes, he also knew he was a trained thug.

‘One chance,’ Bond said in Arabic. ‘Where can I find them?’


Not even a flicker in his eyes.

‘Carter and Blofeld! Where are they?’


‘Suit yourself,’ Bond told him finally and shot him through the heart once. The blood drained from his face within seconds – eyes widening in death, mouth open in silent protest. And then he dropped.

‘Work for the devils and pay the price, son,’ Bond said softly and took his swipe card.

He crossed to the steel doors opposite and passed it through the slot. When the door slid open Bond realized it was a lift. He stepped inside and the door shut immediately. It began to descend (there were no floor numbers or buttons which meant one destination).

Bond thought about how the hell he was going to get out of here if and when the proverbial mess hit the fan.


Did he actually care about that now?

Bond was beyond escape – fact.

There was, he realized starkly, only one thing on his mind: killing Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Nothing else mattered.

He suddenly remembered the conversation he’d had with M back in Sardegna:

‘Blofeld wants me to find him, sir.’ Bond had told him.

‘What do you mean?’

‘I’m now certain I was given those leads by Practoz’s personal assistant by design.’

There had been a slight unnerving pause at the other end, Bond remembered.

‘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 had cut in sharply. ‘I assure you I have no intention of walking that particular path again. You have my word...’

You have my word!

And then Bond thought of Tracy again. The only woman he had truly loved; the woman he had decided to marry and eventually leave the Double O Section for. His mind went back to that moment they were driving to Kitzbuhel for their honeymoon. Those last few minutes before the devil dealt his hand. Again, he thought, it had all been his fault and that in itself was the demon inside him, eating away at his soul; his very being. The fact was 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.  


I assure you I have no intention of walking that particular path again. You have my word.

He had lied to M and Moneypenny.

Bond’s mind then went back to Japan. 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?

Why indeed?

Bond then watched himself again escaping in the balloon, the plunge into the sea off Kuno Island, and finally Kissy, sweet Kissy, who had saved his life...

But he now knew that is not how everything had happened and the job had been left unfinished – the death of Blofeld had been left unfinished.

The lift came to a stop two or three stories underground and the door opened up into another corridor, circular, dimly lit with red lights.

Bond went on, silent, the PPQ ready for action. He followed the pipes and cables below the ceiling – no idea where he was going. Like the walls above him the one’s down here were coated with Amotex Linum, no windows or doors, just the red creepy glow the lights cast – and the soft humming of machinery coming from deep below.

The heart of the beast.

There was a large brightly lit room further up ahead. This place, whatever it had been built for, had been built with the greatest of skill – years no doubt in the making. Cool air surrounded him from the conditioners high up in the walls. Bond finally paused, moving closer against the wall and looked through into the room ahead.

It was a semi-circular control room of sorts. Another steel door was set at the far end and two men, dressed in black and Caucasian, German by the looks of them, sat at two desks typing away at PCs, a long control bank to their left. Bond then noticed two small video cameras set high in the corner of the wall where the steel door was. A thin black wire emerged from the cameras and protruded into the ceiling above.

Now what Double O Seven?

How was he going to pass into that room without sounding off the alarm?

At precisely 2000 hrs, he heard footsteps and shouts behind him followed by a high-pitched wail of a sound from the ceiling.

The bloody alarm!

Bond cursed and there was a loud blast. A bullet ricocheted off the wall close to his head. He ducked and saw the two ‘Germans’ get to their feet in a rush, reaching for their guns. Bond stepped inside, raising his PPQ and shot them both in the head – two dull thuds, clean kills. He darted across and took cover behind the control bank, opening up a volley of fire at a guard who came racing through. He was lifted off his feet and thrown back, blood spouting from his neck.

Another Caucasian, Bond noted.

The moment was here and now, Bond thought as he braced himself for the oncoming assault.

It had been too good to be true that he had succeeded in getting as far as he had within the ‘Vipers nest’ without notice.

Now he either fought, or surrendered.

The choice was his.

Another Caucasian appeared at the opening opposite Bond, this time a female dressed in black fatigues and carrying what looked like a Heckler and Koch.

Bond ducked as bullets hurled around him, pieces of wood splintering into the air. He gritted his teeth and darted up, not wanting to be a sitting duck for whatever was coming next. He fired wildly as bullets dangerously zipped passed him through the air and fired his own PPQ in the classic two handed grip position. The bullets thumped into the female’s chest and she was thrown back dead.

Bond rushed to the door, the young man’s swipe card in hand.

‘Stop!’ a voice shouted behind him.

Bond frantically tried the card.

Once – twice.

The door remained shut.

‘Stop or you die!’

The accent was Arabic Bond noted.

He turned and his PPQ spat fire again. The man who’d shouted ducked, avoiding the three rounds by an inch. Bond jumped to the floor and as he did so the steel door opened and a hand appeared, throwing what looked like a hand grenade towards him.

Bond’s heart sank as he was just about to roll towards the desk closer to him and then there was a blinding flash and deafeningly loud explosion, disorienting Bond completely.

Flash Bang, was all he could think before four Libyan brutes entered the room from the open door and were onto him like wild animals in for the kill...


*         *          *


…And now, in the present, back in the brightly lit room, only God knows how far underground below the Jado refinery, hanging naked upside down from the ceiling, James Bond was finally in the presence of the devil himself – Blofeld – the man he had sworn to destroy.

The moment was here and now, and James Bond had never been so scared in his life…

‘Welcome, Double O Seven,’ Blofeld told him, his voice echoing in the room. ‘I’ve been expecting you...’