by Church Edgeley
In 1952 Special Branch Agent Gala Brand and a then unnamed member of Her Majesty’s security services successfully thwarted a plot to sabotage the new MOONRAKER ballistic missile. They parted as friends.
Four years later in 1956 James Bond decided to accept Ms Brand’s invitation to meet for lunch.
Sections in italics are directly taken from or described by Ian Fleming in the novel ‘Moonraker’
MAY 1952, 10.45pm, Thursday evening, South Coast of Britain
The public bar at the World Without Want was once again filled with foreigners. The large number of Germans that came to drink at the pub had slowly driven out the locals, but with the frequent patronage of millionaire Sir Hugo Drax the landlord was hardly worried.
Especially, as Germans, they could really appreciate a pint. At least this time they had one of the British officers with them. Once again Major Tallon, security chief at Drax’s top secret experimental ICBM base on the Kent coast, tried to steer them away from discussing the obvious in a public bar.
“For God’s sake gentlemen, be sensible, we shouldn’t be talking about this out loud in a public place. We don’t know who is listening..” he loosened his top button and reached for his pint again, adding mischievously “.. wouldn’t you rather talk about the rocket?”
Most of the Germans, who had been in Britain since the end of the war, caught the irony and smiled, those that didn’t laughed along. They looked a lot more human when not wearing Drax’s lab coat uniforms. And at least they weren’t talking about events in Suez.
“No” said Walter, sucking the London Pride from his handlebar moustache “we want to KNOW!”
“We want to know Major” jumped in Eric, the line of his pencil thin moustache jumping “We want to know if she works for THE OTHER SIDE”
One of the other Germans brushed pork scratchings off his shirt and contributed a folksy phrase in German which sailed straight past Tallon’s understanding of the language.
Walter rotated his hand, as if cranking the language skills of the others into action “In English.. what is the English.. if she.. bats for the other team...”
Tallon caught on and roared with laughter, exchanging an amused glance with the Barman.
“No! No.. she’s a good healthy girl! shes likes the men!”
He kept his true thoughts to himself. If his wife became aware of the success which followed the recent trip to see that James Dean movie in Dover, life at home in Hertfordshire could get difficult once again. The girl had been coy and controlled so far but a full conquest of that luscious figure could not be far off.
“Sir Hugo has different opinions” queried Walter. Cigarette and pipe smoke hung in the air as if temporarily detached from the centuries of tar discolouring the walls around them.
“Drax is fantasising about his secretary. That’s entirely natural”
The girl was obviously not attracted to Hugo Drax. The fact that Drax was a Knight, a self-made multimillionaire and financier and visionary behind Britain’s independent ballistic missile program, code named MOONRAKER, seemed to mean nothing to her beyond the job in hand.
As this job was to be an undercover Special Branch agent keeping an eye on the program (while working as Drax’s secretary) the German scientists happened to be correct in their suspicion, even if a degree of understandable sexual frustration at her severe and somewhat over professional manner seemed to be clouding their imaginations.
Luckily for Tallon, like most Wrens, she preferred a man in uniform. And was discrete, and smart enough to realise he was not about to risk his marriage and career for someone so embarrassingly young; though he could barely keep his fantasies to himself. Tallon had thought the girls during the war, even those in uniform, could be pretty racy, but this new generation...
“You boys need some Frauleins brought over. You need a distraction”
“From what?” responded Walter immediately “The missile? or...”
The heavy exterior door to the public bar swung open to the night air. In marched another one of the German scientists from the Kingsdown facility. Sweating profusely through the lab coat he still wore, he moved straight up to Tallon to stand right in front of him.
He shouted directly at Tallon’s face.
“I LOVE GALA BRAND. I WILL NOT LET YOU HAVE HER”
Then, reaching into the long white pocket on this right, he pulled out what was instantly recognisable to all as a Luger, it’s accusatory barrel pointing at Tallon like a Gestapo finger. The scientist pulled the trigger without hesitation. Once, leaving a neat purple hole in the Major’s right cheek, and twice, boring a crimson tunnel between two startled eyes.
While Tallon was still twitching, the scientist jabbed his right arm up in a Nazi salute and shouted a tortured “HEIL!”, before forcing the smoking Luger up against the roof of his mouth and blasting the contents of his forebrain over the horse brasses attached to the beams above. The body collapsed backwards over a table and chair, as what was once Major Tallon slumped over the ashtray in front.
The glass in the barman’s hand slipped through his fingers and smashed on the greasy stone floor behind the bar. None of the Germans moved.
1956 May, Tuesday, 1.30pm
“SPEND IT QUICKLY MR BOND”
Bond paid for a Whisky and soda. After only four years the nicotine had stained the fresh white paint a sickly beige colour. It could do with a fresh coat. The private bar at the World Without Want had been repainted along with the public bar. The repainting had been financed by Drax after Tallon’s murder.
Drax had been less generous with Bond. After being comprehensively out-cheated in an epic game of Bridge Drax had promised to wire Bond his winnings after the first test firing of his new rocket.
“SPEND IT QUICKLY MR BOND”
There was a jukebox in here now. It was playing.. what was that?
In the intervening four years World Without Want had lost its bar billiards table and gained a juke box playing the latest 45s. Britain was changing quickly, though not in the way Drax had planned. If the average man in the street had an inkling of what had come so close to happening in that uncertain spring four years ago the current fuss over Suez would seem very small beer indeed.
A couple of young ugly women, both wrapped in red scarves, sat within the snug, just within earshot. They were sharing a cigarette and struggling through small talk on the subject of a television program called "What’s My Line?". Bond didn't watch television and he blamed it for the increasing coarseness of English culture. It was a different world. Snippets of their lunchtime conversation drifted through the frosted glass.
"You look a bit solemn"
'I ain't goin abart with him no more'
Bond seemed to spend less and less time in England and increasingly he preferred it that way.
He was wearing a suit in a black and white Glen Urquhart check. The blue over check complimented the new blue felt trilby which currently sat on the table next to his gunmetal cigarette case. He was fighting off irritability, currently smoking upwards of 50 cigarettes a day, his body struggling to compensate for the loss of adrenaline and occasionally amphetamines that coursed through his body when working for queen and country.
He had enjoyed the drive back down to Kingsdown, though it sought to highlight the deficiencies of his current car. Perhaps this would be it’s last outing. The Moonraker business four years ago had been the last run of this previous car, the beloved Bentley 4.5 litre. That old girl had finally proved herself in a match with a far more modern vehicle and had expired in a wreck that could, perhaps should, have claimed the lives of them both.
His current vehicle, the Bentley Mark VI was replacement gift from the Service and though the relationship between driver and vehicle has started well, love had never blossomed between the two while Bond still grieved for the other. Though the Mark VI did not have the inconvenience of 8-10 gallon mileage, and did handle corners with a degree of grace, the plush leather and sandalwood interior hid a Bentley constructed in post war austerity, where the old 4.5 litre Bentley was a raw symbol of those halcyon inter war years.
Bond, an ex-racing driver, had loved to tinker with the innards of the 4.5litre. The Mark VI had no racing pedigree, and this was bad enough, but it’s pretentions of modernity and luxury were exposed when the hood was lifted and the private parts exposed. Cheap lower class metals of the post war austerity almost invited rust. The metal, (and mental), fatigue running beneath 1950s Britain was there for all to see. This had never been more apparent than now, on this Dover run, retracing the 4.5 litres heroic final hours as it chased Drax’s 300C Mercedes through Kent.
The scenery had changed little since he’d last seen it. Dover was still rebuilding after the war, ever more evidence of the Americans and their military (Bond knew RAF Manston had been selected as the base for their new generation of bombers). The only obvious omission from the poetry of his earlier visit was the South Goodwin Lightship, lost with only a single survivor in the maritime disaster two years before.
He checked his watch. She was late. He was not accustomed to being kept waiting by the fairer sex and it was an impatience which only increased with age. The hands of his Rolex Submariner, accustomed to the golden glow of Florida, and the Caribbean ticked swung impatiently in the cheeky British seaside light.
He remembered their previous dinner date, four years before, with some discomfort.
There he had been, waiting in Regents Park for her in the sunshine, knowing she would be on time. Still flooded with relief at the end of the mission, optimism blinded him to any other outcome than getting the girl. He’d reserved the corner table at his favourite restaurant, and in his head was planning their holiday. James Bond and Gala Brand would disappear off into the sunset at the end of the Moonraker business and all would end happily ever after.
She had arrived looking nervous, wearing her black beret at a rakish angle, looking exciting and mysterious, somehow more desirable and unattainable than anyone he'd ever known.
She didn't sit down with him. Over her shoulder Bond spotted the tall figure of a young man with his hair trimmed short.
“I’m going to marry that man. Tomorrow afternoon. His name is Detective inspector Vivian”
“Bastard” thought Bond.
Then she’d waved the engagement ring at him as if warding off a vampire with a crucifix.
They had parted as friends, on good terms. Days before they had shared a suicide pact beneath an atomic rocket. It was anti-climactic to say the least.
The invitation for this reunion had come through the Service, suggesting it was work related. M was encouraging, almost insistent that 007 take any opportunity to rest after an intense period of employment for HMSS. After a near fatal poisoning the previous year Bond had been sent to Jamaica to recuperate, only to stumble into another Russian operation to interfere with rocket missile development in the west. This had been far from restive and M had suggested/ordered from London that Bond take the rest of 1956 as holiday after tying up some loose ends.
He had quickly shaken off the jet lag on the flight back from New York. As promised he had delivered his charge to the plastic surgeon who would fix her broken nose. The beautiful Jamaican woman standing smart proud and smiling in that chic New York office, had looked hardly out of place. She had become instantly an American.
“Take one last look at this James” she'd had said, pointing to the injury sustained in her childhood trauma. Bond had looked at the one slight imperfection which only made the rest of her assets even more god like, knowing he would most likely never see it, or the rest of Honeychile Rider, ever again. As usual, he'd just 'moved on', as if a routine were being established.
The Drax business in '52 had been the first ‘high profile’ mission for Bond, first pushing him into superstardom within the quiet confines of the intelligence community. It had begun as a private affair, for M. A matter of honour, to establish the credibility of one of post war Britain’s great heroes, Hugo Drax, who had been accused of cheating at cards in M's club. In a tense confrontation at Blades Bond used his skills as a card sharp to expose Drax as a cheat. And raving paranoiac.
This obviously would not have been a major issue for MI6, were it not for the fact that Drax was running the project to launch the first British ICBM, and the first test was merely weeks away. The concern became direct involvement with 007 when they learned of the double murder at Drax’s launch facility near Dover. Major Tallon, the security chief, had been shot by one of the scientists in the middle of the local pub and the scientist had then shot himself. This was all apparently connected to Special Branch's undercover agent on site, the rising star of the service, Miss Gala Brand.
The Cabinet had decided against shutting down the project then and there, putting the murder incident down to “Terrific nervous tension on site”. The immediate reaction of Bond's analytic mind wondered if this was explained by the exposure of a closed community of rocket scientists to Miss Brand’s vital statistics (38, 26, 38). The other distinguishing features in her file also provoked attention. From Moneypenny's enquiries the mole on Gala Brand's left breast generated more discussion within Special Branch than the Cambridge spy ring.
Prime Ministerial permission was required from Mr Churchill himself to have an MI6 agent operate on home soil, almost unique in the history of the service and Drax was hardly pleased to see the card sharp from Blades show up to investigate the murder. Bonds initial reception from Gala was hardly warm. Having spent 6 months undercover on the project she was almost as invested in its success as Drax. He found her severe but pretty, she found him film star handsome but cocksure.
The large collection of Von Braun's V2 scientists working on the Moonraker project had been odd, barely a decade after the terror weapons had been landing in London, but Bond knew this was a resource the Russians and Americans were also making use of in their own rocket programs. Later it was discovered these scientists contained elements of a SS unit, the ‘Werwolf’, so fanatical it had pioneered the use of suicide car bomb attacks against the Allies in 1945.
Major Tallon had become suspicious and Drax's plan to eliminate him had involved ordering of his men to execute Tallon in public and then shoot himself while, as a distraction, painting Gala Brand as a femme fatale capable of driving men to murder and suicide.
“I LOVE GALA BRAND. I WILL NOT LET YOU HAVE HER”
Why did no one think to question the ludicrousness of this? Was it believable after all? Why was the least bothered by this the sweet innocent girl herself?
Almost immediately Bond’s attraction for the girl had got in the way of investigation. A trip to visit the beach below the launch site somehow became skinny dipping, and a kiss followed, and then was almost immediately forgotten as they were nearly buried in chalk beneath a sudden cliff face collapse.
After that events moved quickly. Bond and Brand had found Drax's suspicious address in London, and after escaping with an unconscious Gala in his car Drax raced back to the launch site with Bond in pursuit. After running Bond off the road (and wrecking the 4.5 litre) Drax had been able to bring them both back and secure them near the exhaust pit for the rocket, just before it took its maiden flight, right into the middle of London, carrying a donated Russian atomic warhead.
Bond had freed them both, agonisingly, using a blow torch. After reprogramming the missile, they had survived a being broiled by a steam, and the launch itself by clutching each other desperately in the stream of cold water in the shower in Drax's shower. In the darkened wreckage of the office afterwards they had heard the fate of the missile over the radio, impacting close enough to Drax's escape vessel to leave no survivors.
It was international news, and filtered through the sensationalist tabloid media the Moonraker story was retold as slapstick space opera whose events Bond could barely recognise. To the wider world the publicity had all been for Gala Brand, the young special Branch officer who had already been placed as a spy at Drax’s facility and who would later be decorated by the new Queen, with whom she shared a slight resemblance.
One of the first things Bond had noticed about the fantastically pretty but severe ex-WREN was that her photograph from her Special Branch file had not done her justice. Her lack of photogenic features had, in the subsequent months, probably saved her, as she became as much of a national heroine as the subsequent cover-up would allow. Nevertheless, the papers had fed well off her since she been had offered her up for public sacrifice in place of the intelligence communities more treasured asset, Bond himself.
At the time Bond had been very taken by Brand but the final image he retained, of her waving her engagement ring, had stayed with him far longer than he might have expected. Newspapers in the intervening years had suggested her marriage had been hasty and relations were strained. Gossip within the service (a briefing obtained from a smirking Moneypenny) was that the couple had separated over a year ago without children. Bond’s reservations about the meeting, at the site of Drax’s old facility, had disappeared with that piece of information. Bond specıalısed in married women. Ironic that the little ring that had warned him off at engagement became a lead weight to many women in later life. To him, it was a magnet.
The Blue breeze over the cliffs was shattered by the sound of a motorcycle engine. Bond looked up in irritation. It had stopped in the pub car park. Still in vehicle appreciation mode Bond had just enough attention to identify the sinuous black painted form as a Vincent, looking fresh from the factory in Stevenage, before instantly switching to its rider. The figure wrapped in black leather, swinging it’s legs carefully over the still warm 998cc twin was definitely female.
It was her.
The rider considered the Bentley briefly, very briefly, before removing her silver pudding helmet and glancing towards the pub and seeing Bond through the window. Their eyes met and Gala Brand smiled while struggling with the apparent mess of her hair. The auburn bob was shorter Bond noticed. And as to the rest of her, well the girl was no more. That youthful Elizabeth Taylor figure was tending somewhat to Jayne Mansfield.
Gala Brand GC, (George Cross), placed her leather gloves into the helmet and her sunglasses (she hated goggles) onto the top of her head. The studs in her jacket popped and the heavy zip sawed open revealing an old but pristine WRN blouse which struggled to contain her personality with the help of a sturdy bra. As she strode purposefully toward the public bar she seemed simultaneously conscious of her entrance and somewhat nervous but not embarrassed. The wide passionate mouth and still severe gaze radiated a modern English rose comfortable if not entirely confident in her surroundings.
Bond was perhaps too quick, too eager to go out to meet her, in the car park. They shared a polite kiss and Bond feigned fascination with the motorcycle. Behind her the gleaming bike engine pinged and twinged like a musical instrument tuning itself down.
“Vincent Black Prince, one of the last. I removed the ugly fibre glass myself.”
Bond nodded, in mundane social situations he often found his mind moving too fast for the occasion, requiring him to linger on details.
"I bought it with my annuity. It takes me up and down to Norfolk on sunny days. It is very liberating"
The thought of Gala on a motorcycle began to sink in immediately, bringing out his protective side.
“One of those things took TE Lawrence all the way to a graveyard. You can thank him for that” he said pointing at the helmet.
“Lawrence of Arabia? Really?" She considered the necessity of the motorcycle helmet. "It musses my hair. It is good to see you again James.”
"Yes shall we go in?"
Brand was pleased to see Bond apparently recovered from the state in which she had last seen him, when had walked with the aid of a stick. The whites of his eyes were now white, back to their non-swollen size before the beating he had seem to shrug off in Drax's office. She noticed some lines of exhaustion around the eyes.
This was more the infamous Double-O of Double-Os, cruel eyes and sardonic almost Scottish accent. The wounded stoop had gone, and his rake thin frame and had become gaunt tall, particularly with hat worn at rakish angle. Now not requiring a stick he moved with the easy confidence and dangerous coiled grace of a Rottweiler.
They sat in a corner, some way away from the bar and the earshot of others. Bond plopped the hat on the table as if claiming ownership of the situation, and by extension, her.
"I hope life has been a little kinder to you James"
Dr. Julius No’s maze last year made the treatment from Hugo Drax seem almost improvised and haphazard rather than hazardous.
“I’ve been busy. You’ve been keeping yourself in the public eye, or so they tell me”
“I was the celebrity girl spy for a while. They loved that. But I couldn’t handle the attention. Missed the work. Most of the newspaper stories about me for the last few years have been fed to them by the service."
"It seemed unbearable, from outside"
"The papers generally behave themselves, They know their place.” That was hardly surprising, Bond dreaded to think of a English press that wasn’t afraid of the security services.
Surrounded by the old organic curves of the wooden beams around them Bond was able to fully take her in. Dark brown hair curves in at the neck, high cheekbones and upwards an slightly upward slant of the eye.
Non photogenic? Perhaps her mouth was too wide, her lips too full. Perhaps her eyes were too blue and her black eye lashes too long to compliment the obvious authority in her poise, her gestures and the carriage of her head. The combination of virginal innocence and authority had been a mystery to one even with his experience, the recent addition of a touch a black eyeliner in the bewitching eyes which emerged from the motorcycle helmet only added to her mystery.
Immediately he was reminded of his worry upon first meeting her, undercover. This woman.. girl still.. had too much poise and authority to be convincing as a secretary.
“So you are not launching ships then?”
“I do occasionally. For other events they provide a stand-in. Nice girl, and a close resemblance”
“I must meet her” said Bond quickly. They laughed.
“She’s from Liverpool”
“In which case she’s either a good actress or learned to keep her mouth shut”
Though Bond smiled Brand chose to ignore it.
“No. I have been busy. Did they brief you about West Berlin?”
“You? In West Berlin?” he failed to hide his concern. “I thought you were working with Mendel, he’s Special Branch isn’t he?" Valance, her previous superior at Special Branch, had died in a car accident within six months of the Moonraker business.
“Yes. He’s the Special Branch man liaison with The Circus”
"Pen pushers" said Bond with evident distaste. The civil service arm of the secret service had a bad reputation going back to SOE days.
"They certainly like to keep away from the sharp end. You should consider it as a retirement option James"
"Retirement?" The notion seemed curious for a Double-0.
“They gave me a cover as a contact for a London crime syndicate and sent me to West Berlin”
“Your German is impeccable, you have undercover training..” On the surface of it, it seemed to make sense but Bond’s experience prompted questions within moments. “The KGB wanted to contact London gangsters?”
“You’ve probably not come across the Kray family. They are a concern. And not the KGB.”
“Not SMERSH, or the East Germans or the Bulgarians”
She shrugged. "My cover was blown almost immediately. They even knew what I like to drink. I’d suspected early on this may be some form of honey trap, that they may be relying on my looks. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I realised too late the target of the honey trap was me - not him. I shouldn't have been there at all"
"They would have known this. You are too well known"
"My celebrity was not a handicap, it was the reason I was there. They used my celebrity as bait"
"For your country Gala"
She kept silent.
“When did this happen?”
“Two years ago. You were in Las Vegas apparently”
Briefly his mind drifted to Tiffany Case. it didn't help.
“It was work related. What happened?”
“I got out of there, via Paris with the help of DGSE, but the service wouldn’t touch me after that. I was posted to Norfolk almost immediately.”
“Security for rockets again”
“Safe rockets. Civilian ones”. Bond was tempted to question “safe” with regard to more recent efforts of the British Rocket Group but thought better of it and tried to change the subject instead.
"I think you gravitate towards academics and scientists. Just to make them uncomfortable. Your mythological name draws them in"
“My name is Galatea, after HMS Galatea, the cruiser” her eyes betrayed the disappointment that he’d forgotten this fact
“But derived from the Greek somehow, it has some connection with Pygmalion?” Classical studies at Eton had been one to skip.
“Really James, you’re such a man of the world” she couldn’t let the phrase escape without a trace of bitterness “How many girls have you enticed with Greek myths over the years” she finished with an impudent smile.
“Given the chance, I might have stopped at you”
She responded with a wary blush and a laugh, slightly bitter for one still so young. For a moment the mood was uncomfortable and Bond decided to return to the professional.
“So what happened to Mr Perfect?, Vivian?”
“He wasn’t” she answered quickly, unable to stop herself rubbing her wrists uncomfortably at the same time. Policemen could be similarly complicated and predictable simultaneously.
“I’m tired of this place”
“I never was an enthusiast for public houses”
“ I’m sure they would let us into the Moonraker facility itself. I have my BRG pass”
“Really? You want to walk around Drax’s place again? Seems ghoulish”
“Did you want to stay here?, or perhaps you have that hotel in Dover already booked for us?”
Bond stared her directly in the eye, studying her response
“What if I have?”
She chuckled “You are entirely predictable James.” She took his cigarette from him and took a long drag. “I didn’t come here to stare at the ceiling of a seaside hotel. Let’s do something interesting”
“We’ll take my car”
Leaving the Vincent reclining archly on its side stand, Brand looked around the plush almost Edwardian interior of the 1953 Bentley with wry amusement.
“It looks comfortable”
“Too comfortable”. Bond could not get the planned holiday to France with Gala from his mind. This was a car for another time, a time missed.
When her leather pants had squeaked across the brown leather of the passenger seat she grasped the long silver handle bisecting the polished wood of a vaguely Art Nouveau dashboard.
“Does this do anything?” her tone was mocking.
Bond playfully slapped her hand away. Even when teasing there was a poised authority in her gestures
“Say what you want about this car. At least it has a roof”
He pointed up at the dark cloud which appeared overhead.
“Oh that’s a shame, I was hoping we could take another walk down the beach”
In the car they talked of Drax, all the time Bond struggled to remember the pretty and prim girl who had turned her nose up at him after their first meeting. At Drax’s dinner evening, wearing her severe black evening dress and playing the part of Drax’s polite female commandant she was put off by Bond’s impertinence. She looked down her nose at him while he tried to avoid doing the same to the wrap over bodice which presented her breasts with almost military effectiveness. It annoyed him particularly at the time to get no response from what was still essentially a girl, a girl already aware of her own physical power.
Bond had never talked through any previous mission in detail before, except as a debrief with M. They were, in retrospect, far too dangerous to dwell on even as bar room boasts. It was difficult dwelling on how close they came to death four years ago and how often. His memory, for instance had converted the pursuit of Drax along these roads into a heroic David and goliath struggle between modern German technology and his own classic British racing car. The more he dwelt on the actual memory however it was revealed as a desperate, terrifyingly exciting struggle to keep a two tonne machine from the 1930s at speeds of 80mph on English public roads.
Gala asked several times about his injuries, particularly the burns, and he did not have the heart to tell he had sustained worse injuries frequently, since. Was it really only six month or so since Rose Klebb’s Tetrodoxin cocktail?
“What if we had failed James? Do you ever think about that?”
When Drax’s donated soviet warhead had been recovered by the Royal Navy it was analysed and yield was estimated at 38 kilotons. “Casualties, perhaps a million, certainly a couple of hundred thousand. Not including fallout of course”, said the man from Q Branch, talking inconsequentially as if it could never have happened. He remembered being up close to the Moonraker missile in his first tour of the facility. He remembered fingering it’s razor sharp chromium fins. He remembered how it made him feel - “The terrible beauty of the greatest weapon on Earth”.
What would have been the wider consequences of such an attack on London? It hadn’t taken long to trace the warhead back to Russia. War, atomic war would surely have followed, along with the deaths of millions. How would the Russians have benefited from that? Was Drax really working for the Russians or some other party that stood better prepared to benefit from the consequences?
What had stopped it? Suicidal bravery of his own that he increasingly refused to dwell on, and the fearlessness of the girl sitting next to him in the car and her head for figures.
And for how long had they delayed it? The Drax business had merely exposed the vulnerability of the world’s population centres to maniacs with modern technology.
M had said it .”The atomic age has created the most deadly saboteur in the world, the little man with the heavy suitcase”
The Bentley glided smoothly over the white cliffs. The tide was in, further removing the possibility of a beach walk. They reminisced about picking flowers. Bond had told her when picked each flower silently screamed with pain.
“You told me they scream when picked”
“And then you picked one anyway”
And how he’d somehow teased her into skinny dipping in their underwear on the sunny beach within minutes.
“I’d almost forgotten about the swim, because of what came after”
It was Drax’s first attempt on their lives, dynamiting a whole section of the white cliffs above them. Still flush from their cold swim in the channel, they had been buried alive in tons of chalk. When they dragged themselves out, almost naked, they were painted ghostly white by the make-up box of Dover’s white cliffs, with only the scarlet of Bonds bloody wounds to mark them as anything but Greek statues.
The Moonraker facility sat mournfully forgotten in the green landscape behind Kingsdown, a Nazi colony among the white cliffs, a pristine symbol of Englishness, riddled throughout by secret defence installations, national insecurities, hidden motives and subterranean desires. These were same cliffs that had waved goodbye to thousands of bombers on their way to administer the final solution to so many German cities.
At the gate the RAF base defence troops had gone, replaced by National Service boys running about clumsily in heavy boots that clunked on the concrete. They jumped to attention at Gala Brand's BRG ID as if responding to members of the general staff. The gate swung open with slapstick routine to reveal Drax's forgotten project.
The vast expanses of modernistic, Germanic concrete had once been likened by Bond to Dali landscape, with the various surreal projections, dome, building, wall, poking out of a desert scene. Now overgrown, under the increasing clouds, with its true purpose exposed, it looked like what it was, a part of the Atlantic wall built on the wrong side of the channel, or perhaps the lair of the Nazis final V-weapon.
Like many of the Nazis enduring monuments, flak towers in Berlin, or the U boat pens donated to every port in Europe, it was too substantial to demolish even if British government and its secret services could withstand the embarrassment. The story of how MI6, Bonds own organisation, cleared an entire team of rocket scientists still bent on revenge on London 7 years after the death of Hitler was one likely to remain secret well beyond the official release of government documents in what would likely be another millennium.
Signs for Drax industries had been removed, leaving ghostly remnants of the installations previous owner and purpose in various prominent locations. The true signage for Drax had of course been the HELL IS HERE broken neon sign Bond had seen in London at the time, in what was a strange premonition of a possible future. Looking back Bond wondered if all that time spent with Solitaire earlier in ‘52, in Florida, had somehow had somehow given him a temporary gift for premonition.
Solitaire. He had meant to look her up when in Jamaica this year. Bond never seemed to find the time for past lovers. Or at least ones that he had ‘experience’ of.
The replacement signage for "British Rocket Group" was low key, reflecting a new policy after initial enthusiasm had been lost in tragic early difficulties. Churchill's bright post war Empire in Space font had gone, replaced by something more utilitarian which seemed to suggest more Captain Scott than Dan Dare.
The once white walls of the Blockhouse were now a jaundiced yellow, the stark silver metals of the gantries and piping at now a tired brown, too tired to even rust with conviction. The iron oxides of the England's south coast had minimal enthusiasm in such low quality, austerity steel. The block house now had a large radar dish on the roof, fulfilling the bases new function as an auxiliary monitoring station for the British Rocket Groups main HQ at Winnerton Flats. A recent addition, an empty swimming pool, lay alone and uncared for at the rear.
Bond brought the car to a stop behind the scarred blast wall. Within moments Gala was fending off another military officer, this time a real serviceman. He appeared to recognise her immediately and seemed to accept the explanation for their visit.
"We'll be inspecting the silo"
"Will we?" said Bond
With the first spots of rain landing round them they headed toward the launch dome. Drax's half buried launch dome ironically dated back to a 1944 design based on a need to hide from Allied bombers, and was deemed 'innovative' by the enthralled British in the early 1950s, whose attention had already moved onto thoughts about Korea and the Middle East.
Rectangular, reptilian patterning in the concrete left an uneven weathering, with some moss and greenery marking the joints between the huge concrete sections.
They stopped before a brutal steel door; a naked red bulb glowered above it
MORTAL DANGER – ENTRY FORBIDDEN
Above that a long neglected row of gratings on the top of the wall immediately prompted memories in them both.
Climbing for their lives up shafts of rough concrete, clinging desperately for handhold unfurnished pertruberances, Jagged ends of steel shafts cut off when the holes had been bored, inching up these chimneys to hide in the turn at the top.
Their taught exhausted bodies hiding silently in a rough but clean concrete honeycomb.
Below them Drax's guards in rubber gloves and fire suits, preparing to burn them alive within their honeycomb with a steam hose.
He cradles and overlays her, “This may hurt. No noise”
She realising this was no time to be maidenly, lovers in the undergrowth, waiting to be par boiled
Their hearts beating together, pressed into each other
Their skin blistering instantly, they nursed their pain and terror together, drenched in dripping steaming heat
Within the burnt silo was a horrible smell of chemicals, infusing the green moss growing on the interiors around them. Concrete was now the surface consistency of suede, kissed by the passion of superheated cocktail of fluorine and hydrogen. Even after 4 years the damp fights with a gagging carbon tang in the air. The scene of such splendour was spent, dirty and squalid. The polished barrel of a huge gun had become a worn dirty cavity.
The ghost images of the original silo were now buried in the most primitive parts of their minds.
The shining silver antiseptic chrome silo, grasping the cruel missile like an evil child. The needle sharp antenna of the Moonraker and its three severely swept back delta fins look as sharp as surgeons scalpels, poised to remove the unwanted human fat from London. Silken Steel spidery gantries grip the slim waist of the silver rocket with hands of rubber.
Gala Brand standing at the bottom at the base of the weapon, girlish fascination turned into worship for the missile she had worked for six months. Excited by tension and excitement, and the so far unfulfilled desire for a successful launch, she stands alone gazing up at the gods, almost presenting her body in tribute
They climbed wordlessly down the endless sweep of the iron stairway around the silo, lit by an unfamiliar gloom. Only one of the arc lights from above had come on when summoned by Brand. At the bottom, when their clanking steps had landed on the concrete floor, they stood, lit by the gloom of a lonely violet bulb in instrument panel on a wall.
"I’d prefer.." He began to say, before Brand placed a gloved finger against his lips.
"Don't ruin it James"
A few feet away a partially exposed exhaust pit dropped 100 feet into the darkness. The sound of waves, and the electric thrill of saltwater drifted slowly up to them. Gala walked further into the alcove of a nearby wall, disturbing the surface of a puddle which pulsed with circles of violet light. Her gloved hand caressed the scorch marks on the concrete walls, remembering the searing heat of the Moonraker's launch. And the heat of the blowtorch which had freed them from certain death.
"I may have to hurt you a bit"
Still tied to a chair with black plastic flex, Bond lights a blowtorch with his teeth and lips. She can see the pain in his watering eyes.
It burns his face as he clamps it in his jaws.
Flame of the torch brushed her forearm.
Gala kisses his burnt lips afterwards
"That’s for what you did"
Soundlessly, she found Bond right behind her, his hand over hers, examining the dark burns on the concrete, just for a moment registering the pain danger and death that had become such an unceasing part of this life.
Her face brushed against the warm civility of his suit. She knew that beneath the pretence of the suit were limbs like unstoppable iron rods controlled by the ruthless animal mind of a trained killer. He was old, too old for her but somehow, now, she needed that experienced cynical style and power to root the complication from within her.
This was outside his comfort zone for seduction.
The soft trappings of romance and easy confidence were not available here, this was no four star hotel room and this girl who had rejected him in the past now seemed to be controlling the situation. He needed to out the surroundings out of his mind, to assert his authority - his body, his battered body, aided him in this as his rediscovered lust for the girl swept away almost everything. Suddenly his mind, his muscles, his reflexes strength and cunning were not at the behest of HMSS, they were an engine determined to use the willing and perfect female body in front of hm.
“I’ve waited years for this” they both seem to say as their lips converged in slow motion. Their breath finally mixed after years, two binary explosive gases igniting and exploding across their lips, tongues and starting an immediate chain reaction through the rest of their bodies. For a moment their wordless reaction to each other could only be registered in gasps and moans, and then Bonds careful caress of Gala’s hips and backside quickly registered the small package held in the small of Gala’s back, perched just above the parting of her buttocks.
Bond’s vast experience, in weapons soft and hard, immediately recognised it as a threat.
“What is this?” He momentarily disengaged from their kiss and pulled it from her clothing. It seemed to be held within a hidden pocket of her underwear.
“A girl’s best friend” said Gala, trying to take it from him. In the violet shadows of the burnt silo it could be seen as a particularly cruel looking Italian stiletto switchblade. He held onto it as he ran his fingers through her tousled her, slightly greasy from the helmet. As he lost his nose in the smell of her hair she retrieved the knife from his hand with some deft glove work.
This surprised him, and even lost in his desire, Bond immediately took a step back.
Gala looked up at him past her eyebrows, her pupils gorged on endorphins. She clicked the clicked the spotless, almost surgical blade open. “Girl’s best friend” she repeated, almost as a gasp with her lips hanging open as Bond, unable to help himself, began to unbutton her blouse, before remembering again the blade.
“Careful with that”
She smiled “Or else?”
Their eyes met and engaged in a millisecond affair on their own, giving Brand the distraction she needed. In a mischievous flick of the wrist before Bond could move, the tip of the blade whipped one of the buttons from his shirt, exposing more of his battle scarred neck and chest.
007 had slowed somewhat over the years but wasn’t far behind her movement. Gala had a bare glimpse of chest hair before Bond distracted with a feint, had secured one of her wrists and batted the knife out of the hand in the other. It spun away into a clunk in a darkened pool. Brand briefly glimpsed after it with concern as if it were a lost part of her soul, or a familiar.
“What’s got into you?” he said with some shock, and no little arousal.
“I fell in with the wrong people. You were one of them”
Bonds heart was racing, loud enough to almost echo around them.
"So?" Brand looked up at him past dark lids and sharp eyebrows. “You’ve disarmed me”
Then she pounced, forcing her full lips onto his. Bond was initially almost resistant until Brand squirmed within his grip and crushed her perfect hips and breasts against him. Looks were deceptive. There didn’t seem much muscle there.
Bond thought to push her away, he wanted to tell her to control herself, to be the prim secretary, the dormant volcano, the conquest that was always just out of reach. But this was not her. That “effervescent, loyal, virginal girl” had gone. And he was not pushing her away, he was now controlling her, pinning her against an expanse of scorched concrete. "Control yourself" he ordered under his breath, without knowing who he was speaking to, before he lost himself in her inescapable pout.
She gasped as he took her breasts from the confines of her blouse and was so focused on seeing the mole on her left breast, he barely registered the slowly healing cigarette burns in the same vicinity.
As Gala had grown and matured into a young woman the magnificent size and shape of her breasts had become slightly less prominent in comparison to the rest of her svelte but powerful curves, but they were still barely contained even by the superior bra technology of the era.
Gala made a half-hearted attempt to prevent Bond from exposing her chest and Bond found himself pinning her wrist to the wall as she moaned in resignation
With his trousers now unbuttoned he began to force himself into her, knowing she was carefully controlling the access. Feigning and diverting, using her ju jitsu skills for sex, not to parry and constrain Bond, but to entice and steer him into her.
On the back seat of the Mercedes they are roped together with clean black plastic flex
Brand gasped as she finally splayed her legs for him. Bond responded, roughly cupping her exposed breasts with his right hand as he panted and licked her exposed neck, rhythmically working his member into the welcoming but tight and drenched confine between her legs. Part of Bond, the side yearning for a life with this once beautiful and decent girl, was appalled as he began to slowly pound her gasping into the burnt concrete. Another, controlling, part of Bond, the animal unleashed, willingly accepted his part in Brands scenario, similar to many of the loveless plots he had had engineered with others, one in which he was the villain, and she was the victim.
Her words became unintelligible and her mouth hung open as she turned to face him. Her interior muscles began to clench uncontrollably and he felt himself harden and peak within her.
Gala Brand issued a loud moan of despair and ecstasy that echoed around the silo. But Bond would let her go, unspent, he continued to drive her harder and higher against the unyielding silo until their skin was wet with sweat and her left hand was free, coupling and scratching the nape of Bonds neck with her fingernails as she gasped and gulped for air.
They ride out the launch of the Moonraker together, clinging to each other in the shower in Drax's office.
In the immediate aftermath their exhausted eyes met and her dry lips began to move. Bond, against himself, hoped 'love' was one of the words that she would use. But if the word was anywhere in her mind, even subconsciously, it was hiding now.
He'd started his sex talk, that which gave the Bond girls such a glow, which made them feel so safe... but then realised she was talking to herself, between gasps of loin filled pleasure. Brand had wanted to push him harder, to control and release his last gushing thrust within her. Her nails dug into the nape of his neck and she'd hissed, deep and heavy at his face.
"Come on..James .this is what you boys want from us isn't it? To be your slutty bitches... to be your Bond Girls..."
As the climax faded, and they both remembered themselves, Brand found herself saying "I'm sorry"
Bond, aroused and disgusted at his same time, stepped back. Realising he'd been used, he unthinkingly raised his hand to slap her, only to lower it again when it became obvious she would welcome the blow.
He stepped back again, barely containing his disgust. Brand looked away in shame.
In the empty silence, they reordered their clothing. "Generally I prefer silk sheets" he muttered reprovingly.
Brand shamefully apologised again, but Bond had already slipped into the post sexual disassociation which had increasingly become a handicap to his later life, as it had been an advantage to his earlier years. No reassurance for his partner came forth.
"We had better go. You made a lot of noise" he said capping it with his playboy smile displayed on auto pilot.
"You smell of cigarettes" she said, but Bond, disgusted with the whole scene, had already turned to leave.
They drove back in almost silence.
"You've changed Gala"
"I was a girl James"
The rain was subsiding when they crunched back into the gravel pub car park. Back in the bar a new blond barmaid had arrived for the evening shift. With her had come a new set of tunes from the juke box, Lana Del Rey unless he was mistaken.
He picked up his hat and turned to say goodbye to Gala, only to see her swapping smouldering glances with the barmaid.
And then he remembered the Greek mythology surrounding her name.
Galatea - the statue brought to life by a god.
London, England, May 1956
James rolled over and checked his watch. The blonde divorcee next to him snored.
He'd been dreaming of Gala Brand again.
South Coast of England 1956
Brand was aware of an increasing post coitus headache, and dimly aware of a difficult task, lodged in her subconscious, thankfully avoided.
She rolled over in the single bed, realising she was alone, and surveyed the interior of the guest room in the World Without Want. Rain slanted down on the windows. Late afternoon. She had no water proofs and was in no hurry to get back.
Brand reached into one of her jacket zipper pockets and brought out her ring. All those years ago it had been important to show her ring, her engagement ring, to ward off Drax, and Bond.
With her new ring, her sign of engagement to her new, even harsher husband, it was important to keep it hidden.
She slipped it onto her finger. It was silver, with an octopus in onyx.
A yacht in the Adriatic, December 1955
Kronsteen could not get that anomalous move from Spassky vs Korchnoi out of his mind.
He carried a slim folder passed a tank of Japanese fighting fish and approached the table to make his report to the Chairman.
“Report on feasibility of using Number 29 against the British secret service”
"Chances of success?"
"Negligible. Operative Brand would exhibit too much resistance in this scenario."
"This showed promise Number 5. Are you sure this was investigated in detail?" The evident dangerous disappointment in the question was accompanied by purring.
"Thoroughly Number 1. I have played the scenario through on many levels with no chance of endangering British Intelligence in a way that would not expose the Special Executive before Plan Omega. Our hypnotic control capability remains behind that of the Americans. In this instance we feel Brand would be resistant to the instruction, complicated by previous intense experience with the Double-O."
"I sense a degree of frustration. I trust we have not wasted your time Number 5"
"There is no frustration Number 1. Strategy is my field and analysing the likelihood of success in each operation is a necessity."
"Perhaps you are over-careful"
He smiled warily, “I am well aware that failure will not be tolerated by this organisation”.
GALA BRAND, JAMES BOND 007, M, MONEYPENNY, TALLON, KRONSTEEN, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. AND HUGO DRAX ARE ALL PROPERTIES OF EON PRODUCTIONS AND THE ESTATE OF IAN FLEMING
INSPECTOR MENDEL AND 'THE CIRCUS' ARE THE PROPERTY OF JOHN LE CARRE
'BRITISH ROCKET GROUP' AND BERNARD QUATERMASS ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE ESTATE OF NIGEL KNEALE
COVER IS TAKEN FROM CROATIAN COVER OF MOONRAKER, BY MARINA FLIPOVIC
(www.marinshe.com, for Algoritam Publishing)
GALA BRAND WILL RETURN IN
GALA BRAND : AGENT OF S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
I was hoping to edit that before it went up sorry... I can send out a better formatted version to anyone who wants it
Should have introduced myself on the forum as well, I've been reading this site for years!
GALATEA (direct sequel to Moonraker novel set in 1956)
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