This story is now on the list to be finished so over the new few weeks, expect a new episode every few days.
The reason why new episodes have been sporadic, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritizing.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Things are about to get complicated…
“You’re not a target. Yet.”
“A loose end who was a rather bad blunt instrument, like his friend Maury. They learned of a plan to steal some military secrets, tried to stop it and in the end almost destroyed 12 months of painstaking undercover work. O’Connell had it within his grasp, and therefore in safe hands when those two wrecked a perfectly good retrieval. Four potential agents dead and then there’s you, persistent I will admit, and one other, Jennifer, I believe her name is.”
“But you don’t have O’Connell, do you?”
“My, you have been working hard. My first mistake was to trust O’Connell. My second was to underestimate you, Jackson. I don’t intend to make a third. You don’t trust me, do you?”
Was it possible I’d get some version of the truth?
“Apparently he didn’t for some reason.”
“You found him. Jan said you were being all secretive. There was something you found in that flat in Peaslake.”
“No. He told me that in the alley.”
I sensed he knew way more than I did, but I had a missing piece, and he was going to play nice to get it. The thing is, I didn’t know what that was. Not the whole truth from me.
“Yes. Of course, he did.”
“Perhaps it was self-preservation, not that it did much since someone did shoot him.”
“Not with the intention of killing him. It was all arranged.”
“You knew he would be at that alley?”
“One of three escape routes. Neither of us anticipated you would be good enough to follow him. Severin got lucky with you, probably why he made you the lead.”
Severin hadn’t said as much when he told the group before the exercise began, that I would take point. I thought it was simply because in the prior five tests, I’d only failed one. Everyone else had varying results.
“Have you seen the CCTV footage of the explosion?”
“Several times. It must have been harrowing for you to relive that and see how close you came.”
“It did. But it did afford a view that I missed while preoccupied. McConnell and the wife of the scientist I believe stole the formulas.”
“Yes, Anna. What do you make of her?”
“From a single glimpse?”
“A good agent doesn’t need much to form an opinion. As you know, that opinion could be the difference between life and death.”
He was starting to sound like Severin. He said we had to be able to judge a book by its cover and make the right decision based on it. What did I think of Anna?
“Capable, determined. She survived an explosion that might well have been directed at her. Not your average scientist’s wife. “
“Did you check her out?”
“Not yet. I had this thing with Severin.”
“What did he want?”
“I don’t know. Jan killed him before he could tell me.”
“He wanted to come in from the cold before he ended up like Maury. He knew his days were numbered. It also means that he knew something that someone didn’t want to be repeated. You, perhaps? I mean, you can help make the connection. Your idea for Jan to get his confidence?”
“Hers. She’s a good agent, so don’t worry about her. Find O’Connell. When you do, you will find Anna, and perhaps, a copy of that USB.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then the department has lost five million pounds.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2023