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…
I had no idea how long I had before Monica or someone else turned up to take charge, so it was time for questions.
To Anna, “Were you having an affair with Severin back at the lab, before you hatched this plan, or was it Severin’s idea?”
“Are we playing truth or dare now?” She was trying to be detached, but the pain must be excruciating by now.
“We’re playing how to save your life. You can live or you can die, it’s your choice, but my patience is very thing at the moment.”
“I liked Severin. At the time I thought he was just a security guard. And yes, after a few months, he did suggest, in a kidding sort of way, that money could be made by stealing the formulas. A lot of money.”
To Dobbin, “Either you or someone else had sent Severin and Maury to the lab after a mock discharge from the service and given them glowing resumes to get jobs there. It was an odd choice given Severin had a rather interesting career, particularly in his handling of women operatives. Was that you?”
“I don’t have to answer your questions.”
“I don’t have to shoot you in various painful places when you test my patience, but I will if I have to.”
“Do you know who you’re talking to?”
“Yes. An inveterate liar who had been leading me down the garden path for far too long. I will ask once more, was that you. Don’t make me count to three.”
He glared at me, the sort of glare that mean there was going to be hell to pay eventually.
“No. I did not. But I was interested in the fact they were sent to Arche Laboratories. It wasn’t until the data came up for sale on the dark web did I put two and two together.”
“That’s when you got O’Connell to handle the purchase and delivery of the data?”
“Why the six-month delay between negotiation and delivery?”
“Anna’s husband in his infinite wisdom must have guessed he was going to be double-crossed and put a security protocol in place. We made arrangements to keep her safe until the exchange. At the appropriate time when the six months had lapsed, O’Connell was tasked to go to a specified meeting place, pay the money and collect the USB.”
“In the meantime, you arranged for Severin and Maury to put a surveillance team together. I assume Severin came clean about what had happened, and you gave him a chance to redeem himself.”
“At what point did you realize the operation was compromised? My guess, is when O’Connell was running late, and the bomb went off on time, but before the exchange could take place. Surely you knew O’Connell couldn’t have the USB.”
“True, so we arranged for an extraction and led him to the alley where you cornered him. Total unexpected. As was the sniper, who I believe had tapped into our communications with O’Connell. I’m not sure why Severin and Maury were there, but once they saw O’Connell get shot they left. They, for some reason, believed O’Connell had the USB and passed it to you before they got there, hence the visit you had from Severin. Their usefulness ended at the alley.”
“Who was the sniper working for?”
“No idea. Another interested party perhaps, that Anna forgot to tell us about. It would be no surprise to know she had other buyers waiting.”
“I didn’t. O’Connell was the only one as per our agreement. You don’t think I was going to screw up a five-million-pound payday.” Anna sounded indignant.
To Anna, “When did you and O’Connell get together, after the explosion. Or did you think he set you up?”
“I waited a few days then called him and asked what we should do. He said he got the impression he’d been set up, that we were both in danger and to individually go into hiding until he could find out who was after us. He said he couldn’t trust his boss after what had happened, both at the café and then in the alley. He mentioned that I should find you and insinuate myself into your investigation because he knew you’d find out eventually. He was right, by the way,:” she said to no one in particular.
Back to Dobbin, “Why did O’Connell suddenly no longer trust you and for all intents and purposes disappear?”
“He didn’t say, but I suspect nearly getting killed may have pushed him in that direction. I did not sanction that bomb, by the way.”
“What was the purpose of the surveillance team?”
“To find out where the exchange point was because it was always agreed that they should be the only two to preserve their safety. He was not supposed to find out about the surveillance. It’s the reason why we were not responsible for the bomb in the café because we didn’t know where the exchange was taking place.”
“If he didn’t know, and then discovered people following him, I’m not surprised he killed most of them. That’s on you, Dobbin.”
“It was a calculated risk, but the stakes were very high, and the operation was justified. It also afforded us the opportunity to discover a new and very accomplished agent, namely you.”
“Flattery will not stop me from shooting you if I have to.”
His look of disdain went to utter disdain.
“I’ve answered your questions, now what?”
“Anna will now give me the USBs, the real USBs with the data on them. I will destroy them, and then we can all go about our business.”
“If you say anything other than, Sam, here they are, you will die. They are in this room, and I will find them, whether you are dead or alive. Personally, if I were you I’d want to live, but then, you might have a death wish you want fulfilled. I’ll be happy to count to three if you like?”
She thought about it, but not for too long. She reached into a pocket and pulled out another plastic bag.
I went over and took it from her.
Two more USBs.
“I’ll take those, thank you.” Jennifer. “Don’t make me do something I don’t want to.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2023