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…
Behind me, I could see Dobbin moving towards the door.
“You really don’t want to do this,” I said.
“He offered me a better deal.”
“I give you these, you will probably have about an hour, two at the most before he kills you.”
She shrugged. She was a deadly shot, so it was not an option to talk her out of it. I threw the plastic bag to her.
“This way, at least, you live. You’re good, but too trusting.”
Dobbin opened the door. “Enough chit-chat; let’s go before someone else turns up. Walk away Jackson, don’t do anything you’ll regret.”
I watched them leave, then turned to Anna. “This should please you immensely.”
“You mean you couldn’t see it coming? Hell, with all that analysis it wasn’t hard to work out Dobbin was the one orchestrating everything.”
I pulled out my phone and dialled Joanne’s number. When she answered I said, “They just left.”
“With the data?”
“With what they think is the data.”
“You have it?”
“No. O’Connell had it, and someone got to him. He’s dead next door, by the way, and we have two medical cases, one relatively serious, both requiring an ambulance sooner rather than later.”
“On it. And thanks.”
I went over to Anna and sat beside her.
Jan was glaring at us. “You said no one would get shot.”
We watched her slide over and join us against the wall.
“I said Jennifer was an unknown quantity. I didn’t think she’d take me so literally, but on the other hand, the signs were there. In training, she shot at three of the recruits.”
“Well, she didn’t recognise me, which, I guess, is something.”
“Who are you again?” Jan asked her.
“Yolanda. I was at the training camp with Sam. Severin made a pass at me, I kicked him in the you know what’s, and he kicked me out. I never gave back the comms unit, and I used to listen in to the exercises and discovered they’d finally been activated, so I went to have a look. Things got very scary when the target started taking out the surveillance team. They were out of their depth. Then I caught up with Sam, called him, and asked him what was going on. He said the target was going to the café and for me to go around the back, no time for hello’s. A minute or so later I see a guy toss something into the back of the café and take off. Then it goes up and all hell broke loose. Naturally, I got the hell out of there, and called him later, asked if he needed some off-book help, and here I am.”
“Could have been the death of you.”
“Nah. Sam and I were the best two of that bunch, and then maybe Jennifer. Damn that bitch to hell now. Hope they give us five minutes with her.”
“So,” I could see Jan was still wrestling with details. “Anna died in that explosion?”
“Did you know who Anna was?”
“Not at first, but when I saw a photo of her, and the similarities I shared with her, Sam suggested I take her place, and we took it from there. Sam told me where I could find O’Connell and it wasn’t hard to reconnect, it was six months and he didn’t notice the changes in Anna, which, to me, is a sign of bad tradecraft. He still had the money, I pretended to still have the USB but not with me but back at the flat. He tested the USB and found the right level of encryption, then gave me the five million pounds, and we parted. Now he’s dead. When Sam arrived, I thought it was going to be me next.”
“How did you know what sort of encryption was on the USB?”
Good question. Jan was thinking outside the box, which is what any agent should be doing.
“We spend a few weeks off and on in training, studying encryption techniques, but concentrated on one, for reasons we were never told. I realized that it was related to the eventual mission. It wasn’t hard to emulate. I made up about a dozen USBs just in case.”
“Just out of curiosity, what’s on those USB’s?”
“A PDF copy of War and Peace.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2023