Sting of the Scorpion part 1
A new venture
This is a new approach for me, seeing some folks serialize their writing I thought to have a go at it and see what happens (it'll also give me some deadlines to have to stick to if I try for one every month!)
Have a read and I'd love for feedback on what works and what might not.
Prologue. Istanbul, present day.
The train was running on time which was and yet wasn’t unusual. It was for this part of the globe, very little in the Middle East runs to a timetable, yet it wasn’t unusually as the Turkish rail system was modeled on the ultra-efficient German rail networks and they prided themselves in running an efficient system that could guarantee your arrival time to within five minutes no matter how long the journey was. In Turkey, there are quite a few journeys that take a hefty chunk out of a day, even with trains fast enough to rival most of Europe’s networks.
Steve had boarded the train in Ankara at 8am, taken a ‘continental breakfast’ with croissants and coffee on the train. The traditional Middle Eastern breakfast of Goat feta, olives, and bread with a dipping sauce of Tahina had been on offer, but the coffee had smelled too good to pass up, so he’d chosen that one.
Six hours later the train was pulling into the station and he was hungry again. Satisfying that hunger would have to wait until he found the place he was meeting his contact.
The station was just like any train station worldwide, busy people running everywhere. No one really taking in what was all around them, taking everything for granted. In one part of the station, a group or tourists had arrived and were taking pictures of everything. "Asians" Steve guessed, probably Japanese or Koreans who took pictures of everything that moved. He often wondered just what it was they saw that garnered enough interest that they wanted a permanent record of it, but then again maybe everything was so different that a picture was needed to show the folks back home!
Two years working in the British Embassy in Ankara had cured him of that, and then some! Now he saw, yet didn’t see the things around him, he saw the history of the place and enjoyed it, yet the whole place was just a part of the job now and most of the time it was just “there” the amazing Byzantine architecture alongside modern functional concrete buildings that just looked as if they’d always fitted together.
The cab rank was slightly to the right as you left the main building, the distinctive yellow of the cabs. Kind of a copy the New York cabs yet still slightly different (Turks loved to copy things like that and try to make the tourist feel at home so they’ll feel safer spending more money!) a half dozen of them were waiting on the rank.
Walking up to the first one he opened the door and climbed in, “Merheba” he greeted the driver in Turkish, “Topkapi please” the driver muttered a greeting back then leaned over and pressed a few buttons to start his meter then putting the car into gear set off.
The ride would work out expensive, but he wasn’t paying so he wasn’t worried, one of the great things working for the government was the travel was almost always of Whitehall’s tab, and that was just fine with him, mind you this trip was all business, at least until tonight when he would indulge himself a little, that he’d keep to himself so it would be all ‘cash up front’
The trip would take about fifteen minutes, normally it would be time to run through things, but today it was simple, he’d gotten a call last night from a contact telling him to meet in Istanbul at the ‘usual place’ no time had been given, but they had a system for working that out, the last meeting had been at noon so their next meeting would be at three pm the following day, a simple system really, always between the hours of six am and nine pm and always three hours after the time of the previous, so if the last one was at noon then the next was at three and the one after would be at six pm until you got to nine pm when the next would be at six in the morning!
Neither Steve or the cabbie saw the small red car following them, then again if they had they wouldn’t have worried at the middle aged female driver in the car, but she was interested in them.
“Yellow Taxi number 2541” she spoke into the phone she was holding, she hung up and put the car into gear
Where worlds collide
GCHQ Cheltenham, England
Someone's always listening
Someone is always listening, no matter where the call is made and at what time you make it someone is listening. Big Brother really exists and he was listening in to that call, not that the call was interesting but it was who took the call that the computers in GCHQ Cheltenham were interested in.
The computers logged the call and sent an email to an analyst to listen in to the recording to make a decision as to whether there needed to be ‘follow up’ but for now nothing else was done.
The Secret Listeners
The red car didn’t follow the Taxicab, there wasn’t any need, they knew the pattern. Instead she made her own way to Tokapi and parked just a few blocks from a coffee shop that had a mix of tourists and locals.
The Tokapi palace, just across the Bosporus from the Saint Sophia Museum and one of the most magnificent scenes that anyone can see, the place where the tourist attractions famous all over the globe meet with the humble coffee shops that are almost as famous as the icons that bring people from the far corners.
Steve loved the view from the coffee shop, he could sit in the back of the shop and take in some of the most famous places in the world, he could literally watch the world go by from where he was, but he wasn’t here for that, he was here to meet a contact, a mid level ‘soldier’ in one of Turkey’s drug gangs, one who said he could tell then the new routes that the drug barons are taking in getting the drugs to Europe, that was what today’s meet was about.
The small red car had morphed into a green one, at first glance no one would have known that they were the same vehicle, but first glances were all that people were going to get, the middle aged woman parked the car about fifty meters from the coffee shop, got out and began walking away, as soon as she got to the end of the street she reached into her bag, took out a mobile phone and pressed a number.
The street erupted into a ball of flame as the car leapt into the air and came crashing down a good fifteen meters nearer to the coffee shop. The bomb had been in three places all designed to detonate at the same time, both front doors packed with explosives turned into small fragments of shrapnel and shredded everything and everyone for twenty meters on both sides of the street, the Engine, where the bulk of the Semtex had been separated from the gearbox and flew fifty meters down the street smashing into a top of the range Mercedes killing it’s occupants, a junior minister, his bodyguard and his driver instantly.
The front of the shop disappeared in a ball of flame, the German tourists were still sat at their tables, but one was killed instantly as the flying shrapnel decapitated him, his girlfriend sat there stunned for a few seconds then started screaming at her headless boyfriend not realising her arm had been completely severed and she had only a few more seconds to live herself before she ‘bled out’. The waiter who’d just served Steve was killed instantly by the fireball his body slumped and ablaze at the front of the shop.
The natural reaction is to run, flee in a panic and run right into whatever mayhem might be happening outside, some would stay and in a daze begin to look for those they could help, if there were any.
Training kicked in, the stuff that he’d learned for his job and was told to make it second nature, everything in his being wanted to stop and help the wounded, but a voice was telling him “You’re the target here, and you need to get out fast, they’re coming back for you!”
He slowly rose to his feet, half acting as if he was in shock and half in a daze, he began feeling his way around, there was dust and flames everywhere, at the back of the shop the oven was burning out of control and some furniture was beginning to catch fire, he had seconds to make it to the back door before that exit was blocked, he began to move quickly, but not quick enough.
The other men began to move, in the pandemonium he’d forgotten about them, only now did he see the danger as one wrapped his arms around his neck in a vice like headlock “Mr Chambers” one of the others spoke in heavily accented English, a third took out a syringe and gently inserted it into his neck, quickly succumbing to whatever was in it the last thing he remembered hearing was the man saying “You have so much to tell us!”
Preview Chapter 1
“Where are you?” the phone wasn’t even at his ear when he heard those words, and the voice was unmistakable.
“Boss” he replied, “Nice to hear from you again, how long’s it been? Two hours?” Joey knew this wasn’t good!
“Cut the chit chat Joey, by my reckoning you’re at the pub now, just parked the car at home and straight round for a few at the Park Lane tavern if I’m right?” Joey instinctively looked round the room as it was as if Jacko was watching him, in a sense he was, but not from the room, he was watching a computer screen that showed his GPS co-ordinates from the phone Joey was using.
“You got that Boss, just arrived and having one why?”
“Sorry mate, you’ll have to cut it short” Jacko being apologetic meant something was going on. “We’re wanted and pronto in London”
“Shit” Joey started to reply “I’ve only just gone on leave, a leave that’s about three months overdue remember boss”
“My heart bleeds for you! Now get your arse into gear, there’s a ‘cab’ in the way for you, be at St George ’s Park on Windmill Street in fifteen” the phone went dead.
“Shit” was all he could think, he skulled the pint he’d just ordered, took out a couple of pound coins slapped them on the bar and started to run out the door, “Sorry Geoff, gotta run” and he was gone at full sprint.
Geoff, the barman and owner scooped the money into the till thinking “Where the hell’s he off to now?” not that they’d get the chance to ask!
Joey rounded the corner just as the ‘cab’ was coming in, an Augusta eight seater that looked just like any other corporate helicopter, anyone seeing it would think some exec getting a lift back to the office, except this was a working class neighbourhood and rich corporate execs don’t show up at dusk to climb into strange aircraft. The Augusta may be an eight seater but he noticed only three seats were filled, a fourth was empty and the rest had equipment bags in them
“Glad you could fit us in” Jacko was the first to speak as he buckled himself in.
“Thanks for the invite boss, next time can you give me a bit of warning!” Joey shot back, one thing he loved about this outfit was the Regiment didn’t stand on ceremony; you got crap from them you simply gave it back, no matter the rank “What’s up anyway?”
“No idea really” it was one of the others, Mac a large red headed Scotsman with the temper to match spoke up “As usual”
“True enough” Jacko interjected, “We’ve just been told to get the hell down to London and we’ll be told there, your kit’s in the bags” he pointed to the two bags by Joey’s seat, he didn’t mean clothes. Turning to the aircrew he flicked open their channel “You know where we’re going boys, we’re in your hands he said with a slight smile”
“No worries Jacko” the pilot replied “We’ve got you covered, all we can say is it’s by Vauxhall Bridge” They didn’t need to say more, there’s only one government building fits that description Vauxhall house the HQ for MI6.
Forty five minutes later the first words after the greetings were spoken, “Twenty miles out” The pilot turned to the air crewman, “Time to light us up” darkness had closed in but he didn’t mean navigation lights. The crewman leaned forward and flicked a switch on his console “I.F.F. on” He spoke quietly to all, “they’ll see us in a minute” he pulled a small screen down from the overhead console, it came to life as he pulled away, “They have us, we’re good to go!”
I.F.F. stands for “Identify Friend or Foe and is a similar system to what all fighter planes use to ‘talk’ to friendly radar, a more downmarket version is used for civilian air traffic, this was a bit more advanced.
Most Londoners think that the ‘Ring of steel’ air defences were put around London for the London Olympics, they weren’t, they’ve always been there, the difference is they only guard certain places in London, Parliament doesn’t get it, but Downing Street and Vauxhall Bridge both get protection along with a few other places, all what happened during the Olympics was it was expanded and some of the sites weren’t taken down as promised, it was the IFF that had just locked on, identified them as friends and let them through, no one contemplated what might happen if they didn’t get identified as there would be no warning, just a downed helicopter and six dead soldiers.
Joey looked out the side window, he could see a Police helicopter in the distance moving up and down, he figured the Police chopper was about ten miles away (at night at this height the navigation lights can be seen that far away) and by the way it was flying it was checking the traffic on the M1 motorway heading north, probably not even aware they were in the air. The Police chopper also had the I.F.F. fitted but clear orders not to stray from their route, besides Thames House kept an eye on even the ‘allowed traffic’ and any violation would not be good for the one who breaks the rule!
As soon as the skids touched the pilot began shutdown procedure, it took about fifteen seconds to stop the blades turning, they were getting out when they saw a guy running towards them with wheels under his arms, as they entered the building they saw him clamping the wheels to the skids and he and the two aircrew were manhandling the aircraft into the small hanger on the roof that looked just like a penthouse within three minutes there was no trace there’d ever been a helipad on the roof.