Ray Sullivan publishes science based fiction adventures on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, WH Smith and other good eBook retailers as e-books. Additionally all of his books are available in paperback on Amazon. He also muses on technology, posts comedic books in serial format and discusses the world of self publishing.
Books written by Ray Sullivan
Friday, 1 March 2013
Parallel Lives chapter 65
Simon had spent thirty minutes flicking through the
compilation of so-called intel documents with little enthusiasm. He still
couldn't see the benefit of this new format of information and despite his
probing after the briefing was still blind to the method of acquiring it.
It read like a poor synopsis of newspaper articles.
Sometimes there were bald statements that might pass for a headline from one of
the tabloids. Other entries were just plain rambling which took ages to
identify the subject area. Eventually Simon gave up on the document,
rationalising that he had three juniors ploughing through it already.
He turned back to the problem he had been dealing with for
the last few days, shuffling the various intel reports into a new order.
The suicide bomb situation that had shocked the world,
threatened to destabilise the already fragile Middle East peace process and had
filled headlines in the broadsheets since was more serious than most people
realised. The bomber, a one time aide to the Israeli ambassador to, amongst
other countries, the United Kingdom was originally a British subject himself.
His father had been a reasonably successful local businessman in Pimlico, and
he had been a bright student up until his family had left to settle in Israel
when he was fifteen.
The move was to enable his father to team up with the boy's
uncle where they built a successful construction company in Tel Aviv. The lad
settled down well and completed his secondary education under a different
educational regime effortlessly, moving on to University, graduating with a
distinction in world affairs. He was welcomed into the Israeli Civil Service
Diplomatic Corps and was starred to reach Ambassador status within the next few
There was no doubt that the bomber was the aide, DNA tests
on his remains proved that without doubt. When the Israeli police searched his
apartment it was empty of his family save for the dismembered head of his
Searches of other locations used by the bomber revealed
that his parents’ house and the flat occupied by his uncle, now estranged from
his wife and children, were both also empty and clinically clean. No sign could
be found of any member of his immediate family in Israel.
Simon looked up from the reports, rubbed his neck and
picked up the pint sized mug of tea he had left cooling five minutes earlier.
Sipping the sweet liquid Simon mused over the conversation he had had the
previous day at lunch with his Eastern European counterpart. Simon had simply
mentioned that the explosives used were military grade plastic of unknown
'Your domain, I wonder,' he had questioned while shovelling
mashed potato down. His counterpart picked up the loose sheet of paper Simon
had dropped onto the canteen Formica topped table. Shaking his head he cleared
'Unlikely. The material specs indicate a recent
manufacture. At present the black market for illegal plastic across the whole
Eastern European scene is readily absorbed by the Russian's Chechen friends.
Ironic, isn't it? All democratic or aspiring democratic countries seem doomed
to end up making the weapons of choice for their own terrorists,' he noted.
'No,' he continued, 'this is more likely to be of Western
manufacture, probably home-made by someone with reasonable access to the
appropriate chemicals. The process isn't rocket science, although I understand
it can be unstable in the wrong hands. Anyone with a good grounding in chemical
engineering with access to the internet can achieve this. It's back to
obtaining the constituent parts that presents the biggest problem, but hardly
insurmountable,' he concluded, washing his own meal down with his coffee before
handing the sheet of paper back. 'Sorry not to have been of much help,' he
added as he left the table.
Twenty four hours later and the discussion felt as
unpalatable as it had then. Truthfully, Simon had been clutching at straws,
hoping his colleague would say 'absolutely, Russian military origin, probably
cold war vintage left behind in one of the Eastern Bloc states.' But that would
have been too easy.
The Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, had requested
that discrete enquiries be made in London with the relatives of the dead man. Actually
they had been intercepted en route to carry out their own 'enquiries', and
there was now a semi-official joint investigation spanning two intelligence
agencies and the Special Branch.
The British Secret Service had a vested interest in the
subject. The aide to the Ambassador had been a bright young man in his day, but
he wasn't the brightest in his family by a long chalk. His younger brother had
also transitioned well to the Israeli educational system, but had returned to
the UK to take, ultimately, a PhD in chemistry. He had willingly retained his
British citizenship and had worked variously at Woolwich Arsenal and Porton
Down as a research scientist, specialising in weapon delivery systems.
This was Simon's dilemma. When the intelligence consortium
gained covert entry into the scientist's house they found only one human body,
that of his headless nephew. It looked as though the scientist had been
responsible for the construction of the weapons that had killed his brother and
the assembled Arabs striving to resolve the Middle East problem. And that
scientist was nowhere to be found. Nor, for that matter, were his family or
that of his deceased brother.
The fear amongst the intelligence community was that there
would be a follow up attack, but whether it would happen in Israel or the UK
was the question. Especially as biological samples had gone astray from Porton
Down a day before the suicide bomb attack; the day the scientist drove out of
the security entrance an hour early and disappeared from all sight.
Whether the attack in Israel had been a statement against
the Arab nations by an offended Jew, as believed by the newspapers or, as now
seemed likely, a coerced man trying to save his family members from torture and
a painful death at the hands of Al Qaeda was largely irrelevant. What was
relevant was that the man had demonstrated a potential family trait to bow to
such admittedly enormous pressure. Which, in Simon's opinion, made for a very
serious intelligence problem given that the man also seemed to be in possession
of enough biological agents to kill the population of any medium sized British
city if dispensed correctly into the local water supply.
Simon leant back in his chair, raising the front legs clear
of the ground, placing his hands behind his head. They had searched his home
for clues, turned his office upside down, visited places he was known, tried to
find his children, questioned his children's friends and had found zip. And all
of this had been done with the utmost discretion; nobody wanted to alert the
public that terrorists may possibly be about to wipe out a large section of the
country, not without some idea of when and where they may strike.
As he mused these thoughts he was approached by one of his
juniors, Pete, eating a sandwich and clutching a bulky buff envelope. Pete was
always eating, and despite being a department dedicated to finding answers
nobody had yet worked out where all the food went.
'You expecting something from,' he looked at the front of
the envelope, turning it slightly to get a better look at the sender's address,
'Llani-somethin-or-other?' Simon reached behind him, half turning.
'Llanishen, it's in South Wales. It's the MoD repository of
official publications,' he said, tearing the envelope seal open and withdrawing
the spiral bound document, scanning the 'with compliments' slip that fell out
with it briefly. Pete leaned over his bosses shoulder to read the title.
'"Civil Defence Officer Directions,"' he quoted,
'you looking at a career change?' Simon felt a mild irritation that his staff
automatically nosed into anything he received, asked the bluntest of questions.
Ironically it was probably these same traits that had attracted Simon to his
people, had been driving criteria when he recruited them.
'Watch and learn, young man,' he said, opening the book at
random pages, scanning the spot colour illustrations, 'if these bastards
successfully poison one of our cities' water supply we can expect the
authorities to start cracking their copies of this book out, putting its
directions into practice. That's going to make our job very difficult, the
rules are going to change and the people we will need to work with will be
feeling their way as they go. I want to know what they will be planning on
doing before they do, be able to anticipate the problem areas that these rules
will create. Preparation, that's the key to this game when you're blind to good
intel, waiting for something to happen,' he said, flicking the book pages over
until he reached a page demonstrating an official looking document, complete
with the Ministry of Defence logo. Pete leaned forward, squinting at the page.
Suddenly he blurted out, spreading part masticated sandwich over Simon.
'What's that,' he asked, pointing vaguely at the top of the
page. Simon squinted at the general area, pulling the page closer to him as he
'It's the operation title, they've blurred the name to
prevent the readers thinking the name used here is the one always used. You
know, the names we use, along with the police and the military. ''Operation
Scant Chance'', that sort of thing.' Simon held the book up to his junior. Pete
was shaking his head.
'No, the heading above that, next to the security grading,'
he asked, trying to see the word written in bold alongside the 'Top Secret'
statement. Simon looked again.
'Spartan,' he said, flicking to the index, 'here we go, its
got its own entry, page 5.' More page turning and Simon found the brief entry,
which he proceeded to read aloud.
'All official communications are to be security graded as
appropriate, accompanied with the relevant operation title and, in addition,
all National Emergency Operations must be labelled "Spartan". This
will ensure that the National Emergency operational correspondence will be
immediately identifiable from all the other operational correspondence that
will undoubtedly be proliferating blah, blah, blah,’ Simon tailed off, becoming
bored with the subject and only mildly surprised that Pete had shown such
specific interest. Wiping his mouth, Pete took up the conversation.
'I just wondered because "Spartan" appeared in
the last lot of that stuff you asked us to read through,' he said. Simon looked
'Really? I didn't read that, but then again I didn't read
it all,' he said. Pete leaned on Simon's desk.
'You wouldn't have seen it anyway. Apparently the dip-shit
that's been supplying this drivel has just filed another couple of pages in the
last hour. I ended up with it. To tell the truth it reads like a man rambling;
odd words, some sentences and much in-fill where the guy has readily admitted
he's putting his best-guess words in where he couldn't work out what was said
or meant.' Pete stood up, clearly finished with the conversation and ready to
continue his sifting. Simon felt duty bound to follow up the coincidence, for
'Have you a copy of this late submission,' he asked. Pete
nodded, walked out, returning less than thirty seconds later. He placed the
thin document in front of Simon, circling the word "Spartan" with a
biro. Simon picked up the loose sheaf, looked at the date and time information
briefly, then read the entry alongside the blue circled word.
'Christ,' he exclaimed, 'wait there.' Picking up the
report, Simon stormed down the corridor and barged into the Head of Regional
Intelligence's office, catching his boss on the way out, his briefcase stood on
his desk, open.
'I want to know how and where this information was gained,'
Simon demanded. The Head nodded, placed his briefcase on the ground and sat
'Sure,' the Head said, 'I take it you've found something.'
Simon didn't need to speak, his demeanour was sufficient. 'In that case we may
be on a win-win here, because I've just been informed of a development that I
would like you to help me with.' Simon sat down and told the Head what he had
just read in the report.