Books written by Ray Sullivan

Friday, 15 March 2013

Parallel Lives chapter 71

Simon stood with his back to the briefing room wall, a part of the projected image strewn across his face, a dot depicting Cheltenham forming an oval on his cheek. The team he had put together filed into the room, a collection of men and women he trusted, culled from the willing and the available. He waited until the group had entered and found seats before starting. As the last person sat down Simon nodded to Gerald to dim the main lights, just leaving the projected image illuminating his end of the room.
'Okay, listen in,' he began, pausing while the assembled crew stopped talking and started listening. 'Some of you know the first part of this briefing, so I apologise to you now, however there is information here that is new to all of you,' he continued, satisfied that he now had assured their attention. Pressing the wireless mouse left hand button he re-started the presentation he had been reviewing prior to the arrival of the team. A slide showing Joseph Braumweld flashed up.
'I expect this face is familiar to all of you, the now infamous Israeli suicide bomber, the man that allegedly re-wrote the Middle East rule book. Certainly that's what the newspapers would have us believe.
'London born, a family man, Joseph was a respected member of the Israeli civil service, and it was his high level security grading that allowed him to get close enough to the Arab contingent that he destroyed.
'It's no secret in this building that his oldest son's head was found at his home, delivered by one of the major courier services the day before the attack, along with another package now believed to have been the explosives. What some of you may not know is that the torso of his son was found in his brother's house in Wiltshire, where he was supposed to be staying, along with the rest of the family in preparation for a close relative's wedding. So far none of the other family members have been found.' One of the officers in the front row raised his hand.
'Do we know for certain it was Braumweld?'
'We're certain.' replied Simon, 'the Israeli Government takes DNA samples of all official personnel, military, civil service, you name it. They have confirmed beyond doubt that the bomber was Braumweld and that a related DNA was involved in the construction of the explosives.' Another hand was raised.
'Braumweld's father is believed to be a fervent anti-Islamist. Was Braumweld part of that?' Simon shook his head.
'I doubt it, despite the hard line attitude of the Israeli Government over the last, what, thirty years their diplomatic corps have been assiduous in their approach to international relations. It's highly unlikely that any member of the department harbours extreme views. We know they knew about his father's views and they would have checked him out thoroughly. He would have been a known quantity, prepared to see all sides, to talk up the Israeli perspective when required. The antithesis of your typical suicide bomber,' he said.
Noting the silence, Simon advanced the presentation, revealing Joseph Braumweld's brother, Peter.
'Peter Braumweld, one of the family members we have been unable to locate. Ostensibly one of us, a Government scientist working on weapon delivery systems. Managed to exploit his top level access to successfully walk out of Porton Down the day before the bombing in Tel Aviv with enough mutated bird flu virus to wipe out a small city.' Simon waited as the facts were absorbed. Sarah, one of his regular team, raised her arm.
'Mutated bird flu?' she asked. Simon walked forward, approaching the group, leaving the remote control on the side table at the front.
'A natural mutation of the bird flu that killed several hundred Asians last year. In its natural state it is only contagious to humans if they come into contact with an infected bird. Towards the end of the outbreak British scientists working with the international team set up to devise effective treatments isolated a variant which piggy-backed onto water borne bacteria. Luckily enough it hadn't infected any water supplies used by sizeable populations, hence its impact on the crisis was minimised. It was, however, clear that the mutated form retained its danger to humans.
'Two issues were therefore identified. The first was that this variant may survive the outbreak and could present a danger to the public in its natural state. The second issue was the way it piggy-backed onto bacteria. This is a major biological warfare threat as it stands. If the mutation was capable of being adapted for other, more deadly agents, then the threat is obvious. Porton Down were studying the mutation with a view to both creating an effective solution to the specific virus and the general mutation-stroke-piggy-back syndrome. Consequently they had cultivated large quantities of the virus, amounts now unaccounted for.
'So you see, what we have is a fucking nightmare,' Simon appealed to his expanded team. 'If we follow the line the newspapers are suggesting, that it was a disgruntled Israeli official scuppering the peace process then the next target should be a town with a large Arab population. In this country it might be Wolverhampton or Bradford. My view, though, is that this is a typical Al Qaeda operation, and the target is probably London somewhere, there's plenty of Jewish enclaves in the Capital,' he suggested. A hand was raised in the back of the room.
'Sir, isn't there always a prevalent threat to our water supplies? I thought we had beefed up the security on them,' the voice belonging to the hand pointed out.
'Its not as easy as you would imagine, poisoning the water supply,' replied Simon, 'the boffins reckon that its really quite difficult to get good results. You can't just pour some poisonous material into the supply. The stuff will be watered down by a random amount and generally to put enough of the usual toxins in to affect a meaningful population would result in severely discoloured and smelly water. It would be so obviously tainted that most of the target audience wouldn't touch it. That's if any reaches the taps at all, the flow calculations, temperature over density graphs, you name it there are problems. Believe me, I've just lived and breathed this problem for the past few days, and from what the scientists tell me I'm surprised water gets through, let alone contaminants,' he finished, to a ripple of amusement. Walking back to the front Simon picked up the remote control and advanced the presentation another frame.
'John Staples, probably a friendly,' he said. 'Staple's may know something about the target for this stuff. Unfortunately, he doesn't actually know he knows, and the last report we had on him, he wasn't too good.' Before Simon could advance on to the next piece of information one his normal team asked a question several were hoping to pose.
'Is this the guy that Loftus lost?' he asked. Martin's failure to hang on to a prisoner had started to circle the offices, becoming embellished and exaggerated at most retellings. Another voice entered the fray before Simon could respond.
‘Is it true Loftus’ ambition is to become ept,’ the voice wagged to a few chuckles. Simon waved palms down to gain control of the briefing.
'Martin Loftus has been involved in this, and it is true that Staples was being looked after by him before he was abducted. Listen guys, Martin has made a few mistakes on this one but to be fair he wasn't well supported by the department and he made a few judgement calls that went wrong,' said Simon generously. When they had assessed the events they had decided that Martin had overstepped his authority, but had done so in part because his calls for assistance had been largely unheeded. Neither side had realised they were working on the same problem. Simon moved on.
'Jack Howells,' he announced, 'probably not a friendly. Working with his wife Karen and a local Civil Servant, he appears to have been instrumental in the abduction of Staples. It’s clear he was aware of Staples' knowledge and our best guess is he's trying to sell the man to the Americans or the Russians. Either way, we would prefer we stopped them.' Jack felt the need to drink water, his throat drying with all the talking.
'Howells is ex-army, left before his term, no immediate pension. Served in the Falklands conflict, the second one, as a REME engineer. According to his discharge questionnaire he cites that conflict as his main reason for leaving the Army. Certainly he lost a number of his close acquaintances during the main push into Stanley.
'We know he has worked in engineering ever since leaving the Army. Currently the engineering manager for a mid sized consumer product factory in Manchester he is earning a reasonable wage, but does have a high mortgage and probably would like a cash boost.
'His wife is probably along for the ride, we haven't any intel on her at any rate. Of more interest is this guy,' he said, flicking an image of Alan onto the screen. 'Early fifties, career officer with the Health and Safety Executive. Low to mid flyer, probably could have done better for himself if he had been less of a rebel. Now we all know how well paid Civil Servants are,' said Simon, drawing smiles around the room. ‘This is probably his best chance at improving his pension fund.
'And finally,' said Simon, pressing the remote one more time, 'Michael Watson, DTRU scientist working on a project that involves the information Staples has. He is working with Howells and co. We're unsure of his motives, but he doesn't need the cash. We think he may be acting out of a misguided sense of concern for Staples. He may be trying to help the guy but isn't aware of how important it is we speak to him.'
'Sir, where are they?' asked a voice from the front. Simon pressed the remote control one last time, bringing up a map of the West Midlands.
'We've had a stroke of luck. Howell's mother, who lives in a home in Bristol, has helpfully provided us with the phone number of the motel Sam Watson is staying in, presumably with Staples. We believe the other three are headed there now,' Simon replied. The voice from the front pitched in again.
'Are we getting the civils to pick them up, or do we have people on the spot?'
'It's a bit tricky, this one,' said Simon a little reluctantly, 'we've already stretched our credibility with the civils once today and the big man upstairs is reluctant to push our luck. The problem is that we've not exactly worked inside the framework of the law regarding Staples and we're probably going to keep on stretching the boundaries a little longer. Involving the civvy police is likely to raise too many uncomfortable questions so we need to keep this in-house. We've got two of our people headed that way now.
'Gerald has drawn up one of his famous action plans, so all please listen to what he now has to say,' he said, waving his opposite number to the front.


Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

Parallel Lives is published in paperback and as an eBook

I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan
or on Facebook - use to find me

Why not take a look at my books and read up on my Biog here

Want to see what B L O'Feld is up to?  Take a look at his website here

Worried/Interested in the secretive world of DLFs?  Take a look at this website dedicated to DLFs here, if you dare!

No comments:

Post a Comment