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Bespoke Assassins (Part 4)

Paul Dellit has written some excellent political articles for The AIMN, so it came as some surprise that he is better known for his screenplay writing. Thomas Keneally, in a recent review of one of Paul’s screenplays I wrote: “I liked your screenplay and plot very much” and went on to describe it as “a very interesting and well-wrought script”. This particular screenplay – a spy thriller set in 1992 involving a MI5 mission directed at uncovering the source of stolen Russian radioactive material – has been turned into a novella (with input from Mr Keneally) and prior to publishing in hard copy has been offered to The AIMN.

We are pleased to ‘publish’ Paul’s novella. Being over 40,000 words, it will need be published in weekly installments.

Today we offer Part 4 (picking up where we left off from in Part 3).

Chapter 4 (continued)


Emma is walking back into Oliver’s office; it is the evening of the same day. She slumps, crestfallen, in the chair facing Oliver on the other side of his desk. He looks up, smiles, but before he can say anything, she speaks.

“We’re ordered back to London, first available flight.”


“Julian is in hospital. He had a minor heart attack two days ago. Young Master Glasely is in Julian’s chair. He didn’t think Julian’s medical condition was something I should be immediately advised of – the little shit. It’s one thing to be stupid and another to be arrogant but Glasely: twice blessed.”

“So it was Glasely’s decision to recall us. Why doesn’t he just follow through with Julian’s strategy for dealing with this kind of situation?”

“He obviously doesn’t want to take the risk. If something goes wrong, it will be on his watch, but if the mission were to continue and succeed, credit would go to Julian. Glasely’s the kind of political weasel who won’t lift a finger unless it advances his own career. He says he wants to ‘reassess the mission in light of these new developments’. The very fact that we depart moments before Feint’s CIA people arrive will signal to them that their movements are being monitored and they are perceived to be a threat to our wellbeing.”

Oliver pauses, looking reflectively into the distance. “So our mission, as originally conceived, has three new obstacles: one weasel belonging to 6, and two CIA hit men connected to Feint.”

Emma looks up, now animated by Oliver’s response. “Oliver, we have to go back. I’m as frustrated as you . . .”

Oliver interrupts: “I agree you have to go back. I’m going now to write a letter for you to take back to your Glasely Esquire – is that the right form of address? – to advise of my resignation from any further involvement with MI6, ASIS, and this MI6 mission. I’ll say my reason for resigning is that Glasely – that the mission has been suspended without any commitment to its recommencement. I’m sure there are all manner of legal problems with such a letter, but at least it will absolve you of any responsibility for my actions. And it will signal to 6 and ASIS that they will have a legal fight on their hands if they decide to prosecute me.”

Emma stands up and walks to the edge of Oliver’s desk and leans upon it. “They don’t prosecute corpses, Oliver. What can you possibly hope to achieve by staying?” She stands up and places her hands on her hips, exasperated by his facile self-confidence, and continues: “You don’t know whom to meet or what to ask them. And who do you propose to give the information to?”

She walks back to her chair and slumps into it. “You certainly don’t know. And, dear Oliver, whatever army training you had twenty or so years ago, it won’t match up to the training these CIA hit men have had.”

“You have a list of the people I’m supposed to meet and you can brief me on what information 6 wants me to get. You can say you gave all that to me as soon as we got here.”

She realises that he is serious about staying and decides that it is time to call a halt to his blithely optimistic, uninformed, unrealistic planning which she is sure will end in disaster were he allowed to continue unchecked. “I will not! Your wife and child died before I knew that they could possibly be in danger. I will not deliberately let you join them!”

“Four people have died, Emma. Four people! And yet you still thought this mission was important enough to pursue even with the recently added level of risk to us both. Then this cretinous little shit with a title up his arse decides to make sure that it fails by bringing us back just as these CIA pricks arrive. For Christ’s sake!”

“Oh no you don’t”, she thinks with alarm, “this has to stop right here and now”.

“Oliver, we have to return. We don’t have any other option. We have no security support, no intelligence updates.”

“Emma, your analysis of the consequences of both of us leaving now was obviously right. I just can’t accept that we have to rush back without achieving anything. Couldn’t we at least stay long enough to get some idea of what Phillip had discovered, or was about to discover?”

“I can’t believe that this man is as intelligent as he is supposed to be if he can come up with something as stupid as that”, she reflects, and wonders: “Is this man bright enough to understand irony? Let’s see.”

“Well, we couldn’t stay long, Oliver. We wouldn’t want to upset young Master Glasely. So perhaps we could just go directly to the source. You visit Mr. Maberly and I will call on Mr. Dunleavy and we can enquire as to the purpose of their current visit to Berlin, and when we get back to the office we can compare notes, in case one of them has left something out. And won’t Master Glasely look just so foolish when we present him with our report!”

Oliver responds with mock disappointment: “So sweet a nature, so tainted by the gall of sarcasm.”

Emma laughs. “I’ll book our flight.”

Oliver responds just as Emma is on the point of leaving the room: “Wait a minute. I think I owe you an apology. You weren’t being sarcastic at all! You were brainstorming! So let’s take your suggestion to the next step. We take the initiative. We visit Messrs. Maberly and Dunleavy – but I think the both of us together should visit each one of them separately. We’ll make much more of an impression as two interrogators, particularly when we let slip that we hold them responsible for murdering our families. You can be the out-of-control harridan ready to put bullets into various parts of their anatomy and I’ll be the sober moralist saying things like: “Oh, to take revenge would be to descend to their level”.

Frustrated that he is still on this tack, still this same untrained dog at this same dry bone, she decides to ignore this last ditch effort on his part and feigns to assume that they are returning, responding: “A harridan is an old woman. I vote for a morning flight. It’ll give me time to do some shopping in London.”

But he won’t be dissuaded: “Fair enough. I can handle each of them, one on one. I’ll need you to leave your clever little tranquilizer pen behind. I’d rather not pull a gun on them first up. They’re bound to have documents and probably a laptop computer. They’d use a laptop to exchange emails with Feint. That would be their most secure way of communication. All in all I should have enough material to base my questions on when they come to. I might have to rough them up a little so they know I mean business – I promise not to enjoy myself – it won’t be for revenge. In fact, I’d much rather hand them over to 6 for questioning, but I won’t know how to do that, thanks to Glasely Esquire.”

“It’s not ‘Esquire’. He’s the son of a Peer. Please be serious and tell me whether you prefer a flight a.m. or p.m.”

“No. I am being serious. Your idea could work. I will have the element of surprise. I can disguise myself so that they won’t immediately recognize me, and before they become suspicious I can stick them, one-on-one remember, with your tranquilizer pen.”

“Stop calling it my idea! Do you know how to use the tranquilizer? Do you even know where to inject it? And what questions do you imagine you will ask them. Regardless of what you find in documents or on laptops, you don’t know enough about the mission. The best you could hope to do is bring back any documents they have and their computers, if they have them. And when you walk into 6 with all your valuable booty, what kind of reception do you think you would get? But you’ll never have to face that problem because you will be dead.”

Oliver is unable to resist: “Oh . . . and you’d miss me.”

“Look I know what makes you want to do this, obviously, and I know what makes you think you can.” Emma pauses then continues with a challenge she hopes will put paid to his whole fanciful notion of continuing with the mission by himself: “Okay. Prove to me that you are approaching this with a rational mind. Treat this situation as though it were an investment proposal you had to review. You would weigh up all the pros and cons, you would follow some kind of analytical process, wouldn’t you? So let’s do that and if we both agree that it stands up to scrutiny – a completely disinterested, dispassionate analysis – then I will stay with you.”

“Is this analysis to be based upon me undertaking the venture alone or both of us?”

“The former. My involvement would provide the safety margin if it looks as though you could succeed by yourself. And if the analysis shows you would fail by yourself, you must agree, here and now, to come back with me tomorrow. And a further condition: if we decide to stay and carry out our plan, I will call Julian, before we start, to tell him.”

“Why involve Julian?”

“Because he will be able to give us advice about all the things we haven’t thought of – if I can persuade him not to have another heart attack. And he’ll know who we should contact if we really get stuck.”

“What if he blows the whistle to 6?”

She replies with a wry smile: “He won’t. And I’ll make sure he isn’t compromised. Julian is no stranger to going ‘off piste’.”

“Okay. All agreed.”

“So, under the Pros column we have:

  • You can think logically under stress; quick on the uptake; alert, physically fit; good reflexes, I imagine; and

Emma pauses and interpolates: “Stop looking so smug.”

Oliver smiles. “I was going to say, don’t forget: dark wavy hair and a genuine Australian suntan . . . and my own teeth.”

Emma ignores his flippancy and continues:

  • “You speak German fluently and I’m sure you could bung on a convincing English-with-a-German-accent as part of your disguise.

Oliver adds: “If the need arises, I can also speak French and passable Italian.”

And she adds: “And Malay, Australian, and a smattering of English completes the list.” She continues:

  • “You are very good shot: you spent part of your childhood on your uncle’s farm, shooting endangered wildlife no doubt;”

Oliver feels the need to add some clarification to this last point. “Actually, if I could just interpolate something: my uncle was an exceedingly humane man and imparted his humane values to me. I am a good shot because he said that I was not allowed to pull the trigger unless I could be sure of a clean kill, minimising any pain that the animal might experience. He and I had great respect for all of the creatures on his farm, domesticated and wild, and never killed anything unless it served a necessary purpose. I remember one occasion, around dusk. A fox was sitting on the side of a hill, the setting sun just catching the white blaze on his . . .”

“Oliver! Can we please focus upon the issue at hand! Now . . .

  • you have combat experience and some training in unarmed combat; and
  • if we have to deal with dead bodies, you’re the man.

And now for the Cons:

  • You don’t know the purpose of the mission, and it’s better for all concerned that you don’t; however this also means you won’t know, because I won’t be there to keep briefing you, what information we need and what to do in other circumstances which may arise but I’m not permitted to brief you on;

Oliver holds up his hand. “Please Miss. That’s a non sequitur. If the pros beat the cons, you’ll be there to tell me all that.”

“Okay. Okay, well then there is the tranquilizer pen – but I suppose I could show you how to use it; look, there are a hundred and one things you don’t know about working in the field, things you need to know:

  • the unexpected always happens and you’re not trained to deal with any of this; – and
  • you have no backup of any kind.

Those two cons – lack of field training and no backup – outweigh all of the pros.”

“Thanks Emma, but I don’t believe your analysis, and I don’t think you do either. Don’t stay if you don’t want to, but you know as well as I do that with the element of surprise I would have a better than 50% chance of overpowering these two guys, tying them up, reading up on whatever material they have with them and then getting at least some valuable information from them when the wake up. At least it would be better than killing the mission stone dead with nothing to show. Look, Emma, I appreciate your concern for my safety, and you’ve discharged your moral obligation to try to dissuade me – but I’m staying no matter what you say, and that’s final!”

“You can get up quite a head of steam when you want to, Mr. Pymm. Of course I can’t force you to return. And if you’re determined to stay, I have no other option but to keep an eye on you. You’ve decided not to follow my instructions but you remain my responsibility. My duty, in this circumstance, is to limit the damage you may do to the mission and yourself, which leaves me no other option but to stay.

Oliver sighs: “Well, why didn’t you tell me what the formula was? All this running around the bushes . . .”

She interrupts him: “I’m getting used to running specious arguments to cover your behaviour. I want you to agree to one condition: that I remain in charge. Whatever we decide to do, we discuss it but I make the final decision and you comply. Agreed?”

“Well, okay, of course.”

“I won’t contact Julian yet. I’ll send a fax to Glasely to say that you have decided not to return to London, but holiday in France instead. I’ll say that I don’t trust you not to try to seek out the two CIA operatives for purposes of revenge, and for that reason have decided to keep you under surveillance without your knowledge, and intervene should you appear to be on that path. You’ll have to write that letter of resignation. I’ll attach it to my fax. You should mention in your letter that you will phone Andrew Kingston to advise him so that he can continue to monitor Feint and ensure that he does not become aware of your resignation. That will keep 6 off our backs for about as long as we will need to complete our own private mission. And that will then be time enough to contact Julian. Agreed?”

“You’re the boss.

“So, your plan with my modifications: I will visit each of them soon after they arrive at their apartments. You wait in the car. I will introduce myself as a representative of their leasing agent come to ask them to complete a form which was overlooked when they picked up their keys. . . .”

To be continued . . .

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