Heroes and Villains – Part 4
Saturday 22nd October
“Fank you Momma,” Judith said as she looked at her dinner, and then smiled as she started to eat.
“Now eat up your dinner,” Cari said with a smile as she looked at her cell phone. “Now why is Aunt Penny calling me?” Answering the call, she said “it’s your dime…
“Yeah, I know about that, but…
“OH. Let me see if I can get back.”
As she ended the call, she looked at Jude and said “can you watch Judith tonight?”
“Well, David and I were going to go out, but we can make it a movie night. Why?”
“Gotta go into town – I’ll see you tomorrow, little one.”
West Central Park
“So what has triggered this Penny?” Marina asked as she gathered some ‘toys’ into a bag.
“I think my beloved has worked out what actually happened on the Russian/Finnish border all those years ago. That Uncle Andre far from helping her parents defect…”
“Actually betrayed them?” Marina ventured as she adjusted the hood around her shoulders.
“He seems to have been a KGB agent within the Kirov Ballet yes.”
“Oh My God,” Marina went pale, “And Helen now knows this?”
“Yes,” Penelope nodded.
“For his sake I hope we can find them before Helen starts to do her thing on him.”
“If she does it won’t be a Silent Death Mongoose.”
“That’s for sure,” Marina finished loading her bag. “KYLIE!”
“I am ready,” Kylie said as she appeared in the doorway, dressed in black with a knapsack over one shoulder. “She awaits us.”
The two women nodded as they went into the main room, and bowed before Catherine.
“Swan, you will head to his home address. Watch and observe – if either appear, do not intervene, but inform me. Only if it becomes necessary do you involve yourself.”
“I understand, Honoured Mistress,” Kylie said as she bowed and slipped out.
“Mongoose, go with Penelope to the Metropolitan and adopt a watching brief as well. Keep me informed.”
“Honoured mistress,” they both replied as they bowed and slipped out, Cathy turning and looking out of the window.
The de Ros Mansion
“What is going on Mama?” Charlotte asked as she watched her Mother glance at her phone, while she herself fed her daughter.
“Nothing to worry about…” Francesca said without turning round.
“When people tell me it’s nothing in that tone of voice Mama it usually means its actually something huge…what is going on?”
Francesca turned and looked at her family, before saying “It’s not directly to do with our current business darling, it’s actually the consequence of events that happened many years ago.”
Sitting down, Francesca rubbed her eyes and said “Did you ever think why, with all her estimable skills, we have kept Helen York largely out of this?”
“I had wondered slightly,” Charlotte said as Frances detached herself, her eyes smiling, “but I always assumed you had a good reason.”
“I did… It’s because I suspected something regarding the role played by Andre Kannenikov at the time her parents tried to defect may not have been benign, and I didn’t need Helen finding out things that might complicate our mission.”
“But I take it she now knows something?” Charlotte said as she switched her daughter to her other breast.
“She does, and she’s out for private revenge and satisfaction.”
“And maybe blowing our whole operation in the process?”
“Can we stop her?”
“Carlotta, darling, I have no idea…”
“Mama, you need to check in with the office,” Charlotte said quietly, “if someone like Helen has gone rogue…”
West Central Park
Cathy looked at her cell phone as it buzzed, and answered the incoming call, saying “report, Swan.”
“I am in position, honoured mistress,” she heard Kylie say quietly, “there is no sign of the one called Dancer, and as for our sensei…”
“If she was there, I doubt even you would see her clearly,” Cathy said quietly.
“Do we have any idea where Helen is, or even where she may be going Mistress?”
“We don’t Swan,” Cathy said as she sat down. “I have tried both ringing her, and texting her, but for the first time ever Helen is ignoring me.”
“I understand,” Kylie said as Cathy saw a second call come in. “Maintain your vigil, we will talk later.”
“Of course, Honoured Mistress,” Kylie said as she ended the call, and Cathy answered the second one.
“We are in position, no sign of her yet.”
“I am worried,” Cathy said as she spoke into the device, and then heard Penny say
“Did you ring her Master?”
“I did, and he has tried contacting her also without success.” Catherine looked at her device, “she will face severe discipline for breaking her vows of obedience.”
“At this moment I don’t think that worries her Catherine,” Penny said, and Cathy could hear the concern. “She’s not reacting now as the professional assassin, this is little Yelena striking out to get vengeance for her father.”
“I know Penny, and that is what frightens me. When Bruce died, she saw that, knew what had happened, did what she did, but this is the raw nerve that needs to be soothed…”
The de Ros Mansion
“Should we warn The Dancer Marchesa?” one of Caroline’s watchers asked as she spoke out of the laptop, Francesca looking at the picture of the nerve centre.
“I’m thinking about it,” Francesca looked at the computer screen. “I’m tempted to say he has this coming, but knowing what I know of Helen’s skills I would not wish that upon even him.”
“So what are our orders?”
After a moment, Francesca said “For this moment eyes only, and keep in constant touch with developments please.”
“Understood Admiral,” another of the watchers spoke as the screen went dead.
“I’m on my way into the city now,” Carina said as she drove down the freeway, “I’m not sure if I could stop her though…”
“I think no one of us could Carina, but all of us together, we may be able to get through… Carina your professional opinion please, if Helen does snatch him what will she do?”
“You want me to speculate Charlotte?”
“I’m hoping it will be better then mere speculation.”
“Is this between just you and me Charlotte, or does your Mom finally get to know who I am?”
“This is just between us,” Charlotte paused, “I told her I needed to speak privately to a specialist.”
“Well if it was me,” Carina said as she maneuvered the Maserati in the traffic, “I’d be currently preparing the place I want to take him after I snatch him.”
“So any ideas where she might be?”
“I have an idea, and I’m hoping that I’m wrong.”
“I’ll tell you later Charlotte if needs be. But I am sure she will head back to get him…”
The door to the barn hardly sounded as it was opened and closed, the shadows seeming to move across the floor – only it wasn’t a shadow, as Helen made her way along the side of the building.
Slowly Helen checked out the hidden compartments and assured herself that this place was as well equipped as she remembered. Drawing out a cloth package, she put it down on the table and turned on a lamp.
“Excellent,” she spoke to herself as she opened that package and stroked the scalpels and other surgical instruments. This was the ideal place to bring ‘him’, and for her to get the vengeance that she knew she needed to extract from him.
She glanced down at her phone as it rang again. Her Master would himself punish her severely for her disobedience this night, her own life might even be forfeit for ignoring his commands to desist, but that mattered little to her right now as she laid everything out she planned to use later, then returned to her car to drive back into the city.
The de Ros Mansion
“Edith,” Diana said as she looked up to the doorway, “what can I do for you?”
“Madame, I have Miss Richmond on the line for you, she says it is urgent.”
Diana looked at Edith, and then walked out to the hallway, taking the handset as she said “Sandy Cherie, to what do I…”
“Alright Diana what is going on tonight that I’m not being told?” Sandy asked in an urgent tone.
“What makes you think that I know Cherie,” Diana said quietly, “I’m out of the loop as well.”
“Well Heather is detecting all kinds of urgent traffic on the secure networks she set up for the Marchesa and Caroline, and Jo just rung to ask why Cari has dropped everything at Yale and is driving to New York as we speak. That all looks very suspicious.”
“It does,” Diana paused, “did you ring Juliette?”
“I did and she’s saying she knows nothing either.”
“And do you think she is lying?”
“I’m not sure, and that worries me.”
“Who might know anything and will give us an honest answer?” Diana thought aloud.
“It’s an idea Sandy, but Madame can get very silent as well when she wishes to.”
“I tried Dom, and I tried Penny, but neither answered my call.”
“Cherie I will try making some enquiries myself, you and Heather sit tight and I’ll ring you when I know anything.”
“Okay, but be quick.”
Diana put the telephone down, and then said “Edith, is the Marchesa back?”
“I believe she is in her room, shall I check?”
“No – I will go and see for myself…”
“Am I the only person who sees irony in the fact that so many or the world’s most renowned assassins are banding together to actually try and stop someone being murdered?” Hannah asked as she looked out from the computer screen.
“It happens,” Francesca smiled, “part of the job is about protection just as much as it is about killing.”
“I guess,” the South African shrugged.
“Anyway do you have any updates for me please?” the Marchesa said as she looked at her number one.
“All I can tell from this box is that the audience is loving the production Boss. I’m not really a ballet fan but even I can see how beautiful the choreography and production is.”
“The dancer is a hugely talented man,” Francesca sighed, “the pity is that his other activities are not artistic endeavours.”
“I saw him look round a curtain half way through the first act, but no sign of him front of house since then.”
“Understood,” Francesca nodded, “let’s try ensure that the headlines tomorrow are about the gala at the New York Civic Ballet, and not about his grizzly murder.”
“As you say,” Hannah said as there was a knock on the bedroom door.
“I will talk to you soon,” Francesca said as she closed the laptop, and walked to open the door. “Diana – is something wrong?”
“Exactly what I was going to ask you,” Diana said quietly, “I just had Sandy on the phone, and they know something is happening. Need we be concerned?”
Francesca looked at Diana, not sure what to say, as Diana said “let me help you with one thing. I know someone is trying to blackmail Sandy and her family.” The look on Diana’s face told her everything as Francesca said “we think that someone is in mortal danger from a contact, and we are trying to stop it.”
“I see – then Sandy need not be concerned?”
“No – not at this time…”
Andre stood in the wings of the stage, watching as the ballet started the last dance of the night. If he had to leave this place, at least he was going out with a triumph, a masterpiece of precision and timing.
Unlike his other work – perhaps, perhaps it was time to quietly retire, stay home. He had tried his best, but the resources up against him…
Looking round, he slipped into the backstage area, taking a pack of cigarettes out and looking at it. “This is going to kill me,” he said to himself as he slipped out of the stage door, standing against the wall as he lit a cigarette.
He stood there for a moment, the lit cigarette in his hand as he felt the touch at his neck, and then it slowly fell to the ground as he was pulled backwards – but it did not go unnoticed, as Marina jumped from her vantage point and walked over, looking into the darkness.
“Do not interfere, Mongoose – this is not your fight.”
“I know, Sensei,” Marina said quietly, “but it is not yours either. You are not acting in the correct manner, and we are concerned.”
“I am giving you one more warning, Marina – back off.”
“With regret, mistress, I cannot,” Marina said quietly – and then she ducked as the shuriken flew over her head. It was a distraction – but as she turned and looked again, the alley was dark, and she could hear a vehicle driving off.
“Damn,” she said as she took out her cell phone.
West Central Park
“I have failed you, honoured mistress,” Cathy heard Marina say quietly.
“No – you did your best, I am sure. Return here, I must consult with the Swan.”
“At once, honoured Mistress,” Marina said as the line went dead, and Cathy dialled another number.
“Swan, Helen has taken the Dancer. Return here, Carina is on her way…”
West Central Park
“Carina,” Marina said as she joined Penny, Kylie and Catherine in the apartment, “you have been brought up to speed?”
“I have,” the petite blonde said as she looked at them, “my one question is, after what happened at the race, did NOBODY see this coming?”
Penny looked at the others before she said “Helen has been distracted, upset, but she always seemed to pull herself round. But the last twenty four hours…”
“So I am clear, you think she has gone rogue in a sense?”
“I’m confirming it – where would she go?”
“I think I know – and if I’m right, we need to move out now to try and stop her doing the worst thing possible. Catherine, can you let whoever needs to know we will try our best to make sure Helen gets back safely?”
“Of course,” Catherine said, “and what of him?”
“If I’m right, then it may be more of a mercy to kill him – I’ll let you know…”
Andre slowly raised his head and opened his eyes, looking round at where he had been taken. It was a large, open building, but he was sat in the centre, and a she tried to move he quickly discovered that he had been bound tightly to the chair he was sitting in with ropes, his wrists secured together and to the back of the chair, his legs spread and secured to the wooden front legs, his upper body bound to the chair back. And, what was more, he was naked.
“Who’s there,” he said as he struggled, and then sensed rather than heard or saw the figure in front of him. It was clothed in grey, only the blue eyes and pale skin clearly showing.
“Andre Kannenikov,” the figure said as it walked forward, “I am Silent Death. You have heard of me, no?”
Andre’s face paled as he said “Silent Death? I thought you were a legend – OW!”
The slap across his face by the back of the gloved hand made him wince as the figure said “Does that feel like a legend to you? No, I am very real, Dancer.”
“How do you know that name?”
“I know many things – I know you were the KGB plant in many of the ballet companies you worked with, I know you work for them still, I know you have been working for them while filling your current position, and I know what you have done.
“All that you have done.”
Andre looked into the clear blue eyes, as he said “I cannot confirm or deny – on whose orders are you working, if you are truly Silent Death.”
“Oh I work for the Honoured Fathers, I work on behalf of Madame X, I am a Sister of Maisha – is that enough for you to consider while I speak.”
He could feel the sweat on his back as he looked at her, wondering why her voice seemed so familiar…
“But there are other matters – and I include in those the small matter of your attempt to kidnap a very heavily pregnant woman.” The figure walked behind her, Andre trying to turn his head a she said “I have no idea whAAAARRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
He felt the knuckle on his finger disintegrate under the pressure from the chromium plated nutcracker, as his captor said “do not lie, Dancer, I will know if you do. Which brings me to the real reason I wanted to meet you, talk to you, kill you…”
“Kill me? For what reason?”
“How many do you want,” Silent Death said as he felt another knuckle disintegrate. Andre shook his head as he said “how many reasons do you need?”
“A good answer,” the masked woman said quietly, “and I will answer you, in due course. First, however, I want you to experience some of the pain I have felt, and then I shall tell you why…”
Andre cried out as the knuckle disintegrated on his left thumb, while Silent Death said “your most recent actions were, in many ways, the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the door that opened the way to you to receive my attentions. You should feel honoured – they tried very hard to keep me out of this, but eventually, I was informed, and now…”
“That – that was necessary – they were getting too close…”
“And who were they?”
“The devil fish… The she-devil Ball… So many others…”
“I see – you truly had no idea how much you were out of your depth, did you Dancer?” Silent Death walked round and picked up a scalpel, smiling under the mask as she walked forward.
“I realise that now,” he said quietly, “those Sisters…”
“If I was here on behalf of the Sisters of Maisha, be assured you would be quite dead by now,” Silent Death whispered as the blade of the scalpel went slowly down his chest, just deep enough to hurt and draw a trickle of blood, “you tried to take their leader, and they were not happy about that, not happy at all.”
“So they are real? And you admit Charlotte di Cambrello is their leader?”
“I see no reason to deny it,” she said as she stared at him and then grabbed his ball sac in a steel like grip, “because you are not leaving this room alive.”
Andre bit his tongue, determined not to scream as the pain went through his body, not to show his fear. He knew of her reputation, the silent killer, and yet she sounded so familiar…
“I see you are bleeding – let me clean that up,” she said quietly as she picked up a bottle of clear liquid and brought it over, letting the vinegar slowly pour down the scalpel cut as Andre started shaking.
“While I have some fun, perhaps you can answer a question – why target the Richmond family? My sources tell me you have been threatening to expose the daughter to public humiliation.”
“I had my orders…”
“And those orders include the hurting of innocents?”
“I try not to SHIT!” Andre’s eyes almost popped out of his head as the bamboo skewers slipped under his fingernails, the fire bursting up his nerves as Silent Death walked round again.
“It hurts, doesn’t it? Just as it hurts the innocents when you try to ruin them, and when you take what is theirs to keep for life.”
Andre stared at her as he smiled. "Do you think you are scaring me?"
Helen took a deep sniff and looked at the damp patch between his legs. "From the smell, I think that it is safe to conclude that I am," she whispered as she gave an evil laugh, "you think as an ex KGB man that you've trained to resist pain, but you have no idea of the subtleties that I know of how to make the agony death stretch seemingly for ever."
"I thought your name was Sudden Death?" Andre laughed as he tried to goad his captor into making a mistake.
"Silence!" She reached over and squeezed his neck, Andre struck dumb for a moment until she let go. “You are here for my pleasure, and your torture, and your retribution which is long overdue, no more, no less.”
Andre sat there – he knew what he had done in the past, and he knew he would pay for them some day. And, by the way this masked woman was looking at her, this was his day.
“If you are to be the one who is to extract the price, I believe I have the right to know who did this.”
“You have no rights – except to scream,” she said as she pressed on his shoulder, Andre throwing his head back as he screamed, the fire flowing through his nerves. “And I assure you, you will scream…”
going to take you to the limits of human tolerance
of pain...and then beyond," Helen smiled to herself as she released
her grip and walked round him again. She knew this man too well. She knew not
only what his strengths were, but also just what his greatest fears were. She
knew precisely the things that inwardly frightened him the most, and just
what buttons she need press to create maximum terror.
and feet are very strong," the masked woman said as she knelt down and gently
touched a sole.
to be, they are the basic tools of my trade," Andre wondered where this
might be leading.
"I know," for a second Helen paused, then reached for the box of matches that Carina so thoughtfully kept with her other 'toys'.
"What are you...What are you doing?" the dancer winced as she moved over the sole of one of his feet with a burning match.
"Oh just amusing myself before I get down to my real business…" Helen laughed sardonically as she struck another match and this time held it to his big toe, the pain of the little burn causing his body to convulse.
“We’re here,” Penny said as she pulled up next to Carina, turning off the headlights as she killed the engine,
"Why that look on your face Kylie?" Marina asked as they got out and looked round.
"Look darling?" Kylie asked as she let her eyes adjust.
"Yes, like you've had what they call a ‘Nam flashback."
Nodding, Kylie said "You know the first time I came to New York Marina?"
"You know I told you I underwent a test?"
"I remember. You said it was tough and nasty..."
where it happened," Kylie's voice was barely a whisper as she interrupted
Crap!" Marina shook her head, "no wonder you got that look. Are you
going to be okay?"
so...No one was killed," Kylie blanched at the memories of being bound
with Doc for an entire night after they thought people had been killed in an
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger darling," Kylie took a second to regain her composure.
The light went on, illuminating the main room of the farmhouse as Cari threw her car keys onto the table, Cathy following her with Marina and Kylie.
“What is this place,” Marina asked as she looked round.
“A place you must keep with your other secrets,” Penny said as she closed the door, “the base of operations for the ladies.”
As Marina nodded, Cari walked over to a cabinet desk, unlocking and rolling up the covers and turning on the laptop that was underneath.
“We set up a permanent link to one of the barns via a video camera,” she said as the system booted, “so we’ll know if I am right in – shit.”
The five women looked at the scene, the masked woman as she slid the scalpel along Andre’s chest, forming a pattern as he shook his head, the pain clear in his eyes.
“So what do we do now?” Penny looked at the others as they continued to stare at the screen…
“All right, all right – I admit it,” Andre shouted out, “sometimes innocents have been hurt, but I regret it… I regret it…”
For a few seconds Helen suddenly felt herself feel again the loving feelings she had once had for this man.
"No," she whispered under her breath, "he was never really that man, he betrayed my family, now he must pay..."
something?" the man struggled to hear what his tormentor was telling
"I said nothing Dancer. Nothing for your unworthy ears anyway." Turning and walking over, she pulled his pants down and his boxers, revealing his cock. “And I see you are enjoying my attentions.”
Absolute power was hers, and the decision when, and how, to end “uncle's” life was also solely down to her. Inside her head Helen realized that she was relishing this power. Most of the time her activities, as her name indicated, involved a quick death. Occasionally she'd been allowed by her masters to indulge herself in the pleasures of torture. But never before had she had a person who she knew so well, so intimately, in a place where she could indulge herself in the sensual delights of causing hurt and pain.
Idly she touched his manhood and on a whim squeezed his ball sack as hard as she could. His deep, visceral, scream of agony provoked no pity within her, indeed it actually made her more determined to find a creative way to hurt further that thing between his legs that he had used all these years to pleasure both other men and women.
"What is really going to hurt you the most?" Helen said, as for a second realized she actually lacked more than a basic understanding of the male penis. Standing up, she looked to the kit, and picked up two clamps, which had a weight attached to a silver chain.
“I have seen these used on women,” she said quietly as she walked over, “but I wonder how they would work on you.”
“No, please,” Andre whispered, and then he screamed as she attached one clip to his foreskin, and the other to the base of his ball sac under his cock, letting the weight drop to the floor as he writhed round. That hurt, that was good…
“I need to remember that one,” Carina said quietly as she watched, and then wondered what Helen was doing next.
"What... What are you doing?" Andre gasped as Silent Death walked to the table, and slipped a pair of ear plugs on.
"I need some refreshment, but I don't want you to be bored" she said with a smile. "I understand some who have been here are stressed by a selection of music disturbing their sleep, but I have something else planned for you..."
"And that is?"
The masked woman flopped a switch, as the room was filled with a pounding noise, not a tuneful one, but like a pile driver onto his skull as she turned, lowering her mask and drinking some water...
Suddenly the noise was replaced with music, old American popular music, but it was being played at the totally wrong speed, and it sounded like it was being distorted. The sounds weren't bursting his eardrums as before, but the distorted recording was annoying in the extreme. The combination of the trashy songs which he loathed anyway, and the fact they were being played in such a fashion, combining to get at his nerves.
Helen smiled as she watched, she'd seen this done in an old comedy film set in East Berlin where the police had tortured a guy by playing 'itsy bitzy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini' over and over both off kilter and at odd speeds. The effect was to get under the skin and have them crying for it to stop.
In a way, she admired his courage, but she could see in his eyes it was wearing him down. Now she understood the mix tapes Cari prepared for the ‘guests’ when they came for training…
“I know you cannot hear me,” Helen said, “but I want you to know this was an old technique – and I would recommend a viewing of A Clockwork Orange – if you were going to live long enough for such a thing to happen…”
Andre could only stare at her – the pain in his scrotum was bad enough, and the bamboo skewers were like acid under his fingertips, but the music, the way his head was feeling… It was as if she knew just where to hit him at the worst points…
“Observe, Mongoose, Swan,” Catherine said as her protégés watched on the screen, “this is what happens when, as is sadly all too often the case, something triggers a response in us that overrides all our self-discipline, all our training.”
“Will the Honoured Father treat her harshly, Mistress,” Marina asked quietly.
“I do not think so, but I am only his humble servant as well…”
Eventually, she walked over and yanked the clamps away from his scrotum, seeing rather than hearing his scream before she turned the music off, and looked at him. Reaching up and removing the earplugs, she said “I trust you enjoyed the music?”
“It was – diverting,” Andre finally said as the pain in his cock and sac eased.
“I sense you took enjoyment from our session so far,” Silent Death said quietly, “what were you thinking off, the female you could hold power over next?”
“I am afraid you have me wrong in the respect,” Andre said as he looked at her, wondering when the agony was going to stop. Silent Death looked at him, and then picked up a length of rope, tying a large knot in the end before she started to swing it round in front of her.
“Tell me, Dancer, are you a fan of James Bond?”
“I prefer Len Deighton,” Andre said quietly as the masked woman came closer, the knotted rope still swinging in her hand.
“The films never get to the level of cruelty of the novels and stories, not until the more recent ones – such as the torture scene in Casino Royale.”
She suddenly swung the rope up under the chair seat, Andre screaming as the knot connected with his genitals through the hold he now realised had been cut in the seat.
“Of course,” she said quietly as she swung the knot up again, “this is the basics. Can you imagine how this can be improved upon?” She walked over, Andre panting and watching as she dipped the knot into a bucket of clear liquid, smiling as the rope absorbed the cold iced water – and then shook it as she took it out, swinging it round and hitting him again.
“Dorogaya Bogoroditsa, kto ty? Otkuda ty?”
“YA Bezmolvnaya Smert', YA nesu vozmezdiye, YA zhenshchina, kotoruyu ty pomog sozdat' ...”
“YA pomog sozdat' ... Kak? Pokazhi mne svoye litso!”
“Vy khotite uvidet' moye litso?”
She kicked him onto his back, Andre screaming again as landing on his hands forced the skewers further under his fingernails. She brought the rope down onto his ball sac again and again, smiling, her eyes gleaming as she hit him there, and then his feet, the blood starting to flow as Andre screamed and screamed…
“She’s going to kill him.”
“I know,” Catherine said as they looked at the screen, “but we need to stop her.”
Penny nodded as she said “Marina, Kylie, with me. Cari – is she here?”
Carina nodded as Penny said “she may get a chance to play – if there’s anything of him left. Come on.”
Throwing the blood and pus matted rope to the side, Silent Death pulled Andre back up, his face contorted in pain as his feet touched the stone floor.
“I hope… I hope you are satisfied…”
“Not nearly, Dancer, but I want to ask you about Helsinki. I know you were there with Yelena Sharamatova, her husband, her child…”
Andre looked at her as he said “and?”
“You tried to prevent their escape to freedom, did you not…”
“I had my orders…”
“YOU WERE THEIR FRIEND!” The slap nearly took Andre’s head off, as Silent Death said “you were their friend, and you betrayed them, it was a miracle the mother and daughter escaped – but the father…”
“He blocked their escape… He paid the price…”
“Did you kill him?”
Andre looked at the hooded and masked face and nodded, adding “and what is it to you?”
His eyes widened as she reached up and pulled the hood down, and then pulled the mask away from her face as she looked at him.
“Be quiet,” she said quietly as she touched his neck, his eyes opening as the pain shot through him and he found himself unable to speak. “You may not have made me the woman I am, but you started me on that path, Andre Kannenikov. With what you did to my father, you destroyed part of my mother’s life – a part that was only filled with love for an achingly short time. It may have been cancer that killed her, but you nearly broke her heart that night – the one grace was I was too young then to understand what really happened.
Andre could only watch, wanting the pain to end as Helen picked up a bow and arrow and let two arrows fly, piercing his upper legs. She dropped the bow, picking up a thin blade as she walked forward.
“And now, I take my revenge for what you…”
Helen suddenly turned to see Marina standing there with Kylie, both with their hands clasped in front of them as she continued “Sensei, I understand the anger, the reasons why you have done this. I truly do, but I ask you to listen to us for a moment.”
“When my mother visited earlier this year,” Kylie said quietly, “and I – shared my displeasure with the man that was with him, I wanted him to hurt, to pay for what he had done to her. So yes, although this unworthy one has made you hurt far more, I do understand part of what you are feeling, that desire, that rage.
“But at that time, you reminded me that to follow that path means you have lost your focus, lost your purpose – and I fear, Sensei, that you are on that path as well.”
“He has paid – he will pay – for what he has done,” Marina said quietly, “but if you do this to him now, like this, then you have forgotten the most basic teachings you shared with us. There is no honour in this, Sensei, there is no just revenge.”
“But he killed my father.”
“Yes, he did, and for that he must pay, but this is not the way to do that. Sensei, you taught us the importance of acting with honour and for the right purpose.”
“And so today,” Kylie continued, “we have to teach you to remember that lesson. We are not going to stop you.”
“They know they cannot stop you.”
Helen turned suddenly to see Penny standing there.
“You have to stop yourself, Helen… Yelena. I am not asking you to forgive him for the hurt he has caused, I am asking you to forgive yourself for letting that hurt take you over. I am asking you to stop, now, and come back with us. He will pay – I assure you of that – and you have hurt him a great deal. But it must not be at his hand, because that will be the death you will never forgive yourself for, and I love you too much to allow you to do that.”
Helen turned and looked at Andre, his face bloated and battered, his body bleeding, and let the knife drop slowly to the ground as she started crying. Penny walked over, putting her arms round her lover as she said “it’s going to be all right now – come with me, my love, it’s going to be all right” as they walked past Kylie and Marina.
“And what of you two – the administrator and the student,” Andre finally managed to say as the effects of the nerve pinch wore off – “her students. Are you going to finish the job?”
“No – you are not worthy of our attentions. Another has that honour,” Kylie said as both girls bowed and walked out of the room.
“They’re talking about me.”
Andre suddenly turned his head to see Carina standing there.
“I am Miss Lynx – and this really is your lucky night…”
As Catherine turned, the door to the house opened as Penny slowly walked in with Helen. She watched as Helen walked forward and then prostrated herself face down on the ground as she said “Honoured Mistress, I have failed you and I have failed the Honoured Fathers, and I accept your punishment.”
“Stand up Helen – there will be no punishment here,” Catherine said quietly, “I have just spoken with the Honoured Father – he is on his way here now, and will see you when he lands tomorrow. There will be a price to pay – but not with your life.”
Helen stood and nodded as Penny said “come with me” and took her up the stairs as Kylie and Marina came in.
“What will happen to her,” Marina asked as they stood with their heads bowed.
“She will spend some time in meditation, and in isolation, but I think she will be fine. You both did the correct thing tonight – I am very proud of you both.”
“And the Dancer?”
Cathy turned and looked at the screen, then put the lid down. “Not our concern…”
“NET! Vo imya Rodiny, ostanovis' seychas!”
“Now why on earth would I do that,” Carina said as she wiped the blood covered scrotum with the damp cloth, the acetic acid burning into him as she did so. “You were dirty down there, and I wanted to see exactly how much damage my friend did to you. And I must say, she did a great deal of damage.”
Through tear filled eyes and gritted teeth, Andre looked down at the swollen, blood red mass that was where she had rained blow after blow with the rope. “I… I deserved this,” he finally said, “An agent knows the time will come when he must pay.”
“Well now – is this repentance I hear?”
“No, little one – merely an acknowledgment of the truth,” Andre said as he raised his head. “And what part do you play in our little drama tonight? The little model, the doting mother, the proud daughter…”
Andre looked at Carina as she examined her scalpels, and said “ah – so the rumours, the film, they were close to the truth?”
“The rumours, yes. The film, perhaps not,” Carina said with a smile as she turned round, “but my concern now is your personal health. You see, you threatened good friends of mine – and I really do not like it when someone threatens my friends. I get a little – cranky.”
“And what could you do that is worse than this?”
“Oh, you really are a fucking idiot, aren’t you,” Carina said as she walked over, and slowly drew a grid on his chest with the scalpel as he groaned, “Silent Death – Helen – she was letting emotions she has held in check since she was a child out tonight, and she will be the better for it. Whereas I – I am cool, I am calm, I am in full awareness of what I can and cannot do.”
“And what can you do?”
“This,” Carina said as she suddenly clamped two metal bulldog clips onto Andre’s nipples, and he looked at the chain connecting them, “so kind of her not to use these ones.” She yanked on the chain as Andre looked at her, and said “after tonight, is that all you can do?”
Carina smiled as she looked at his feet, and picked up the pliers, kneeling down and yanking the nail away from the toe that had bene burnt. Andre grimaced as he looked down, and then screamed “DER'MO!” as she squeezed the toe, one finger on the raw nail bed.
“What do you think, you fucking traitor,” she said quietly, rubbing her thumb on the nail bed before she removed the next toe, and repeated the process, Andre wondering how she was doing this, what beast lay within her so well hidden.
After a while, Carina stood up, grinning as she said “now, what else can we do to pass the time…”
“End it,” Andre panted, “end it now…”
“Oh not quite yet,” Carina said with a smile as she walked to the table, and then came back. “Now I have had a chance to examine the damage done to you, I am afraid to see Maestro that part of you has been injured beyond repair. I really think amputation is the best thing.”
“What… what do you mean…? OH GOD NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Carina laughed as he screamed, holding his ball sac in her bloodied hand and the red stained scalpel in the other as Andre stared at her.
“What? You thought I would remove your cock, arsefucker? Oh no, that would be too simple.”
Andre was crying now, as he whispered “please, let it end…”
“Well, as you asked so nicely…”
He heard the click of the safety as it was pulled back, and said a prayer before the blinding white light filled his brain. Carina looked at him, and then laid plastic sheeting on the floor before she cut him free from the chair and pushed him onto the sheets, wrapping them round him and using zip ties to secure it in place before she left the room.
“Is it over,” Catherine asked as Carina came in.
“It is – we need to get him somewhere where he can be found, and it cannot trace back to any of us.”
“I will assist you to put him in the car outside,” Catherine said as she stood up, “Mongoose, I will require your assistance. Swan, remain here with Carina and the others – you can bring her back when they are ready?”
“Is it over?”
Carina looked up the stairs as Helen and Penny came down, Helen now wearing a track suit.
“It is over – he has paid the price,” Carina said quietly, Helen nodding as Marina left with Catherine.
Sunday 23rd October
The von Furstenheim Apartment
“What are you watching darling,” Klaus said as he handed a mug of coffee to Juliette.
“Something I have to watch, even if I do not want to,” Juliette said as The Fashion Channel logo appeared.
“Good morning – I’m Jeanne Beckmann, and this is the Beckmann Report”
For once, the opening music and credits did not play, as Jeanne sat in the studio, wearing a black trouser suit and looking sombre.
“As you will have heard, this week we sadly lost an icon of the fashion industry, suddenly, without warning, and today we pay tribute to that person, looking back on their life, their achievements, and talking to those who knew them as a true and close friend. We start with this review of their career…”
The screen changed to a picture of a young red headed woman wearing a suede fringed waistcoat and long skirt, the waistcoat over a white jumper.
“Fiona MacKenzie was one of the leading lights of the Fashion journalism world, and had been for more years than many of us care to imagine. Hailing from the North East of Scotland, she came to study in London in the mid-seventies, and it was there that she first met the other half of what was to become a power house of style over the decades – a young Welsh girl called Mary Thomas.”
The scene shifted to Mary Thomas, in her Cave. “Ai, I remember when we first met,” she said with a smile. “It was the Fresher’s fair at the college, and I was this young girl from the valleys who had somehow managed to find herself in the London College of Fashion. I was walking round, wondering what on earth I was going to do, when I started talking to a couple of girls – and this clear Scots voice says behind me ‘praise God, I’m not the only Celt here.’
“I turned round, and there was this wee lass with red-brown hair, wearing a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt under a crochet vest, smiling as she said ‘I’m Fiona – wanna grab ae coffee.’ I nodded – and as daft as it sounds, that’s how our friendship started.”
Jeanne nodded as she said “so what was student life like then?”
“It was a good time to be in London,” Mary said quietly “especially for two girls from, let’s be fair, a sheltered background. I was the daughter of a coal miner from the valleys, she was a doctor’s daughter from the North of Scotland, brought up in the Free Church tradition. I guess we became friends because we were so different from the other students – and we both had a desire to have fun and get to know people.”
The camera went back to Jeanne, a picture of a young Fiona in the background, as she said “both Fiona and Mary graduated with a degree in Fashion Design from the college, and at the same time they were often seen on television music programs as well as at concerts. While they had studied design, however, both had spent some time working in the press, so while Mary went to work for Associated Press on their newspapers, including the Daily Mail, Fiona returned to Scotland to work for the publishing company, D C Thomson.
“At the time, the company was known for three main sets of publications – newspapers, such as the local Dundee Courier, and the weekly Sunday Post; Comics, such as the long running Dandy and Beano as well as other collections of comedy and action strips; and magazines, including one aimed at teenage girls called Jackie. Jacqueline Wilson, the writer, was at that time one of the associate editors on the publication.”
“I remember when she first arrived,” the grey haired author said as she appeared, “The offices were set up as if you were in an old schoolroom, but we had a real family atmosphere – and into this room walked this little fireball, full of energy, and willing to do anything to succeed – but event hen, you knew she was a rare talent.”
“Fiona was only a few years younger than me,” Nina Myskow, the former editor of the magazine, “but we hit it off immediately. She worked on the fashion layouts, as well as providing some clothing suggestions for the Fumetti we used to run as part of the magazine – but she also was a natural talking to some of the pop stars we had in at the time. She knew many of them were acting, and she never would allow them to get away with anything damaging to them or us.”
As the program scanned over one of the photo stories, Jeanne said “did you imagine at that time Fiona would get to the position she held?”
“I knew she had the drive, the determination,” Nina replied, “which is why we appointed her to an associate editor post – a post she enjoyed. That was when I first met Mary as well – we had to go to London for a fashion week event, and Mary was working back of house as a favour to one of the designers. I smiled at the way they worked together – and knew there was a team in the making there.”
“Was this also where the legend of her indexing system began?”
Nina smiled and nodded. “Back then, it was an old notebook she carried round, but I remember when she first took the reins at Complete Style I visited her office – and I was amazed to see the cabinets in there. I saw the ones she had written for people like Stella Jameson and Mandy Carrow – frighteningly accurate…”
“Nina Myskow,” Jeanne said as they went back to the studio. “In the mid 1980’s, Fiona left DC Thomson and moved to their ‘hated rivals in the south’ Woman Magazine. There, she developed her contacts with the industry, as well as the designers of the time. I asked Jeff Banks, who at the time was a noted designer as well as a presenter on the BBC Clothes Show, what he remembered of her.”
“I’d heard of Fiona through Mary Thomas – she was working on the program as an advisor, sharing her knowledge – but to meet her was an event. Carolyn and I were filming in the editorial office of the magazine, when we heard a stream of Celtic invective coming from a meeting room, and then the door opened and Fiona came out, making it very clear what was wrong with what she had been looking at.
“She came over and introduced herself to both of us, and proceeded to discuss what she thought we should be covering. She made good suggestions as well – something we took to heart.”
“In the studio with me now is Missy Auerbach, head of NorStar, but even at that time one of the most respected agents out there.” Jeanne turned to where Missy was sitting, wearing a dark dress, and said “Missy, where did you first meet Fiona?”
“It would have been in 1990,” Missy said with a smile. “I had been sent by the agency I was working with then to scout for new talent in London, and I was told to call on Fiona in her office. So I walked in, we shook hands, and then she ordered her tea before she asked what I was looking for.
“As I talked, she took these card boxes from her desk and nodded as she started to pull some out. Now, I had some names in mind, but then she showed me a card of this blonde, slightly upper class woman – and that was Mandy Carrow…”
“So she had already noted her.”
“Her and Paula Priest – so I was always be indebted to her…”
“In 1991, the paths of Fiona and Mary Thomas came together, as Fiona was appointed to head up the Paris office of Complete Style as their Fashion Editor. She called Mary, who was then working as a style editor, and invited her to join her in the bureau – and so the dream team of Complete Style came together. It was during that time that she first encountered the likes of Juliette Huntingdown, as well as many of the young English models of the time. I spoke to Mandy Carrow, Eve Stone, Paula Priest and Olivia Savage to get their memories of that time, and of Fiona.”
The screen showed Mandy, Eve, Paula and Olivia sitting in a studio.
“Can you tell me what you think of when you think of Fiona, Mandy?”
problem with describing Fiona is that there is no one you can really compare
her to and say to people 'well she was like so and so'." Mandy smiled
at the camera.
you are saying is that she was unique?" Jeanne looked at the screen
showing Mandy and the other models sitting in the studio in London.
"She was totally unique," Olivia smiled as well. "She could be moody, cantankerous, and when things weren't going as she wanted you were far safer keeping out of her way. But she had a generosity of spirit that made her more than just a friend to so many of us, she was more like a favourite maiden aunt who you could always turn to for help and advice when you needed it."
“That was never truer than when we sadly lost Stella Jameson,” Eve said as she leaned back in her seat. “She knew how much trouble Stella was in, and as we now know Stella was using her as a backstop to look after her daughter, Caroline, if anything happened to her. Fiona took that role very seriously, always looking out for the little girl when she was on set with Stella. Then when Stella died, she moved heaven and earth to try and make sure Caroline was all right.”
“So what made her such a force as an editor?”
"Having trained as a designer herself she had firm opinions on what she thought was and wasn't good in fashion," Paula took a turn to speak, "and somehow she instinctively knew just which model, and just which photographer, would make the clothes she liked look their very best."
“So she will be missed?”
“In more ways than you can imagine, darling” Mandy said quietly.
“I also spoke to Juliette von Furstenheim, to find out what role Fiona played in her time there.”
The scene shifted to the apartment, Klaus taking Juliette’s hand as on the screen she said “I was this struggling young model, just trying to make ends meet in many ways, but I was fortunate in making friends with Diana du Grechy and it was through her I met both Fiona and Mary. I knew Mary from some time she had spent in CS in New York, where she had suggested me for some covers.
“Anyway, they both took us under their wings, and then I had my breakthrough at the YSL show. They were there for me every step of the way, and I was so glad of that…”
“So when you returned home?”
“Mary had gone to work for CS as their Style Editor,” Juliette said, “and Fiona was appointed the editor of the UK edition. When Carina was born – well, I had started to think about writing, so Mary got me a position on staff there. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Jeanne looked at the screen as she said “Fiona remained as editor of the UK edition of Complete Style right up to her death, despite her battle recently with Leukaemia, and she continued to champion new talent as well. We spoke to Jeannie Brewster, who recalled when she met Fiona.”
The scene changed to Jeannie at home, as an interviewer said “where did you first meet her?”
“Well, my grandfather works as a chauffeur for Vanessa Richmond, but when he was on holiday in Harlow a couple of years ago, Juliette Huntingdown was here with some others for a visit, so he arranged for me to meet her, and as part of the visit we went to the CS offices here. We were in the lobby when the receptionist said something about telling the tornado we were here, and then she came out of the lift, smiling as she hugged the others and took us up to the editorial floor.
“She’d arranged for me to have a tour, and have my hair styled as well, and then we went for lunch before she asked if my mother and I would come and see Abby de Ros at work on a shoot the next day.”
“That was the National Gallery shoot?”
Jeannie nodded as she said “Yeah – we got there, and the next thing I knew Mum was signing a contract, and I was been wheeled in to meet Abby and Lily Cole, and then I was part of the shoot myself. I can truly say, it was the day that changed my life.”
“As you say, a life changing experience. And not one you were expecting.”
Jeannie shook her head. "It was only a few months later that Lily Cole actually told me how hard Fiona had had to fight to get me onto the National Gallery shoot with Juliette." Jeannie smiled as she said, "she twisted arms, threatened, and I’m told she even resorted to blackmail, to get those who didn't want a disabled girl who wasn't even a model to allow me to be in those pictures."
you think she saw in you that made her do that?" the interviewer asked.
at first I thought it was purely down to her trying to do something very
special for a girl in a wheelchair."
"Again I learned later that she'd told people she had seen something in my face, but most importantly in my determination to not let my disability determine who I was, that made her think from the start that I had the potential to be a model."
“So you owed everything to her?”
“I did – and I will miss her terribly…”
3.30 pm GMT
“So do you have your costumes ready for the party this week,” Sue said as she finished her dessert.
“We have,” Miley said as she looked at Laura, “but it’s a secret.”
“Well, let me collect the plates up, and I’ll make some coffee,” Agnes said as she stood up.
“Let me give you a hand,” Colin said as the two of them headed for the kitchen, leaving Sue to talk to the girls.
"Can I ask a question Agnes?" Colin asked as he loaded the dishwasher.
"Of course you can Colin.” As she switched on the coffee machine, she continued “What would you like to know?"
"Given that Sue sees you practically as her Mother, why weren't you at hers and mine first wedding?"
liked to have been," Agnes sighed, "in fact I did do my usual thing
and I stood outside the Registry Office and watched everyone come and go."
"But why? I know Sue and her friends would have wanted you to be there."
"They did Colin, and we had some very serious discussions about it,” Aggie said as she turned round, “but in the end we decided it would be for the best if I wasn't where I could be seen."
family and friends Colin. Far too many of them knew just who Agnes McAdam and
Lady D'eath were. It would have set tongues wagging about how exactly Sue
came to know me, and she might have had to tell you secrets about herself she
didn't want you to know."
"Oh." Colin nodded as he thought over what she was saying.
"The girls decided that it would be easier not to set tongues wagging about why such a notorious whore as me was at your wedding."
“I understand – at least you were there for her this time,” Colin said with a smile as Agnes arranged the coffee cups.
anything more I can help you with Colin?"
Colin took a breath, "but even you might not know the answer."
As she poured the coffee, Agnes said "What is the question?"
"Did Sue ever tell you if she was sexually molested when she was in care?"
Agnes stopped for a moment, then put the coffee pot down and turned round. "Where did that question come from?"
"I've been asked to write some comments on an internal memorandum that is being circulated at Central Office regarding abuses within the care system. I think they think being married to Sue gives me some insight."
Colin shook his
head. "I only know really what
she put in that article about herself, but I've always wondered if
she left certain details out."
"I see," Aggie said quietly as she sipped her drink.
"Did she ever tell you anything about what happened to her in foster care Agnes? As I said earlier, you have rather been her surrogate Mother."
"Colin I'm going to tell you two things," Agnes paused, "the first is that yes I know things that Sue left out of that article. The second is that if you are looking to find out what, then I'm not the person you must talk to. Go talk to Sue Colin is what I'll advise."
Nodding, Colin said “I know, but it’s not something you raise over the dinner table.”
“No, no it’s not. Take the coffee through…”
West Central Park
Catherine looked at her phone, and then nodded as she stood up.
“Is it time already,” Penny said as she looked at Marina and Kylie.
“I think it is, darling,” Kylie said quietly, “shall I inform her?”
“No – stay here, do nothing until I come in,” Catherine said as she walked to the hallway, closing the door behind herself as she approached the main entrance. As she opened it, she bowed as two very large and very well dressed men walked in, followed by a woman in a red cheongsam.
“Is all secured,” she said quietly, Catherine nodding and bowing as the Honoured Father walked in. All four bowed as he nodded, and the woman closed the door.
“Has the storm passed, my daughter,” he said quietly, Catherine not raising her head as she said “it has, Honoured Father, and she is meditating through that door there.”
“I see – and her proteges?”
“They and her love managed to bring her back from the edge – but she did exact a terrible revenge before then. Another made sure he would not talk, and we – arranged for him to be found where no trace to what happened was left.”
“I trust and accept your judgement in this, my daughter.” Looking round, he said “it is time I talked to her. Wait out here, all of you.”
The others bowed low as Catherine bowed low, and the Honoured Father walked into the training room were Helen was sitting in meditation. He closed the door quietly, and then whispered “my child…”
Helen opened her eyes, and with one fluid motion prostrated herself on the floor, not raising her head as she said “my father – I have failed you. I confess my failure, and await your punishment.”
She waited as Feng Lui stood there silently, before he said “you know what you did was wrong – why, my daughter?”
“I allowed my emotions to rule my actions – I see that now – and there is no excuse for the insult I paid to you and my Honoured Mistress by ignoring your messages and summons. I allowed anger and rage to be my focus, and that led me to the wrong path.”
“And what led you to the right path?”
“The intervention of my lover, my students – they reminded me of my own teachings, and I stepped on a different road… But the damage was still done, and I await your judgement.”
She remained in position, before he said “rise” and she stood on her feet, her hands clasped, her head bowed.
“I was angry at what happened,” Feng Lui said quietly, “but as I travelled here, I was provided with information in the role this man had played in your family – and in the betrayal of that family.”
“If I may ask…”
“You have many friends, and one of them arranged for me to see an intelligence report of what happened in Helsinki. I understand now it was the child Yelena who took control, not Silent Death – and that is a human thing.” He walked forward and put his hand on her shoulder, before he said “at the grave of your step-father, I asked if honour was satisfied, before I took you into my family and began to teach you. I ask the question again – is honour satisfied?”
Helen slowly nodded as he said “then I will not judge you on this occasion – but I wish you to return with me for a while, to meditate, and to visit the grave of your mother and stepfather. Then you may return to your duties.”
“I am not to be punished?”
“I think you have punished yourself enough,” Feng Lui said quietly. “Come, you may make arrangements with Penelope and your charges, and your lover can join you in a week’s time.”
“I… I am not deserving of such mercy,” Helen said quietly. “It will not happen again.”
“I sincerely hope not - now go, talk with your friends.”
“Of course, Honoured Father,” Helen said as she backed out, her head down until she left the room and nodded to the other three outside. As she went into the main room, Penny stood up and said “well?”
“I must return to Hong Kong, to do some things – but I am forgiven. Now I must strive to forgive myself.” Helen looked up as Penny walked over, put her arms round her and kissed her before she said “want my help?”
“Yes – but I must go alone first,” she said as she looked at her, Marina and Kylie. “Thank you – all of you – for bringing me back.”
As she spoke, the door opened and Catherine came in with Feng Lui. “Greetings,” he said as all of them bowed their heads, “now, may I have some tea? We have matters to discuss…”
The Richmond Mansion
“Lunch was excellent, Heather,” Nessa said as they sat in the front room, drinking coffee after their meal.
“Thanks Nessa,” Heather said with a smile as they heard the knock on the front door. “I’ll go and see who that is.”
“Mom, before I forget,” Sands said as Heather went to the door, “I wanted to ask if it was all right for me to go out on Tuesday night.”
“So long as you have your assignments up to date, then… Rachel, what brings you here?”
“Sorry to interrupt,” Rachel McNally said as she came in, “but I understand Nessa is here? I need to talk to her about something.”
“I’m here,” Nessa said as she sat forward, her skirt falling over her legs, “do we need to go somewhere to talk?”
“Well… No, I think I can trust you all not to say anything about this,” Rachel said as she looked round. “It’s just…”
“I had a call from the Metrop this morning – Maestro Andre has disappeared.”
Heather and Sandy exchanged a glance as Nessa said “disappeared? What happened?”
“Well, the last time he was seen was last night during the gala – when he stepped outside for some fresh air. Nobody has seen him since then – and we have another performance tonight. Nessa, what do we do?”
“Have the police been informed?”
Rachel nodded as Heather handed her a cup of coffee. “They are looking into it, but do we go ahead with the show tonight?”
“OF course,” Nessa said quietly as she stood up, “it is a charity night, correct?” As Rachel nodded, Nessa said “let’s talk about this in the kitchen.”
As they walked out, George and Sands stood up, George saying “we’ll get on with our assignments” as they went upstairs, leaving Sandy and Heather looking at each other.
“You don’t suppose…”
“All Diana said was that Francesca was trying to deal with a potential emergency. I have a feeling she wasn’t just bluffing…”
“What do we do?”
“Nothing – yet…”
“So Helen took her revenge?”
Cathy Lu nodded as she sat with Francesca. “I am sorry if that has impeded your plans, but by the time we got there… Well, let us just say she did a lot to him.”
Nodding, Francesca said “so how long do we have?”
“I cannot say with certainty how long we have before the body is discovered,” Cathy said as she looked at Francesca and Eleanor, Caroline sitting next to her. “I suggest you do what is necessary, and take all necessary actions.”
Caroline nodded as Eleanor said “we should arrange to meet Ed tomorrow, he will need to know.”
“Agreed – Caroline, can you hold the fort for tomorrow?”
As Caroline nodded, Francesca asked “Did Helen kill him?”
“No – and no, I will not reveal who did. Helen – she needs time, but she will recover. What is required now is to finish what has started.” She looked round the table, the others nodding in agreement.
Monday 24th October
As Francesca and Eleanor looked over, Francesca in a cream jacket and skirt with a white camisole top, and Eleanor in her dress uniform, Admiral Preminger sat back and nodded.
“I can understand such a reaction,” he finally said as he picked up a file, “this came in over the wire while you were travelling down.”
“What is it,” Francesca said as she watched Eleanor read the paper inside.
“The body of Andre Kannenikov, the famed dancer and current visiting director of the Metropolitan Ballet, was found washed up on the coast of Staten Island today. No details have been released of how he died, but tributes have already started to come in from the world of ballet.” Eleanor passed Francesca the file, before she said “how bad?”
“Fingers crushed, beaten in ways that make me quiver, tortured, and then shot in the head.” Ed Preminger stood up and looked out of the window. “With their main control agents gone, I think our friends are going to shut down that operation.”
“There may be others,” Eleanor said.
“Potentially, but with the information we have gathered, we can proceed to neutralise much of what they planned.” Turning, he said “the nation thanks you and your team, Captain, Admiral, but it is time to wind down operations.”
“Of course, you will have the final report in due course,” Eleanor said as there was a knock on the door.
As they watched, the adjutant came in and handed Ed a sheet of paper. As he left and closed the door, Ed looked at it and said “damn.”
“The FBI have launched an investigation again into the use of e-mails by the Democratic candidate, and announced it publically.” He looked at the two women, and said “now the fun begins…”