Two Weddings and a Robbery – part 4







Friday 15th July

11.30 pm BST

The Bunker


“Blue One, this is Red Two, can you patch me through to Gold Six please?”


“A problem?” Charlotte sat to attention.


“Not sure Blue One, but I need to ask Gold Six her opinion.”


“Alright we are patching you through.”


Under Whitehall


“Red Two,” Dominique spoke, “this is Gold Six, what’s the problem?”


“I just spotted a certain Russian Weasel going into the building.”


“Shit,” Dominique started to think quickly.


“Could it just be a coincidence, or do we need to take him out?”


“I’m thinking Red Two.”


“Can I interrupt and suggest something?” Charlotte spoke, “leave this one to the cleaners.  I’m aware of whom you speak, maybe Black One is the right person to go check him out?”


“It’s an idea Blue One,” Caroline made a decision. “Alright you quickly brief Black One and get her there, I’ll inform Gold One and Two and get their opinions.”


“And I’ll watch to see if I see any more familiar faces.” Helen added.




“Alright Charlotte I’m in a private space,” Daffy said as she spoke into her regular phone, “What’s up?”


“It might be something, it might be nothing Daffy, but one Viktor Koslov was spotted going into the National Liberal Club.”


“And this is a problem why?”


“Caroline knows him of old, he has definite Russian ties.”


“And you want me to go put eyes on him?”


“Well you are a member there.”


“Alright,” Daffy said quietly, “we’ve picked the targets up anyway.  Who will be my sidekick?”


“Drop by HQ and collect Selena.”


“The new girl who speaks Russian?”


“Exactly.  Always useful to have.”


“Alright I’ll make sure everyone here knows I’m stepping out for a while, tell Selena to meet me outside Aldwych, and send my computer the details.”


“Will do Daffy,” Charlotte smiled, “and one last word according to Caroline he fancies himself as a ladies’ man.”


“Oh what I do for the company darling,” Daffy drawled in a fair imitation of Mandy Carrow.


“come on Black One – This is for a greater cause.”


“Yeah yeah – get them to lift a bar for me…”





“Looks like the next team heading down,” Jane said as she looked at the monitor, and then went back to the task in hand as Francesca checked the other cameras. 


Inside her head, Francesca prayed that she would not be forced to kill again. Her promise to herself was not something she really wanted to break, her reason being there was simply to ensure Carlotta’s safety. Still in her mind, Francesca found herself wanting the answer to the question no professional killer ever asked of another one… 


“Why did you start in this line of work?”


She knew very well why she had taken assassins training, it was to punish and humiliate herself, but why had Jayne, who to all appearances was this quiet woman creeping up very gently on middle-age, become a killer, especially one as notorious as the White Mamba? Francesca tried to remember what had been in the file she had seen on the Mamba. It was sketchy, her identity unknown, but she was feared for her unique specialty in killing her victims with snake venom. How did this identity match to the woman sitting in this van with her, who along watching all the screens, was knitting what looked like a scarf.


What about some of the others? There was a veritable aristocracy of murder assembled for this job, why had say Sudden Death become a professional killer? And what of a mere child almost like the Swan, who in her other life was such a famous young fashion designer. Why was she a cold-blooded killer?


“You’re asking the question aren’t you?”


Francesca looked over at Jayne, who was smiling back at her.  “I know the one – and we all probably have a different answer.  For you, it was duty, true?”


She smiled as Francesca nodded.  “I was a postgraduate doing research into antitoxins when a good friend of mine was an innocent bystander in a gangland shooting.  The perpetrator who did it managed to get out of the charges, and I saw red – literally.  So I sneaked some cobra venom from my place of work, went to the nightclub he was celebrating at, and slipped it into his champagne.


“I watched him die – but someone else was there, a – well, an agent for a certain group.  He approached me, offered me a position – and the White Mamba was born.”


Francesca shook her head.  “It’s often the way – we slip into it and by the time we realise…”



The Bunker


“My God,” Stacey shook her head, “those women have a warped sense of humour.”


“Who does?” Charlotte asked.


“Red Group Charlotte, I’m monitoring their communications and some of what they are laughing about is downright sick.”


“It goes with their trade,” Charlotte smiled, “some might call it ‘gallows humour’, others as you say will find it bewildering and horrible.”


“They just joke about killing people as though it was nothing.”


“To them it’s purely a business Stacey, they do it because they’ve been ordered to, or paid to. It’s as simple as that. There is no passion involved, it’s just work to them.”


“I know…but.”


“Just remember that the Gold Team is feeling safer because those women are topside to protect them.”




"What's your favourite movie thing about our profession Red Two?" Jayne asked, "The Day of the Jackal?"

"No," Helen laughed, "it's from that old John Wayne western, 'The War Wagon'. The bit where he and Kirk Douglas are the professional gunmen and they shoot two men standing next to another..."

"I know that film," Marina laughed, "Kirk drawls, 'mine hit the ground first'..."

"And John replies, 'mine was taller'." Helen laughed, "it's the perfect hit-mans joke."

"There are just so many lines in that movie that apply to what we do." Louise Carling giggled. "Kirk Douglas is just so bitingly witty as Lomax."

"Ladies, I know that you are getting bored, but concentrate please."

"We are Red One."


Under Whitehall


“Welcome Gold One,” Penny said as the last group of women arrived.


“How is it going?” Juliette asked Penny.


“Other than complaints about sore muscles, pretty well.”


“Is Gold 20 set up?” asked Maddie.


“Yes,” Juliette smiled, “she has our full communications and security net set up down here.”


“Does she still get to do her share of the lifting,” Katy asked as she stood with her hands on her knees.




“Good I’d hate she missed out on this pleasure.” Katy laughed.


“I heard that Gold Nine,” Doc’s voice was heard.


“I hoped you would.”


“Okay – next team on, Maddie your team take point, Gold Seven to Ten – well done.  Get some rest.”




"So this was once Whitehall station?" Shirley asked as she looked round.

"It was," Penny smiled, "It hasn't seen this much activity since before World War Two."

"I can believe that," Catriona brushed herself down, "isn't there a better in other then via that sewer?"

"Not that is as discreet."

"Gold team, please clear away from the tracks," Charlotte's voice came through the ear pieces, "I'm going to test putting power through that third rail."

"Roger that Blue One." Shirley replied. "Everyone out of the way."


As they stepped back, everyone listened to the low hum that started, and then stopped.


“Thanks – be careful for a little while now…”



"I've been doing some quick sums in my head Gold One," Doc said as she walked over to Shirley, "and I think we maybe underestimated considerably how much gold there is here...Now I may be wrong..."

"But she rarely is," Annie laughed.

"But we might be tight pressed to get this out in two nights."


“I agree – but we do our best.  Gold 2 – ETA for the train?”


“Should be on their way to the depot now…”


Midnight BST

Earl’s Court

Lillie Bridge Depot



Steve Fowler walked across the empty yard to the control building, looking nervously round as he walked into the control room.   The grey haired man inside looked round, and said “oh god – Leeza?”


Steve nodded as he said “you as well?”


“I got a call – they have Beth, said to wait for someone to come, then there would be a call.  You’re the someone?”


“I am Jack – so what…”


Steve took out his cell phone and said “yes?


“All right.”  Looking at the supervisor, he said “we’re to open the gates.  Company is coming.”


“Steve, what the hell is going on?”


“I’m not sure,” Jack said as he put on his jacket, and got his keys, “let’s find out.”


The two men walked to the front gates of the yard, Steve watching as Jack unlocked the gates before they opened them – and then found themselves covered by two armed and masked women, who took them to the sides as a number of trucks drove in.


“Thank you gentlemen,” one of the women said to Jack, “two of us will watch the gates now.  Come – we need to explain your role.”




Midnight BST

The Liberal Club



"Do you always keep a couple of changes of clothes in your car Lady Davina?" the slim blonde haired girl said as she slipped into a dress.

"Well with the extraordinary things we are sometimes asked to do in Madame's service darling, I find it to be very practical Selena." Daffy said as she adjusted her neckline.

"I'm supposed to be working as a 'cleaner' tonight, why am I doing this with you?"

"Well I'm doing it because by chance I happen to be a member of that place, and you are accompanying me because you speak Russian, and I don't."

"So what is all this panic about?"

"This man that the call the Weasel is a lower level Russian Mafia type, and while he has proved useful in the past, with what is going on tonight his sudden appearance has made a few people curious."

"So this is just an 'eyes on' job?"

"And a listening job for you as well.  Ready?"


“As I will be,” she said as they stepped out of the car, Daffy locking it as they made their way to the entrance.


"Daffy dear," an elderly man said as he kissed her on the cheek after they walked in, "we don't often see you in here. Where's Jimmy tonight?"

"On bloody duty Nigel, why do soldiers have to keep such odd hours sometimes?"

"Because they ARE soldiers I suppose."

"Well,” Daffy said with a smile, “I was having a girls’ night out with friends, but Selena here was complaining about the vodka, and I happened to remember they serve the real thing in here."

"So you aren't here to talk politics?"

"Nigel,” Daffy said in a reproachful voice, “you know me better than that."

"I do," he smiled, "and I know that while you do hold political views, like a true lady you never discuss them in public."

"Yes," Davina smiled, "anyway Nigel Dunbar meet Selena Murskaya. Selena meet one of the dinosaurs who make programming decisions at the BBC."

"Good to meet you," Serena thickened up her Russian accent.

"Charmed," he kissed her hand, "and this must be Russian night and no one told me, there are two or three of your countrymen in here."


“Indeed?  How exciting,” Selena said, “can you point them out to me?  Perhaps I know them.”


“Over there,” Nigel said as he pointed to where the Weasel was talking to a group of three men.


“No, no I do not recognise them – come Davina, show me this vodka.”


The two women walked to a nearby table, Daffy ordering drinks as Selena listened.


"So what are they talking about?" Daffy eventually asked.

"Something about can we trust the Japanese, and that the ship is ready to go from Lowestoft." Selena whispered.

"So that's what Tanaka is up to eh?" Daffy spoke softly, "she's done a deal with the Russians."

"I think so."

"Look I need to head out to the car and tell the network is going on, can you stay and listen for ten minutes alone?"


“Go,” Selena said as Daffy slipped out to her car, and dialled in.


“Green One, this is Red Two – patch me through to Gold One.”


A moment later, she heard Shirley say “this is Gold One – Gold Six is in as well.”


“It appears Tanaka has done a deal with Russian parties to have a boat ready to take things out from Lowestoft.”


“Makes sense,” Dominique said.


"So what is the Weasel's role in all this?"

"Probably his normal one as a facilitator putting people together Red Two."  Dom spoke, "He will have been the go-between that Tanaka used to pass messages to the Russians, and then he'd deliver their replies."

"So should I kill him?"

"No," Shirley spoke.

"Roger that, but why not?"

"Because I'd rather have him alive to interrogate in the morning.  Maintain contact, and when he is free, invite him for a visit – gently."


“Roger that, Gold One, Gold Six – will advise…”


Earl’s Court

Lillie Bridge Depot


Jack and Steve watched as a grey van pulled up to the main building, two more masked women escorting out a blindfolded man.  When the blindfold was taken off, one of the women said “you know what to do?”


“We’ve been told,” Jack said.


“And you know what happens if you do not cooperate?”


“Do they have your families as well,” Richard Norman said as he looked at the other two, both of them nodding in reply.


“Right, you nice compliant arsefuckers,” the second woman said, “lead us to the transport.”


Jack nodded as he unlocked and opened the side door, then went with his escort to the main entrance as Steve walked with Richard and the others to an empty train.


“Very nice – get in,” the second woman said to Richard as they went into the driver’s cabinet, the first woman getting in with some others in the first carriage.


"So what am I supposed to do?" Steve asked as the main doors opened.

"Your job Steve, just your job." one of the masked women spoke. "You just have a routine night both today and tomorrow and your wife will be returned safe and unhurt."

"What the hell is this all about?"

"Oh let’s just say we have needs of a work train and leave it at that shall we?"


"Where the hell am I supposed to be going?" Richard asked as Miss Lynx glanced at her device.

"Don't worry I'll tell you when to stop."

"But what about the signals?"

"Let me just say that we have control of those shall we?"


"Just remember Richard,” Miss Leopard said, “this lady is a complete psychopath, she doesn't give a damn if your family live or die. She actually gets off on killing and torturing people. So just be a good boy, and I'll promise I will try to restrain her."

"Just don't hurt dem."

"Well remember their life is in your hands," Carina giggled as the train moved off.



The Bunker


"They are underway Hand."

"Good Charlotte, any last minute unforseen events?"

"Doesn't seem to be."

"Alright inform Gold One that the train is on its way, and give her and her people due warning when you need to electrify that rail."

"Will do."


“We really do need find out how our associates are planning to get the stuff out?” Juliette whispered to Shirley, “what if I’m wrong and that Tanaka has no plans to hit us at all, but she’s going to take it as it’s being transported for delivery?”


“I must say the same thought had crossed my mind Gold Two, especially if they thought that precautions would be relaxed after we do what we’ve always assumed would be the difficult part,”




The Babbage Residence


It is said writers, composers, artists keep a pad or book by their bed in case a thought comes to them in the night, and they have to write it down, lest they forget it.  In DCI Mike Babbage’s house, however, the only book by the bed was Sherry’s novel – as Mike discovered when he suddenly opened his eyes.


"CRAP!" he said as he sat straight up in bed, "why am I so dim sometimes?"

"What?" Sherry fought to open her eyes.

"I've worked out what this is all about."

"Again I'll repeat my question....  What?"

"This damn crime wave, it's actually just a distraction designed to get us chasing our own tails, while something else happens."

"And you had to wake me to tell me that?"  Sherry turned over as Mike got out of bed, and went downstairs, to organise his thoughts...


The Liberal Club


"So are we going to get involved in lifting the Weasel?" Helen asked, "he knows me of old you know, if he sees my face he will run like hell."

"Negative Red Two, you just maintain watch leave this with the team already in situ please."

"Roger that."

"You want us to do a snatch?" Daffy asked.

"We are sending transport to help you," Charlotte's voice replied.

"How do we isolate him?"

"If I need to explain then you are an impostor impersonating one of us." Charlotte laughed.

"Okay do I need put on the black stockings?"

"Negatory, according to what I understand the man thinks he is irresistible to women, just flutter your eyelashes."

"Roger that," Davina laughed, so when do you want him outside?"

"Give us twenty minutes to get the transport arranged."

"Can do."


"So?" Selena asked as Daffy rejoined her.

"They want us to lift him," she nodded discreetly to indicate the Weasel, "as quietly and unobtrusively as possible."

"How long do we have?"

"Transport should be here in twenty minutes."

"So I presume it's a 'seduction'?"

"That's our orders."

"Well it shouldn't be hard, he's been giving me the eye since you went out."

"Okay darling, you do your thing, and I'll quickly go scout our best way to get him out of the building." Davina stood and left the bar again.


Selena turned, crossing her legs as she watched the Weasel out of the corner of her eye.  He was eyeing her up and down, as he finished his discussion and shook hands with the other men, and then walked over.


“Good evening – where has your friend gone,” he said as he stood by the bar.


“Doubtless she will be back soon – you sound as if you are visiting as well.”


“Some business to take care of – but it is over for tonight.  My name is Viktor – and you are?”


“Selena – so, Viktor, you are a businessman?”


“A facilitator,” Viktor said with a smile, “I bring interested parties together.  What do you do?”


“Oh I’m in insurance – it can be boring, but it has some interesting moments.”


“I can imagine – so, may I buy you a drink?”


“Vodka – the good stuff?”


“They only serve the good stuff here,” Viktor said as he signalled to the barman.  “Two please.”


“So,” Selena said as she accepted her drink, “where can a girl go to have a good time in this city at this time of night?”


“Oh I know of a place – if you are interested?”


Glancing to the side, Selena saw Daffy nod as she said “why not – is it far?”


“We may need to take a black cab – shall we step outside and see?”


“Why not,” Viktor said as he followed Selena out to the front, and a black cab pulled up.  Holding the door, he said “after you?”


“Thank you,” Selena said as she got in, and Viktor followed – only to look as the door was pulled from him, and Daffy got in.


“A threesome?  You didn’t say my dear?”


“Well, it’s more we need to talk to you,” Daffy said with a smile.




“Or rather,” she said as she pulled out a gun from her handbag, “Dominique does.  Sit back, Mr Koslov, relax…”




12.45 am BST

Under Whitehall


As Richard drove the train slowly out of the tunnel, he was stunned to see the women, all masked and wearing black, and the brightly lit platform.


“Good – stop here,” Miss Lynx said, waiting as the trains topped before she pulled his arms behind his back and used a zip tie to secure his wrists, then made him sit down before she gagged and blindfolded him.  Pressing a button, she heard the doors of the carriage open, before she joined Miss Leopard.


“Gold One, Gold Two – your carriage awaits.”


“You heard her ladies,” Shirley called out, “start loading…”


“How is the driver,” Juliette asked Carina.


“Good and scared – got a volunteer to guard him while I do my share?”


“Gold eight, take point,” she called out as Eleanor watched over the driver.  Carina and Diana made their way to where Jo and Abby were moving the gold bricks onto a palate.


“Good lord - how much is there here,” Carina whispered.


“Who knows – but get to work…”


1.30 am BST



"So what are you doodling kiddo?" Marina asked as she looked away from the monitors for a few seconds.

"Oh just some more ideas that just looking at people in the street give me."

"Anything good?"

"You know I'm really not sure," Kylie took her glasses off and wiped them. "For APCO we design clothes that are made to be worn, and that suggest a certain class and elegance. What I'm doing here I hope still has some of that style but it's designed to be worn by younger women who want to look a bit more 'street' then 'salon'."

"So it's not Kanye West type stuff?"

"Darling, go wash your mouth out," Kylie laughed as she put her glasses back on and looked at the monitor. "Is that that same copper?"

"It is, and I wish he'd find something better to do with himself then to keep walking up and down."

"Well I suppose this is Whitehall darling, it reassures people to see a visible presence at all times?"

"Yeah well I'm not worried about he sees up here, it's what he might hear up here through say that ventilation shaft that worries me."

"Well we just keep an eye on him." Kylie turned her attention back again to her sketch pad.


“Red One, come in Red One.”


Kylie and Marina looked at each other as they heard Natalya say “I hear you Red Two – problem?”


“We need a clean up crew, stat.”


“What happened?”


“Two Asian gentlemen poking round – they suffered a bad case of knitting needle intrusion.”


“Understood – Black one?”


“Zeroing in on location – what were they doing?”


“Nosing round the sewer entrance – please make sure they are found somewhere a bit more remote.”



2.30 am BST

Under Whitehall


"Well?" Shirley whispered in Penny's ear as they watched another palette being loaded onto the train.

"I'm keeping an eye on the weight distribution,” Penny said quietly.  “I knew gold was a heavy metal, but there is just so much of it and we have to make sure that not everything rests on say one or two axles."

"And it is that kind of expertise that means I rely on you so much," Shirley smiled.

“A little further down – good…”


"So all going to plan Blue One?" Madame turned her com back on.

"Seems to be," Charlotte's voice came online, "looks like a rather routine night of maintenance on the London Underground."

"Well let’s just hope that it stays that way."

"Amen to that." Charlotte replied. 

"So any news on our Japanese friend?" Juliette asked.

"Negative Gold Two, our friend is safely back in her bedroom, and to be honest it looks like she's in for the night."

"Gold Twelve, have you had any news from your friends?" Shirley asked.

"No, only that they are all set to receive all this at the designated time."

"Which is approaching fast?" Juliette glanced at the watch she wore, "we have to get this to the rendezvous, unloaded, then back to the depot before the regular service starts."


“How long?”


“Thirty minutes top.  Gold Twenty?”


“Don’t ask me how,” Doc said, “but I reckon we have about half on the train.”


“Well, a good night’s work then.  Gold Twelve, you go with Gold Three and prepare the driver.”




3 am BST



"Next time I say anything rude about the fuzz doing stakeouts you have my permission to kick me."

"We do Red Ten?" Marina spoke.

"If this is typical of what they do then bloody well yes, I've never been as bored in my life as sitting here watching the entrance to a tube station."

"Well it's not for much longer," Natalya came on, "Gold team is just clearing up for the night."

"I am so looking forward to my bed, and a sleep in," Francesca yawned.


“Indeed – relief crews?”


“Coming soon…”



The Babbage Residence


"Alright you stay sleeping love," Mike spoke as he lay there in the dark. "If I'm right who has the resources, and the people to do this much just to cover up an even bigger crime?"


Sleep was useless, so he got up, put on a dressing gown and went to the kitchen, making himself a tea and sitting down to think.

"So who could be doing something really, really big.  Madame X?" he speculated to himself, she was certainly the biggest player in London's gangland, but surely even she didn't have the power to do all this without outside support.


“No – either she is uniting the families, and that is not her style, or she had brought in…  Oh shit.  The Americans."


The thought came rushing into his mind as he said, "she's called in the bloody cavalry." Mike shook his head, if what he'd heard about the ruthlessness of those rumoured to be her American allies, it would certainly explain the blood that had been shed.


“The Pussycat Gang – here in the UK?  That does not bear thinking about…  So what was so big a target that she could tempt the cream of American armed robbers over the pond?  The Crown Jewels?"


The policeman gave himself a mental shaking, "that is ridiculous...besides if she did steal them where would she fence them?"  No this had to be something very large, but something that could be turned rapidly into cash.

"The big diamond company?" he asked himself, "no even a regiment of commandos would find that a hard nut to crack, and it's not like the diversions have been small robberies in themselves...Think Babbage what is there in this city that would tempt such a coalition?"


As he thought, he made notes, but nothing seemed to make sense.  "Had that idiot Bennett known something? Was that what got him whacked?"

It was a definite possibility, but how might a bent cop like him have stumbled onto something this big?

Did all this, the kidnappings, the murders, the robberies have any common theme?  He made a note to look when he got to work, and went to make more coffee…




4 am BST



"Reds Fifteen to Eighteen are you ready to take the day shift making sure no one comes poking their nose in?" 

"Roger that Red One, we are on site and ready to take up our positions once the last member of Gold team leaves."

"Well remember that you'll be in direct touch all day with the bunker."

"We understand."


“Okay all groups – stand down and enjoy the down time.  Back tonight.”




“Stop there,” Miss Leopard said as Richard slowed the train where a fleet of lorries was waiting, large groups of men standing by.  Opening the doors, he watched the small masked woman as he heard Chinese voices, and trucks were backed up to the train itself.


“What about my wife and girls?”


“Don’t worry – we’ll make sure you have some close personal time as a reward…”


"Okay who is driving to Windsor with me first thing? asked Catriona.

"I will darling," Ju said, "are you be fit to race?”

"Give me a couple of hours sleep Mom, after all it wasn't me last night, I was just relaxing."


“All unloaded – we will ensure it is on the way to the Honoured Father in the hour,” one of the men said as the vans drove off.


“Excellent – make sure the train is returned and wiped, and all three are taken to join their families,” Juliette said, Diana nodding as she went with Carina.




Friday 15th July

6 am BST

Rose’s flat


Rose walked quickly into the front room, wrapping her dressing gown round herself as she picked up the handset.




“Hey mum – everything all right?”


“It is - So you're okay luv?"

"I am Mum,” she heard Susan say.  “Other than me bleedin' back screaming like hell because of all the liftin' I did, I'm fine."

"So are you goin' to 'ave a sleep?"

"Gonna try get a few hours Mum, if Clint and his bloody snorin' don't keep me awake."

"Well that I can't 'elp you wiv luv." Rose laughed, "but don't worry about me an' April, I'm gonna take 'er in so the kids can spoil 'er."

"Well have good luck with the dresses Mum, I'll call yer later."

"Alright luv, talk to yer then." 

"So 'ow is she?" Maeve came in with two large mugs of tea.

"'Urtin like 'ell she says, but nuffin bad seems to 'ave 'appened."


7 am BST

The Farm


“There – isn’t that better?”


Richard groaned into his wife’s damp panties which now filled his mouth, black tape wrapped tightly round his head as he lay bound cross-eagled on the bed.  His wife was between his legs, her mouth clamped over his erect penis and held there by tape round her head and his waist, her arms bound in a reverse prayer behind her back and her ankles tied to her wrists.


The girls were lying on a second bed, shaking as the double headed dildo once more drove them both over the edge as they looked into each other’s eyes.  Miss Panther stepped out, closing and locking the door as Tracey passed.


“Give them some time.”


“Roger that Gold Four.”


“the others?”


The two women walked to the monitor room, one showing Steve as he held his wife, the other Jack with his older wife.


“Who’s the bloke?”


“A man I need to talk to,” Dominique said as she drank her coffee, “once I have finished.”




“Hey!  What’s going on here?”


Viktor walked round the room, banging on the door as he passed each time – but a she went to hit it again, he was surprised to see it open, an armed guard staring at him.  What scared him most, however, was the tall dark haired woman standing behind her.


“Hello Weasel,” she said as she came in, the armed guard closing the door and watching, “it’s nice to see you again.”


“My dear Dominique,” Viktor said with a smile, “it is a real pleasure to see you again, but I do think the invitation was a little forceful – a call to meet over cocktails would have been more welcome.”


“Well, if it was going to be a social call, I would have done so,” Dominique said with a smile, “but I am afraid this is a business matter.  I need to know what you were talking to those men about in the Liberal Club last night – a ship in Lowestoft?”


She smiled as she sat down, Viktor rubbing his chin as he said “ah – well, that is a rather – delicate matter.   I regret to say I cannot tell you, save to assure you it has nothing to do with any operations Madame may currently have underway.”


“And you can be certain of this because?”


Dominique smiled as Viktor looked at the open door, and stood up as the tall, dark haired woman wearing the dark glasses came in, wearing a dark Versace pant suit and a cream camisole.


“Madame,” Dominique said, “your timing is fortuitous.  Have you met Mister Kosolov?”


“Not to the best of my knowledge,” Madame purred as she walked in, “but I do hope we meet again after today.  The chances of that, however, depend on a few things…”


“Such as?”


“Well,” Dominique said, “why are you arranging for some of your Russian contacts to have a ship ready at Lowestoft?”


“Well…”  Viktor was then gasping as Dominique walked over and punched him in the stomach.


“Viktor, I have some respect for you, but believe me when I say today is not the day you want to try and get away with small talk.  The boat!”


“All right, all right,” he gasped as he sat down.  “It is a private commission – one of the families wished to arrange for some containers to be – added to a consignment.  I was negotiating the rates with the boat owners.”


“And the family is?”


Viktor looked at Madame as he said “If I speak, I die.”


“If you do not speak, Silent Death will join us.  Who are they?”


Viktor looked at both women, and then said “I need to call them, and if you were to listen in?”




9 am BST

Dorney Lake, near Windsor


"Get much sleep Ju?" Shirley asked as she eased herself into the seat next to her friend in the viewing stands.

"Some, what about you?"

"A couple of hours. What about Carina?"

"She's wonderful," Juliette shook her head, "I swear that she does somehow go to sleep while The Beast takes over, it’s the only explanation as to how she can be so peppy the next morning."

"If it could be done safely,” Shirley said as she sipped her coffee, “I'd love to know what a psychiatrist makes of her."

"Me too," Juliette laughed, "and don't think I haven't thought about calling Serena Gleb in on occasion."

"Did you ring Germany?"

"Yes, Klaus said he misses me, and that the grandchildren are fine."

"Did he say how Susie's shoot was going?"

"The maestro has booked her again today for another magazine, Klaus says that he frightens the life out of Susie, but that to his eyes at least the pictures are marvelous."

"Are you talking about my brother?" Sigi asked as she and Ingrid joined them.

"I was," Juliette kissed both her step daughter and sister-in-law, "he was telling me that the Maestro scares Susie Clarke to death."

"He's a pain where I sit Moms," Ingrid made a face, "having me hang out that window on the Chrysler building I swear will take ten years off my life."

"Well you all know my opinion of that little queer," Diana arrived with coffees.


“Indeed – but you cannot deny his skill Diana.”


“I deny nothing…  How long?”


“They’re heading for the start now…”





"Alright Ladies remember we can safely finish second and we still make the final," Carina spoke as they took up their position, "just pace ourselves to the Swiss girls and we should be fine."

"We know Specs," Molly looked serious as she tightened her oar in place again.

"And it’s not like we don't have an idea how at least Heidi rows since she's been in the Yale crew as well." Kelsey looked all business.


“True – the surface is rougher today, so we need to work that little bit harder.  Are you set?"



Carina dropped her hand to indicate they were ready to go.




"Back with us again Abigail?" Terry Hardy of Reuters smiled as the model adjusted her camera.

"Yes, I'm hoping I can get a few more good shots for my portfolio."

"Still looks wrong."

"What does?"

"You at that end of a camera."

"Well I have to think of a career after modelling Terry," Abigail laughed.

"That's a few years away," the Englishman smiled again.


"The water is a little rougher today."

"I noticed, should add a little to the images."

"It can do. I just hope your friend the Princess has done her homework on these conditions."






"Is this the American cheer section?" a tall and still highly attractive blond in her mid 40's came and sat down next to Diana, "I noticed the flag."

"Well we aren't all American," Juliette smiled, "but we are here to support the girls yes."

"Guessed so," the blonde smiled, "I recognized you Your Highness. I'm Karin Widdowes."

"Oh you're Kelsey's Mom?"

" mind if I join you all?"

"Not at all," Ju smiled again, "I better make introductions, this is Ingrid, Catriona's sister, Sigrid her aunt, and Shirley and Diana, two of my best friends."

"Hello," Sigi grinned.


"So Karin what brought you to Europe?" Shirley asked.

"A Boeing 747." the American laughed.

"Okay I walked into that one," Shirley rolled her eyes.

"You did Shirley, but I came both to see Kel race, and hopefully see an old friend from Oxford, a lady called Agnes..."

"McAdam," Shirley laughed lightly.

"How did you?"

"She's a friend of mine as well."

"Oh that's great," Karin smiled, "maybe you can tell me where she's hanging out nowadays?"


“We can talk after the race…”



“They’re off,” Abigail called out as the flag was dropped, and the crews started to move away, Carina guiding the two girls to keep pace with the Dutch crew.


For the first half of the race, everyone watched in silence as the crews kept pace with each other, nobody really gaining ground…







"Alright ladies 300 to go, let's go win our race," Carina urged as the finish approach, "you need to hit top gear."

"Tell us when."

"NOW!" Carina shouted as they drew level with the Swiss girls.

Suddenly the boat accelerated as the girls increased their strike rate and in 100 metres they pulled away to a lengths lead.


“They’re edging in front,” Ingrid said as they stood up and cheered, the two rowing for all they were worth as the Swiss boat finally started to respond, edging closer, closer…”




“Well, they only lost at the very end,” Diana said as Sigi sat down, “and they have made the final.”


“True – but still…”




"Nice finish," Heidi Fischer shook hands with her university colleagues, "you blew us out of the water almost."

"We thought we might catch you by surprise," Molly chuckled as she and Kelsey lifted the boat above their heads.

"You certainly did that," Heidi nodded as she and her partner also lifted their boat.  “See you on Sunday.”


“Looking forward to it,” Molly said as they headed for the boathouse, storing their boat and equipment as Carina looked out. 


“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m starving – let’s find the others and eat.”




"So what was your opinion Karin?" Juliette asked as they took a table in the marquee.

"Pretty good,” Karin said as she sat down, “that Swiss crew are known world class, the girls are certainly putting themselves in a position to be noticed."

"They will be pleased to hear you say that."

"Well my daughter said they'd be happy making the final, so mission accomplished so far, anything from now is a bonus," Karin sipped her coffee as she looked round.

"Agnes I seem to remember saying you rowed at Oxford Karin," Shirley asked as she reached for a cucumber sandwich.

"I did."

"And I suppose Yale before that?" asked Sigi.

"Actually no," Karin laughed, "I went to Princeton..."

"YAY," Ingrid smiled broadly, "I'm at Princeton, damn Yalies."

"Agreed," Karin laughed, "I was also on the national team as well, and went to the Olympics twice."

"You sound like you were a star Cherie," Diana spoke.

"Only in the minds of the press," Karin shook her head, "and my looks had nothing to do with my rowing."

"I know the feeling," Juliette finished her sandwich.


“There you are Juliette, well we…  MOMMY!”  Kelsey smiled and embraced her mother. "What did you think?"

"You nearly got the jump on them."

"Yeah we were kinda hoping they wouldn't be able to respond," Kelsey shook her head.

"We maybe should have held the spurt till just a fraction longer." Molly also embraced Karin. 

"Just maybe."

"Anyway Mom this is Specs, and I can see you already met her family."

"Hello Carina it’s lovely to meet you," Karin shook hands with the much shorter woman.

"And to meet you," Cari smiled, "and if it was a tactical error it was mine I'm afraid."

"No I think you called it right,” Karin said, “they were just slightly better on the day."

"Well, I hope US Rowing is impressed by the girls if not by their cox."

"Oh I think they have noted all three of you."

"We will see...Hey Mom," Cari kissed Juliette.

"Hey yourself, and I'm not an expert like Karin but I think it was a great race."

"Well we have made the final," Carina smiled, "and that's not till Sunday."

"Yes, and remember you have that other shoot tonight."

"I know Mom," Cari rolled her eyes.

"It’s why I did very little modeling," Karin smiled broadly, "it's hard to mix with the rowing."

"You know you could model now Mrs Widdowes. you look so beautiful."

"And we don't Specs?" Kelsey and Molly laughed.

"Carina I'm far too old to model."

"Never say that Karin," Juliette chuckled, "they got me back in front of a camera after all."



9.30 am BST

McAdam Advisors, The Bank


“So,” Agnes said as she sat at her desk, “what is urgent in the post this morning Sue?”


“Not an awful lot Aggie,” Sue said as she looked through the letters, “but I thought you might want to look at this, it’s handwritten and postmarked Oban.”


“Oh!” Aggie took the letter, but her look of concentration turned to a smile as she opened the envelope and read the letter.


“So I take it from the look on your face it’s something good…something about my wedding?”


“No Sue, this is something that proves my status is returning to what it once was.”


“Sorry, I don’t understand.”


“My father always told me,” Agnes said as she sat back, “that one of the things about being Laird of Ardray was that there was things one was obliged to do, that they were the Laird’s duty.”


“And this letter is about you doing your duty.”


“Indeed it is Sue, it’s from my factor at Ardray, Rory McAdam, but writing not as my employee but as club captain of Ardray Shinty Club, inviting me to become the club’s Honorary President and Patron.”


“Shinty is like hockey isn’t it?”


“It is,” Agnes grinned, “and where did an English girl like you learn that?”


“To be honest I don’t know,” Sue, laughed, “I probably saw it in some trivia game.”


“Well anyway to return to it being my duty, I was taught by my parents that it is the duty of the Laird to support local causes, and groups. It’s why my father paid for the cost of repairing the roof on the Presbyterian kirk, even though we are Roman Catholics ourselves.”


“Colin says that similar duties will come to me as an MP’s wife.”


“Well, as a member of one of East Anglia’s oldest aristocratic families, it’s the price you pay for joining the nobility Sue.”


“Stop extracting the wee-wee Aggie,” Sue grinned, “aint no way I can ever be an aristocrat.”


“Tell me that next year when the new edition of Debrett’s Peerage comes out Sue, and you’ve seen your name in there…that will be more than I do,” Aggie laughed.


“Alright that makes no sense, I’ll be in there, but you won’t? All because you were Lady D’Eath?”


“No actually not - my ancestry is recorded in another book, Burke’s Landed Gentry.”


“You’ll have to explain one day Aggie,” Sue looked perplexed.


“Alright,” Aggie swiveled on her chair. “There were once McAdam’s who were nobility, George the Third in an act of reconciliation made the Laird who built the New House, Earl of Ardray.”




“Well the title died out when the senior line ran out after the 4th Earl’s death. The Lairdship then passed to a descendant of the 1st Earl’s younger brother, who wasn’t therefore eligible to become Earl. Though a recreation of the title in his favour was offered, and turned down. Well anyway to cut a long story short, I descend from him, and lacking a title, that’s why I’m just landed gentry.”


“Artemis that’s complicated,” Susan shook her head.


“But coming back to ‘duty’ - as the wife of a peer’s grandson, and one day MP, you’ll find that a slice of such obligations as me giving my patronage to the shinty club, will certainly fall to you Sue.”


“I guess so – and I need to thank you for allowing us to stay at you home this weekend.”


“You’re getting married from there – it gives you a chance to meet Sheilagh and discuss matters.”


"So what can we expect at Ardray Aggie?" Sue asked quietly

"A fine, fine, Scottish welcome. Sheilagh and Rory have cared for the New House so long, while it's been in mothballs almost, that they are champing at the bit to prove how good they really are at their jobs."

"What do I call them?'

"Call them by their names, but expect them in return to call you Miss Susan, and Colin, Mister Colin."

"It's going to feel just so strange," Sue shook her head.

"Well life on a Scottish estate is still pretty hierarchical and formal. People will respect you Susan, and in turn you show them courtesy and gratitude and all will go well."


“I still can’t believe this is all happening,” Sue said as she sat down, “Aggie?”




“What were the plans for your wedding?”


“Pretty much like your Sue,” Agnes smiled, “I was to have been married in the cathedral at Oban.”


“The same one?”


“No,” Aggie smiled again, “just up the street at St Columba’s, the Roman Catholic Cathedral.”


“Who would your bridesmaids have been?”


“Tamsin…of course, Olivia de Sally…”


“Who is she?”


“She was a friend from school and Oxford.”


“Where is she now?”


“Not sure,” Aggie shrugged, “after the story she cut me right out. Other than that she lives in Belgium nowadays, I haven’t got any information.”


“Alright who else?”


“My cousin Arabella Lomax, and Fiona Douglas-Warren, who I’d known since we were tiny children, and who also removed any contact with me when she found out I was Lady D’Eath.”


“So of the 4 girls who would have down the aisle behind you, only your sister now talks to you? Aggie that sucks.”


“Such is life Sue…At least your friends have stuck with you through thick and thin.”


“Yeah, oi guess in that oi’ve been lucky.”


“Sue your accent is slipping.” Agnes laughed.


“Who was giving you away?”


“Sir Simon McDonald…my godfather.”


“Does he talk to you?”


“He came and saw me for the first time last night.”


“That sounds good.” Sue said with a smile.


“No not really Sue darling, in many ways he’s Donald’s boss at the FO. He came to check what my relationship was with Donald, and was I likely to cause a scandal?”


“God…the BASTARD!”


“No…not really, I think he was under instructions from the new PM to make sure that I was going to stay out of the way.”


“Didn’t he say anything personal?”


“Not really, I suspect I’ll probably never see him again,” Agnes let a couple of tears drop, “still I can’t have everything, at least a few family members and friends have readmitted to the human race.”


Both women heard the outer door open, as Sue went out and Agnes looked at the mail.  A couple of minutes later, Sue returned.


“You have a visitor Agnes?”


“Oh?  Who?”


“Lady Fiona McDonald Agnes,” Sue ushered the older but stunningly chic woman into the inner office.


“Aunt Fiona…” Agnes stood up in shock as Sue made her exit.


“No don’t go Miss Fletcher, I came actually to see both of you.”


“If this is to reinforce what Uncle Simon said last night Aunt Fiona, I can assure you that I got the message loud and clear.”


“Simon is a jackass at times Aggie, I knew he’d cocked it up as soon as he came in the door last night,” Lady Fiona sighed as she sat down.


“Cocked it up?”


“Yes darling…you know there are definitely times when a man shouldn’t be sent to do a woman’s work.”


“I thought last night he WAS doing a woman’s work?”


“Yes,” Lady Fiona sighed again, “he was under orders from Number Ten, but he was also supposed to talk to you not as the head of the Foreign Office, but as your godfather as well.”


“He was?”


“He was…Now Sue…you don’t mind me calling that do you? Can you get us three cups of coffee and then we can all sit down and I can tell you just what that idiot husband of mine should have said last night?”




Less than five minutes later the three women sat down round Agnes’s desk and Lady Fiona started to speak again.


“Aggie darling, Simon was supposed to tell you last night that having read the Sunday Times article, and having talked to a few people that we realise now that you only did what you thought you needed to do for the best.”


“Yes I did,” Aggie sipped her coffee.


“He was also supposed to apologise for the way we treated you for these past twenty years.”


“Well the impression he gave me that was this would probably be the last time I ever saw him.”


“Oh that man is so USELESS at times…”


“So Aunt Fiona what was he supposed to actually say?”


“That we welcome you back into the family with open arms.”


“You do?”


“Of course we bloody do Aggie…Now give me a hug please.”


“Gladly,” the two women stood and with a few tears flowing embraced each other.


“This is all lovely, but I can’t understand why I’m here Lady Fiona?” Sue asked.


“You are here Sue because I want to invite you and Colin to dinner on Monday night along with Aggie and Donald, and Charles and Bobbi.”


“You do?” It was Susan’s turn to look shocked.


“Well how else am I going to wheedle out of you an invitation to your wedding,” Lady Fiona smiled broadly.


“My…” Susan laughed, “of course we will invite you.”


“Good, because like Catriona I’d like to offer to put up guests at our house.”


“That is so kind of you,” Sue grinned happily. “You do know though that my personal life has been even more toxic then Aggie’s?”


“Sue darling if I’ve learned one thing recently, it’s that when people do what they need do just to avoid going hungry and to put a roof over their heads, then it’s rather improper of those who have never faced that situation to be judgmental.” Fiona smiled again, “now can I take it we will see you Monday?”


“Let me call Colin to confirm, but yes I think we are free.”


“And you Agnes?”


“Again I’ll need ask Donald, but I think we can make it.”




“Aunt Fiona,” Agnes said quietly, “you know this may generate some bad publicity?”


“To be honest, I don’t give a shit Aggie, Simon’s pension is secure, he has been offered the Wardenship of Argyll College, and if TM and the Cabinet Secretary want to boot him out, well then let them.”


“Does he know you are saying that?” Agnes laughed.


“Yes, and as I told him over breakfast if he can’t repair relationships with his own goddaughter, what use is he heading the diplomatic service anyway?”


“Oh I wish I could tell my friends that story,” Sue laughed.


“Well best you don’t dear, just in case it ever got into the press,” Fiona’s eyes twinkled. “Today we can’t say what Aggie’s great great grandfather told Lord Beaverbrook when he said he was going to publish some scandal, and that it was in the public interest.”


“What did he say?” Sue asked as she looked at both women.


“What fucking business is it of the middle classes to know what their betters do,” Aggie and Fiona recited together then started laughing.


“Oh my Goddess,” Sue shook her head, “you certainly could not say that today.”


“Look - Why didn't you ask your friends and family for help Agnes? I'm sure somehow we could have all done something."

"Because, as I've admitted to a few people, I thought that I could deal with everything on my own."

"That does sound just like the Agnes I remember."

"Well by the time I got the final demand from the Treasury for Inheritance Tax, and I'd worked out just how much Daddy was in debt to various people, I wasn't left with much of an option other than to sell Ardray."

"Which of course Donald bought, intending to give it back to you."

"Which I just found out," Agnes shook her head.

"He used all that money his grandmother had given him while she was alive."

"And thus it escaped a huge tax hit...I just wish Daddy had at least started to think about what would happen if he died, it would have helped me out immensely."

"Well anyway considering he bought at the bottom of the market, Donald has made some rather nice capital gains on his purchase of Ardray."

"I suppose he has," Aggie finished her coffee.'

"And how do you and Colin stand financially Sue?"

"Well we certainly both need to work," Sue smiled, "but we do have a lovely little house in Rutland Street."

"Which will be ideal for a young family," Lady Fiona smiled.

"Well if I can get pregnant, the doctors are still making up their minds on that subject."


“Have faith, my child – if it is intended to be, it will be,” Fiona said with a smile.


“I must say, you do make a refreshing change with your acceptance, Lady Fiona.”


"Sue since I'm at least in part the descendant of a very famous whore, I really shouldn't take a moral line with anyone."

"You descend from a whore Lady Fiona?" Sue looked shocked.

"My maternal grandmother was a de Vere Beauclerk, which means I descend from Charles Beauclerk, the bastard son of Charles II and Nell Gwynn."

"You have royal blood?"

"Yes just like the Fitzstuart's, except their ancestress was a maid, while Nell was certainly a whore, as well as an actress."

"Is that true Agnes?" Sue looked at her boss.

"It is," Aggie laughed, "being a whore wasn't quite so bad if your client was the king. and Aunt Fiona's ancestors aren't the only ones - the Dukes of Richmond also descend from Charles II, but in their case their ancestress Louise de Keroualle wasn't only a high class trollop, but a French spy as well."

"God, who'd of thought it," Sue shook her head.



10 am BST

Paddington Green Police Station


The DCS listened carefully as Mike Babbage said "Brian I'm telling you that something is happening that we don't know about?"

"Look Mike, you are a great copper, but are you just overtired from all this work?" the Detective Chief Superintendent asked.

"No...I can feel this in my guts Sir."


“I see – there are a couple of experts at the conference today.  I’ll call them in for lunch – I believe you know Agent Janice Carter and Inspector Jeanne Marais?”


10 am BST



"Good morning Louise." Tamiko smiled as she stood up in the coffee lounge.

"And good morning to you Tamiko," Louise kissed her on the cheeks before she sat down, "and thank you for the wonderful meal last night."

"I remembered you like quality things Louise."

"I do, hence why I'm staying at Claridges..."

"And not at the Savoy," Tamiko continued pointedly as she poured the coffee.

"I heard it was fully booked.  A lot of models in town."

"So have you been into the London office?"

"Darling,” Louise said with a light laugh, “I'm on vacation - why would I visit the office?"

"I thought maybe to thank Madame for paying for your operation?"

"I did that when she was in LA."


“Of course – and as you say, you are on vacation.”


“So how much longer do you expect to be in town,” Louise said as she sipped her coffee.


“I am unsure – something tells me it will soon be…  Forgive me,” Tamiko said as she took out her mobile phone and answered it, speaking in Japanese.


"Darling is everything alright?" Louise asked with genuine concern as Tamiko put her phone away.

"Yes...I suppose so," the Lady Yakuza for once looked flustered.  “Forgive me Louise – I must curtail our chat for now.”  She stood up and walked quickly off, the two guards following her.


11 am CET



"Give her a few moments Maestro," Mary shouted as the hairdresser took the curlers out of Susie's hair, "they are going as fast as they can."

"What did I do to deserve a third day of this?" Susie looked skyward.

"Simple," her sister laughed, "you did an incredible job the first two days."

"Then why is he still shouting at me?"

"Because he's Antonio Bell and that's what he does," a voice said from the entrance.

"HEY MISSY," Mary put her arms round the older woman, "so what is the world saying about my little sister?"

"How big a head do you want to give her Mary?" Missy smiled.

"That good?" Mary whistled.

"That good, and I bullshit you not, it's almost as big a reaction as your first big shoot got you Mary."

"I notice that word Almost," Susie called out. "You are still the star of the Clarke family Mary....No huge contracts for me."

"One day little sister, one day." Mary smiled proudly.


"Alright I better go," Susie nodded to the hairdresser for approval.

"You are ready to go," the man replied as Susan took off the cape and walked out.


12.30 pm BST

Park Lane Hilton


"So what had Mike keeping you awake last night Sherry?" Agnes asked as they awaited their lunch.

"Oh he has some theory that all this recent trouble is all coordinated to conceal one truly huge crime."

"Oh?" Aggie's antennae twitched as she listened.

"Yes - he has some crazy theory that some big time crook called Madame X, in league with those Pussycats from America is pulling a huge heist."

"Well, is he right?"

"He was going to try convince Brian this morning." Sherry smiled as the tall woman approached, "and there you are Cat darling, we thought you'd forgotten us."


“No – I overslept,” Catriona said as she sat down.  “So are Colin and Susan on their way?”


“In an hour or so - Aunt Fiona called on me this morning Cat?"

"She did WHAT?" Catriona stared at her friend.

"I know it amazed me as well, but basically she was telling all is forgot and forgiven."

"Good Lord, my mother will be turning in her grave that her sister did that."

"I know Cat, your Mother was not the forgiving type, was she?"

"Lady SexisSinful...No she wasn't," Catriona shook her head.



1 pm BST

Chez Georgette

Soho, London


"Hello Mike," George smiled as he saw the policeman walk into the bar, "on your own today?"

"Yes...Need some thinking time George."

"Well,” the owner said with a smile, “don't let me disturb you."

"No you aren't disturbing me George, I just have these crazy ideas in my head, and according to my boss, what I'm thinking makes no sense at all."

"Oh it’s that kind of thinking eh...need to talk to someone who's not a copper?"

"Or a coppers wife,” Mike said as he ordered some food, “Sherry thinks I'm going crazy as well."

"This does sound like deep thoughts," George pulled up a chair, "so what are these insane thoughts?"

"That all this recent stuff is just to cover up a far bigger crime..."

"Well that is a pretty unorthodox thought Michael." George interrupted.

"I know it is, but I think some very big criminal intellects have worked this all out."

"Mike, without me saying how I hear, can I say I've truthfully not heard a dickybird about anything like that."

"That's the problem George - nobody has heard anything, and that's what makes me so suspicious, this type of wave of trouble usually the snitches are rushing to ring the Yard."

"Oh I get what you are getting at now, It's the why didn't the dog bark thing?"


"Well I'm not a snitch Mike as you well know, but I'll try and discreetly ask a few people.'

"Please if only just to confirm I'm not going insane," Mike nodded as the barman brought him his steak and kidney pie.


“Thing is, Mike, if you were right, what could you do about it?”


“If I’m right, George, I have this horrible feeling I will be too late to stop it…”



1 pm BST

The Savoy


“Hey – get some sleep?”


"A little - How are you?" Cassie said as she stood and kissed JD before they sat at the table.

"Better then you I think, but all I did was sit in a van all night watching screens."

"Yeah we worked hard," the Irishwoman smiled, "there's just so much of the stuff.'

"So I heard," JD laughed.

"Anyway changing subjects,” Cassie said as they looked at the menu, “what did Maddie say about you doing that film?"

"She thinks I should."

"I agree,” Cassie said, “I read the script, and truly it looks like it will be a very moving movie."

"That's what I thought - I grew up in LA close to a lot of Latinas and I get the cultural thing."

"She's on a journey of discovery from her Anglicized life in the Boston suburbs, back to where her parents originally came from...I get the premise totally." Cassie smiled, "so is Maddie setting up meetings?"

"She is for when we get back to LA, I'll go see the producer and director then."


“Good – she was a bit tired by this morning as well…”




1 pm BST

Xavier International


Shirley poured herself another coffee and sat down at her desk, reading the reports as her intercom rang.




"Madame I have the house sitters on the phone," her PA said quietly.

"Very well put them through please," Shirley looked puzzled as there was a click on the line.

"Hello Madame its Chelsea, can I ask a question please?"

"Please do Chelsea."

"Did anyone look in the deepest recesses of that room last night?"

"No...  Why?"

"Well I got bored, so I went and shone a torch in dark places..."

"And you found?"

"A large trunk Madame."

"Did you open it?"

"Yes, and Madame I almost fainted, I'm not an expert but it looks like a fortune in stones."

"WHAT?" Shirley tried to control her voice.


“I think we need a professional appraisal.”


“Very well, I will send her down later before we start work tonight – thank you for informing me Chelsea.  You will receive a bonus for this.”


“Thank you Madame,” Chelsea said as Amanda came on the line.  “Apologies Madame – the Bunker requires your presence immediately.  Natalia is on her way down as well.”


“Very well - contact Charlotte, tell her she is needed.  I will be down presently.”






Five minutes later, Shirley walked into the command bunker, Natalia looking round as she came in.


“What’s happened?”


“Our spotters alerted us to this,” Natalia said as the screen showed the entrance to the sewers, “a group of surveyors taking measurements.”


“Not unusual on a work day?”


“All Japanese?”


“That’s where we had to clean up last night,” Charlotte said as she came in, “tube station, anything to report?”


“Busy – why?”


“Do a full sweep.  Natalia?”


“I’ll call Francesca and grab Shelly.  See you in ten.”


“Charlotte, alert Gold Ten and Eleven, we may require early entry from them and Gold Twenty.”






“And get Gold One on the line for me…”


"Alright Madame I heard both pieces of news," Penny said as she rushed in, "what are our orders?"


“Specialist assistance and support Penelope – you know what to do.”


“Agreed,” Penny said as she logged into the secure network, and opened a chat window.


“Penny?   What’s up,” she saw Marina say.


"Marina you are needed and urgently," Penny spoke into her secure computer.

"I can be there in five minutes, what is this about?"

"We aren't sure, but we may need someone who speaks Japanese."

"Alright I'm on my way then...Do I need to bring Kylie?"

"No just yourself please."


“Good - she had final fittings for Naples today.  On my way…”





"Daffy do you still have that contact in Five?" Shirley asked as Penny worked.

"You mean Lucy,” Daffy said, “yes last I heard she was still there."

"Can you give her a heads up that a group of Japanese are playing at work so close to the seat of government...I think she might be interested."

"She might," Lady Davina reached for her phone.


“I’ve called our contact in Special Branch and alerted him,” Penny said as she looked up.


"Alright if Five and Special Branch are calling on those people, I want one of them for us," Madame looked up from the screen.

"Lily we need a snatch team put together and quick...time to start using our rapid response people." Penny spoke.

"Gotcha," Lily said as she ran out of the room.


“Carina is unavailable, as is Dominique…”  Shirley dialled another number.




"Cat are you busy at this moment?"

"At this moment Shirley darling, I'm not sure what you mean."

"We have some snoopers and I'm having one lifted for interrogation, any chance that keen brain of yours can come and help out?"

"A big chance, where do I need go?"


"Okay give me 15 minutes and I'll be there darling."






“I know – you call Jill Hudspeth,” Shirley said as she dialled another number.  "Louise - how are things at Claridges?"

"At this moment looking very quiet Madame."

"She's not active?"

"Well, if she is, it’s behind locked doors."

"I rather thought that might be the case," Shirley sighed.

"Do I need to do something?"

"No just sit tight Louise, and make sure you stay safe, we are going to grab one of her people."

"I'm securing the door as we speak."

"Good, just make sure they don't get to you Louise."


“They can try, and if they do, they discover their mistake,” Louise said as she ended the call.











1.30 pm BST

South Bank, London



“Well done, Katy – take a break.  Anna, you’re up.”


“Here we go again,” Doc said as she walked over in her leather mini skirt and heels, Katy going to a seat and picking up her cell phone.


"Mom the red light just flashed on my phone?" Katy whispered as she looked at Jan.

"Mine too darling."

"Does that mean what I think it does?"

"Unfortunately yes," Jan thought, "look when Doc has finished that setup ask her, I'm going to duck out and ring Ju."

"Alright."  She watched as Jan walked out of the shoot, and dialled a number.


“Ju?  Jan – I got the message.


“You just got told as well?  How many?


“Okay – Mom is visiting Rose and Maeve tonight, so we can come once we’re done here, and we’ll bring Doc as well.”






2.15 pm BST

Paddington Green Police Station


“I still don’t understand Sir,” DC Jenny Anson shook her head, “you base this on the fact we aren’t getting people talk to us?”


“Exactly…”   Mike Babbage stood up and looked out of the window.  “This isn’t normal, and when things aren’t normal then you have to look for unusual answers.”


“I still think it’s a huge assumption Guvnor.” DC Tom Barrett shook his head.


“I know, but the boss is letting me pull you two from routine to work this with me, so at least humour me please.”


“Okay Guv,” the woman detective smiled, “but what can we do?”


“Just go out and hit as many of your grasses as you can find, I don’t buy the story that absolutely no one knows anything.”


“But if you are right and it is Madame X’s people, they are going to be shit scared even to whisper anything Sir.”


“I know she holds the fearful weapon known as Dominique over their heads, but I want even the tiniest scrap of information that you can find.”


“Gotcha Guv,” Tom Barrett stood up.


“I wish I could set more of our people on this, but with all that’s going on we are stretched far too thin for even me to get extra manpower.”


“So when Sir?”


“Ideally I wanted you out the door ten minutes ago Jenny.”


“I get the picture,” the woman DC and her partner said as they walked out the door to Mike’s office leaving it open.  A moment later, Mike grabbed his jacket and walked out as well…


2.30 pm BST



Sitting in the van, the monitors watched the group of Japanese men and women, looking as if they were sketching the road and buildings, but also noting the way they were looking carefully round the area and particularly the sewer entrance.


Hearing the knocks on the side, one of them removed her headset and opened the back door to allow Natalia in.



“Red Three and Red Four are in the tube station – any change?”


“Only what you can see Red One – plans?”


“Watch carefully ladies – you are about to see a number of things come together.  Lookouts?”


“There, there and there,” the monitor said as she pointed to the screen, “and one looks as if he is about to take a smoking break.”


“Filthy habit, we should see how that can be cured – Blue Team, are you reviewing?”


“We are,” Lily said as she sat at the wheel of the black van, Tracey and Bev looking from behind her out of the windscreen, “who are you thinking?”


“Cancer Man.”


“So noted,” Tracey said, “we need a bit of a diversion – we could create it ourselves?”


“Red One, this is Red Three.”


“Go ahead,” Natalya said.


“We just spotted one entering the first door.  Red Four moving in response – they won’t get far.”


“Damn it,” Francesca muttered, “acknowledged Red Three, and we trust to her skills.  Blue Team – move.”


“On it,” Lily nodded as she drove the van forward, Tracey looking at Bev as she said “ready for the distraction?”


Bev nodded as she got out when the van stopped, wearing a low cut top and tight jeans, a black bob wig over her hair.  Lighting a cigarette, she walked up to the thin Japanese man and said “excuse me luv – can you tell me the way to Piccadilly?”


“No, sorry,” he said as he looked away, but Bev walked in front of him and said “oh come on – you look like you know the area, which direction is it?”


“I told you, I do not know, now…”  His eyes opened suddenly, and then closed as rapidly as Tracey grabbed his arms, and Bev his legs, the two girls carrying him into the van and closing the door as Lily drove off.


“Smooth,” Natalya said, “they haven’t even noticed he has gone yet.”  She watched as two of the group put their hands to their ear, and then walked quickly off.


“What’s got them agitated?”


“Our fault probably.”


“Red Three?”


“Red Four just helped our unwanted visitor to the concourse and we left.  I guess the venom has taken effect.”


“Looks like more company,” Natalya said as two cars pulled up, men getting out and walking to the group taking measurements, “okay everyone, stand down – for now…”





3 pm BST

McAdam Advisers




Agnes looked round and smiled as she saw Mike Babbage come in.


“Mike,” she said as she removed her glasses, “and to what do I owe this visit?”


“Where’s Sue?”


“On her way to Ardray with Colin – something wrong?”


“Don’t worry Aggie,” Mike said as he sat down, “it’s not official, I just want to talk as one old friend to another.”


“Mike that sounds ominous dear.”


“This is all off the record, but Aggie I know you know a lot of people, and that you are trusted to keep secrets.”


“And what makes you think that Mike?” she said as she sat across from him.


“Oh come on Aggie I wasn’t born yesterday. I’ve heard whispers for years that people come to you for advice and suggestions.”


“Are you implying I’m a criminal Michael?” Aggie played with her reading glasses.


“No, I’m certain you haven’t broken the law Aggie, at least not directly, but you know people who do.”


“Mike I was in what was only a semi-legal business…”


“Aggie I know that, and I’ll never ask for this kind of help from you again,” he said quietly, “but for the sake of my own sanity can I ask you one question?”


“Only one Mike?” Aggie lifted an eyebrow.


“Yes…Look Aggie is something going on that is deep undercover and that all this crap is meant just to cover?”


“Define crap?”


“This recent crime wave, is it just covering up something far bigger?”


“Do you want an honest answer Mike?”




“Alright,” Agnes said as she leaned forward, “I’ve been told nothing, but I have to say it had occurred to me that might be what is happening as well.”


“But you have no certain information?”


“Mike since I’ve gone straight again my former contacts as I perhaps should call them, have all cut me out of the loop. My friends accepted me back, and to stop me having to face questions like yours from the other side so to speak, all agreed to leave me totally alone.”


“Yes I get that Aggie,” Mike scratched his head, “but at least another person whose thoughts I respect can see something going on.”


“Having a hard time convincing people?”


“Yeah I am.”


“Well I wish I could help Mike darling, but no it’s the God’s honest truth that all I have are suspicions as well.”


“Thanks Aggie,” Mike stood and kissed her on the cheek, “I’m sorry that I hassled you.”


“Mike you didn’t.” Agnes laughed, “that was just two friends talking a problem out.”


“Come round for dinner tonight?”


“I’ll look forward to it,” Agnes said as Mike left – and then she put her own coat on, before going out.



3.30 pm BST

Xavier International, The Aldwych


As he came round, the man looked at his surroundings – a plain room, with him sitting in a chair in the middle – tightly bound to it.


“Koko wa doko? Anatahadare?” he called out as he looked round – and then turned his head as a door opened to the side, and four women walk in.  Two were dressed in black, one with a scarf covering her face and head so that only her eyes showed, and loose fitting black clothes.  The other wore a black leather jacket and skirt, with high heels, and smiled as she stood to the side.


The other two women wore smart business clothes, with black domino masks as disguises, one looking at the man as the other said, in a deep rich voice, “Our apologies for keeping you – we have some questions, and we appreciate honest answers.


“Anata wa watashi o daku kenri ga arimasen - watashi ga dare no tame ni hataraite iru ka shitte imasu ka?”


Madame looked at the masked woman, who said “he asks if you know his employer?”


“You work for the Oyaban Tanaka, and you are here in the service of his daughter Tamiko.  I know she has an interest in my work – I desire to know what she knows.”


The man stared silently at her as the leather clad woman went out, and returned with a trolley, a number of instruments laid out on it.   Penny picked up a set fo pliers, and smiled as she walked over.


“Penny a demonstration please of what our guest can expect.”


He stared ahead as she knelt behind him, Marina stepping forward.


“Kanojo wa, watashi ga iu koto o watashi ga imi suru koto o shimesu tame ni anata o kizutsukeru tsumoridesu.” Marina spoke.  “Naze kyō howaitohōru de sagashite ita nodesu ka?”


The man stayed resolutely quiet.


“Penny,” Shirley nodded as her number two ripped the nail off the man’s left index finger.


“He’s going to be tough to crack,” Catriona nodded as she observed only the faintest of winces appear on his face.


“Anata ga shite iru koto o oshiete kuremasu ka?” Marina asked.




“It seems he doesn’t want to co-operate Madame.” Marina looked up.


“Penny show the gentleman more of what you like to do.”


“With pleasure Madame,” Penny smiled evilly.


“Watashitachi ga shiritai koto o oshietekudasai,” Marina asked.


There was silence.


“Alright Marina give me a couple of minutes please, I’ll make him more helpful…the hard way,” Penny smiled.


"Cat dear let’s step outside for a few minutes and let Penny and Marina get him ready to answer your questions."

"It's probably an idea," Catriona said as the two women walked out, closing the door behind them.

"Penelope we discovered has a talent for this kind of work."

"Indeed," the Scotswoman replied, "she does seem to rather like it."

"Treat him as a defendant you are cross-examining Cat, Use your instincts to make sure he tells us what he knows, not just the lies he's been briefed to give I suspect."

"I can but try my best."

Both women looked round as the first cry of pain was heard.

"Ah," Shirley smiled, "I think they are making progress."


“Forgive me Madame,” Lily said as she came over, “Agnes McAdam is coming to see you in a few minutes.”


“I will be back shortly,” Shirley said as she walked off.




"Dr McAdam Madame," Amanda said as she showed Agnes into Shirley’s office.

"Aggie what a delightful surprise," Shirley stood and kissed her.

"Well I didn't expect to have to drop in Shirley, but Mike Babbage came to talk to me earlier."


"Yes, and don't worry I didn't tell him anything because I know nothing, and I'm quite happy staying that way."

"So why the visit?"

"Just to tell you darling that if you are up to something very naughty, that Mike at least has worked out that what has been happening is a huge smokescreen."

"I always knew that he was an excellent copper."

"Look Shirley nothing bad happens to Mike, he's a great old friend and so is his wife, do I have your assurance on that?"

"Yes, but if he gets too close..."

"Then make sure what you do is non lethal Shirley, just remember all the information I know..."

"Is that a threat Agnes?"

"No just a reminder that you owe me a favour and that Mike’s safety be guaranteed.  I’ll be having dinner with him and Shelley tonight."





Marina watched carefully as Penny cut away his clothes, and removed the man’s shoes and socks, leaving him naked and secured to the chair before she opened a black cloth package.  She looked through the contents, and then removed a scalpel.


"Carina has a surgical kit, and after seeing her use hers, I thought I ought to get one," Penny purred as she idly made superficial incisions on the man’s torso.  He spoke, Marina smiling as she said “he’s asking if that is all you have.”


“Is it now…  Oh.”




“I just noticed that he hasn't been circumcised, tell him I'll rectify that for him." Penny reached for the surgical shears.  He shook his head, but Marina gripped him, her arm like an iron band as Penny positioned the blades, and then sliced down.


“Clean cut,” Marina said as he screamed, “how shall we treat it?”


“With care and kindness,” Penny said as she opened a clear bottle, and poured the liquid over the tip, the man screaming again before he controlled himself.


“What was that – surgical spirit?”


“Vinegar - Tell him has he ever thought that he might like to be a woman?" Penny spoke to Marina as she ran the scalpel over his ball sack.  As Marina spoke, he spat at Penny, who laughed as she pushed on his chest with her foot, making him fall as she heard his arm break.


"Marina have you ever heard of Bastinado?"

"I can't say I have."

"Well, allow me to demonstrate," Penny picked up a cane. "You keep hitting the sole of his first he might tolerate it," she said as she began using the cane to whip the man, "but quickly the pain becomes excruciating."


“Where did you learn this?”


"It was Helen who taught me how to do this," Penny watched as the man’s face contorted, "in China they call it da jiao xin you know?"


“How appropriate,” Marina said as he called out, then they stopped as Shirley and Catriona came back in.


"I think he's ready to talk Madame," Penny bowed her head.

"Alright Catriona what do we need know?"

"Well,” the barrister said, “let’s start with basic information, what is his name, and why is he in London?"


As Marina spoke, he answered in pants, Marina translating as Catriona checked her facts.


"Tell him we know he's a soldier for the Tanaka family, but we want to know precisely what he does for them?" Catriona looked up from her notes as Marina posed the question to him. 


“Anata wa ankana baishunpu, anata no haha wa saru, soshite anata no chichi wa hihidesu" the man spat out a reply.


"So what did he say?" asked Penny.


"Well it seems I am a street whore, and that my mother was a monkey, and my dad a baboon." Marina laughed, "actually that's not a bad description of my parents."


“Still, a little insulting,” Penny said as she whipped his feet again, the blood flowing freely now as Catriona asked more questions.


"YAMERU!" the man shouted as Penny increased the pace of her strokes on his foot.

"That means stop." Marina smiled.


“Very well – what was he doing today?”


"Watashitachi wa koko de, nihonjin ga tadashībekideatta koto o shuchō suru."


“Which means what Marina?" Cat asked.


"That they are here to reclaim what should have been Japanese property." Marina nodded.


“Really?  In London?  And they do not go through diplomatic channels because?”


As Marina asked, he answered, sometimes with Penny hitting his feet again if he was found to be lying.


“Very well,” Catriona eventually said, “what does the Honorable Tanaka have planned?”


“Anata ga shippai suru - watashitachiha watashitachi no mochimono o torimodosudarou, soshite tochū ni tatte iru subete no hito wa shinudarou.”


“Anata o tomeru mono no namae o ikutsu ka agemashou,” Marina said quietly.  “Chinmoku no shi, akuma no sakana, shiro manba, mangūsu to Shiratori, madamu Dominiku... Watashi wa tsudzukerudarou ka?”


He stared at her before Marina walked out with Shirley and Catriona, Penny smiling as she said “remember my question earlier…”


5 pm BST

Paddington Green Police station


“Well,” Mike said as his two junior officers came in.


“Sir do you remember Foxy Adams?”


“Isn’t he an old school burglar?”


“You’ve placed him Sir.”


“So what did he tell you Jenny?”


“Well its probably nothing Sir, but in the wee hours of the morning Foxy saw a London Underground works train being unloaded in a siding.”


“So what?”


“The so what Guv is that siding has been officially closed for 25 years, and the blokes doing the unloading were all Chinese.” DC Barrett said quietly.


“Alright, let’s go through this logically,” Mike started talking, “Anson you check with London Underground if that works train was supposed to be there.”


“Okay Sir.”


“Barrett you need go rattle a few cages in Soho, see what the Chinese community is saying.”


“Right guv.”


“And you Sir?”


“I’m going to do some serious thinking why if a huge robbery occurred last night, that we have heard absolutely no word about it.”


“So where will you be when we get some information Sir?”


“At home Tom, we have a friend coming over to eat.” Mike smiled, “Mrs. Babbage is making Irish stew, I think they’ll be enough for you two as well.”


“Thank you very much,” DC Anson smiled.



5 pm BST

Under Whitehall



“We’re here,” Jan said as she, Eleanor, Katy and Doc joined Juliette, “what’s happened?”


“A lot – we’re expecting trouble.  Gold Twenty, I want a full systems check and security sweep ASAP.”


“Roger that Gold One,” Doc said as she headed for the terminal.




“We’re online,” Charlotte said as Heather watched, “Death Dealers on their way.  Show them the surprise?”


Juliette and the others watched as the chest of jewels was opened.  “Dear Goddess,” Katy whispered.


“That’s the good news – the bad is we are expecting company, so we need to get ready.  The driver and crew are going to be prepared soon…”




The Farm


Richard looked up, eyes and body red as the masked bitches walked in.


“Good afternoon,” Miss Leopard purred, “I trust you all enjoyed your day.”


“Pllllssstpptthsss,” he moaned.


“Stop,” Miss Lynx said, “but we’ve only just started.  I thought we could all play – once we have you in a different position…”



5.30 pm BST

West London



“Why haven’t we heard anything?” Mike asked himself repeatedly as he drove home. “Why has nothing been reported?”


“Shit,” Mike said aloud, “it’s like trying to envisage what a whole jigsaw puzzle looks like when you have just one piece of it.”


“SHUT UP!” he yelled as another car honked at him, and Mike realised that the traffic lights were green, but that he’d been so distracted he hadn’t noticed. “Alright concentrate on driving man, you can think this out when you get home.”


Despite his best efforts though the thoughts about why hadn’t they heard of a crime still kept echoing round in his head.




5.45 pm BST

The New House, Ardray


As the taxi pulled up outside, the estate manager walked down, a smile on his face as he opened the door.


"Welcome to Ardray Sir," Rory McAdam extended his hand as Colin and Sue got out.

"Thank you, now I'm Colin Gresham-Fox, and this is my fiancé Sue Fletcher."

"It's a pleasure ta have you here Miss," Sheilagh said as she came down and gave Sue a small bouquet of flowers, “Miss Agnes said ta expect you."

"Well we hope we aren't imposing," Sue said shyly.

"Miss we've been waiting for this house to come alive again for twenty years, it will be wonderful to see this house host a wedding once more."


“Well, nonetheless, thank you.  It’s a very warm welcome after a long journey.”

"In the meantime Mr Colin, if you go in with Sheilagh, I'll bring the cases in."

"Thank you Rory," Colin smiled.


"So what do you do Miss Sue?" Sheilagh asked as she ushered them into the drawing room.

"I'm Agnes's personal assistant, and to be honest I can't believe that she's offered the use of this lovely house for our wedding," Sue looked round trying to take it in.

"And you Mr Colin?"

"Oh I work in the research department of Conservative Party Central Office."

"That sounds like important work Sir."

"It can be."

"Mrs McAdam..."

"Please call me Sheilagh Miss,” the housekeeper smiled.

"I'll try, but it's not going to be easy," Sue shook her head, "has anyone told you that this is our second wedding?"

"It is Miss?"

"Yes," Colin put his arm round Sue, "I let her go once, but never again."

"Och that sounds so romantic.  Now, sit down, and I’ll bring some tea in."


As Sue took a seat, Colin looked out onto the rolling hills.


“What are you thinking?”


“This is pure beauty Sue – a wonderful place…”




"Aye you can tell he's a gentleman born and bred Sheilagh," Rory watched as the kettle boiled. "His grandfather was the late Lord Standerton, and his father is Sir Charles Gresham-Fox the British ambassador in Washington, I looked him up."

"Well ahm pretty sure she wasn't born a lady in the old sense" Sheilagh poured the boiling water into the tea pot, "but she seems really very sweet, and they are clearly so in love."

"Aye that's plain to see, and it’s not ours to comment on our betters Sheilagh, but I think they will make a wonderful couple."

"A bit like you and me yer old romantic you," Sheilagh laughed as she lifted up the tea tray.




The Farm


Ellen Norman screamed in pain as Miss Leopard fastened the metal clamps onto her erect, firm nipples, her body glistening in sweat as the ropes encircled the bases of her breasts and made them far more prominent and firm than normal.  Her body was tightly bound, as she knelt on the floor, gasping in to the thick cloth and tape as the masked woman pulled down on the chain linking the clamps, and put her other gloved hand on her crotch.


“It feels good as well as painful, doesn’t it?” she whispered, Richard crying as he watched his wife slowly nod.


“I believe you were told to do it,” Miss Lynx said as Zoe collapsed onto her side, sobbing as she watched her sister put her mouth over her father’s engorged penis, while Miss Lynx massaged the young girl’s chest…




6.30 pm

The Babbage Residence


“Busy day darling?” Sherry greeted her husband as he came into the kitchen with a kiss, and a small glass of beer.


“Yes,” he replied as he loosened his tie.  “Like you would not believe.”


“Are you still convinced something sinister is happening?”


“More than ever,” he said as he shook his head. “I went to talk to Aggie, and though she had no definite information, she found what’s been going on suspicious as well.”


“Oh is that why she phoned, and said she will be here in about 20 minutes?”


“Yes I invited her to eat with us…Also I said to Tom Barrett and Jenny Anson that they should drop in when they finish work.”


“It’s a good thing that it’s easy to expand the stew and create more,” Sherry smiled as Mike sat at the kitchen table.


“Oh I needed this beer,” Mike said a she sipped his drink and put the glass down.


“So,” Sherry said as she chopped more vegetables, “are you still pursuing that idea?”


“Yes - and I have one tantalizingly small clue that I’m right, I’m hoping I’ll know more when Tom and Jenny get here.”


“Ah you’ve set them to work on this have you?”


“Yes, the old man approved, so I’m just trying to get what meagre information I can, and to see if I can make a picture out of it.”


“Hey Dad, how was your day?” Alice his eighteen year old daughter asked as she walked in.


“Not too bad love, and yours?”


“Boring, I know the money isn’t bad, and there are very few summer jobs out there, but the Library is the pits.”


“Well it will give you some money in your pocket when you go up to Oxford.”


“Yes, that’s the one good thing.”


“So, what did they have you doing today?” he asked as he leaned back.


“Loading the new mobile Library…we will finish it off tomorrow, we only got it half done.”


“Well work hard,” Mike said as he sipped his beer again.  “Hang on,” he said quietly, “That’s IT!”


“What’s it?”


“They are only half done, that’s why we haven’t heard anything, they aren’t finished.”


“Mike – calm down and finish your drink,” Sherry said, Mike nodding as he took another sip.




Under Whitehall


“Welcome back Gold One,” Doc said as Juliette came in with Sandy and Dominique, “ready for a long night?”


“I guess so – a lot to do,” Juliette said as she looked round, “where’s the surprise?”


“Over here, Gold One,” Jan called out, Juliette walking over and looking at the chest.


“Those symbols on the side?”


“Oh yes – they are the Tanaka family crest,” she heard Charlotte say through her earpiece.


“Maybe we have been considering Miss Tanaka in the wrong way…”





7.15 pm BST





“His body was found under the Hammersmith Bridge Mistress,” the man said as he and his partner walked with Tamiko Tanaka, “mutilated.  We cannot say if he talked or not.”


“Unimportant – combined with our team in Whitehall been compromised, and the loss of our agent in the Underground station, I think they know we know they are at work.  It therefore behoves us, much to my personal regret, to ensure they cannot be alerted any further.”  Stopping outside the room door, she knocked and said “Louise?  May I have a word please?”




She nodded to the two men, one of them taking a card from a wallet and swiping it through the reader, smiling as the light turned green.  He took hold of the handle, gripped tightly – and then shook as the electricity ran through him, before he fell to the ground, staring at the ceiling.


Tamiko nodded to the other man, who kicked the door in, looking with his gun raised before Tamiko walked in.  The main room was empty, the windows to the balcony open as a soft breeze blew the lace curtains.  She looked to the door to the bedroom, the man nodding in response as she said “Louise?  I promise you, I wish you no harm, I just want to talk…”


The man walked over to the bedroom door, opened it and moved in, returning and shaking his head.  Tamiko looked round, then saw the note with her name on it, picked it up and read it.




“She regrets she cannot join us today – have a team outside Xavier International, and organise the teams at the various points.  We need to move swiftly.”



The Babbage home


“Aggie,” Mike said as he closed the door, and took her coat, “I need to pick your brain again?”


Looking at him, Aggie shook her head.  “I thought you said this afternoon was a one-off Mike.”


“It was, this is a more general question, what have you read about the Pussycat Gang?”


“Enough to know that I’m glad I live this side of the Atlantic, and that they are on the other side…Why?”


“They take hostages and use them to leverage people don’t they?”


“So I’ve seen in the press…again I’ll ask Why?”


“Because I think Madame X has imported them to help pull a robbery on a massive scale.”


“Mike,” Sherry said from the living room, “stop talking to Aggie about crime, come and pour some drinks please.”


“In a second darling…Aggie wrack that encyclopaedic brain of yours, have they ever held victims over a two night span?”


“Just once I think.”


“I think they are doing it now for a second time.”


“If you’re right, does that mean they are doing what you fear?”


Mike said nothing as they walked into the front room, Sherry smiling as she stood up.


“Mike, do you remember me introducing you to Sherry?" Agnes smiled as she accepted and sipped her wine.

"I do, and I remember that I fancied you like hell, and was a little disappointed that you set me up with your roommate and gave me the brush off."

"Well you soon got over it Mike."

"I told him all about Donald," Sherry laughed, "and like every other man in the world he learned he had no chance with you."

"And I soon realised that Sherry was more my type then you'd ever be Agnes."

"I know, I remember her coming home after you guys went out and her telling me all about how wonderful you were."

"She did?"

"Yes she..."

"Aggie there are certain things a man really doesn't need to know," Sherry laughed again.

"I remember worrying that Sherry being the daughter of a Viscount would dump me because I wasn't classy enough."

"Oh there was never any danger of that Mike." Agnes smiled again.



“I’ll get it,” Sherry said as she walked to answer the ringing bell.


“Sherry – sorry we’re late.”


"Hello Jenny, Hello Tom, I'm glad that you could join us," Sherry greeted the two Detective Constables at the front door.

"Thanks for having us," Jenny held up a bottle of red wine, "I know the boss prefers beer but..."

"I think the rest of us might find a use for it." Sherry laughed as she led them into the dining room, “now I think you both know everyone except my old Oxford roommate. Jenny Anson, Tom Barrett meet Agnes McAdam."

"Hello it’s nice to meet you both," Aggie stood and shook hands, "Mike said you have the misfortune to work for him."

"Not sure it’s a misfortune Miss McAdam," the young woman replied.

"Well Mike says you two are both going to great detectives one day."


"Oh sorry Mike wasn't I supposed to say that?" Aggie laughed


“All right everyone, let’s eat…”



8 pm BST

The New House, Ardray


"Sheilagh can I say that was one of the best meals that I've ever eaten in my life...”  Sue pushed her plate away, wiped her mouth and said “Thank you so much."

"Och away with you Miss Sue," the housekeeper blushed, "ahm sure you eat a lot better in those fancy London restaurants?"

"Those aren't the sort of places that Colin and I are allowed to go to...sorry I meant just to say go to," Susan let a look of panic come over her face for a second.


“Ah think ah know what ye meant, Miss Susan,” Sheilagh said with a smile, "Well ahm just glad to see that you both ate it all up."

"Sheilagh can I say if this is the standard of your cooking then the catering for the wedding is in wonderful hands."

"Thank you Mr Colin, now wouldya like your coffees in here or in the drawing room."

"Oh I think in here will be fine," Colin smiled as Sheliagh took the plates out.

"Oim sorry oi nearly said the wrung thing," Sue whispered, "It's hard for me not to talk about my life except by sayin' just what happens. Oi forget people don't need to know."


“It’s not a problem Sue,” Colin said as he held and kissed her, “they’ve accepted you, and we can accept that as well.  Come and look out of the window.”



The Bunker


"So where do you think these came from Blue One?" Doc held a small camera over the jewel chest.

"Till I can examine them in person I have no idea, but from what I can tell there are bits of everything in there, both precious, and semi-precious stones," Charlotte stared at the video screen, "but I'll tell you one thing - until I go through that thing in detail the only thing I can say about value is that I honestly have no idea as to what it might be."

"So are we done for now?"

"Yes, I've seen what I wanted to see, you get back to other matters."


“Okay – close it up, put it with the pallettes,” Doc said as Charlotte sat back, and then answered the phone.




“Are you sure George?


“Very well - continue to monitor,” she said as she put the phone down.  “Red One?”


“Reading you Blue One,” Natalya said.


“We have a number of Japanese tourists on the street – can you send a team round to check?”


“Can do…”



The Babbage Home


"So any news for me?" Mike asked.

"Well,” Tom said as they sat at the table, “I went to London Underground, and they confirmed a work order on the computer..."

"Damn I thought I was onto something."

"Well you might be Sir because no one remembers programming that journey into the computer, and no can work out where the train disappeared to for three or more hours," Jenny finished.

"I knew it," Mike thumped the table with his hand,

"Dad," Bridget his second daughter complained, "you nearly tipped my dinner over."

"Sorry love,” Mike said quietly, then looked at his officers.  “So, is this same train booked to do anything tonight?"

"They aren't sure to be honest Sir."


“Why not?”


“A problem with their computer systems – they’ll call me when they sort it out.”


“Curioser and Curioser…”


“Mike – you’re neglecting our other guests!”


“Sorry Sherry – so how are the wedding arrangements going Agnes?”


“Sue should be there now – she’ll call me tomorrow if anything need doing this end…”




9 pm BST



"Rory, what is the name of the mountain on the other side of the loch?" Susan asked as she, Colin, and the McAdam's stood outside the New House watching the evening sunset.

"It's called Ben Ambar Miss."

"Okay I'll have to remember that, and that the loch is Loch Rechin?"

"That it is Miss Sue," Sheilagh smiled.

"I'm trying to remember all this so that I can tell my friends back in London how beautiful this all is."

"I think someone has fallen in love with this place," Colin smiled.

"Well I wouldnae wanna live anywhere else Mr Colin," Rory smiled happily, "I saw a lot of the rest of the world while I was soldiering, but I knew I'd always come back here to Sheilagh eventually."

"Aye and I waited for his ugly mug," Sheilagh smiled.

"Oh that's romantic as well," Susan looked very content, "Darling can you see the way the sun is shining on the heather up on Ben Ambar?"

"Yes, that colour is so beautiful."

"It is," Sue paused for thought, "I wonder if my wedding bouquet can largely be in that colour?"

"You'll have to see."

"Tomorrow you and me we'll go visit the florists in Oban Miss, and see what we can find out." Sheilagh smiled again.

"Thank you Sheilagh, that sounds lovely." Sue sighed happily.


“Do you shoot, Mister Colin?”


“No – I leave that to my elders and betters, but I do know they plan to gather here the day before.  I will act as bearer for one or more of them.”




The Bunker


"Good Evening Hand," the girls on the desks turned and greeted the leggy, veiled, woman as she came into the bunker.

"And Good Evening to you girls...Is there anything urgent I need to see?"

"There's been an accident between a bus and a lorry on Westminster bridge," Molly called out, "It's blocking one of our prime escape routes."

"Any idea how long before they clear it?"


"Can you put the video on the big screen please?"

"Doing so."

"Yes, that does look nasty,” she said quietly, “alright ladies, switch to the route we planned out eastwards towards the City of London."


“We have guests outside as well?”


“So I see,” the Hand said as she looked at the external cameras, “close the Aldgate Road off from the station to Aldwych – we need to be prepared.”




The Babbage Home


"Alright,” Mike said as he and his colleagues stayed at the dinner table, Sherry talking to Agnes as the kids cleared up, “we have a train that disappears for a length of time, then mysteriously reappears in an abandoned siding before going back to the depot."

"That's about it Sir."

"Did they contact the driver?"

"They couldn't get hold of him Sir."

"I guessed maybe they might not...Look Jenny finish your meal, but then ring the Yard and get them to send some woodentops round to check the man’s house, if I'm right there will be no one there either."


"So what do you think they are taking Sir?" Tom asked as he ate his stew.

"I'll be honest I've no idea, but the fact we've heard nothing suggests it’s something that is not looked at every day to check if its missing or not."

"Sounds plausible Mike," Aggie nodded her head.

"So it's either in a vault, or a secure place, or..."

"What about if its buried treasure?" Richard his 12 year old son asked.

"There is no such thing as buried treasure Richard," his Mother smiled.

"Well whatever it is, then according to Foxy it’s pretty huge and heavy," Jenny added.

"Yeah and its underground somewhere they can get a train to..." Tom spoke softly.

"As I said Dad it's buried treasure."


"I'll add another question to the mix Guv," Tom sipped his wine, "why was the crew doing the unloading Chinese..."

"If Foxy was right," Jenny interrupted, "I'm pretty sure he can't tell one Oriental race from another."

"Let’s assume he was, then it’s something being stolen for export." Mike mused.

"That's a pretty big leap into the dark darling," Sherry commented.

"And it must be worth a huge sum if Madame X is merely the sub-contractor stealing the stuff."

"Why do you assume that Sir?" Jenny asked.

"Because if it was her doing the fencing, it would be her own people doing the unloading."


"So what is sitting underground in London somewhere, that's out of general view, and is worth in the billions probably?" Mike asked.

"Billions?" Aggie lifted an eyebrow.

"It would have to be, because Madame X and the Pussycats will only be getting a percentage, and it would have to be worth some incredible amount to tempt them therefore."





Bobbie and Jane looked up as Kay came back into the room.


"So, is Sue settling down Kay?" Bobbie asked as she ate her Chinese takeaway.

"That wasn't Sue," Kay looked perplexed as she sat down, "It was Agnes asking for a favour..."

"What does she want us to do?" Jane asked.

"Protect some people."

"Doesn't she know that you and I at least are humble office workers."

Kay looked at both of them, and said "She's not asking us as individuals."

"Then who is she asking?"

"She's asking the China Dolls, and she wants us to protect some police officers." Kay shook her head.

"She what?" Bobbie asked as she nearly spilled her food.


"Protecting Coppers aint our usual line of work Kay,” Jane said as she looked over.

"I know, but Mike Babbage is going to go where angels fear to tread, and despite a promise from Madame that he won’t be harmed Aggie wants to make doubly sure."

"So we ride shotgun," Jane looked up.

"We do, and all while making sure we don't become targets ourselves."

"Jeez this aint gonna be easy," Bobbie shook her head. "Remind me why we are doin' this?"

"Because Agnes asked," Kay looked serious, "and we all owe her a huge debt."


“And just out of interest,” Jane said, “who are we protecting them from?”


“That’s the kicker – it may not just be Madame’s people.  Let me make some coffee and I’ll explain…”




The Babbage Home


“I still say that its buried treasure Dad," Richard looked up, "as you've always said when you eliminate all the possibilities, start looking at the impossibilities."

"Aggie just to placate my son,” Mike said as he rubbed his head, “can you tell him there is no buried treasure?"

"Mike - have you ever thought about the legend of the Manchurian gold?"

"Aggie, you are getting as bad as he is...You just used the word yourself, it's a legend."

"Mike… you read history, how many so-called legends have proved to have some basis in truth?"


“True – but come on Aggie?”


“What’s this legend,” Tom said as Jenny took her mobile phone out, and excused herself.


“That somewhere buried under the streets of London is a fortune in gold, meant for the Chinese resistance during the Sino-Japanese war,” Mike said, “but it’s a myth.  If it did exist, there, then…”




“Boss – they checked out the driver’s home.  Nobody there, and nobody’s seen him or his family today.”







"Miss Catriona is opening up Dunmarnock Miss?" Sheilagh asked.

"Well she has offered," Sue replied as she held her glass.  “I hope it will help with the arrangements?”

"It will certainly help Miss Sue," Sheilagh thought, "Mister Colin would you be happy staying at Dunmarnock with some of the other gentlemen so that the bridal party can stay here?"

"I hadn't thought of that Sheilagh, but yes if Cat is open to the idea I just think that might work."

"Well it means we can prevent yer seein' your bride on the day Sir." Sheilagh smiled, "yer dinnae need the bad luck of seeing her before the wedding."


“Tradition,” Sue said with a smile, “so that would mean Penny and the girls staying here – with Agnes and her family of course.”


“Oh of course,” Sheilagh said, “and I imagine some of the ladies as well.”



9.30 pm BST



"So what is Dunmarnock like Lizzie?" John asked as he looked over, "I saw the New House, but we didn't go up and look at your house."

"Well strictly speaking, and unlike Melhorn,” Liz said, “it’s not really mine. Dunmarnock belongs to Mummy. It's not part of my inheritance."

"Alright," John smiled, “but ignoring that what’s it like?"

"Well from the outside its not overly attractive, the architect built the walls in grey granite, but inside its beautiful."

"As beautiful as this place?" Eve gestured to the castle round them.

"I think so," Lizzie smiled contentedly, "it's very much the Cuthbertson's home, full of pictures of a lot of judges."

"Your ancestors?" Aileen asked.


"Are you going to be a lawyer Lizzie?" Clodagh asked as she snuggled up besides Aileen and yawned.

"Well I've always wanted to be, ever since I was first taken to see Mummy in action at the Old Bailey."

"Both you and John will be going into law," Kits smiled as she lay alongside John with his arm round her.


“Indeed – different branches though I suspect.”





"So let me see if I've got this straight Sheilagh," Sue spoke, "Agnes's mother was Sir Simon's sister, and Lady Fiona's sister was Catriona's mother?"

"You've got it right Miss."

"So while Cat and Aggie are not related, they do have uncles and aunts, and cousins in common?'

"Aye that they do.  Means they were such firm friends as children, because they had that connection as well."

"How am I supposed to keep all that straight in my mind Sheilagh?" Sue shook her head. 

"Don't you have family of your own Miss Sue?"

"No," Sue said quietly, "I was an only child, and as far as I've ever known Mum had no family herself."

"And your father?"

"My father is unknown Sheilagh."

"Oh that's a shame Miss."

"Well I have Colin's family, and they've become the only family I've ever really known." Sue said quietly as she stood up.  “I think I’m going to bed – coming Colin?”


“Agreed – it’s been a long day.”


“Ah’ll bring up sum cocoa in a little while,” Sheilagh said as she stood up as well, “tae help ye sleep.”


Xavier International, The Aldwych


"Are they still out there?" Charlotte asked as she came into the bunker.

"They are Charlotte," the Hand said as she turned to look at the South African, "and they are beginning to annoy me."

Charlotte looked at the monitors, and the Japanese outside, single or in pairs, taking photos and looking.


"Do I need to consult with Madame and ask what to do?"

"No,” the Hand purred, “I think our instructions are perfectly clear Charlotte."

"To do what?" Charlotte thought a second, "oh forget I asked that."

"It's time that the Death Dealers started to earn their shares."


Nodding, Charlotte said “get me Red One.”


“On line,” she heard Natalya say, “who do you need?”


“Get Red Two and Three here, and Four and Five – we need them…”


“Blue One, come in Blue One?”


“What’s wrong,” Charlotte said.


“Apologies, darling,” she heard Louise said, “I meant to check in earlier, but I had to take a rather roundabout route to the safe house.”


“What happened?”


“I think Tamiko wanted to talk and have a nice meal, but I had to decline.  I hope she does not hold it against me.”


“We’re here too,” Jill Hudspeth said, “Tamiko is getting ready.”



The Babbage Home


"Richard's a clever boy you know Mike,” Aggie said as they sat in the front room.

"He is Aggie," Mike smiled, "maybe a little over imaginative at times, but he has a brain and knows how to use it."

"That he does."

"So, and just between us, are we on to something."

"Mike I don't know...Honestly."

"But if you did would you tell me Aggie?"

"Michael you know the answer to that," Agnes shook her head swishing her beautiful golden red hair.

"I do," the policeman nodded sagely.

"But tonight I can honestly say that I'm making guesses just as you are."


"Michael on my honour, and you know what that means to me, then I have no idea what is going on. I was told nothing, and I was quite happy with knowing nothing...And see no finger twitch either."

"No," Mike laughed, "alright then I believe you...So what the hell Is going down?"


“I guess you need to figure that out?”


Mike nodded as he said “I know – I may have to go out for a while…”



10.30 pm BST

Under Whitehall


“Okay folks,” Eleanor said, “let’s form lines and get to work.”


"Shit," Shirley said as she glanced at her mobile while the task of stacking gold bars began again.

"Problems?" Caroline asked quietly.

"You might say so,” Shirley said quietly, “our Japanese friends tried to snatch our friend staying at Claridges."

"Is she alright?"

"Yes, she showed them a little of her marksmanship, then made her escape. She's at one of the safe houses."

"I'd hoped that wouldn't happen," Caroline sighed, "but at least she's safe."





"We will need sort out an arrangement regarding these you know?" Juliette spoke to Catherine as she looked at the jewels, "I'm not sure our contract covers these."

"Nor am I," Catherine put a gloved hand in the chest, "I will only know when I can speak to my fathers."

"Well until then, and we have a decision, then my people will hold them." Madame announced.

"Naturally," Catherine smiled under her mask.   “so, will we meet the target?”


“I think so – the problems at the Aldwych?”


“Our people are on it…”


The Dower House

"Kits,” Tamsin said, “were you all alright just sitting talking?"

"Yes Mummy."

"Well it's Friday night, you are sixteen years old, and you have a boyfriend...Really you should be going out with John."

"To do what?" Christine smiled, "this is rural Ireland, not Dublin."

"Yes,” Tamsin said as she laughed, “teenagers are a little starved here for entertainment."

"Well John and I are used to it.'

"I guess you are," Tamsin laughed gently, "so any plans for tomorrow?"


“We’re going to take Liz into Dublin,” Kit said, “see some sights.”


“Sounds good…”



The Babbage home


Sherry opened the door and stared at the blonde haired woman standing there, wearing a brown great coat.  She turned and smiled as she said "Hey Sherry - long time no see, I'm told Agnes is here, may I see her please?"

"Do I know you?" She said as she cocked her head to one side.

"Let's put it this way, you did once," the American woman looked amused as Sherry looked at her closely.

"Oh my God...Is that you Karin?" suddenly Sherry recognised the woman at the door.

"Should I be insulted it took you so long?"

"Probably darling, you are still so beautiful," Sherry giggled. "And you better come through - Aggie is in the lounge.”

"Okay," the American said as she came in, and Sherry closed the door.  "Agnes,” she called out, “you have a visitor."

"I do?"

"Yes you do," the tall blonde replied as she walked into the lounge.

"Oh dear Goddess," Aggie grinned as she stood up, "What are you doing here Karin darling?"

"Well I came over to see Kelsey race, and after hearing her say she'd seen you to catch up with an old friend."

"Oh I'm just so glad to see you," Aggie started to laugh softly as she and Karin embraced.

"Did I hear a visitor?"

"Hello Michael."

"Oh dear God...Karin Norris," Mike grinned, "VERY long time no see."


“So – Detective Chief Inspector Babbage.  Did you moonlight as a director as well?”




“Well Sheilagh what do you think of them now?" Rory asked as he and Sheilagh sat drinking a milk drink at their own house before heading to bed.

"Well as you said he's a true gent."

"Aye," Rory nodded. "And do you still like her?"

"Very much so," Sheilagh smiled. "She's like a wee bairn in so many ways, she wants to know this, she wants to know that."

"I'd noticed."

"She smiles a lot, but I can see under that smile she's hiding a lot of hurt I think."

"Ah agree. But he idolises her..."

"As she does him dear."


“Right – bed.  Busy day tomorrow…”




"Sue darling,” Colin said as they lay in the large bed, “can you answer a question for me please?"

"For you anything," Sue snuggled against her man.

"Why do you suppress that Northampton accent of yours?"

"Because if oi tork like tis, then no ones can unnerstan moi." Sue laughed. "When I first got to London practically no one could understand a word that came out of my mouth, so I listened to people and tried to talk like they did, and this is what developed."

"But at times Northants still pops out of your mouth?"

"I know, when I'm upset, or I'm stressed the word I quickly becomes oi, and then I start using dialect words and phrases...Kay says there have been times in our friendship when she wishes she had subtitles to understand me."

"So it’s never been you trying to sound posher?"

"No," Sue giggled, "It was always just so I could talk and people would know I talked English, and hey it could have been worse."


"I could be from Birmingham," Sue giggled some more.

"That's true," it was Colin's turn to start laughing.

"I think it was meeting Kay that probably influenced my voice most, with her being a middle class girl from the nice suburbs, I made a point of trying to talk as much like as her as I could."

"Which you do," Colin hugged her, "but I still love your Northampton accent as well."

"Well o'ill bear that in mind...Alwight m'duck?"

"Yes," Colin smiled and laughed.



The Aldwych


The traffic had disappeared from the street, as roadworker started at the junction with the main roads, but the eight Japanese visitors were still outside, watching, taking note.


One man was sitting outside Pret a Manger, his girlfriend looking at him as the talked in low voices, when two women approached.  One was a teenager, petite with brown hair and a bomber jacket, the other older with black hair and a black coat.  They were looking at a map, and stopped to ask the couple directions, standing over them for a couple of minutes.  When they walked off, the couple were still looking at each other, unmoving, unblinking until a black cab drew up and two girls got out, helping them into the taxi.


Two pairs of men were walking up and down the street, as a red headed woman handed out samples of drinks at the local bar.  They each accepted one, drinking it as they stood and talked – and then all looking at each other before they were caught and helped into a van.


The last two came out of the bar, looking round and wondering what was going on as a blonde haired older woman walked up behind them.  The red head looked at her and smiled – and then helped her to walk the two men as they held them up, the small drops of blood on the ground as they put them in the van.


“Threat neutralised - return to your positions,” Natalya said as Charlotte nodded.  “Alert all Red teams - expect trouble.”




Under Whitehall


“Thank you Blue One – keep me posted,” Shirley said as she listened to Charlotte.


“Threat neutralized?”


“For now – but they’re keeping an eye open upstairs.  Our train?”


“The driver should be on his way to the yard now with the other two in tow – how did she enjoy her afternoon?”


“I understand they both managed to have some fun – but we have a lot still to do.  By the way,” Shirley said, “I never told you about the Weasel.”


“Viktor?  What the hell is he doing here?”


“Working for us – now…”




The Babbage home


“Right – got that,” Jenny said as she ended the call.




“Foxy’s given us the location.  If something is going down tonight, chances are it will happen there again.”


“Right then – get your coats.  I want to go and see this for myself.”


“Back up Boss?”


Mike looked at Tom and Jenny before he said “not yet – let’s see if there really is something going down.  Aggie?”


“Go,” Sherry said, “we three have a lot to talk about…”


Earl’s Court

Lillie Bridge Depot


Richard was shaking as Miss Leopard and Miss Panther escorted him from the van and into the office, Jack and Steve looking up.


“Richard, what happened?”


“None of your fucking business – let’s just say his family are happy,” Miss Leopard said as she looked at them, the sawnoff shotgun in her hands.  “Is the train ready?”


Jack nodded as Miss Lynx smiled.  “Good – then we had better get to work…”




“Don’t ask – please, don’t ask,” Richard whispered as he looked at the two men, and walked slowly to the train shed.



Under Whitehall


“Problem, Gold Twenty,” Shirley said as she looked at Doc.


“I’m not sure,” Doc said as she looked at the screen, “I’m picking up someone coming down the disused line, but I thought all teams were here.”


“They are,” Juliette said, “Gold Six, seven, eight, do a sweep of the approach.”


“Roger that, dahlin,” Jo said as she, Sandy and Dominique took their guns and made their way down to the end of the corridor, Jo shining a torch round as they made their way into the darkness.


“Can you hear anything,” Sandy whispered as they looked along.  Dominique shook her head – and then suddenly fired two shots into the darkness as Sandy and Jo moved to the sides.  There was a grunt, and then a spark of electricity as they saw a man fall onto the live rail.


“Is the train on the way?”


“An hour out – why?”


“Cut the power for five minutes,” Dominique said as they walked forward, and turned over the two men they found.


“Yeah, she knows,” Dominique said quietly, “Blue One, we need to start the contingency plan for the underground station once the train arrives.”


“Understood – all Red units, be on the alert.”





“What was it?”


“A couple of strays, I think,” Dom said as they came back, “but let’s redouble the efforts.  Giving everything so far, I want us to be ready to move as soon as the train gets here.”




Trafalgar Square


They came in groups of two or three, walking casually, not drawing attention to themselves amongst the crowds heading home, but steadily they converged outside the National Gallery, falling silent as Tamiko Tanaka stood in front of them.


“So,” she said quietly, “we know that our – friends – are in the process of taking possession of a large source of funding lost to our family for many years.  Our task is simple – we need to recover what is rightfully ours, but it will not be easy, and we have no idea of the exact location of the source, or of how long they have been working.


“We will split into three groups – one group remains above ground, to remain alert, to be ready if any of these people emerge.  The second group will travel to a place where we have information that the transfer of these funds may take place.  The third group will enter the tunnels where the exact location is, and search for those who would take this from us.


“My father, the Oyaban, has given his blessing for this endeavour, and will reward those who succeed.  Go and serve well.”






“Gold One, this is Red One.”


“Go ahead Natalya,” Shirley said as the Underground train slowly pulled into the platform.


“Company is coming, I repeat Company is coming – we will try to stop as many as possible, but…”


“Understood – likely entry point?”


“I think the sewer entrance – some heading that way now.”


“Converge units there – we will be ready down here.”


Looking round, she said “how are we doing?”


“Last of the gold bars going on the palettes now,” Juliette called back.


“Right – get them loaded as quickly and safely as possible.  Gold Two – take half of us and take up defence positions.”


“Blue One, cut the power to the third rail on our mark.”


“Why, Gold Two?”








"Okay Red teams, let's try and do this with the minimum of actual noise," Natalya spoke quietly over the com as she saw the group gather.

"Sounds reasonable to me," Helen replied, "I think most of us know very well how to do our killing without resorting to guns."

"Just make sure the cleaners are ready to come in and get rid of the trash." JD added.


“We’re standing by,” Daffy said over the earpiece, “ready to come in on your mark.”





As the group walked past Waterstones, one of the black clad men said "Do we know how many of the enemy there are Mistress Tanaka?"

"No, but given the number of operatives that Madame can call upon in this city, we must assume that we will be outnumbered, and plan accordingly."


"It will not be easy, we will be fighting on their territory on their own terrain."

"You think they will try and pick us off one by one Mistress?" another man asked.

"I think we can safely say that, so all of you keep contact with each other, if any of you get separated it is safe to say that you will very soon be dead."




"All red teams," Charlotte's voice was heard across the net, "try and keep 'civilian' casualties to a minimum please, but if you do have to take out innocents then don't be afraid to do so."

"Understood Blue One," a number of voices replied.

"Are you going to be okay Devil Fish?" Jayne whispered.

"Yes, I'd hoped I'd given this up, but just for one night I will do my duty," Francesca smiled grimly.

"Well you haven't had time to let your skills get rusty," Jayne smiled as Francesca pulled a large bladed knife out of its scabbard.


“No – you?”


“Much as I prefer the silent approach,” Jayne said quietly, “I do know how to use this.”  She produced a thin stiletto and moved it with ease, Francesca nodding.





"So while we deal with our Japanese friends, any news on the Russian connections?" Dominique asked Juliette.


"So are we assuming that they will stay well clear?"

"We are hoping so...Anyway have you briefed those manning the inner perimeter?"

"I have," Dom nodded, "they get down here and they will regret they did."





As Richard drove the train along the line, Miss Lynx covering him, he was surprised to see armed and masked women in the alcoves along the line.


“What's going on?" the driver asked.

"None of your business...Just keep your damn head low," his 'minder' replied.


He nodded a she came to a halt at the platform, opening the doors before he was bound and gagged.


“We expecting company,” Diana said as she got out.


“We are – let’s do this.  Start loading!”




"Just remember darling, breaking a man’s neck is the quietest way of killing." Kylie smiled at Marina.

"I know kiddo." Marina chuckled. "This can be good as well though," she played with the cheese cutting wire, stretched between two handles she held in her hands.

"True darling." Kylie checked the gun she carried as well. "Are you locked and loaded?"


“I am – let’s go to work.”



The Aldwych


"Anything from our friends in blue?"

"No Charlotte,” Amanda said, “I'm monitoring all frequencies."

"Well if this is done correctly then the police should hopefully never even be aware that a battle has taken place," the Hand drawled in her slow, sexy, voice.

"Be ready at my command to work the traffic lights so as to keep any traffic out of the combat zone." Charlotte spoke again, "we've done it a couple of times in practice, just remember that this however is the real thing."

"Understood," the girls manning the desks replied as one.


Charlotte watched as the group turned onto Whitehall.  “Right – execute.”


"Charlotte,” the Hand purred, “we also need to take over all security cameras so that there is no visible evidence as to what is about to happen."

"Ladies you heard the Hand."

"We are on top of it."

"Good," Charlotte smiled.





"Tanaka has learned some lessons I see," Natalya spoke softly as she hid in the shadows, "she's realised that we can easily pick off stragglers and she's keeping them tightly together."

"I'd noticed Red One," Jayne responded, "are we still going to try do this without it turning into a pitched battle?"

"Those are our orders...We need to somehow split them up a little...Anyone have ideas?"

"They look jumpy as hell to me," Francesca spoke, "perhaps we need to work the old strange noise in a side street trick to draw some away?"

"Well it's worth a try," Natalya spoke, "if only to see how they react."


“On it,” Marina said as she and Kylie slipped away…



"Where are the cars Mistress Tanaka?" one of her henchmen asked. "I know it is after midnight, but there should still be some."

"It looks like Madame is clearing the field to avoid innocent casualties."

"She has the power to do that?"

"Yes, one should never underestimate Madame's capabilities." Tamiko smiled, "we will play out this game in anonymity it seems."


“Is that allowed?”


“Many of the great works are done quietly,” Tamiko said as she heard the rubbish cans rattle.  “You four – go, see who it is.”


Four men nodded as they walked into the side alley, looking round and wondering what to do next.  As the first two walked on, the other two watched – and then their eyes went blank as Kylie twisted the head of one, and Marina pulled the cheese wire round the throat of the other.


“It looks like it was a cat Kito.”




The last thing he heard was the gurgle of his own breath escaping from his windpipe as Kylie drew the blade through it…



The Aldwych


"Charlotte dear, is that coding I created to enable us to cut power and turn the lights out operative?"

"It is Hand."

"Good...Warn Red teams to have their night vision ready to use on our signal."

"I'm on it." Charlotte nodded.

"Let us see how well Miss Tanaka has prepared for this, and if she has foreseen this action on our part."


Looking at the screen, she smiled as she said “now.”





“What the…”


“Remain calm,” Tamiko said as the street was plunged into darkness, “and keep together.”


She did not notice the people at the back of the crew as the fell to the blades that were driven into their hearts, Helen, Francesca and Jayne moving silently and at random.





"How can they be so cool and calm about what they are about to do?" Beverley asked Tracey as they sat with Lily and a couple of other girls in one of the spare vans.

"Because they've been trained to do it I guess."


“When I go to ‘Ong Kong…”


Trace looked at Bev and said nothing.

"Just remember you own training girls," Lily said as she turned round, "whichever gap or emergency we are called upon to plug tonight remember that we are the fire-women and that we have to be prepared to do anything...including killing."

"We know," Tracey smiled grimly.




Under Whitehall


"Keep moving that gold ladies," Penny spoke sharply as she watched some of the workers stop to listen to the com traffic, "let others do their jobs, and let us do ours."

"Understood," Eleanor smiled under her mask.


"What about the security on the various ministries, etc?"

"We are hoping that we can keep this very confined so they never even notice." Shirley answered.

"Not going to be easy." Eleanor shook her head.

"We know, but the death dealers have been briefed to deal with neutral intruders with maximum prejudice if they need to."


“Let us pray that works – we’re close enough to some serious ministries here to brign some heavy firepower down on us…”


"I knew last night passed far too quietly," Jan whispered to Katy as they helped move a palette.

"Yeah, this is starting to look like it’s going to get ugly."

"Looks like that to me."

"Ladies on guard, I'll give you the maximum warning I can if they penetrate underground," they all heard Doc's voice in their earpieces.

"We'd appreciate that," Jan replied as she looked down the line.





"Sir," Jenny spoke in a soft whisper as they looked onto the siding, "those useless bastards at London Underground just got back to me, the driver turned up for his shift, and just like last night they've lost track of the train."

"Okay it means it still is going down tonight," Mike smiled, "keep your eyes peeled."

"Yes Sir.  Should we get back up here?”


“Not yet – just in case,” Mike said as they hid behind the low dyke.





“Well?" the woman in grey with the doll mask asked as they looked out from the driver’s seat of the van.

"The cops aren't here in much force," the other grey clad woman answered. "They are watching for developments, and we are watching them."



The Babbage home


"So, Aggie… I read the piece in the Sunday Times," Karin sipped her tea, "I have to say I wish you had told me most of that twenty years ago."

"Well you never cut me out totally Karin, at least like Sherry you did maintain some contact."

"I just wish other people might have listened to me."g

"You did your best, but you are dealing with some deep set prejudices."

"Well I was happy to say yes when the girls from the Ash contacted me about restoring your life membership."

"Thank you Karin," Aggie wiped away a tear, "I have to say them coming to see me meant an awful lot."

"Good," Karin smiled.

"Will you be over next year for the big reunion Karin?" Sherry asked.

"I'm planning on it."

"I'm just hoping I'll get an invite." Aggie spoke quietly. "No one from Somerville or the university has contacted me as of yet."

"Oh I'm sure they will," Karin patted her friends hand.  “Give them time…”






"My last ever I hope," Francesca whispered to herself as she plunged her knife downwards through the Japanese woman's neck severing her spinal cord.  "May your gods accept you into your heaven." she prayed for her victim as she lowered her to the ground.

"Done?" Jayne asked.

"Yes," Francesca nodded.


"Cleaners we need you in Great Scotland Yard," Jayne whispered into her com..."two to go."


“Acknowledged,” the voice said, “team is on their way.”







The grey clad woman felt the nudge, and looked over as two lorries pulled up, their headlights dimmed.


“One of you, go and check them out,” she said, watching as the rear door of their van opened and closed.  When that was repeated a few minutes later, she said “well?”


“Full of Japanese – and they look armed for bear.”


“Dammit, Aggie, what have you got us into…”




"There are a couple of heavy lorries parked that way Sir," Tom pointed, "looked like they are waiting for something just as we are."

"Alright," Mike spoke softly.






“This was the spot?”


“Yes mistress,” the man said as Tamiko looked at the entrance to the sewer.  She then turned, her eyes widening slightly as she did so.


“It would appear we were expected – we have lost a few already.”


Looking round, the man said “indeed – we are probably already surrounded.”


“Well, this appears to be an invitation – open it.”


Two men walked forward and removed the manhole cover, Tamiko turning quickly as she heard four muffled groans behind her.


“They move and strike in the dark – everyone, down – NOW!”




Under Whitehall

“Move it, move it,” Penny shouted out as she supervised the loading of the last of the pallets, while Doc listened on the headphones.


“Roger that Red One, we have it from here,” she said eventually.  “Blue One, they’ve come underground.  Cleaning crew needs to do their work upstairs.”


“They’re on it, Gold Twenty.  How many?”


“They reckon they halved the forces – upstairs?”


“Still some round Trafalgar Square, but you’re not going to get out that way now.  You need escape route D – transport will be standing by.”


Doc looked round and said “copy that – kill the power and await word from Gold One.”


“Power off – Goddess grant you all victory.”


“Acknowledged,” Doc said as she looked at the train, and heard the scurrying of feet.  “Second line – incoming.”





“Acknowledged – keep working,” Dominique said as she looked down the tunnel, and saw the lights.  “Advance team – you know what to do?”


“Affirmed,” Eleanor said as she looked at Janice and Katy, both looking grim as they primed their guns.  They stood back in the shadows, watching as the party walked quietly past.


“Y’all ready,” Jo whispered as she stood with a group of Madame’s people, all of them nodding as they stood in waiting as well.





The Aldwych




“What’s wrong,” Charlotte said as she looked at The Hand.


“The possibility we identified has become an actuality,” she purred.  “Send the rapid response team to the loading point – company has arrived.”


Nodding, Charlotte looked at the screen.  “Lily – head to the coordinates I sent you.  And get the big guns ready.”


“On our way,” Lily said as one of her team patted a large wooden box.



Under Whitehall


There was a silence in the tunnel, but Tamiko could hear noise and see the light ahead, as she walked along, ignoring the rats that were scurrying away.  Her focus was clear, her purpose noble…




As she heard the shouts, she threw herself face down, the gunfire over her head as she heard her group attempt to return fire.  She could hear the bullets flying at them from at least three different directions, and she had to admire the planning that had gone into this.  Trapping them from the sides and behind told her Madame X had anticipated and prepared for this eventuality.


She looked to her side as one of her men fell and looked at her, his eyes lifeless and staring, before she heard a strong female voice say “CEASE FIRE!”  There was the sound of running footsteps, and then a cackle as she smelt the burning.


“Remain down, Lady Tanaka,” she heard the voice say quietly above her, “we have restored power to the third rail, and have no desire to see a member of one of the Great Houses meet her end in this manner.”


“I understand – they died with honour serving our house.”


“And we will treat them with honour – stand, hands raised where we can all see them.”


As Tamiko slowly stood up, she looked round, nodding as she said “I mourn their passing, may I know who I speak with?”  She looked at the group of masked women, different heights, different builds, but all with a determined look in their eyes as they held the guns in their hands.


“I am Dominique – Madame awaits your pleasure.  This way.”  As Dom indicated with her gloved hand, Tamiko walked along, the light growing brighter as she walked up onto the disused platform.


“Welcome, Tamiko,” the masked woman said in a voice she recognised as Madame X, “I apologise for the misdirection, and mourn the loss of so many of your people.”


Nodding, Tamiko said “I also mourn them, but I congratulate you on your plan.  So, it was the Manchurian gold?”  She looked at the last palette as it was loaded onto the train, and one masked woman looked at her, her head cocked to one side.  “Is there something you wish to say?”


“No,” Miss Lynx said with a smile, “Not on this day.”


“So what are your intentions towards me?”


“Honourable – you will not die at our hands today, and the bodies of your men and women are even now been prepared for a return with you.  I am sure you will wish to see them properly honoured in their homeland.”


Tamiko smiled as she said “you think you have won?”


“Ah – you refer to the ships?  I am afraid they will not be fulfilling your contract – we have compensated them for their loss.”


“You have indeed thought of everything.”


“Indeed – Gold Ten, are we ready to move?”


“We are,” Penny said as Miss Lynx and Miss Leopard went to the driver’s cab.


“Move out, and good luck.  The team?”


“Move out,” Penny called out as several of the armed women picked up guns and boarded the train, Tamiko watching as it moved off.  “May I pay my respects?” she asked quietly.


“This way,” Dominique said as she and Eleanor escorted Tamiko to the now empty room, the Japanese Yakusa bowing her head as she looked in.


“This is technically a war grave,” she finally said.


“And it will be treated as such – nobody else will visit here again after we leave.  For now, come with us.”




Saturday 16th July

2 am BST



“Boss,” Jenny said as she tapped Mike on the shoulder, and he saw a fleet of trucks arrive through the gates from the main road.


“Good god, it is going down – radio it in.”




Mike looked up to see the three grey clad women in front of them, the white full face masks the only thing that they could see clearly as they stood in front of them, pistols pointed at the three police officers.


“Shit,” Tom said, “it can’t be…”


“It is,” Mike said quietly, “the China Doll Gang.  What is your role in this?”


One of the Dolls cocked her head to the side, before all three raised their guns and pointed them directly at the three officers. 


“You’re here to prevent us interfering, aren’t you?”


All three nodded as their masked faces stared at the three officers, and a final truck drove in, parking near the two trucks that had arrived earlier.  Mike watched as Chinese workers got out and started to move along the siding, and then saw the flaps at the back of the first two trucks open.


The last truck opened at the side as six masked and armed women walked quickly out and to the trucks, opening fire with their silenced weapons as the bullets ripped into the sides and back of the trucks.  The drivers jumped out, only to be cut down as well, before the armed women walked to talk to one of the Chinese arrivals.


“My god,” Jenny said quietly, “they cut them down as if they were animals.”


Mike stared at the three masked women, who just looked back and shook their heads from side to side.


“It isn’t a legend, is it?  Someone has found the Manchurian gold?”


There was no answer, as they heard a train approaching, the lights on as it came to a stop and the doors opened.  The Chinese teams moved out, as masked women jumped out of the train and covered the workers.






“How was it,” Catherine asked as Diana came over.


“We were discovered – they were not successful.”


“On our side?”


“Some wounded, but thank the Goddess no fatalities.  There was a fight though, and I anticipate some news leaking tomorrow.”








“Traffic,” Madame asked as she and Dominique escorted Tamiko along.


“Embankment closed to traffic, Madame,” Charlotte said, “you’re clear.”


“Good,” Madame said as Eleanor and Juliette opened a set of metal doors, and the group emerged onto the dark road, walking quickly across and boarding the boat that was moored to the pier.  Within ten minutes, they were all aboard, Doc making sure the cases with the monitoring equipment were safely stored.


“All accounted for?”


As Sandy nodded, a set of vans drew up, blue clad teams walking into the tunnel.


“I invite you to be our guest for the rest of today, Tamiko,” Madame said quietly, “I have arranged a charter flight for you and your fallen tonight.  I also have something for you – it is not the gold, but I believe it will be of import to you.”


“I accept your hospitality.  My father will appreciate it.”


“I have no wish for war between our organizations, despite all that has happened,” Madame said as the boat moved off…






“Go,” Catherine said as the last truck drove off, and two of the masked women walked towards where the Dolls were covering the three police officers.


“Detective Chief Inspector Babbage?”


Mike looked at them, before he said “what happened here?”


“We assisted in the recovery of items that belonged to the people of Manchuria, and was rightfully theirs.  The – others – sought to deny them that right, and would have killed us – as well as you and any other officers you called in.”


“Are you…  Are you telling me they were protecting us?”


“We are,” the woman said as the Dolls nodded in unison.  “Allow us time to get the train away from here, and then they may take whatever action they feel necessary.”


Mike watched as the masked women got on the train, and it moved off, the Dolls watching him and his colleagues as the lights faded into the distance, and then walking backwards, fading into the darkness as the three of them watched.


“Boss,” Tom just said, “what the hell happened here tonight?”


“I don’t know – yet,” Mike said as he stood up, “Jenny, get some back up here now – do not approach until they get here.  Tom - with me.”


The two men ran to Mike’s car, only to stop as they saw the slashed tyres, Mike shaking his head and laughing.




“We have been witness part of the heist of the century, Tom – you’ve got to admire whoever planned this.”



3.30 am BST

Earl’s Court

Lillie Bridge Depot


As the train came back into the shed, Richard cut the power, and said “what now – are you going to kill me?”


“No,” Miss Lynx said with a smile, “you are about to become a national hero, Mister Norman.”


“My family?”


His eyes suddenly closed as he was hit by Miss Leopard, the two women binding and gagging him before they carried him into the main office.




“Your fuckmeister is fine,” Miss Leopard growled as he was placed next to his family, the other two families watching over the bands of silver tape that were wrapped tightly round the lower parts of their faces, their arms and legs secured.


“Enjoy the rest of the night,” Miss Lynx said as she sprayed gas into the faces of all of them, their eyes closing as they left the room.


“You were very restrained?”


“Oh I had my fun earlier,” Miss Lynx said quietly, “and I am a bit sore…”





4.30 am BST

Lowestoft Docks


“I do not like the change,” the captain of the freighter said, “but they have paid well.”


“Indeed,” Viktor said as he saw the approaching headlights.  “And a shorter journey.”


“There is that,” he said as the first truck stopped, and Catherine got out with Penny.  “Weasel – all is ready?”


“It is,” he said with a smile as crews attached the wires to the first truck, and it was lifted on board. 


“Good – you do not wish the Honoured Fathers to be angry with you, do you?”


Viktor shook his head as he said “I am glad the unfortunate misunderstanding could be cleared up.”


“Let us hope it is – permanently…”




5 am BST

Xavier International, The Aldwych


“Thank you, Catherine – and may the Goddess grant the ships her blessing.”


Shirley put the phone down as she looked at Natalya, Juliette and Charlotte. 


“We did it,” Charlotte said quietly, “and with minimum casualties.”


“I heard about the three homeless men – regrettable.  I will arrange a donation.  So Juliette – your last job?”




The three women looked at Juliette as she smiled.  “I could never give up, especially after these last few days – you are right, Shirley, I cannot retire, but I do need a rest after this.  Heather’s talk this afternoon, the final race tomorrow, then home for a couple of days before flying to Naples on Wednesday for the wedding on Thursday.”


“I must go and talk to the Death Dealers, thank them for their work tonight,” Natalya said as she walked out of the room, Shirley pouring some coffee and passing the cups round.


“What of Miss Tanaka?”


“She is at the farm with Dominique – I will see her safely away later…”





4 pm BST

A private airfield near Warwick


Dominique and Madame stood with Tamiko, dressed in black, their heads bowed as the black bags were carried reverentially onto the plane.


“My father awaits my return – he congratulates you on a well fought campaign,” Tamiko said as the last bag was taken on.


“I thank him for his kindness – and in acknowledgement, we have something to return to you.  Louise?”


Tamiko smiled as Louise walked forward, wearing a black dress and veil, as she said “we wish to return this to your family.”  She opened the case, Tamiko smiling as she saw the two swords inside.


“My great-grandfather’s swords – a fitting tribute, and an honour returned.  We thank you, Madame - I hope when we next meet, it is as friends.”


“Indeed – safe journey,” Madame said as Tamiko was escorted onto the plane, the doors closing before it taxied to the runway.


“Ama is glad all went well,” Dominique said, “I am going to give her a huge hug tomorrow.”


“Indeed – now, let us look forward…”







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