Live by the sword

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Live by the sword!

He was lost he wasn’t used to being lost; he was the kind of man who drew up plans and executed them efficiently!  It was the first sentence in a trashy magazine story; Felix had just picked up the magazine as he sat waiting for a hair cut; it was one of those battered out of date magazines you pick up when you’re bored.

Felix read the sentence again; he chuckled to himself, gallows humour he thought but it did rather sum up his dilemma. Under normal circumstances he would have taken the job and not thought a great deal about it; but this time it was a woman. When the file arrived on his computer he’d treated it like any other contract; read the profile, analyse the background and asses the risks; simple really. It wasn’t until he flashed up the photograph that he realised it was a women and an attractive one at that; what Arnold, his armourer and assistant would call a “bit of all right”. And that may be another problem what would Arnold think. Mind you if the background material was anything to go by this particular woman was as ruthless as they came! Her profile stated she’d been educated in the UK and was currently chairman and managing director of an international courier company headquartered in the Bahamas. That of course was the piece the public saw; on the profile Felix had received there was a detailed more frightening and less public picture of Sandra, Lotus Blossom Chen.  According to the information, Sandra Chen was the daughter of an Angolan war lord and one of his Chinese concubines. Born in 1972 she’d lived through the bloodiest chapter in Angola’s history. Her father had been a colonel in the National Union for the total independence of Angola; better known as UNITA the most savage and ruthless army involved in Angola’s civil war. By the time the civil war was drawing to a close early in 2000 UNITA had sold close to $4 billion dollars worth of blood diamonds to finance its war effort. In 1998 Sandra Chen and her mother moved to Switzerland; they were joined a year later by Sandra’s now exiled father. The experience in trading “conflict diamonds” had given Sandra’s father and the top military group in UNITA a taste for the good life and they set up an illegal marketing organisation in Zurich. In a short space of time billions of dollars of illegal funds were being amassed in Switzerland. In June of 2000 a number of former UNITA top brass including Sandra Chen’s parents were killed in a car bomb attack during a clandestine visit to Luanda. Sandra Chen inherited a multibillion dollar fortune and the nucleus of a thriving criminal enterprise. In the years that followed Sandra had built the organisation into a vast criminal net work. She had expanded her empire into almost every sphere of illegal activity, drugs, prostitution, money laundering, people trafficking and much else besides. She’d even been implicated in the massacre of 12 diamond workers in Sierra Leone and a car bombing in Indonesia.  As Felix took in the information he wondered why he’d had second thoughts. This woman was a dangerous individual and a real nasty piece of work; a rising star he had no doubt on INTERPOL’S most wanted list. No wonder someone wanted her out of the way!

Since leaving the SAS eight years ago as Captain Felix Morton-Slinger; Felix had been running the family’s garden centre business. He’d only taken on the job after his father’s heart attack and his mother’s insistence that as the only son he had a responsibility to continue the family name. At the time his heart had sunk; he thought there could be nothing more boring than horticulture and garden furniture. But he’d been pleasantly surprised, he found the job was interesting, took up a great deal of his time and allowed him to travel. He’d also been able to find a job for Arnold Redman his old platoon sergeant. Arnold had left the SAS at the same time as Felix and was finding “Civvy Street” hard. Arnold served with Felix in Afghanistan and had been a key player in some of the more daring raids on Taliban positions. Felix had dragged Arnold out from under an overturned armoured car that the scouting party had been travelling in. Three of their comrades had been killed when the roadside bomb exploded and it was only Felix’s quick thinking and physical strength that had rescued Arnold. They never spoke of the event but Arnold had no doubt Felix saved his life. Putting Arnold in charge of the company’s main garden centre had been a stroke of genius according to Felix’s mother; more like serendipity Felix had said, but anyway it had worked out. The business employed about 100 people and Arnold had soon knocked them into shape and the staff loved him.

 It was Arnold who had first spotted the tall elegant stranger in the Savile Row suit; he was acting like a customer but somehow he was out of place; it was only three months after Arnold started working for Felix and at the time neither of them could have foreseen the consequences. The stranger had turned out to be from the “intelligence community”, or so he said! He had a proposition for Felix.  An un-named group were looking to have a Russian Oligarch eliminated. At first Felix thought it was a joke; in bad taste but nonetheless a joke! Felix was stopped in his tracks when the “suit” sitting on the other side of the table said it’s what you were trained to do; and Felix could see by the way it was said that this was a serious offer. Of course Felix had refused but the suit had been persistent; he explained that the people he represented were looking for discretion and someone new to the market. The language he’d used began to get up Felix’s nose but as he listened patiently; the suit had mentioned the fee for such an assignment; Felix had no idea diplomacy could be so lucrative. He’d recalled at the time one of the first lectures he’d attended at Sandhurst. The foreign office type who was delivering the lecture was at pains to point out that war was usually a consequence of failed diplomacy. The officers who prosecuted war could be viewed as “Extreme Diplomats; not a view shared by many but the concept was not lost on Felix. In the end, reluctantly, Felix had accepted the commission and two months later with Arnold’s help there’d been a gas explosion at the Oligarch’s apartment in Odessa.  The authorities had been suspicious but the explosive Felix had used was difficult to trace; it didn’t have a chemical signature like semtex and the fractured gas main had done the rest. That was eight years ago; since then Felix and Arnold had taken on one or two assignments each year and arranged “accidents” in various parts of the world. Felix told himself their work had left the world a better place and of course they’d both become very wealthy. Felix would be lying if he said these “cancelation events” as he and Arnold usually referred to them didn’t give him a buzz. It was a bit like the old days operating behind enemy lines. But taking out Sandra Chen posed a number of new problems! When Felix showed Sandra Chen’s profile to Arnold; far from a negative reaction Arnold had misquoted Rudyard Kipling and made his views very plain, the female of the species is more deadly than the male! So, Felix had drawn up plans and hoped to execute them efficiently; he smiled as he thought about the magazine article!

On their return from Central America Felix and Arnold painted an enthusiastic picture of the contracts they’d managed to negotiate. Ostensibly their trip to Belize had been to source locally made garden furniture which they could import and sell in the garden centre; They had also followed up on a range of exotic seeds which would go on sale in the spring. All in all a great commercial success!

Only the initiated or those actually looking for the information would have noticed the story that was reported in the London Times and the New York Herald Tribune, concerning an executive jet which had crashed on takeoff at Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize. The aircraft was owned by an international courier company and among the four passengers on board was the chairman and managing director Miss Sandra Chen. According to the Belize aviation authority the aircraft had reported a catastrophic fire in the cockpit soon after takeoff and exploded whilst attempting to return to the airport. All those on board perished in what was described as a tragic accident!


 1490 words




Submitted: April 12, 2017

© Copyright 2023 Peter Piper. All rights reserved.

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