Beneath Sunless Waves

By Stephen Makk

Action & adventure, Thriller, Romance

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581
24 mins

 

“On that day it would be pass or fail, it was a big day for me; but I didn’t know it was the beginning of the most wonderful and the most stupid thing I’d ever done with my life. My name is Tom Hilton, Lieutenant Tom Hilton, Royal Marines. That day I could finally qualify as a Marine diver for submarine diving operations. Sometimes I wish that was all that lay in store for me, but then again, only sometimes.”
*

The events you will be reading about didn't actually happen. It's all just rumour. Allegedly.
That fact is on record in the publicly available Hansard House of commons parliamentary debate records.
Statements were made in the house by no less a person than the Minister of Defence.
12.33PM.
Mr Speaker.
“Order, Order.”
Minister of Defence.
“With permission Mr Speaker, the right honourable member shouldn't listen to these scurrilous rumours and unsubstantiated allegations. It is all just media hype designed to place his own party in a better light; we all know they need something don't they? It's a vain attempt to claw their way out of the pit that the recent by-election results cast them into. The right honourable member is clutching at straws. There'd be no need to carry out such an operation, none whatsoever, why would Her Majesty's government spend tax payer's money on something so unnecessary? The right honourable member can rest assured of that.”

Honestly, it's all just rumour; of that you can rest assured.

STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS
2004 No. 3364
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
The Freedom of Information regulations 2004
Interpretation
1. In these Regulations, “the Act” means the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
2. In these Regulations, “MoD” means the Ministry of Defence.
Whereas a draft of these Regulations has been approved by resolution of both Houses of Parliament in pursuance of section 82(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000(1);
Now, therefore, the Secretary of State, in exercise of the powers conferred(2) by section 10(4) and (5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, hereby makes the following Regulations.
Operations of armed forces of the Crown
5. (1) This regulation applies, in relation to a request for information, where–
Eight years ago the MoD said it was withholding files on the grounds that they had been stored in a building in London where asbestos had been discovered. It subsequently said that a number of the files could not be transferred to the national archive because they had been destroyed as a result of water damage. Files pertinent to your enquiry are likely to be amongst them.

5. (2) Disclosure pursuant to your information request has been deemed contrary to the security of the Crown and as such is not subject to the 30 year rule. Section 11(3) of the Act.

Request for information is denied. Furthermore your right of appeal has been revoked.

Date 8th April 2014
Signed by authority of the Minister of Defence.

1

“Just go out there Lt Hilton and remove the limpet mine from the hull.” I knew the skipper had a reputation as a hard charger but one hundred and twenty meters deep? Five minutes; find and remove they’d said. I donned my diving gear, suit, hood, compass, and dive computer. I shouldered the heavy rebreather, it weighed on my back causing me to lean slightly forward. Last was the weight belt, then I climbed up into the sail’s release chamber. The hatch was sealed below and seawater started to flood the chamber, I fitted my face mask and pushed the fins onto my feet. By the red light illuminating the inside of the water filled sail I watched the instrument on my wrist; one hundred and fifteen meters, that’s it then, there we are. I reached up and turned the wheel; the hatch swung upwards; beyond was the inky black North Sea. I switched on my helmet lights, injected gas into the suit for buoyancy and swam out into the black maw. I rose up and left the lip of the bridge. I’d start by heading down and aft towards the propeller, my breathing hissed and sighed, the only sound in these depths. Where would it be? They’d be sneaky I knew. Where was the last place I’d look? I smiled and stopped; it had to be. I turned back, ascended the sail and dropped into the bridge; there was the open hatch. I lowered it and there was the mine; they’d attached it to the outside of the hatch; the sneaky bastards. A quick pull on the dog unfastened it. I clipped the mine to a D-ring and descended fins first into the sail, pulling hatch closed behind me. I spun the wheel shut and gave three sharp knocks, five-second pause, and three sharp knocks. Air started to rush into the cylindrical compartment, the water level dropped and soon my weight returned; all I had to do was wait as they slowly decompressed the chamber. Long minutes later; the lower hatch opened. A Naval rating helped me down. He helped me take off the rebreather and weight belt. I removed my fins, mask and hood. I walked forward into the control room, men sat around staring at screens, the skipper sat in his comfy chair grinning. Then he noticed the mine, his grin became more forced. My instructor examiner Lt Commander Pine stood facing me with a smirk.
“Here’s you limpet mine Sir.” I handed the mine over.
“Well done Hilton. You’ve passed your submarine operations ticket; Dirty will assign you a posting tomorrow. I thought you’d go charging off around the hull like a silly bugger.”
“I knew you’d put it where I’d least expect it Sir. But I’d have done otherwise to you.” He gave me a look of suspicion.
“Oh and what would that be?”
“I wouldn’t have put one on at all Sir. That’d fuck with your mind.”
*
Northern England 1979.

I placed my book on the table in front of my seat, looking out of the window the world waited and passed the time as best it could. The platform clock read 12.07. Preston station, I'd passed through here many times in the last few years. Mothers and children, teenagers with Walkman’s tisk tisking in their ears, bored men; one had clearly had an argument with his wife or girlfriend; her sulk could have sunk an oil tanker. He glanced at her quickly and shook his head. I smiled, the poor bugger. Two girls took the two seats opposite me, both were pretty, brown-haired, a bit too much makeup.
“Hi,” one said.
“Hi.” They stuffed their coats into a seatback store over their cases. The engine roared and the train pulled away with a vibrating rumble. We passed over a river; its dark swirling waters flowed on into the Irish Sea. Fields slipped by the bare trees not yet leafed out, their branches dark against the green wetness, hedgerows, power pylons. I sneaked a look at the two girls across the table, one looked up from her copy of Cosmopolitan and smiled at me.
“Did you get on at Preston too?” She spoke in a soft but heavily accented Scottish lilt.
“No, I've travelled up from Devon. I stayed overnight with one of my oppos in Wolverhampton.”
“One of your oppos? Is that a girlfriend then?”
“No he's a mate,” she brightened, I think.
“I'm off up your neck of the woods. Scotland, I'm going to be living there.”
“Really? Where?”
“I don't know yet.” She raised her eyebrows.
“You’re going to be living there but you don't know where yet?” Her green eyes playfully gave me the once over.
“I'm in the Navy,” it was a half truth, “I'm going to Faslane.”
“Will you get into Glasgow then? We're from Cambuslang. I'm Annie.”
“Tom.” I shook her hand, she seemed surprised.
“I suppose I will, it's not far from Faslane, is it?” We chatted for long spells, it helped the journey to go by.
“I'm from just over there,” I pointed, “Kendal. I was going to call in but no time really.”
We pulled into Glasgow central. Bustling chaos on the train as we all gathered our bags. I slotted the paper slip she'd given me into my book.
“Don't forget, give me a call if you're coming into town. I'll show you around, take you for a night out. You'll enjoy it Tom, trust me.” She gave me a flirty smile.
“I will. I promise.” They merged in with the crowd. I made my way out for my connection to Helensburgh and RN Faslane. Faslane was surrounded by a tall double walled wire fence topped with razor wire. I reached the gate, the guard looked at my pass and order papers.
“Very good Sir, down the road first left, the admin block is the second building on the right.”
I walked in via a large wooden door; a female Petty Officer sat at the desk I showed her my pass.
“I'm here to report to Captain Gooch.”
OK Sir.” She picked up the phone.
“Sir. Lieutenant Tomas Hilton Royal Marines is in reception. OK Sir I'll send him up.” His office was small but tidy he pointed at the chair.
“Welcome to Faslane Lieutenant. With us for eighteen months I see. You drew the short straw then?”
“Not really Sir I volunteered.” He looked at me with a raised left eyebrow.
“Not many like submarines. Too claustrophobic for them.”
“I'm a diver Sir, I like claustrophobic.”
“You'll get that here. Otter's out on patrol tomorrow, nothing like being thrown in at the deep end so to speak. Report to CPO Mally at zero seven hundred tomorrow, the boat’s in birth two.” I'd volunteered for eighteen months of diving from various submarines often leaving and returning underwater via an airlock. I'd be carrying out surveillance of enemy facilities and ships. It promised to be cold, dangerous, lonely and downright bloody marvellous.
The following morning I was down at the birth early; it was damp and cold. There she was black and low in the water, the bulbous sonar cover stood over her bow, her tall curved dark sail towering above her deck, I used to call this the conning tower but submariners call it the sail. It stood several meters proud of the long body of the boat, no periscopes or snorkels were visible above the sail but they'd be there I knew. HMS Otter looked menacing even at the quayside. She'd be my home for the next three weeks. I could make out a sailor busying himself with something atop the sail.
“CPO Mally?” I shouted to him. He looked down.
“Lieutenant Hilton?” I nodded.
“Yes Sir. Come aboard, climb the sail.”
*
I spent the next few months entering the world of the submariner, a small close-knit community. Different from the surface Navy I was familiar with. A submarine is not a ship it's a boat crewed by men with some disdain for the more formal rules and regulations normal in the mainstream Navy; who are known disparagingly as skimmers or targets. A phrase I heard was; there are two types of Navy; submarines and targets. Uniforms are optional on patrol and jeans, tee-shirts and training shoes are common. Among the surface Navy submariners are known as Pirates. A new submariner works towards becoming worthy of being awarded his dolphins, it indicates the two dolphins on the submarine service badge. This is awarded after carrying out one or more patrols at Sea, it requires an intimate knowledge of the boat's systems and workings. In an emergency at Sea, all hands get involved and it requires some skills in a field that isn't your speciality. I couldn't be awarded my dolphins as I wasn't a submariner but I did try as hard as the next man to learn the boat's systems. Submariners do receive extra pay compared to the skimmers but none are there for the money. Hot bunking is normal. You sleep in your bunk and when it's your turn to stand your watch someone else climbs into your bunk until you return. It's normal not to wash as water is limited. On returning from a patrol after four or six weeks without any of the crew having had a wash, brushing teeth or a shave; the stink is appalling. Or so they say, the boat's crew have got accustomed to it. On a rare run ashore the Pirates are shunned by the rest of the Navy as a scruffy stinking bunch. The submariner wouldn't have it any other way, they see themselves as an elite. If a sailor carries himself with a scruffy arrogant swagger he's a Pirate and damn proud of it.
After five months I was assigned to an SSN a Nuclear hunter-killer submarine; HMS Sultan. An SSN's main job is to do what the name says it does; hunt down and kill ships and other submarines. Essentially the same job as HMS Otter did but out to Sea at greater distances, with much longer endurance it would take the fight right to the enemy. Just where he doesn't want it.
We were submerged under the Clyde approaches heading back to Faslane, another patrol was coming to a successful ending. We'd been out on a NATO exercise in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. There were eight of us tucking into breakfast in the mess, we all wolfed down ham, eggs and sausage, the cook always did us proud. We marked the days by the food. Wednesday was Pizza night, Thursday was steak night, Friday was fish night, Saturday was curry night and Sunday it was a Chinese. I'd been out on three patrols in the nuclear boat, there was more room than aboard Otter, and I’d learned something about the differences. I tried hard to get a feel for her, CPO McGill told me I was well on my way towards qualifying for my dolphins. I couldn't get them of course, but I was pleased he'd bothered to tell me. It would be the middle of September now up top. I sipped my pot of tea.
“What will you do Sir when we get alongside?” asked PO Simpson.
“I might call a friend I have in Glasgow. Spend some time there.”
“What's her name Sir?” I looked at him.
“How do you know it's a she?”
“Got a nose for these things Sir.” I smiled.
“Her name's Annie.”
“I'm on the train back to Stoke Sir, out with some mates tonight, down a few pints. It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it.”
We pulled alongside and I walked down onto the quayside, a rating approached me and saluted.
“Lieutenant Hilton could you report to Captain Gooch Sir.” I got cleaned up in the shower block; we weren't allowed back into the real world until we cleaned up and rightly so; I changed into uniform and made my way to his office in the admin block. I knocked.
“Come in.”
Hello Hilton. Good patrol?”
“Yes Sir. I did a couple of covert dives into a Norwegian Naval base. Took some pictures.”
“Did the Noggies catch you?”
“No Sir. I was inside for four hours, I under hulled every ship in there. We had to share the pictures with them of course after end ex.”
“Yes of course, what did they think?”
“Mortified is the word Sir, mortified. Especially the one I took in broad daylight of a rating pissing over the side of the submarine Stadt.” The Captain laughed.
“I got this letter from the MOD a few days ago. Looks as though you'll be leaving us sooner than we thought.”
“I can't say I'm happy at that Sir.”
“No. Neither are we, but Her Majesty's posting system works in mysterious ways. They want to see you at the MOD as soon as they can so I'd get down there by train in the morning.” That was another night out with Annie scuppered.
The train arrived in London early afternoon and I made my way to the MOD building, I climbed the steps and walked in through the doors the security staff checked my papers and consulted their printed list.
“The lift's over there Sir. Third floor.” I'd never been in here before it was a mix of uniformed officers and civilian staff. I noticed salutes weren't used, you'd be at it all day with all that scrambled egg on the peaked caps. I took the lift and found the room. Walking in I crossed over to a civilian receptionist with glasses and a stern expression. She looked up from the typewriter.
Hello I'm here to see Commander Rossall.” She checked my papers and smiled; wonders never cease.
“Come on Sir, in here.”
Commander Rossall sat behind a large desk, a large replica of Turners painting The Fighting Temeraire adorned the wall. A short man in a civilian suit sat on a spare chair.
“Lieutenant Hilton, sit please.” He indicated a vacant chair.
“This is Mr Weller.” We shook hands, I felt his blank stare, vague smile but I knew he watched me keenly, searchingly.
“Hilton, of course you'll be wondering what this is all about,” said Commander Rossall.
“We have you lined up for a new posting. As it's a little unusual we thought we'd like to see you first.”
“I've only done nine months attached to the submarine service Sir.”
Yes I know. How is life with the Pirates?”
“Very good Sir. They're a fine bunch.” He gave me a look.
“Well this posting is very different. Your file shows that you studied Russian and History at Bristol. And you've taken courses in Russian during your time with the Marines.”
“Yes Sir, I didn't want it to get too rusty.” What was going on here? I felt as though I was being examined and more than a little, let’s say, set up.
“How good is your Russian?”
“I couldn't pass as Russian Sir but it's not bad.”
“Your scores and tutor reports tell me that you're a little better than not bad.” He looked at me with a knowing stare.
“I'm going to ask Mr Weller to carry on now he's a Russian speaker from, let's just say he's from nearby.”
“Spasibo Commander.” Mr Weller turned to face me. He continued in Russian.
“Lieutenant could you tell me about your career in the Royal Marines so far.” I knew he already knew whatever he needed to know. This was to test my language skills and to get to know me better. I outlined my duties and postings so far. We chatted on for fifteen minutes about a range of subjects; his Russian was good, very good.
“Lieutenant, can you tell me anything about where I've spent time over there?”
“Your accent tells me Leningrad or surrounding areas.” He smiled and looked impressed.
“Very good, you're correct. Now let’s talk about this appointment. It's at our Embassy in Moscow; the posting will be acting as assistant Military attaché. What's your first impression?” This was a surprise. I tried my best to hide it. It would be a good career move but not one I'd expected. Assistant Military attaché, that was a new one.
“It sounds an interesting post, not one I'd expected I'll admit. But I'm no diplomat.”
“That's not important. Would you accept it?” I knew it was in for a penny in for a pound.
Yes Sir I would.” He switched back to English.
“Commander Rossall. Lieutenant Hilton's Russian is very good, I told him about the posting and he's accepted.
“Good show Hilton,” said the Commander.
“When do I start Sir?” They looked at me with bewildered stares. Mr Weller spoke first.
“Lieutenant we're not just playing at it. Report to my office at the following address tomorrow morning nine thirty.” He passed me a card.
“You've been seconded to the SIS,” he grinned, “you're with MI6 now. I'll issue your licence to kill tomorrow.” His laugh told me that was untrue. The Commander leaned over his desk.
“Close your bloody mouth Hilton. You didn't think Mr Weller was with the boy scouts did you?”
I spent the next few weeks undergoing a crash course in the tradecraft as it was called. Communications, codes and their uses. Following people and keeping from being spotted. Avoiding picking up a tail yourself. How to use various kinds of drop for exchanging documents. The layout and districts of Moscow, how to get around the city. Getting to know the profiles of known KGB operators and suspected operators. I was taught by some good and knowledgeable people and towards the end of my training they upped the tempo and sprung a few surprises. I took part in a real operation in London, we tailed some Libyans posing as Algerians. They ran what appeared to be a dodgy import-export business but we suspected it was a weapons smuggling operation run to supply the IRA.
I was teamed up with an operator who I only knew as Rhino, he was a large man with a shaven head but a dark moustache. He'd been issued with a Colt automatic, being new I wasn't allowed to carry a gun. Ironic I thought as I'd very likely sent more lead down range than any of them. It was a wet night Rhino and me sat in a battered Escort just down the road from the lockup they'd been using. There was a backup team in another car around the corner and a police swat team on standby three hundred yards away. I was driving, I sat hands on the wheel. We were expecting a shipment to arrive tonight we just didn't know what time. Rhino called in for a comms check. Our call sign was Pink panther.
Club foot. Pink panther. Over.”
“Pink panther. Club foot check. Over.” The backup team was in place.
“Keystone. Pink panther. Over.”
“Pink panther. Keystone. Who picked that bloody call sign? Over.” The police were ready.
We sat and waited long into the night. That was the worst of surveillance it was mostly just one boring wait.
“How many of these jobs have you done Rhino?”
“Too bloody many. Mostly boring, but some have their moments. Sometimes you get a no show. It can be a cock up or a mistake.”
Around two thirty the rain eased, large thick droplets still clung to the windows. I was getting around to thinking that we had a no show. That's when they showed up. A white van pulled up just short of the lock up on the side was written “South Mediterranean fruit and grain” along with a phone number.
“Here they are,” said Rhino, “keep a good eye on them.” I watched for a minute but nobody got out, I could just make out the driver in his cab. I looked in the side mirror, about fifty yards back a man with his hands in his pockets walked towards us along the pavement.
“We've got company behind.” Rhino turned and looked.
“Bloody hell. They've got a sweeper.”
“A sweeper?”
“A spotter, checking up on the area. Bloody hell.” He reached over and put his right arm around the back of my neck and stroked my hair.
“What?”
“Make out you're a queer. Just hope I don't have to snog you.”
“You're not my type Rhino.” I put my hand over and played with his ear.
I could see the man was almost on us by now, he moved to the passenger side towards the centre of the road.
“He's seen us. He's coming up behind you. Three yards away.” He looked into the car then knocked on the passenger side window. Rhino opened the door.
“What you do?” He had a middle East type of accent and a dark moustache.
“You two queers?”
“Leave us alone. Let us get on with it. So what's it to you?” He came out with a stream of what sounded like Arabic, it dripped with disgust.
“Why you here?”
“I'm here to give him a wank,” said Rhino getting out of the car. Moustache stepped quickly back and pulled a silenced pistol from his pocket. Rhino lunged for him and caught him, he tottered back but the pistol gave out a cough and a round hit Rhino in the leg, he went down. I picked up the map and the open flask on the dashboard, quickly rolled over to the passenger side and threw them hard into Moustache's face, I was lucky he got a good eyeful of hot coffee. His hands shot to his face. I rolled out of the car put my hand in Rhino's jacket and pulled out the Colt. Moustache was getting himself back together and brought his gun back up. I was laid on my back, I took aim and pulled the trigger, one two. With two tremendous cracks the rounds slammed into his chest. With a look of surprise he dropped the gun and fell back.
“Pink panther. Man down. Man down.” The white van started up and pulled away racing down the street. Within a minute the backup car turned up, followed immediately by the police van. Both stopped.
“No, get after the white van,” I said, “I'll sort Rhino out with the first aid kit in the boot. Go. Go. Now.” They both sped off after the van. I got the kit out and set to ripping his trousers off to apply a tourniquet to his leg, once it was secure I ripped more trouser leg off and held it over his leg close to his groin to stem the bleeding. He was in pain but conscious.
“When I said pretend to be a queer, you didn't need to rip my pants off Tom.”
“You'll be OK Rhino.” Minutes later an ambulance turned up, alerted no doubt by the backup team.
They got him into the ambulance and set off the blue lights flashing. The backup team's car returned after a while.
“We got the van and the police are all over it.” We opened the grain sacks and found a stack of Kalashnikovs under the grain and plastic bags full of some soft material. One of the other operators opened one up. I leaned forward and sniffed, it smelt like marzipan.
“Semtex.” I said grinning.
“Yes. That's it all right. Up yours Gaddafi.” We'd done our job nicely. Both the Libyans and the IRA would be very very sick about this setback.

2

The next day we got a report, five dozen Kalashnikovs, boxes of 7.62mm and two hundred pounds of Semtex. Nice one. Rhino was going to be off his feet for a while but would be OK. The boss's name was Ferret, he came over to my desk as I was finishing the report, it was my third of the day, there was more paperwork in this job than I'd expected. I don't know what they did with the damn things; there was more recording stuff than doing stuff.
“Well done last night Tom, we've smashed the ring, Customs and Excise are onside over the tip we gave them. Five are miffed that we didn't pass it to them,” he smiled, “their turf being domestic and all that. I told them we didn't have the time, had to act fast. I don't think they really believed me but they couldn't argue much with a good result. We have a positive ID on one of them. We got our man in Tripoli to take some pictures of his sister picking her kids up from school, he faxed them through. We didn't say anything to him, didn't need to. Just showed him the pictures. He's singing like a songbird now, spilling everything. We're going to have a field day in Libya with all the info. I've just got back from the lockup. The police have people on it now. It looked as dirty as a fire back to me, full of stuff. Careless buggers left some Northern Ireland numbers, code names and dates in a drawer. We've given them to Five.”
“I'm glad Rhino's good. I'll go and see him in a few days.” Ferret nodded.
“We need to give you a nickname now, you've been on an op. You're a Marine and a diver right?”
“Yes.”
“I'll ask around for some ideas.” He looked at me with an amused faint smirk, it grew into a mischievous smile.
“We're going out down the pub tonight, an office outing if you will, to celebrate the end of a successful op. Going to the Golden Fleece, do you fancy it?” I wasn't sure to be honest but I was new and I'd be thought of as a funny bugger if I didn't go.
“Yes Ferret, that'd be good.”
I walked into the pub at around eight, it looked small from the outside but opened up into a large L shaped lounge. It was quite busy that night, walking up to the bar I stood behind two punks, their red and blue spiky Mohican hair stood proudly. One spotted me waiting to be served.
“Sorry.” He moved to one side.
“Thanks.” The barmaid came over.
“Hi,”
“Hi, a pint of Guinness please.” She poured it, I paid and looked around. The usual after office crowd was starting to drift off but plenty still stood around. Ferret and a bunch of others I knew stood to one side. I joined them.
“Hi Tom,” said Ferret, “join in.” We talked about lots of things but not work of course.
“Did you see that,” said Digger, “Forest paid a million quid for Trevor Francis. It's getting bloody stupid now.” Cockroach bridled at that.
“Clough knows what he's doing he'll be a good buy for us. Could Spurs afford that?” Cockroach was a known Forest fan and was our wizard with electronic surveillance, bugging, they reckon he could bug Buckingham palace if he tried. I assumed that's how he got his name. We talked on for a time. I went back to the bar and ordered. I turned around and was faced with a pretty Caribbean girl, I stepped to one side.
“Sorry.” She stepped the same way, I stepped back, so did she. She gave me a bright beaming smile. “I'm just trying to get to the bar,” she said with a faint Jamaican style accent.
“I'm trying to get out of your way.” I stood to one side. She looked back from the bar.
“I'm Ella,” her deep eyes smiling.
“I'm Tom.” She bought herself a drink and turned to me.
“Do you work around here?”
“Kind of, the Department of health.”
“Are you a doctor?”
No a pen pusher. You spend time here after work?”
“Sometimes, I'm a nurse at Great Ormond street.” We talked on for a good hour, she was very pretty, quick to smile and laughed at my jokes. She had the deepest dark eyes I'd ever seen.
“They’re showing that film Heaven can wait at the Odeon near the hospital.”
“Are they?” I replied. She looked at me. I knew where this was going.
“Do you fancy going one night?” She lowered her head and gave me a doe like smile. All dark eyes and lashes.
“Only if you ask nicely Tom.”
“Pretty please can we go?”
“OK how about tomorrow?”
“You're on,” I said.
“I'll meet you outside Tom at seven fifteen it's just down the road from the hospital.”
We chatted on, about all and nothing. I looked over at the rest of the bunch talking with Ferret. I watched them glancing over at them frequently, they didn't pay much attention, Cockroach winked once, Ferret never looked over at all.
“At the hospital. How is it? Do you like the job?”
“Yes, I trained in Port of Spain Trinidad, I've been here two years. It was cold at first but you get used to it.”
“What grade of Nurse are you? It's G something isn't it?” She sipped her drink.
“Yes, I'm G2 I'm hoping to get G1 later in the year.” It became time to leave, she hugged me and we kissed on the cheek.
“See you tomorrow Tom.”
“See you.”
I rejoined the bunch.
“Hi Tom, getting to know the local crumpet?” said Digger.
“Yeah.” We left and I walked back to my flat. It wasn't too late I stopped at a phone box on the way home and called my sister. The following night I met up with Ella, we saw the film, it wasn't my thing at all but she was good company, we went for a drink after, and got to know each other better. I got a taxi and dropped her off at her place and watched Ella go inside.
The following morning was an early start, I took out my Nikon fitted with a three hundred millimetre lens packed them into a holdall and took the Jubilee line to Kilburn. I waited sixty yards from my target. Passers-by headed to work ignoring me. She emerged and walked off down the road towards Kilburn tube station. I followed Ella taking care not to let her see me, she didn't use any tail avoidance tricks I'd learned recently. She got on a tube train, I followed. She got off at Westminster. I almost lost her and had to get too close at one point but she didn't look in my direction. I followed as she walked down the street, not too close. I crossed the road when I could; being careful to keep out of her view. I took out the Nikon. She stopped outside Thames house and fished around in her handbag, I snapped away zooming close in, I saw her take out a card and enter the building. More pictures on full zoom. I smiled turned and headed towards the office. Thames house the headquarters of MI5. So, he'd set me up for a Honey trap had he. Ella was the bait and I just had to bite.
“OK Ferret. Two can play at that game.” I worked at my desk for the rest of the morning; it was noon and I saw Ferret leave for his lunch. I'd a chance, maybe, maybe I'd get lucky. I followed him, keeping well away. He stopped at a roadside café and sat at a table outside. I stood partly concealed in an alleyway A few minutes later Ella turned up; yes, I've got him. I quickly rolled off several shots zoomed in of the two of them. I turned and walked away.
“Has he bitten?” said Ferret.
“Yes. We went to the pictures last night. We're seeing each other again tomorrow, he's already started talking about going away for the weekend.”
“Good, go along with it. Try to get him to do you a favour, pull some strings for you.”
“I didn't know MI5 and SIS helped each other out like this.”
“It happens. Harold Web recommended you, if you please your section head with a job well done it'll usually get you higher status and a step up the ladder. If Tom admits to working with us that will be enough, just get anything to convince us that he's been roped in. I'll make sure Web hears about it.”
“OK.”
Ella met me at the Golden Fleece that night, we walked down the road to a Chinese restaurant.
After the meal we talked for a while.
Tom could you help any with my G1 qualification? You being with the Health Ministry I mean.” I thought now was the time.
“We're not supposed to do that kind of thing.” I glimpsed up at her and smirked beguilingly. Then looked down.
“I might though,” I looked at her, “but It'll cost you.”
“Really? How much?”
“A weekend away in Oxford.” She flicked me a glance.
“I don't know about that,” she paused, thought briefly then laughed.
“You are forward. OK when?”
“This weekend.” She was shocked.
“This weekend?”
Yes why not?” I like to strike while the iron was hot. That Friday I drove us up to Oxford we walked into a hotel.
“Hi, I have a room booked, Tom Hilton.”
“Ah yes, here it is Mr and Mrs Hilton. Room three eight one.” We checked in then got the lift to the third floor. We found the room and walked in.
“You got us a double?” Ella said unsurely.
“Yes, they were cheaper,” I lied smiling. The next morning we lay naked in bed, the sun played over her dark smooth skin, the blue and yellow corded beads threaded through her wild tussled but silky hair was splayed out over the pillow. I kissed her neck softly. She rolled over to face me and snuggled up. She quizzed me about what I did at the Health Ministry. The questions got a little too persistent, I decided to use, well let’s say some physical distraction. The weekend was soon over and I drove us both back to London. I dropped her off at the apartment.
“We should do that again sometime,” I said smiling.
“Yes,” she smiled.
“I'll call you.” I liked her I really did, she was nice in the good sense of the word, smart and had a wicked wit. I wasn't going to enjoy it but Ferret needed to be taught a lesson.
The next day I was in early. I saw Ferret walk into his office. After a while he left to attend a meeting. I'd got my chance. I placed the items on the small table by his office door.
I turned to the guys in the room and made an announcement.
“You may want to take a look at these, when Ferret gets back I don't think they'll be around for very long.”
There was a forged Great Ormond street promotion document for Ella Silvers; promoted to Nurse G1 status. A note saying that this status doesn't exist. I'd got that information from my sister who was a Nurse. Photographs of Ella entering Thames House; Ferret and Ella sat talking at the café.
An Oxford hotel receipt for a double room. A jar of honey and a mouse trap. Finally, a note saying that a Royal Marines striker had scored a double hat-trick.
They milled around the display and sniggered, laughed.
“You're a bugger Tom. Digger. Look at this, Ferret used a Five agent as a Swallow to lure Tom into a Honey trap.” Digger took a look at the display.
“You cheeky bastard Hilton,” chuckled Digger. Silk purse walked past, she smirked and said.
“Ferret will have your balls for this.” Cockroach looked at the items and laughed.
“We have your name now. Swallow trapper.”
Ferret walked in later, he looked at the display took the waste bin from his office and swept the items in then slammed the office door. Seconds later he came out holding up a poster someone had placed on his desk; it was a drawing of a Swallow with a large 5 on its chest.
“Who did this?” There were blank stares.
“You're the comedian Digger.”
“Not me, I saw no one go in there, and it wasn't Swallow trapper,” he nodded to me, “he's been busy on the job.”
The whole room laughed out loud. Ferret had to smile, he turned and walked back to his office.
There were more exercises and another real op, this time carried out in Berlin where I played a part in the defection of an East German army officer.
I wrote up my report and was checking it through when Ferret appeared from his office.
“Swallow trapper.” He held up his hand and gestured me to come into his office. He seemed to have forgiven me for the Ella escapade.
“Hi, we both have a meeting with Director Zhukov in an hour. Get yourself ready, he's not a bad sort really, just tell it like it is OK.”
“Will do.”
An hour later we made our way up a level and entered his reception room. A girl sat behind a desk entering information into a computer.
“Hi, It's Ferret and Swallow trapper to see the Director.” She didn't bat an eyelid at the names.
“Just a moment.” She called him.
“Yes Sir, it's Ferret and Swallow trapper,” she looked up to us, “please go in.”
Zhukov sat behind his desk. It was large dark and clean just one file open on his desk, he closed it and set it to one side.
“Sit please gentlemen.” We occupied two chairs facing his desk.
“How are you settling in Hilton, or should I call you Swallow trapper?”
“I don't mind Sir.”
“I've had a word with Ferret and he says you're doing fine. How do you feel about getting on with the real thing.”
“As ready as I'll ever be Sir.” The Director switched to Russian and we had a chat for ten minutes or so.
“Sorry about that Ferret, but I like to keep the language fresh, I don't get the chance to do any ops nowadays. Swallow trapper you'll nominally be working under Lieutenant Colonel Russ Foster. An army chap. Tank Corps. But in truth you'll report directly to me. Understand?”
Yes Sir.”
“I may appoint someone as a go-between from time to time but you'll be informed. Foster is aware of the situation.
I’ve got a task for you when you get there, you’ll be in at the deep end I’m afraid.”
“I’m used to that Sir,” I smiled. Zhukov smirked.
“I suppose you are. We have a spy at the embassy. We found out by intercepts picked up by one of our men in the KGB. We planted false info in an effort to expose their identity and we’ve narrowed it down to four, these are their identities.” He handed me four pages, each had a photograph and a brief summary of their backgrounds. Two men and two women stared out at me from the sheets.
“We’re going to send a message via a channel that we know is listened to by the opposition, telling Colonel Foster that a message will arrive on SP3 at a certain time. We call our secure printers SP1 to 4. It’s going to be too tempting a bait for them to ignore, you need to conceal yourself and watch out for who bites. Here’s a floorplan, this is where SP3 is.” Zhukov described the layout and possible places to hide.
“OK with that, Tom?”
Yes Sir. What do I do when I’ve determined who the spy is?”
“Up to you; use your judgment and initiative.” I knew it would be a daunting prospect, I’d be in the thick of it. “Helen outside will prepare your papers, be ready to leave tomorrow afternoon; you're booked on a BA flight. She has the details.”
We stood to leave. He smiled and shook my hand.
“Do sivdaniya Swallow trapper. Udacha.” Goodbye, good luck.
“Spasibo.” Thanks.
We returned to the office. I cleared my desk. I said my goodbyes to Ferret, Cockroach, Digger, Silk purse and the rest and left to see Helen.




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