The Geneveh Project


Someone is watching the Abu Nar based British entrepreneur ... but who is watching them ..?

Mixing it with the Iranian Rev Guard could turn out to be a costly error ...

Can the Geneveh Project be completed on time ..?

 

The Geneveh Project


The American CIA has more than one good reason to step in ...

The Iran/Iraq war is raging and who dare take sides ..?

The head of the Rev Gurad has put the Englishman's head on the outcome ... the CIA have put a billion doallar submarine on it ..!

 

Is the brutal assassination in Hong Kong of a respected Marine Insurance executive, carried out days after a violent assault by sinister forces on his family, merely a coincidence - or part of a covert plan running out of control? With a senior and well connected member of the Chinese Mafia taking an interest, someone is now determined to find out! Why has an aerial engagement between super fast fighter jets, high above the disputed territories of the Persian Gulf signalled an early end to the life of a top level government official in Tehran? Perhaps only the head of the notorious Iranian Rev Guard could answer that particularly interesting question.

 

Scheme 112/406, also known as The Geneveh Project, is at the heart of it all, driven by the greed of one single man. With the American CIA determined to scupper the whole plan and the British SIS sitting on the sidelines, the second most powerful man in Iran puts pressure on the cavalier English oilfield entrepreneur to finish the work on time, quoting an ancient Persian saying; ‘He who wants a rose must respect the thorn’ The warning is clear – the consequences of failure - life threatening!

 

The stakes are running high, as is the escalating price for finishing the complex, delicate works in the middle of a front line war zone, forcing the cunning millionaire industrialist to do a deal with a dubious anglophile Iraqi Air Force General, who has the power to destroy the ambitions of all concerned – at the press of a button! When the final confrontation arrives, it is unexpected, forcing the SIS to come out of the shadows and act, leaving the senior covert CIA Middle East operative impotent; merely a bystander in an event that is to eventually take many lives – and send shockwaves around the world! So, will the possibly over confident oilfield tycoon succeed in the gamble of his life? The head of the Iranian Rev Guard has put the Englishman’s life on it! The CIA have put a billion dollar submarine on it!

 

http://amzn.to/19fa5wk

 

The Geneveh Project - Extracts

 

Buy on-line at Amazon - Also available as an Audio Book

CHAPTER SIX

The call came two days later. ‘Be at Abu Musa Island on Thursday morning, to meet with parties interested in your Geneveh proposal’.

It was a short call from Ex Colonel Paddy Doherty who curtly delivered the single, simple sentence and without waiting for a reply, put the phone down. Abu Musa Island was about forty eight miles north of Abu Nar stuck out in the Persian Gulf with disputed title between the Iranians and the Gulf states. This was not going to be easy. To get there provided two equally difficult choices, by air or by sea. There were no commercial flights and no ferries from the south side of the Gulf to the island … and never had been. Declan, however, had his own, much cherished forty two foot ketch rigged motor sailing boat and his own Cherokee single engine aeroplane. The boat would be the easiest choice. However, it would take some time there and back. Trips to Abu Musa from any of the Gulf States were not encouraged and when he got back, questions would be asked.

The aeroplane was a better, quicker alternative but there would be problems in filing a flight plan. Call sign Golf Bravo Echo Hotel Yankee was a well equipped flying machine fitted with long range fuel tanks. Declan used the plane a lot to ‘clutch’ around the Gulf. This was slightly slower in air time but much more reliable than travelling by the local air line. Even in nineteen eighty seven, travelling around the Gulf was still a pain in the arse and Declan, with a private pilot’s licence, had found his own way around the problem.

The decision was made and so was a phone call to Paddy. Declan explained that if he was to be in Abu Musa the next day he would need some sort of ‘no questions asked’ flight permissions and Paddy would have to get them from his friend Sheik Ahmed, Minister of Defence. Declan was waiting for the tag line as Paddy huffed and puffed in expounding how difficult it was to do something like that and at such short notice.

Declan cut him off in mid moan by asking the uncomplicated question

‘How much Paddy?’

‘Well Declan, as you know these things are simply not easy to organise and … umm … can be quite expensive. I will have to pay out at the airport … then there is the minister’s office … all the …’ Declan cut him short again. He did not want to listen to any more of this crap.

A figure was agreed to be provided to Paddy in cash. It was a lot of money for such a small favour.

Information that the flight was fixed came later that day with a stipulation that Declan would route in and out of Abu Nar via Ras Al Khaimah. Abu Musa was not to be mentioned, at all, to anyone and no questions would be asked by air traffic control in Dubai, Sharjah or Ras Al Khaimah. Flying through RAK was no big deal and only added ten minutes each way to his journey. He was eager to get going.

******

Early next day, Declan was past the General Aviation gate at Abu Nar air port and heading towards his aeroplane sitting on the apron outside the Aero Gulf hanger. Weather looked good and within ten minutes he was up and away from runway three zero and turning right to Ras Al Khaimah. He made a radio call to RAK tower and was given clearance to land. It was a good one on rarely used, metre thick, shimmering hot tarmac. Declan taxied over to the control tower as instructed. As he approached, Tom Whitby, the air traffic controller, radioed permission to take off and added whimsically

‘Watch out for other traffic’.

Declan hit the rudder bar to turn Hotel Yankee back on to the runway, pushed the throttle hard forward and was airborne within seconds. With flaps up and a short spiral to five thousand feet, the gleaming white Cherokee, with a bright red stripe and oversize company logo, was headed toward Abu Musa Island. Declan calculated he would be there in twenty minutes.

He had not flown to Abu Musa before and was wary of his reception. As the tiny Island came in to view, Declan dropped the sturdy little aeroplane down to one thousand feet and made a pass over what could be considered a runway. It was a simple, levelled sand strip about half a mile long with some faded markings at each end. There was not much sign of life. The sand strip looked OK from the air, but sand strips were notorious for hiding potholes and pockets of soft material. A decision had to be made. Declan checked the wind and chose which direction to make his approach. With full flap and flying just above stall speed, he lowered Hotel Yankee gently to the deck.

The air conditioning was on full blast but Declan was clammy with concentration. The ride was uneven and uncomfortable but he did not want to risk touching the brakes on this sort of surface, so he let the speed drop off until the aeroplane rolled to an eventual stop, about twenty metres from the end. He looked around to see if there was any where to go to get off the compacted sand strip and noticed a small timber hut about a hundred yards away to his left. He kicked the rudder bar and revved the engine to turn the plane 180 degrees ready for takeoff.

With everything switched off, Declan jumped out of the Cherokee, taking two large box files with him full of documents now titled ‘The Geneveh Project’ and headed towards the hut. He was already dripping in the sauna like climate. It was unbearably hot and oppressively humid as he looked back behind him, the shimmering heat haze dancing off the runway only adding to the eeriness of this unusually quiet and airless scene. He was nervous in these surroundings and clutched the aircraft keys in his right trouser pocket tightly. He checked his watch. It was a little before ten o’clock and after a minute or two a white ghostly shape appeared through the watery shimmer that was the far end of the runway and gradually morphed in to the outline of a Nissan Patrol double cab truck. It was heading toward him at some speed, leaving a trail of billowing sand and dust behind.

The vehicle braked hard as it stopped literally feet away from where Declan was standing. The rear cab door swung open and a bearded, dishevelled looking individual leapt out brandishing an AK 47. He grabbed Declan by the shoulder and pushed him roughly in to the back of the Nissan, which took off again and sped the few remaining yards to the hut. Declan was wedged tight between two armed tribesmen both of whom smelt strongly of stale sweat and cumin. They looked like tough Pashtu and both stared, unblinkingly, straight ahead. In the front was a driver in some sort of military uniform and a passenger wearing a crisp white dish-dash.

The vehicle pulled up and a long agonising moment passed before the passenger turned and introduced himself. He spoke in perfect English.

‘Good morning Mr Doyle. My name is Mohsen Raza and I am your one and only contact with my country in relation to this interesting project we are here to discuss today’

So, this was it. The man with alert and intelligent steel grey eyes now turned towards him was the much feared head of the Iranian IRGC, but known to Declan and the rest of the world as the ‘Rev Guard’.

He was beautifully presented and manicured with a neatly trimmed jet black beard and matching close cut hair. He appeared to be surprisingly young. Declan expected someone in his late forties or early fifties, but even upon close inspection, this man could be no more than around thirty or so. The hand that was offered by way of polite greeting was long fingered and artistic with trimmed and healthy looking shiny nails. The near hypnotic dark grey eyes held a piercing depth to them. He spoke his exceptionally good English with a slight American accent. The only jewellery on display was a very expensive looking gold Rolex watch which was somehow unexpected to be seen hanging from the arm of the man ruling a bunch, but extremely large bunch, of supposedly highly disciplined, but nevertheless, religious fanatics.

Everyone got out of the truck and entered the hut. Declan was being firmly guided, not quite pushed, but firmly guided by one of the armed guards. It was a radio facility of some kind and was also surprisingly cool. The walls were all covered with racked radio equipment humming and buzzing away in the background. In the cleared centre of the room sat a bare, well used, steel table surrounded by four uncomfortable looking folding chairs.

Mohsen Raza indicated to Declan that he should sit at one and his host lowered himself in to one opposite.

The guards all stood around the perimeter of the room. There was no conversation between them but Declan noted they were bright and alert and did not take their eyes off of him for one second. He hoped he would quickly get used to the smell. At a sign from Mohsen, the driver produced a thermos flask along with some small ceramic cups and set them on the table. The Iranian poured the sickly sweet tea into two of the cups and gave one to Declan. Although the presence of Mohsen Raza was intimidating, Declan knew that the head of the IRGC needed him much more than Declan needed Mohsen Raza, so his reasoning was that two great minds, in one small room, with a common purpose could possibly result in some profit for someone, somewhere. So this was the beginning.

*******************************

CHAPTER NINE

It was time for Eric Saunders to join the controlled chaos of exiting a tediously full Gulf Air flight at London Heathrow’s Terminal Four. He hated flying. He hated it even more since the new austerity measures imposed by London had taken effect just a few months previously. Not for Eric any more the guilty pleasures of First Class travel, the accompanying caviar and Bellini pancakes, champagne cocktails and perfectly presented roast beef. It looked as if those days were permanently over. Life in Her Majesties Secret Intelligence Service was not as it used to be.

During the long walk to the Immigration desk he was being pushed and elbowed by a plethora of Asian workers taking a break from their arduous duties in the heat sodden island of sand known as Bahrain. Whilst avoiding elbows from the side one would not be able to avoid elbows from the rear inflicted by the blacked out Bahraini women, only dark flashing eyes showing to a curious world, who could simply not wait to get in to a taxi and head at some speed directly for Harrods. Eric hung back. His bruised body could take no more. As the milling crowd in front of him diminished, he picked up his pace. He arrived at the Immigration desk, flashed his passport and glided through. He had no baggage to collect. This trip to UK was a short one. He had everything he needed in a compact, cleverly designed and cabin friendly tan leather case. He would be staying at his club, ‘Boodle’s’ on St James Street whilst he was here, as he did every time he was in London. He was always very well provided for there.

‘Back in the scrum again’ was the thought attached to the reality.

As he left the baggage hall he was met by a wall of Asian ‘greeters’ with what looked like an average of ten excited and animated individuals to every passenger. They were packed solid in to every possible exit from between the straining stainless steel barriers.

‘Oh Shit!’ he muttered to himself as he barged a way through. The next big hurdle would be a taxi. He was right. With fifty or sixty individuals in Arabic dress all waving frantically at the taxi rank and prepared to pay treble to get to Harrods first, Eric knew he stood no chance and went back in to the terminal to find a phone. He had a number to ring in such a situation. It was a private hire company used by the Service on regular occasions. Ten minutes later, a black shiny Jaguar appeared. Eric Saunders slipped in to the back seat and gave out the address.

‘Century House, please … One hundred Westminster Bridge Road’

‘Right you are sir’ replied the casually dressed, quietly spoken driver and the car pulled smoothly away for the early afternoon drive in to the heart of London. The weather was crap as usual, but Eric was glad to be back. He loved London. It was his city. This was where all his chums were. This is where all his contacts were. He didn’t really know what the fuck he was doing wasting his life away stuck out on a shitty, stinking little island inhabited by a bunch of highly strung, over pompous, squabbling Arabs.

As he relaxed back in to the comfortable grey hide leather seats of the Jaguar on his smooth ride in to the City, he had some time to think. In fact, what the hell was he really doing with his life, running back and forth at the beck and call of his boss on the C2 Desk at Century House. He had nothing against his controller; in fact they got on well together. They both went to Trinity, Cambridge and both studied politics. They both came from good ‘old money’ families and both had somehow made working for the Secret Intelligence Service a career. However, Eric had been passed over for promotion now on two occasions. The last time was only six months previously and he remembered the non-comforting words of the head of the service, Christopher Curwen, well.

‘You need to be a little more alert old chap. You need to choose your friends more carefully and we cannot afford any more situations like the Lebanese … er …’ The head of the SIS was left searching for words.

‘You know what I mean old chap, that lady nearly did for you and we must have no more of it. Can’t you get married or something?’

As he left C’s office that day, he did actually question what was really going on in his life. He wasn’t married and had never had the urge to. He was not gay, although he did have some near misses at Cambridge. He had convinced himself that he was just waiting for the right ‘girl’ to come along. Eric Saunders OBE was forty three years old and not in the best of condition. He ate too much and drank far too much and he did like the company of women, but not all the time. Great to eat with, great to drink with, great to screw with … but that was where it ended for him.

The Lebanese affair, that was very close to being his complete undoing, had started at a Bahrain British Embassy ‘do’ in the expansive gardens of the embassy compound on Government Avenue. These were regular events, laid on by the senior embassy staff still living in the eighteenth century, for reasons of ‘showing the flag’ and ‘entertaining the locals’. Eric did not go to these kind of functions very often, but on this particular day, he had nothing else planned and his absence from many other events had been noticed by the Ambassador, stimulating some severely negative comment from his boss on the C2 desk.

Her name was Jamila Haddad. Jamila in Arabic meant ‘beautiful’ and she definitely fell in to that category - in bucket loads. It was one of the first things he told her - and that evening she also fell in to his bed. Her job was described by her as a secretary to the manager of a well known Lebanese food import company, based in Beirut, with an office and well established track record in Bahrain. The Lebanese Civil War was in, what the intelligence community called, the ‘Fourth Phase’. The PLO had been thrown out and it looked as if this now more or less partitioned country, could be brought back together again with a little determination shown by behind the scenes negotiators.

Although the Lebanon was strictly out of Eric’s sphere of operations, he was copied in on all negotiations that the British were involved with and these of course were regarded as Top Secret. The long and short of it was that the beautiful Jamila was not all that she appeared to be and in fact was a senior intelligence operator for the PLO. She was not on anyone’s radar and even the CIA seemed to have little or no history on her. When the Israelis did a snatch job in to Gaza one fateful evening late in eighty five, they not only got their man but a bunch of very revealing documents, some of which contained Eric’s ‘scratchings’ in the margins. Jamila had been busy and disappeared off the face of the earth the day after the raid.

The ‘Service’ is a fairly straight forward operation in hierarchical terms. There were the ‘Aristocrats’ or ‘Cats’ for short, who came from privileged backgrounds, went to a public school and on to Cambridge or Oxford, where they were recruited in to the ‘Service’. The process was simple, although most of the recruiting came by way of the numerous college clubs and pubs of Cambridge and the near surrounds populated mainly by ersatz political mercenaries and a sprinkling of the real thing. Despite the far reaching consequences of the nefarious activities of the ‘Cambridge Five’ in nineteen sixty three, Cambridge was always regarded as recruiting ‘fertile ground’ for the Secret Intelligence Service.

Eric Saunders was one of those who eagerly took up the challenge. His real identity was The Right Honourable Algenon Eric Heathcote-Saunders OBE, known by family members simply as ‘Algy’, a term he hated with a vengeance. His father had died when he was seventeen, his elder brother had been killed in the war and his younger married brother, married sister and mother all lived quite happily within the ninety four rooms that made up the East Sussex family pile, Flimwell Manor. He paid all the bills from the substantial family estate, paid allowances to his brother and sister and looked after his mother, who he adored, with dutiful care. The one thousand three hundred acre estate employed thirty staff and whenever he was in England, he would visit, which was always a cause of great joy to his family. Eric did not use his full title and never had, although his father disapproved when he was alive. He preferred the straight forward nomenclature he had adopted of Eric Saunders and that was how he had made his way through life so far.

There were two other ‘types’ that were easily recognisable within the Service and they were the ‘Gung Ho’s’ or ‘Gungs’ for short and they had made their way in to the fold via the military, mostly Army and Navy. All the rest were individuals that actually did all the work. They were recruited from just about anywhere to provide all the mechanics of running this massive organisation. They were called the ‘Technicians’ or ‘Technos’ for short. The current head of the Service was a ‘Gung’ and so tended to favour all the other ‘Gungs’ down below. However, the real power within the Service was and always had been, with the ‘Cats’ who were all his ‘chums’. As expected, they had all rallied round when Eric had slipped off the rocky road to save him from the very greatest humiliation of being expelled from the Service. So, instead of just serving a normal twelve month rotation posting to Bahrain, he was now to stay there until his masters saw fit to re-habilitate him back in to the real world of espionage and the simmering political hot-bed that was still the cold war.

Eric was pondering his situation in some detail as the Jaguar fought its way through the heavy traffic of the metropolis in the direction of Lambeth. He had been called to London to discuss some Irish chap who was seemingly causing a bit of a stir in Abu Nar. Anything to do with the Irish rang the odd alarm bell in Eric’s mind, especially since the degrading outcome of the Littlejohn incident in 1972. It nearly finished the Service or MI6 as it was known publicly and was probably responsible for the age of austerity that had crept up to blanket his employer ever since. It was rumoured amongst the ‘Cats’ that MI5 was up to its neck in it all, but nothing had been proven and since that day MI5 had found the most favour with the Intelligence community’s political masters.

******

The black Jaguar pulled up in front of the anonymous concrete and glass portico of the Devereux designed, Century House building, on Westminster Bridge Road. The twenty storey, architecturally nondescript construction had been allocated to the SIS in nineteen sixty, they moved in during sixty four and more than twenty years on, the whole place was now in near overload. Eric exited the purring vehicle, thanked the driver, signed a sort of driver’s duty sheet and extricated his tan leather travelling case from the boot of the car. He pulled his newly acquired building pass out of his jacket pocket and hung it round his neck. He had only used it once before. The thick plastic card that held his photograph and a number of unintelligible codes was imprinted with some sort of magnetic strip that magically opened doors, made lifts work. The ‘Technos’ had been at it again. The card allowed the movements of the wearer to be monitored at all times whilst inside the building and recorded on some state of the art computer programme. Computers and Word Processors were beyond Eric’s normal span of interest, but over the last few years, the whole place had been littered with them resulting in just about one on every desk, in every office. Eric was a non-believer and preferred pen, paper and a simple ‘slide in the pocket’ calculator for all of his computing needs. He was a Dinosaur and freely admitted it.

The lift he was standing in front of made a ‘dinging’ noise and a light flashed above it as the doors slid open noiselessly. He moved forward followed by three or four others and hit the button for the tenth floor. Seconds later he was out of the lift and walking the labyrinth of dull grey carpeted corridors in search of room ten thirty three which was the office of the C2 Middle East Desk Controller. He slid his security card over a wall mounted reader and the door magically clicked open. The well equipped secretarial station, complete with computer and printer, potted plants and a coffee machine was manned by Sybil. She was best described as a nice lady of maturing years who had been with the Service for a long time, so long in fact, that she still referred to it in times of reflection, as did most aged civil servants in the building, as Box 850. Sybil looked up as her visitor entered. She was smiling happily as she got up from her seat and moved toward Eric, kissing him gently but affectionately on each cheek.

‘How lovely to see you again Eric, darling!’

‘Great to see you again too Sybil - how have you been these past few weeks?’

‘Oh fine - except for all the normal trouble and strife that goes on around here … I’m really in good shape. Will you be going down to Flimwell on this trip?’ It was a question she already knew the answer to as Eric always went to Sussex when his visited the UK.

‘Yes, absolutely Sybil, in fact I’m driving down tomorrow for a couple of days - and if you could arrange a car for me … that would be really appreciated’

‘Of course Eric, please give my regards to your mother … and you know who is waiting to see you’

Sybil, with a wry smile, pointed toward the inner office that housed the controller of the C2 desk, Edward StJohn Briars. Edward always liked to be called ‘Edward’ and the ‘Saint John’ always had to be pronounced ‘Sin-gen’. He was a ‘Cat’ and had been a year below Eric at Eton. He had joined the Service two years later than Eric and was now two seniority grades above him. This reasonably meteoric elevation in civil service rank made little difference to their personal relationship, a relationship that both men considered to be a good one. Neither needed the money that automatically came with the job. Both were career agents of the Service, purely because they had never ever contemplated doing anything else.

The door to Edward’s office was ajar and a deep voice with a cut glass accent could be heard shouting ‘Come on in Algy old boy’ and then there was laughter from both the Controller’s office and Sybil. Using ‘Algy’ was a wind up that had been in place for all the years they had known one another and made Eric smile childishly as he kissed Sybil one more time on the cheek and entered Edward’s office.

‘Coffee Sybil!’ Edward shouted as Eric attempted to secure some level of comfort in the black leather and chrome armless chair waiting for him in front of his controller’s desk. He began the conversation.

‘So, my dear friend, how are things in the bright, beautiful and sunny climes of the Arabian Gulf?’

‘Absolute crap Edward … and you know it’ Eric replied as a further dry smile passed between them. They had only met face to face about a month previously when Eric Saunders had been summoned to the UK for one of the regular field agents briefings about events in the Gulf War and some disturbing updates on Russian activities in Afghanistan. The two men took several minutes to catch up on the recent activities, including promotions and some demotions of mutual friends and when the second pot of coffee came, it was taken as a cue to get down to more serious business.

‘As you know, the reason I have called you here Eric is for you to tell me what you know of the activities of this Declan Doyle character in Abu Nar’

‘To be totally frank Edward, I don’t really know a lot. I have spoken to our man Paddy Doherty who tells me that he has nothing concrete except that Doyle is trying to put together some sort of oil shipping scheme based out of Kharg Island for the Iranians. However, as we well know, Paddy is not the most reliable source we’ve ever had and would sell his own mother for the right price. He may actually know more that he’s letting on. It’s all in my regular reports somewhere’

‘Is it worth oiling the wheels a little with some hard cash do you think?

‘Well, for all I know these two bloody Irishmen might be cooking up some story or other, just to get the result you are suggesting.’

Edward looked hard at his friend for a few seconds before replying.

‘Perhaps you didn’t know Eric, but there is only one Irishman involved here, the other used to be one of ours’

‘Yes, I know. Paddy used to be a ‘Gung’ who had a reputation for being a bit sly and probably untrustworthy. When we eased him out, there was a fairly substantial sigh of relief in some quarters’

‘No. I mean Doyle. He used to be one of ours’

‘What?’ exclaimed Saunders who was slightly taken aback.

‘He was a ‘Techno’. Ex RAF reconnaissance, trained further at Bletchley Park. He was in to communications, microwaves and all that sort of stuff, and seemingly good at it too. He had a cover with a major UK telecommunications company. We sent him in to Nigeria in sixty eight during the Biafra affair. The rebels were taking out the government communications installations we had only installed a few years previously. Doyle was sent in as a civilian expert to try and keep communications in that god forsaken hole running. He had been involved with the initial project and knew his way round the country and the system. No body guards, no SAS, just a low profile approach that he insisted on. No one on either side was supposed to know of his connection to us.

Unfortunately circumstances overtook him when rebel troops raided across the river Niger to Okwe and dragged him back to Onitsha. The bridge had been blown from the first day of the war and no one from the government side had the stomach to mount a raid to get him back. As far as they were concerned, he was a European Mercenary and it didn’t help that he was captured with a band of Belgians who were being paid by the Government to protect the district leader.

They beat the shit out of him for several months before we knew where he was. He eventually got out, putting a few to bed in the process, but he was really pissed off. He accused us of all sorts of things, some of which were probably true knowing the politics of the situation; oil supplies and all that. It was a messy affair and any connection between Doyle and the Service has been scraped’.

Eric leaned back a little further into the creaking, stretching, leather look fabric of the sparsely upholstered settee as he considered what had just been said. Being ‘scraped’, as far as Saunders knew, meant that every single piece of data linking an individual to the Service had been erased. This person did not exist and had never existed as far as MI6 or MI5 were concerned. But that obviously didn’t apply to individuals of a certain rank, as Edward seemed to know all about the man. Eric was a little confused and somewhat annoyed. He needed to know the history of every character of interest residing, or even passing through his ‘patch’ and in this case he now knew he had been kept completely in the dark.

‘So Edward … if this ‘ex-Techno’ has been scraped, why are you telling me all this?’

‘Because … I want you to understand the level of the man Eric. He is not even Irish. His family go back eons and are directly traceable to the seventeen seventies in Pennsylvania and then by boat back to the UK in the eighteen nineties. He hates any reference to an Irish background and that probably accounts for him and that drunken idiot Paddy Doherty, not getting on very well’.

‘He has no file then? It was a question.

‘No Eric, he has no file. All you need to know about him is what I’ve just told you’. Saunders fiddled with his tie for a moment. Edward knew it was a sign of irritation. Eric looked up after purposely clasping his hands together and spoke.

‘The next natural question my dear friend must be … what’s the interest here? Do we care about some sort of half assed project to help the Iranians get a few more barrels out of the Gulf? From where I’m sitting, they’ll need a bloody site more than a few barrels of oil to get them out of the shit they are in right now. Surely this farcical war cannot go on much longer with the Yanks backing the Iraqis and the Russians, so screwed up, they have a full time job keeping ‘Glasnost’ alive, troops in Afghanistan alive and the fires burning at home alive before planning to get in to world war three over a bunch of Muslim fanatics’.

‘We care my dear Eric, because we are the Secret Intelligence Service and it is our job to know what is going on in the big wide world. You are our man in the area and we want to be aware of the mechanics and the politics of any situation that involves British Nationals … and … as you have so succinctly put it … a bunch of Muslim fanatics!’

Eric Saunders got up from his incommodious seat and helped himself to another coffee. He remained standing.

‘You simply must do something about these bloody chairs and sofas old chap. They really are the most uncomfortable things to perch on’. The C2 Controller smiled inwardly as he also got up from his ‘comfortable’ mobile chair and poured another small back coffee from the simmering Pyrex glass jug.

‘Forget the chairs my old friend, get to work on this Doyle business. We do not want to interfere in any way - right now - but as you well know, policy is often liable to change and we want to be prepared. What is extremely important is for us to be comfortable in some sort of assurance that the CIA know no more about what is going on than we do. That’s all Eric … so I want you to have a nose around’

‘I know he’s been scraped, but do we have any background on this Doyle character al all?’

‘That is why I wanted you here. There are still some ‘Technos’ downstairs who knew him. Sybil has a list. I also want you to have a chat with Percy Wainwright on the C4 Western desk and Charles Bickerstaff on the C6 Africa desk. He’s been pretty active in both those areas in the past few years and has managed to accumulate a substantially larger amount of cash than he ever would have working for us’. He paused with a comical pained expression and both men grinned knowingly.

‘Build up a file and take it back with you. Get hold of Paddy and squeeze him a bit more. Have our commercial contacts in Abu Nar step up to the plate a bit. Let’s simply find out what the hell is going on’.

‘All right Edward, leave it to me. I’ll have something more detailed back to you within the next couple of weeks’

‘Good man’ Edward shook Eric’s hand. It was a sign that their short meeting was over.

‘Are you going down to Sussex now?

‘Yes, I think Sybil is conjuring up a car for me. I’m staying at my club tonight, do you fancy dinner? … bring Janice of course’

‘I most certainly do and Janice has kept today free hoping to see you … so no need to ‘ring home for permission’. Both men laughed out loud. Janice was Edward’s wife and she adored Eric.

‘So - around seven thirty then at - let me see - what about the Mon Plaisir in Covent Garden or -  maybe the Wellington Club in Knightsbridge?’

‘I think the Wellington old chap. Janice absolutely loves the little band there; simply couldn’t be better for both of us. See you in the upstairs bar at seven thirty or as near as I can get Janice to be ready … and no talking shop!’

A further smile passed between the two friends and work colleagues as Eric left the office.

*******************************