Chapter 9: KGM
Thursday July 30, 2026
Hereford Railway Station
Hereford, Herefordshire, England
Sarah sits next to Michael and looks out the window for a couple of minutes, tears streaming down her cheek.
“All right, mo ghile mear?” asks Michael, smiling.
“Thank you for introducing me to your men, mon amour,” says Sarah, wiping her eyes with a tissue. “I’ll miss those silly buggers.”
“It was an honour for them to meet you as well, you know,” says Michael seriously.
“Robert is awfully quiet, isn’t he?”
“Oh, we were all exactly like him during our first year in The Regiment, including myself. Like I told you when we first arrived at PATA, if you just switch on, keep your mouth shut, and listen to everyone, you’ll be all right. No one likes to hear him talk anyhow… if you catch what I mean,” says Michael, giving her a wink.
Sarah laughs. A lot of Brits would agree that the Brummie accent is the most unpleasant to hear compared to other British accents.
“One time, Robert was caught singing in the shower. So we recorded it and used it as our ringtone for a few weeks. He was never heard singing out loud again,” says Michael.
Sarah laughs even louder, imagining Robert being stitched by the others. Michael knows how to instantly cheer her up, making Sarah really hope that he is serious with her. She’s also still curious about Michael’s squadron.
“Was Robert from the Royal Marines or a Para like you?”
“Only George was from The Paras and he’s Senior NCO for Air Troop. Robert was from the Coldstream Guards. He used to be an Olympic swimmer so we placed him in Boat Troop after his Selection last year.”
“How about the Director and your CO? Which regiment did they come from?” asks Sarah.
“Sir Charles was originally from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and was once the OC of G Squadron. Cormac was from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and used to be the OC of B Squadron before I took it over.”
“What about Dave and Al?”
“Dave is the Senior NCO for Mobility Troop and he was from the King’s Royal Hussars. Al was from The Rifles and besides being the SSM, he’s also handling Mountain Troop because no one in that Troop is senior enough to become Senior NCO.”
“You have really good men under your command, Michael,” says Sarah.
“They are indeed,” Michael agrees. “So, what did they give you?”
Sarah opens the first package and just as she’d expected, she sees an SAS plaque. After opening the second package, Sarah laughs. It’s a framed picture of Sarah and B Squadron doing silly poses at Storey Arms after the Fan Dance. It’s filled with funny comments and a caption on the bottom says ‘Train hard, fight easy. Train easy, fight hard – and die’, which is the Training Wing’s motto.
Michael also laughs after seeing the photo. “Derek asked me to send a photo of you with the men of B Squadron. So that’s what it’s for.”
“Anyhow, thank you for the most amazing week I have ever experienced, mon amour,” says Sarah, giving him her adoring eyes.
Michael feels his heart drop down to his stomach being looked at by Sarah like that. He doesn’t answer and only kisses her lips softly.
“I think George is right. I should call you something else besides ’mon amour’,” says Sarah, smiling.
“What do you have in mind?”
“How about if I call you ’sayang’?”
“Sayang? Does that mean Biggus Dickus in Bahasa?” asks Michael with his cheeky grin.
Sarah gives him a hard pinch on his arm, but Michael laughs happily instead. “It means ‘my dear’, sayang.”
“It sounds lovely, mo ghile mear,” says Michael.
Sarah returns his smile, but then turns dead serious. “Michael, why?”
“Why what?” asks Michael, pretending to be confused.
“Why did the SAS give me lessons?”
“The Director gave you the reason. And you did save my life…”
“I don’t think that’s enough reason,” says Sarah, staring deep into his eyes.
“You even got a medal for it,” says Michael, obviously trying to evade her.
“The Military Cross is eligible only to members of the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth countries, and allied forces… Indonesia is not a member of the Commonwealth nor an ally,” says Sarah carefully.
“The Cartel’s drug factory is in your country and we’re fighting the same people. Whether it’s official or not, Indonesia is our ally in the war against narcoterrorism,” says Michael, still trying to evade her.
“And I’m police, not military.”
“I’m sure there are always exceptions. I guess that’s one of the plus points of having a member of the Royal Family as the DSF,” says Michael, shrugging. “Anyhow, you should know that everyone has been quite impressed with your performance these past few days, including the Director.”
“Really?” asks Sarah. She’s flattered, but can sense that Michael is trying change the subject.
“Like Al said, you would make an excellent troop commander someday and I agree with him,” says Michael.
“How do you know that?” asks Sarah.
“The men followed every command you gave them, right?”
“Indeed they did.”
“There you have it. It’s not easy commanding the very best chaps in this business, but they seem to follow your orders without question. You’re a natural born leader, Sarah!” praises Michael once again.
Sarah is happy being praised by her lover, who also happens to be a squadron commander of the finest special forces unit in the world… but there’s still something bothering her. She’s grateful for the training, but is curious why they gave it to her so readily.
“So… are there any reasons behind my training that you’re not telling me?”
Michael is exasperated with himself for not being able to change the subject. He thinks for a moment before answering her.
The Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) is the only unit in the UKSF Group that accepts women. Those female special forces operatives are especially effective in intelligence operations, but unproven in combat operations. Future combat operations will need them in the front lines, so the Director has plans to open all positions in the UKSF Group, including the Tier One Units, to women. In this case, His Majesty’s Armed Forces are behind other European armed forces, which already have women in their special forces units.
The Director’s plan met heavy resistance from most officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers in the UKSF Group, especially from the two Tier One Units, the SAS and SBS. They don’t believe that women could ever pass Selection, follow their rigorous training, adapt with the men, or be aggressive in battle. They think that women in the Tier One Units would be liabilities instead of assets. Sir Charles needs someone who can prove them otherwise and found that someone in Sarah when Michael debriefed him regarding their actions in Ireland and Manchester. The Director was impressed knowing Sarah managed to kill fourteen narcoterrorists on her own. He was thoroughly impressed when Michael told him that Sarah managed to kill Tiny Mullins with just a pen! Sir Charles once knew Tiny Mullins when Tiny was still active in the Army Ranger Wing because they routinely train with the SAS. The Director then ordered Michael and Al to train Sarah to see whether she could keep up with them. Basically, these two days have been a kind of Selection for Sarah, even though she doesn’t have to know it.
Sir Charles was extremely satisfied when Sarah far exceeded their expectations. Sarah managed to finish the Fan Dance faster than anyone predicted and could follow Al’s instructions better than most. He watched the footage that Cormac took from PATA and was impressed with her performance. There were quite a few female soldiers tough enough to pass Selection, but so far, they had all failed to adapt themselves to the SAS culture. Only Sarah seemed able to adapt herself easily and had been well-received by the men.
Although Sarah will not be invited to join the SAS, the Director has at least proven that one day, women can be accepted by the ranks of the SAS. If an Indonesian policewoman can do it, the Director is sure that one day, a British female soldier can do it also. Sir Charles has reminded Michael and Al that his plans are still confidential and forbidden them to tell Sarah about it. Michael wishes he could tell Sarah, but he cannot. He must be careful with what he says, because Sarah is nobody’s fool.
Michael decides to take a chance. “There are other reasons indeed. However, the Director has made it clear to me that his reasons are strictly confidential,” he says, looking deep into her eyes.
Sarah gives him an understanding smile and Michael looks relieved. Sarah understands because she herself has lots of secrets. She has several times conducted special operations unknown by the media that she cannot discuss with anyone, including her family. Densus-88 is mostly an antiterrorist unit, which tries to prevent terror acts before they happen. Whereas counterterrorist units are deployed after a terror act has happened, antiterrorist units like Densus-88 pre-emptively try to arrest the terrorist suspects and ‘handle’ them before they commit their terror. Antiterrorist operations must be kept classified so that the methods of Densus-88 and other intelligence units in tracking and ‘handling’ terrorist suspects are not uncovered by the media and the public.
Sarah realizes that Michael, as a member of a special forces unit, must have lots of secrets like herself. She can accept Michael’s answer and is glad he hasn’t lied to her. This turns out to be the best for both of them.
‘Right, that’s it! I am definitely in love with this woman,’ thinks Michael, taking a deep breath. “Sarah, I am very much in love with you. H-H-How about… ehm… how about if I invite you to my house in Belfast sometime… so I can introduce you to my parents?”
“That would be lovely, sayang!” answers Sarah, her eyes gleaming.
“Splendid,” says Michael, looking relieved.
The train inspector approaches them and asks for their tickets. After the he leaves, Sarah finally begins her interrogation. “And what’s the story with you and Sheila?”
Michael can’t help but tense up again on hearing Sarah say the name of his ex-girlfriend.
“We broke up a long time ago, but she wouldn’t let go of me for some reason. This afternoon, she told me that she still loves me very much and wants me back. She’s also willing to resign from the military so she can be with me. But I told her that I’m already very much in love with you,” answers Michael seriously.
“Why would she have to resign from the military?” asks Sarah, frowning.
“Well, I’m an officer and she’s a Lance-Corporal. In His Majesty’s Armed Forces, it’s considered a sin for officers to have relationships with the ranking members,” explains Michael, giving her a cheeky grin.
Sarah nods and she finally understands what Al meant a few hours ago. Romance between an officer and the ranking members is strictly prohibited. Even dating is not allowed. But Michael’s explanation only makes Sarah extremely jealous because it turns out there’s a beautiful woman still in love with her partner!
“Did you love her?” asks Sarah, giving Michael a look so deadly that it makes him almost fear for his life!
“I… ehm… wasn’t actually in love… but I felt a sort of tender curiosity,” quotes Michael, giving her a forced smile.
“That’s a load of bullshit, F. Scott Fitzgerald!” says Sarah sharply, but then tries hard not to laugh.
Michael grins sheepishly. He should’ve known better than to try to bluff his way out of the situation by quoting something from ‘The Great Gatsby’.
“I once had feelings for her, mo ghile mear, but she’s now ancient history,” says Michael, smiling. “You don’t have to worry about her.”
“But she’s very pretty and very sexy,” says Sarah.
“Indeed, but she’s a bit of a bitch. As you saw yourself, she’s also a drama queen. She’s also high maintenance, demanding, possessive, artificial, and she asks too many questions. She has unsophisticated tastes, so I didn’t really connect with her when we were dating.”
“She has a perfect body,” comments Sarah.
Michael has to admit that Sarah is right, but he doesn’t know how to respond to that so he wisely keeps his mouth shut.
“I would’ve loved to kiss those abs and bite into her delicious outie though…” continues Sarah.
Michael is so shocked that his jaw drops to the floor! For a few seconds, he can only swallow and clear his throat a few times.
“S-S-Sarah… ehm… h-h-have you… you know… mmm… ever d-d-done it… ehm… w-w-with another w-w-woman… b-b-before?” stammers Michael.
“Of course I have,” answers Sarah, sounding as though it’s nothing unusual.
Michael’s jaw drops once again and his eyes become unfocused. Sarah tries hard not to laugh because her lover looks like a complete dickhead.
“Do you want me to tell you about it?” asks Sarah, teasing him even further.
It takes a while for Michael to react. “I don’t think I would be able to survive that story right now.”
Michael takes Sarah and kisses her passionately. Unfortunately for Michael, they can’t do it inside the train and must wait until they reach Sarah’s flat.
Friday July 31, 2026
Central Park, Manchester, England
The next day, they enter the Interpol area and everyone gives them a standing ovation. Sarah is embarrassed, but Michael takes it in his stride. They walk towards their commander’s office, shaking hands with their teammates.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t pick up the phone, pet,” says Paul while shaking her hand. “I was in the shower.”
“No problem, Paul,” says Sarah, smiling. Already the experience in Carluccio’s feels like a lifetime ago.
Broussard’s secretary immediately lets them into his office after shaking their hands.
“Good morning, Chief,” they greet.
Broussard looks much better than the last time they saw him. He rises from his chair to shake their hands. “Good morning indeed. I didn’t have the chance to thank you both for a job well done,” he says, motioning for them to sit down. “How’s your arm, Sarah?”
“Optimum, Chief,” answers Sarah.
“That’s good to hear. Anyhow, both of your AARs coincide with the action captured by Carluccio’s cameras. They have CCTV cameras in the dining area and in the kitchen. Although the two of you initiated the firefight, the authorities have all cleared you both of any wrongdoings and has judged your actions to be ‘lawful killing’. Here are your weapons,” says Broussard, giving them back their weapons.
Sarah is happy receiving her Smith & Wesson knife and HK P2000 pistol. Michael also looks happy receiving his two Sig Sauers. Although their pistols are obviously empty, they both do a chamber check before stowing them.
“Of the twenty-four people that tried to assassinate you, two of them got away and twenty-two were killed…”
“I beg your pardon,” cuts in Sarah. “Was it not twenty-three people?”
“You killed thirteen, Michael killed nine, and two men got away. A few minutes after you shot Steve Dunbar, he got up and joined the fight at the kitchen door. He and Seamus Fitzgerald then buggered off after they ran out of ammo. This happened just before you took on Donald Mullins.”
“Verdomme!” curses Sarah in Dutch. “Steve must’ve also been wearing body armour.”
“Indeed, Sarah. Anyhow, Paul managed to identify all the other players you killed and they are all core members of The Cartel. We have never apprehended any core members of The Cartel but you two have, incredibly, managed to kill twenty-two of them in a single night. This incident is a major blow to their organization as this is also the first time one of their senior members has been killed. We have to be on the alert for further possible retaliation so please remember your tradecraft and bring extra mags this time,” orders Broussard sternly to Sarah.
Sarah can only smile and nod. She has already sent a text to her dad and he has promised to send her four more HK mags by way of diplomatic courier. She has also decided to hang on to the Glock as her main sidearm.
“James said that he and Paul have just finished analyzing the phones the players carried, so you should see them right after this, all right?” orders Broussard.
They both nod.
“The unanswered question is how they managed to locate you at Carluccio’s. They didn’t immediately take the bait from your reconnaissance by fire tactic, but they somehow tracked you to Carluccio’s and then ambushed you there. They’re good and I want to know how they did it. The worst-case scenario is that there’s a leak in our team, which is unlikely, or from your parent units or the GMP, which is maybe the most likely. This is the main reason I have asked everyone to limit your interactions with the GMP. Now, though, I have no choice but to involve the GMP’s ‘Y’ Department so they can help investigate this.”
Michael frowns when Broussard tells them the leak is most likely from their parent units. He seems uncomfortable with the fact that someone from the SAS could betray him. Sarah also can’t imagine someone from Indonesia leaking her identity to The Cartel, but understands that they must investigate every possibility.
“Contact your respective commanders and ask them to investigate this. All right?” orders Broussard.
Both nod and make notes on their tablets.
“We have to assume the worst, that The Cartel now knows your name, address, and smartphone number. Remember that if someone has given your phone number to The Cartel, they can easily track you with it. As an extra precaution, I recommend both of you change your phone numbers and move into new flats.”
Both nod again.
“Now, the two of you also saved many lives that day, so I have recommended both of you for a George Medal. As expected, my superiors have downgraded this to a King’s Gallantry Medal, which has been expeditiously approved by the Home Secretary. Even though it’s not the medal I think you deserve, it’s still a great honour, and Sarah’s investiture by His Majesty King William the Fifth is scheduled for next year at Buckingham Palace.”
Sarah is happily surprised that she will be invested with another medal and gets the chance to meet King William V. She imagines taking her whole family and, who knows, maybe Cindy can meet Prince George.
“However, due to complications regarding Michael’s status as a member of the SAS, his medal will be sent to his Colonel-in-Chief, which happens to be Prince Harry. Michael’s investiture by Prince Harry will be held at a different time and place. Both of you are entitled to use the post-nominal letters of KGM.”
Sarah’s now disappointed she won’t receive the medal with her partner. It turns out that this is impossible because investitures to the SAS are always done in secret, just like when the Director invested her with the MC. Sarah gives Michael a disappointed look, but he doesn’t seem to care and only shrugs. As a highly decorated British Army officer, he must be used to being invested with medals.
“Which do I put first after my name?” asks Sarah to Michael. “KGM or MC?”
“MC?” asks Broussard.
“The Director Special Forces has invested her with a Military Cross for saving my life at Carluccio’s, Chief,” explains Michael, his eyes gleaming with pride.
“That’s bloody marvelous! Congratulations, Sarah!” exclaims Broussard, very much impressed.
“Thank you, Chief,” says Sarah proudly.
“And to answer your question, you should put MC first and then KGM,” explains Broussard further.
“Like George said, you have a cool name now; Inspector Incontinentia Buttocks, MC, KGM,” says Michael, giving her his cheeky grin.
Sarah gives him a hard punch to his shoulder and pouts at him.
“Pardon?” asks their commander, pointedly.
“Nothing, Chief,” they both answer.
Broussard frowns at their behaviour. The two people in front of him are from Gen Z, the latest generation to enter the workplace. They are usually descendants of Gen X-ers, like Broussard. Gen Z-ers like Sarah and Michael are mostly raised by affluent Gen X-ers, which has enabled those Gen Z-ers to choose a career that fits their talent and passion. Because of this, they’re not particularly concerned about the salary they receive as long as they love what they’re doing. This also tends to mean they’re extremely skilled in their chosen profession.
Gen Z-ers are also notoriously hard to control and they have their own way of doing things. They can be, and often are, insolent towards the older generations. What’s worse is that Gen Z-ers know that the older generations need them more than the other way around.
“And now I must insist both of you seek an appointment with the GMP’s inhouse psychologist for counseling. That incident at Carluccio’s must have been quite traumatic and the last thing I need is my team members having PTSD,” suggests Broussard.
“We’re all right, Chief. We have our own way of dealing with combat stress,” says Michael.
“Really?” says Broussard sceptically.
“Oh, indeed. Alcohol, exercise, and sex, not necessarily in that order, always helps,” answers Michael with his cheeky grin. “You should try at least one of them, Chief.”
Sarah tries hard to stifle her laugh, but fails miserably.
“Fuck off, you cheeky bastard!” curses Broussard, glowering at him. “I know you two spent your vacation together, but I trust both of you to keep your relationship professional on this mission. Is that clear?”
“Sure, Chief,” answers Michael, still grinning.
Sarah only nods sheepishly.
“Now bugger off… both of you!” says Broussard, curtly dismissing them.
They both exit the office, giggling all the way out, making Broussard roll his eyes. They pass Paul and James on the way to their cubicle, and invite them to a meeting room.
“The Chief said you’ve analysed their smartphones,” says Michael.
“Aye and it seems that their calls converged at a place in Inishowen, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland,” answers James.
“Right, how about we assemble the team to propose a plan of action for the Chief?” invites Michael.
“I’ll call the others,” says Sarah.
After the other team members arrive, James and Paul present their findings. Basically, all call and text records from their smartphones have been analysed by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The calls and texts can be traced to a place called Buncrana, Inishowen, County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. It turns out that Liz knows the place because she was originally from Inishowen before moving to Dublin.
“That place in Buncrana was once called Swan’s Mill and it was used to generate electricity for the city. The Town Council must have sold it to The Cartel. I’ll check with Garda HQ,” says Liz, already texting on her smartphone.
“Is there any way we can get confirmation without alerting them?” asks Arthur. “Remember, we have to assume that they have the local politicians and Garda members under their control.”
“How about a recce by the Garda intelligence unit?” suggests Matt.
Liz shakes her head. “I could contact the head of the Garda NSU, but I don’t think they will want to do this one. Too many of their members have been compromised, snatched, and then killed by The Cartel.”
“Hoo about Clive and the Garda ERU?” suggests Paul.
“Same thing, Paul. Look, the Garda can handle the dealers, but not The Cartel with their army training and automatic weapons. They will most likely take heavy casualties,” says Liz.
“Any suggestions?” asks Matt.
“I would suggest the Chief recommend the Irish government initiate MACP. The Irish Defence Force, or maybe the British Armed Forces, could then conduct the recce and/or the assault. That decision, however, is up to the politicians,” says Liz.
Everyone nods in agreement. If this place is the Cartel HQ, the Garda would be in over their heads. Even the Army Ranger Wing probably can’t handle them, given their lack of experience in special operations. Liz is right, there’s a big chance that the Irish government will ask military assistance from His Majesty’s Government.
Liz’s smartphone suddenly goes off, indicating an incoming text. “Right, Swan’s Mill was sold five years ago to a person called Finn Langely.”
“And we all know that Finn Langely is one of Rory Hanrahan’s aliases. Good job, Liz!” says Arthur. “Right, does everyone agree that this place is their headquarters?”
“It could be their headquarters, a drug factory, or just a distribution centre. And we can’t assume anything unless we do a recce, which will have to be conducted by the military,” says Michael. “For the military to have authority to conduct a recce, the Chief should first recommend the Irish government initiate MACP. Now, do we have enough evidence for the Chief to submit this recommendation to the Irish government?”
Everyone thinks hard for a moment and then they all nod in agreement. Paul invites Broussard into the meeting and James presents their findings. Once they’ve answered all their commander’s sharp questions, he approves all their recommendations. Broussard then must coordinate with his superiors to suggest to the government of the Republic of Ireland that they initiate MACP.
A couple of weeks later, the Government of Ireland becomes the second country in the world to initiate the MACP during the War on Narcoterrorism.