The Policewoman

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Chapter 11: Fish & Chips

12:02 GMT

Wednesday August 19, 2026

Pontrilas Army Training Area

Pontrilas, Herefordshire, England

In a remote area of PATA, an accurate mock-up of Swan’s Mill stands majestic. Alwyn and the Army Ranger Wing have been training there since it was built. In the upcoming operation, they will replace the Special Forces Support Group securing the target’s immediate surroundings. Their job won’t be too complicated, but Cormac has asked Alwyn to train for the assault based on his original assault plan. Cormac said that because Michael’s plan carries enormous risks, the Army Ranger Wing must be ready to assault Swan’s Mill as a contingency.

An assault should always have a Plan B, a Plan C and so on to ensure mission success. Alwyn’s delighted his Rangers are being given a more significant role than merely cordoning the target. They train hundreds of times, perfecting their entry until they’ve convinced themselves they could pull off the assault with or without the SAS.

Rumours of the Army Ranger Wing training for an assault have spread throughout PATA. A day before the assault, everyone at PATA is invited to the mock-up to watch the Army Ranger Wing train. They execute the mock assault flawlessly, but Cormac orders them to keep on training until otherwise directed. Alwyn and Emmet don’t see the point in this and think it’s a waste of time. Nevertheless, Cormac is the boss. Alwyn and Emmet fly to RAF Odiham to attend the final briefing and half of the Rangers fly to Derry, leaving the other half to continue training at PATA.

The Cartel’s contact also watches the mock assault and instantly recognizes the three distinct buildings of Swan’s Mill, and worries Swan’s Mill is about to be assaulted by the Army Ranger Wing. Everyone watches the mock assault until their lunch break is over.

“Let’s head back to the demolition range, shall we?” invites the contact to a teammate.

“Sure, Sin,” answers the teammate, looking at his friend quizzically. For some reason, his friend suddenly has an Irish accent.

The contact wants to tell Patrick the news immediately, but can’t. First everyone must go straight to training.

13:22 GMT

Wednesday August 19, 2026

Lough Swilly Marina

Fahan, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Muireann de Buitléir, Seamus Fitzgerald, and six other men are preparing to pick up their goods in the North Atlantic Sea. Once her boat is on her way to the RV (rendezvous), Muireann takes off her clothes to sunbathe on the boat’s deck wearing a blue bikini. As usual, her men find places to sit around nearby and watch her sunbathe. Muireann likes being stared at by her men and it’s good for her ego. They wouldn’t dare touch her anyway.

Muireann has a husband and a step-child from her husband’s first wife. She has no kids of her own and that’s the way she prefers it. She’s immensely proud of her step-child and the two of them love each other very much. Muireann is almost fifty, but has a body that’s firmer and fitter than most women half her age. Her stomach is lean and flat, thanks to the diving. If she weren’t so busy with her factory, she would do nothing but dive around Lough Swilly and hang out with her distributors. Her previous job in the Royal Navy suited her hobby but, unfortunately, it didn’t pay as well as drug smuggling.

13:38 GMT

Wednesday August 19, 2026

Four Seasons Hotel – Hampshire

Dogmersfield, Hampshire, England

Michael and Sarah are in bed in the Grand Manor Room of the Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire, near Odiham. Sarah is lying on her back wearing nothing but denim shorts. Michael can’t stop his hands from touching his lover’s firm body. Sarah ignores him as she watches BBC on the telly with her hands behind her head.

Although he tries not to show it, Sarah knows that Michael is anxious about the mission. Sarah understands because she often feels the same way before a mission. A commander of a unit bears a lot of responsibility. Besides being responsible for the success of the mission, a commander is also responsible for the safety of their men. For a commander, no feeling is worse than failing a mission and/or losing someone under his or her command. Fortunately, this has never happened to Sarah. She has never failed a mission and has always brought all her men back in one piece.

On the other hand, there’s nothing more satisfying for a commander than successfully accomplishing a mission without casualties. Sarah’s always proud of herself and her men when they apprehend suspects without injuries on either side. Successes like that require meticulous planning and hard work, and Sarah’s at her happiest when everything goes exactly as planned.

Even though Michael is going into harm’s way, Sarah is not too worried. She was involved in the planning stages and can clearly see that they’ve done everything that can be done to ensure a successful operation. Sarah remembers her mum and feels sorry for her, for having to watch Sarah’s dad deploy on missions without any idea what to expect.

Sarah glances towards Michael, who looks lost in thought. She feels sorry for him because he’s getting tenser by the minute. Sarah guides Michael’s head towards her abs and he kisses her there, but without the usual enthusiasm.

Sarah decides to help him relax. “You know, this reminds me of the time I did it with another woman…”

Michael makes a choking sound and looks at Sarah. Now he’s all ears! “How did the story go?”

Sarah smiles. Her plan is working. “Well, the team at Densus came up with a plan to infiltrate the drug trafficking operations in the entertainment business using undercover policewomen posing as models. They selected some of the better-looking girls from the unit and sent us to a hotel to attend a modelling class, to learn how to look the part.”

“That sounds like an excellent plan,” comments Michael.

“Anyhow, we had to be quarantined at the hotel throughout the week-long course to maintain our cover, and the budget only stretched so far, which meant we were sharing rooms. My roommate was unbelievably attractive. Such a gorgeous girl. And we happened to have the same exercise routine, so we got in the habit of doing our daily crunches together.”

“You crunched together? That’s good. It’s important to stay fit.”

“One night after class, we had a contest to see who could do the most crunches. We were both similar, very competitive, and we had to stop after about 2,000 crunches as it became evident that neither of us were going to quit. My roommate then proposed something else, an abs-punching contest, to see who could last the longest.”

“Ahh… A girl-on-girl fight… Dave would’ve loved that…”

“So we took off our shirts and started pounding each other in the abs a few hundred times. I can’t remember exactly what happened next, but we were so hot and high from all the exercise that we started kissing.”

“What was that? C-C-Could you say it again?”

Sarah laughs. “We started kissing. So, of course, one thing led to another, and then it finally happened.”

Michael keeps looking at Sarah with wide eyes. “D-d-did you… both of you… y-y-you know… ehm… enjoy it?”

“Of course we did. I loved kissing her abs and she loved doing the same to me. The 69 position seems the best way to do this sort of thing. From there, we started kissing the… ehm… more erogenous parts of our bodies.”

Michael gulps and almost chokes to death when she says that.

“We were both very fit girls so the orgasms were never-ending. We just kept coming and coming and coming.” Sarah has to work hard not to laugh. Michael’s face is changing colour! “We repeated it every night until we had to return to our unit but then we both agreed there was something missing from the experience.” Of course, the truth of the affair was less exciting, less dramatic. But Michael seems to have enjoyed the story.

A few minutes later, Michael has already forgotten why he was feeling so anxious just a short while earlier.

14:30 GMT

Wednesday August 19, 2026

Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing HQ, RAF Odiham

Odiham, Hampshire, England

The final briefing is at the HQ of the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing (JSFAW). Everyone in B Squadron is excited because it’s rare for a special operation to require a full squadron.

The scale of this operation also involves the entire M Squadron and elements from Z Squadron of the Special Boat Service. M Squadron specializes in maritime counterterrorism and ship-boarding operations. They’re also experts in helicopter assaults. These skills will be needed to secure MV Báinigh. Sarah and Liz’s eyes open a little wider when they’re introduced to the OC of M Squadron, Major Mark Johnston, a handsome man who looks like Il Divo singer Sebastien Izambard.

Besides the SAS and SBS, who are already in their black kit, no one in the room is wearing uniform. Everyone has arrived ahead of the designated time so Cormac starts the briefing.

“Ladies and gentlemen! For the Preliminaries: Operation Rowman, the recce of the target to determine its status, has concluded. We’ve determined that the stronghold is a DMP and distribution centre of MDMA for the Irish Drug Cartel. We can now proceed with Operation Crankshaft, which is the assault phase. Operation Crankshaft will be a textbook ‘fish and chips’ operation involving the entire B Squadron, who are currently ‘On The Team’, the entire M Squadron and elements from Z Squadron of the SBS, the Irish Navy, the usual support elements, and the Army Ranger Wing, who will be replacing the role of SFSG for this operation...”

Cormac continues the Preliminaries, the Situation, and finally the Mission.

“Our Mission is to ‘shoot-to-kill’ all members of the Irish Drug Cartel at Swan’s Mill, Swan’s Tide, and MV Báinigh. I say again, our Mission is to ‘shoot-to-kill’ all members of the Irish Drug Cartel at Swan’s Mill, Swan’s Tide, and MV Báinigh.”

After Cormac states the Mission, its Michael’s turn to continue. The Execution is presented in phases, but the gist of the plan is as follows:

Swan’s Mill is codenamed Bravo, Swan’s Tide is Charlie, and MV Báinigh is Delta. All three targets will be assaulted almost simultaneously. Operation Crankshaft will commence at 01:30 GMT, which is the same time a 737-700 aeroplane from Ryanair is scheduled to pass low right over Bravo. The sound of the low-flying aeroplane can mask the sound of the two Chinook HC6 helicopters that will deliver Air Troop.

Half of Air Troop, under the direct command of Michael Adrian, will enter through the windows of the top floor of the first building. At the same time, the rest of Air Troop, led by George Hastings, will assault the second building. The shield roofs of Swan’s Mill prevent them from landing on the roof, so Air Troop will use the Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction (SPIE) method when dangling below the heli to place the frame charges.

These past few weeks, every morning at 01:30 GMT, a convoy of lorries from Coyles Arro has passed Swan’s Mill. On the day of the assault, they will be replaced by four Land Rover 110s, each containing members of Mobility Troop, led by David Bancroft, the Senior NCO of Mobility Troop. Alwyn Buckley and the Army Ranger Wing will escort Mobility Troop from the front and rear of the convoy. Mobility Troop will stop in front of Bravo to secure the road-side of the buildings. Each ‘pinkie’ will be equipped with two General Purpose Machine Guns and they’re tasked with providing suppressive fire from the road. Across the river, twelve men from Mountain Troop will infil from the forest and they’re tasked with providing suppressive fire from across the river. Mountain Troop will also be led by Dave. Al Spencer, the most experienced EOD specialist in B Squadron, will abseil into Swan’s Mill and lead the rest of Mountain Troop, with their EOD adquals, to dispose of any explosives found in Swan’s Mill.

A 4-man team from Boat Troop, led by Pierce McGregor, will assault Swan’s Tide once the assault on Swan’s Mill is underway. Swan’s Tide location is unpredictable and when the assault on Swan’s Mill commences, Pierce has to be ready to assault her anywhere. Twelve men of Boat Troop, led by Robert Covington, will enter from the underwater access tunnel. They must be in position before 01:29 GMT, because everything needs to coincide with the low-flying aeroplane at 01:30. They have a tough job because they need to swim upstream toward Bravo laden down with weapons and ammo. Unfortunately for his team, river conditions make it impossible to swim downstream towards their target.

Michael’s briefing is supplemented by Mark. All of M Squadron and four sniper teams from Z Squadron, both under the command of Mark Johnston, will assault MV Báinigh once Swan’s Tide has been secured. The SBS squadron consists of the 4 Troop, 5 Troop, 6 Troop, and HQ Troop. HQ and 5 Troop will assault MV Báinigh from the air (helicopter assault). At the same time, 4 and 6 Troop will assault the ship from the sea (seaborne assault). Four sniper teams from Z Squadron led by their SSM, each in an AW159 Wildcat heli, will cover M Squadron during their assault. M Squadron has the most challenging job because they need to search every inch of the ship to kill The Cartel members inside it. They will receive intel on what The Cartel members look like when they throw their goods overboard towards Swan’s Tide.

Once Mark is finished, Michael continues the briefing. All assault troops will use the Colt Canada C8 CQB carbine. The rifles will contain 5.56×45mm NATO FMJ (full metal jacket) ammo that can penetrate body armour, which they’re expecting the X-Rays to use. FMJ ammo can easily penetrate body armour, so nobody need worry about making headshots in the heat of the battle. They can save headshots for finishing them off.

They must assume that the X-Rays will be using assault rifles (longs) to defend their factory, so all assault troops are obliged to wear body armour and ceramic plates, capable of stopping high velocity rifle rounds. During the Chinese parliament a few days ago, Robert and Pierce protested that ceramic plates would be too heavy for them to carry during the dive. But Michael insisted and finally ordered them to wear it. Despite his direct order, Robert and Pierce still don’t agree with him, and they considered not following his order. During the assault, Michael won’t know whether they’re wearing one or not anyway.

Michael is giving everyone a thoroughly professional briefing. As Sarah predicted, there are absolutely no signs of anxiety or doubts in his presentation. Quite unlike his previous presentations at Interpol, which tended to be clownish, Michael has presented the Execution and Command for the mission with such authority and power that Sarah’s heart starts racing. Sarah has never seen Michael like this before! Now she can finally appreciate that her lover is truly a squadron commander of the finest special forces unit in the world. She can’t take her eyes off him and even feels herself getting aroused, especially when Michael looks particularly dashing in his black kit.

Sarah suddenly realizes why women are easily attracted to Michael. She’s seldom known anyone who has the aura, charisma, and voice of a leader. Those men who can portray that much power certainly attract women, who can imagine them as generals, CEOs, or even presidents. This aura is called command presence, and Sarah has never witnessed someone with a command presence as powerful as Michael before.

After almost an hour, Michael finally starts to brief the Support, which reaffirms the role of the supporting units for this mission. Sarah is still looking at her partner with awe and his voice is having quite an effect on her.

“Graham!” says Michael.

Wing Commander Graham Mitchell stands to attention. “Sir!”

“Your call sign is Juliet. The Air Troop, a 4-man team from Mountain Troop, four sniper teams from Z Squadron, and the HQ and 5 Troop from M Squadron will directly deploy from RAF Odiham. Could the JSFAW please provide heli transport for the respective teams to assault Bravo and Delta?” orders Michael.

“Yes, sir!” answers the CO of JSFAW. He stands at ease.


Leifteanant-Cheannasaí Nigel O’ Tierney stands to attention in the manner of the Irish Navy. “Sir!”

“Your call sign is November. The 4 and 6 Troop from M Squadron will deploy from LÉ Niamh. Could you please provide transport and have the crew of LÉ Niamh halt and inspect Delta after M Squadron has secured it?”

“Aye aye, sir!” answers the liaison officer from the Irish Navy. He stands at ease.


Leifteanant-Choirnéal Alwyn Buckley stands to attention in the manner of the Irish Army. “Sir!”

“Your call sign is Romeo. The Army Ranger Wing will substitute the SFSG on this mission and you will also provide sniper support for the assault on Bravo. Could you please escort Mobility Troop and cordon Bravo to make sure no X-Rays escape, and to ensure no civilians, especially the media, enter cordon areas immediately before, during, and after the assault?”

“Aye, sir!” says the CO of the Army Ranger Wing. He stands at ease.


Major Simon Stilwell stands to attention. “Sir!”

“Your call sign is India and you will be stationed at the FOB. We have just received intel that three crewmembers of Delta are currently throwing bags of goods overboard and these goods are being taken aboard Charlie by their crew. During the assault, could you please provide real time intel support on all three targets using UAVs before and during the assault?”

“Yes, sir!” says the officer from the 21st Regiment, Special Air Service (Artists Rifles). He stands at ease.


Lieutenant-Colonel Desmond Aldridge stands to attention. “Sir!”

“Your call sign is Zero-Alpha and you will be stationed at the FOB. Could you please lead the other scaleys in providing signals & IT support for the whole operation?”

“Yes, sir!” says the CO of the 18 UKSF Signals Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals. He stands at ease.

“All right then. We will also need the Interpol team to provide INT support for the slimes at the FOB using the fixed cameras installed during the recce and to monitor the Active RFID and the bugs at Charlie. Sarah, please support India on this. Your call sign is Echo. After Bravo, Charlie, and Delta have been secured, could you please immediately lead the Interpol team in conducting the SSE for all three targets?” asks Michael.

Unconsciously, Sarah stands to attention in the INP manner. “Yes, sir!” she says in a husky voice.

Sarah tried to sound assertive, but sounded instead like a woman almost having an orgasm. Her eyes open wide as saucers and she immediately closes her mouth with both hands while everyone in the room starts laughing. Michael briefly looks as if he is stifling a laugh, but then his face hardens up again.

“Right, lads, you can take the piss out of her all you want after this is over. For now, let’s concentrate on our mission, shall we?” orders Michael, giving his men a piercing stare.

The laughter immediately ceases, which is harder for some than for others. Sarah’s face is so red that she’s worried it can’t return to normal.

Michael continues the briefing. “We know it would be better if we involved the local coppers on this right from the start, but we cannot risk a leak from anyone before the assault. Liz, could you please contact and brief the local Garda after all strongholds have been secured? We will also need Clive and the Garda ERU to support the Army Ranger Wing once Bravo and Charlie have been secured.”

“Sure, Major,” answers Liz, still trying hard not to laugh.

“Splendid! This concludes the mission briefing. Any questions?”

No one asks anything because the Five Paragraph Order ensures that everyone knows what their role is during the operation.

“Right, then, let’s do this the way we rehearsed it, but without the cock-ups. Carry on, lads,” orders Michael, closing the briefing.

Everyone scatters to take their positions. Liz and some of the others look Sarah’s way and try hard not to laugh. Sarah sighs to imagine the kind of slagging she’s going to have to suffer once this operation is over.

Everyone assigned to the Forward Operating Base flies to Derry. On the way there, Liz is still curious about something. “Mac, what the devil is a ‘fish & chips’ operation?”

Cormac smiles. “It’s an acronym for ‘Fighting In Someone’s House & Creating Havoc In People’s Streets’.”

Sarah and Liz laugh at their silly acronym, but it’s perfect for this operation.

16:02 GMT

Wednesday August 19, 2026

Pontrilas Army Training Area

Pontrilas, Herefordshire, England

During afternoon tea, The Cartel’s contact calls Patrick to tell him what’s going on. Patrick almost panics and asks his contact to tell him how the Army Ranger Wing will conduct their assault on Swan’s Mill. Patrick is relieved to find out their assault plan is exactly what Tiny predicted when he designed the defensive measures for Swan’s Mill. The Rangers will be slaughtered and everyone inside can escape easily. They’ll even get away with all their goods.

Patrick tells his contact to keep an eye on things and to immediately call him once training stops. Patrick then starts calling Muireann, but she doesn’t answer. He knows that Muireann is currently smuggling their goods and unavailable, but he has to keep trying. To protect the members of the top echelon, only Patrick has Muireann’s number and Muireann in turn has only his. Under normal circumstances, this keeps things safe for their operation, but it really hinders things if one of them can’t be reached. Patrick keeps trying to call Muireann and sends her text messages, but receives no reply.

Patrick gets extremely worried for Muireann.

19:49 GMT

Wednesday August 19, 2026

City Hotel – Derry

Derry City, County Derry, Northern Ireland

Sarah’s in the suite with Cormac, Liz, Des, Simon, and three men flying the UAVs. Sarah’s tasked with observing the live streaming from the Observation Posts to support Simon’s team. Her job is quite boring, but its importance is not and she does it with full concentration.

Sarah can see that the people of Swan’s Mill are going about their business as usual. Four men go out to shop and fifty or so men go out to smoke as scheduled. Through the bugs planted by Boat Troop, Swan’s Tide is anchored at Lough Swilly near the mouth of the River Owenkillew. Through a Thales Watchkeeper UAV, remotely flown by one of Simon’s men, they can see three people and Muireann resting on the boat. Through the underwater sensors planted by Boat Troop, they can trace the other four men as they smuggle their goods. Those four men are now nearing the boat. All this information is conveyed to Cormac, who forwards it to the field commanders. A few hours earlier, the UAV tracking MV Báinigh photographed the three men on board who threw the goods overboard to Swan’s Tide. The pictures have been sent to Mark, who has forwarded them to all his men. Every member of M Squadron and the sniper teams from Z Squadron must memorize the faces of the three men, and they’ll have to search the whole ship to take them out.

Seamus and three of his mates start climbing on board their boat. Their conversation can be heard through the bugs planted by Boat Troop.

“That’s the last batch of Mandy, Guv’nor,” says Seamus.

“Powerful,” says Muireann. “Ye know what to do.”

Seamus nods and starts the engine. Muireann dives into the water and heads towards Swan’s Mill. Seamus and his six mates head towards Lough Swilly Marina to moor the boat. Seamus and his six mates can have fun at Fahan before returning to Swan’s Mill.

21:12 GMT

Wednesday August 19, 2026

Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Northern Ireland

After her dive, Muireann finally enters the basement of Swan’s Mill. She takes off her diving suit and walks up to her room in her bikini. She likes being stared at by her men as she passes them. She’s dead tired but feels satisfied, which is what she always feels after a long dive. This night, the River Owenkillew is more rapid than usual, meaning she’s more tired than usual. In her room, her smartphone keeps ringing but she ignores it for a while. She puts on a pair of jeans shorts before taking the call, which turns out to be her husband.

“Goddamnit, Muireann!” curses Patrick.

“What the fuck, Paddy?” protests Muireann.

“Swan’s Mill is about to be raided by the Army Ranger Wing, damn it!” shouts Patrick.

“Fuck! Do ye have any intel?”

“It’s exactly the way Tiny predicted it would be,” says Patrick.

Muireann is a little relieved. “Do ye know when?”

“As of today, they’re still rehearsing the assault in a training area at Pontrilas. Soonest the assault could take place is tomorrow night,” says Patrick.

“Powerful! We have time to evacuate with all our Mandy,” says Muireann.

“Fuck the Mandy! Get out of there while ye still can!” orders Patrick.

“We’ve got millions of quids’ worth of Mandy from Indonesia and ye want me to leave it? Fuck, Paddy, we’ve rehearsed for this!” yells Muireann.

Patrick is quiet for a while. “Fine! Just get yer arses to Sandalwood Farm by tomorrow noon.”

“Aye,” answers Muireann.

She hurries to the dining room on the first floor. Her men have just finished dinner and some are doing the dishes. Some are about to go out for a smoke.

“Heads up!” shouts Muireann. “Our home is about to be raided by the Army Ranger Wing! Take out the longs from the armoury, grab yer body armour, activate the defensive measures, and start packing!”

Her men can only freeze in shock.

“Move yer fucking arses!” yells Muireann.

Everyone starts to do as they’ve been ordered to do, while Muireann sends a text to her distributors and to all the prostitutes not to come today. Muireann starts destroying documents showing the location of their HQ and their other factories, including the one in Indonesia. She then starts activating the defensive measures designed by Tiny. Muireann’s experience as an MCDO means she’s able to do this quickly and efficiently. She’s sure that the Rangers will be annihilated if they assault Swan’s Mill and everyone inside will escape easily with all their goods. After checking that everything is being prepared for their evacuation, Muireann finally calls Seamus.

“Aye, Guv’nor?” answers Seamus. His boss prefers being called ‘governor’ to ‘boss’.

“Get yer arses back in position on the mouth of Owenkillew. We’re evacuating!” orders Muireann.


“No time to explain! Make ready yer long, wear yer body armour, and move yer fucking arse!”

21:40 GMT

Wednesday August 19, 2026

City Hotel – Derry

Derry City, County Derry, Northern Ireland

“Boss, Charlie has just reversed course,” reports Simon.

Everyone looks toward the large screen in front of the intelligence officer. Through the cameras of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, they see Swan’s Tide reversing course, though she’d almost reached the marina.

Sarah suddenly realizes several things at once. “Mac, something’s wrong!”

“What is it?”

“Half the men always come out for a smoke around this hour, but today – no one,” says Sarah. “No distributors or prostitutes have arrived either.”

Cormac and Simon look at each other, but don’t say anything.

Sarah continues. “Aren’t these signs that the operation is compromised?”

One clear sign that a special operation has been compromised is that the opposition suddenly have a change in habit. If The Cartel knows that they are about to be assaulted, it can endanger the assault force. The Cartel might be ready for them. If a special operation is compromised before it’s initiated, it’s better to abort the mission to prevent casualties. But Cormac only nods and says nothing.

“Shouldn’t we abort?” asks Sarah, amazed at Cormac’s lack of reaction.

“We’ve anticipated this, Sarah. Don’t worry, but go ahead and inform Michael,” answers Cormac.

Sarah is connected by Des to Michael, still at RAF Odiham, with his satellite communication terminal. Cormac asks Des to put the call on speaker so everyone can tune in.

“Yes, Sarah?” answers Michael.

“Michael, we have reason to believe that the operation is compromised. Charlie has just reversed course and the men never came out for their evening smoke,” says Sarah. “Also, no distributors or prostitutes have arrived. This has never happened before.”

Michael falls silent for a few moments. His worst nightmare has come true. “Have you spoken to Cormac about this?”

“Of course.”

“And he told you not to worry, right?”

“Indeed…” answers Sarah, frowning.

“We’ve anticipated this, mo ghile mear,” says Michael, trying to calm her. “Don’t worry about it, all right?”

“Just be careful, Michael,” says Sarah, trying to ignore everyone in the room when they started sniggering.

“Of course,” answers Michael.

Everyone is still giggling when Des disconnects.

“Michael calls you ’mo ghile mear’ now?” asks Cormac, grinning from ear to ear.

“Indeed,” answers Sarah, starting to blush. “Why?”

“Nothing… sounds appropriate,” answers Cormac, still grinning.

“What do you call him, Sarah?” asks Des, sipping his coffee.

Sarah wants revenge on Michael for all the embarrassment she felt today.

“Biggus Dickus,” she answers.

Everyone collapses in laughter… except Des, who chokes on his coffee, spilling it onto his shirt.

01:28 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

First Basement, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Muireann has just finished checking all of the Claymore mines and IEDs on the ground floor. They can be triggered remotely or by pressure plates. After the Rangers enter the ground floor, all of the explosives will detonate, turning the Rangers into mincemeat. Rangers still outside will be slaughtered too, as some of the Claymore mines face towards the Mala an Mhuilinn road and the River Owenkillew. Muireann’s men have practiced evacuating hundreds of times and Muireann’s feeling confident. A few hours before, she sent a third of her men to take a rest on the upper floors. The entire first floor of Swan’s Mill is used for dining and recreation, and the second and third floor are their sleeping quarters. While awaiting the siege, everyone must wear body armour and be fully armed at all times, even when resting. Now Muireann orders another third of her men to replace the ones resting on the upper floors.

Muireann doesn’t realize that her last order has doubled the people on the upper floors of Swan’s Mill, just as Michael and Air Troop are about to make their entry…

01:29 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

3rd floor, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Just above Swan’s Mill, a 737-700 from Ryanair is flying low, heading towards the City of Derry Airport. It makes an almighty racket. At the same time, hidden by the noise, two Chinook HC6 helicopters arrive and hover above the first and second building of Swan’s Mill. The men of Air Troop are hanging from the helicopters. Once they’re in position, they place frame charges on the windows. Before the charges are placed, Michael hears Sarah’s voice in his headset.

“One, this is Echo. Be advised that there are currently twice as many X-Rays on the third floor as anticipated,” reports Sarah, looking at the thermographic camera installed during the recce.

“One roger,” answers Michael. Everything will now be twice as dangerous, but they must proceed as planned. “This is One in position.”

“One, this is Two-Alpha in position,” reports George.

“One roger. Zero, this is One, Alpha team in position,” reports Michael.

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac. This means that Michael and George and their respective teams are in their Final Assault Position (FAP). “You may initiate the assault at your discretion.”

“One roger,” answers Michael, tensely. He needs to wait until the other units are in position before he initiates the assault.

Cormac and Michael are worried because Robert and his team were supposed to be at their FAPs long before Air Troop was in position, and they’re still not there.

01:29 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

River Owenkillew

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Robert and his Boat Troop are still underwater in the River Owenkillew. The river’s pace has picked up hugely and they’re having to fight their way upstream towards Swan’s Mill, carrying loads of weapons and ammo. Robert’s extremely worried because they should’ve been at the FAP inside the underwater access tunnel several minutes ago. The success of the mission depends on everything happening together.

01:29 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Lough Swilly

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

At the mouth of the River Owenkillew, Pierce and three men from Boat Troop are underwater, nearing the enemy boat - target Charlie - currently facing south. This means that the River Owenkillew and Swan’s Mill are on the port side of the boat. Based on intelligence from the UAVs, Simon has told him that all seven men on board are wearing body armour and carrying AK-47s. Pierce and his team will not take any chances.

“Zero, this is Two, Sierra team in position,” whispers Pierce.

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac.

01:29 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Mala an Mhuilinn, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

At the same time, Dave and Mobility Troop have arrived in front of Swan’s Mill in their modified Land Rover 110s. Mobility Troop is escorted by the Army Ranger Wing in their Ford F350 Special Reconnaissance Vehicle, which immediately blocks all access towards Swan’s Mill. The Rangers then debus to cordon the surrounding buildings of Swan’s Mill. Snipers from the Army Ranger Wing, already deployed the day before, are covering everybody.

“One, this is Romeo in position,” reports Alwyn.

“One roger,” answers Michael.

At the same time, Mobility Troop have debussed and are placing frame charges on all windows on the ground floor facing the Mala an Mhuilinn road. After the frame charges are ready, they all return to their vehicles.

“This is One-Golf in position,” reports Dave to his team.

“One-Golf, this is Two-Golf in position,” reports one of the NCOs of Mountain Troop. This means that they have placed frame charges on all windows on the ground floor facing the River Owenkillew and are ready in their positions across the river.

“One-Golf roger,” answers Dave. “One, this is One-Golf. Golf team in position.”

“One roger. All call signs, this is One. Ten seconds, out,” orders Michael in his command voice, calming the men under him and instilling them with confidence in their commander’s ability to lead them into battle.

Everything is done in only twenty seconds, from Air Troop placing their frame charges to Michael giving the ten-second warning.

01:30 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

First Basement, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

The people inside Swan’s Mill on the first, second, and third floor can hear nothing but the loud roar of the plane descending towards the City of Derry Airport and the convoy of lorries from Coyles Arro passing by on the way to their warehouse. These are the same sounds they’ve heard every day at the same time for weeks now. Everyone inside has gotten used to the noise and can ignore it. The only unusual sounds they hear are the 48 frame charges simultaneously detonating and blowing up all the windows on the third and ground floor.


Muireann is below the tremendous blasts, on the first basement, used as a warehouse to store the MDMA.

“Guv! They’re fucking here!” shouts one of her men.

Muireann forces herself to wait ten seconds to give every Ranger time to enter the ground floor. “Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!” she shouts, slamming on the clacker three times to detonate all the Claymore mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) on the ground floor.


The dozens of Claymore mines and IEDs detonating on the ground floor shake the whole complex. The explosion warps the steel balls inside the Claymore mines into shapes similar to a .22 rimfire projectile. The explosion fires the projectiles outwards towards Dave and Mobility Troop on the Mala an Mhuilinn road and Mountain Troop across the River Owenkillew…

01:30 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

3rd floor, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Several seconds earlier…

At exactly 01:30, Michael can no longer wait for Robert and his team. The mission must begin now or lose the cover provided by the low-flying aeroplane. “All call signs, this is One and I have control. Standby… Standby… Go!”


All of the windows are blown inwards, wounding or killing those inside. Michael abseils into the room and sees two X-Rays on the floor, moaning and bleeding to death. Without hesitation, Michael shoots them in the head with his carbine. Their heads practically disintegrate under the high velocity rounds from his Colt Canada C8 CQB. Michael releases his carabiner as everyone under his command reports that they’re complete.


A tremendous explosion is heard and felt from the ground floor, shaking the whole complex like an earthquake. They’ve anticipated this so they can ignore it.

“Juliet, this is One. Alpha team complete,” reports Michael.

“One-Juliet roger,” answers Graham. The CO of the JSFAW is personally flying the Chinook that brought Michael and his team.

“Two-Juliet roger,” answers the pilot of the second Chinook.

Both Chinooks immediately fly away from the target.

“Zero, this is One. Two X-Rays down at Bravo-1-3-Papa,” reports Michael.

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac. He then asks Des to put him through to Pierce. “Two, this is Zero, standby. You may initiate the assault at your discretion.”

“Two roger,” whispers Pierce.

“One-Golf, this is One. Commence fire,” orders Michael.

“One-Golf roger,” answers Dave.

All the men of Mobility and Mountain Troop shoot their weapons towards all windows, from the ground floor to the second floor, from both sides of the buildings. No one in Mobility Troop is hurt because after placing the frame charges, they’d hidden themselves inside their armoured pinkies, which are now riddled with dents and small holes. Something similar happened across the river, where Mountain Troop hid behind the thick trees before the explosion from the ground floor. Not a single soldier has been hurt by Muireann’s Claymore mines and IEDs.

Michael exits the room and his team does the same. The number of X-Rays was double their original estimate, but Air Troop easily handled them with speed, aggression, and surprise of entry. After securing the third floor of the first and second buildings, Michael and the sixteen men of Air Troop make their ways towards the third building, clearing the stairway to the second floor.

“Zero, this is One. Third floor secured, Alpha team in position,” reports Michael.

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac.

“One-Golf, this is One. Check fire on Bravo-2-2,” orders Michael.

“One-Golf roger,” answers Dave.

The shots on the second floor of the second building of Swan’s Mill immediately cease. Two men throw flashbangs into the hallway and everyone enters before the flashbangs detonate. Michael and his team head towards the first building while George and his team start clearing all the rooms in the second building of Swan’s Mill.

“One-Golf, this is One. Check fire on Bravo-1-2,” orders Michael as they near the first building of Swan’s Mill.

“One-Golf roger,” answers Dave.

The shots on the second floor of the first building of Swan’s Mill immediately cease. The number two on Michael’s team throws a flashbang into the hallway and everyone on Michael’s team enters before the flashbang detonates. Michael and his team start clearing the rooms of the first building of Swan’s Mill. Michael is assigned to clear the room on the furthest left. After preparing a flashbang, he kicks open the door, throws the flashbang inside, and enters with it. There’s only one X-Ray inside, face down and with both hands covering his head. Michael doesn’t know if he’s still alive or not. He doesn’t waste time checking and shoots him in the head at the same time the flashbang detonates.

“One, this is Two-Alpha. Bravo-2-2 secured,” reports George.

Michael listens to other reports of X-Rays killed before answering him. “One roger. Zero, this is One. X-Ray down at Bravo-1-2-Hotel. Bravo-1-2 secured.”

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac, helping Simon put an ‘X’ through all the rooms with killed X-Rays.

Michael and Air Troop head towards the third building and descend towards the first floor.

“Zero, this is One. Second floor secured, Alpha team in position,” reports Michael.

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac.

“One-Golf, this is One. Check fire on Bravo-2-1,” orders Michael.

“One-Golf roger,” answers Dave.

The shots on the first floor of the second building of Swan’s Mill immediately cease. Four men throw flashbangs into the large room at the same time everyone enters. There are ten men inside and all are on their bellies, trying to take cover from the heavy fire from outside. They’re shot where they lie and Air Troop starts clearing the rest of the first floor, normally used as a dining and recreation area.

01:31 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Lough Swilly

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

A few minutes earlier…

Seamus and six of his mates are guarding the boat, smoking and fingering their AK-47s, when the first blast from the direction of Swan’s Mill surprises them. Instinctively, they all go to the port side of the boat to watch the explosion, some 200 metres away. They can clearly see two Chinooks flying away from Swan’s Mill, but that’s the last thing they see. High-velocity rounds from assault rifles riddle their bodies from the starboard side, passing easily through their body armour. Although Seamus and his mates will never get up again, Pierce and the three men of Boat Troop finish them off with shots to the head, blowing their heads apart.

“Zero, this is Two. Seven X-Rays down at Red-3. Stronghold secured!” reports Pierce.

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac. “Three, this is Zero, standby. You may initiate the assault at your discretion.”

“Three roger,” answers Mark.

As planned, Mark and M Squadron will commence their assault on MV Báinigh, now in Irish waters. Pierce takes Swan’s Tide back to Lough Swilly Marina while his three men conduct the SSE.

01:34 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Second Basement, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

While Air Troop is still securing the first floor, Robert and his team finally arrive at the underwater access tunnel. Still panting heavily, they stack beside the watertight pressure door and Robert signals his MOE specialist to place the frame charge.

“One, this is Three-Alpha in position,” whispers Robert, anxiously. This is his first time going into battle.

“One roger!” answers Michael curtly. About bloody time!

01:35 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

First Basement, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Once Michael and Air Troop have secured the first floor, they return to the third building and start descending. They can safely bypass the decimated ground floor and head straight towards the first basement.

“Zero, this is One. First floor secured and ground floor bypassed, Alpha team in position,” reports Michael.

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac.

“Three-Alpha and Four-Alpha, this is One, standby. Go!” orders Michael.

“Three-Alpha roger,” answers Robert.

“Four-Alpha roger,” answers Al.

Al leads three men from Mountain Troop and abseils into the third floor from an Agusta A109 helicopter. They head to the ground floor to clear it from explosives. At almost the same time as Al’s entry, the whole complex shakes again from the blast in the second basement. This means that Robert and his team has made their entry.

“Ready frags,” orders Michael.

Michael, George, and two of their men throw fragmentation grenades into the first basement. “Frag out!”


Michael and his men can hear the screams amid the blasts. They enter the first basement and finish them off. After securing the first basement, Michael and Air Troop enter the third building again and guard it against X-Rays from the second basement who might use it to escape.

“Zero, this is One. One-Three X-Rays down, first basement secured. Alpha team in position,” reports Michael.

“Zero roger.”

Michael and Air Troop have reached their Limit of Exploitation (LOE) and to prevent blue-on-blue, they will go no further. They’ve managed to secure four out of six floors in Swan’s Mill in less than five minutes. Michael now must count on Robert and his team to secure the second basement, and Al and his team to secure the ground floor.

01:35 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Second Basement, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Less than a minute earlier…

Muireann is sure that all the Rangers of the Army Ranger Wing have been slaughtered so she orders her men to evacuate through the river. Once she reaches the second basement, she sees one of her men start to open the watertight pressure door. It suddenly explodes!


Muireann sees her man shatter to pieces before her eyes. Six fragmentation grenades fly into the second basement, the MDMA production area.

Before taking cover behind a pill-making machine, Muireann glimpses the limbs of her men flying away from their bodies in the explosions. The assault troops start entering the second basement, firing their assault rifles as they enter. Muireann notices that their rounds pass easily through her men’s body armour.


Four blasts are heard from the first basement above her. It turns out the assault force have pinched her, so she and her men are trapped. Muireann wonders how any of the Rangers survived her Claymores and IEDs. She’s surprised too, because she hadn’t thought that they were smart enough to find her underwater access tunnel.

As a senior member of The Cartel, Muireann knows she can’t allow herself to be captured. She destroys her smartphone and SIM Card with the butt of her rifle so they can’t trace her calls. This is the end for her, but she hopes to kill at least one Ranger before she dies.

The FMJ ammo the Rangers must be using is designed to pass through body armour, but is less effective hitting bare flesh, so she steps out of her body armour. Now she’s just in her jeans shorts and bikini. As long as they don’t hit her directly to the head, spine, or vital organs, their rounds will pass clean through her body with minimal damage. Muireann then decides to step out of her jeans shorts and bikini, hoping she can startle the Rangers and buy herself a few precious seconds of shooting time. She’s now stark naked, except for her belt kit, which she straps around her waist. She then dry-swallows a couple of ecstasy pills. The adrenaline she’s experiencing will mean the pills kick in fast, and both together will help reduce the incredible pain she’s about to experience.

‘Fuck… This is going to hurt…’ thinks Muireann as she comes out of her hiding place.

As she expected, everyone is surprised by her appearance! Muireann knows that no matter how highly trained a special forces operative is, they will always hesitate to shoot a woman… especially a woman who’s naked. This gives Muireann time to shoot one of the lead soldiers with a three-round burst from her M4 Carbine.

Robert is floored by the three high-velocity rounds to his centre mass. Muireann immediately aims her M4 towards his head and starts squeezing the trigger to finish him off…

01:36 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Ground Floor, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Al and three of his men are checking every inch of the ground floor. They can’t even imagine what the Rangers would look like now if they had used this entry. The only UXO, or Unexploded Ordnance, they find is an IED still attached to the front door. EOD specialists from around the world know that disposing of an UXO is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, so Al asks his team to stand down and take cover. Al Spencer will personally disarm the extremely dangerous UXO. Any distraction could prove fatal, so he turns off his comm headset to fully concentrate on his task.

01:37 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Second Basement, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Before she can finish squeezing the trigger and shooting the downed soldier in the head, Muireann feels several bullets pass through her torso. She decides to ignore the soldier on the ground and turns to shoot the others, who pose more of an immediate threat to her. Unfortunately, none of her rounds hit her targets. However, more bullets pass through her body. Because of the drugs and adrenaline rushing through her system, she feels little pain. Instead of falling to the ground and dying, she empties her mag.

While changing mags, Muireann sees the downed soldier suddenly rise and give her a short burst from his assault rifle. She feels a couple of rounds pass through her right chest, shattering some of her ribs and collapsing her right lung. She’s still able to stand and fires towards the huge soldier. Unfortunately, he’s already taken cover behind a pill-making machine. At the same time, shots from several different directions pass through Muireann’s body. It seems to have little effect on her, although pink blood is starting to flow out of her mouth from her collapsed lung. Once again, Muireann empties her rifle, but the soldiers have already taken cover.

Muireann has just finished changing mags when the huge soldier appears from cover and empties his rifle at her in full-auto. The bullets hit her lower belly and start to go upwards. None of the rounds hit her pelvis or spine, so Muireann can still stand and return fire, even though her stomach has more holes than Swiss cheese and her guts are starting to spill out. A couple of bullets take off most of her left arm, so now she can shoot only with her right arm. Muireann struggles to shoot the huge soldier, but the last bullet hits her in the sternum. No matter how tough someone is, if they’re hit in their sternum, they will always go down. This is the shot that finally takes Muireann down. She’s been indefatigable, but at last she’s now on her back.

Muireann sees the soldier she shot walk warily towards her. He changes mags and kicks her M4 away from her hand. He points his rifle at Muireann’s face. She’s still alive, even though her torso is a bloody mess.

“Good… bye… Paddy…” murmurs Muireann. She then looks sharply at the soldier who’s about to end her life, daring him to finish her off as she looks him in the eyes.

Robert shoots her full in the face, shattering Muireann’s head to pieces.

“One, this is Three-Alpha… B-B-Basement s-s-secured!” stammers Robert, completely shaken.

01:37 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Second Basement, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

“One roger,” answers Michael.

They now must wait for Al and his team to secure the ground floor from explosives. Michael looks at his watch and frowns. Al should’ve been done by now.


What was that? Unlike the previous explosions, nobody expected that blast from the ground floor!

“Four-Alpha, this is One. Radio check,” says Michael.

Al doesn’t answer.

“Four-Alpha, this is One. Radio check, goddamn it!” shouts Michael.

There is only silence. Michael and George can only share a look of utmost concern for Al…

01:37 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

MV Báinigh

North Atlantic Sea, Republic of Ireland

M Squadron will conduct a simultaneous helicopter and seaborne assault on target Delta. Mark and half of M Squadron will board using the Fast Rope Insertion/Extraction System (FRIES) from a Chinook, while the rest will use Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) to go alongside target Delta and use hook-and-pole assault ladders to board the ship. M Squadron will have to secure all cabins and eliminate the three Cartel members. They must be careful not to accidentally shoot innocent crewmembers. The UKSF Group has executed this kind of operation before, on a ship called MV Nisha in 2001.

However, they don’t need to do any of that. Looking through the camera of the UAV, Simon tells Mark that the three Cartel members are on the ship’s deck, smoking and leaning on the starboard rail. Mark orders his sniper teams from Z Squadron to take them out. There is a delay because the four sniper teams fight over who gets to shoot the three X-Rays. The SSM of Z Squadron, leading the sniper teams, finally steps in and orders the most junior and least experienced among them to stand down and act as backup in case the other snipers miss their targets.

Once the SSM gives the order, the three snipers hit their targets in their centre masses, almost simultaneously from a range of 600 metres.

“Three, this is Two-Zero-Zulu. Three X-Rays down at Green-9,” reports the Squadron Sergeant Major of Z Squadron, a look of utter satisfaction on his face.

“Three roger. November and Four-Juliet, this is Three. Please proceed with Phase Three,” orders Mark.

“November roger,” answers Nigel onboard LÉ Niamh.

“Four-Juliet roger,” answers the Chinook pilot.

Mark and his men fast-rope on board the ship to finish off and secure the three dead X-Rays while the captain of LÉ Niamh orders target Delta to heave to. Once all ships are at full stop, those on board the RIBs are ordered to return to LÉ Niamh.

“Zero, this is Three. Three X-Rays down, stronghold secured,” reports Mark, sounding disappointed. The assault on MV Báinigh by his unit is anticlimactic.

“Zero roger,” answers Cormac.

01:37 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Ground Floor, Swan’s Mill

Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland

A few minutes earlier…

Al sees that the IED is beyond disposing so he decides to just blow it up with the PE4 he is carrying. He and his team take cover.

“Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!” shouts Al. As per SOP, those words must be said three times before an EOD specialist blows something up, to give the other teams fair warning that an explosion is about to take place.


“One, this is Four-Alpha. Ground floor secured!” reports Al.

Al wonders why Michael doesn’t answer. He suddenly remembers why and turns on his comm headset.

“One, this is Four-Alpha. Ground floor secured!” reports Al, properly this time, ignoring his men’s sneers.

01:38 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

City Hotel – Derry

Derry City, County Derry, Northern Ireland

Through the Satellite Ground Terminal, Michael’s command voice echoes throughout the FOB. “One roger. Zero, this is One… For King and Country, stronghold secured!”

“Zero roger. All targets secured and mission accomplished,” says Cormac, smiling broadly. “Good job everyone!”

The Forward Operating Base erupts in loud cheers and celebration! The men and women inside shake hands and hug each other and clap each other on the back. Sarah feels extremely relieved, proud, and ecstatic at the same time. This is what she always feels after leading a successful operation and it’s almost orgasmic! Her respect and admiration for Michael and the SAS have gone through the roof and from now on, she won’t just consider him as her partner… he’s also her hero.

Liz calls the Sáirsint in charge of Buncrana Garda Station to tell him what’s happening in his area. They arrange to meet face-to-face at the Buncrana Garda Station. Liz also calls Clive to deploy the Garda ERU to Swan’s Mill and to coordinate with Alwyn, who is already at the site. Liz then contacts the Garda National Drug Unit (NDU) to secure the MDMA at Swan’s Mill.

Sarah sends a text to the rest of the Interpol team to board the heli at the hotel’s helipad. Before Sarah enters the heli, she receives a text from Michael. ‘I need to see you. Could you please convince Mac to let you join our debrief?’

‘Echo roger,’ writes Sarah, smiling broadly.

Michael returns her text with a smiley. Sarah, Broussard, Matt, and Arthur are dropped off at Swan’s Mill to conduct the Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE), an activity to gather intelligence immediately after a special operation. Paul is dropped off at Lough Swilly Marina and James is taken to MV Báinigh.

Michael and B Squadron have already left Swan’s Mill when they arrive. The area surrounding Swan’s Mill has been secured by the Army Ranger Wing and the Garda ERU so the Interpol team can enter it without any trouble. Before entering Swan’s Mill, Sarah sees Alwyn and Emmet talking outside. They are inspecting the building and both look quite pale. Sarah decides to meet with them first.

“Is everything all right, Alwyn?” asks Sarah.

“Ye were fucking right, Sarah!” says Alwyn, pale and wide eyed.

“About what?”

“The ground floor was a fucking killing zone! My Rangers would’ve been wiped out if we were the ones doing the assault,” says Alwyn.

“Aye… and it would’ve been Tiny that had killed us,” says Emmet, shuddering.

Sarah only nods and they continue talking while inspecting the buildings. Sarah has studied the blueprints of Swan’s Mill hundreds of times, but this is the first time she’s seen it first-hand. Swan’s Mill looks much more impressive in real life than in its picture.

“The fucking SAS secured a fucking stronghold like this without sustaining a single fucking casualty. And in less than nine fucking minutes,” says Alwyn, shaking his head. “No wonder they’re the best in the world.”

Sarah smiles proudly when Alwyn praised her partner. From afar, she recognizes Clive in his Garda ERU black kit, waving at her. Sarah smiles at him and returns his wave, making Clive happy. Only half of the soldiers on location are Army Ranger Wing and the other half are Garda ERU personnel, some whom are taking turns grabbing selfies with Swan’s Mill as a majestic background.

“Where are the rest of your men, Alwyn?” asks Sarah.

“Cormac ordered half of my Rangers to continue rehearsing the assault at PATA for some reason,” answers Alwyn, shrugging. “He ordered me to have them stand down only a few minutes ago.”

“Wait a minute! I thought the mock-up was at RAF Odiham. There’s another mock-up of Swan’s Mill at PATA?”

“Aye, my Rangers rehearse there whilst the SAS rehearsed at another mock-up at Odiham,” says Alwyn.

“When Cormac made us rehearse our assault, I was sure we would be given a more active role in this assault. I’m sure glad Cormac ordered us to stand down,” says Emmet.

“Rehearse what, Emmet?”

“Cormac made us rehearse our entry as a back-up plan. He said that this was just in case Michael’s entry went to shite,” says Emmet.

Sarah suddenly has an idea. “Did anyone at PATA see you rehearse your assault?”

“Everyone at PATA was invited to see our rehearsal yesterday,” answers Alwyn. “How did ye know that?”

“Just a wild guess,” answers Sarah. Alwyn and Emmet give her quizzical looks so she tries to evade them. “Right, I guess I’ll be going in then. I’ll see you at the debriefing, and thank you for the support of the Army Ranger Wing on this mission,” she says, giving them her sweetest smile.

“Ye’re welcome, Sarah,” says Alwyn and Emmet, both somewhat stunned by her perfect smile.

Sarah hurriedly enters Swan’s Mill. Broussard is handling the third floor, Matt is on the second, and Arthur on the first. There’s nothing on the ground floor so Sarah heads towards the second basement. In the middle of the basement, there’s a dead body of a woman, most likely Muireann’s. The body looks odd because it is completely naked except for a belt kit, drenched with blood and full of bits and pieces of her guts. Her head and torso are shattered, with her entrails hanging out. Her left arm is missing and shards of white bone are sticking out of the bloody stump. Sarah has seen quite a few dead bodies and in various stages of decomposition, but Muireann’s condition makes her feel nauseous. Sarah calls Cormac.

“Yes, Sarah?” he answers.

“Are you alone, Mac?”

“Simon’s still with me at the FOB and we were just about to RTB. What’s up?” asks Cormac.

“When will you conduct the debriefing?”

“The men are in a ‘warm down period’ for twenty-four hours, so probably tomorrow noon.”

“Who will attend?”

“This is a Scale-A Meeting so the whole UKSF Group and all the support personnel are required to attend,” says Cormac. He can clearly sense that Sarah wants to join in, but this activity is classified as Top Secret and for UKSF personnel only. “Why? What’s up?”

“Just wondering if you’ve managed to identify the traitor at PATA,” answers Sarah. “It would seem quite awkward to have him invited to the debriefing of an operation that wiped out a lot of his mates…”

Just as she expected, the CO of the SAS falls silent. Inside the FOB, he looks at Simon, his face slowly turning pale. “Did Michael tell you about this?”

“Of course not!” says Sarah, clearly offended.

“I need to speak to you about this, Sarah. How about coming with us to the barracks for the debrief?” orders Cormac. “You can learn quite a few more things from us during the debriefing, you know.”

“I thought you’d never ask, Mac,” says Sarah, grinning.

“How about you return to the FOB so we can fly together to Credenhill?” orders Cormac.

“I’ll be there ETA thirty-five mikes,” answers Sarah.

Sarah quickly counts the dead bodies in the basements. This isn’t as easy as it seems because their body parts were scattered everywhere by blasts from the grenades. She then goes to the third floor to see Broussard, who’s enthusiastically conducting the SSE in Muireann’s luxurious bedroom.

“Chief, there are a total of twenty-nine bodies in the basements, including that of a woman I suspect is Muireann de Buitléir. However, the SAS have invited me to their barracks for the debrief. I have to return to the FOB.”

“Go,” orders her commander.

Sarah exits the building to see Clive. She asks him if one of his men could take her to the City Hotel in Derry, but Clive happily takes her there himself. He uses this golden opportunity to hit on her, of course.

04:13 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Regimental HQ, SAS Barracks

Credenhill, Herefordshire, England

Once they arrive at the RHQ, Sarah, Cormac, and Simon go into one of the meeting rooms.

“How did you find out we have a traitor?” asks Cormac.

“PE4s were used to blow up the International Liaison Building at Dublin and Michael told us a few months ago that the Special Investigation Branch had investigated the missing PE4s at PATA. We think someone in the UKSF Group is working for The Cartel and smuggled the PE4s out for them. This person most likely gave them Michael’s old smartphone number so they could’ve easily traced him to Carluccio’s. You ordered QinetiQ to build another mock-up of Swan’s Mill at PATA so the Army Ranger Wing could be seen rehearsing their assault using their entry and you made sure your suspects saw them doing it. This was to ensure the opposition was looking the other way when Michael and his Air Troop assaulted Swan’s Mill from the air. It also meant you ensured that no distributors or prostitutes entered Swan’s Mill during the assault, so the assault teams needn’t worry about Yankees. Correct me if I’m wrong, Mac,” says Sarah. She already knows the answer from the look on Cormac and Simon’s faces.

Cormac takes a long breath before answering her. “You are correct, Sarah. Someone in the UKSF Group is working for The Cartel and Simon is helping me identify who it is. We have narrowed it down to a handful of suspects, but we still don’t know who it is yet.”

Simon continues. “We’re soldiers, not detectives. We have no clue on what to do next so it’ll probably take some time before we finally identify this person.”

“Why not cooperate with the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police?”

They don’t answer. Sarah can conclude that they want to investigate this without involving anyone outside the UKSF Group.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” offers Sarah.

“Thank you for the offer, but this matter is strictly confidential. We would appreciate it if you keep this information to yourself,” says Cormac.

“No problem, Mac,” says Sarah. “If I may suggest, though, you should closely observe your suspects during the debrief. If any of them are acting oddly or out of place - for example if one of them looks sad or angry because of the success of the operation - he could well be your traitor.”

“Good idea, Sarah!” says Cormac. He gives a nod to Simon, who also nods appreciatively.

They exit the meeting room and Cormac invites them both into the Main Briefing Room. In the room, loud music is blasting away, but it’s drowned out by the cheers of everyone inside when the door opens and they see Cormac, Simon, and Sarah.

Everyone involved in the operation is partying and getting pissed. The Main Briefing Room, called the Blue Room, is surrounded by tables packed with food and bottles of beer. They’re ecstatic because the extremely complicated operation was executed perfectly without casualties. This is the best achievement for B Squadron since Operation Nimrod in 1980. Everyone wants to shake the hands of Sarah, Cormac and Simon, and give them a pat on the back, but Sarah is interested in one person only. She finally sees her partner across the room and, exactly like a cheap romance flick, she runs towards him, leaps into his arms, and gives him a long, hard kiss on his lips. This to the cheers and whistles of everyone in the Blue Room.

06:02 GMT

Thursday August 20, 2026

Sandalwood Farm

Nether Alderley, Cheshire, England

At The Cartel’s headquarters, Patrick is suddenly awoken by Steve, Rory, and Carraig, tears in their eyes. They turn on the telly to watch the BBC headline news reporting that earlier this morning, Swan’s Mill was assaulted by a joint operation between the Army Ranger Wing and the Garda ERU. Everyone inside has been killed, including a woman named Muireann de Buitléir, considered to be a senior member of the Irish Drug Cartel. The Garda NDU seized hundreds of tons of MDMA and raw materials and the Garda ERU seized hundreds of assault rifles, pistols, and explosives. A talking-head spokesperson praises the Rangers and the Garda ERU for securing Swan’s Mill in an operation that sustained no casualties. The reporter clearly states which units assaulted Swan’s Mill, but the senior members of The Cartel are having none of it. They know exactly who was responsible for assaulting their factory.

Patrick curses out loud, then cries hysterically for the loss of his wife. The others try in vain to calm him down.

13:29 GMT

Friday August 21, 2026

Main Briefing Room, Regimental HQ, SAS Barracks

Credenhill, Herefordshire, England

Everyone in the UKSF Group currently in the UK is obliged to attend the debriefing. Prince Harry, as Colonel-in-Chief of the 22nd Regiment, is supposed to attend, but he is currently abroad. There’s now a stage at the front of the Blue Room and a large screen behind it.

Everyone is in uniform except Sarah, making her stand out even more, especially when she’s asked to sit at the front next to Cormac and Sir Charles Mountbatten. Before the debriefing begins, Sarah briefly notices Al, George, and Dave sitting behind her. George is laughing his arse off after taking the piss out of St John, sitting behind them with a huge pout on his face. Sarah also notices around fifteen women of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment sitting in the back row. Sheila’s among them, looking especially gorgeous in her SRR uniform. At the back of the room, Derek is frowning, struggling to operate a video camera. Sarah also notices that few soldiers wear medals on their uniform. Like her own medals from the INP, Sarah is sure that there are many among them whose medals are classified.

The debriefing finally starts and it’s important that it be delivered as honestly as possible, so that mistakes can be prevented in future operations. Michael looks especially dashing in his SAS uniform and sand-coloured beret when he delivers the results of their recce during Operation Rowman and the Execution phases of Operation Crankshaft. Sarah’s excited to see her partner in action again, especially as this is her first time seeing him in his temperate parade uniform. Operation Crankshaft was executed as planned and everyone can see the action from the CCTV recordings taken from Swan’s Mill and their own cameras at the Observation Posts.

Pierce goes on stage after Michael. The 4-man team from Boat Troop also conducted a textbook assault on their target, so he’s on stage for less than ten minutes. Next up is Mark, who’s done in just five. The last person to come on stage is Robert. Sarah’s getting a headache from watching her partner standing up front next to three men who are all tall, sexy, and good looking.

Robert admits that his entry didn’t go smoothly. He and his men were stunned when they saw the naked Muireann de Buitléir. They froze and she counterattacked them. Robert himself was shot by a three-round burst from Muireann’s M4 Carbine, but luckily all the bullets were stopped by his body armour and ceramic plates. Robert praises Michael’s command decision, ordering everyone to wear ceramic plates, even though the same plates almost drowned them when they were infiltrating from the river. The plates and the rapidness of the river were responsible for their lateness reaching their Final Assault Position.

He points out that the 5.56×45mm NATO Full Metal Jacket rounds, designed to pass through body armour, were ineffective deployed on Muireann’s naked body, passing through her flesh and barely even slowing her down. If one of his bullets hadn’t have hit her sternum, there’s a big chance Muireann would still be fighting now. Robert and his team admitted that none of them had thought to try to shoot her in the head. He suggested that because there are an increasing number of female terrorists, all Killing Houses should have more female targets, so the men could get used to shooting at them. Robert also suggested that, even when using carbines with FMJ rounds, they should still aim for headshots. Robert also praises the SAS style of standard grip for holding the rifle. If he had used the magwell grip, there’s a big chance one or both of his elbows would have been shattered by Muireann’s M4. Sarah enthusiastically notes everything and notices that everyone else is doing the same thing.

After Robert’s presentation is a Q&A session, moderated by Cormac. Everyone can ask questions, and give feedback and ideas for similar operations. Sarah learns a lot in this session and furiously tries to note everything on her tablet. A young trooper asks how Muireann could still fight after being riddled with bullets. Cormac answers that that sort of thing is not uncommon. During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007, Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike Day, a US Navy SEAL, was shot twenty-seven times by four Al Qaeda fighters armed with AK-47s while clearing a house in the Anbar Province. A grenade then exploded only ten feet away from him. Not only did he survive, he managed to kill the militants who shot him and then cleared the rest of the house with his teammates. After the house was secured, the tough Navy SEAL then walked, unaided, to the medevac heli despite being severely wounded in the abdomen, in both legs, and both arms.

The Q&A session lasts into the evening. The Director goes centre stage and praises Cormac, Michael, and Mark for their excellent leadership, successfully completing a highly complicated operation without sustaining a single casualty. He also announces that the Irish Defence Force will invest medals to the assault forces and supporting elements, which wins a few cheers. Cormac will be invested with An Bonn Míleata Calmachta Le Dearscnacht (The Military Medal for Gallantry with Distinction), the second highest medal in the Irish Army, and Michael will receive An Bonn Míleata Calmachta Le Tuillteanas (The Military Medal for Gallantry with Merit), the third highest. All the others will receive An Bonn Seirbhíse Dearscna (The Distinguished Service Medal). Cormac and Michael are now entitled to use BMC post-nominally and the others can use BSD. Sarah is proud of her friends and grows even more proud of Michael.

Cormac goes centre stage and thanks all members of the supporting units, and asks their representatives to go on stage, beginning with Graham, Nigel, Alwyn, Simon, Des, and Sarah. Everyone in the Blue Room starts cheering when Sarah’s name is called. Cormac hands over the stage to Michael, who again thanks B Squadron, M Squadron, the sniper teams of Z Squadron, and all the supporting elements for their support during the operation.

“On a special note, I would like to thank the Interpol Incident Response Team for their intel support on this mission, and especially Inspector Sarah Dharmawan from the INP for her input and support during Operation Rowman and Operation Crankshaft,” says Michael.

Everyone cheers again when Michael calls her name and Sarah can only look down, embarrassed. For some reason, Cormac starts pushing her towards where Michael is standing.

Michael’s voice tenses up when Sarah stands beside him. “After the success of the operation and during the flight back to Credenhill, I caught a glimpse of Mount Earagail and it made me remember the first stanza of an old Irish song called Gleanntáin Ghlas’ Ghaoth Dobhair. The song is in Gaeilge, but the translation of the stanza is as follows:

“Farewell to the noble mountains of Donegal,

And twice farewell to tall Earagail,

When I passed by Dunlewey lake, lying quietly in the glen,

Behind me were the little green glens of Gaoth Dobhair,

And it had nearly broken my heart.”

Before continuing, Michael takes a deep breath. He looks extremely nervous. “Well… it nearly broke my heart, because I was leaving Ireland once again and I had no idea when I will return. Fortunately, my broken heart was short-lived… as there is someone here in England who I love very much and cannot live without.”

Everyone cheers again and Sarah starts to wonder how long she’ll have to endure this embarrassment. The next thing Michael does makes Sarah’s jaw drop! Michael goes to one knee and opens a box containing a beautiful diamond ring. The Blue Room erupts in whoops and hollers when they see what’s about to happen.

“Sarah… I love you very much and I cannot imagine living my life without you… I can only hope that you consider me to be good enough for you… and I really hope that I deserve the honour of being at your side for the rest of our lives,” says Michael, dry-mouthed and pale as a ghost. “Inspector Sarah Michelle Dharmawan, MC, KGM of the Indonesian National Police… m-m-my gallant darling… w-w-will you… m-m-marry me?”

Sarah is so stunned that she covers her mouth with both hands and her knees feel weak… but there’s no hesitation at all when she answers him.

“Yes, Michael!” she says, happy tears pricking her eyes.

Michael looks relieved and puts the ring on Sarah’s finger. Sarah’s embarrassed for crying in front of everyone, but notices the women of SRR in the back row also crying. Everyone claps and cheers happily for them.

“Kiss… Kiss… Kiss… Kiss… Kiss…” shouts everyone repeatedly.

Michael stands up and Sarah gives him a long kiss on the lips. Everyone finally gives them a standing ovation. Sir Charles is the first to congratulate them, followed by everyone else. The last person to congratulate them is Sheila, who looks absolutely gorgeous in her SRR uniform and beret.

“Congratulations,” says Sheila, shaking Michael’s hand and then hugging him.

“Thanks!” says Michael, smiling.

“Congratulations, Sarah,” says Sheila, shaking her hand and then hugging her too.

“Thank you, Sheila,” says Sarah, holding both of her hands. Everyone can clearly see that Sheila is on the verge of crying, making Sarah feel sorry for her. “I hope you’re all right…”

“I’ll be all right,” says Sheila, trying to smile at her.

Everyone claps their hands and cheers. Sarah has never felt this happy before.

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