Chapter 14: Last Post
Saturday September 26, 2026
Islington, Liverpool, England
Several hours earlier…
Michael is handcuffed to a chair with a pillowcase covering his head. He doesn’t make a sound, as if he’s already resigned himself to his fate. He’s fully aware of his surroundings, though. His snatchers are flapping when they realize they’ve snatched an SAS squadron commander. They’re panicking after violating Patrick’s order and all the while, Niall is throwing a tantrum because they’ve failed to snatch Sarah.
Despite his situation, Michael’s relieved knowing that his fiancée’s safe. He’ll die a horrible death, but at least Sarah will be all right. The thought crosses his mind that he should’ve accepted Arthur’s ring. If he had, he would’ve swallowed it before his hands were immobilized by duct tape.
The pillowcase covering Michael’s head is taken off. He can finally see that he’s in an office with Niall and Sheila standing in front of him. Niall looks frustrated and Sheila looks sad.
“Tell us where she is or give us her number!” orders Niall.
Michael doesn’t answer and instead looks at his ex-girlfriend. Niall punches him in the face and Michael feels his mouth fill up with blood.
“Please, Michael, just do what he says,” begs Sheila in her posh accent.
Michael spits at Sheila’s face, but his saliva and blood only go as far as her shirt. Sheila gets angry and starts hitting his face repeatedly. Blood from Michael’s face is spouting everywhere, painting Sheila’s clothes red. Michael is in agony as Sheila repeatedly hits his fractured cheekbone. He knows that this is just the beginning. He knows that the Interpol team and The Regiment will most likely be too late rescuing him… if they ever find him. Once Sheila’s finished, Michael just stares at her through his swollen eyes.
Sheila’s suddenly disgusted by her ex-lover’s blood and saliva all over her shirt, so she takes it off. Niall is immediately aroused seeing Sheila’s bare flesh. He has never seen his boss’s daughter without a shirt on. Niall imagines her screaming as he guts her, but he suddenly receives a slap across his face.
“Don’t even think about it!” threatens Sheila.
“Think about what?” asks Niall
“If you want to think about disembowelling someone, think about disembowelling Sarah!”
Sheila seems to know exactly what Niall’s thinking about. Reluctantly, Niall diverts his eyes away from her.
“Please, Michael, save yourself. Just give us Sarah’s phone number,” says Sheila.
Michael doesn’t say anything and keeps looking at Sheila. His ex-girlfriend is now wearing a white bra, light-blue jeans, and army boots. She reminds him of Sarah, the morning after they first had sex. Michael has idolized Sarah since long before he met her and the real Sarah far exceeds his wildest dreams. Many of the women who know Michael have tried to win his heart because of his title and privileges, but Sarah is the only woman who loves him for who he is. Sarah is the only woman that Michael truly loves and no amount of pain would make him betray her, especially as she twice saved his life at Carluccio’s.
“I love you, Michael. Please don’t let Niall do this to you,” says Sheila.
Michael stays silent and Niall punches him again. Michael doesn’t react. He doesn’t want to give them the satisfaction of seeing him in pain. Just this morning, Sarah told him she would die for him and Michael believes her. The only thing Michael can do now is prove to Sarah that he’s not just willing to die for her, but also willing to die a long and torturous death for her. Michael hopes that somehow, someway, Sarah will know about this ultimate sacrifice for her. The only regret Michael feels is that he can’t say goodbye in person to Sarah, his gallant darling.
’Slán go fóill… mo ghile mear,’ mumbles Michael as he closes his eyes, imagining that Sarah is in front of him.
Sheila starts to get angry.
“How the fuck can ye call her ’mo ghile mear’? That nickname was supposed to be for me and for me only!” snaps Sheila, in an accent that suddenly sounds Irish.
Michael stays silent.
“She’s not even Irish, for heaven’s sake! Why would ye even consider calling her that?”
Michael’s still silent.
“I’m supposed to be yer ’ghile mear’!” yells Sheila, getting even more emotional.
Michael keeps silent.
“Everyone gave me a slagging when they heard ye’d started calling her that too, ye know!” yells Sheila.
Michael doesn’t react, but in her anger, Sheila thinks she sees him smirk. She finally loses it.
“Do yer worst, Niall!” orders Sheila.
Niall’s instantly excited. “Open yer eyes!”
Michael doesn’t react.
“I won’t ask ye again!”
Michael’s closed eyes don’t even flicker. Niall takes out his Gerber knife and sticks it into Michael’s left eye. He then pulls it out and blood flows from the hole as if Michael is crying bloody tears. Michael opens his remaining eye and sees that Sheila has started crying.
“Do ye have any last words before ye’re unable to gob off?” asks Niall, grinning sadistically.
Michael looks around with his remaining eye and sees a board with nails hammered through and a wood-saw that they’re probably going to use to cut him up. He then looks at the small knife in Niall’s hand. There are a few things he could say, but he finally chooses to quote Lord Henry William Paget, The Earl of Uxbridge, the commander of the Anglo-Allied Army Cavalry Corps during the Battle of Waterloo. One of the last cannon shots of the battle hit Lord Uxbridge’s right leg, necessitating its amputation. There’s an anecdote that he said something in the middle of that dreadful surgical procedure.
“The knife appears somewhat blunt,” quotes Michael.
Niall laughs, but Sheila cries and leaves the room. Niall then turns on heavy metal music. He likes listening to something loud while he does his ‘job’. He wipes his knife on Michael’s shirt before stowing it and then puts on a pair of brass knuckles. He starts hitting Michael repeatedly.
Not long after, Michael starts screaming…
Saturday September 26, 2026
Islington, Liverpool, England
Several hours later…
That night, Patrick finally arrives in Liverpool. He can faintly hear heavy metal music when he steps out of his car and takes the lift to the second floor. His men won’t make eye contact with him when they see him walking by towards his office. From afar, Patrick can see Sheila cowering outside the office. He wonders why his daughter doesn’t have a shirt on, but is even more surprised when he sees Niall’s using his board. Patrick knows that Niall only uses a board to finish off men, so he runs towards him. Michael’s barely alive, but unconscious. Before Niall hits him again, Patrick takes out his pistol and gives Michael’s head a double tap. Patrick’s S&W Model M&P22 pistol has a suppressor and he uses Eley Subsonic Hollow .22lr bullets, used by professional assassins all over the world because they’re the most silent.
“What the fuck do ye think ye’re doing?” yells Patrick, furiously pointing his pistol at Niall.
“What the fuck, Paddy?” asks Niall angrily. His whole body is covered with Michael’s blood and bits and pieces of his face.
“I specifically told ye not to snatch the SAS bloke! What the fuck is going on here?”
“Ask Frag and Sheila! They’re the ones ye assigned to do the snatch, remember? I’m just doing what Sheila told me to do,” protests Niall.
“Fuck!” curses Patrick as he leaves the room. “Sheila, what the fuck? I thought I told ye to snatch Sarah, not Michael.”
Sheila stands up and hugs her daidi, tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry, Daidí. The bitch wasn’t home and he was the only one in the apartment.”
Sheila tells him everything from the start, from her relationship with Michael to the part when they snatched him. Patrick can’t stay angry with his daughter, even though she made a fatal mistake that could probably cost him his whole organization. His guilt for abandoning her when she was a baby always catches up with him.
When he was the RSM of the Royal Irish Regiment and Sheila joined, Patrick instantly recognized her as his daughter. He took Sheila under his wing and introduced her to Muireann. He finally felt he had a family when he saw that Muireann and Sheila clicked instantly and loved each other very much. Patrick and Muireann taught Sheila everything, and both were immensely proud of her when she passed Selection and became a special forces operative.
“Go home and I’ll take care of this,” says Patrick softy. “I’ll catch up with ye and we shall all go to Jakarta tomorrow morning, all right?”
“Aye, Daidí,” says Sheila. She starts walking unevenly towards the lift.
“Be careful driving home,” says her daidi, “and put some fucking clothes on!”
Sheila doesn’t answer him. Patrick returns to Niall, still grumbling for not being the one to finish off his victim.
“Go clean yerself up while I take care of yer fucking mess,” orders Patrick.
Niall does what he’s told. Patrick sees Carraig and waves him over. He has to teach him a lesson for failing.
“Cut him up so we can feed him to the fucking pigs,” orders Patrick.
“I’m no fucking butcher, Paddy!” protests Carraig, his pale face turning even paler.
“I don’t give a shite! Take the saw and cut off his fucking head, arms, and legs before we send him to the pigs,” orders Patrick. He then sees Gwilliam coming out of the toilet. “Gwilliam, help him out cutting up Michael.”
“Hey! I’m not the one who fucked up,” protests Gwilliam.
Patrick gives him a deadly look, instantly shutting him up. “I’ll have the other fellas decommission this place. Once ye’re finished, ye can come with us to Jakarta tomorrow morning.”
Patrick knows that the SAS will eventually find this location so he orders his men to pack everything for smuggling to Jakarta. After spending two and a half hours there, Patrick and Niall start their return journey to Sandalwood Farm… not knowing that the only person still breathing there is an MI5 officer.
Sunday September 27, 2026
Nether Alderley, Cheshire, England
On Congleton Rd, Patrick sees dozens of police cars, ambulances, and even a police helicopter heading towards his house. Rory has managed to conceal their HQ for years and Patrick wonders how the coppers finally found it. He doesn’t know whether Sheila or Steve have been apprehended or not and this worries him.
Patrick calls Carraig and Gwilliam at Liverpool, but they don’t answer. Assuming the worst has happened, there’s nothing more he can do except vanish and head to Jakarta. He destroys his smartphone in case they try to track him.
Sunday September 27, 2026
Islington, Liverpool, England
“Boss, could you please unload and make safe your weapons?” asks Al carefully.
Sarah gets angry with herself for neglecting the most basic of firearms safety and immediately unloads all her weapons. She doesn’t feel anything at the moment. She knows this is because there are a lot of things she must do first and adrenaline is still surging through her system. But she also realizes that the emotions will hit in a few minutes so she starts concentrating on the work at hand.
Sarah observes that all the windows are mined with IEDs. If the assault force had made entry from the roof and abseiled through the windows, the blasts would’ve claimed many casualties. As EOD experts, Sarah and her men have the skills and experience to dispose them, but they didn’t bring an ABS with them. Sarah faces her team, who already look devastated, knowing they’ve failed to save Michael’s life.
Sarah finds her command voice again. “Right! Go on stag to cover all entrances on the ground floor. Use the lift because there is still a UXO on the stairs leading to the second floor. Al, please call and update your CO once everyone is on stag and tell him to have one of the EODs handle the IEDs and the UXO. Carry on!”
The four men freeze and look confused. Instead of jumping to action, they just stand there, looking back at Sarah with glassy eyes and open mouths like complete dickheads. Sarah finally loses it and fully reverts back to her role as an Indonesian special forces commander.
“Carry on, jullie klootzakken!” yells Sarah, absolutely furious.
Sarah cuffs Dave and George roughly on their heads, cursing all the while at them in Dutch. She doesn’t get the chance to hit the others, who finally snap out of it and hurriedly execute her orders. While pushing them on towards the lift, she briefly checks the dead bodies to see if she recognizes anybody from James’s files. This proves impossible as almost all have had their heads blown off. Her men can only watch her work as the door of the lift starts closing.
A minute later, Al’s voice is heard on her headset. “Charlie, this is Alpha. All call signs in position.”
“Charlie roger,” answers Sarah. Her command voice is so strong that the men under her command have to fight the urge to stand to attention.
Through her headset, Sarah can hear Al brief Cormac by phone, but she ignores him and concentrates on her work. After checking the bodies, she finally goes back to Michael. For a few minutes, Sarah can do nothing but look. Michael’s skull is clearly visible and his body is a complete mess. Right in the middle of his forehead, Sarah sees two small gunshot wounds, probably from a .22 calibre pistol. Sarah checks the back of his head and sees no exit wound, meaning the bullets mushroomed perfectly inside his brain. Sarah looks around and sees a wooden board with nails hammered through, still covered in blood and flesh. Sarah can’t even imagine the pain and suffering her fiancé felt before they finally ended his misery.
In the corner of the room, there’s a sound system and TV that shows images from their CCTV. They’re extremely lucky that no one was watching when they made entry. The floor and walls are covered in plastic sheets, decorated with blood, skin, and flesh. There are plastic bags on the floor and a couple of them have Michael’s legs wrapped up inside. There’s little blood from the stump, meaning that at least his legs were cut off post-mortem. Seeing the wood-saw still embedded in his shoulder, Sarah concludes that they were in the middle of cutting Michael up before feeding him to the pigs. Sarah checks the rigor mortis and guesses his temperature compared to the room temperature. Michael’s body is already cold, but not overly stiff, meaning he was probably killed in the last three hours, about the same time Sarah started her recce. If Niall began his work immediately after getting him here, this means Michael was tortured for at least eight hours before someone finally finished him off.
Sarah knows that there was nothing she could’ve done to save him, but she still regrets not getting to her flat quicker, even though if she had’ve, she would probably be disembowelled right now next to Michael. The words ‘what if’ might haunt her for the rest of her life. Sarah feels the adrenaline leaving her system and she’s getting more emotional by the second, but there’s one more job she must do. She takes out her smartphone and calls Broussard, who has been trying unsuccessfully to reach her.
Sunday September 27, 2026
Nether Alderley, Cheshire, England
“You called, Chief?”
“Sarah, you’re on speaker. I’m still at Sandalwood Farm with the rest of the team. James said that you and the SAS have deployed to Liverpool to assault their warehouse. Could you please send the latest sitrep?” orders Broussard in Steve’s room.
The other team members are helping with the SSE. They stop what they’re doing to listen in.
“Another drug factory and distribution centre for England is here,” reports Sarah. “The SAS and I have secured it, but there are no signs of any senior members. They must’ve buggered off before we began the assault. The rest of the SAS are on their way here.”
“Right, we’ll be on our way in a few minutes. I’ll have Paul coordinate with the Merseyside Police. Did you find Michael there?” asks Broussard expectantly.
“Affirmative… he’s here.”
“Thank God!” says Broussard, relieved. “How’s he doing?”
“He’s dead, Chief… tortured,” answers Sarah, her voice starting to break up.
Broussard is silent for a few seconds. “Oh, fuck no! Fuck no! Fuck! Fuck…”
The call disconnects when Broussard throws his smartphone into a wall and then sits down crying. The others do the same.
The Interpol Incident Response Team has once again lost one of its finest members.
Sunday September 27, 2026
Islington, Liverpool, England
Sarah’s legs feel weak and she falls on her knees in front of Michael’s body. She stays like that for a few moments, looking at what’s left of her fiancé. She quickly prays ‘Padre Nuestro’ and ‘Ave Maria’ before she’s too emotional to do so. She forces herself to leave the room and can only sit down on the floor, hugging her rifle.
The grief starts coming in waves. She tries hard to cry silently so her men don’t hear her crying through her headset. She doesn’t know that her men are doing the same thing. From afar, she finally hears the distinct sounds of a Chinook helicopter. Cormac and the rest of B Squadron have finally arrived.
“Charlie, this is Zero. Radio check,” says Cormac.
“Charlie roger,” answers Sarah.
“Charlie, this is Zero. Send your sitrep,” orders Cormac. He already received a situation report from Al, but he wants to hear it directly from Sarah.
Sarah sobs as she reports to Cormac. “Zero, this is Charlie… the stronghold is secured… Yankee is on the second floor… IEDs are on the second floor windows… A UXO is on the stairs leading to the second floor… The roof has not been cleared yet… Do not abseil or land on the roof! I say again, do not abseil or land on the roof! Elements of B Squadron are on stag on the ground floor… the Interpol team with the Merseyside Police are mobile to the stronghold… heads up for blue-on-blue… over.”
Cormac is silent for a few moments. “Zero roger, we are ETA two mikes.”
“Charlie roger,” answers Sarah.
Sarah stands and tries to wipe the tears from her eyes. She is too sad to stop crying so she gives it up and uses the lift to go downstairs. Sarah’s embarrassed to deliver a report to Cormac while sobbing, but she can’t help it.
“Charlie descending to the ground floor via lift,” she reports through her headset.
“Roger that,” answers her team.
On the ground floor, Sarah observes that her men can’t look at her and avert their eyes when she looks at them with tears streaming down her cheeks. Sarah knows they must be embarrassed to see their commander unable to control her emotions.
The heli is hovering next to the building. It can’t land on the narrow street so the men fast-ropes down. A few seconds later, Cormac enters the stronghold with St John directly behind him carrying an ABS and EOD kit. St John has brought the same kit he’d taken with him when he’d secured Swan’s Mill with Al the month before.
“Zero complete and I have control. Sinjin, your call sign is Sierra. Charlie, could you please lead Sierra to the IEDs and UXO?” orders Cormac.
Sarah nods and helps St John into his ABS. Without her realizing it, she has stopped crying. She has her orders and there’s work to be done. Cormac heads towards the men. Sarah sees her men turn off their headsets and meet with Cormac to debrief him, while the rest of B Squadron cordon the area. Sarah knows that her men will criticize her leadership while they were under her command. She regrets treating them like they were her men in Indonesia, especially as they didn’t deserve it. Sarah keeps looking at them, but they try hard not to meet her eyes. They’re extremely emotional as they debrief Cormac and keep looking away when they see Sarah looking towards them. This adds to Sarah’s sorrow, though she can understand their behaviour. She too would be disappointed if her commander failed to lead her properly.
Sarah and St John take the lift to the second floor and she directs him to the IEDs on the window in the office area. St John asks Sarah to wait by the lift while he disposes of the IEDs. Sarah sits on the floor accompanied by the X-Rays she’d killed a few minutes earlier. The pungent reek of urine, faeces, burnt flesh and hair makes her gag.
As he enters the office room and sees what’s left of Michael, St John curses out loud and starts crying. His cry is contagious and Sarah starts crying again. St John keeps cursing and sobbing as he finishes his job. “All call signs… this is Sierra… IEDs secured… White-7-2… White-6-2…”
“Charlie roger,” says Sarah. She stands up and walks towards the White side.
“Zero roger,” says Cormac.
Sarah directs St John to the UXO’s location on the stairs and sits down on the floor in front of the office area. She hugs her rifle as if it could comfort her. After their battle at Carluccio’s, Michael calmed and comforted her. He can’t do that now because she failed to rescue him.
Sarah will be held responsible for this failure because she was in command. Tears start streaming from her eyes again, not just for losing someone she loves very much, but also because she failed the mission. She failed despite having the best special forces operatives in the world under her command. She has never failed a mission before, making this failure doubly painful.
The grenade blast sends Sarah jumping to help St John. She sees the wooden stairway collapse to the ground floor and St John’s hanging for dear life on what’s left of the rails. Just before the rails collapse, Sarah manages to grab his ABS. She struggles to drag him to safety. This proves extremely difficult for Sarah, because the ABS St John is wearing is almost as heavy as he is. The lift opens and Cormac and her men sprint towards them, just as she manages to secure St John. Sarah takes off his helmet. He’s still conscious, but pink blood is starting to flow from his mouth and nose, meaning that St John’s suffering from ‘blast lung’. She must open his ABS and have him lie face-down so he won’t drown in his own blood.
Sarah’s still trying to open the ABS when the others reach them. Sarah backs away so St John can receive medical attention. Once she sees that he’s in good hands, she returns to her original place and hugs her rifle again. She can’t cry because of the sudden surge of adrenaline. The lift opens once more and several troopers run over, carrying a stretcher and medical kits.
A few minutes later, Cormac goes into the room where Michael is. After only a few seconds, he exits the room and sits beside Sarah. She can see that Cormac is as sad as she is, but he’s holding back his tears. They sit in silence watching St John being taken care of. They hear another heli approaching from afar and police sirens heading towards their location. Sarah feels the adrenaline leaving her and the grief is starting to overwhelm her.
“I’m sorry, Mac,” says Sarah.
“For what?” asks Cormac.
“I couldn’t save him… this time…”
Cormac is silent for a few seconds before he responds. “You can’t save everyone, but I saw you save Sinjin’s life. If I hadn’t known anything else about your actions today… that would’ve been enough.”
“But I failed…” says Sarah, starting to cry again.
“Your mission was to lead the team and do whatever it took to save Michael. You did what you were ordered to do to the best of your ability,” says Cormac.
Sarah closes her eyes, but the tears keep on streaming. When they deployed to Liverpool, Sarah was confident in her ability to lead her team. It turns out her leadership ability was nowhere near Michael’s. She was in command of this mission and she failed. “I apologize for disobeying your order, Mac. I’ll take full responsibility for the failure of the mission… so please don’t court-martial or RTU the men…. Please, Mac… I was in command… and they were just following my orders…”
Cormac is silent once again. What Sarah and her team did was intolerable. In wartime, those kinds of insubordination could get them hanged. Cormac nods slowly and his eyes finally gloss over. “You did the right thing… If you had followed my orders, they probably would’ve cut him up, removed him, and sent him to the pig farm by now… and we would never have found him…”
Sarah feels some relief knowing that Cormac won’t punish her teammates. She doesn’t want the careers of her teammates to suffer because she made such an amateurish commander. She’s amazed with herself. She was trained by the SAS for only a day and a half. How could she possibly think she’d be able to lead a team of the finest special forces unit in the world in a real operation? Did she really think she was in the same league as Michael? She suddenly realizes she’s still just a policewoman from Indonesia. Sarah’s disappointed with herself for letting her teammates down. She also deeply regrets treating them so badly.
“I guess the men are disappointed with me now…” says Sarah, head bowing down.
Cormac frowns and looks at her quizzically.
“I failed the mission and I haven’t led the men properly, have I?” asks Sarah.
The CO of the SAS is lost for words and can only give Sarah an incredulous look. Before he can respond, the lift opens and the Interpol team finally arrive along with the Merseyside Police. Sarah hurriedly gives Cormac her rifle and her kit and then runs towards Liz, who’s already running towards her. They hug and cry hysterically in the middle of the floor while the others secure the crime scene.
Cormac escorts his men carrying St John on a stretcher towards the lift. He takes out his smartphone to call someone and can only watch the two women cry hysterically. The B Squadron men with him can only stare as they pass by. Sarah thinks that the SAS men must be disappointed and disgusted with her behaviour. As an officer, she’s required to be fully in control of her emotions at all times. Besides being overwhelmed with grief, she’s also embarrassed for not being able to control her emotions. As tough as she is, Sarah is only human.
A few minutes later, a police car takes Sarah and Liz to Liz’s flat at the Dreamhouse Apartments. Liz will take Sarah in while her flat’s still considered a crime scene.
10:15 WIB (GMT+7)
Sunday September 27, 2026
Terminal 3, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Kota Tangerang, Tangerang, Banten
At the airport, Santoso picks up Rory Hanrahan.
“Apa kabar, Santoso?” greets Rory. How are you, Santoso?
“Baik-baik saja, pak Rory,” replies Santoso in his usual friendly manner. Fine, pak Rory.
“Bagaimana keluarga?” How’s the family?
“Istri saya sedang demam, pak,” replies Santoso without changing his expression. My wife has a fever, pak.
“Oh, semoga cepat sembuh ya. Bisa tolong bawa bagasi saya? Saya harus ke kamar kecil terlebih dahulu,” says Rory without missing a beat. Oh, I hope she gets well soon. Could you please take my luggage? I have to go to the loo.
“Baik, pak Rory,” says Santoso.
Rory leaves him with his luggage and heads back towards the terminal. As he turns around, he observes several people in mufti eyeing them. Predictably, some of them start following Santoso to his car and only one stays back to follow Rory. After exiting the loo and terminal, Rory unexpectedly hails a taxi. He smirks when he sees his tail frantically calling someone on his smartphone. Rory asks the taxi driver to go around town, which the driver happily obliges because it will rack up his fare. The taxi driver doesn’t know and doesn’t care that Rory is conducting counter-surveillance drills.
A few hours later, and after Rory has changed taxis half a dozen times, he finally receives a text from Santoso. Rory breathes a sigh of relief when he reads it. The text reads ’istri saya sudah sehat’, which translate into ‘my wife is now healthy’. This means that he managed to lose the people following him. If Santoso had texted ’saya berhasil lolos dari mereka’, which translates into ‘I’ve managed to lose them’, this would’ve meant that he had been caught and sent the text under duress. Santoso is good at his job and Rory makes a mental note to give him a big raise.
Rory goes to the Central Park Mall where Santoso is waiting near the entrance. To be extra safe, Santoso conducts another counter-surveillance drill before finally reaching the house. On arriving, Rory immediately calls a meeting with Frank, Richard, and a senior Cartel member named Brian Turner. Brian was once a captain in the Royal Logistics Corps, but took the Army 2020 package. He’s groomed to be part of the organization’s top echelon and will be responsible for exporting their goods to Australia and distributing them to the local market. Unlike most Cartel members, Brian is English. Rory can see all three of them are badly shaken.
“What’s the whole fucking story?” asks Rory.
“Sheila fucked up and snatched the SAS bloke, she did,” says Frank, his Welsh accent sounding more pronounced than usual. “The SAS somehow found out about her and they raided our HQ and also Kempston. Paddy and Niall are on the way here, everyone else is fucking dead.”
“Everyone?” asks Rory, incredulously. “Steve? Sheila? Gwilliam? Frag?”
“They’re fucking dead, Rory!” says Frank.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” curses Rory. “When will Paddy arrive?”
Richard looks at a calendar. “They should get here Friday afternoon.”
Rory’s the most senior in the organization until Patrick gets here. He has to make lots of decisions before the INP and that policewoman finally find them.
Lieutenant Richard Callaghan stands to attention. “Sir!”
“We’ll have to relocate because it’s only a matter of time before the INP find this place. Could ye please find us another location for our HQ and factory somewhere in Central Java? Make sure it’s a highly defendable stronghold.”
“Aye, sir!” says Richard. He stands at ease.
Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Llywelyn stands to attention. “Sir!”
“Ye should halt the construction of the escape tunnel. Ye are now 3 i/c and besides handling the supply chain, ye’re also in charge of logistics and administration. For now, could ye please coordinate with the suppliers regarding our relocation plans?”
“Yes, sir!” says Frank. He grins as he stands at ease, happy being appointed Steve’s successor.
Captain Brian Turner stands to attention. “Sir!”
“I’m promoting you. Since we’ve lost our export to Ireland, could ye please expedite the distribution of our product to the local market?”
“Yes, sir!” says Brian. He stands at ease, grinning broadly. This promotion means he’s now a part of The Cartel’s top echelon.
“We should also beef up security and put one of the longs in the guardhouse so Santoso can fire some bursts for early warning if the coppers raid us. This is just in case he doesn’t have the chance to call us first. Leftenant!”
Richard stands to attention again. “Sir!”
“Could ye please brief Santoso on this?” orders Rory.
“Aye, sir!” says Richard. He stands at ease.
“Back to work, lads. Falling out, to-the-riiight… Fall out!” orders Rory.
They fall out to the right without saluting because they have no headdress on. Rory must execute Phase Five, which means gathering intel on the INP’s top men and women. If they can’t be bribed, Niall will take care of them and their families. The main priority is to snatch the most dangerous of them - the head of Badan Narkotika National (National Narcotics Agency) and Police Brigadier General Prasetyo, the head of Densus-88. To be on the safe side, they’ll take their families too.
But first, Rory must concentrate on gathering intel on Sarah Dharmawan and her family. That policewoman helped kill six of his closest friends and hundreds of their men. Rory wants to make sure Sarah and her whole family get what they deserve.
Sunday September 27, 2026
Deansgate, Manchester, England
Sarah wakes up alone in Liz’s flat. She just lies there on Liz’s bed, contemplating her fate. After a few minutes, she looks around. She sees an Old Bushmills Irish whiskey on the nightstand with a note from Liz saying it’s for her. Sarah has to suppress the urge to drain it in one sitting. She checks her smartphone and finds out that Broussard has ordered her to take a warm-down period. Although it’s a Sunday, Sarah wants to work so she can ignore her sorrow. She grabs her tablet to fill out the AAR form. It takes almost the whole day for her to do it, as remembering what happened to Michael makes her cry. Only when she’s finished with her job does she start drinking the whiskey.
Broussard and his team are in a meeting with officers from the NCA, Cheshire Constabulary, and Merseyside Police. The amount of dead bodies at the crime scene is stretching the capacity for both constabularies. Sarah’s AAR arrives by e-mail to all members of the Interpol team. Broussard and the others read it in disbelief. Sarah led four soldiers of the SAS killing up to eighty members of the Irish Drug Cartel. It’s a phenomenal achievement!
When Liz returns to her flat, her teammate’s already asleep, an empty whiskey bottle on the nightstand.
Monday September 28, 2026
Deansgate, Manchester, England
“Good morning, Sarah,” says Liz, smiling. “Fancy some breakfast?”
Sarah wakes up and sees that Liz has cooked a full English breakfast for both. Her stomach rumbles as she hasn’t eaten in two days and she has a severe hangover from the whiskey. She struggles to return Liz’s smile. “Good morning, Liz. Thank you very much for this… and for the whiskey.”
“Ye’re welcome. Do ye need something for yer head?” asks Liz.
“No, thank you,” replies Sarah. The events of these past few days have made her hate drugs even more.
While having breakfast, they talk about everything except work. Sarah’s grateful that Liz doesn’t ask her how she feels or other stupid questions that would remind her about these past couple of days. Even so, Liz looks just as sad as she does.
A few hours later, they go to GMP HQ. In the Interpol area, her teammates shake her hand and hug her. She then enters Broussard’s office. Her commander has visibly aged since she last saw him a couple of days ago. This is the second time he’s lost a team member and he must be feeling incredibly stressed out. Sarah knows on top of that he’s worked all night and all through the weekend.
“First, my condolences to you. I know you and Michael had become very close so this must be a terrible blow for you,” says Broussard.
“Thank you, Chief,” says Sarah softly.
“Michael’s body…” Broussard has to stop a few moments to compose himself. “Michael’s body is currently being held by the Liverpool Coroner’s Office for autopsy. They will release his body within three working days.”
“Michael’s parents has been notified and they have requested Michael be buried at the SAS Cemetery across the road from their barracks at Credenhill. The burial is planned for this Friday and the SAS will arrange everything. There will be a church service in the morning inside their barracks and a military funeral at the cemetery afterwards. The whole team will attend, of course. My secretary has arranged for us to go there by train on Thursday evening and we will stay at The Green Dragon Hotel.”
Sarah can only nod.
“Second, because MACP is still in effect and you were officially seconded to the SAS, all of your kills were considered ‘lawful killing’ by the authorities. You won’t have to worry about the killings of Steve Dunbar and Sheila Neeson, nor the kills at the warehouse in Liverpool,” says Broussard. He looks uncomfortable, because what Sarah and the SAS did was close to murder, especially as most of the people killed were shot while sleeping.
“Third, I recommended you for a George Cross. The Home Secretary won’t be awarding you that exactly, but he has upgraded your KGM to a George Medal. You will be entitled to use the post-nominal letters GM.”
Sarah doesn’t feel any joy whatsoever in being invested with the GM, even though it’s the second highest award for a civilian. She failed her mission and failed to save her fiancé, and she feels she doesn’t deserve anything.
“Fourth, as of this morning, your apartment’s status as a crime scene has been lifted. I had a company licensed in trauma and crime-scene cleaning take care of cleaning your apartment. It should be done by now so you can return there this afternoon. The Cartel knows where you live now so the GMP will heavily patrol your area as a precaution. You might want to consider moving.”
Sarah only nods again.
“And finally, Cormac has informed me that as of today, your secondment to the SAS has concluded and you have been returned to the Interpol IRT. We still have a lot of work to do, but I’d prefer you take a few days’ leave of absence.”
“Please don’t make me stay at home, Chief,” says Sarah, almost inaudibly.
Broussard looks at her for a while and finally nods. He then receives a text on his smartphone.
“James and Paul have prepared the results of the raid on Sandalwood Farm and the warehouse at Liverpool. Let’s go and meet them,” invites Broussard, standing up.
Sarah follows him into the meeting room. After everyone takes their seats, the two empty seats reserved for their slain teammates stand out starkly. Paul stares at the empty seat beside Liz for several moments before starting his presentation.
Paul tells them that the price of MDMA has skyrocketed throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland. The price is getting higher each day as the stock in the hands of the distributors and dealers slowly decreases. It appears The Cartel is no longer active in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The NCA and the territorial police forces are monitoring the price. If the price ever comes down again, this means The Cartel has returned or another criminal organization has taken over the MDMA market.
James presents the results of the SSEs on both sites. Sarah and the SAS killed fifty-two narcoterrorists at Sandalwood Farm, including Sheila Iona Neeson and Steve Dunbar. Sheila is considered a member of The Cartel’s top echelon because of her family relationship with Patrick and Steve Dunbar. At Liverpool, Sarah and the SAS managed to kill twenty-six narcoterrorists, including Carraig ‘Frag’ O’Lenihan and Gwilliam O’Donnel. At the time, Sarah couldn’t recognize them because their heads were blown off, but DNA testing shows that they’ve killed two more senior members.
This means that Sarah and four SAS men eliminated seventy-eight narcoterrorists in a single night, including four of the Irish Drug Cartel’s senior members. Unlike after Operation Crankshaft, none of the team members are happy with the news, because this extraordinary achievement was achieved at the cost of one of their own.
The analysis of phones recovered from the two sites failed to reveal the location of the other senior members. Just like the Interpol team’s own SOP, The Cartel probably changes smartphones and numbers when one of them is killed. At Sandalwood Farm, James found evidence that Patrick Dunbar, Niall Schroeder, and other senior members had stayed there. They’ve most likely escaped from the UK and will now be on their way to Indonesia. MI5 is trying to find out how they managed to escape the UK.
Grenades, Claymore mines, and other explosives were found at Sandalwood Farm and the Kempston warehouse. An EOD team from the SAS found the roof of Sandalwood Farm and the Kempston warehouse filled with IEDs. This means that if they had assaulted from the roof, there would’ve been heavy casualties among the SAS. They found numerous AK-47 and M16A2 assault rifles. James is sure The Cartel has hundreds of M4 Carbines, but none of them were recovered. The worst-case scenario is that they’ve already been smuggled to Indonesia.
The results of the SSE cannot determine the location of their drug factories in Indonesia, but they now have the names and addresses of all The Cartel’s distributors and dealers across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Today, James will give the list to all concerned territorial police so the distributors and dealers can be apprehended. James also sends the list to Cormac, currently at Credenhill. Paul will coordinate with the territorial police forces to apprehend all of The Cartel’s associates at exactly the same time. This is to prevent any one of them getting tipped off. They will start the massive arrests early on Wednesday morning.
Once the distributors and dealers have been apprehended, the Interpol Incident Response Team will have completed the bulk of their mission, leaving it only up to Sarah to find The Cartel’s drug factory in Indonesia. Although Sarah has played a huge part in eliminating The Cartel in the UK and Republic of Ireland, she’s disappointed being the only one not to have achieved her primary mission, locating their drug factory in Indonesia. Because the supply chain to Ireland has been broken, their factory in Indonesia will probably continue to operate distributing goods to the local market. The INP must find it as soon as possible, before The Cartel start their narcoterrorism in Indonesia.
Sarah spends the rest of the day making a report for NCB Indonesia while her teammates return to their units to lead the arrests of the distributors and dealers. Sarah is left alone in the office. Unconsciously, her eyes keep glancing towards the desk beside her, as if hoping Michael will suddenly sit there. Cormac suddenly texts her and asks what time they’ll arrive in Hereford and where they’ll stay. Sarah lets him know that the Interpol team will arrive on Thursday afternoon and stay at The Green Dragon Hotel. Cormac doesn’t respond to her text, which makes Sarah briefly wonder.
Then she receives an e-mail from NCB Indonesia. They’ve sent her a list of all the foreign companies located along the Mayor Oking Jayaatmaja road. NCB Indonesia also tells her the Bogor Police Precinct is checking the companies one by one. They are also trying to locate the lorry driver from PT. Horizon Turbines and Propulsions, who has suddenly disappeared.
The next couple of days, Sarah receives regular reports from her teammates. The distributors and dealers were arrested without a hitch. On Wednesday afternoon, Sarah receives the final report that, from the list of 1,431 people, 1,299 have been successfully apprehended.
The West Mercia Police and Dorset Police are on the lookout for the remaining 132 distributors and dealers. Both of those territorial police forces are disappointed to be the only ones failing to arrest the distributors and dealers on their list. They don’t know, and will never know, that the 132 they’re looking for were all simultaneously snatched by groups of four men.
The fate of the distributors and dealers is never known… except to the men who snatched them.
11:21 WIB (GMT+7)
Wednesday September 30, 2026
PT. Westershire Chemicals Manufacture Indonesia
Citeureup, Bogor, West Java
An Indonesian policeman ranked Brigadir Satu (Briptu) from the Bogor Police Precinct enters the main gate. An employee greets him at the security post.
“Selamat siang,” greets the policeman, giving the man a salute. Good afternoon.
“Selamat siang, pak,” returns Santoso, unconsciously returning his salute.
“I’m Briptu Nano Suwarno from the Bogor Police Precinct. May I meet with the head of this factory? I tried calling for an appointment, but there was no answer.”
“For what purpose, pak?”
“I’m assigned to check all factories in this area,” answers Briptu Nano. “Here’s my assignment letter from the Bogor Police Precinct.”
“Our factory is a mess, pak. Does it have to be today?”
“Iya, pak, I have to check every company on my list,” says Briptu Nano, showing him the list.
“Wow, that’s quite a lot! There’s nothing in our factory, pak. Why don’t you just tell your superiors that you’ve already checked it? Give him my number and if he calls, I’ll tell him you’ve done your job. How about it, pak? How about we just 86 it?” 86 (delapan-enam) is a code word Indonesians use when they’re trying to bribe a policeman.
“I’m sorry, pak, I have to check this factory.”
Santoso keeps trying to bribe the policeman, but he’s having none of it. Briptu Nano needs the money, but his commander gave him a direct order to check each one of those factories on his list.
“I’m sorry, pak, I still have to check this factory,” says Briptu Nano firmly.
“Let me call my boss first. Okay, pak?”
“Sure, go ahead,” answers Briptu Nano.
Santoso goes inside the security post and closes the door. He calls Rory with his smartphone.
“Ya, Santoso?” answers Rory in Bahasa Indonesia.
“There’s a policeman out front, pak Rory. He wants to see you and he wants to check the factory,” reports Santoso.
“How many are there?” asks Rory.
“Just one, pak Rory. I already tried to bribe him many times, but he wouldn’t accept it.”
Rory is silent for a few seconds. Having a copper show up means the INP suspects their factory is in this area. As he expected, it’s now only a matter of time before the INP finds them. Rory calls Richard and Brian to handle the copper. He also orders Frank to call the distributors and dealers in the UK, especially those that have military experience, and make them core members of The Cartel. Rory plans to send them to Jakarta to reinforce his team because he doesn’t want to be too dependent on the local workers.
“Okay then, we’ll just have to execute the SOP for this situation. Lanjutkan!” orders Rory. Carry on!
“Siap, Komandan!” answers Santoso. Yes, sir!
Santoso exits the security post. “Pak Nano, can you wait here for five minutes?”
“Our office is a mess, pak, let us clean it up a bit before you meet with my boss.”
“Oh, okay,” answers Briptu Nano.
Santoso and Britpu Nano sit and chit chat at the bench outside the security post. Five minutes later, Santoso receives a text to tell their guest he may enter the office. The policeman rides his worn-down motorcycle towards the office. The road there has only one lane, with a forest block to either side. The road forks and circles around the whole factory area, surrounded by high walls. The two-storey factory looks huge and formidable. Briptu Nano enters the lobby and sees a foreigner across the room, giving him a friendly smile. The policeman returns his smile and walks towards him.
The last thing Briptu Nano sees is the foreigner’s smile turn nasty. A bullet from an S&W Model M&P22 pistol with a sound suppressor enters the back of his head. Brian shot him from behind while Richard diverted his attention from the front. Brian moves forward and empties his pistol into the convulsing policeman. After he’s dead, Richard frisks him and Brian calls seven of their core members, Jason, Errol, Vinnie, Bert, Chris, Tommy, and Liam, to clean the office and bury the dead body in the forest.
Briptu Nano Suwarno’s body will be found a couple of weeks from now. He died on duty, leaving behind a son and a pregnant wife.
Thursday October 1, 2026
Central Park, Manchester, England
A day before Michael’s funeral, the team is invited to a meeting by Broussard.
“I have some good news and some bad news. Contrary to custom, I will deliver the good news first. Since all drug manufacturing plants and distribution centres of The Cartel have been decommissioned and the remaining members have buggered off, most likely to Indonesia, as of today His Majesty’s Government has decided to lift MACP. Besides successfully assisting the MoD in locating The Cartel members and decommissioning their drug factories and distribution centres, we have also successfully supported the constabularies in apprehending almost all distributors and dealers of MDMA throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland. That is a grand total of 1,299 arrests. We have accomplished the mission the Home Office and ICPO-Interpol gave us and all of this is because I have an extraordinary team under my command. This is, by far, the best Incident Response Team I have ever commanded and I thank you very much for your work on this mission. You will each receive a Letter of Recommendation from ICPO-Interpol HQ for your support.”
Everyone claps their hands, but it doesn’t sound that cheerful. Everyone can clearly see the sorrow on Broussard’s face, even before he delivers the bad news.
“And because we have succeeded in our mission, ICPO-Interpol HQ has decided that this Incident Response Team will be disbanded by the end of this week. By Monday next week, you will all be required to report to your previous units and I’ve been recalled back to Lyon to handle another team for another mission.”
Everyone is stunned. They knew that they would be disbanded someday, but not so abruptly.
“But I still haven’t accomplished my primary mission, Chief, and I still need intel support from the UK to find their factory in Indonesia,” protests Sarah.
“I have made the exact same argument to my superiors at Interpol and to the Home Office. However, as you know, there is evidence that the rest of The Cartel has relocated to Indonesia. The Home Secretary’s position on this, not to put too fine a point on it, is that The Cartel is now Indonesia’s problem. This is now INP’s mission and Interpol, MI5, and the NCA will still provide intel support for the INP through NCB Indonesia whenever anything comes up.”
Sarah can now empathize with the men of the Royal Irish Regiment, who were ‘rewarded’ with the disbanding of three of their battalions after their success in Operation Banner. Sarah is sad and disappointed, but understands why it has to be done. Her teammates look as if they are still too stunned to react.
“Because tomorrow we will head for Hereford, and unless you want to work throughout the weekend, all of you will have until the end of today to get your affairs in order before you return to your units. Sarah, this is your airline ticket to Jakarta for tomorrow evening via Manchester International Airport. If I may suggest, you should pack all your things and then send them to a deposit at the airport so you can depart for Indonesia immediately after Michael’s funeral,” says Broussard, giving her a British Airways e-ticket.
Interpol has sent Sarah to England, and Interpol will also send her back to Indonesia, giving her no say in this matter. There’s nothing more to do than pack her things. Sarah doesn’t have much to sort out at the office so she returns to her flat and starts packing. After sending most of her luggage to a deposit at the airport, she takes the train with her teammates to Hereford.
Thursday October 1, 2026
The Green Dragon Hotel
Hereford, Herefordshire, England
Sarah has checked in to the hotel and is now in her room. She’s sorting out her luggage when the doorbell rings. As is her custom, Sarah looks through the peephole, but she literally can’t believe her eyes when she sees who’s standing there! She quickly opens the door and hugs her visitor.
“Kak!” exclaims Sarah, giving her brother a ferocious hug.
“Halo, Dik!” greets Tony, returning her hug.
“How on earth did you get here?” asks Sarah incredulously as she drags him into her room.
“Last Sunday, Cormac suddenly called me and he told me Michael was killed in action. I was shocked, but he didn’t tell me anything else. He only told me that it’d be better if I go to England to keep you company because you were close to Michael. So I took some leave and the next flight to London. From Heathrow I took the train and Cormac told me to come to this hotel. So, what’s this all about, Dik? How did you get to know Michael and the CO of the SAS?”
As is their family custom, Sarah never told her family about her work. This time, though, Sarah tells Tony everything, about her job at Interpol, how she met Michael, their activities in Ireland, their battle at Carluccio’s, and the time she was trained by the SAS.
Tony looks at his sister in awe, listening to her incredible experience. Sarah starts to look sad when she tells him about her engagement to Michael and then his snatching and murder by The Cartel. Tony looks pale when she tells him about the unexploded grenade. He then hugs his sister when she tells him about the failed mission to rescue Michael. Tony is also sad, because Michael was the one who trained him and his unit.
Once Sarah has calmed down, Tony takes her to the hotel’s restaurant, the John Spice’s Restaurant & Bar. The buffet is excellent and now it’s Tony’s turn to ask questions.
“What did they teach you at PATA?” he asks.
“The most useful thing for Densus is the SAS Colour Clock Code for Immediate Actions. Have you implemented it for Bravo yet?”
“Of course I have,” answers Tony. “By the way, you’re not military. How the devil could you get into PATA?”
“The Director said it was the least he could do for saving Michael’s life at Carluccio’s,” says Sarah. “He also invested me with an MC. Next year, King William will also invest me with a GM.”
Sarah can see that her brother is fiercely proud of her. However, there’s a glint in Tony’s eyes that reminds Sarah of her mum when she announced to the family that she was hand-selected into Densus-88. Sarah remembers her whole family looking at her proudly. She then noticed her mum, who was looking at her with fierce pride in her eyes. But behind that pride, Sarah could also feel her deep worries. Sarah notices that Tony is looking at her the same way as their mum did that time.
“When will you go back to Jakarta?” asks Sarah, changing the subject.
“Tomorrow afternoon, with you through Manchester.”
“How did you know when I will go back?”
“Cormac told me. He said that he got it from your commander at Interpol,” answers Tony.
Sarah is touched because Cormac had thought of her, even though he must surely be busy arranging for Michael’s funeral. After dinner, they keep talking in the hotel room. After the lights are out and just before they go to sleep, Tony is still curious about a few things.
“How did you do at the Fan Dance?” he asks.
“Three hours and thirty-eight minutes,” answers Sarah, a bit curtly.
“What happened? Did you get lost or something?” asks Tony, smirking.
Sarah doesn’t take his bait.
Tony’s happy because she didn’t defeat his time, but he’s actually impressed because he knows her timing is good, even for the SAS. “Have you ever been inside their base in Credenhill?”
“Of course I have,” answers Sarah, even more curtly. “In fact, I’ve been into B Squadron’s Interest Room.”
Tony doesn’t respond and now he’s turning pale. It’s fortunate the room is already dark so Sarah can’t see his expression.
“Watch it, Kak, I’m going to get you for that!” says Sarah as she turns over to sleep.
‘Now I’m dead…’ thinks Tony worriedly.
10:18 WIB (GMT+7)
Friday October 2, 2026
PT. Westershire Chemicals Manufacture Indonesia
Citeureup, Bogor, West Java
These past few days, Rory has been looking for Sarah’s sister on Facebook. He finally found someone who’s a dead ringer for her sister. Since she also has the same surname, Rory is sure that the girl named Cindy Monica Dharmawan is the one he’s looking for. Fortunately, Cindy has a public account so everyone can see her wall. Rory is in the middle of studying it when Frank enters his office.
“What now?” asks Rory on seeing Frank’s expression.
“Almost all our dealers and distributors in the UK and Ireland have been arrested,” answers Frank.
“Almost all of them?” asks Rory incredulously.
“Except for the blokes at Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Dorset, who’ve disappeared. Either they’ve all managed to escape the coppers or…” says Frank, shrugging.
Frank doesn’t have to continue. Rory knows those distributors and dealers will never be found because they live not far away from the SAS and SBS bases. The Cartel is more vulnerable now than they’ve ever been, because they can’t recruit new men to replace the ones they’ve lost.
Friday October 2, 2026
Regimental Church, Memorial Garden, SAS Barracks
Credenhill, Herefordshire, England
The Regimental Church is inside the Memorial Garden of the SAS Barracks. In front of the church, there’s a Regimental Clock Tower with the names of SAS members who ‘failed to beat the clock’, which is their way of saying men who were killed in action before they could retire. Sarah sees hundreds of names and notices Michael’s name is already etched among them. A large wreath is in front of it, sent by His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales as Colonel-in-Chief of the 22nd Regiment. Sarah is disappointed she couldn’t meet Prince Harry, but the prince is still abroad and sent a representative from The Blues and Royals.
There’s a plaque on the tower with a verse from James Elroy Flecker’s ‘Hassan: The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How He Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand’.
’We are the pilgrims, Master, we shall go,
Always a little further; it may be,
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea.’
Sarah doesn’t understand the quote and doesn’t know why it’s there. She enters the church and sits beside her fiancé’s coffin with Tony accompanying her. She’s wearing a black dress with a black hat she bought before going to Hereford and Tony’s wearing his dark blue Indonesian Air Force uniform, holding the orange beret of the Korps Pasukan Khas in his hand.
The coffin is draped with the Union Flag. In front of the coffin is displayed Michael’s old photo. He looks dashing in his blue temperate ceremonial uniform with the rank of Second-Lieutenant and the maroon beret of the Parachute Regiment. He looks young, and the picture was taken before he had scars on his face. It’s been a while since Sarah saw Michael with his cheeky grin and she can’t stop looking at his picture. Beside the picture is a board displaying two of Michael’s medals, the George Medal (GM) and An Bonn Míleata Calmachta Le Tuillteanas (BMC) from the Republic of Ireland. Sarah briefly wonders why there are only two medals for a highly decorated British Army officer.
‘His other medals are classified then,’ thinks Sarah.
All members of B Squadron are already inside the church, wearing the temperate parade uniform from their previous units. Among them, Robert seems to be the most shaken. He sits sadly in the front pew, head down and with a thousand-yard stare. Sarah sees Al, George, and Dave pass by several times, but they don’t even glance at her and seem to be trying hard to avoid her, adding to her sorrow. Sarah knows that they’re disappointed with her for failing the mission and for her poor leadership. She can understand them, though, as she would probably do the same if her commander had failed her. Sarah is sad, not just for losing Michael, but also her teammates, although Cormac and the other B Squadron members are treating her nicely. Before she takes the train to Manchester, Sarah has to apologize to them for her poor leadership and for treating them badly during the operation. Sarah hopes they will forgive her and accept her as their friend again.
Michael’s parents and little brother arrive and Cormac introduces them to Sarah and Tony. Michael’s brother looks a lot like Michael, but Sarah has to admit that he’s much better looking, especially wearing the Irish Guards’ temperate parade uniform.
“Second-Leftenant Scott Adrian, Irish Guards,” says Michael’s brother, blinking while he shakes her hand.
Looking at him blinking like that, Sarah suddenly remembers the first time she met Michael.
“Inspector Sarah Dharmawan, INP,” she says, trying hard to smile at him.
“Goodness, ye’re so beautiful, Sarah,” says Lady Patricia Adrian.
“Thank you, Lady Adrian.”
“Aye, ye look even lovelier in person than ye do in yer picture,” says Sir Geoffrey Adrian, KCB.
Scott clears his throat and Sarah gives Tony a nasty look.
“Picture? What picture?” asks Lady Adrian to her husband, who starts going red-faced.
Fortunately, the Director comes to greet them. It turns out Sir Charles and Sir Geoffrey know each other already.
“Excuse us, please,” says Sarah, taking Tony’s hand to sit with the other B Squadron troopers while they wait for the service to start.
15:15 WIB (GMT+7)
Friday October 2, 2026
PT. Westershire Chemicals Manufacture Indonesia
Citeureup, Bogor, West Java
Rory finally finds something useful on Cindy’s wall. Near the beginning of her account, Cindy invited her friends to her house to swim and there’s a Google Map showing the way. Rory receives information from the GMP that the Interpol IRT has been disbanded and Sarah is no longer seen at GMP HQ. Rory also receives info from his other contact in the UKSF Group that Sarah is attending Michael’s funeral and will return to Jakarta from Manchester International Airport the same day.
Rory takes a car to pick up Patrick and Niall at the city’s other airport.
Friday October 2, 2026
New SAS Cemetery
Credenhill, Herefordshire, England
Michael will be buried at the SAS Cemetery, across the street from the main gate of the SAS Barracks. They follow the coffin, carried by six members of Air Troop from all squadrons including George. Sarah sees that George is a Staff Sergeant. The six Air Troop men are wearing the uniform of the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment with their maroon berets. The bearer party is led by Robert, wearing the Coldstream Guards uniform.
When they arrive at the cemetery, Sarah stands between Tony and Liz. Across from the coffin stands Michael’s family, with everyone else behind them, wearing the temperate parade uniforms from their previous units. It feels as if every regiment in His Majesty’s Armed Forces sent a representative to attend Michael’s funeral. All of B Squadron can attend because they are still ‘On The Team’. Sarah sees St John among them, looking pale and feeble, wearing a Corporal’s uniform of the Royal Welsh. He ran away from the hospital just so he could give his last respects to his commander. Derek, with his AGC uniform, is recording everything on his video camera.
Sarah sees several people from the Training Wing. Some are missing an arm, a leg, an eye, or a combination of all three, but they look proud in their uniform. Among them, Sarah sees the DS from the checkpoint on top of Pen y Fan where she did the Fan Dance. He’s wearing the uniform of the 3rd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s) with the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. He looks the saddest among them and Sarah notices him crying all throughout the church service.
On her right, the Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards stands to attention, flanked by the Hereford Cathedral Choir. In front of the band stand twelve men holding SA80A3 rifles in the ‘Reverse Arms’ position, meaning their rifles are held upside down to honour their fallen comrade. The firing party is led by Dave, wearing the uniform of the King’s Royal Hussars. The temperate parade uniform of that regiment looks the oddest, with a crimson-coloured hat and pants. Like George, Dave is also a Staff Sergeant.
The Director comes forward to deliver his eulogy and he is the only one wearing the SAS uniform. “Michael Adrian, born in Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, twenty-eight years ago, spent five years in The Regiment. He was one of the youngest officer ever to become an Officer Commanding of a sabre squadron. This came as no surprise to those who knew him, as he always excelled in everything he did. After graduating from secondary school at St. Patrick’s College, he immediately enrolled into the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where he graduated as the best British Army Officer Cadet of the Course, and was awarded the Sword of Honour from the Commandant…”
Sarah listens carefully as Sir Charles tells them about Michael’s career. She still doesn’t know how he rose up the career ladder so fast.
After telling them about Michael’s career, the Director starts telling them his impressions of Michael. “Major-General Adrian, Lady Adrian, and Second-Leftenant Adrian, we all know that Michael was a true Irishman, fiercely loyal to his land and heritage. During one of my many discussions with Michael about poetry, however, he once told me that his favourite poem came from The War Sonnets, by Rupert Brooke - who happens to be an Englishman. And I quote:
’If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
’A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
’And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.’”
Sir Charles pauses to let the words resonate through the crowd before continuing his eulogy. “Major-General Adrian, Lady Adrian, and Second-Leftenant Adrian, let me assure you of this, that there is a corner of a field here in Credenhill… that will be forever Ireland.”
Sarah is touched and almost cries hearing Sir Charles’s words. But his next words shock almost everyone.
“God bless you, Michael, and God bless your family. Leftenant-Colonel Sir Michael Adrian, VC, KCB, GM, BMC… may you Rest in Peace.”
Sarah’s jaw drops. She looks at her Interpol teammates and they’re equally stunned. It turns out Michael had been invested with a Victoria Cross, the UK’s highest military decoration. The VC is equivalent to the US’s Medal of Honor or Indonesia’s Bintang Sakti and the KCB is the Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, the same honour bestowed on Michael’s father.
The KCB makes Michael a knight, entitled to a ‘Sir’ as a prefix to his first name. If he were married, his wife would be entitled to a ‘Lady’ as a prefix to her surname. As far as Sarah knows, the KCB can only be bestowed to officers with a minimum rank of Colonel, making her even more intrigued why Michael was given an exception. With those kinds of honours, it’s no wonder Michael’s career soared so fast. Because they weren’t displayed awards, this means Michael won them in classified operations. The Director shouldn’t have mentioned them, but he doesn’t seem to care today, because he wants everyone to know that Michael is a hero and a knight.
Sarah looks towards Michael’s family and sees they’re equally surprised. The Director salutes the coffin and returns to his original place. The next eulogy is from Al, wearing the brown uniform and black hat of The Rifles infantry regiment, rank Warrant Officer Class 2. He’s also wearing black gloves and a black armband on his left arm, worn only during funerals.
“Sir Michael Adrian, the late OC of B Squadron, 22nd Regiment, Special Air Service, is no more. I guess we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability, of such unusual intelligence, should now so suddenly be spirited away at the age of only twenty-eight, before he had achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he had enough fun.”
“The first time I met the wanker was during his Selection…”
Sarah can’t help but laugh. Even Michael’s family is laughing out loud. Only Sir Charles, Broussard, and Cormac are maintaining straight faces, though Sir Charles is maybe stifling a laugh. Al tells the gathered about the silly antics Michael got up to with everyone and people are openly enjoying themselves. But Sarah can clearly see that behind all the funny stories, Al is feeling deep sorrow for losing his close friend.
After the laughter ceases, Al ends his eulogy. “Well, Michael, it has been really fun and a true honour to serve under your command.” His voice starts to break up so he stops for a few seconds. “We will miss you… old buddy.”
Al salutes the coffin, tears streaming from his eyes as he returns to his original place. The bearer party then starts ‘undressing the coffin’ and folds the Union Flag. Cormac, wearing the uniform of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys), gives the flag to Michael’s father. Cormac shares a few kind words of comfort with the Major-General. Cormac then returns to his original place while the firing party prepare.
Dave’s command voice echoes throughout the cemetery. “Party, present – arms!”
“Shoulder – arms!”
“Volleys with blank cartridges!”
“Shoulder – arms!”
“Present – arms!”
Dave’s last two orders make everyone stand to attention and then salute the coffin. A trumpet from the Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards starts playing ‘Last Post’. The song accompanies the bearer party lowering the coffin into the grave. There is a Two-Minute Silence after ‘Last Post’. After the two minutes, ‘Reveille’ suddenly bursts out, making most people jump.
“Shoulder – arms!” orders Dave. He then gives the order for the firing party to leave.
Four women from the Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards prepare to sing, unaccompanied.
’Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side…’
Sarah knows that she will cry anyway so she lets go of any control of her emotions. The singers from the Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards have sung perfectly, touching everyone. Sarah glances at Tony and sees him wiping his eyes with a tissue.
After a round of applause, a bagpipe starts playing the notes of ‘Amazing Grace’. After the solo bagpipe, the rest of the bagpipes join in. The four women start singing the words, backed by the Hereford Cathedral Choir and music from the Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
’Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me…”
The women’s voices, backed by the choir, mesmerize everyone. When they finish, they receive a long round of applause. Unlike ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Amazing Grace’ gave Sarah spirit and helped her finally accept Michael’s death. The song signals the end of Michael’s military funeral.
The band starts playing ‘Going Home’ as everyone departs. Sarah goes over to Michael’s grave with Tony behind her. Just like in the song, ‘Danny Boy’, she bends over to touch his grave marker.
“Vaya con Dios, Michael. Sleep in peace until I come to you… sayang,” she whispers.
Sarah prays ‘Ave Maria’ and takes a moment of silence. She then sees Michael’s family approach and quickly wipes the tears from her eyes.
“Sarah, we would like ye to have this,” says Lady Adrian, giving her Michael’s beret.
Sarah is touched and almost cries again upon receiving the beret. “Thank you, ma’am, I don’t know what else to say,” she says, hugging Michael’s mother.
“There’s no need for ye to say anything. We know ye love him very much so at least ye will have something to remember him by,” says Sir Geoffrey.
“I will always remember him, sir,” says Sarah, hugging him too.
Cormac approaches. It turns out the Director has invited them all to the RHQ. The sound of ‘Scotland The Brave’ accompanies them as they walk towards the RHQ.
Friday October 2, 2026
Main Briefing Room, Regimental Headquarters, SAS Barracks
Credenhill, Herefordshire, England
Sarah takes off her hat as she enters the Blue Room, already filled with SAS personnel in parade formation. The Director and her Interpol team are also there, standing in the middle of the room. Cormac guides them towards the Director and then takes a position on the back-left of the Director. Derek keeps recording with his video camera.
Sir Charles greets Michael’s father warmly. “I do hope the funeral service was in accordance with your usual high standards, Major-General.”
“It was beautiful, Director, and an honour to have the legendary Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Hereford Cathedral Choir perform for us,” says Sir Geoffrey.
“Well, Major-General, before you return to Belfast, there is one more thing we would like you and your family to bear witness to,” says Sir Charles.
Major-General Sir Charles Mountbatten, GCB, DSO receives a parchment from Cormac and reads it out loud. “Inspector Sarah Michelle Dharmawan, MC, GM, of the Indonesian National Police,
“On Saturday, September 26, 2026, Inspector Sarah Michelle Dharmawan, on secondment from Interpol Manchester, led an officer, a warrant officer, and two senior non-commissioned officers on a mission to locate and rescue a highly decorated British Army officer from the hands of the Irish Drug Cartel. She conducted a one-up Close Target Reconnaissance on a stronghold in Cheshire, England and then infiltrated the stronghold, which was later confirmed as the headquarters and drug manufacturing plant of the Irish Drug Cartel. She defeated two members of The Cartel in unarmed combat before the rest of her unit arrived and successfully secured the stronghold.”
“After performing a careful and thorough Sensitive Site Exploitation with a teammate from Interpol Manchester, she located the whereabouts of the British Army officer and immediately led the team in planning and executing a rescue operation at a warehouse in Liverpool, England, where they faced unknown odds. The assault on the first two floors of the warehouse was a textbook Direct Action assault on a stronghold. However, while ascending the stairs leading to the second floor, a member of The Cartel rolled a fragmentation grenade down towards the team. Without any hesitation and with complete disregard for her own life…”
Sir Charles’s voice starts to break up and he has to stop for few seconds. He then continues with a stronger voice. “Without any hesitation and complete disregard for her own life, Sarah fearlessly threw herself on top of the grenade. She willingly sacrificed her own life in the hopes her teammates would live and continue the mission. Fortunately, the grenade failed to detonate. But most incredibly, Sarah then rose and fearlessly resumed command of the operation. Due to her superior tactics against overwhelming odds, she and another teammate eliminated the remaining narcoterrorists. In the process, Sarah again saved the life of her teammate from enemy fire.
“Although the rescue of the British Army officer was unsuccessful, Sarah led the four British Army men in a mission that eliminated an astonishing seventy-eight narcoterrorists, eliminating the threat of narcoterrorism in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Quite astonishingly, her gallantry and heroism did not end there. After the rescue operation had ended, she further saved the life of an Explosives Ordnance Disposal specialist, who was disarming an unexploded device which unexpectedly detonated.
“During the debriefing attended by the entire group, the four men from the British Army under her command could not stop praising how incredibly brave she was and how excellent and courageous her leadership was throughout the entire operation. She is definitely a shining example of outstanding and exemplary leadership for every officer in the British Army.
“Inspector Sarah Michelle Dharmawan, MC, GM of the Indonesian National Police, for most-conspicuous bravery and preeminent acts of valour and self-sacrifice in the presence of the enemy, and for fearlessly and successfully leading a British Army unit during active operations, His Majesty King William the Fifth is graciously pleased to approve the award of… the Distinguished Service Order,” says Sir Charles.
Sarah didn’t expect to be invested with another medal! Her jaw drops as she accepts the citation and medal, to the applause of everyone in the Blue Room.
Sir Charles shakes her hand. “Congratulations, Sarah.”
“Thank you for this, Director… but the citation is incorrect. I was terrified when I landed on top of that grenade and I was an emotional wreck after the operation. I am still quite ashamed of my behaviour that day,” says Sarah, trying to smile.
Sir Charles Mountbatten shakes his head. “Your emotional state after the operation was understandable… and irrelevant. What matters, however, was the extraordinary leadership you displayed during the operation,” he says, giving his men a hard look. “Regarding the fear you felt, well, let me quote something that I once heard, that ‘courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.’ The lads knew you were afraid at that time, but your ability to act and successfully lead your team in the presence of fear is what makes you quite special.
“You are truly an exceptional combat leader and commander, Sarah. Each one of the lads has stated that it was a true honour for them to fight under your command and that they would not hesitate to follow you into battle anywhere. You deserve to wear Michael’s beret, Sarah, and you are welcome here at the SAS Barracks anytime,” says Sir Charles Mountbatten, giving her a Green Pass.
Tears stream from Sarah’s eyes upon receiving the Green Pass, which means she is now free to enter the SAS Barracks unaccompanied. Sarah makes a decision and hands over everything she’s holding to Tony. Although Sir Charles told her that she deserves to wear Michael’s beret, she still feels unworthy of it because she hasn’t passed their Selection. Once her hands are free, she replaces her black hat so she can give the Director a proper salute. She then stands to attention in the INP manner.
But Sir Charles suddenly touches Sarah’s right arm, preventing her from giving him a salute.
“I beg your pardon, Sarah, but I will not accept your salute,” says Sir Charles, softly but firmly.
Sarah’s surprised Sir Charles doesn’t want to accept her salute. Probably because she’s just a civilian or something. She can now only look down, tears streaming from her eyes, feeling dejected and disappointed.
Sir Charles releases her arm and takes a few steps back. “Inspector Sarah Michelle Dharmawan, DSO, MC, GM, of the Indonesian National Police… it would be an honour if you accept ours.”
“Parade, paraaade ’shun!” orders Cormac in his strongest command voice.
The sound of hundreds of boots slamming the floor sounds like a cannon! It echoes throughout the Blue Room, making Sarah, Tony, Major-General Sir Geoffrey Adrian, and Second-Lieutenant Scott Adrian stand to attention too.
With damp eyes, the Commanding Officer of the 22nd Regiment, Special Air Service gives another order. “Saluting, to-the-frooont… Salute!”
Sir Charles, Cormac, and every member of the SAS give Sarah a crisp salute. Sarah’s so shocked that she doesn’t immediately return it. She looks towards the SAS men and sees Robert, Al, George, and Dave at the front, crisply saluting her with tears in their eyes. It turns out all this time they’ve considered Sarah a hero, not someone who failed to lead them. This means so much to her. She looks towards Michael’s family and they seem impressed, especially Sir Geoffrey and Scott, who are also saluting her. Sarah looks toward Broussard and her teammates, who are giving her a look of immense pride with tears streaming down their cheeks. Tony is also saluting her, fierce pride in his teary eyes.
There is nothing else Sarah can do except return their salute with a salute of her own… and her own tears streaming down her cheek.