The Policewoman

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Chapter 3: Five Paragraph Order

10:19 GMT

Monday May 4, 2026

Interpol Manchester

Central Park, Manchester, England

James presents his part of the formal briefing. “Like the Chief said, the leadership and senior members of the Irish Drug Cartel are mainly ex-British Army and most of them hail from the Royal Irish Regiment, three battalions of which were disbanded in 2007. We believe The Cartel has up to 250 core members and almost all of them are ex-army, laid off in 2020. Here’s the Situation, starting with what we have on the top echelon of their organization.”

“The leader is Patrick ‘Paddy’ Dunbar. He was the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Royal Irish Regiment before he took the redundancy package in 2007. His entire career was built upon Operation Banner, supporting first the RUC and then later, the PSNI, in asserting the authority of the government in Northern Ireland. His experience as an RSM has undoubtedly served him well as a leader of a crime syndicate.”

Unlike Broussard, James’s presentation style is dry and dull. Sarah knows that this information will be extremely important for their mission, but she finds herself struggling to concentrate.

“The second-in-command, or 2 i/c, is Steve Dunbar, the younger brother of Paddy Dunbar. He followed his brother into the Royal Irish Regiment and made Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant before he took the package. We think he’s in charge of the finance and administration side of The Cartel,” says James, presenting photos of Steve, who looks like a thinner, bespectacled version of his brother.

Sarah thinks Steve looks more like a bookkeeper than one of the leaders of a major crime syndicate.

“Don’t be fooled by his appearance,” reminds James. “He may look like a milksop, but he’s extremely skilled in unarmed combat and a world-class marksman with a pistol.”

Sarah feels sheepish for underestimating Steve Dunbar. She should know better than that.

“The 3 i/c is Rory Hanrahan. Rory came from the Intelligence Corps and thanks to Michael, the Ministry of Defence has finally sent us his file. It turns out he’s had multiple aliases since his retirement, including Timothy Murphy, Finn Langley, and John Kearney. We think he’s in charge of intelligence gathering and counterintelligence in the organization,” says James, presenting some photos of Rory. In most of the pictures, he’s photographed with Paddy or Steve. One picture shows him talking to a tall, fit, red-headed woman, her back turned towards the camera.

“Another senior member is Carraig ‘Frag’ O’Lenihan. We think he’s the oldest in the top echelon and probably the only one without a military background. Prior to the Good Friday Agreement, he was the head of the Provisional Wing of the IRA. We think he’s in charge of the production and distribution of MDMA for Great Britain and the procurement and smuggling of all weapons, from automatic weapons and pistols to explosives. His friends call him ‘Frag’ because he carries an old fragmentation grenade with him at all times. He’s been heard saying many times that he doesn’t want to be taken alive and would rather blow himself up and everyone else with him if we ever caught up to him. Please take his words seriously!”

Sarah types that information into her tablet. She must treat Carraig O’Lenihan as a potential suicide bomber and this isn’t the first time Sarah has had to deal with people like Carraig.

“The next is Richard Callaghan…” James continues with the names and background information on all known Cartel members. “Frank Llywelyn… Seamus Fitzgerald… Declan Mulcahy… Brian Turner…”

Sarah’s head starts to swirl from all the information.

“We think there are more than ten people in the top echelon of this organization, but we don’t have names or photos for them all,” continues James, completely oblivious to the fact that his teammates are losing concentration. “We still don’t know who’s in charge of production and distribution of MDMA in Ireland, for example. However, there are a couple of names that I want ye to pay special attention to. The first is Niall Iollan Schroeder.”

Sarah notices that almost every member of her team suddenly tenses up on hearing that name.

“While he was with the Royal Irish Regiment, he was court-martialed for torturing and mutilating a female civilian after the Battle of Musa Qala in Afghanistan. His psychological profile, taken before his court-martial, states that he’s a textbook psychopath with an absolute disregard for human life. Niall somehow managed to escape the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester, Essex before his sentence was carried out. Like the Chief said, the Irish Drug Cartel is employing tactics from the South American drug cartels and Niall is their chief executioner. He’s in charge of the torture and murder of police, politicians, and civilians who get in their way,” says James, holding back some emotion.

Sarah observes that her teammates are showing signs of distress and all of them are avoiding looking at the screen, except for Michael, who remains expressionless.

“The second person is Donald Mullins, affectionately called Tiny by his close friends. He’s called Tiny because he’s well over two metres tall and weighs almost eighteen stone of pure muscle. He’s the only senior member we know of from the Republic of Ireland and he used to be in the Sciathán Fiannóglach an Airm, or the Army Ranger Wing, which is the counterterrorist unit of the Irish Defence Force. He used to box for his unit until he was sacked for ‘accidentally’ killing his opponent in the ring during practice. We think he’s in charge of the security and paramilitary side of the organization.”

Sarah sees that Tiny is absolutely huge. Tiny was a boxer and no matter how tough someone is, if they’re hit by a man as big as him, they’re out for the count.

“Tiny is the most dangerous of the lot, so please be careful if ye manage to locate him. A couple of Rangers from the Army Ranger Wing once tried to take him down by themselves when they accidentally ran into him outside a pub in Dublin, but ended up getting themselves killed. Tiny defeated both and broke their necks. He is rarely seen in public and if ye do see him, under any circumstances, ye will not, I repeat, ye will not try to apprehend him by yerselves. Ye should always, I repeat, always call and wait for backup to arrive. Trust me on this, it is better to have him escape than to have any of ye try to take him out by yerselves.”

James stares hard at each member of the briefing until he’s sure they’ve taken him seriously.

“We have reports that there are female members in the top echelons, but those reports are unconfirmed. The UK Police and the Garda have managed to apprehend many of the dealers, but none of The Cartel core members. Those dealers who were apprehended do not talk about their suppliers because they all know the consequences of talking, which usually ends with the most violent death someone like Niall Schroeder can bestow upon ye.”

“This concludes what we have on the opposition. To face them, the Home Office has requested ICPO-Interpol Headquarters at Lyon, France to form an Interpol Incident Response Team, or Interpol IRT, led by Christopher Broussard from Interpol. Since The Cartel has become a matter of national security, MI5 has become involved and I will be the liaison between this team and MI5. Paul will liaise between this team and the NCA, and Liz, Matt, and Arthur will be the liaison between this team and their respective constabularies. The Cartel has been such a disruption to civil order and represents such a clear and present danger to our society that two months ago, His Majesty’s Government declared War on Narcoterrorism and initiated the MACP. This means that His Majesty’s Armed Forces, not the police force, will be the ones involved in handling The Cartel once we’ve located them and a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy is applied to the core members of The Cartel. This is why Michael is here, as the liaison between this team and the Ministry of Defence. As for ye, Sarah, as stated before, we have acquired new intel that their largest factory is in Indonesia. We would like ye to be the liaison between us and the INP.”

Sarah nods. MACP stands for Military Aid to the Civil Power, which means the provision of armed military assistance in its maintenance of law, order, and public safety using specialist capabilities or equipment in situations beyond the capability of the Civil Power. One of the instances in UK history where MACP was activated was during the Iranian Embassy Siege at Princes Gate, South Kensington, London, in 1980. The hostage rescue operation, called Operation Nimrod, was successfully executed by B Squadron, 22nd Regiment, Special Air Service (SAS) and this was the first time most people became aware of that special forces unit.

The War on Narcoterrorism, Sarah knows, has raged around the world, but so far only the UK has involved their armed forces to combat it. Other governments still place narcoterrorism under the jurisdiction of law enforcement, not military. In the US, their armed forces are even prohibited from being involved because of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the US Armed Forces from being involved in enforcing the law. Similar laws to the Posse Comitatus Act are applied in almost all democratic countries.

‘I guess I’m all the way here just to be a liaison officer,’ thinks Sarah, feeling a bit let down. Her job in England turns out to be not challenging after all.

Sarah will realize a few minutes later that she couldn’t be more wrong.

At this point, Broussard takes over the briefing. “Thank you, James. We have quite a monumental Mission on our hands, which is to assist the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in locating all members of the Irish Drug Cartel and their headquarters, drug manufacturing plants, and distribution centres. I repeat, our mission is to assist the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in locating all members of the Irish Drug Cartel and their headquarters, drug manufacturing plants, and distribution centres.”

Sarah makes note of the mission in her tablet and highlights it. Next comes ‘Execution’, where Paul will outline the strategy designed to accomplish the ‘Mission’.

Paul explains in his hard-to-understand Geordie accent that Liz, Matt, and Arthur will concentrate on investigating the downstream, which is the distribution side of MDMA. Paul, James, and Michael will investigate the upstream, which is the production side. They will also search for the location of their headquarters, drug factories, and distribution centres. Once these are located, Michael will liaise with the MoD for the raid. If any of The Cartel members are seen or located, the military will be the ones handling them because regular armed police would not be able to handle Cartel members, who are military-trained and armed with automatic weapons. Paul then asks Sarah to concentrate on locating their largest factory which, based on the latest intel, turns out to be in Indonesia. Sarah is advised to coordinate with Michael, who has experience in locating and decommissioning drug factories.

Paul’s presentation finally ends and Sarah breathes a sigh of relief. The heaviest part of this formal briefing is finally over.

Broussard takes over again. “Thank you, Paul. Our chain of command will be as follows: I will be in command of this Interpol Incident Response Team, with James Hicks as 2 i/c and Paul Elliot as 3 i/c.”

Broussard then displays everyone’s contact number and e-mail address. Sarah adds her contact details to the list. The team is not allowed to save the names and contact numbers in their smartphones to avoid The Cartel taking one phone and tracking the other team members’ smartphones with a sophisticated phone-tracking application. Team members may send each other encrypted text messages, but only on the condition they erase them immediately. They are also prohibited from giving their contact numbers to other people outside the Interpol team, especially constables from the GMP.

The final part of the briefing is ‘Support’, which is about the supporting units and the logistics needed to accomplish the ‘Mission’. Broussard explains that basically all territorial police and military units can be deployed to support the team, as long as he can convince the Home Office that such support is really needed. Theoretically, with the activation of MACP, Michael can have MoD deploy the whole 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division from the British Army if it’s really needed by the team. Broussard hopes that Sarah can also convince the INP to deploy all assets necessary to locate and decommission The Cartel’s factory in Indonesia.

“Due to the high-risk nature of this assignment, all of you are authorized and required to carry firearms at all times,” says Broussard. He gives Sarah some official-looking letters and a couple of ID cards, one which identifies her as an Interpol officer and the other which identifies her as an AFO or Authorized Firearms Officer. “After this meeting, the first thing you should do is to proceed to the GMP’s armoury, show your AFO card and give them these papers. In return, they will give you a sidearm, a backup sidearm, and magazines for both weapons. I’m sure you are familiar with the Glock 17, which is GMP’s standard issue sidearm, but you might want to take some non-lethal weapons as well, like pepper sprays, telescoping batons, or Tasers.”

Sarah wants to say something, but then closes her mouth. Her commander takes notice.

“Do you have anything to add, Sarah?” he asks.

Sarah is still hesitant, but she then takes a chance. “I ’ope this is all right, but I’ve brought some kit with me from Indonesia.”

She places an empty HK P2000 pistol on the table, two magazines loaded with bullets, a small Smith & Wesson HRT3 knife inside its holster, handcuffs, and an ASP telescoping baton. All of the team members look at her kit with wide eyes except for Michael, whose eyes are focused solely on her handcuffs.

“How on earth did ye smuggle these into England?” asks James.

Hoo did yee get them through airline security?” asks Paul.

“How did you get them past GMP security?” asks Broussard.

Everyone looks shocked except for Michael, who only smiles at Sarah. She smiles back at him. Sarah already has an idea which regiment Michael comes from. With Sarah’s weapons still on the table, the other team members are keeping a wary eye on them. Even at this high level, UK police officers rarely handle firearms. Watching somebody waltz through security with them has put almost everyone on edge.

“Well, I feel naked without a weapon so I decided to bring them to England. I ’ope you don’t mind,” says Sarah.

The eyes of all the men in the room instantly become unfocused when Sarah says ‘I feel naked’, but soon return to normal. Liz notices and rolls her eyes.

“I’m sure glad you’re on our side, Sarah,” says Broussard, finally able to smile again. “Before you receive further briefing from James and Paul, do you have any questions?”

“I ’ave some basic questions,” says Sarah. “First, why are we based in Manchester? Isn’t there an Interpol Dublin?”

“Ye might have heard on the news a couple of months ago that there was a huge explosion at the International Liaison Building of the An Garda Síochána Headquarters,” says Liz, the anger apparent in her voice. “The bastards killed almost all of the Interpol agents that handled this case and maimed the rest.”

“The results of the forensic analysis say that they used PE4 for that one,” says James. “Michael is looking into how they managed to procure it.”

“We had to start from practically square-one because almost all of the agents assigned to this case are dead and much of their investigation along with them,” says Broussard, sadly.

The news had reached Indonesia and Sarah remembers feeling saddened by the event because of the dozens of people killed in the explosion. Sarah suddenly realizes that this assignment is much more dangerous than she’d previously thought. “Second, I’m just wondering why there aren’t any representatives from the GMP in this team?”

Everyone is silent and Sarah wonders what she’s said wrong. She also notices Liz’s eyes getting moist.

“Arthur will brief you on that,” says Broussard softly, staring at the empty chair next to Sarah while the other team members just look down.

Sarah wonders about their reactions, but decides now is not the time to pursue it. Although she still has plenty to ask, she nods to Broussard to signal that she’s done.

“Jolly good then. Let’s get back to work everyone,” orders Broussard, dismissing them.

Sarah starts to stand.

“Sarah, may I have a few words before you meet with James and Paul?”

“Sure, Arthur.”

They stay in their chairs while the others leave the room. Sarah takes her weapons and straps them on again. Only AFOs, like the people in this room, may carry concealed weapons in the UK. Arthur waits until the room is clear before he begins.

“We used to have a representative from the GMP Criminal Investigation Department. Her name was Karen Wilson. She got a little too close to The Cartel members and they snatched her. She was killed last month, leaving behind a husband,” says Arthur, sadness in his voice.

“Oh, Arthur,” says Sarah. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s the way she was killed that is most distressing. Niall Schroeder tortured her for several hours before she finally died,” says Arthur in his soft Estuary English accent.

“And ’ow do you know Niall did it?”

Arthur shifted in his chair before answering. “He left a copy of the video at the crime scene. The arrogant bastard even called The Met to tell us where to find her body.” He began connecting his tablet to the screen in the briefing room by Bluetooth. “Now, I know you don’t want to see this, but it will give you some insight into our opposition, especially Niall Schroeder.”

The screen shows a naked woman in her thirties, spread-eagled on top of a steel table with her arms and legs handcuffed to the table legs. She’s crying.

“Please, Niall, don’t do this,” begs Karen.

“But I want to, Karen,” says Niall Schroeder, who suddenly appears on screen carrying a small knife.

Sarah automatically notes that the small knife Niall carries is a Gerber Guardian, similar to her Smith & Wesson HRT3. The only significant difference is in the tip; where Sarah’s knife has a spear tip, Niall’s Gerber Guardian has a tanto tip, stronger at the end and less likely to break. Niall traces Karen’s body with his knife, starting from her neck, down to her breasts, and then her stomach, which makes Karen cry in fear.

He then inserts his knife into Karen’s navel and applies some pressure. Karen seems to know what’s going to happen to her so she clenches her abdominal muscles, as if trying to prevent the blade from entering her body. More pressure is applied and the blade slowly goes into her. Karen’s whole body now tenses from the pain. Watching the scene, Sarah feels herself wince.

Karen flinches hard when the tip of the blade touches her intestines, but then Niall stops pushing the knife in. Karen clenches her mouth, determined not to scream.

“Scream,” orders Niall.

Karen shakes her head and keeps clenching her jaws together. The small knife is barely halfway in and hasn’t perforated her bowels yet, but she’s clearly in pain. Niall starts wiggling the knife, moving it inside her like a toy. Karen can feel the knife moving inside her and she’s in agony.

“Scream!” orders Niall, the frustration evident in his voice.

Karen tries hard not to scream and Niall keeps wiggling the knife around. Eventually, she can’t take it anymore and finally screams out loud! As soon as he hears her scream, Niall starts slashing downward, disembowelling her. He takes out his knife and smiles like a child at Christmas when he sees the peristaltic movement of Karen’s intestines.

Sarah is shocked, but becomes even more shocked when she sees what happens next. Niall starts caressing Karen’s innards like they’re something beautiful. Sarah feels sick and covers her mouth with both hands. She steals a glance at Arthur and sees that he’s looking down, avoiding the screen. Her eyes return to the screen when Karen’s screams grow even louder. Niall is now slicing open her upper abdomen. Now there’s a deep slash from just beneath her sternum to down below her navel, which causes most of her entrails to spill out. Once again, he starts fondling her squirming intestines. He even starts kissing them, which makes Sarah so nauseous she almost throws up! Niall stops what he’s doing when Karen stops screaming. She has fainted.

The Bluetooth is suddenly disconnected by Arthur and the screen goes blank. Sarah keeps her hands over her mouth until the last wave of nausea passes. She’s successful in holding her emotions, but her eyes are glassy. She notices that Arthur’s eyes are glassy too, although he must have seen this video many times before.

“You don’t want to see the ending or even need to,” says Arthur. “But just so you know, Niall started slashing her intestines with his knife. It took a few more hours before she finally died from hypovolemic shock.”

Sarah still can’t say anything yet. She can only stare at the blank screen, the images from a moment before still vivid in her mind. They’re both silent for a few moments.

“What can you deduce from that video, Sarah?”

Dios mío!” exclaims Sarah, her voice shaking. “I don’t think Niall is ’uman. Even animals don’t do that.”

Arthur only nods in agreement. Sarah sees that Arthur looks quite a bit older than a few minutes ago. She can’t even imagine how it must feel to see someone she knows be the subject of torture like that.

Arthur continues his briefing. “Niall is turned on by the screams of his victims. The more they scream, the more excited he becomes and the more damage he inflicts.”

“Do ’is male victims receive the same treatment?”

“No, he only disembowels his female victims. For the men, he likes to beat them to death, first with a pair of brass knuckles for a few hours, then finished off with a wooden board with nails hammered through.”

Sarah thinks hard for a moment. “Why did I need to see this video, Arthur?”

Arthur takes a long breath. “Before I joined The Met, I was an officer in MI6. Before every deployment to the Mid-East, my superiors always ensured I carried an L-pill. I always laughed at their insistence. After seeing that video, though, the thought has crossed my mind that I would rather take one than be subject to torture like that.”

Arthur opens a ring box to reveal a diamond ring. “Only an expert would notice that this is really not a diamond. Should the need arise, all you have to do is bite into the ‘diamond’ and swallow the potassium cyanide inside. Death will come to you within minutes, instead of hours at the hands of someone like Niall Schroeder.”

Sarah observes the ‘diamond’ for a few seconds and imagines that it contains the Ángel de la Muerte, ready to collect her soul. Arthur’s ring is as deadly as her HK P2000 pistol.

“No, thank you,” she says without taking her eyes off the ring.

Arthur sighs as if he’d already known what Sarah’s answer would be. “Are you sure?”

“I don’t believe in suicide for any reason, Arthur,” says Sarah firmly.

“You might regret it when Niall is in the process of disembowelling you.”

“Even so,” says Sarah, “I’ll just ’ave to endure it and wait for reinforcement to arrive.”

Arthur shakes his head. “Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make proud,” he quotes.

Sarah recognizes the mangled Euripides quote and smiles. “I don’t think that’s the way it goes, Arthur.”

Arthur shrugs and takes back his ring box. “I like that version better.”

“Did any of the other team members take the ring?”

“No, Sarah, and neither did I. Come on,” says Arthur. “I’ll take you to James and Paul.”

They exit the meeting room and head to their office area. They bump into James and Paul on their way there.

“We have a lead that Paul and I want to follow through immediately,” says James. “Maybe ye can meet with Michael first? We can meet tomorrow morning.”

“Sure, James,” answers Sarah.

Arthur escorts Sarah to her desk, which is in the same area with James, Paul, and Michael. At Michael’s desk, Liz and Matt are swarming over Michael’s shoulder, who hurriedly shuts off his tablet when he sees Sarah coming towards them.

“James ’as asked me to meet with you first, Michael. Do you ’ave time right now?” asks Sarah, giving her teammates a quizzical look when she sees them start to blush.

“It’s almost lunch time, so how about we all grab some scoff?” suggests Michael.

They all agree and go together to the GMP cafeteria.

18:55 WIB (GMT+7)

Monday May 4, 2026

Markas Besar Kepolisian Negara Republik Indonesia (INP HQ)

Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, Jakarta

At the same time, more than 7,000 miles away, the commander of Densus-88, Police Brigadier General Prasetyo has just finished meeting with the Chief of the INP when he receives a call from his colleague.

“Good afternoon, Chief,” answers Prasetyo warmly.

“And selamat malam to you, General,” greets Broussard. “Apa kabar, my good friend?”

“Very well, Chris, thanks for asking,” replies Prasetyo. “I presume you have met the officer I sent you?”

“I have indeed and I would like to thank you very much for sending her. She should be a great asset to my team,” says Broussard.

“Yes, of course. She’s one of the best officers in the INP and that’s why she was working for me in the first place, Chief,” says Prasetyo, dryly.

Broussard hears a trace of bitterness in his friend’s voice. “Well, I’m glad you could spare her for Interpol, General.”

“What kind of job will she be doing, if I may ask? How dangerous will it be?”

“My team is taking on the Irish Drug Cartel and we have received intel that their largest ecstasy factory is in Indonesia. She will be the liaison between my team and the INP.”

“The Cartel has set up a factory in Indonesia?” asks Prasetyo, incredulously.

“Indeed, Pras,” confirms Broussard.

Prasetyo falls silent for a few seconds. He has heard about The Cartel’s exploits and becomes worried that they are in Indonesia. He then makes a decision. “I heard about the bombing at Interpol Dublin, Chris, and we will give you our full support. She’s under your command until you accomplish your mission.”

“That’s good to hear and I thank you very much for your support on this.”

“Please keep her safe, Chris. Do keep in mind that she’s a rising star in the INP and we would prefer to have her back in one piece,” says Prasetyo, dry once again.

“Indeed, Pras,” replies Broussard, smiling. His colleague from Indonesia seems to have picked up a touch of British humour.

“And don’t keep her in Interpol for good. I will need her back one day.”

“Of course. Thanks again for sending her.”

“Cheers, Chief.”

“And cheers to you, General.”

12:03 GMT

Monday May 4, 2026

Interpol Manchester

Central Park, Manchester, England

“So, Sarah, how did ye manage to smuggle those weapons into England?” asks Liz.

Before Sarah can answer, Michael gives them an explanation. “Her briefcase, although it says Samsonite, was actually produced by Heckler & Koch.”

Arthur, Matt, and Liz nod knowingly. Sarah smiles at Michael. His explanation confirms Sarah’s suspicions about him as only certain people could identify her briefcase, which was produced by Heckler & Koch firearms manufacturers. The briefcase can disguise its contents from X-Ray machines and can smuggle anything anywhere, including weapons, ammunition, and even explosives. The briefcase is not sold to the public, for obvious reasons, and can only be procured by specialized units in the police and military.

“Did ye accept Arthur’s ring, Sarah?” asks Matt, smirking.

“Of course not,” answers Sarah, laughing. “I don’t know ’im that well and the situation was less than romantic.”

“Indeed, Arthur. If you’d offered her the ring during a nice, candle-lit dinner, she probably would have accepted it,” says Michael dryly.

Everyone laughs and Sarah gets the feeling this isn’t the first time Arthur’s ring has been laughed at. Brits enjoy dark humour, revolving around sarcasm, irony, taking the piss out of each other, and making fun of one’s self. Jokes are often delivered with a straight face, which leaves most foreigners more than confused. The funniest British film Sarah ever saw is a favourite of her mum’s, called ‘Monty Python: Life of Brian’. Sarah, her siblings, and her mum laugh from start to end whenever they watch it. Her Indonesian father, despite speaking fluent English, doesn’t get the jokes… and thinks his whole family is completely mental.

Almost half an hour later, Matt, Liz, and Arthur receive a text message from Broussard, who has asked them to meet him in his office. They’ve already finished their lunch so they head off, leaving Sarah and Michael alone.

“Which regiment are you from?” asks Sarah.

“I’m from the Parachute Regiment.”

Sarah keeps a straight face, but she’s thinking ‘bullshit!’

Michael continues. “What about you? What were you before you were assigned to Interpol?”

“I was a traffic constable,” answers Sarah without changing her expression.

‘Bollocks!’ thinks Michael, also with a straight face. He then continues. “And how did you acquire your charming West Country accent?”

“I spent six years in Poole when my dad was seconded to the SBS,” answers Sarah, watching Michael’s face closely for a reaction.

As Sarah expected, Michael’s eyes flicker at the mention of one of UK’s special forces units. She allows a knowing smile to creep onto her face. “Now why don’t you stop bullshitting me and tell me which regiment you’re really from?”

“Only if you bin your West Country bullshit and start using your real accent,” says Michael, seriously.

Sarah’s stunned and her smile fades away. She falls silent for a few seconds, observing Michael’s masculine features. His face is ordinary-looking, but full of scars. He has brown longish hair and a two-day stubble like her brother. Sarah knows that someone from the Parachute Regiment would never be anything but clean-shaven.

“What makes you think this isn’t my real accent?” asks Sarah.

“Your West Country accent is just an affectation to gain acceptance from the Chief and your older teammates. You don’t need to do that,” suggests Michael.

“And what do you think is my real accent?”

“RP,” answers Michael, giving her a piercing stare.

Sarah and her brother were taught Received Pronunciation when they studied at Bournemouth Collegiate School. She decided to use her West Country accent because she didn’t want to be considered old-fashioned by her teammates. Now it turns out that Michael could tell she was faking. Sarah is actually relieved that she doesn’t have to pretend anymore.

“Right then, I’ll drop the West Country accent,” says Sarah in her real accent - King’s English with a touch of Spanish. “So… which regiment are you really from?”

“I’m from the 22nd Regiment, but only the Chief knows that. I told the others that I’m from the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, which is my former unit.”

Like Sarah, Michael has to keep secret his membership in a special forces unit. The 22nd Regiment, Special Air Service (SAS) is considered the finest and most experienced special forces unit in the world, and Sarah is begrudgingly impressed with Michael.

“Which squadron?” asks Sarah.

“Actually, I’m the OC of B Squadron.”

“Why are you here instead of running your squadron?”

“My squadron can run on autopilot,” says Michael. “I have good men under my command and they really don’t need me there every day. I’m only required to check on them a couple of times a week.”

“An Indonesian special forces unit went to Credenhill to train with your regiment a few years ago. Do you remember any of the members?”

“Indeed. A nice gentleman named Anthony Dharmawan and his whole unit trained with us a couple of years ago. I noticed you share the same surname. Is he your brother?”

“You knew the moment we met that I’m his sister, Michael, so you can cut the bullshit,” says Sarah, a bit sharply but with a smile.

“How is Captain Dharmawan these days?” asks Michael, starting to blush. Actually, she’s right. Michael recognized her the moment he met her because he has Sarah’s picture… and that picture is posted on his office door in Credenhill.

“He’s now a Major and the commander of Detachment 902. He got married soon after he returned from England and has a five-month-old son now,” answers Sarah.

“That’s marvelous!” says Michael. “How about you? What unit were you really from before Interpol?”

“I was a team leader in the Strike Force of Densus-88. Like you, only the Chief knows this so I’d prefer you keep it quiet.”

Michael nods and looks impressed. Although Densus-88 is police instead of military, it’s quite well-known in the special forces community. “Right, so let’s get a few things squared away between us. First of all, are you single?”

Sarah is taken aback by the question and becomes embarrassed because she didn’t expect Michael to be so direct. “Indeed.”

“Splendid! This means we are the only ones who are single in this team. Are you currently seeing anyone?”

“No,” answers Sarah, becoming even more embarrassed. “How about you? Do you have a girlfriend?”

A girlfriend? No…” answers Michael.

Sarah smiles. At least she can hang out with Michael during her deployment in England.

“… I have lots,” he continues with sparkling eyes and a cheeky grin.

Sarah’s smile disappears.

“I was just yanking your chain, of course,” Michael laughs. “No, I don’t have a girlfriend.”

Sarah’s annoyed, but then laughs with him. “What do you carry?”

“Sig Sauer P226. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I can see why you don’t have a girlfriend. Your sidearm’s better looking than you,” quips Sarah.

Michael laughs out loud. Sarah is not that interested in Michael. Although he’s tall and athletic, which Sarah likes very much, Michael’s face is too manly for her taste and the scars on his face make him look too masculine. Sarah prefers sweet-looking men with tall, athletic bodies. Tony always made fun of her for having the same tastes in men as their little sister, Cindy. Too bad Michael doesn’t fit their tastes.

Although… Michael isn’t good looking, but Sarah has to admit that there’s a strong aura and certain mystique about him that attracts her. But Sarah presumes that this is only because she knows he’s an SAS officer and this intrigues her.

“Is your sidearm standard issue for Densus-88?” asks Michael.

“No, the standard issue is the Glock 17. My dad bought me the P2000 for conceal carry.”

“I’ve noticed you only carry two mags with a ten-round capacity,” comments Michael.

“Why? How many mags do you carry?”

“I carry six and a P228 with four mags for backup,” answers Michael.

“That’s a lot of firepower, Michael,” comments Sarah. “Are you planning to take on a whole regiment or do you plan to miss a lot?”

Michael laughs out loud, but then gives her an explanation. “If members of The Cartel try to slot or snatch us, they’ll probably ambush us with a minimum of three men, like when they snatched Karen outside of a hotel in London. I urge you to bring more mags and a backup sidearm.”

“Well, I don’t plan on missing any of my targets then,” says Sarah, giving him a wink and a smile.

Sarah is implicitly telling him that she’s an expert shot with a pistol, which makes Michael laugh again. He continues. “And what’s the knife for?”

“You don’t carry a knife?”

“I wouldn’t know what to do with it,” Michael shrugs.

“What do you use to keep your fork company when you eat?” quips Sarah, poking fun at him once again. ‘Wait a minute… why am I being so aggressive with him?’ she thinks suddenly.

Sarah is surprised at herself, but Michael laughs at her joke. “The British Army has never issued an official knife for the infantry except bayonets and the khukuri knives for the Gurkhas. Even in the SAS, we were never taught how to slot an enemy with a knife. In unarmed combat training, the only time knives are involved is when they teach us how to defend ourselves against someone wielding them.”

After finishing their lunch, they walk slowly back to the office.

“So why did you decide to join the police force?” asks Michael.

Sarah goes silent for a few seconds. She always gets emotional whenever she remembers why she decided to join the police force. “A close friend of mine during secondary school was given a free sample of heroin and got addicted. She OD’d about six months later. I hate drugs and everything that goes with them, ever since then.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“How about you? How did you end up in the army?” asks Sarah.

“Actually, it’s a family tradition. My father’s a retired general from the Irish Guards and so are my grandfather and great-grandfather. My little brother is carrying on the tradition. He’s just graduated from Sandhurst and is now a Second-Leftenant in the Irish Guards. As for me, I’ve always wanted to join the SAS and the best way to do so is through The Paras. I then joined the SAS after I received my Captaincy and passed their rigorous Selection.”

Michael and Sarah finally arrive in the Interpol area, but James and Paul are nowhere to be seen. They sit at their respective cubicle and it turns out that Michael’s desk is right next to Sarah’s.

“Right then, so how about we get back to work?” invites Sarah.

“What do you know about the production of MDMA?”

“Not much… I have experience investigating the downstream part, but I don’t know much about the upstream side of the business,” answers Sarah.

When she first joined Densus, Sarah was asked by her commander to be active as a model, which resulted in her being on the cover of various fashion magazines in Indonesia. After her body grew more toned and muscular, Sarah became known as a fitness model and was frequently featured in health and fitness magazines. Her Facebook account contains her modelling portfolio, but has no indications whatsoever that she’s a policewoman. Not many people know that and even her secondary school friends think that she’s just a model. In the world of intelligence, Sarah’s cover is called a legend. So far, no one seems to have uncovered her legend.

Sarah’s early career in Densus-88 was in the Intelligence Sub-detachment. Her main job was to monitor the circulation of narcotics in socialite circles and in the entertainment industry of Jakarta. Her side career as a model enabled her to easily infiltrate the socialite circles and thus gain access to Jakarta’s night life for the rich and famous. Sarah sometimes found it hard to believe that she was being paid by the INP to party almost every weekend with other undercover policewomen of Densus.

Last year, Sarah was transferred to the Special Actions Sub-detachment and has several times led Strike Forces in raiding terrorist hideouts and drug manufacturing plants. Her side career as a model was put on hold, although there were still plenty of offers from her modelling agency. Sarah was really enjoying her work in Special Actions so she was quite disappointed when she was suddenly transferred to Interpol.

Michael starts his briefing. “Well, first of all, the chemical compound safrole is a precursor for the clandestine manufacture of MDMA…”

For a few hours, Sarah listens attentively as Michael briefs her on the production of MDMA. Michael is excellent at explaining things clearly, but even so there’s a lot for Sarah to take in on her first day of work.

19:34 WIB (GMT+7)

Monday May 4, 2026

Jagorawi Toll Road

Citeureup, Bogor, West Java

After a two-day inspection at his drug factory in Bogor, Patrick has to return to the UK. He’s taken to the airport by Santoso, accompanied by Lukas, a local partner. Lukas is Richard’s deputy, and controls the local workers and the supply chain of MDMA. The location for their factory is ideal and easily defended. Unfortunately, it only has one access point for entering or exiting the compound. This makes Patrick’s men from the UK uneasy.

“When will you start building the tunnel?” asks Patrick in his fluent Bahasa Indonesia.

“The problem is with the contractors. Small contractors don’t have the capability. I’m still looking for a contractor who can not only make the tunnel, but can also keep their workers’ mouths shut,” explains Lukas.

Patrick nods. This means that Frank Llywelyn has to stay a while in Indonesia to design, build, and supervise the development of their escape tunnel. Frank, who used to be in the Corps of Royal Engineers, had developed and built the tunnel for their factory in the Republic of Ireland.

“How are the locals?” asks Patrick. “Any problems with them?”

Lukas shakes his head. “As long as they get paid on time, I don’t think there’ll be any problems. They would like for this collaboration to last.”

“Any complaints from them?”

“Their only complaint is that the factory is extremely hot and humid because we have no air conditioning in the factory area, but I’ve explained to them that we have to avoid using electricity and use our generators only to power the production machinery. Once production is stable and no one dares to bother us, then we can start thinking about luxury. There were a couple of men who wanted two-day holidays each week, but I already told them it’s impossible because of the high production demands.”

Patrick nods again. Lukas was the first person he recruited in Indonesia and he’s reliable. Some two years ago, Lukas ran his own ecstasy manufacturing plant, which was bought by Patrick for a reasonable price. But then Patrick gave Lukas capital to develop the plant. Not for the Indonesian market, but to export their products to Ireland. Ecstasy that was once sold by Lukas in the Indonesian rupiah is now sold in pound sterling and euro, which has quadrupled Lukas’s profits.

During his inspection, Patrick sees that the locals are content and hard-working, the opposite to his men in the UK, who tend to be lazy, fussy, and demanding. Fortunately, the locals don’t know that they receive far lower wages than their UK counterparts, despite doing the same work, and they’re happy with the money Lukas pays them each week. They were practically ecstatic with Patrick when he gave them each an old Ruger Speed Six revolver with ammunition and holsters. Most of these men had never held, much less fired, a pistol before, but they’ll be taught by Richard and his UK associates.

Unlike the locals, all the men from the UK received Glock 17 pistols and M4 Carbines, weapons that are stored in an armoury behind the factory. The carbines and pistols were smuggled into Indonesia by Frag O’Lenihan before Patrick arrived in Jakarta. Also unlike the factories in England and Ireland, almost all of the UK men stationed in Indonesia came from the infantry, so they are adept using assault rifles and well-trained in combat tactics.

“If there are any problems, could you please inform me about them?” orders Patrick.

Siap, Komandan!” answers Lukas, which in the Indonesian military means the same as ‘yes, sir’.

Patrick returns Lukas’s smile before entering the terminal. Lukas has no idea he only has weeks to live.

16:03 GMT

Monday May 4, 2026

Interpol Manchester

Central Park, Manchester, England

They go to the cafeteria for afternoon tea.

“Where are you staying?” asks Michael.

“Stay Deansgate Apartments. How about you?”

“3Towers, only a couple of miles from here,” answers Michael. “How do you plan to get to work?”

“I took the Metrolink this morning, but I’m thinking about run-commuting.”

“What do you usually do in your free time back home?”

“Other than working out at the local gym, I volunteered to be the chief of security of my housing complex. I command sixty-three security guards there.”

“And what do you plan on doing in your free time here in England?”

“I haven’t planned anything yet. There’s a Lifestyle Fitness near the flat and I’ll probably visit Poole during the weekends,” answers Sarah.

“There’s a complete gym here at GMP HQ. Why not just work out here?”

“I like Lifestyle Fitness because it’s a women’s only gym.”

“Oh,” says Michael.

“Why do you ask?” asks Sarah with a knowing smile.

“I presume you’re highly trained in counter-surveillance drills?”

“I-I-Indeed I am,” stammers Sarah, thrown by the change in direction.

“I just want to remind you to remember your tradecraft. Always employ counter-surveillance measures, never be conspicuous, know your environment, always choose a different route to and from the office, and be on alert if anyone is following you. This includes during weekends.”

“Oh,” says Sarah, still somewhat taken aback. She had thought that Michael was going to ask her to work out with him so she’s a little embarrassed.

“Since this is your first day, it’s highly unlikely the opposition knows about you. During your first month here, I suggest you recce various alternative routes, choke points, and ideal ambush or snatch sites that may be used by the opposition against you. I suggest you do the recce during the weekends also.”

Sarah can only nod.

“Since you live in Deansgate, there are a number of alternative routes you can take to get to the office. Please get in the habit of not taking the same route every day. This includes taking different routes in the mornings and evenings. Everyone in this team is doing the same thing,” continues Michael.

Sarah nods again.

“If you think you’re being followed, you should immediately execute counter-surveillance drills to confirm it. If someone is really following you, please do not confront them. Try to lose them and if you can’t, call any one of us and we’ll send in reinforcements. All right?”

“I’ll do that,” answers Sarah.

“Don’t underestimate the opposition, Sarah. Karen got careless and that’s how she got snatched,” says Michael, a hint of sadness in his voice.

Michael seems dead serious and Sarah nods again. After their afternoon tea, Michael continues his briefing until late into the night. After work, she takes the Metrolink to her flat in Deansgate.

‘This assignment is turning out to be a lot more dangerous than I previously thought,’ thinks Sarah, reflecting on her first day in England.

She’s also disappointed that Michael didn’t invite her for dinner after work.

06:35 GMT

Tuesday May 5, 2026

Stay Deansgate Apartments

Deansgate, Manchester, England

The next day, Sarah wakes up and does her routine exercises. After warming up, she lies on the floor and crunches 1,000 times. She’s done this every morning since secondary school. After she’s done, she changes into running gear and puts on a running backpack. Her gun is holstered into an IWB (inside waistband) holster and her knife is strapped to her ankle beneath her socks. Looking at her, no one could ever guess she’s armed and deadly.

Sarah takes the stairs down from the fourth floor. Her parents always insisted she use the stairs, no matter how tall the building. On Michael’s suggestion, she keeps an eye out for places where the opposition could ambush her. Fortunately, it would be difficult for them to set up an ambush because there are so many different routes available to her. She only needs to be extra careful when entering or exiting her building and GMP HQ.

While running down Oldham Rd towards a street called The Gateway, which takes her straight to GMP HQ, Sarah recognizes Michael from behind walking leisurely to the office. He has earphones in his ears, both hands are playing with his smartphone, and he appears indifferent to his surroundings, walking as if on vacation.

‘How can you walk like that when yesterday you gave me a bloody lecture on counter-surveillance?’ thinks Sarah, irritated at him.

When Sarah is a few steps behind Michael, she reaches out towards him. She wants to tweak his ear as she passes by to teach him a lesson. But Sarah is surprised when Michael suddenly shifts his body and Sarah’s fingers miss his ear by inches! It turns out Michael has excellent situation awareness, always fully aware of his surroundings.

When she turns left towards The Gateway, Sarah steals a glance towards Michael. He’s grinning from ear-to-ear and the satisfied gleam in his eyes makes Sarah embarrassed.

Verdomme!” curses Sarah in Dutch when she feels her face turning red.

Sarah hotfoots the last 200 metres to GMP HQ. She’s gleaming with sweat so she takes a shower at the gym. By 08:52, she’s changed into business casual attire and enters the Interpol area. Her teammates are already at their desks except Michael, who’s nowhere to be seen. Maybe he’s outside, still grinning to himself.

“Good morning, everyone,” greets Sarah cheerfully.

“Good morning, Sarah,” return her teammates. They notice that she has dropped her phony West Country accent and sounds several degrees posher.

“Where’s Michael?” Sarah asks James.

“Right behind you,” answers Michael from behind her.

Sarah quickly turns around and sees Michael entering the Interpol area. Sure enough, there’s still a huge grin on his face and a half-eaten doughnut in his hand. Sarah quickly turns back to James before Michael can see her blush again.

“Can we meet now, James? Paul?” invites Sarah hurriedly.

“Sure,” answers James, standing up, followed by Paul.

They enter one of the meeting rooms.

“How was yer first day yesterday?” asks James with a friendly smile.

“Quite insightful,” answers Sarah, returning his smile. “So, which branch of MI5 are you?”

“I’m from the T Branch. We handle terrorism,” answers James.

“Oh, I thought you were from D Branch? Organized crime?”

James nods. “There was debate among the senior management of MI5 whether narcoterrorism in general, and the Irish Drug Cartel in particular, is considered organized crime or terrorism. They decided on the latter… for now. This is why T Branch is involved and we have Paul here from the NCA, who’s an expert in organized crime.”

“Oh, okay. How about you, Paul? Where do you come from?” asks Sarah, observing Paul’s face. He’s quite silly-looking, but his eyes show high intelligence.

“I’m from The Toon,” answers Paul.

Sarah wants to laugh on hearing Paul’s answer, but she’s able to control herself. Geordies like to call their hometown, Newcastle upon Tyne, The Toon. The Toon is also the nickname for their football club.

“Are you a fan of The Toon FC?” asks Sarah, smiling.

Paul laughs. “No, I support Chelsea.”

“So, how did you manage to find out that The Cartel has a drug factory in Indonesia?” asks Sarah, back to work.

“When we were conducting our investigation in London, Karen overheard a couple of Cartel members - Seamus Fitzgerald and Declan Mulcahy - at a pub, saying that the next cargo from Indonesia was due to arrive within a week. They also said they had to start the journey to Ireland within the next couple of days to help unload the cargo. Karen immediately called Liz about the new information,” says James.

“What’s interesting is that she says ‘help unload the cargo’, meaning that the goods are most likely being transported by ship rather than by air,” says Paul.

“That was the last time we heard from Karen… she didn’t return to her hotel room that night,” says James. His face remains expressionless, but Sarah can feel the sorrow behind his mask.

Sarah nods. She already knows the rest of the story.

James continues. “We don’t know anything else besides what Karen told us. We don’t know exactly when the factory started producing for them or how many shipments they’ve made so far. However, a couple of weeks after Karen’s message, the price of MDMA in Ireland dropped like a rock, while the price in Great Britain remained stable. This means that the supply of MDMA in Ireland outweighed demand. This was not the first time this has happened so we are assuming that that was not their first shipment from overseas. This price fluctuation has happened every other month for the past two years.”

“Are they producing MDMA just for the Ireland market or for the Indonesian market as well?” asks Sarah.

“That’s an excellent question and we don’t have an answer to that… yet. That’s yer job to find out, Sarah.”

“Well, I’m new at being a liaison officer, so maybe you two can help me on what I should do for now?”

“What kind of constable were ye before ye were assigned to Interpol?” asks James.

“I was a traffic constable,” answers Sarah without changing her expression.

James and Paul give her disbelieving looks, but they don’t pursue it.

James continues. “First, NCB Manchester will issue Red Notices for NCB Indonesia, so the INP can arrest Cartel members if they ever show up at your airports or ports. In the meantime, you can check the prices of MDMA in Indonesia. Have there been any fluctuations these past few years? If the price drops, we can assume they’re supplying for the Indonesian market also. Ye can also check the price by region. The lower the price, the closer ye are to their distribution centres or drug factories.”

Sarah nods and adds that information to her tablet. Paul then briefs her on how they distribute the MDMA in the UK and Ireland. What’s interesting is that the price of MDMA is lowest at a chain of night clubs called Gwilliam’s, scattered throughout the UK and Ireland. The results of police raids failed to provide any link between the owner of Gwilliam’s and their employees to the dealers who use that venue to distribute their goods. All of the detectives handling this case suspect that the owner of Gwilliam’s, Gwilliam O’Donnel, is a Cartel member. He could even be a senior member, but till this day they’ve not been able to prove his involvement with The Cartel. Dealers caught in his night club absolutely refuse to divulge any information on how they got their hands on their drugs. They’d all prefer a longer prison sentence than a horrible death at the hands of The Cartel.

For The Cartel to achieve smooth operations in Indonesia, Paul suspects The Cartel must be cooperating with at least one local syndicate. In The Cartel’s birth in the UK, they forcibly acquired other syndicates one by one until they eventually monopolized the narcotics industry, from upstream to downstream. They would probably do the same in Indonesia. Sarah should also be on the lookout for drug-related murders in Indonesia. If any MDMA players have been tortured to death, it can probably be attributed to Niall.

Once The Cartel has a strong operation running, they will then start narcoterrorism in Indonesia. Narcoterrorism is the attempt to influence the policies of the government or society through violence and intimidation, and to hinder the enforcement of anti-drug laws by the systematic threat or use of such violence. This means that The Cartel will kidnap, torture, and assassinate police officers and government officials to ensure the continuity of their operation, just like the drug cartels of South America.

Sarah is not entirely confident she’ll find anything as she has thin leads. What’s worse is that she can’t conduct her own investigation and must rely on other officers in Interpol NCB Indonesia and the INP to follow up on it. But James and Paul seem to understand her predicament, because that is the job of a liaison officer in Interpol. They too must rely on other police officers to do their job and they know it takes time indeed.

Sarah spends the rest of the morning at her desk, writing a report to the Secretariat of Interpol NCB Indonesia and coordinating with them by phone and e-mail. Her teammates seem to be as busy as she is, except for Michael, who again is nowhere to be seen.

Without her realizing it, Sarah’s spending a lot of time looking out for him.

16:21 WIB (GMT+7)

Tuesday May 5, 2026

Terminal 3, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

Kota Tangerang, Tangerang, Banten

At the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport that afternoon, Santoso picks up another man.

“How are you, Santoso?” greets Niall pleasantly in fluent Bahasa Indonesia.

“Fine, pak Niall,” replies Santoso.

“How’s the family?”

“They’re well, pak,” replies Santoso.

“Good to hear,” says Niall.

Santoso always gets the same greeting whenever he picks up his boss’s associates at the airport. It might sound like small talk, but it’s actually intelligence tradecraft. If Santoso senses any trouble at the airport, he’s required to answer that ‘his wife is sick’ on the second question. If this happened, his passenger would give Santoso his luggage and pretend to need to go to the restroom and Santoso would drive away to wait near the Central Park Mall in West Jakarta. The passenger would then have to conduct counter-surveillance measures and find some other means of getting to the mall, where he’d be picked up by Santoso. Santoso knows how to do this because he once worked in intelligence in the Indonesian army, before he was dishonourably discharged for ‘accidentally’ killing a civilian. So far, Santoso’s wife has always been ‘healthy’.

“When will you return to Ireland, pak Niall?” asks Santoso.

“Sunday, early morning, on the twenty-fourth. Could you please take me to the airport on that day?”

“Of course, pak Niall.”

“Also, could you please lend me your car? I’ll need it every night in Jakarta,” orders Niall once again while he takes the disguise off his face.

Baik, pak Niall,” answers Santoso.

They talk about other things on the drive to Pondok Indah.

11:36 GMT

Tuesday May 5, 2026

Interpol Manchester

Central Park, Manchester, England

Towards lunch time, Sarah receives a text from Michael’s smartphone number, asking everyone for a meeting. As per SOP, Sarah immediately deletes the text. Everyone can attend except the commander.

Michael starts his presentation once everyone is present. “Right, the MoD has conducted an audit of all armouries, which are under the supervision of the Royal Logistics Corps. A major finding is that there are eighty kilograms of PE4 unaccounted for from an army training area in Pontrilas, Herefordshire.”

“Isn’t that a training area for the UK Special Forces?” asks James.

“How would I know?” retorts Michael with a straight face.

James only shrugs, also with a straight face.

Michael continues. “Anyhow, officers from the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police are currently investigating that army base. With any luck, they’ll send the results of their investigation to us sometime next month.”

“How much PE4 is needed to bring down the International Liaison Building?” asks Liz.

“Well… ehm… I wouldn’t know about that either. The Paras are basically airborne light infantry and we don’t handle explosives. I’ll try to find out, though,” says Michael.

Michael looks uneasy as he notes Liz’s question in his tablet while his teammates smirk at his reaction. Sarah has a satisfied smile on seeing that Michael’s uncomfortable with Liz’s question.

Arthur suddenly looks at Sarah. “What do you think, Sarah? How much PE4 is needed to bring down the International Liaison Building?”

Sarah’s smile disappears. “I was just a traffic constable before they sent me to Interpol… so I wouldn’t know about it either,” she shrugs.

“Bullshit! Ye’re Densus-88 or at least Gegana,” says Matt, smiling at her.

Sarah struggles to remain expressionless. “How did you get that idea?”

“We studied yer Facebook yesterday and it doesn’t mention anything about ye being a traffic constable. A real traffic constable would’ve had no problems mentioning that in their modelling portfolio. Ye should always update yer legend before ye go on to another assignment, ye know,” suggests Matt with a wide grin.

Sarah can’t believe her teammates have already studied her Facebook account! Her face starts to turn red, especially since there are several sexy modelling photos in her account. Sarah’s lost for words, which makes her teammates laugh. She sees that Michael is laughing the hardest and it annoys her even more, as she suspects that it was Michael who showed them her Facebook in the first place. However, Michael’s fun doesn’t last long.

“Michael, the UK Special Forces Group should conduct their own investigation. As part of The Paras, maybe yee could help them?” suggests Paul, smirking.

“Only the 1st Battalion of the Paras are part of the UKSF Group, Paul. I’m from the 2nd Battalion, remember? I’ll contact one of the ruperts in the 1st Battalion to see if he can help,” says Michael. He makes another note in his tablet and looks uncomfortable again.

“Maybe you should get in touch with your DSF so you can coordinate with him on the investigation?” suggests Arthur.

“I don’t know what you mean by DSF, Arthur. I’m from the Parachute Regiment!” says Michael, getting exasperated.

“Bullshit!” Matt snorts. “Ye’re SAS.”

“You must have mistaken me for someone else, Matt,” says Michael.

“Oh, I’m sure Michael’s not from the SAS, Matt…” says Liz seriously.

“Thank you, Liz,” cuts in Michael, looking relieved.

“… because he doesn’t fit their profile,” continues Liz. “The fellas from the SAS are supposed to be really tough.”

Michael’s jaw drops.

James immediately responds. “Actually, I think Michael fits their profile perfectly. The SAS fellas aren’t really that tough anymore,” he says, trying hard to keep a straight face.

Michael’s jaw drops even further and his teammates finally laugh. Sarah’s delighted that it’s Michael’s turn to be slagged off by her teammates.

Matt continues. “That’s right. Didn’t the SAS get bested by the Royal Gurkha Rifles on some endurance race about a year ago?”

Everyone nods and laughs even louder, recalling an article from last year’s Daily Mail. The article said that during an endurance race held by the British Army in the mountains of Wales, the entire UK Special Forces were outrun by the infantrymen from Nepal. The UKSF were so embarrassed that they daren’t race against the Gurkhas anymore.

“Yeah, right,” Michael snorts. “Why don’t you try running up and down the bloody Brecon Beacons for twenty-four kilometres in under four hours carrying a bloody fifty-pound bergen on your back!”

“So… you’re either SAS or a Gurkha then,” says Arthur. “You’re quite a bit taller than any Gurkha I know so you must be SAS.”

Michael finally raises his hands in surrender and the others can only roll in laughter at his reaction. Paul then invites them all for lunch at the cafeteria. All through lunch, they continue to take the piss out of Michael for his lousy acting. Like Sarah, they’d all suspected he was from the SAS since day one. Sarah’s glad her Interpol team is so easy to get along with.

Throughout the rest of the month, Sarah concentrates on coordinating with other liaison officers at Interpol NCB Indonesia. The rest of the time she spends studying the intelligence data, especially the opposition’s names and faces. Sarah’s job is boring, especially compared to her job in Densus. Sarah also feels quite lonely, as no one has asked her to hang out and she seldom sees her teammates, who often work in the field.

All of this will change in the upcoming month.

22:09 WIB (GMT+7)

Saturday May 23, 2026

Roxy Indigo Spa

Taman Sari, West Jakarta, Jakarta

Every Saturday, the Indonesian factory workers all go together to have fun in the city. These petty criminals have never had so much money before and they go mental every weekend.

Lukas is forty-four years old. He’s single and intends to stay that way. His face and body are not attractive so he prefers to pay for sex. While his men like splurging at seedy bordellos and bars in Jakarta’s red-light district, Lukas prefers to visit the type of lavish spa that offers more than just massages, called spa plus-plus in Indonesia.

Tonight, he picks a new, pretty therapist with a slim figure, calling herself Donna. After the ‘therapy’ session, Lukas is so satisfied with Donna’s ‘service’ that he immediately asks her to continue in his home. They ride in Lukas’s Jaguar to his house in the Kebayoran Baru area, another elite district in South Jakarta. Every weekend, from Friday night till Monday morning, Lukas gives the housekeepers the weekend off so that he can be free to have his sex parties. The housekeepers will return on Monday morning to clean up. Lukas and Donna don’t realize that someone is waiting for them inside Lukas’s house.

Monday morning comes and there’s uproar at one of the luxurious houses of Kebayoran Baru. The owner has been found, beaten to death with a wooden board full of nails and a naked woman beside him, disembowelled with her intestines slashed to bits. The police are baffled. No valuables were stolen and they can find absolutely no forensic evidence. They don’t know that the perpetrator left Indonesia just hours after completing his ‘job’.

Phase Three of The Cartel’s plan has been concluded and Phase Four is about to begin.

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