In one of the offices of MI5, the UK’s home security service on the north bank of the River Thames in London, James Britton was busy sifting through reams of information sent earlier in the day from GCHQ, the government’s communication headquarters in Cheltenham. An experienced officer skilled in the tradecraft of the shadowy underworld that he operated in, he had been trained to survive situations where others failed, or even died.
James’s workload was increasing, by having to deal with the many threats of terrorism from among the so-called refugees flooding into the UK across non-existent borders, together with the growing menace of home-grown jihadis. He abhorred the current trend of maniacs driving trucks and cars into crowds of people, ploughing them down, killing and maiming both young and old alike, irrespective of race or creed.
The recent upheaval in British politics had been caused by the previous prime minister miscalculating a call for a vote of confidence to remain in the EU and the electorate had voted to leave. Macintosh had had no choice other than to call for a general election, which he lost. The old, lethargic, long-standing government had been kicked out in a floodtide of votes for the young, enthusiastic People First in Britain party. Since being elected, Carol Dowding, the popular new prime minister and Michael Dodds, her deputy, had been working hard with the new government to negotiate a fair deal to leave the aggressive, German dominated European Union. This government was seen to be finally addressing the appalling immigration problem, to the relief of many.
James reflected on his recent meeting with his brother, Charlie and wondered if he had found out any more about Michael Dodds death. The circumstances of his death were far from clear, the unusual presence of MI6 at the time and the fact that they had moved the body to the special mortuary in London. He also wondered if the copies of the court martial record he had given Charlie had helped whatever he was investigating.
James and Charlie had both experienced from an early age an uncanny ability of possessing and using their six sense, what the boffins would term their extrasensory perception. It was the reason that made Charlie such a good investigative journalist and his twin brother a successful intelligence officer. James was very proud of his brother and his knack of always getting right to the heart of the matters he investigated, even if he sailed close to the winds at times. He laughed to himself on remembering Charlie had occasionally even made the headlines himself. James leaned forward, put his elbow on the desk and cupped chin in hand in thought. Why had the court martial records been re-classified by MI6 and what were they covering up after all this time? He had no idea but was determined to help his brother find out.
James’s decided to ring a contact in MI6, his instincts telling him to be careful, prompted by the fact of the widening chasm between the two intelligence agencies. He knew that the relationship between them had never always been cordial, but it had now disintegrated into a tangled web of mistrust and deceit. He picked up his phone and called Pat Harding, a friend from the Royal Navy who now worked as a researcher at MI6
‘Hi Pat, how are you?’ enquired James.
‘Sounds like my mate from MI5. I’m fine, Jimbo, how’s yourself?’
‘Can’t complain. It’s about time we had a game of squash, we haven’t played for ages. How about I book a court next week?’
‘OK, but you sure you can spend the time? Thought you were busy clearing the land of heathen infidels?’
‘Give us a break, Pat. I need a favour.’ joked James.
‘Fire away, how can I help?’
‘Can you pull the records on a recent re-classification issued on the 21 April 2015? It’s a restriction on a court martial of a John Faulkner that held on the 15 September 1940.’
‘That’s rather a long time ago! Does it concern national security?’ Pat asked his friend.
‘Yes, I’ve got reason to believe it does.’
’Fair enough, let’s have a look for you then.
James heard the tap of a keyboard over the line followed by a low whistle.
‘No can do, Jimbo. It’s flagged by the head honcho himself. Denied access even for me.’
‘What, Mollinson himself?’
‘The very same. Sorry James, but if you want my advice, you’d better leave this one alone.’
‘OK Pat. How about 1900 hours next Friday for squash?’
‘You’re on and stand by for a thrashing.’
James replaced the handset.
‘What the bloody hell!’ he said to himself.
He looked up at the clock on the wall and decided it was time to go. It was early Friday afternoon and he was looking forward to what promised to be an interesting weekend. In another building not far away, a small flag popped up on the computer monitor of James Mollinson, director of MI6, signalling dire consequences ahead for James Britton.