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DoubleShot: The New James Bond Adventure

DoubleShot: The New James Bond Adventure

by Raymond Benson
Seeing double makes life twice as dangerous for James Bond-when an organized crime organization makes him believe he's going insane. It's a mad but brilliant plot that forces Agent 007 into the ultimateface-to-face confrontation...with himself.


Seeing double makes life twice as dangerous for James Bond-when an organized crime organization makes him believe he's going insane. It's a mad but brilliant plot that forces Agent 007 into the ultimateface-to-face confrontation...with himself.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
In this new James Bond adventure, a warning inside a fortune cookie serves as the catalyst for a series of unsettling events that could push the impaired Bond to the edge of madness.
Chicago Tribune
A perfect read.
Kirkus Reviews
The creakiest exercise yet in American Bond fan Benson's postmodern resurrection of Ian Fleming's peerless killer spy, has an embarrassingly witless 007 going rogue to fight a dastardly multinational crime cartel. Two months after the calamitous conclusion of High Time to Kill (1999), Bond is still depressed over the death of lover Helen Marksbury. He's also on medical leave, under the care of comely Dr. Kimberely Feare, taking pills that are supposed to heal a brain lesion but do little more than leave him paranoid and prone to blackouts. Unknown to Bond, the American white supremacists who call themselves the Union have revamped themselves into a wealthy criminal club that holds meetings in swank, dimly lit underground boardrooms presided over by the mysterious Le Gerant, a blind man who forgoes canes because he can psychically sense his surroundings. Aided by sadomasochistic sexpot Margareta Piel, Le Gerant has found a crazed Bond look-alike willing to undergo plastic surgery, wear Brioni suits, and commit un-Bondly crimes, such as killing Dr. Feare moments after she forsakes medical ethics to succumb to the real Bond's "overwhelming masculinity." Meanwhile, Spanish powerbroker (and Union member) Domingo Espada, who publicly manages bullfighters and privately kidnaps poor girls and turns them into sex slaves, has set up a meeting with the various heads of state to demand the return of Gibraltar to Spain. At the climax of the meeting, pseudo-Bond will kill the British Prime Minister. Of course, the one true Bond can thwart only so much gratuitous overplotting by himself, so he swipes a handgun from the Q Branch armory (almost no gadgetry in this outing, alas), falls inwithvoluptuous CIA twins Heidi and Hedy Taunt, and, after a inconvenient blackout, awakens in Espada's bullring, where he must first use his wits against a charging bull and then fight pseudo-Bond to the death. Nifty bullfighting scenes do not redeem an otherwise cliché-cluttered narrative. For die-hard fans only.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
James Bond Series
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


Dramatis Personae

The Convent's Security Officer gasped when he saw what came up on the computer screen. Domingo Espada's British bodyguard had given his name as "Peter Woodward," but he was positively identified as James Bond, agent 007 of SIS.

    "Better have a look at this, sir," he said to the aide-de-camp, a tall young captain from the Gibraltar Regiment.

    The captain looked over the officer's shoulder at the monitor and recognized the face—it was indeed the man who had walked into the Governor's Residence that morning with Espada and the rest of his Spanish entourage. He was now upstairs with the other delegates, politicians, and their aides.

    "I'd say he has a lot of nerve coming here like this," the captain said. "He knows we can't arrest him because he's here with diplomatic immunity. I had better get on to London and let them know about it. You're sure he passed through the metal detectors all right?"

    "Yes, sir."

    The aide-de-camp frowned. "I don't like it. The man's a menace. 'Peter Woodward' indeed. How long before the Governor and the PM arrive?"

    Another officer was just hanging up a telephone. "The PM's plane just landed. I would say half an hour."

    The Convent, the Governor of Gibraltar's official residence on Main Street for over 250 years, was a hive of activity. As they were under a "Red" security alert, it was crawling with extra men from the Gibraltar Regiment. VIPs from several neighboring countries were upstairs,awaiting an important summit meeting between Britain's Prime Minister, Spain's Prime Minister, and others who had an interest in the Gibraltar conflict.

    Another security officer rushed to the captain with a piece of paper. "This urgent fax just came in, sir."

    The captain read it. It was from the Ministry of Defence headquarters in London.

    "My God" was all he could manage to say after he had absorbed the message.

Upstairs, Nadir Yassasin looked across the long table in the Banqueting Hall at the man the aide-de-camp was worried about. The man was the British secret agent, wanted by his own people, suspected of having turned terrorist, and one of the most dangerous men on the planet. There was no mistaking the face—from the three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of his right cheek to the black hair, parted on the left and carelessly brushed so that a thick comma fell down over the right eyebrow. The gray-blue eyes were set wide and level under straight, rather long black brows. His jaw was firm and strong. His mouth was wide and finely drawn; Espada's aide, Margareta Piel, had been correct in describing it as "somewhat cruel."

    Yassasin took a deep breath and congratulated himself for having finally arrived at this fateful moment. It had not been easy, but the project would surely go down as his finest hour. Everything had fallen into place, and he was confident that his new assassin would come through and perform his final task without hesitation. The man was already a cold-blooded killer. After undergoing the necessary "remodeling" and reconditioning, the Brit was now under Yassasin's total control. The fool would do anything for him.

    Yassasin almost allowed himself a smile. It was all going to happen in a few minutes, and agent 007 would take the blame. History would be made today, and Nadir Yassasin, the Union's most accomplished strategist, would have a part in it. Yet, if all went according to plan, no one would ever know that he had even been in the room. Today, he was "Said Arif," a Moroccan representative from a United States agency. He would leave the Rock under the same alias. It was sad, Yassasin thought, not to be remembered as he deserved for his role in the day that Gibraltar was besieged.

    Never mind, he thought. His reward was that he had planned the entire operation, and that it was going to succeed.

Jimmy Powers glanced for the fifth time at the Gibraltar Chronicle sitting on the table beside him. The headline screamed, "PM TO MEET ESPADA TODAY," beneath which was a picture of the Spaniard, standing at a podium with a painting of Franco behind him. His fist was raised and he was shouting to the throngs of people who would do anything he ordered. He certainly had something of Franco in him—not to mention the deadly charisma of a Hitler or a Mussolini. Another story on the front page announced, "Spanish Mob Gather at Border—UN to Mediate."

    "Gather"... that was funny, Powers thought. "Ready to erupt" would be more accurate. There were a couple of thousand men, armed and dangerous, waiting for the signal to storm across the border between Spain and Gibraltar. The Gibraltar Regiment and the Gibraltar Services Police had lined up a battery of weapons and were more than willing and ready to take them on—but this was a question of numbers, not strength. With the reinforcements from the U.K. delayed, the "Rock" didn't have a chance. They had underestimated the power that Domingo Espada held over his people. More important, they also had no idea that the Union was behind the brilliant plan that would topple the British colony and make them look foolish. This was one time that history would not repeat itself. The most impenetrable fortress in the world was about to be assailed—from the inside.

    Powers moved his right hand surreptitiously to his waistband and felt the Browning 9mm, waiting for the fateful moment when it would be called into play. According to the plan, he was not supposed to do anything unless something went wrong. If all went according to plan, then he would walk out of the Convent alive. If not, well... he would die killing as many people in the room as he could.

No one could detect the Spanish 9mm Super Star inside Margareta Piel's jacket pocket, for she was unusually adept at moving with grace and poise. After all, she was one of the most accomplished equestrians in Spain.

    Margareta took stock of the room and what was about to happen in it. She was beginning to have doubts about the Union's choice of an assassin. If her suspicions were correct, then the entire operation was blown. She would have to do what she could to save her own skin and get out of the room alive.

    Margareta scanned the others' faces and carefully considered who might be a threat when the shooting began. The Spanish Prime Minister and the other politicians from the U.K., America, Gibraltar, and other U.N. representatives posed no danger. The only additional woman in the room was an Arab, dressed traditionally in a caftan and a veil, which hid her face entirely except for a shadowy slit for her eyes. Margareta was confident that she wouldn't be any trouble either.

    Margareta had to admire Espada, who at sixty-two looked more like fifty. He had made a fortune and won the hearts of the people during a three-decade bullfighting career. Now a businessman and politician, Espada was a staunch supporter of those who repeatedly called for Gibraltar, that "pebble in Spain's shoe," to be ceded back to his country. He hated the British. He had used his considerable power and influence in the Costa del Sol region of Andaluc'a to bring about what history would someday call a revolution. The government in Madrid didn't like it, but there was not much they could do because of his popularity. Many of his followers called him El Padrino—"Godfather." This was appropriate, for Domingo Espada was perhaps the most efficacious racketeer in the Mediterranean area.

    Margareta turned her attention once again to the killer next to her. Her lover. The incongruous Brit, sitting among the group of Spaniards at the table. He certainly had become a different man in the last three months. She studied his features, the broad shoulders, and his unbelievably relaxed demeanor.... The name "James Bond" fitted him nicely. It was blunt and masculine, just as he was.

    But things were not as they seemed. What should she do? She had to speak to the assassin.

    The gun was warm in the pocket near her breast. She squeezed her legs tightly, forcing waves of pleasure to jolt up through her spine and into her brain. The sudden stimulation brought her focus back to the task at hand.

    She patted the warm metal in her pocket once more for inspiration, then prepared to make her move.

For his part, Domingo Espada looked upon the day's political meeting as a formality that must be suffered before the day's real business could begin.

    So far everything had gone smoothly. The British PM and Governor were on the way. This would be a day long remembered in Spain's history. Screw the politicians in Madrid, he thought. Espada was satisfied that they were, quite simply, afraid of him. He had single-handedly amassed more support and power from the lower and middle classes than any other Spaniard in the twentieth century except Franco. It was only fitting that the millennium launch a new era of Spanish dominance in the Mediterranean.

    Domingo Espada was quite prepared to die for his cause. Even if the plan failed, he would be happy to go down in history as the instigator of the Great Siege of the Millennium.

    Today, Gibraltar. Tomorrow...?

The man who had been identified by the Convent's security apparatus as James Bond was ready for the assignment at hand. He mentally checked his body to make sure that the Walther PPK was in place in his waistband. He was now itching to get the act over and done with.

    For the hundredth time, the hired Union assassin went over the details of the plan. When the PM entered the room, the killer was first to take out the Double- O agent serving as the PM's bodyguard and then the Governor's bodyguard. The next target was the PM himself, who would die with a single bullet to the head. Before anyone else had time to react, the Governor of Gibraltar would be shot. By then, Espada, Agustin, and the woman would have sprung into action. They would draw their own weapons, kill any guards who might be in the room, and then hold the rest of the delegates hostage. The Spanish prime minister would be executed if he didn't agree to Espada's demands. Yassasin and Powers were to use their weapons only if something went wrong. Otherwise they would maintain their covers as diplomats, become "hostages," and eventually be released. Espada would declare himself the new Governor of Gibraltar, and the signal would go out for his men to storm the border and take over the colony.

    It seemed easy enough. He knew he could handle it.

    Finally, the door opened and the aide-de-camp stepped into the room. "The car has just arrived," he announced. "The prime minister and His Excellency are just entering the Convent now. They should be here any moment."

    It was time. The Union members in the room shared a quick knowing glance as the captain stepped out and closed the door.

    The man identified as James Bond gripped the gun at his waist and waited for the door to open again.

Chapter One

Act One

Tercio de Varas
Suicide Mission

As the sun had risen over North Africa two weeks earlier, the plaintive morning call to prayer had floated out over the rooftops of Casablanca. Mixing verses from the Koran and a traditional beckoning for religious Muslims to offer the first of five obligatory prayers to be performed each day, the melancholy voice was one of the few things that the people of Morocco's largest city could count on. While the new king and the government did their best to keep the population content, the country was suffering from vast unemployment and, as a result, crime. This was especially true in the larger cities such as Casablanca, Rabat, and Tangier. Casablanca, far from being the exotic and romantic locale for the famed Humphrey Bogart film, exhibited an odd conflict of traditional Moroccan culture with the trappings of a modern, metropolitan business center. The latter was winning, even though the city's poor and needy were evident on every corner. Wherever there was money to be made in the face of outright poverty, a criminal element naturally gestated.

    Even so, the awe-inspiring Hassan II Mosque, towering over the city like a benevolent sentinel, served to remind the people that Morocco was well ahead of its Muslim neighbors in terms of economic stability and that all was right with the world. In a way, the mosque represented a blending of the modern Muslim world's idealism and its desire to exist on an equal basis alongside the West.

    The ambitious leader of an organization that held its meetings not far away from the great monument shared this view.

    As the religious faithful hurried to mosques and those who held honest jobs commuted to their places of employment before the early morning rush of business, the worst of Casablanca's criminal element were also preparing for the new day. Several very different businessmen and women gathered to begin their day's work in a high-tech conference room decorated in reflective sheet metal. It was not an ordinary meeting room in that it was located two hundred feet below street level, beneath the old Central Market, which ran the length of a city block along Rue Allal ben Abdallah. The room was part of an immense, private, underground complex that extended northwest nearly a mile from the Market to the old medina, the centuries-old section of town that consisted of narrow, winding passageways where shopkeepers sold produce, arts and crafts, clothing, and souvenirs.

    The complex had been built in the mid-nineties by a consortium represented by a powerful Arabic law firm. As most of the construction was below ground, very few Casablancans knew of its existence. In fact, the only two entrances to the complex were well hidden behind seemingly innocent stalls in the market and medina. A loading lift was also located in the market behind what appeared to be a rubbish skip. Much of the vast structure was empty. Workers inhabited perhaps a fifth of it, while supplies and weapons occupied another fifth.

    The consortium that owned the property was made up of three banking firms— one located in Morocco, another in Switzerland, and one in Monaco. An offshore oil corporation with assets all over the Mediterranean and in North Africa was also a major shareholder in the property. Silent partners based in the Middle East and France were involved. Mostly, though, the funding came from a private individual who was now calling a meeting to order in the darkened, chilly steel chamber that was the conference room for the international criminal organization known as the Union.

    "Are we all here?" Le Gerant asked.

    The others casually spoke in the affirmative. As usual, Le Gerant was sitting in shadow, wearing dark glasses. Today he wore an Armani suit that fitted snugly over his rather large frame. This meant that today's meeting would be strictly business. Le Gerant would stick to a memorized agenda, keep things moving along briskly, and discuss the all-important money issues.

    Sometimes he wore a traditional jellaba, a gownlike garment with a hood. Although no one could pinpoint exactly why, the meetings were always different when Le Gerant dressed in Moroccan clothing. His considerable charismatic powers were somehow more intense when he embraced his mother's ancestral Berber culture. Those in his presence felt an elusive aura of self-confidence and enlightenment, and this had a significant effect on his powers of persuasion and leadership. Meetings became lessons in philosophy or Union ideology, and money was never discussed. One commandant had said that Le Gerant became more "mystical" when he wore the jellaba.

    Le Gerant never used or took notes. Everything was in his head. Always. He pulled sophisticated facts and figures from the air. He never needed to be reminded of anything. Anyone who had the privilege of meeting him always came away impressed by his profound intellect.

    He was usually fair and generous with the Union's profits. The other people in the room, the cercle ferme, were all millionaires thanks to their work for the Union. Each man or woman was a commandant responsible for a geographical area somewhere in the world, and employed anywhere from fifty to several hundred people, depending on the needs of the district. It took a lot of money to keep several hundred people happy and the Union was able to provide stability. That kept the commandants loyal.

    Fear was also a major factor in keeping the cercle ferme faithful to Le Gerant. If for any reason he believed that someone had cheated him or attempted to do something behind his back, he became furious. He could extract a confession easily and punishment was, as a matter of course, swift and merciless. Commandant Jimmy Powers had seen a man's throat cut in this very room.

    The twenty-six commandants were required to take notes and be prepared with any documentation Le Gerant might require. Their leader was very strict, even compulsive, about the appearance of everything. He insisted on cleanliness and order. He dictated what kind of pens and paper would be used in the conference room, and what coffee was served and in which cups. He liked everything to be in its place. A desk light was essential at every station at the table, because Le Gerant kept the room so dark. The commandants, although they were used to them, never liked these policies and wished Le Gerant would change them. Why should they matter to him?

    After all, Le Gerant was blind.

    A servant entered the room with a tray full of tall glasses filled with hot mint tea. A Moroccan tradition, the tea was served with mint leaves floating in the narrow glass, and each person had the option of adding sugar or not. It was yet another part of the ritual Le Gerant insisted upon.

    Jimmy Powers disliked mint tea intensely. It was something he put up with, though, for he had to admit that the Union had brought him more wealth and interesting things to do than the founding Union boss, Taylor Harris, could ever have hoped to offer. He had been wise to stick with Le Gerant after Harris was killed in Oregon. The original Union broke up after that, but Le Gerant's reformed Union rose from the ashes. While the original Union made a show of being an organization of mercenaries willing to perform any paramilitary task for the right price, Le Gerant transformed the group into something far more serious. Once Le Gerant had outlined what the new Union could do for him, Jimmy Powers turned coat as well and left America for Morocco. He had been there for three years, acting as one of Le Gerant's most trusted commandants.

    Julius Wilcox, the other American charter member, was the ugliest and meanest-looking commandant at the table. He had a particularly gruesome scar above his right eye, a hawk nose, and greasy, slicked-back gray hair. He was, perhaps, the Union's most accomplished executioner. He, too, was happy that he was working for Le Gerant rather than the temperamental Taylor Harris.

    Powers scanned the faces of the other commandants. He had never made a point of getting to know any of them personally—it was against the rules. He did, however, know who each of them was and which districts each controlled.

    One of the men who intrigued him was Nadir Yassasin, a black Muslim from Morocco... or perhaps Mauritania... he wasn't sure. Yassasin was known as the Union's "strategist." If anyone could be called Le Gerant's right-hand man, it was he. Powers had been promised that he and Yassasin would work together very soon.

    The other commandants were from other areas of the globe—Great Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Israel, Argentina, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, and the United States. Collectively, they controlled thousands of Union members worldwide. In the six short years of its existence, the Union had grown into a powerful, deadly force that kept Interpol, the CIA and FBI, MI5 and MI6, Mossad, and other law enforcement agencies on alert for any information pertaining to the capture of Union leaders. The organization's accomplishments were impressive. The Union were responsible for several audacious terrorist attacks, political upheavals, high-profile blackmail and extortion cases, murders-for-hire, drug smuggling, prostitution, and arms dealing. The only major failure had occurred within the last two months: the one involving the disastrous Skin 17 project. Powers knew that this had been a thorn in Le Gerant's side since that fateful day in the Himalayas.

    As green and black olives were served with the tea, Le Gerant decided it was time to begin. He spoke in English, with a French accent.

    "I am happy to report that several of our latest ventures have been successful. Thanks to people working day and night in our communications department, we have penetrated nearly every intelligence agency in the world. If we are not already inside them, then they are not worth bothering with."

    The group applauded politely.

    "Mr. Wilcox, could you please inform everyone of our financial status?"

    Wilcox sat up and cleared his throat. "Yes, sir, here we are," he said, thumbing through his notes. "Total income for the last fiscal year was twelve billion dollars in U.S. funds."

    The group applauded once more, this time a little more enthusiastically.

    "The distribution of the money will occur by the end of this month," Wilcox continued. "You are all aware of your percentage. If you have any problems, see me."

    "And recruitment?" Le Gerant asked.

    "Up fifteen percent," Wilcox replied. "The payroll indicates that we now employ over ten thousand people worldwide. Like McDonald's, we'll soon have a Union franchise in every major city."

    Some of the commandants laughed.

    "Very good," Le Gerant said, obviously pleased. It couldn't be said that he didn't have a sense of humor. "I believe our efforts to escalate the war in the former Yugoslavia were what put us back on track after the failure of the Skin 17 project. We have our strategist, Mr. Yassasin, to thank for that."

    Again, there was applause. Yassasin merely nodded. He was always given the most "impossible" jobs and always managed to pull them off with finesse. Besides being an expert in computers, electronics, physics, and disguise, Yassasin was a master planner. Like a chess champion, he could predict every possible move and countermove in any job he undertook.

    "Which brings us to new business," Le Gerant said, shifting the tone of his voice to something more akin to that of a disapproving parent. "The Skin 17 failure cost us much more than the money we invested in it and the lives of the operatives we lost. We had promised to sell the formula to the Chinese. Not making good on that promise left us with bad credit in the Far East. All of the markets in Asia have dried up, and we're having difficulties keeping up our operations there. This is seriously affecting our business, not only in the Far East, but everywhere. When the word got out that the Union slipped up on a major job, it made our clients less enthusiastic about working with us. It damaged our image and reputation. We must work on repairing that damage."

    Le Gerant finished his mint tea, then paused to light a cigarette. He never once moved his head as he performed these simple tasks with his hands. His sense of touch was highly amplified to compensate for his lack of sight. Some commandants believed that all of his other senses overcompensated for his disability. It was said that Le Gerant could hear a mouse flitting about in a room on the other side of the complex and that he could smell whether a person was telling the truth or not.

    "As you no doubt know, a famous ex-matador in Spain is stirring up trouble with the British. Has everyone seen the latest news? Domingo Espada is very busy with his little revolution that he's organising just north of us. Now, I'll be quite open here, and I trust that nothing I say will leave this room. Domingo Espada, the head of a considerably successful Spanish mafia, refused to join the Union when we first invited him. He has considerable influence in areas we would like to penetrate, such as South America. Ladies and gentlemen, Se-or Espada has come back to the Union and offered us an intriguing project for which he will pay a considerable amount of money. Aside from the monetary considerations, Espada has agreed to help the Union access those areas in which we have no influence. His personal organization controls them now.

    "Of even more interest to us is the fact that Great Britain is the target of Se-or Espada's proposal. Espada has had long-standing issues with the U.K. for political reasons. As you all know, the failure of the Skin 17 project was largely due to the interference by Britain's MI6. Their SIS and Ministry of Defence made fools of us, and I do not take kindly to that."

    Jimmy Powers shot a glance at the commandant for the district that included Great Britain. The man shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

    "One agent in particular," Le Gerant continued, "a Double-O, was the man most responsible for the project's failure. Therefore, Espada's proposal is of great interest to me because it may give us the perfect opportunity to exact revenge for Britain's unforgivable meddling in our business. I would like to see this British agent suffer the tortures of the damned for as long as possible, then die a humiliating death that will make world headlines."

    Le Gerant paused, taking a couple of drags from his cigarette before extinguishing it in the ashtray in front of him. He knew exactly where it was sitting without feeling for it.

    "Espada's plan is really quite insane. It's a suicide mission. When I first heard about it, I told him quite frankly that no one would walk away from it alive. He said that he was willing to die for the cause. But, if we can pull off his proposal, the Union will be the most powerful criminal network in the world. We will be able to demand any price from any country for the merest threat. The name 'the Union' will be so feared that we will have more influence on the world's economy than the New York Stock Exchange. Therefore, I have decided that Se-or Espada's suicidal project is worth attempting. And we, my friends, will walk away from it alive.

    "What I would like to do," Le Gerant continued, "is to kill two birds with one stone. We will agree to help Espada, for the money, of course, but at the same time, we will exact revenge on Great Britain. When it is revealed that the Union was behind the catastrophe that Espada wants to instigate, the entire world will bow to us. It will solidify our place in history."

    "How do you plan to do this?" Powers asked.

    Le Gerant smiled and said, "I detect excitement in your voice, Mr. Powers. Is this something you'd like to work on?"

    "I'll do whatever you want, Gerant."

    "Fine. I've asked our strategist to come up with a plan. And I'd like you to serve as his eyes and ears, since you're so good at that sort of thing."

    A chance to work with Yassasin! Powers was pleased.

    Le Gerant turned to Yassasin. "Would you like to tell us about it, Nadir?"

    Yassasin leaned forward so that the desk lamp cast an eerie light on his face.

    "The plan is already in progress," he said. "In fact, it began shortly after the collapse of the Skin 17 project."

    The others sat up, alert, waiting to hear what the strategist had to say. Everyone was thrilled that they were about to participate in another Nadir Yassasin project. He was the most respected man in the room, other than Le Gerant.

    "One of Domingo Espada's closest colleagues and confidantes is a woman named Margareta Piel. We need her help, so we have offered her membership in the Union. She works for Domingo Espada in many capacities and lives at his private ranch in Spain. She is well known in Spain as an equestrian instructor and performer, but she has quite a dark side. She's a vicious homicidal maniac. Her skills at stealth, theft, breaking and entering, seduction, and murder are top quality," Yassasin continued. "Her nickname is Mantis Religiosa, or 'Praying Mantis,' because it is rumored that she disposes of her lovers after she has had her way with them."

    "My kind of gal," Julius Wilcox said. There were some chuckles, but Le Gerant abruptly snapped, "Silence!"

    After a pause, Yassasin continued. "She will be an integral part of the plan. Whether or not she turns against Espada remains to be seen, but I think she is enticed by the financial possibilities of being a member of the Union.

    "I have also enlisted one of our top mercenaries; he had been working for us in Africa. He's Welsh, a man by the name of Peredur Glyn. He was a former football hooligan who was convicted of murder a few years ago. The Union helped him escape from prison in the U.K. and he has lived underground ever since, working for us. He's in excellent physical shape and he's a formidable killer. Most important, he possesses the necessary physical attributes that will suit our plan perfectly."

    "Has he agreed to the fee?" Le Gerant asked.

    "He has agreed to the payment of a half-million U.S. dollars," Yassasin confirmed. "Besides, he feels that he owes us a service for helping him get out of prison."

    "Good. Tell us about the remodeling and reconditioning."

    "Glyn went through the remodeling well over a month ago, and it was more successful than I had hoped it would be. He is now currently undergoing reconditioning and training." Yassasin smiled. "We won't have a problem with him. He is a very gullible man. Very susceptible to our techniques. Not very bright, but eager to please. In two weeks' time, Glyn will be ready. Everything is in place for the plan to proceed. We will be on a very strict schedule."

    "Very well," Le Gerant said. He looked at the commandant for Great Britain. "What is the latest on attempts to replant an operative inside SIS? It was unfortunate what happened to that girl at MI6... what was her name?"

    "Marksbury," the man answered. "Forget her, she was insignificant. We are still working on replacing her. These things take time."

    "Perhaps you need to step up your efforts," Le Gerant suggested with the slightest hint of menace in his voice.

    The commandant swallowed hard and continued. "But, Gerant, with all due respect, you are aware that our primary operative in the U.K. has been in place for two years and continues to provide us with valuable information on MI6 personnel."

    Yassasin spoke up. "And this operative will continue to play a part in our plan," he said, cutting through the tension with equanimity. "As you know, the information that was furnished to us was the catalyst for the scheme. When we learned that our target was on an extended medical leave since the events in the Himalayas, we felt that the opportunity was too good to pass up. He is still currently off duty and therefore extremely vulnerable."

    Le Gerant nodded. "Will the commandants in charge of the British, Spanish, and North African districts meet me in precisely one hour in my office. We must commend Mister Yassasin, for he has come up with a truly ingenious and highly imaginative plan, albeit a risky one, to exact revenge on Great Britain, as well as eliminate the Union's number-one enemy—James Bond of Her Majesty's Secret Service."

Meet the Author

Raymond Benson is the author of The Facts of Death, Zero Minus Ten, High Time to Kill and the novelizations of Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. He is a director of The Ian Fleming Foundation. Benson lives and works in the Chicago area.

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