Before you read the story that follows, please take a brief moment to read this message from the Author: I love spies. I love everything about them. The mystery, the drama, the intrigue, shadowy organizations, double lives, plots that topple governments and change the world around us. James Bond, Derek Flint, Matt Helm, John Steed and Ms. Peel, Solid Snake, Nikita, and many more, captured my heart at an early age and never let go. I have been slowly working on a spy yarn, mostly outlines and possible plot threads, until a good idea finally hit me. Normally, I write smaller 500 – 1,000 word stories for the blog, but today you are in for a treat: an entire chapter length work of fiction. Take the world of Master Chief Declan Connery in and let me know what you think. Enjoy!
“Whatever It Takes”
Chapter 1: Echo Wolf
It was a frightfully cold and damp morning in Washington, D.C. as retired Master Chief Petty Officer Declan Connery finished his daily run along the Potomac River. Shaking the fresh mist off of his hair, he took a long drink from the canteen attached to his belt. Declan stood barely 5 foot 9 inches, kept an athletic build and was clean cut with neatly kept raven colored hair. He had hoped that a good run would help him reason out why he was being summoned to the Pentagon by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Of the 24 years that he served his country in the United States Navy, Declan had engaged in a large variety of high profile clandestine missions while being a member of Seal Team 2, and he thought that he was potentially being called on the carpet for sensitive information about a previous op. He wasn’t keen to be a part of a witch hunt, or even worse still being asked for classified information to help some uninformed and overpaid stiff in a suit gain political traction.
Declan entered his modest one bedroom apartment off 21st Street at Potomac Park and iPod and headphones on a dish on a tiny wooden antique table by the front door. After a shower and a shave, he retreated to the bedroom and turned the TV on to a news network. As he scanned the headlines for any clues as to the crisis that required his summoning, he made time to search in his closet for a smart looking royal blue pin-striped suit. Declan dressed and then checked his Navy themed tie in the mirror, making sure that all aspects of his ensemble were up to his impeccable standards. Unsatisfied with information culled from the news, He turned his TV off and left his apartment. He hailed a taxi and reluctantly made his way to the Pentagon.
Upon arrival at the home of the United States Department of Defense, Declan checked in through the regular check points and was inspected thoroughly for weapons and other such contraband. Having been deemed to be not a threat, and weaponless, he was escorted to a waiting room. The waiting room was nice, if not a bit quaint. There were a handful of nature magazines littered about, and the whole room felt oddly sterile, much like a waiting room at a doctor’s office. A few scant moments later, Rosaline Crabtree: Executive Assistant to the General, opened the door and invited Declan into the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Richard Head was a highly decorated soldier and leader of the armed forces. A tall and resplendent man, his strawberry blond hair was tidily parted and sensibly maintained. General Head was pouring over the details of multiple files, and checking his computer monitor for pertinent information updates.
“Have a seat Master Chief Connery,” the General said without looking up, way too busy trying to get to the bottom of the file he was gathering intel from.
“Busy morning?” Declan inquired as he took a seat across from the General.
“Always busy. The world never sleeps…” the General replied as he finished reading the file in his hand. He closed the file and placed it aside as he finally made eye contact with Declan. Extending his right hand in a friendly gesture, the General asked, “would you care for something to drink?”
“No, thank you for the offer,” Declan answered.
“Are you certain? Miss Rosaline just made a fresh batch of chamomile tea,” the General retorted.
“I can assure you, I’m fine.”
“Suit yourself, but I’ll have a spot if you don’t mind Miss Rosaline,” the General responded. Rosaline served the general his tea, with a fresh cut slice of lemon and one lump of sugar. “Straight to business then,”
“That dizzy bitch just bit me!” Declan exclaimed to the General as he cradled his injured wrist. He grabbed the dropped pistol, hopped to his feet and ran out into the hallway to give the assailant chase. People were gasping and hitting the walls to the left, which gave Declan the proper direction to start his bid to catch the shooter. “Move!” he shouted to the Pentagon employees as he sprinted down the corridor, the shooter finally in sight. “What a piece of shit,” Declan thought to himself as he tossed the pistol on the ground. It was a Colt 1911, which had very visible marks of poor gunsmithing which was likely what had caused the jamming incident.
Noticing that Declan was gaining on her, the shooter began shouting, “somebody stop him! He’s trying to kill me! He’s got a gun! He’s crazy! Help!”
The subterfuge had worked, as 3 able bodied men stood in Declan’s way, poised and ready to take the Master Chief down. Unfortunately, they were not aware of who he was, or how expertly trained he was at executing precision immobilizing attacks. However 3 seconds later, when they were all 3 on the ground gasping for breath, barely able to move – that was the exact moment that they realized that they were entirely out of their depth with him. Declan was not one to suffer through a long and drawn out fight, and didn’t believe in taking his time with an opponent. If he could drop you in one swift blow, then that is exactly what he would do; a lesson these well-meaning gentlemen learned the hard way. Having lifted a new sidearm from one of the felled men, Declan made quick tracks towards the shooter with renewed vigor. He was enjoying this chase and the thrill of proving that he was still unstoppable once set to purpose.
A few twists and turns later, and Declan was mere feet away from the assailant. She attempted a similar tactic of damsel in distress deception, but no one was feeling brave enough to defend her honor this time. Deciding instead to mount a final offensive against the former Navy SEAL, she turned around and struck a battle ready pose. Not missing a beat, Declan threw his right foot out front and kicked her through the slightly ajar door behind her.
“What the hell!” a male analyst screamed as the shooter’s body hit the ground behind his desk. The woman got back on her feet, but Declan made short order of her, decimating her in 2 lightening quick blows. She was out cold. Meanwhile, the analyst was flabbergasted, “seriously, what the hell is going on here?” he asked in earnest.
“Zip ties,” Declan deadpanned.
“This is about zip ties?” the analyst said while moderately freaking out.
“I need zip ties,” Declan responded. “At least 4 of the long ones.”
“Who are you?” the analyst inquired.
“I don’t have time for this,” Declan declared. He placed the barrel of his pistol right on the analyst’s forehead. “Listen carefully. I want you to call Miss Rosaline at General Head’s office and ask if Master Chief Connery is official. Do it now.”
“Who’s Master Chief Connery,” The analyst whimpered. Declan pointed to the name on his visitor’s badge. “Oh,” the analyst sighed as he picked up the phone to make the call. A brief conversation between the analyst and Rosaline transpired, and he was enlightened to one simple fact, Master Chief Connery was official and that he could do whatever was necessary to accomplish his goal. She emphasized the word “anything” more than once. The analyst acknowledged the validity of her claims and hung up the phone. “I’m sorry for any trouble that I’ve caused you Master Chief Connery.”
“No worries. Red tape and all, I understand,” Declan replied as he withdrew the gun from the analyst’s forehead. “I am still, however, waiting on those zip ties.”
“Oh yes sir, right away,” the analyst said excitedly as he fidgeted around his desk until he found a plastic tube full of zip ties.
“That’ll work,” Declan stated as he picked the shooter off the ground and started to zip tie her to the analyst’s office chair. “You should probably take a break right about now, go grab some coffee or something,” the Master Chief told the analyst.
“I think today is good day for a half day,” the analyst nervously replied.
“Good call,” Declan said with a wink. The analyst grabbed a messenger bag from his desk and then flew out of the room closing the door behind him. Declan locked the door, and took a visual inventory of any important items in the room. He took a laptop from the desk and placed it on a small side table near the shooter. After booting the portable pc up, he grabbed the phone and hit redial to call Miss Rosaline.
“General Head’s office,” she answered robotically.
“Hi there, it’s Master Chief Connery. Fun day huh?”
“You think this has been a fun day?” she responded.
“Don’t be a sourpuss. It’s not every day that your boss gets shot while you’re serving him tea. These are the kind of stories that you’ll be telling your grandchildren,” Declan quipped.
“I suppose,” she replied.
“Well, you are no fun at all,” Declan said. “Listen, can we create a user name and password for me? I need to log into this laptop ASAP, I’ve got the shooter tied up over here and I wanted to look up some info on her.”
“You caught her? Congratulations,” Rosaline communicated. Declan could hear the clicks of her keyboard as she diligently worked towards getting him an account set up. “You got something to write this down with?”
“No need, I’ve got a steel trap up here,” Declan assured her.
“If you say so… here’s your username: fundayfool, no capitals, hyphens or funny stuff.”
“Cute,” Declan replied. “And here I thought we weren’t sharing a connection.”
“Don’t read too much into it,” She said. “And the standard starter password is 123456a, the “a’ is not capitalized.”
“Wow, that’s a mighty password there. Glad to see our tax dollars at work.”
“It’s a one time use only, smartass. The system will prompt you to change your password the moment you log in,” she retorted.
“Thanks honey, you’ve been great,” he joked as he hung up the phone. He really was having an exceptionally good day. After setting up his account and getting logged in, Declan grabbed a cup of water from the analyst’s desk and threw the liquid contents onto the shooter’s face. She gasped as she woke up and looked around to assess her situation.
“Oh great,” she muttered. “Is this the part where you torture me for information? Well, go ahead and do your worst!”
“Torture? Who tortures people anymore? Didn’t you read the CIA report on torture? It’s no longer considered an effective means of gathering valid intelligence from captured assets,” Declan informed his prisoner. “No, no, no. We won’t be resorting to such base and cruel methods of interrogation. I prefer a more direct and honest line of inquiry.” Declan snapped his fingers to catch her attention, and as she looked in his direction he snapped a picture of her with the laptops built in camera. He started running her image through a special proprietary database that pulled all photos off of the internet that matched the facial recognition algorithm. Multiple social network accounts popped up with her likeness, however one stood out as it had links to anti-American propaganda groups. “Martha Johnson, an alias I’m assuming, or perhaps not.”
She made a subtle lift of her right eyebrow when her name was said out loud.
“That’s a great big bingo on not,” Declan affirmed in acknowledgement of her reaction. “You see Martha, I don’t torture people for information, because it doesn’t work. I didn’t need a report to tell me that. I’ve been out in the field, obtaining intelligence for the better part of 24 years, collecting all the dirt off of scum like you from all over the world. I find that these conversations only end in one of three ways: A) you tell me nothing and I put a bullet in-between your eyes. It’s messy, but worth it to better secure our national security. B) You tell me everything I want to know and I won’t personally drive over to your home and kill your husband and son. I prefer this option, as I get what I need, and I don’t have to senselessly kill your family. Everybody gets to live. Or C) you tell me just enough to save their lives, but not enough to save yours. Regardless, you are never seeing them again, and this way you don’t cost the tax payers any money. It’s heartless, but make no mistake – I will end you without hesitation. Choose your answers wisely.”
“Go to hell!” Martha snarled.
“Lucky for you, I have not asked any questions yet. But, kudos for giving an example of a wrong answer.”
“I’m not telling you anything,” she shrieked.
“That is a possibility, but remember, that scenario ends with me killing your husband and son,” Declan reminded her. “Now, my first question, which will be for the life of your husband: who do you work for?”
“You know I can’t tell you that,” she replied.
“Is that your final answer?”
“Please, you have to understand. If I give up anything, you won’t have to kill my husband and child, they’ll do it for you!”
“I doubt they’ll beat me to it, I’m brutally efficient when set to a specific task,” Declan boasted. “I only have one more question, this is for the life of your son: why did you target the General?”
Martha had a look of despair permanently etched across her forehead. She couldn’t give any information up. She just couldn’t. The organization that she worked for had very strict rules about betrayal. Any members who gave up any information about the organization were subject to a full lineage termination: meaning that all members of your family were terminated, and not just immediate family, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and essentially all other family members that they could find would be killed.
“Look, I understand that you are in a bind. I’m also aware that I put you in that bind, forcing you to try and pull off the assassination by outing your presence earlier than you had intended. Even still, you had to know that there was no way that you were making it out of the Pentagon after killing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So either you were prepared to get caught, or you had always intended to punch your own ticket after you shot the General. Either way, you had to know that this could have always gone sideways on you. Talk to me, and let me help you save a life,” Declan reasoned with her.
“You don’t understand. If the General and I are not dead by the end of the day, then my entire family dies tomorrow morning. Not just my husband and son, all of them. Everybody! Anybody who is kin to me will die after my failure makes the news,” Martha said as she broke down into tears.
“I understand. I really do. I have dealt with organizations like this before, and they have the resources and are just unhinged enough to kill all sorts of innocents to make a point. I get that,” Declan reassured her. “So let’s save some lives.”
Declan raised the gun and pointed it at her heart. “I’m, prepared to offer you one last deal Martha. I will make sure that the media reports the General’s death and that it sticks, in the meantime I will make sure that all of the various members of your family are placed into protective custody and offered a chance to go into a witness protection scenario – new IDs and new living arrangements. You however, will die right here in this room, with only you and I having ever known about this arrangement, and the press will report that you were gunned down in the Pentagon before you could be questioned. In exchange for all of this I will require one word or call sign that will lead me to who or what I want to know. Tell me this and I will spare your family’s life and uphold your honor within the organization. The choice is yours.”
Martha took a moment to work out all of the scenarios in her head. She wasn’t sure if she could trust Declan, but was certain that her family would all die otherwise. She tried to concoct a scenario in her mind that would get her out of this colossal mess, yet there were no other options. This was likely the best chance she had to save her family. This moment seemed to take an eternity, but in the end she silently stated, “Echo Wolf.”
Declan pulled the trigger and ended her life. Martha collapsed into the chair with her head hung low. It wasn’t much to go on, but Declan had a thread to pull and a lot of deals to make. Not the least of which being that he had to convince the General to “die”. He wasn’t sure how he was going to pull it off just yet, but he understood that regardless of the how, it had to be done, and had to be done quickly.