Disclaimer: I do not own the characters which I have borrowed from MI High. I've moved the characters on to explore their new lives with Edward Dixon-Halliday. This is when I realise I shouldn't criticise other authors for beating up their characters. Guilty as charged. Nastiness follows.
Carrie felt like a coiled spring. She was ready to destroy Abe and all his friends. "They're all over the town like a rash," reported Carrie as soon as she entered the room with Edward and Rose. "The villa is being turned over. We got out just in time." Edward nodded with grim satisfaction.
"We've got work to do," he said. "Get ready."
Edward was having a hard time coping with listening to his own son being beaten and captured over the audio link. Inside he was seething with fury. Outwardly he could only keep his face blank. The others weren't fooled for a minute. They were just as angry.
Edward connected with HQ and spoke directly with the Head of MI9. "Abe Corrigan was a double agent. He's aided in the capture of Agent Cole and the destruction of the communications base," he told her. "Agent Cole managed to set up independent communications before he was captured. We believe we are still operating secure communications and we've moved base to our backup quarters. The original quarters have also been compromised."
"Are the rest of your team secure ?" asked the Head.
"Yes. We've located one entrance into the underground facilities of the smuggling ring from St. Christopher's Bay. They appear to be using forced labour. Local people have been disappearing so this would explain where they have gone. Apparently there is another major entrance into the ring's underground facilities above the hill where the communications base was located. The mountain here is riddled with ancient lava tunnels. It is likely that the ring is using the entire network to move around the island without being seen. We can't launch an assault on our own. From information obtained by Agent Cole and from what we gathered tonight there is due to be a weapons handover with the Russians tonight. We don't know who is buying but we think the Russians are supplying," explained Edward.
"Ah yes, Agent Dixon-Halliday there is something you need to know. We have another agent inserted into the Russian supply chain. He has informed us that he is now in Sicily. If you can make contact, you have an insider. He is Agent Illya Gordovski. He has previously worked with Agents Cole, Gupta and Stewart in their junior branch. You can trust him. I am sorry about Agent Corrigan. We will investigate how he got through our recruitment procedures. We have further agents converging on Sicily. A plane will arrive in the late morning with supplies and agents. HQ will inform you of their arrival and you can direct them as you see fit. You have permission to use full force. Good luck Agent Dixon-Halliday," said the Head as she signed off.
Edward turned to his team who were standing listening. "OK. We're going to take them on this evening," he said, looking at his watch. They were now in the early hours of the morning. "I want you all to sleep. Take out your comms earpieces. Put on a hypno patch if you have to. I want everyone alert and fit," he instructed. They looked at one another, then nodded and left for their bedding rolls. Edward sighed and looked at the map of the lava tunnels. He circled several locations, made a couple of notes and then rubbed his face over with his hands. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep for worrying about Oscar. They had lost contact some time ago, presumably when he was taken underground. Edward stared into space for a few moments, then pulled out his communications earpiece. Setting a timer, he lay down and put on a hypno patch, falling instantly asleep.
Oscar woke to the van doors being opened with a bang. He guessed he must have passed out for a while. Hands grabbed him and roughly dragged him out of the van. Whatever was coming next, it wasn't going to be good. He was so exhausted, with luck he would pass out quickly.
All too quickly he was sitting in a chair in an underground room with his hands tied behind his back. Abe came in with two men and a tall dark-haired woman. From the way she walked, he could tell that she was in charge. She stopped in front of Oscar's chair. The two heavies took up positions on either side of him. Abe stood further back, looking weirdly excited. Oscar wondered why he hadn't noticed how creepy the guy was before. He guessed he had learnt not to prejudge his co-workers.
The woman spoke. "So, Agent Cole, let's see how pretty you are now shall we ?" she said, speaking Italian. Oscar was completely shocked when she pulled out a knife and ripped it up the front and back of his T-shirt, baring his body. He looked at the new bruises on his torso, courtesy of Abe. A drop of blood fell from his face onto his thigh. The woman started to walk slowly around him, tracing the scars from the explosion with her red painted finger nails. She moved like a cat. Her touch was cold and he shivered involuntarily. "I would like to know if you passed on any information regarding our operations to your team. You will tell me now please ?"
Oscar said nothing. One of the men thumped him hard in the stomach. Oscar grunted, the air knocked out of this lungs. The woman stroked his chin. "Don't take too long Agent Cole. My colleagues enjoy their work, don't they Agent Corrigan ?" she asked Abe. Gasping for breath, Oscar looked up to see Abe dancing up and down and grinning like a Cheshire Cat. The guy was psycho ! Oscar shook his head. This earned him a rain of blows from both men to his head and body.
He felt himself losing focus, drifting into unconsciousness. Abruptly he came to as cold water was flung in his face. Spluttering he gazed through a red haze into the woman's face. Her eyes were cold. "What a shame. Not so pretty now. Perhaps you can tell us where your team's new headquarters are ?" she asked with at smile that never rose above her lips.
"Wouldn't tell you, even if I did know," muttered Oscar. Instantly his torso took another pummelling. They seemed to be avoiding his head now, realising that they had been knocking him unconscious. Falling slightly to one side he vomited uncontrollably. He noticed blood in it. The woman called for someone to clean and after a minute a small, wiry man rushed in with a mop and bucket. He glanced nervously at Oscar, but wouldn't make eye contact with the woman. He cleaned up and gave Oscar one last sympathetic glance before almost running out of the room.
The woman stood directly in front of him again. "Good. I don't want to get my new shoes dirty," she said. Without warning she lifted one foot and stamped her stilletto heel down hard on Oscar's foot. He cried out in pain. "Well, I am starting to get impatient Agent Cole. Tell me what information you have passed on. Tell me now !" she ordered, slapping him across his face. Her nails scored deep scratches into his skin. He remained silent. "Enough. Finish !" she ordered. The two men on either side laid into his head and body. Finally Oscar felt the tide of exhaustion and pain overwhelm him and he passed out.
The field team woke simultaneously in their old garage building. Carrie giggled at the rather surreal sight of all four of them sitting up in their bedrolls at the same time, blinking and yawning. Rose returned her smile. Then the memories of what had happened the night before flooded back and they all got up and ready.
They crowded round the tunnel map with Edward. He showed them the areas he had circled. "There are a few larger chambers. They must have their main groups of people in these," he explained. "There wouldn't be room to move about in most of these lava tunnels."
"One of your fishermen said something about breaking through into a lava pool," said Carrie. "What's going to happen if we use explosives in there ?" They sat silently for a moment.
"Good point," said Edward quietly. "Right, no explosives except at tunnel entrances. We're going to have to rely on gas, sedative guns and tasers."
"There are the local people they've got working for them too," pointed out Rose. "We don't want to hurt them if we can help it. And there's Oscar and Illya." She sounded anxious. Edward wondered which of the two she was most concerned about.
"This is what I want to do," said Edward. "We can't attack through all the entrances, even with reinforcements. So we're going to have to close up some entrances and concentrate our efforts on the others. I've put red crosses against the entrances I want to close. That's where we'll use the explosives. They'll be timed to go off simultaneously. Then we're going to get in through the entrance above the old comms base and the sea tunnel. My aim is to drive everyone out of the tunnels and down to the sea entrance where they can be captured by a waiting security team. Anyone see anything wrong with that ?" he asked. They thought about it.
"Those six tunnel entrances you want to close are spread right across the island," said Rose. "It's going to take a while to get round to them all. The one you photographed is in a cliff face. Do we need to close that one ? They can't get out of it can they ?" she added.
Edward pulled over the island map. "That's true. Let's cross that one off the list then," he said. "Let's just check where the others are located and see if we can eliminate any others." They located the entrances on the island map. One of the tunnels appeared to vent under the sea. "OK, that's four tunnels to close. That's a bit more manageable," said Edward. "The backup team will be bringing more explosives. I'll get them to set the charges."
"I'd like one of you to take control of the team managing the sea entrance. Luca, can you handle that for me please ? You'll need a team to go in and start an assault from there and then you'll need to withdraw and pick up the people coming out. You'll probably be best placed to separate the locals from the smugglers too," instructed Edward. Luca nodded.
A communication came through. It was the backup team which had just arrived at the airport. "Agent Dixon-Halliday. Robbins here sir. We've got twenty people, transport and equipment," said a voice.
"Excellent. Do you have boats ?" asked Edward.
"The Head has arranged a Naval ship to provide inflatable assault boats. They should be arriving off the coast in an hour. We just have to get out to meet them. We've arranged a boat to take us from the main harbour on the opposite side of the island to where you are," said Agent Robbins.
"OK, this is what I want you to do," said Edward. He then outlined his plan and agreed times and locations. He then left Luca to agree any other details regarding the sea assault. "Carrie and Rose. I want you two with me to attack the entrance above the comms base. I've got an idea how to get there as well."