For King & Country
This is an erotic spy novella set loosely in the James Bond universe, and was originally written on commission back in the 1990s. For more background, please see the intro to chapter 1. It's re-presented here for posterity, despite being highly cheesy. In hindsight, though I think this all action final chapter is really good, especially the fighter jet chase at the end...
Chapter Three: Tsuruga, Fukui Pref., Japan... Red Fist of Justice Complex ("The House")... and Kamchatka, Eastern Siberia
"THE PROBLEM IS," said the voice, "YOU HAVE NO FRAME OF REFERENCE FOR THIS EXPERIENCE, DO YOU?"
"No," I replied. "It's just that this is so insane that I can't fucking believe any of it."
I was still sitting on the floor.
I was sitting on the floor of an enormous, natural cavern, within the hillside.
Within the hillside, The Red Fist of Justice had created something.
The fabric of the rock surrounding me had been interlaced with circuitry. The cavern had been converted into a huge computer. It was, to borrow a cliche, as if the circuitry in the walls had somehow been "grown" rather than built. But that was impossible, surely?
I'd been in Westminster Abbey a couple of times. This space felt as big as that. All over the rock walls was a delicate tracery of integrated circuitry. In certain areas, the filigree was concentrated into nodes of greater complexity, like ganglia, which glowed a brighter blue. The circuitry disappeared into the distance and into the vaulted ceiling above me. It pulsed softly in the floor beneath me. The gentle, blue light made me feel sick, powerless. It was as though it was inside my head. I remembered the first time I had experienced the blue glow and trembled.
I'd learnt during my degree that it was theoretically possible to build an AI large enough to simulate all the synaptic junctions of the human brain. That in the end, we were after all reducible to the level of machinery.
I'd believed then that it would be insane to even attempt such an enterprise.
I looked down at my hands, on which I leant my weight. I noticed that one of my prettily buffed and painted nails was broken. The gentle blue pulse of the integrated circuitry surged around my fingers. The cavern was alive with the pulse of intelligence. I looked up. I was terribly afraid.
The weirdest thing was that my gun had fallen right by my hand, but I found it impossible to bring myself to grab it or do anything except just look dumbly at it lying on the floor. Something had my mind in a vice like grip. I realised that every time I'd been near this part of the House, my thoughts hadn't entirely been mine. Perhaps that explained my inability to act decisively earlier as Sato had first revealed himself in the anteroom.
Sato was standing to my right, that hateful smile on his pretty face. I looked past his leather-clad legs to where the blue light was most concentrated.
In the haze, I could make out two small figures. The twins. They moved out of the miasma towards me and my heart jolted as I recalled my desire to take them away from here. I knew too well now how false those wishes had been.
I felt an uncomfortable itch in the back of my head as the boys opened their mouths to speak. The voice, with its curious multiple timbre, made my teeth jar as the boys walked forward. Inexplicably, my mouth filled with the sharp tang of battery acid.
The boys said, "HELLO, COMMANDER PIERCE. WE ARE AKAGUCHI. WE ARE THE RED FIST OF JUSTICE." Smiling, they put their small arms under my shoulders, raised me up. Together, we walked forward into the light.
The blue glow enveloped me.
As my eyes acclimatised, I could see that we were in an alcove in the cavern wall, about the size of my bedroom in the House. The blue glow was so intense that I could hardly keep my eyes open. An intense electrical buzz filled the inside of my brain in time with the pulsing of the blue light. I felt sick. Dizzy.
The boys stepped away.
I looked up. In front of me was a shape. I squinted to try and cut out the blue glare that was emanating from it.
It was a large, cylindrical tank, about twice my height and the width of two telephone boxes. It was filled with a viscous blue liquid. The whole thing was so blue that I felt my mind caving in from the intensity of the colour.
In the middle of the blue tank floated a figure. A slight, nondescript looking, Japanese man with a wispy beard and long hair, which floated around his serene face like a halo. He was totally naked. His body was impaled by electrical cables, which penetrated all parts of his body and face. His eyes were open, but unseeing. Pale, faintly luminous globes. Frightening in their blankness. The boys were standing to either side of the tank, looking expectantly up at me.
"Akaguchi," I breathed.
The boys smiled, in unison. They spoke, but I knew that the voice really came from the figure in the tank.
"YES. WE ARE AKAGUCHI."
Suddenly, I felt absurd, standing in my skimpy bikini. I wrapped my arms around my chest.
How ironic. In the kind of superspy moment that hardly ever happens, I was playing the wrong part. The dolly bird. I turned and saw Sato behind me, that faint smile on his face, as ever. I wanted to hit him, but I couldn't move a muscle. Everything was screwed up.
I swallowed and tried to focus my thoughts.
"This AI..." I said slowly. "You've dispersed your consciousness into a computer."
The boys nodded.
"Why?" I whispered.
The hollow chorus of a voice rang out again, shaking me to my bones.
"WE WERE DYING. CANCERS CAUSED BY MUTAGENS RELEASED BY CIA IRREGULARS DURING THE KOREAN 3-DAY CONFLICT OF 2010. 1KM AIRBURST OVER THE VILLAGE IN WHICH WE HAD SETTLED OUR JRA CELL..."
The voice paused. Sato had come to stand beside me as the Akaguchi went on.
"WE RETURNED TO JAPAN AND FOUNDED THIS ENCLAVE WITH OUR LOVER, BEAUTIFUL SATO. ALL WAS WONDERFUL... WE BROUGHT THE POWER AND PRINCIPLE OF ANARCHY TO A LAWLESS PART OF JAPAN. WE MADE OUR PLANS. WE PREPARED TO DIE, TO BEQUEATH OUR LEGACY TO SATO. OUR CANCER WAS UNTREATABLE. MULTIPLE METASTATIC SECONDARIES. SATO HELPED US CLONE THE TWINS. HIS IDEA, TO PERPETUATE US. BUT THE TRANSFERAL OF OUR CONSCIOUSNESS WAS NOT PLANNED. NOT THEN..."
Again, Akaguchi paused. Sato had moved to the tank, and had taken the boys' hands. He was looking at the wasted figure of his lover with the tenderest expression I'd seen on his cruel face. The lights flared again and I winced.
"THEN, WE HEARD ABOUT YOUR SCIENTIST, LIME. WE HYPOTHESISED A WAY IN WHICH WE COULD PERPETUATE NOT JUST OUR PHYSICAL BUT OUR SPIRITUAL SELF, USING HIS KNOWLEDGE OF MOLECULAR MECHANICS AND BIOMACHINERY. ACQUISITION OF LIME AND HIS KNOWLEDGE BECAME OVERRIDING PRIORITY. YOU DELIVERED HIM TO US. OUR THANKS, PRETTY AGENT PIERCE."
"AFTER YOUR ESCAPE, LIME WAS ABLE TO ASSIST US. HIS NANOMACHINES BUILT THIS COMPUTER. THE NANITES MAINTAIN A MOLECULAR LEVEL PSEUDO-PSIONIC LINK BETWEEN OUR BRAIN AND THE CIRCUITRY. WITH OUR CLONE BODIES TOO."
The boys gestured to themselves.
"SOON WE WILL BE ABLE TO VACATE DYING BODY AND ENTER NEW VESSELS. ALL THE FEMALE RECRUITS TO THE FIST, INCLUDING YOURSELF, ARE NOW INFECTED WITH THE PSEUDO-PSI LINKS IN THE FORM OF A SEXUALLY TRANSMISSIBLE VIRUS, WHICH WILL ENABLE US TO EXCERSISE TOTAL CONTROL OVER YOU. ALL MEN YOU SLEEP WITH, ALL THEIR LOVERS, SOON, ALL HUMANITY, WILL BE OURS TO CONTROL."
"I don't believe it." I whispered.
I heard Sato at my side. "Why do you think this room hurts your brain so much? The nanite virus is already converting your mind into a remote node for the master to manipulate. Soon, you'll have no free will left. The same with all the men and women who work here."
Sato put his hand on my arm. I flinched. "Why," he went on, do you think we hired the most beautiful women in the world to work here? When they go out to spread our seed in the world, no one will resist. Our projections suggest that we'll have control of the whole world within three months."
"THREE MONTHS," said the voice of Akaguchi, from the mouths of the twins, and from all round me. I felt the loss of self starting from deep within my mind, and bit my lip.
"WE ARE BECOMING THE FUTURE OF THE EARTH. EVERY HUMAN WILL BE AKAGUCHI."
"What you say is impossible," I said. "It's insane. I don't believe it."
"NO," said Akaguchi, chuckling softly. The sound was like ice crystals shattering in my mind. "WE ARE INSANE. BUT THE PLAN IS NOT INSANE."
"I don't believe it," I repeated.
"Believe it," said a quiet, ragged, weary voice from my right. I turned slowly.
Someone I hadn't noticed before was watching me from the darkened part of the wall on my right. The gaunt face and shaved skull didn't prevent me from recognizing the wasted figure of Professor Adrian Lime.
Apart from his face, Lime was barely recognizable. His torso and head projected from the mass of circuitry embedded in the wall. It was difficult to see whether the rest of his body still existed or not. His shaven head was studded with cables and tubing through which pinkly glowing liquids and electrical signals pulsed and throbbed.
His arms disappeared into a mass of tangled circuits, which seemed to grow straight from the bone and muscle.
Most horrifying, a row of four pairs of small breasts had grown on his chest, with engorged nipples upon which suction cups and tubes were attached. Glowing colourless fluid leached constantly from his new mammaries into the tubes, to be collected out of sight in the walls.
"Oh, Lime..." I whispered.
Incredibly, he smiled. "The cash cow," he whispered, before wincing in pain.
"LIME IS OUR SANTA CLAUS MACHINE," said Akaguchi.
I blinked. "What?"
"What he means," whispered Lime through gritted teeth, "is that... I can bring him anything he asks for. When he captured me, he did a very clever thing... Instead... of going to the effort of having me constantly work on solutions for him under duress, he made me do one thing only... develop a nanite serum that would turn me... into a nanite factory. A molecular machine that could produce any nano-solution he wanted..."
"From there to here," he looked around the cavern, "was a short step. It's quite brilliant. In less than a year... I've become... the mother and father of a whole family of new technologies. And the means of production..." his quiet voice and patient eyes were suffused with an unknowable pain.
I found that I was sitting down again. It was brilliant. Akaguchi had won...
Or had he?
"So," I said quietly, "Lime can produce any nanite serum to order?"
"Even to make me into a man again?"
"OF COURSE. IS THAT WHAT YOU DESIRE, LITTLE JEWEL?"
"It'll hurt," said Lime.
"It's what I want. You've beaten me, Akaguchi. Please let me lose the battle as Anthony Pierce. Not as," I gestured at my bikini-clad body, "this."
There was a pause. I was conscious of Sato's eyes on me. But he made no move to intervene.
Lime looked up at me, pain in his eyes. "The top left nipple", he whispered, grimacing.
I stepped forward till I was a few inches from Lime's face. His blue eyes were fixed on mine. The blue itch in my mind was almost unbearable. It was almost like a voice. I reached up to pull the tube from the swollen nipple. It came away with a quiet pop. A few drops of colourless liquid collected at the tip of the erect nipple.
Then I realised that there was a very faint voice in my head, like the whisper of a dying man lying at the bottom of a deep well...
"Not... man...... change... serum... sorry." Lime's eyes pleaded with mine. It was his voice, in my head. "Aka... guchi.... virus.... antidote... get back... to west... inoculate...." he tailed off.
I nodded, then glanced up at the cables and nutrient pipes in his body. I raised an eyebrow. Imperceptibly, Lime nodded. "do.... it...." his voice scratched in my head, "so... tired..."
I bent to suck at Lime's engorged nipple. Lime gasped. As I swallowed the tasteless fluid, I felt the blue light fade from my mind. I could move and think, quite clearly.
I reached up and grasped a handful of cables from Lime and wrenched them out. Sparks flew across the cavern wall as microcircuitry fused and shorted.
Lime gave a deep sigh and closed his eyes.
"WHAT IS HAPPENING?? STOP NOW!!!" screamed Akaguchi.
A bank of circuitry next to his tank blew and knocked Sato to the floor. Before he could rise, I turned and kicked him in the ribs and ran out of the alcove.
The gun was still on the floor where I had left it. I rolled and scooped it up, before turning and firing a volley at the tank.
A row of holes appeared in the glass.
The twins screamed. Their own, shrill voices.
For a moment, nothing happened.
Then the twins dropped to the floor, lifeless, like a couple of puppets whose strings had been severed.
A hideous moaning filled the air. Akaguchi was screaming now too, as a tracery of fine cracks appeared in the walls of his tank.
The glass bowed outwards, as if in slow motion.
Then with an explosive crack, it shattered.
The blue suspension fluid flooded into the cavern. There was a shower of sparks and all of the lights went out.
The moaning stopped, abruptly.
Illuminated by the flickering orange light from the burning circuitry, I could just see the still body of Akaguchi, bloody in the debris of his tank, the small shapes of the twins, his future vessels, lying next to him.
I don't know why, but I pointed the gun at him. I was weeping, uncontrollably. I could feel the dull thump of explosions going off in the rest of the complex as the House's control systems gave in without the moderating influence of Akaguchi in his cavern. I went to check the little bodies of the two boys for a pulse. They were quite dead.
Then suddenly I heard running footsteps and saw the door to the far end of the cavern slamming shut.
I ran out of Room 497 to see Sato disappearing around the corner.
Out in the main corridor, there were frightened figures milling about as the complex began to shake itself to pieces. Sato was agonizingly out of reach and I didn't want to shoot as I would have killed a lot of people in the busy passageway.
I chased him up two flights of emergency stairs and almost stopped him as a deep rumble shook the stairwell and he staggered back on his heels. With a snarl, he lashed out with his booted foot and almost connected as I swayed back to avoid him. I half lost my footing and he got away again and I saw his lithe, catsuited form disappearing into the connecting door to the main Level 7 corridor.
I sprinted up the remaining stairs and yanked open the door, looking to either side to try and locate my quarry in the press of white coats and catsuits. No sign. Stay calm. Think.
Feeling in my bikini cup to retrieve the smartcard that Trish had given me, I sprinted down the passage towards the hangar deck, shoving bodies aside.
At the door to the flight deck, I paused to check my gun. I was again acutely aware that I was dressed in a skimpy Gucci swimsuit and tarty make-up and nothing else.
Taking a breath, I swiped the card in the doorsystem and pushed it open. I passed though a deserted anteroom with changing facilities and a row of flight suits hanging on hooks on the wall. No sign of Sato. I pushed open the connecting door to the main hangar.
I saw him immediately. He was taxiing one of two variable geometry DornierSystem jump jets towards the open hangar doors. His canopy was still open and he was about to put his flight helmet over his spiky black hair. His cockpit canopy started to fold shut as the jet taxied towards the exit, its airfoils sliding into STOL configuration.
"SATO!!!!" I shouted, unleashing a volley of flechettes. He turned just as the canopy closed. The darts detonated against the bulletproof glass and I caught a faint smile tracing across his lipsticked mouth.
"SHIT!" My shout echoed across the deserted flight deck. I turned and legged it back to the locker room and yanked down a flight suit, pulling myself into it. Behind me, I heard a roar as Sato's jet took off. I turned round to see it disappearing into the early evening sky.
Grabbing a helmet, I ran back into the hangar towards the second jump jet. All the other aircraft had evac'd the hangar already. There was a shout to my left and I turned to see another pilot coming out of the men's toilet and running towards me.
"Fuck off!" I yelled, pointing my gun at him. He ducked back into the toilet.
The canopy of the jet was invitingly open, I leapt up the recessed footholds in the black hull and sat myself back in the crash harness, snapping the webbing shut over my snug fitting bodysuit. Luckily, the pilot must have been caught short after performing his preflight checks, so I was able to taxi out and start the launch sequence immediately. I must have been barely thirty seconds behind Sato.
The thrusters fired and I was creamed back into the G-harness as my canopy snapped shut over my head.
The small, black, bug-like jump-jet leapt out of the hangar onto the short airstrip ramp and shot into the orange sky. I activated the pursuit guidance system and picked up Sato's trajectory. I punched a sequence into the computer. The air around the jet gave way with a crack as I thumbed the burners and left the exploding Red Fist House far behind me.
I managed to plot a direct course that cut off the wide loop he was performing and made visual contact with his craft after a minute or so flight time.
Our course was taking us out over the Sea of Japan. He'd be heading for one of the Red Fist strongholds in Siberia, but the course would take us through the neutral Aleutian Free State. I had to try and bring him down there. I did a quick check on the weapons manifest and confirmed that the jet had no weapons on board. I guessed that Sato's craft was unarmed too or he would have engaged me by now. We were pulling over Mach 2 in ground effect mode - bouncing about at twice the speed of sound practically on top of the waves - and I was calculating that we'd be making landfall over Kamchatka in a few minutes. I started planning a shutdown sequence, programming it into the avionics computer while maintaining pursuit distance.
Soon, I saw approaching land. Pulling back incrementally on the stick to try and gain altitude without alerting Sato, I adjusted the variable geometry of the airframe to increase lift. I felt the plane's flexible panels shift around me as it assumed its new shape and it leapt 500 metres into the air. I noticed Sato gaining height to try and match my altitude - perhaps he suspected something. Then I triggered the shutdown sequence. All the major systems went down one by one and the plane started dropping again into a controlled glide pattern. The final command in the sequence initiated a massive undirected electromagnetic pulse. I was struggling to keep her under control but could still see various electrics on Sato's plane below me sparking as they gave up under the effects of the EMP. His running lights went out and, still in high velocity configuration, Sato's aircraft dropped beneath me like a stone into a still pond.
I watched it for a while but had more worries of my own. If I didn't manage to power my jet up soon, I'd be smeared all over the ground alongside him. I wrestled with the stick to try and keep her level while I reactivated the systems one by one. With a hum of power the avionics came back on-line and they in turn reinitiated the engines. The aircraft kicked forward and started gaining height. I allowed myself a small smile.
I returned to level flight then turned to trace Sato's descent trajectory, which the computer told me had been taking him towards the icy Arctic north of the archipelago. I found the plane fairly quickly. It was beached at the end of a huge scythe of ploughed snow at the sea's edge of an icebound coastal plain. Amazing. He'd been lucky, or a genius flyer (or both). The plane looked intact. Seemed that Sato had managed to crash-land it. I did a quick circuit of the crash site then executed a swift VTOL descent a hundred yards from the downed jet, powering down the systems and unhooking myself from the crash webbing.
The environment systems in my flight suit detected the extreme cold when I opened the canopy and kicked in, pumping heated liquid through itself. I raised my handgun and was about to exit the jump jet when a thought occurred to me and I punched a series of instructions into the flight computer. I jumped down beside the cooling airframe and paused to look around the bleak landscape.
It was snowing lightly. The featureless white beach stretched inland for miles before blending into a distant and jagged ridge of mountains to the west. A dead-looking orange sun was low over the tombstone peaks. The icy slate grey sea lapped at the rocky fringe of the beach two hundred yards to my right. Even inside the environment suit, it was blisteringly cold. Up the bay was Sato's aircraft.
I had to make sure that he was dead.
I exhaled a plume of white breath and set off up the beach. As I approached the plane, I could see it was hardly damaged. The cockpit canopy was burst open and I could see footsteps in the snow leading away from the fuselage. They ended about fifty yards away in a snow-covered bundle. A gloved hand poked from the snow and I could see the tatters of a flight suit in there as I walked towards it, gun raised.
I reached down and brushed the snow away from the body. Suddenly, I realized that something was wrong. The environment suit was empty, just draped over a roughly body-shaped heap of snow and rock. I began to turn my head-
Suddenly the side of my chest exploded in agony as a boot connected with my still tender ribs. I fell awkwardly on the pile of rock and my weapon flew out of my hand, clattering down five yards away. I twisted and rose quickly to face Sato. Having discarded his environment suit, he was dressed only in his leather catsuit, which was torn across his chest and torso revealing the shreds of his silk bustier. One of his false breasts had come unglued and was flapping by his side. His spiky black hair was disheveled but save for a bloody bruise on his left cheek, his make-up was still perfect. Damn, how did he manage that? He must have been freezing, but he still had that faint, cruel smile playing on his pretty red lips. "Never turn your back," he said quietly, dropping into a fighting stance.
His eyes glanced down at my gun to his left and I used that moment to attack, turning my forward momentum into a series of punches and kicks. Sato blocked them easily and riposted with a series of flying fist attacks, which I struggled to master. I noticed again his pure Shotokan style, which contrasted with my rather uglier hybrid style. I gained the upper hand again when a rabbit punch connected with his side and I pressed, trying to drive us towards the weapon. He did an outrageous sideways flip and wound up on top of the mound of rocks to evade me, breathing heavily. We paused for a second, then engaged again. I was getting nearer the gun and this time I allowed Sato to drive me backwards with a series of balletic kicks till I could sense that I was a yard off it.
All this time, we had been maintaining eye contact and I could see the pure desire to kill burning in his insane eyes as he flew into the air hurling punches and kicks at me. The fury was unbelievable, the rage in our combat sexual. The icy sky was rent with our cries as punch after kick connected with blocking muscle and bone. Transvestite killers battling for supremacy at the top of the world.
The gun would be a yard behind me and to the right. If I could just bend down I'd be able to pick it up. Then I made a mistake. Despite every cell in my brain screaming out to me not to look down, I still broke eye contact and glanced sideways. Immediately, Sato leapt into the air and brought his boot round in a beautiful aerial roundhouse, which connected with the side of my head. My head snapped sideways and my body followed. I landed with a jarring impact on the icy ground. I tried to rise but he was on me, jamming his knee into my armpit and savagely twisting my wrist and upper arm.
My shoulder dislocated. I screamed.
Then he was standing, quite casually, pointing my gun at my head. He was no fool, standing far enough away to ensure that I couldn't attack him in any way. The gun was booted and ready to fire its payload of tiny explosive darts into my head. Sato smiled, his finger tightening on the trigger. I closed my eyes.
I actually heard the electronic beep as he pressed the trigger, then a loud explosion followed by a ragged scream. I opened my eyes to see Sato on his knees, holding the bloody stump of his right hand. The flechette gun had exploded. It must have been the cold in the mechanism.
Sato looked up. "You fucking bitch!" he shrieked, "I had you! Admit I had you! I had your blonde ass cold. You're dead! You're DEAD!!" He got up, cradling the wreck of his hand and, making a decision, set off in a shambling run towards my plane.
I was drifting into unconsciousness and I watched with a curious sense of detachment as he struggled into the cockpit and initiated the powerup sequence with his one good hand.
Soon afterwards the cockpit closed and the vectored thrusters lifted the jump jet smoothly into the air. I hoped that he hadn't noticed that I had set the password protected self-destruct mechanism just before I'd left the plane. He'd find out soon enough. He activated the forward thrusters and the jet leapt into the air, roaring away over the ocean until it was a distant dot on the darkening horizon.
Then it blew up.
I regarded the fireball with a sense of finality. Even if he'd spotted the self-destruct and managed to eject in time, he would be down in the middle of the Arctic Ocean without an environment suit. It was over. Sato was dead.
So was I, unless I managed to do something, quickly. It struck me that with his plane in such good condition, some systems might yet be salvageable. First I had to do something about my arm.
I picked myself up. My nose was bleeding from the impact of Sato's kick. I supposed that without the flight helmet, I would have been concussed. Supporting my dislocated arm with my other hand, I walked slowly over to Sato's jump-jet.
Leaning my shoulder against the fuselage and using my good arm as a brace, I took a deep breath and pushed sharply with the full weight of my body. With a loud pop, my shoulder slipped back into the socket.
Soon, the pain had subsided to a dull ache. I hoisted myself up into the cockpit, plugging my environment suit into the reserve battery to conserve power. If the suit expired, I was finished.
I keyed the bootup sequence on the flight computer. Nothing. I suppose that wasn't surprising. The EMP would have fried the delicate microcircuitry in an instant. I reached up with my good arm and drew the canopy shut with a click. As I reached, a sharp wave of pain hit me from my shoulder and ribs. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Don't lose consciousness. Not now...
I looked down at the dead circuitry. My eyes picked out the emergency analogue radio transceiver. Flicking the power switch, I was relieved to see the operating lights flicker on and burn steadily. I pulled the connector cable from its recess and plugged it into the multijack on the side of my flight helmet. Crackling static filled my ears.
I reached down to locate the SIG emergency carrier frequency on the tuning dial. I punched a manual scrambler code into the unit and spoke into my helmet microphone bead.
"Agent down. Request extraction. Immediate. Repeat. Immediate. Here is my field ID and approximate co-ordinates..."
I must have nodded off after a while. I had been repeating the message every minute or so, hoping that one of the monitoring stations dotted about the globe would pick up my mayday.
I stretched myself in the cramped cockpit. My arm felt better and the pain from the kick in the ribs was almost gone. I looked up through the clear glass of the canopy at the stars twinkling in the clear night sky above me. Different to the sky I was used to back in Britain. So much clearer and brighter, like I was somehow nearer the stars here at the top of the world.
Unexpectedly, tears again clouded my eyes. I felt the new contours of my body through the warm fabric of the flight suit. If I got out of here and back to Britain, a new life was waiting for me all right. There would be no miracle rebirth for Lieutenant Commander Anthony Pierce. Would it be possible for me to reintroduce myself to my parents? I didn't think so. Security issues aside, it would be too painful for all of us.
Better to leave it all behind then, to accept the identity of Jane Masters and the fresh challenges that would bring. I wondered if Trish had got out of the House. I knew that if she had, she would come for me in London. If I got back to London.
The stars were beautiful.
I had to get back. The antidote to the Akaguchi virus was swimming in my veins - it would be important to get that back to 'Q' branch at the very least. But there was more than that. I had to get back because my life was full of promise. In a sense I'd just been born. I wasn't going to let it end now. I switched on the transceiver again.
"Agent down. Request extraction. Immediate. Repeat. Immediate. Here is my field ID and approximate co-ordinates..."
I woke with a start. There was a face pressed against the canopy above my head. I sat up. Flat, Asian features, distinctive ruddy complexion. Aleut.
I sat up and looked round. A group of what looked like Aleutian fishermen in sealskins were gathered round the aircraft. The sun was high in the piercingly blue sky. I raised my hand and unclipped the canopy. I felt strong. Good.
The Aleutian jumped down to allow me out of the aircraft. I stepped onto the hard ground and pulled off my helmet, shaking my blonde curls free. As expected, the five men just stood and gawped. I tried to put an unthreatening expression on my face, and opened my arms in a gesture of appeal. The Aleuts were a free state without affiliations since Alaska and North Eastern Siberia had seceded from the US and Russia respectively in the year of the Domino. Hopeful that I could gain their trust, I said slowly, "I need help. Does any of you speak English?"
The lead man smiled, showing gappy teeth, and reached into his skins.
He pulled out a large Glock automatic, pointing it at me. The other men withdrew a motley assortment of weapons. They too smiled. The leader gestured me towards a trio of large snowcats parked nearby.
I sighed, raising my hands and walking off ahead of them.
The leader bundled me into the back of one of the vehicles and got one of his men to cover me. He did so zealously, leering down at the bulge of my breasts in the figure hugging environment suit. I smiled at him, fluttering my lashes and parting my lips, looking to use my allure to exercise some sort of advantage for later.
I looked around the vehicle. Nothing except a spare petrol can and some more skins.
The convoy turned north, up the coast and we travelled through sparse woodland for a couple of hours. I tried to get comfortable in the cramped rear of the snowcat, and my wriggling seemed to excite my guard further, so I kept flashing him the occasional smile.
I wondered where we were headed and what was in store for me. I guessed that we would be arriving at some sort of trading post where I would be bartered for something. The thought of being sexually violated crossed my mind too, but these boys were in for something of a surprise were they to pursue that line of reasoning further.
At any rate, it made sense to wait till our destination before I made any sort of move. Cutting loose here would leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere. I leaned back and flashed another pout at my heroic captor.
Another hour passed and we found ourselves pulling into a settlement built around a wide bay. This was clearly a major trading post. A rag-tag flotilla of ships was harboured at the docks. Trawlers, freighters, a few military cast-offs, and even one dilapidated tanker.
A ramshackle shanty town had sprung up around the bay, with a higgledy-piggledy collection of brothels, bars and gambling dens jostling for space on the bustling waterfront. There was an unbelievable mass of people. Predominantly Aleut and Inuit, but I also saw Russian uniforms, and a smattering of Caucasians and Oriental faces too. This was the sort of lawless frontier town where you could barter anything for anything. Boys, girls, Class A, animals, arms, whatever.
We dismounted at the quayside and my captors tied my arms behind me, using the dangling rope to pull me along behind them. Smells of cooking meat assaulted me from all directions as we walked through the crowds on the teeming waterfront and I found myself salivating from hunger. Attracted by my looks, we quickly gathered a throng of hangers on, who did not refrain from groping me or passing lewd comment in many languages, I was spanked, my hair was pulled and felt up by many pairs of hands. I felt my flight suit tearing in various places.
It was utterly humiliating.
I looked up grimly and saw that we were approaching a boat. A gleaming white yacht, it stood out like a sore thumb among the rusting hulks that surrounded it. The Kitsune Maru, registered out of Yokohama.
Three of the Aleut traders stood aside and let the leader and my guard drag me up the gangway. As the crowd got a clear view of me and my ripped flight suit, a loud cheer went up, accompanied by wolf whistles and ape hoots.
On deck, I looked round, but there was no indication of who the yacht's occupiers were. But clearly a transaction had already taken place. I had been sold to whoever had chartered this luxury craft and had the gall to sail it into these lawless waters.
As we walked up the deck towards the stern, I tried to get a mental picture of the boat's layout but was hurried along by my guard with painful tugs on my rope. We went below through a wooden door amidships and down a steep flight of stairs. I was ushered through a door into a luxurious stateroom, where the guard pushed me onto a satin-sheeted bed.
The leader smiled crookedly at me and left me with the guard, who let go of my leash, but continued to cover me with his gun. I heard the leader's footsteps receding down the gangway. I looked around. The room was decked out in dark wood panelling. Sumptuous furnishings and fur rugs. The double bed was covered in chocolate coloured satin sheets. A bar and fridge on the far wall completed the fittings.
I let my body slump sideways onto the bed. For a while I closed my eyes, luxuriating in the softness of the sheets on my face.
I opened my eyes and saw the guard looking at me. I smiled. He smiled back. I parted my lips and ran the tip of my tongue over my front teeth. His eyes widened. I wriggled upright, arching my back and pointing my boobs at him. I looked down at the rope, then back up at him, pouting and raising an eyebrow.
He nodded, ambling forwards, putting his gun down on the sideboard. He bent down and picked up the trailing end of the rope. He indicated with a grunt that I should turn round so my tied hands were facing him. I complied, holding my wrists out and looking seductively over my shoulder.
Instead of untying me, He shoved me in the small of my back so I tipped forward onto the bed. He then quickly tied my ankles with the remaining length of rope. I couldn't move. I was trussed up with my hands and legs tied behind me and my round ass sticking into the air.
I couldn't believe it.
Behind me, I heard the guard sigh, pick up his gun from the sideboard, and leave the room quietly. I heard his footsteps move away.
Well, what a situation. This was ridiculous.
For a while, I just lay there, seeing whether there was any give in my bonds. But my guard obviously knew his knots. They were locked into place like steel manacles.
I heard the door again, and footsteps approaching me from behind. I was unable to turn my head to see who it was. Completely vulnerable. It was quite thrilling.
A hand planted itself onto my rump, with a sharp "slap!". I gasped. Then the hand started to stroke me gently on my behind. I let out an involuntary, "oooh..." Another hand quickly came round the front and started massaging me softly on my left breast. I began to melt, a moaning sigh escaping my parted lips.
I felt the rumble of the yacht's engines starting up beneath me. The room jolted slightly as the boat started to move. But I was moving already. Firm hands picked me up and turned me over and I found myself looking into the smiling face of Commander James Bond.
"I would have come sooner," he purred, "but I heard you were all tied up." He produced a vicious looking fish knife from behind his back.
"Oh James," I breathed as he cut my shredded flight suit away to reveal my beautiful new body in its white bikini. "Take me on a trip around the world..."
He encircled my bound body in his strong arms and we melted into the greatest kiss.
Welcome to your new life Jane, I thought, as I entwined tongues with my Controller. It's going to be a ride. Oh yeah.
Epilogue: Dunham Village, Buckinghamshire, England
In the cloudless winter sky, I saw a jet plane flying high above, condensation trails dispersing slowly in the cold air.
The small churchyard was quiet. Breath frosting in front of me, I weaved my way through the headstones. Surrounded by the skeletons of trees, bare fields glittering with hoar frost. Spring would be here soon, I knew. The late January wind snapped at my bare stockinged calves.
I had a bunch of flowers in my leather-gloved hand as I clicked through the country churchyard on my black regulation heels. My woolen uniform coat flapped around my legs. There it was, in the far corner away from the church. A small hedge separated the grave from a field, which stretched away into the haze of the middle distance.
I looked down at the new looking stone, removing my uniform cap. Bending down, I brushed some dirt off it then knelt to place the irises at the foot of the headstone.
ANTHONY STEPHEN PIERCE 1983-2014 He Gave His Life For King and Country
"Did you know him well?"
I jumped and turned. For a moment, I couldn't speak, standing there with my mouth open, staring at the new arrival.
Christine. My former girlfriend. She stood there looking at me in my Royal Navy dress uniform coat and skirt. She looked different. Something in the way that she had done her hair. She was still tall and beautiful, the sunlight in her red hair brought things back, uncomfortable. She smiled, extending her hand. "I'm Christine," she said. "Anthony and I were... engaged."
I removed my glove and shook her cold hand. "My name's Jane," I said. "I... worked with Anthony. I've been away... first time I could visit the grave." I tailed off.
Christine looked down, and then up at the bell tower of the old church. She took a breath. "It's funny. Sometimes I think I see him more now that he's...." she tailed off, glancing down at the grave. "The problem with his..." she looked up at me. "With your line of work, is that there really can't be anything else, can there?" She paused again. "I like to come out here every now and then. It's not far from where I live in Maidenhead."
I could say nothing so I looked down at the headstone. There was a minute of utter silence. Somewhere in the distance, a bird began singing. Further away, the low drone of cars on the M4.
I drew a breath. "I'd better go," I whispered, making to turn. Christine stopped me with a hand on my sleeve.
"Tell me. You knew him. Was he good? At his job? He could never talk to me about it. I just need to know that it was all worthwhile. All this."
"Christine," I said, "in my memories, Anthony Pierce was a credit to his country. He did his duty till the end. I hope I can carry on his legacy." I looked fixedly into her eyes, searching for any sign that she recognised me.
Christine let go of my arm. "Thank you, Jane." she said quietly.
I turned and walked quickly towards the gate, wiping the tears from my cheeks. At the gate, I looked back. Christine was still standing there, in the quiet corner of the churchyard, head slightly bowed, looking down at my grave.
"Goodbye," I whispered.
I shrugged off my overcoat and slid into my green Beetle, which was parked up the lane from the village church. I started the engine and pulled away. Soon I was cruising up the frosty country lanes.
My cellphone chirped on the passenger seat. I picked it up, pressing the answer button. I shifted up into fifth. "Jane Masters," I said.
"Miss Masters," said Bond, "you're needed."
I smiled, the excitement rising up through my body like a promise.
"On my way James," I said. "On my way."
I sped off towards my new mission.
of "For King & Country"
Jane Masters will return in "Colourful but Ordinary"
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