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COUNTDOWN TO NEW YEAR 2014

Friday, 24 April 2015

COMING HOME by BOB CURBY -- 1st 3 chapters -- this follows on from WINDSTORM

COMING HOME - Bob Curby - 2015 (c)


Chapter 1


Monday, December 28th, 1987: Cape Peninsula National Park: 16:30
Alpheus Pretorius skillfully turned and looped his Zlin Trener radio controlled aircraft high up above the Protea bushes. He watched it turn and make yet another perfect loop in the bright summer sunshine, its silver body flashing as shafts of sunlight caught on different angled parts. He had played every day out at Stellenbosch since he opened the present on Xmas day, but his dad had said that to give the little aerobatic aircraft its full head, he needed an open space away from buildings and power lines. As Monday was a Bank Holiday in lieu of Boxing Day, he was not at work and decided to treat Alfie to a trip out where he could play happily with the aerobatic aircraft model. They had driven along the coastal road from Muizenberg towards Simonstown and his dad had stopped the car in popular beauty spot on the lower, northern side of the Peninsula, overlooking False Bay.
The Zlin model climbed higher and higher and performed more loops as Alpheus skillfully moved the joystick on the controller between his hands. This was the second radio-controlled aircraft he had owned, the other being a smaller one, a model of a Sopwith Camel, the World War I bi-plane. He had become very skilled at flying even though he was just ten years old. He held the controller confidently in his hands. From the antenna streamed an orange ribbon, indicating that he was operating on the upper band.
As the Zlin completed a loop, it swept low over the Protea bushes and for the moment, he lost sight of it. The upper ridge was more than 500 yards above him and he didn't want to climb up to retrieve it, and hoped that it was still in flight as he flicked the switch to the high power position and pulled back the joystick. He heard the engine pick up speed and with a matter of seconds the little aircraft burst into his view, climbing rapidly once again. He flicked the switch back to low power to save the batteries and brought the Zlin back over his position.
Johannes Pretorius, his father, cupped his hands round his mouth and called out, "Alfie...Alfie..Kom hier," and as Alfie looked in his direction he waved and pointed at his left wrist. It was time to head home and put away the toys. Alfie waved back, turned the little aircraft into a landing approach, and watched it touch down on the tarred path in front of him. He cut the power and reached out to it, pulling the tiny lever that decompressed the engine and stopped it. Then he tucked it under his arm, pushed the antenna back into the controller and dropped it into a sack slung over his shoulder.
He picked his way through the pine ferns and Cape grass to the car park and smiled at his dad. "Dankie Papa!" He hugged his dad for allowing him to play properly with his toy and they stowed it carefully in the back of the car before heading back home.
Meanwhile, up in the big Protea bushes, high on the ridge, a dark, spherical object made a buzzing sound as a large red LED timer lit up. It began to count down, starting at 120:00:00, one hundred and twenty hours, five days. It clicked as it did so. 119:59:59 click, 119:59:58 click. A small thermo nuclear device had begun its countdown to detonation in five days time, following its pre-programmed procedure as skillfully set by Bloet Gunderson just a few weeks earlier. No one in Simonstown or up in the Cape Peninsula Nature Reserve had any notion of the existence of the device and its Plutonium payload. There was only one man who could stop that countdown and render the device harmless, and he was home in Sweden, Bloet Gunderson.
When Stephanus Herengracht's Bull Terrier tugged him into the Protea bush and he saw the device, he had no idea what it was either. He tugged at Jacko, the dog, and chastised him, "Come away, it's not for you to play with, come on, come away." He was probably the only living human apart from the team, that had actually seen the device and could describe it. He would provide vital clues later under interrogation. He was to be very happy that he had not stayed around to find out what it was.
Five days later, at 16:42 on Friday 1st January 1988, a rumble was heard and severe vibrations felt as searing heat destroyed Protea and other flora for half a mile either side of the device position. In Simonstown, windows shattered and a hot wind tore curtains from their rails. Out in the Naval Base, the Ensigns and Union Jacks were torn from the masts of the Royal Navy fleet stationed there. The fireball rose five hundred feet above the ridge and was seen by people the other side of False Bay. Anyone outside was burnt severely and died within moments.
The destruction of property was extensive and the loss of life high. Those who knew of the silos in the high ridge thought exactly what they were supposed to think, that one of the "secret" missiles had been accidentally detonated in its rack. Investigators would be despatched and a government clean up and protection team flown in within the hour. Radiation was high and everyone that arrived at the scene needed protective clothing and neutralising sprays deployed. The MI6 operations coordinator, at this time Robert Milner, had heard the rumble on the ridge and pressed an alarm button. It was his last action; he died in the searing heat that burst through the upper floors of the building. In twenty seconds, the British Intelligence presence in the Cape was extinguished.

January 1st 15:00 UTC, SIS Headquarters, Thames Embankment, London
Vice-Admiral Christopher Mostyn, son of the late Admiral Joseph Mostyn, heard the Prime Minister's direct line ringing and lifted the receiver.
"Prime Minister?" He sensed this was more than a Friday afternoon social call. Especially as the world outside was half-asleep still after the New Year celebrations. London is never quiet even after the celebrations around Trafalgar Square subside and the New Year's holiday sets in. Terrorism and crime does not hold the day sacred either.
Her voice was tense but steady "Mostyn, we have to convene COBRA immediately, there has been an incident in South Africa, I was afraid of this. Collect what you need on Operation Golden Goose and meet me in the cabinet rooms, I will have my Secretary call the others. I have been onto Reuters and SAPA to find out what the official news flash will be, and for the moment, we are off the hook. When you find the file, you will understand." There was a click and the line went dead.
Mostyn picked up the regular handset and dialled a number, waited for the call to be answered and spoke quickly, "This is Mostyn on the 6th floor, I want everything you have on 'Operation Golden Goose' immediately, run if you have to! Thank you." He replaced the receiver and sat staring at the desk. He wondered what the incident had been. The telephone rang and he picked it up, "Mostyn."
The voice on the other end was Alex Fernley, former Foreign Secretary in his father's time, now Naval adviser to the cabinet. "Vice-Admiral, I have received some unfortunate news, a garbled message about a nuclear accident at Simonstown. It has affected our fleet in the base there. We need to meet."
Mostyn realized there might be a connection with the call from the Prime Minister, he took a snap decision. "We are convening COBRA, as you have sat on sessions before and your people may be involved, you should join us in the cabinet rooms, as soon as you can. I am going over there now, as soon as I have some information I need."
"Yes, I shall then, I will make my way across now. See you there."
The line dropped and Mostyn replaced the receiver. He had a sense of foreboding and what Fernley had just said only added to it. There was a knock on the door and he looked up, "Come." He called out, and the door opened. It was a young clerk from the archive room, "You wanted the file on 'Golden Goose' this is all we have, it isn't much." He stepped forward and held out the brown folder towards Mostyn.
"Thank you, it has more than I know, I appreciate your speed in getting it to me. I will return the file later."
The young man nodded and turned away to leave the office. Mostyn stood up and picked up his diary, a notebook and his pager. He made his way down the lifts, swiped his card to open the doors on the only lift that serves the sixth floor and once inside, punched the 'G' button. His thoughts were mixed and jumbled as he opened the file to see what the operation was all about. What he read was almost like an over-dramatized cinema film. He gasped as he saw that there were five thermo-nuclear devices, small but lethal, and that the operation had been sanctioned and later called off by the PM. He looked at the list of people chosen and sent out to carry out the operation and was equally startled to see that there were foreign nationals included in the squad. He had half a smile as he noticed that one of the squad was a woman; the PM's doing no doubt.
He stepped out of the door onto the busy embankment and took the bridge across to the other side of the Thames and up Whitehall to Downing Street. He showed his pass to the police officer on the gates and again to the officer outside number 10. He rapped with the lion headed knocker and the PM's personal secretary opened the door. "Good afternoon Vice-Admiral, she has gone down to the rooms already, coffee is on its way, please make your way down."
"Thank you, has anyone else arrived yet?"
"No sir, you are the first, I called all the others but I think most have further to come."
"OK, I had a call from Alex Fernley, naval adviser, as he has some input, he will be on my tail I think, so don't wander too far from the door." Mostyn grinned as he spoke and stepped forward to the top of the stairs. In a few strides, taking the steps two at a time, he was in the corridor to the Cabinet Rooms and heading for the main meeting room. (For those unaware "COBRA" is the Government security administration and derives its name from the War Time meetings in the bunker known as 'ALPHA" and is an acronym, 'Cabinet Office Briefing Room Alpha' but 'Alpha' has been changed to 'ADMINISTRATION'.)
He reached the door and tapped on it before pushing it open. The PM was seated in the position of the Head of Operations. She looked up as he entered. "Ah, Mostyn, I know this is your chair, but I think I will lead this meeting, so would you mind taking mine for today?"
He smiled, this was her original 'baby' so he felt comfortable with her request, "Yes ma'am, I am more than happy to sit in your seat while you unravel this dilemma."
"You've read the file then?"
"Yes, in brief, in the lift as I came down. It sounds like it got a little messy today."
"You could say that. We will discuss it in full when everyone is here." She looked at the clock, "Damn, I did say it was urgent!"
"I hope you approve, Alex Fernley called me about messages from the Naval Base in Simonstown, I told him to join us. He should be here shortly."
"Yes, I am more than happy; anyone who has any information needs to be here."
Almost on cue, Fernley put his head through the doorway, "Good afternoon Prime Minister, may I join the COBRA meeting, Mostyn did invite me?"
"Come on in Fernley, yes, of course, I think we need all the good thinkers today." She gestured to a chair near the end of the table, "Better sit down there, the COBRA members will be up this end."
Fernley sat where he was ordered to and shuffled the sheaf of papers he had brought with him. He was not aware of 'Golden Goose' but he had heard about the tragic deaths of agents up above Simonstown. He knew better than to say anything unless asked and he would be when his information was needed.
Voices could be heard in the corridor and the rest of COBRA filed into the room, looking somewhat perturbed. They nodded to Fernley and muttered 'Vice-Admiral' and 'Prime Minister' as they shuffled to their seats. The heads of the security departments and the Foreign and Home secretaries along with the coordinator of special services made up the group.
On the PM's right was Samantha Davidson, Head of Operations, MI5.
On her left, Jason McTally, Head of Operations, MI6.
Next to Samantha was Robert Horspool, Foreign Secretary.
Next to Jason was Martin Gleason, Home Secretary.
Next to Martin, in the PM's chair, was Mostyn, head of Operations, Military Intelligence.
There was a tap on the door and the PM's private secretary stood in the doorway. "Mister Colin Anderson, Atomic Research Administration, Harwell, you had him on the list ma'am."
"Ah yes, Mister Anderson, welcome, please take a chair, we need your advice." She gestured to the chairs facing her, one of which was occupied by Alex Fernley. Alex and Colin went to Oxford together. He smiled and gestured to the chair beside him. "Long time no see Colin."
"Thank you ma'am, good afternoon gentlemen, and hello again Alex."
"There is one more adviser to come, he may be late, so we shall begin anyway, his input will be adjacent to Mister Anderson's and a little later in our discussion." She picked up a thick sheaf of papers, held together by a cotton tag with little bars on each end, threaded through a single hole in the upper left hand corner. She opened it up and looked at the men around her, all staring with anticipation of something very serious. COBRA is not called so quickly in the late afternoon unless there is a major security issue, or a risk to the country's economy. They would soon realize that the reason was very much a comingling of both serious issues.
She stared back at their eyes, making some of them drop their gaze, "A few months ago, we convened here to discuss the eventual capitulation of the apartheid regime in South Africa, Nelson Mandela and the long term economic impact on Britain, and possibly the European Community. As you may recall, we came to the decision that disruptive action causing embarrassment to the government of South Africa would more than likely cause the members of that government to resign and call for an election whereby the proper and rightful representatives of the people might take up the challenge. With advice from Sir Reginald Mayhew and his specialists, we set up a clandestine operation codenamed 'Golden Goose' and recruited a team of specialists to carry it out. The operation was to build 5 thermo-nuclear devices with just enough plutonium to create not only a big bang, but irradiate the area and render it useless for a long time." She paused and watched the faces of the others. There was a slight shuffling and a gasp from Colin. "Most of you here know of the operation and sanctioned it, except for, that is, Vice-Admiral Mostyn, who only joined us a few weeks ago, Alex Fernley, and Colin Anderson. Therefore, none of this should be a shock or a surprise to you. You may recall that during November, we received word that students at Stellenbosch University had linked up with Johannesburg students and were beginning to make very loud protests in the streets, the very disruption we wanted and needed. Our operation was therefore superfluous and would probably do more harm than good under those circumstances. Are you with me so far?" She paused again.
The others looked back at her and nodded; they had sanctioned the operation but had never been fully comfortable with it. They knew she had ordered it to be aborted and for the squad to stand down. They had also seen the reports of the bodged attempt by the MI6 field agents that had resulted in the loss of three good agents and the suspension of the station officer at Simonstown. They had equally been saddened at the report that the squad leader and SAS specialist Archie Mellor had been shot by a ship's captain while attempting to hijack it. They could see that it had been contrived by South African security forces and yet could not see how it had happened, nor pursue it. They nodded again to acknowledge their concentration and waited for her to continue.
"Thus it was that I called Sir Reginald Mayhew in SIS and had the operation terminated. He in turn informed our Station S1 in Simonstown but they misunderstood the orders and the attempt to abort failed. Reports were written, which I know you all read. I believed then and still do, that to save face, our S1 Station Commander advised the South Africans where a "terrorist", Archie would be but didn't mention he was there to activate the devices. He was forced to flee for his life, which I believe he then lost. The devices remained in situ, armed but not set into countdown. I believe that we were very lucky that the transmitter failed and Mellor was forced to flee. However, the devices were waiting for a coded 'power-up' transmission on their frequency, now a commonly used frequency. On Monday, one such device, up on the ridge above Simonstown, interpreted the 'power-up' signal from a radio-control transmitter used by a young boy with a model aircraft, as the signal to commence countdown. Today, at 16:42 local time, roughly half an hour ago, that device reached the zero countdown and detonated."
They each looked at one another and there were gasps around the table. Mutterings of "Oh No", "My God", "Oh shit' and similar could be heard as the full realization came into their thoughts.
"I received word from Station S2 at Stellenbosch that there had been a detonation and extensive damage. At this time, loss of life is over one hundred and counting, including all those in Station S1, which was severely damaged. Robert Milner, newly appointed to run the Station there, and all of his team, died in the fireball. I believe the Naval Base, two miles from the detonation epicentre, received some damage. Alex Fernley, who kindly stayed on after retiring from politics as the government's Naval Adviser, is here with us and has received reports himself." She looked at Alex, who was looking very concerned and clearly shocked by the accident. She invited him to speak, "Alex, please tell COBRA what information you have so far from reports sent in."
Alex took a deep breath and shuffled his papers, coded messages received from commanders on board the fleet vessels, via GCHQ. He read from one of them. "At 16:42 January 1st the watch commander sounded an alarm. He had seen a flash on the ridge and assumed a missile launch was in progress, contrary to the agreement with the British government. All hands went to battle stations and radiation shields were deployed on all vessels in the fleet. The tracking system was activated and waiting. Less than ten seconds later the fleet was struck by a fast moving shockwave with a heat intensity above human survival." He looked up at the group staring intently at him. "That was from Commander John Pilger, Fleet Commander on board RN destroyer 'Henry Blanchard' I have others if you wish me to read them, or I may just summarize for brevity if you prefer. A full report from the Base will be available within the hour." He looked at the COBRA members and focused on the Prime Minister. She looked around the table and then spoke, "I think a summary would be acceptable, and to see that full report in due course would be expected, please continue."
Fernley took another breath, "Each of the fleet commanders reported very similar sitings and actions. The reports indicate two things; firstly, the device that detonated was above ground and not a missile, unless it exploded as it was exiting the silo. Secondly, the shockwave was short, of less intensity and only effective within about two miles, again indicating a very small device and not a missile carrying a full payload. Therefore, in my opinion, the reports concur with the Prime Minister's introductory remarks, this was one of the specialist devices from Operation Golden Goose."
"Thank you Alex, you may leave if you wish, but please be sure to file that full report as soon as it is compiled."
"Thank you ma'am, I would like to get back and finish up at the office before the reports all conclude. I shall have that full report sent over as soon as it is completed." He stood up and took his leave, taking a deep breath as he stepped out into Downing Street and walked on toward the beginnings of the rush hour traffic.
The Prime Minister looked at the remaining members and took a deep breath herself, "The coffee trolley has arrived; I suggest we get ourselves some, it is going to be a long evening."



Chapter 2

January 1st 1988 17:00 local time: Security Council, Cape Town.
Gandt Botha, head of the South African Security Forces for the Cape Province was still shocked by the telephone call he had just concluded with the local agent based in the cable car ground station at the foot of Table Mountain. He sat quietly for a few moments and then he picked up the handset again. He flicked on the secure line, dialled and waited while the ring tone buzzed in his ear. Then he heard the voice of Thomas Moorens, the Chief Executive of the National Protection Squad, the equivalent of Britain's MI5, "Moorens here, how can I help?"
"Tom, it's Gandt, we have to get together with the others, I had a disturbing phone call. It would appear that there was some kind of explosion up on the ridge above Simonstown, big enough to take down some buildings and also severely damage the ATAR station on the western end. We must find out quickly what happened. Convene at the DOME in 15 minutes or less if you can. I will call the others. See you then." (The DOME is the security services nuclear proof bunker beneath the government buildings on Heerengracht, Cape Town.) There was a click and the line went dead. Gandt began calling the rest of the Security Services and a guest he knew was visiting from Israel, Benyamin Lentl of MOSSAD, Israeli Secret Service.
17:15 The DOME, Cape Town. SASC had a full compliment and was ready to discuss whatever the Head of Operations had to bring forward.
Gandt Botha sat at the head, Thomas Moorens on his right, his friend and guest, Benyamin Lentl opposite him. Foreign Minister Pik VanMuren sat on his left and Military Chief of Staff Eric Hoorveldter sat next to Pik. Finally, Helena Van der Merwe, Border Protection Minister, sat next to Thomas. They all waited patiently for Gandt to speak.
Gandt had a few papers in his hand and so did Helena. He spoke slowly and deliberately, in English, even though most of them were fluent in Afrikaans, mainly because business was conducted that way, but also for Benyamin's benefit. "It is of grave concern that there has been some sort of explosion, big enough to do a lot of damage to Simonstown and kill at least a hundred people. The epicentre of the explosion has been pinpointed as Silo R52 on the ridge in the national park. However, I am sure the experts will quickly confirm that this was not one of our long-range missiles. There will be an enquiry and we will find the cause. In the meantime I want the area cordoned off and level 1 CODE RED for the whole Peninsula, Helena, will you mobilize enough people to do that, go ring your commanders now if need be."
Helena looked startled, but she saw the logic, "Yes, I agree, swift action to stop sightseers or souvenir hunters going up there. Do we know what sort of explosion it was, I mean, what will my people be dealing with up there?"
Gandt took a deep breath and looked her in the eye, "Nuclear Helena, there will be a lot of radiation. Your people need to be properly suited up and neutralising chemicals deployed, my friend Benyamin may advise you of the best one, he is familiar with this kind of explosion, unfortunately."
Helena looked at the MOSSAD agent, his expression was set, it never changed. "Mister, er, Benyamin, would you accompany me to the ante room so we can talk and I can make some calls?"
Benyamin looked almost through her and she felt a chill as if he had thrust a steel blade through her chest. He stood up. "Go, I will follow."
She turned and headed for the door, he was almost on her heels. Gandt watched as the door closed again and then continued, "I am certain this has to be a terrorist attack on our ATAR, the British base, and a show of strength against our most important strategic missile ensemble. I want to find the fragments of whatever device it was, it will have its own fingerprint even if the human ones are burned away."
Thomas Moorens had his own thoughts and he offered one of them to the group, "Before I came across here, I made a call to the AirForce commander for this area and requested reconnaissance photographs of the Peninsula. The base on the Cape Flats sent up an aircraft almost immediately. I should have some pictures within the hour."
"That is good news; it will help to determine just where it went off and whether it was anything to do with silo R52."
The group were making notes and each one was waiting for Helena to return, with or without Benyamin, in order to make contingency plans. Almost on cue, she entered the room, Benyamin two paces behind and took her place again. Benyamin sat back down and took out a small note pad. He looked at Gandt and on receiving a nod, offered his own comment. "It will need careful handling, every fragment must be recovered, all metals in the blast area must be removed for examination, even the silo caps, it is necessary. The device would have to be overall about ten inches across and the nuclear material no more than a golf ball in size. We are not looking for a large device or a very big footprint."
Gandt nodded, "Well Helena, gentlemen, we shall await the photographs and Helena's team report. In the meantime, I ordered some refreshments and I think they just arrived."

15:30 UTC: London, South African Embassy
Viktor Mansetter, Ambassador to Britain was taking tea with his wife Marcie when his Personal Assistant, Henrietta VanMajansdorp disturbed them, "Excuse me Sir, madam, Mister Robert Horspool, the British Foreign Minister is on the telephone, he says it is urgent. May I put the call through here?"
Viktor looked up, "I wonder what he wants, yes, put the call through to me here."
The telephone rang and Viktor dabbed his lips before picking it up, "Viktor Mansetter, South African Ambassador, how may I help?"
He recognized the voice of Robert Horspool from many earlier conversations, but although they knew each other well, protocol reigned supreme. "Ambassador, good afternoon, I am sorry to disturb your afternoon tea, this is Robert Horspool, Her Majesty's Foreign Minister, may we talk?"
"Mister Horspool, always a delight to talk, how may I be of assistance this afternoon?"
"Ambassador, we have had disturbing reports from our Naval Base in Simonstown, about a strange explosion up on the ridge, in the National Peninsula Nature Reserve, our office in Simonstown was almost destroyed and all our staff there lost their lives. Had you heard about this yet?" Robert knew he was going out on a very flimsy limb, but he had to find out what the South Africans were saying officially.
"Foreign Minister, I have very little information but what I do know is, there was an explosion yes, and it did cause extensive damage. The area has been sealed off and our teams are on their way as we speak. Apart from that, I am unable to comment." Whether he knew anything more, he was not able to say nor would diplomacy allow any personal thoughts and feelings.
"Thank you Ambassador, our sources agree. I believe our Ambassador is hoping to talk with your Interior Minister about the situation. Should he be unable to make the contact, may we request a delay in sending the teams in, as we would like to send our own to join yours, after all we had a loss of life up there?"
"I will pass on your request Mister Horspool, be assured of our utmost support. If it is alright with you, we would like now to enjoy our tea."
"Thank you Viktor, once again I am sorry to disturb you, good evening."
"You are always welcome Robert, good evening to you too."
The receivers dropped back onto their cradles. Robert was reasonably satisfied with his call, and returned to COBRA to make his report.
Anthony Hyde-Crawford OBE, British Consul and Ambassador to South Africa, was sitting quietly in the anteroom to the Ministry of the Interior in Pretoria, South Africa. Marcus Prinz, Interior Minister was on the telephone to the Security Council for the Cape Province, at The DOME in Cape Town. He was talking with Thomas Moorens, and was in the middle of the discussion about the explosion in the Nature Reserve above Simonstown.
"Thomas, that is indeed a grave concern. You need a clean-up team to go in. I have a team at George, out across The Flats; I can have them across to you by nightfall."
"Marcus, that is good news, and yes, we might take up that offer, we are discussing the situation and the need for proper care. Please contact your team and have them stand by. I will try to get back to you with the Committee's decision and needs within the hour. Please keep your line open, and in the event of something arising at your end, you may call us directly on Red 15. I will answer that one, irrespective of what is happening here."
"I will provide whatever the Committee needs, just let me know. I will not go home until I hear back from you, I have sent out for some food, and the British Ambassador is here too, he called me for an urgent meet so I need to listen to what he has to say, the British lost some personnel down there."
"We anticipated that Marcus, yes, please discuss with him what has happened as we officially announced it and let me know if he has anything that could help us."
"I will do, I will call you back if you haven't called me by then. Goodbye."
"Goodbye Marcus, and thank you."
Marcus was about to stand up and step out to meet Anthony when the telephone jangled again. He lifted the receiver to his ear, "Prinz, how can I help?"
It was the switchboard operator, "Interior Minister, Viktor Mansetter, our Ambassador in London has been holding for you, can you talk now?"
"I have a few minutes, yes, put him through..."
There was a click and that strange sound of a Long Distance call and he heard Viktor speak softly to one of his children. Marcus called out, "Viktor! Hi there, long time no speak, how can I help today?"
Viktor took a breath and began to relate his conversation with Horspool earlier and when he had finished, Marcus took a deep breath and blew out his cheeks.
"Viktor, it seems we do owe them something and their Foreign Minister was right, their Ambassador is waiting here as we speak. I am glad you passed on the comments of the British Security Council as it gives me a foundation upon which to stand for the discussion I am about to have."
"I thought I should call you right away, I will be here if you need me to go back to the Foreign Minister on any matter. I will leave you to their Ambassador now, keep me informed please. Goodbye."
"I will, thank you Viktor, goodbye."
He replaced the receiver and sat and looked at it for a minute or so, just in case it rang again. Then he stood up and stepped out into the smaller room, where Anthony was sitting.
"Ambassador, good evening!" He stretched out his hand as Anthony stood up.
"Good evening Mister Prinz." He grasped the outstretched hand and shook it. "Thank you for seeing me at short notice."
"I think I know why you called, tragic business, we are sorry about your base and the loss of British personnel there."
"Yes indeed, and we have a favour to ask if your government is agreeable." Anthony had a very stern face as he made his request, "In view of the severity of the incident, the loss of life and the damage done, we felt that we should combine forces with your people in examining and encapsulating data about the device and what it might mean for our joint futures." Anthony was a true diplomat, he was chosen well for his role. He smiled and sat back in the chair, watching Marcus' face.
Marcus was a politician, less of a diplomat, and never had served in any capacity related to military matters. However, his answer was perfect for the purpose when it came.
"Our government is concerned about terrorist activity and attacks on or sensitive areas, we would always be prepared to talk with our friends and allies about protection of those areas, to our mutual advantage. Please tell me what you need."
"We are certain that the device that exploded was a low output nuclear pyrotechnic device. We may have people that can help you with the final analysis. We would ask you to hold off sending your teams in, until we have assembled one of our own and can fly the experts out to Cape Town."
"I think you know as much as we do, and yes, it probably would be to our advantage. How long a delay do you need?"
"Twenty four hours, we are working on this right now."
"Anthony, I am sure we can give you twenty four hours, I will call the Council and tell them of your proposal. Take it as read that we shall do this, but in any case, I will personally confirm to you."
"Thank you Mister Prinz, it is more than enough, I shall report back and await your confirmation. Please call me if there is anything else you think of, or might need."
"Thank you Ambassador, we shall indeed. Good evening sir."
"Until we talk again, good evening."
They shook hands again and Hyde-Crawford left.
Marcus stood and stared out of the window, across to the Voortrekker memorial on the skyline. Then he stepped back into his office and lifted the receiver. "Red 15" he said as the operator answered.
"Connecting you now sir."
There was a click and suddenly the noise of people talking filled his ear. He was through to The Dome and Thomas. "Moorens, SASC."
"Thomas, it's Marcus, are we on speaker?"
"Yes, go ahead; the Committee are waiting to hear what the British Ambassador proposes."
Marcus cleared his throat and told the committee listening on the speaker everything that he had discussed with Hyde-Crawford and then added his own feelings, "I am somewhat in sympathy with the British, not only was Simonstown strategically important for them, but they lost some very good people too. I wholeheartedly support the Ambassador's request for a stay of 24 hours on the investigation. I think we should wait until they have a team here, or rather THERE in Cape Town, before we move on. I have signed off an order to restrict access to the coastal road and the operate a ferry from Cape Aghulhas to Cape Point for those that must travel to and from the southern end of the peninsula. There is still the possibility of approach from the Atlantic side and I don't see the need for anything more than a cordon on the pathways up to the ridge. May I confirm to the Ambassador that we shall wait for 24 hours?" He almost held his breath, hoping that someone wouldn't veto the request; he felt sincerely that South Africa should keep good relations with Britain and this seemed a good way to do that.
Helena spoke up first, "My people are down at the Peninsula right now, I received word that you had signed off the order. We have expedited the safeguarding of the area in the interests of the safety to curious people, and have had all animals in the vicinity quarantined. The paths from Stellenbosch and the Eastern side of the Nature Reserve have been sealed off at the point of connection with the coastal road. I have teams in radiation PPE at all access points. Is there anything else you would like me to do?" She paused, her head inclined slightly to one side, eyes focused on the small star-shaped conference telephone on the table. She was a very astute and feisty woman, not a beauty, but yet attractive and with only laughter lines round her eyes making small wrinkles to her otherwise flawless skin. She had worked hard to get up to a Ministerial job in what was still very much a male dominated world. She took tough decisions and made good judgement calls; no one in the room would even consider questioning her actions, especially in the current sensitive matter. They all sat silently, waiting for Marcus to respond.
He waited a few moments in case she had more to say, or anyone else wanted to comment. When no one spoke, he responded, "That sounds like you have acted swiftly and provided the protection of the site and un-suspecting visitors, be they human or animal. Do we have an agreement as a Committee that we maintain that vigilance and security and wait 24 hours for the British?" He waited while there was a little discussion in the room and then Gandt spoke up.
"I propose that we take a vote on this, in a proper democratic way. All those in favour of supporting Marcus in his request to grant the British 24 hours, raise your hands. Any against? Well Marcus it looks like we have responded 100% in favour. You may tell the British Ambassador that he has his 24 hours."
"Good, I will call him and convey our agreement. Who will co-ordinate the British team arrival and co-operation there?"
Pik VanMurens gestured at Gandt and then spoke up, "I think that will be my remit, have the Ambassador, what is his name... Hyde-Crawford? -- yes have him call me on the Ministerial switchboard number when the team is on its way, I will take it from there."
Marcus was pleased with the discussion and outcome. "Thank you, I think it will be to our advantage to do this. I will leave the discussion now and call him directly, good evening everyone."
There were murmurs of goodbyes and good evenings and he dropped off the conference bridge.
Two minutes later, he conveyed the Committee's response to Hyde-Crawford and then closed up his desk drawer, locked it and left the office. The SASC in The Dome, talked on for another hour, discussing how they were going to keep the lack of defence out of the press and ensure the ATAR was up and running urgently. Then they too put away their pens and pads and left for home. Nothing more could be done until the team from Britain arrived.


Chapter 3

Mostyn paused as he heard the telephone ring beside him. The rest of COBRA sat silently, watching him as he reached out to lift the handset.
"Mostyn."
It was Hyde-Crawford; he had received the call from Thomas and was passing on the information to COBRA. The South African Security Committee had given the 24-hour delay requested.
"Vice-Admiral, I am happy to report that I have received word from the Interior Minister in Pretoria. We have the 24 hours we need to get our team out to The Cape. I cannot stress enough the seriousness of the detonation of the device above Simonstown. I am sure it is the foremost point of your discussion. We are appalled at the damage and loss of life experienced. I will leave you to your discussions."
Mostyn nodded, even though the Ambassador could not see his action. He could feel the tension and it was no doubt that the SASC had taken the detonation and aftermath very seriously. "Thank you Ambassador, we will now move into stage one of the response to the South African situation. Thank you for being so prompt in calling us. Good evening Sir."
"Good evening Vice-Admiral."
The line went dead and Mostyn looked around the room.
"We have our 24 hours, we need to get onto Hereford and see who is available, I have looked at the team that carried out Golden Goose and they are mostly of European origin, not any of ours, except for Archie Mellor who is missing, Willie Swan, who is already in South Africa and two Welshmen who may not be available at this time. I am recommending that we have one of your team," He looked at Colin Anderson the nuclear expert in the room, "We need someone who knows about 'dirty bombs' and the radiation levels we are likely to come across up on the Cape Nature Reserve behind Simonstown."
COBRA talked on for another hour before they finalized the action they had to take and Mostyn was left with the task of talking with the commander at Hereford, and securing not only a good field operative in the SAS but also possible team members who would go at the drop of a hat and help clean up the mess made by device T-5 that had detonated and caused such devastation. He reached for the telephone and dialled the main switchboard.
"Control Alpha, how can I help?" The voice responded as the call was answered.
"Patch me through to base commander SAS on a secure line, Hereford, I don't care if he isn't on duty, page him until he answers, is that clear?"
"Yes sir, dialling right now. Please hold while I talk with the base and then connect you."
He listened again to 'Greensleeves' the only non-royalty 'on hold' music that seemed to be on telephone 'switches' as it came round for the third time and he was considering throwing the glass ashtray at the wall, the operator returned to him.
"Sir, Hereford is not responding, I have taken the liberty of patching you through to DWS at Poundon, they will have the option to raise whoever you need, wherever he is, you may go ahead sir, they are listening."
"Thank you..... Poundon, I must talk with the SAS Commander at Hereford, or his home number, or his next in command. This is of highest priority and the PM is behind this totally. What can you do to help me?"
There was a pause while the GCHQ operative considered his options and he responded, "Sir, may I know who I am talking with so that I may consider the best options?"
"This is Vice-Admiral Mostyn, CIC Security Operations and overall director of SAS; I do hope you have options that will take care of the immediate needs of COBRA."
"I understand sir, I am paging Martin Flood, the Commander of SAS Operations, your senior man, please hold while I locate him."
Once again, Greensleeves filled the earpiece and Mostyn reached for the ashtray. Then there was a click and the operator was back.
"I have Mister Flood on line now Sir, patching you through, go ahead Sir."
Mostyn sighed and almost gasped into the handset, "Flood, it's Mostyn, I am sorry to hunt you down like a wounded deer, but we have a problem and an urgent need, you are probably the only person who can help right now..." He tried to convey the urgency in his voice and was trembling with the effort.
There was a pause as Flood took in what he had just heard, he still wasn't sure about it and conveyed that in his response, "Well Vice-Admiral, I can see the predicament, but I can't just grab my people out of the air and send them out to an area that is already isolated, unless you can give me a nuclear fallout advice team."
"Really, I do not want you to grab people 'out of the air' as you say, however, the PM wants a matter cleared up and I have to send a team out to Cape Town, overnight, to be there when the South Africans send their team into the detonation zone."
There was a long pause while Flood took in what Mostyn had said, then his response was more positive, yet he seemed not to have fully grasped the issue.
"Well, it seems that you need an SAS platoon commander and at least someone who knows the terrain as well as the device that detonated. It was ours, wasn't it? And, you want it covered up am I right?"
"Yes, the device was ours, and we want the fingerprint 'confused' do you have someone in mind?"
"As far as Field Commanders go, you already had the best, and he is missing!"
"Yes, I know that, and that is why we are a little desperate."
"I have a man in mind, I will get him to pick his team and call you in say, 30 minutes?"
"That will do nicely. I will draw up the specific plan in the meantime."
"I am sure that this will not produce something politically incorrect and contrary to OS compliance orders. He will do as you request Sir."
"I want someone on the team who has nuclear experience, is that clear?"
"Perfectly, I have made that clear to him, he understands Sir; I will call you back when he has his team."
Mostyn was inclined to be a little sarcastic, "Thank you, I shall not hold my breath though...." He waited for a response from Flood.
There was a long pause so Mostyn almost yelled down the mouthpiece, "For goodness sake man! We are on the same side and this is high priority!"
"I will get back to you, please stay by your telephone."
Mostyn was not going to let grass grow under his feet however, and he added, "I am not going anywhere; I shall call the man who was in charge from the beginning and seek his advice. I await your call."
There was a click and he once again held a dead handset. He flicked the bridge to clear the line, listened for a dial tone and then dialled an internal number. He heard it ring in his ear, for a few minutes. Then he looked at his watch and realized how late it was getting. He cursed as he felt the pressure of time running out and dialled the switchboard once again.
"It's Mostyn, will you connect me with Sir Reginald Mayhew, at his home if necessary. I have to speak with him now; there is no time to delay."
"I believe Sir Reginald did leave, about a half hour ago. I have his home telephone number, hold the line Sir."
After a short while, Mostyn once again heard an external ring tone and then a click. A young voice came out to him, "Mayhew residence, Rosie speaking, who is calling and how may I help you?"
"Hello, this is Vice-Admiral Mostyn, I am at your father's office, may I speak with him please?"
"Oh, he is in the shower, shall I ask him to call you back, I am sure he will?"
"Yes, please, and would you tell him that it is rather urgent, I need to talk with him as soon as it is possible to do so."
"I will tell him."
"Thank you, goodbye."
"Goodbye"
Rosie, at seven years of age, would make an excellent PA someday Mostyn mused to himself.
It was about twenty minutes before his telephone rang again. He snapped it off the rest and brought it up to his ear.
"Mostyn."
"Ah Vice-Admiral, it's Mayhew, you wanted a word?"
"Yes, indeed I do Mayhew; you took charge of Operation Golden Goose did you not?"
There was a short silence while Mayhew regained his balance. He had not expected that question. He composed himself and answered plainly.
"Yes, it was an operation under my orders."
"Well, you may not have heard, but one of the five TND's was activated on Monday somehow, and detonated today. We lost our people at Simonstown and about a hundred locals. The base was slightly damaged and the ships took a beating but are serviceable. Had the news made its way to you?"
Mayhew had heard but had decided to keep clear of it, as he had been in enough trouble with it already. He had a secret to keep too, though Mostyn would not become aware of it for some time. He took a deep breath; there was no point in pretending. "Well, yes, I had heard, but I thought it was all in the hands of the South Africans so I decided there was no need to stay there and see what was happening."
"And it never occurred to you somehow that there is bound to be a traceable footprint, and that footprint might show that the device was ours?"
"Of course it was uppermost in my mind; I am at this very moment writing an answer to the inevitable question from South Africans as to what connection it has with us...."
"It's too late for that!" Mostyn snapped, "They have already been in touch with us. COBRA met as soon as the news hit and we have just finished. Fortunately, for us all, we have a bloody good Ambassador and level headed COBRA members. We bought ourselves 24 hours before they go in and clean up the area. I have been on to Hereford and tried to get an SAS team up and running and expedited to Cape Town overnight. I am waiting for the CIC to call me or at least a field commander. My reason for calling you was to find out if you had anyone who can go with the team, deal with the 'dirt' and get us off the hook?"
"Well the only person I would call is Bloet Gunderson, he is the expert on Plutonium, but I doubt if you would get him in time, he lives in a remote area of northern Sweden."
"We must have someone of our own, Colin Anderson has a whole team at Harwell and at Rutherford, Plutonium is messy stuff and the whole area will be severely contaminated. We don't know how many fragments there may be, large enough to create a footprint that will identify the device as British. We cannot allow the South African clean up team to get hold of enough of them to make that connection."
"Well, Vice-Admiral, I am certain that it is more likely to have a Swedish footprint than a British one, it was Bloet that built it. I do understand your point though. I will see who is on my list and get back to you. Do you have a deadline with Brize Norton on the departure?"
"Good lord, I haven't got that far yet, but it cannot be much after midnight, it will take 9 hours to make that flight as it is. I want that team landing on the Cape Flats at 9:00 or we will miss the boat. We cannot get this wrong."
"I will get back to you if I have anything I can do to help, or a name you can contact." The line went dead and Mostyn dropped the handset loudly onto its cradle.
Mostyn was not happy with the lack of movement on the co-ordination of the radiation clean up team. COBRA had given him the task of getting a team out and linking up with the South Africans. He wondered whether Benyamin had any MOSSAD agents with nuclear or better still, Plutonium, experience. He was considering calling him at his hotel when the telephone rang again. It was Flood.
"Vice-Admiral, it's Flood. I have with me SAS Field Commander Harry Jenkins, he has taken more than seven teams just like the one you need, out into the USSR and in particular Kiev, in the Ukraine. He can expedite a smooth clean-up operation, find and 'lose' any incriminating fragments of your device, or better still, add something to confuse it."
"Don't call it MY device, I am the man who has to clean up the crap, I didn't run the operation!"
"I am aware of that Sir, however, it is now YOUR device and we have to make sure that none of that crap sticks to you!"
Mostyn felt a small amount of relief but yet there was still an uneasiness, how could they be sure to get every fragment before any of the SASC team got their hands on them? He realized that he had little choice than to go with what he was offered. "How soon can he get a team to Brize Norton? I have a C64 Starlifter there; just a call is all that is needed."
Flood thought for a moment and then responded, "Hang on Sir, I will put Jenkins on and you can talk with him, it will save a three-way conversation taking place."
Mostyn agreed and waited, he heard the two men talking together and then a different voice came on the line. "Good evening Vice-Admiral, I believe I am needed to clean up a little mess we made?"
"You could say that. How soon can you assemble a team and get them to Brize Norton?"
Jenkins was a big man, over six foot, his years of discipline showing as he spoke. His voice was razor sharp as was his wit. He had a very slight Northern accent, almost indiscernible but just there. "Well, Vice-Admiral...."He began and Mostyn cut in "Oh call me Mostyn, or even Chris, I hate these long titles... please continue."
"Mostyn, yes, ok, I prefer Chris if that's OK. Well, Chris, all of the men I have in my team live a stone's throw from me, and that is just a fifteen minute drive to RAF Goldington, can you get your C64 up here for 23:00? If you can we will be ready to board it."
"I am sure I can do that, with a view to immediate departure?"
"Absolutely!"
Mostyn was feeling much better; it looked as if he was going to get that team to The Cape in time. "Then I shall have it up to you at 23:00."
"Do you need to know who make up the team? We do work better when we can be 'faceless'."
"No, of course not, the less I know the better. Just one question though. They are all serving military men, in the UK?"
"Oh yes, all from Hereford, and all considerably experienced in operations just like this one. We will do the job Chris, you may sleep well tonight!"
"Thanks, Harry; I have every faith in you. Please put Flood back on for a moment. Goodbye Harry."
"Goodbye Chris, here's Flood."
He heard the receiver being passed back to Flood and then the voice of the man he had got used to hearing on the call. "It's Flood, Sir, I am ready to move, just say the word."
Mostyn thought for a moment and then he took a decision, "OK Flood, join Jenkins and his team at Goldington and support the team. Fly out with them if needs be."
"I don't think they would want me along, they would feel inhibited. I shall stay here if that's ok. I meant long term Sir."
"Long term? Beyond this operation you mean?" Mostyn sensed that Flood was talking about his career.
"Yes, I would like you to know that, whilst I am happy to stay here as CIC at Hereford, I am ready to move on if needed there, or any other place within the Special Intelligence Service, even abroad."
"Well that's good to know Flood, maybe we can talk once this clean-up is done."
"That will be fine Sir, in the meantime I will get over to Goldington to await the team arrival and see them off."
"Good, now, I need to call Brize Norton and get the Starlifter sent off up to Goldington." Mostyn held the handset briefly while waiting for Flood's final comment. He didn't need to wait long.
"You can leave it with me Vice-Admiral; I will not disturb you unless there is something to report."
"I would like to know that the team left on time and that there was nothing in any despatches about this device, apart from the reports coming in from the field operatives or agents."
"Agreed, good evening Sir."
"Good evening Flood."
The handset went dead and Mostyn stared at the wall, the buzzing sound of the internal dial tone vaguely interrupting his thoughts. He looked down at all the notes he had bundled together on the operation past and present linked to the five Thermo Nuclear devices. He realized he was still holding the handset and replaced it on its cradle with a little more care this time. He picked up the photograph bundle from Golden Goose; spread them out on his desk. There were pictures of the team, the training, the devices and the aerial view of the locations. He picked up and looked at them individually, finally holding just one picture out of the collection. It was a smiling full-face portrait of Archie Mellor.
"I wish I knew what happened to you, Lieutenant Mellor!" [If you haven't read "WINDSTORM" you should have done before reading this book.BC.]
 ....................... if you want to read on --- watch for me to tell you when to buy it from AMAZON

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