Operation Impossible by Brian Clemens
Only two men could rescue the VIPs held hostage by terrorists. One, an ex-mercenary.
The other a young detective.
Did their chief s outrageous plan stand a chance? It was to be a memorable first meeting for The Professionals
THE ARMY helicopter blossomed briefly like
a terrible flower as it exploded in mid-air. Pieces of men and machine fell into the field nearby.
"Heat-seeking missiles." The S.A.S. sergeant came
running up. "The terrorists must have them on the roof, primed and ready. There's no chance of an aerial approach."
"It's a foul-up." Cowley would have said it
aloud if the Home Secretary had not been standing right beside him.
"It's a foul-up, George." The Home Secretary said it for him, then hesitated:
"I've supported you to the hilt with this new organization of yours, if it's ever going to be blooded ...
"Aye," Cowley replied, "Blooded is right."
He looked at the buttressed walls and the drawbridge
pulled up, a solid wooden plug sealing off the only entrance. It was hideously ironic. They had chosen to hold the conference
in the castle because of its impregnability, but somehow— those questions would be asked later—the terrorists
had infiltrated the day before and lain in wait. They now held hostage 19 of the most important people in the world.
Cowley looked at the Home Secretary. "Far as
we can make out there's at least half a dozen of them, spread throughout the place, each holding a group of hostages. If we
take out one, the others would react immediately. We can't scale the place without detection, a concerted attack is out of
the question. They have us over a barrel."
The Home Secretary shook his head. "We cannot concede to their demands."
Cowley grunted, then again studied the plan of the
castle, then slowly folded it and looked beyond the grim grey building to the range of green hills on the horizon. "Stall
them!" he barked, "Keep 'em occupied." Then, with the sergeant in tow, he turned to hurry back through the lines of armed
men and the sprawl of police and military vehicles to where his own car stood.
Cowley drove fast and well and the sergeant wisely remained
silent for a while, but then said: "It's a lousy break, sir." Cowley looked at him. "C.I.5's first chance to prove itself,
and we get an impossible op."
"C.I.5 was formed to achieve the impossible," snapped Cowley. "Anyway, it's not impossible. Two men could do it."
The sergeant stared at him.
"The two right men. The first would have to
have experience in ambush attack, skilled in the use of silent weapons."
"That sounds like me, sir" said the sergeant.
Cowley glanced at him. "No, not you. You see, this
man also needs one very special skill."
* * *
The young man who stood in the long corridor outside Cowley's office watched from the window
as Cowley's car stopped in the courtyard below. He saw two men alight and momentarily wondered which was George Cowley, and
then detected the slight limp and again wondered how a man so slight and wiry had acquired such a fierce reputation.
The two entered the corridor. The younger man
was doing the talking.
know just the man you want, sir. Ex-mercenary. Jungle fighter. S.A.S. sergeant. His name's Bodie."
"Then get him."
The sergeant hesitated. "Problem there, sir. He's
not under orders any more, finished his tour last week. Demobbed."
Cowley frowned. "Well, at least get his address and let's talk to him." The
sergeant nodded and disappeared into a door marked Records.
Only then did Cowley become aware of the slim young man with a mop of curly hair
who stood outside his door. Cowley stared at him. The young man perceptibly stiffened to attention.
"Doyle, sir." Cowley continued to stare at
him. "Raymond Doyle, sir. Detective Constable. I... I ... er, sent in an application, sir. To join CI5"
Cowley nodded vaguely, then opened his office door
and called in to his secretary: "Run through the files. Need a man who can snorkel, maybe pot-holing experience, and when
you've found him I'll..
done both, sir."
stopped, and turned to look at the young man again.
Doyle nodded. "And scuba, sir, deep sea fishing."
"Fishing? With a harpoon?"
At this moment the sergeant stepped out into the corridor again, holding
a scrap of paper. "Located Bodie."
Cowley took the paper from him, frowned at it, and then at Doyle.
"Doyle? Yes, I recall your application now. Some kind of karate
champion, aren't you?"
the Met? They're a hard mob." Cowley suddenly thrust the scrap of paper into Doyle's hands. "Bring this man in, tell him we
need his help."
Doyle was astonished. "You're in CL5 now, lad," said Cowley, "and that is your first assignment. Bring Bodie in, I don't care
crouched low among the thick wet foliage of the jungle and looked at the narrow plank bridge, bound and suspended by twisted
vines, and below it the river, swollen by the monsoon, boiling in a white flecked fury. He turned and gripped the girl's brown
much further. Just across the other side and we're home free. They may have booby-trapped it though. I'll go first." He set
off across the swaying bridge, gingerly edging his way forward, examining everything, trusting nothing. Finally he stepped
off the bridge and looked back to where the girl waited.
"It's O.K.," he yelled. "Come on." But she too had heard the sounds of pursuit close
by and remained for a moment, petrified with fear.
"Run ! "Bodie urged, "run!" She had barely taken a couple of steps when the mortar shell
hit the bridge. The smoke cleared and Bodie saw her still standing there, on the other side, and the shattered remains of
the bridge hanging down into the torrent of water below. The voices of their pursuers were loud and clear now and Bodie stood
and looked at the girl and remembered the nights in Kowloon and how he had promised to show her London and Liverpool, and
how much he loved her. Then he remembered what they would do to her when they caught her and he lifted the machine carbine
to his shoulder. She knew what he had to do, and opened her arms to him one last time. Bodie took careful aim on the centre
of her forehead and then gently squeezed the trigger...
* * *
He awoke bathed in sweat but shivering violently as he always did. For a
moment he didn't know where he was, then he heard the rumble of traffic in the King's Road. He looked at the blonde head of
the girl snuggled up in the bed alongside him and he was glad his nightmare hadn't awakened her too. But had it been the nightmare?
Hadn't there been some other sound cutting through that all-too-familiar dream?
The door buzzer sounded again. Bodie swung from the bed
and reached for a robe. As he did so the girl stirred and murmured softly. Bodie grinned and, tying the robe around himself,
moved to open the door.
looked at the spare, whip-cord hard young man who stood outside, looked into the clear, sharp eyes, and subtly, instinctively,
shifted the position of his feet, poising himself to repel attack.
Doyle thrust a cellophaned I.D at Bodie.
"Detective Constable Doyle," he managed to say before
Bodie slammed the door in his face.
Bodie ran back across the room and, in one fluid movement, he picked up the ashtray and the girl's purse.
He was just entering the bathroom when the front door burst open to Doyle's expert kick. Bodie spun round. He suddenly felt
ridiculous, the ashtray in one hand, the girl's handbag in the other. Doyle moved towards him and Bodie flicked the ashtray
and its contents into Doyle's face. Following up his advantage he threw the punch that had broken a man's jaw in a Cape Town
bar. It didn't break Doyle's jaw. He didn't even connect. Bodie found himself turned half around and flying through the air.
He landed heavily, but rolled lightly to his feet, and walked straight into a vicious side-handed chop that jarred him down
to his toes. He swayed, side stepped, then came back in.
Doyle traded punch for punch, throw for throw, with Bodie. "Bring him in—I
don't care how," was what Cowley had said. And Doyle, on his first assignment for CI5, didn't mean to go back empty-handed.
The girl was awake and screaming now.
"Stop it! Stop it!" She pushed her body between
them, and for a moment both were diverted looking at her. Then Bodie drew back his fist, and the girl grabbed hold of it and
clung, yelling and kicking, pulling Bodie back with her.
He flung her aside.
"I was only doing it for you."
She stared at him. "What do you mean?"
Bodie picked up the purse and the ashtray.
"He's fuzz. I didn't want you to get busted."
"Why should I get busted?" she screamed, "I
don't smoke pot. I don't smoke anything."
"Oh." Bodie scrambled to his feet and looked at Doyle. "Sorry. I was mixing her up with the girl who was
here the night before," and then had to duck and ward off the girl as she came at him clawing and scratching.
Bodie fended her off, all the while talking
amiably to Doyle.
a little .. misunderstanding, you know how these things can escalate," and grunted as the girl broke a vase across his head.
Doyle enjoyed the spectacle for a moment, then
said: "Could you save the domestic riot for some other time? There's a man waiting to see you."
Bodie held off the girl with one big hand.
"Important man," Doyle
barely spoke during the journey although Doyle, with a grudging admiration, noted that Bodie at least seemed to trust his
driving; when he took a blind bend at over 90 and only just missed the oncoming truck Bodie did not stir in his seat. Instead
he said: "You drive like you fight; pretty good."
Then, a little later, he asked where they were going and Doyle replied: "To see a bit of
old England—and, the new."
* * *
The brilliant halogen spotlights illuminated the castle only briefly before a machine gun chattered from
one of the towers, swinging in an arc, shattering each of the lamps in turn. Cowley lay, face pressed against the damp earth
in the sudden darkness. Time was running out; they only had until first light. Then the terrorists would start shooting hostages.
Cowley raised himself as he heard someone calling his name from the barricades.
They couldn't be more different, more unalike. That was
Cowley's first thought when he saw Doyle and Bodie standing by the car; Doyle slight, like a latter-day poet, and Bodie crew-cut,
powerfully built, with the air of a well-oiled machine about him as he surveyed the scene.
"Well, what do you think?" asked Cowley.
Bodie shook his head. "Nobody can get in there."
"Two men could," Cowley retorted. "The right
He spread his map on the
bonnet of the car, and began to trace a finger along it: "Entry here . . and here... one moves ..... the other man moves down,
each silently taking out opposition on the way. They meet here, in the gallery overlooking the main hail, where I'm gambling
they'll be holding the majority of the hostages."
"Seems to me," said Bodie, "you're gambling all along the line."
Doyle picked up the map. "You said where—but
Cowley told them, laid
his outrageous scheme on the line and the two men stood and stared at him, then at each other. Finally Doyle spoke, "It might
"It's got to work," snapped
Cowley. "It is our only chance." He looked at Bodie. "Well?"
Bodie jerked a thumb at Doyle. "He's the other man?"
"That's O.K. then," said Bodie.
"Now what about price?"
Bodie grinned. "You don't expect me to stick my neck out
for nothing, do you?"
be serving your country." Bodie turned to see the Home Secretary standing close by. "I just got through serving my country,"
he retorted. "Up and down the Falls End Road. Now I want to start serving Bodie."
Cowley spoke quietly but firmly. "It wouldn't be fair
to give you more than Doyle. Temporary induction to C.I.5, one month's pay back-dated. Bonus for dangerous mission. Double
Bodie regarded him, then
turned to walk away and found himself confronted by Doyle, who just stood there, looking at him.
"You're crazy," said Bodie. "One month's pay
and a bonus? He didn't mention the pine coffin."
"I'll take my chances," Doyle replied. "Alone if I have to."
"Alone?" Bodie remained poised for a moment, then
suddenly turned about to Cowley. "I've got to be crazy too, but what the hell...? I didn't have anything else planned for
Cowley nodded. "Good lad,"
he said. "Both of you, good lads. Come on, let's get you kitted up."
As they moved to follow him Bodie looked at Doyle. "We've got to be two of
"How do you make that out?"
"Got to be insanity in both our families, hasn't
"Come on," Cowley called.
"We don't have much time." There was no banter now as Cowley began to brief them, to take them step by step over the plan
further than the last command post—they didn't dare accompany Doyle beyond that. Cowley gripped his shoulder, mouthed
"Good luck", and Doyle was on his own, crawling down the grass slope that led to the moat, his wet-suit whispering against
the grass under his belly, the harpoon gun gently bumping against his back.
He slipped into the icy waters of the moat with barely a ripple
and sank from sight. All that was left to betray him was the tiny tube of his snorkel, cleaving the water in a small V as
he struck out for the castle.
* * *
Bodie stood on top of the tall hill and peered down through the darkness to where he could just make out
the shape of the castle far, far below.
He felt the wind on his cheek and looked at the compass again, then hurried back to the army truck. "On
to the next hill," he told the driver. "If I'm going to do it at all, I need the wind full square."
* * *
Doyle's outstretched hand touched the castle
wall and he clung to it, treading water, gingerly breaking the surface to look up at the edifice towering away above him.
He got his bearings, slipped below the surface again and began to swim along the wall, hands outstretched, touching, seeking.
* * *
"It's nearly gale force,"
thought Bodie. "I've never tried it in a wind this strong," then he turned to where the men waited by the truck parked on
the hill. "O.K.," he said. "This'll have to do." He started to don his crash hat and goggles while the men began to unload
and assemble the slender, lightweight tubes.
* * *
"I've missed it," thought Doyle. "I must have missed it. Or maybe that map of Cowley's was
old, maybe it's been filled in. Maybe.. ." and then he found it; a mouth, a pipe, part of the centuries-old sewerage system
Cowley had said was there, running back, through and under the castle. All but an inch or two was submerged underwater.. Cowley
had been right about that too. There would be just enough air, just enough room for Doyle's snorkel. He dived into the inky
of the pipe.
* * *
Assembled now, the hang glider looked incredibly fragile. And sinister, because they had painted every tube, every
inch of canvas, matt black. As the men carried it forward to the edge of the bill, Bodie strapped the quiver of arrows to
his thigh, checked the knife at his boot, and then slung the bow across his back, hoping to God that it would not foul the
He gestured now, and the
men lifted the glider and Bodie crouched then stood up within it to take up his grip on the long narrow bar. The men were
still holding the glider, but just the same the wind caught and plucked at it. "All right!" shouted Bodie, and they stepped
away. Bodie felt the full force of the gale, felt the bar shuddering beneath his strong hands. He braced himself and began
his run darn the slope towards the void beyond.
The radio beside Cowley hissed and crackled and then a voice said:"He's off" Cowley lifted
the night glasses to the sky.
The glider fell like a stone and Bodie instinctively braced his legs for the bone cracking impact. But then the giant
hand of the wind took it, a sudden jerk tint tore at Bodie's muscles and set him rising again, high into the sky. He lay out,
like a swimmer, lifting his legs high behind him, angling his weight, forcing the glider level, fighting against the wind
and realising that this flight, if it succeeded, would owe as much to brute strength as to finesse.
* * *
Doyle could feel the scrape of his snorkel
against the roof of the pipe, feel it through his jaws, and hear it, filling his head so loud that he thought somebody else
must hear it too. He was blind; the darkness was profound. He could only see with his hands, and then they suddenly told him
something Cowley had not: the pipe divided at a junction. For a moment he panicked, but then he stopped and tried to remember
that plan again; the pipe led in from the west, led towards the centre of the castle, so... the left hand pipe, that was the
one he had to take. He entered it and saw
the first glimmer of light up ahead.
* * *
Cowley picked out that stranger huge bird in the sky.
"I've got him," he said. "Good man. He's coming in straight and true."
"Straight into trouble, sir." Cowley looked at the sergeant beside him.
"There's someone on the roof, sir."
"Diversion," snapped Cowley. "Noise, movement,
anything divert him."
* * *
The man on the roof prowled over to where the missiles were lined up, their sharp snouts pointed at the sky. He'd
been ordered to check out the area and keep out of sight, but now, as he heard the shout of voices far below, he moved across
castle was rushing up at Bodie now and he saw the movement, saw the shape of the man there. If the man turned he would be
a sitting duck. No, a lame, flying duck, a target so big no one could miss. He dipped the glider. It was a maneuver he had
done many times - on bright sunny days with a thousand feet below in which to retrieve the glider and lift it up again, but
here, in pitch darkness, at this height, it was suicidal. He dipped the glider below the level of the
castle walls. If he couldn't
lift it up again he would be smeared against those wails like a fly. The man on the roof heard the strange rushing sound and
turned, but the sky was empty. Perhaps it was someone below? Someone trying to scale the walls?
Bodie twisted the bar under his hands, jack-knifed
his body forward and the glider flipped up. The man got just one fleeting glimpse of what appeared to be a giant bat flying
up over the rim of the wall, and then Bodie's steel-clad boots took him in the chest.
* * *
Doyle looked up through the murky water and
saw the blurred image of the grating. This had been the imponderable. Cowley had admitted it If the grating were secured in
some way... ? Doyle took a deep breath and dived to the bottom of the pipe. He crouched there, coiled himself for the effort,
and then shot up again—up, out of the water, and his hand hit the grating. It moved, lifted enough for Doyle to fling
out a hand and grip the dry floor above. Slowly he lifted
the grating further, then set it on its side and climbed out into the cellar.
He was in.
unslung the bow, stepped over the unconscious man, opened the narrow door and began to make his way down from the roof.
The ground plan was clear in his mind, 20 stone
steps down, then out into an area where the upper rooms were situated. "The penthouse suite," Bodie grinned to himself, and
put an arrow to his bow. He had discarded the boots now and moved catlike, without a sound.
The first two rooms were empty, the doors wide open.
The door of the last room was ajar and Bodie could hear voices. There were six hostages, seated, their backs to the wall,
hands and feet bound. Two men guarded them, one seated at a table, and the other on the far side of the room close to a mullioned
window. Both held machine carbines. Had they been close together Bodie would have taken them right away, but spread apart
it would mean he would have to swing from
one to the other, a vital second that might spell disaster. Bodie decided to wait
until one or other turned away.
* * *
Doyle climbed the dank steps until be reached the low chamber. He waited a few moments, heard nothing,
and then entered the chamber. He was confronted by the startled face of a young and pretty girl who was tied to a chair near
the door. Her mouth opened and Doyle froze, staring at her, willing her not to scream. It seemed like years went by before
she finally closed her mouth again, and then her eyes flickered to one side, warning him.
Doyle held up a handful of fingers and slowly folded
one. She shook her head. He folded another. Another. She nodded when he held up only one finger. One man! Doyle drew his knife
and gently stepped into the room. The man was drinking from a flask, his gun across his knees. Nearby lay four hostages. Doyle
hurled himself at the man, hitting the base of the flask with his hand. It all but disappeared into the man's mouth, and while
he gagged on it Doyle struck him
across the throat.
The man fell and lay still.
The hostages stared at Doyle with shocked faces. He put a finger to his lips then
started to cut their bonds. "Stay here," he whispered. "Do anything and you put the others at risk. Understand?"
* * *
The man by the mullioned window was the first
to look away, to turn his back to the door and risk a quick look out of the window. The arrow took the man by the table through
the throat before the twang of Bodie's bow filled the room. The man at the window spun round, jerking his gun up and almost,
but not quite, deflecting the broad blade of Bodie's throwing knife. He stood for a moment, stating at the knife in his chest,
then he slowly folded forward. Bodie didn't bother to untie the hostages.
* * *
Cowley looked at his watch. Thirty minutes had passed
since Doyle had entered the moat, since they had seen Bodie land on the roof. Thirty minutes. Since then they had heard nothing,
seen nothing. "Riot squad stand by," he whispered hoarsely. The sergeant looked at him sympathetically. "You already gave
that order, sir. Ten minutes ago. They're standing by."
In the centre of the castle was the main hail, a high, vaulted room, and above it
a minstrels' gallery running around on three sides; a balcony with a planked floor, carved oak balustrade. Doyle and Bodie
met there, and cautiously moved to look down on the scene below. The remainder of the hostages were gathered there, tied together
in a grim parody of a conga line. Two men, armed, their faces shrouded by woolen balaclavas, stood guard. One was squat and
thick-set, the other boyishly slim. The thick-set man spoke now, gesturing upwards as he said: "Carney's a long time on the
roof. Shouldn't I go and check?"
* * *
The slim man nodded, and Doyle and Bodie drew back as the other man started up the wooden
steps that would bring him to their level. Bodie pointed down at the slim man and whispered, "Mister Number One — the
nodded agreement then dropped into hiding behind a long, worm-eaten chest as the thick-set man climbed the last few stairs
to the gallery. The man stepped on to the gallery and moved towards the door that would take him up to the roof. Doyle had
to admire Bodie's style. He stood just behind the door and his hand clamped over the man's
mouth before he hit him low and viciously in
the groin. Doyle caught the gun that fell from nerveless fingers, and then the man himself.
Bodie grinned. "Like those old Hope/Crosby films.
moved back to the balustrade.
* * *
The last terrorist, the slim man, had heard nothing. He had not moved, but remained leaning against the
long table, his machine gun pointing at the line of hostages.
Bodie tapped Doyle on the shoulder, pointed at the gun he held—then down to
the floor below, and drew a finger across his throat. Doyle hesitated. Bodie raised an eyebrow.
"Be just the time for a gun to jam wouldn't it? And
him with his finger on the trigger, aiming at those hostages."
Doyle gently put the gun down and then unslung the harpoon from his back, primed
it, took aim, and again hesitated.
"Now what's wrong?" Bodie hissed.
Doyle looked at Bodie, then at the slim man down below, then at Bodie again. "I never killed
a man before."
God's sake." Bodie put an arrow to his bow and bent it back as he took a very careful aim on the man below.
It was at that moment that the man turned and
instinctively looked up, and saw Bodie. And he saw her.
The balaclava concealed all but a wisp or two of her blonde hair, but perfectly framed
her blue-eyed, luscious-lipped face. Bodie stared at her through the taut string of the bow, across the hardened steel tip
of arrow and he saw again a girl standing across the other side of a bridge, her face lifted in mute appeal. He watched as
shock turned to realisation in the girl's eyes, and she swung the gun round towards the hostages, her finger reaching for
the trigger. He heard the rush of compressed air and saw Doyle's harpoon strike her just above the ear, saw the gun fall from
her hand and, as it bit the floor, fire off a chatter of rounds that jerked him back to reality.
"You ... you .. ." Doyle tried to say something to
him, his eyes already moistening.
* * *
Cowley heard the crackle of shots, the sudden silence, and then was on his feet, gun in hand, running
towards the castle. Behind him the other waiting men were starting to run in too. Orders were being barked now, and lights
started to snap on again, to bathe the castle in a pale white light. Cowley reached the moat and stood there, listening to
the screech of a winch. The drawbridge began to move, to descend, and Doyle and Bodie were revealed.
Bodie was first on to the lowered bridge. He looked
at Cowley and then: "No casualties on our side."
Doyle stepped up alongside him. "No?" he said ironically. He walked past Cowley and away.
Bodie stood and watched him go, then suddenly followed.
Cowley turned to watch them. They were too far away to hear what was said, but he
saw Bodie grip Doyle's shoulder and Doyle shake him off. He saw them stop and face each other, and talk, and then finally
turn to move on again. Together this time. In step.
Cowley glanced at the sergeant. "Do you know," he said, "I think we may have found ourselves
a good team there."
sergeant frowned. "Looked to me like they were ready to slug each other."
Cowley's eyes twinkled. "A lot of good
marriages began that way."