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A short story by Professionals staff writer Dennis Spooner. It first appeared around 1980. It's not the only one as there were other short stories written by Brian Clemens and Ranald Graham that appeared in TV Times. If I come across those I will put them up as well.

The Christmas Killer, by Dennis Spooner. 

Bodie and Doyle stood outside Harrods in Knightsbridge. Christmas was really in the air. The windows were packed with decorations and lights shone out into the growing gloom of the afternoon. It looked like it was going to snow again. Nice for the kids, but the adults – their clouded breath billowing on the cold air – had only one thing in mind, to complete their shopping and get back home. Bodie and Doyle stood for a while before going into the store, their eyes examining the faces around them. Although they had the photograph of Ramos etched into their brains they did not pretend to understand why. What would a top international assassin be doing at Harrods? His Christmas shopping? Yet, Cowley had been quite specific. 

“We know he’s in the country, and we’ve got a pretty good idea why,” Cowley had said. “The biggest manhunt ever staged is going on, and every available CI5 agent is on the case as of now!” 

Then Cowley had taken them aside and given them their assignment, Harrods. 
It didn’t make sense to either Bodie or Doyle. But ‘The Cow’ hadn’t said anything else, and when he didn’t say – you didn’t ask!

Ramos lay on the bed in Knightsbridge that had been found for him. 
It was getting dark outside and as he stared at the windows he realised it made him feel safer. He had got into the country easily enough, but he was pretty sure they knew he was here. It would make no difference to his plans. He could hear the sound of a party from somewhere below. Probably some firm giving out Christmas drinks to the staff, celebrating early. 

Ramos smiled to himself. He’d have a something to celebrate soon, 50,000. He looked again at the photograph of the man he had to kill. It was an impersonal look. Just another contract. Ramos sighed and wished the phone would ring for his tip-off. Not that he was anxious, but he wanted to get the job over – he couldn’t stand this English weather, coming as he did from a hot climate. He turned the photograph over. The man’s name was on the back, James Fielding. 

The CI5 men patrolling the ‘safe’ house in the inconspicuous back street had no idea James Fielding was inside. It was, as far as they were concerned, just another guard duty. 

Fielding was going over some documents. He lost concentration and glanced at his watch. He wondered when Cowley would phone. Soon, he hoped.
He would be glad when the investigation was over. Cooped up and watched, it was like being in prison himself. 

He wished he hadn’t got the information on the terrorist organisation, but it was too late for wishing. The group would try to kill him, he knew that, but maybe, after his debriefing with the judicial committee, he could disappear, go back to Canada with his daughter Deborah. 

Since his wife died Debbie was all he had. Luckily, at eight years of age, she had no idea what was going on. Matheson, his assistant, opened the door and came in with all the files he had asked for. He caught a glimpse of Debbie in the next room, playing with her dolls. 

Doyle wandered around the packed department store, mingling with the shoppers, pushing his way through the crowds, all the time keeping a watchful eye. 
Could Ramos possibly be coming here? Maybe Cowley was just giving him a soft touch. It’s unlike him, Doyle thought, even though he wasn’t one hundred per cent fit. His side still hurt from the oil rig business. 

He thought of the hours he had spent in his skinsuit under the rig in the black, cold water of the North Sea and shivered. What kind of a job was this, anyway? 
He comforted himself with the thought Harrods was at least warm. Cowley could do him favours like this anytime. Except, of course, it couldn’t be a favour. Otherwise Bodie wouldn’t be here. Bodie perused the perfume display. Cowley hadn’t said he couldn’t do his Christmas shopping. If he took offence Bodie would say, in his most innocent voice, that he was melting into the crowd. The tall, slim, elegant blonde behind the counter smiled at him and he wondered just how long her legs were. He couldn’t see for the counter. She was being run off her feet and she still had time to smile. That was a come on it ever he saw one. Then he admitted to himself that he saw everything as a come-on – even the brush off! He ordered twelve identical toiletry sets and saw the blonde raise an eyebrow. He would like to have told her he’d decided to buy all his girlfriends the same present. It would stop all the trouble of last year when he’d gone crazy trying to remember which girl he’d given what to. Maybe he should buy one for her? No – thirteen was unlucky. 

James Fielding finally received his phone call from Cowley. He was asked to reconsider, but Fielding insisted on going through with it. He had promised Deborah, and it was the only request he had made. Cowley drew a sharp breath, making his opinion clear, but he was in no position to argue. He asked to Braben, the senior CI5 man, and – as the arrangements were finalised- Fielding went to fetch his daughter. 

Debbie squealed in delight. “Are we going? Are we going to see Father Christmas now, Daddy?” Matheson watched the car containing Fielding, Deborah, Braben, and two other CI5 men pull away. The moment it turned the corner he lifted the phone and dialled a number. He spoke the password and replaced the receiver, so raw to the game that he never even suspected that the line was bugged and he would be arrested later. The Group had promised him money and rated him expendable. 

After receiving the password from Matheson, Ramos took less than a minute to leave his apartment for the last time. All he had to do was put on a coat and pick up a shoebox-sized parcel – gaily wrapped in Christmas paper – that contained the gun. Ramos would slide his hand into the collapsible end flap and pull the trigger when the moment presented itself. Bodie and Doyle met up in the store. Nothing had happened. Cowley must be slipping up in his old age. They had both noticed that he wasn’t around. 

Ramos entered the department store on the south side. He wore a soft hat pulled low and a scarf muffled most of his face. With his Christmas parcel clutched tight he was soon lost in the thronging mass of shoppers. The car containing Fielding pulled to a halt in front of Harrods. Fielding and Deborah moved out, flanked by Braben and one of the CI5 men, while the other man stayed behind the wheel of his car. 

Bodie and Doyle had arrived in the security section. Without much hope they watched the shoppers on the bank of television screens. Then, to their surprise, they thought they saw Ramos. A needle in a haystack? Or a look-alike? Whatever the outcome, checking the man would relieve the boredom. Bodie and Doyle followed his progress on the screens, through several departments, until they were sure where he was heading. ‘Toys and Games’ and the grotto of Father Christmas. 

Fielding and Deborah arrived in Reindeer land and joined the queue to see Santa Claus. Braben thought it was crazy, mixing in these sort of crowds. But maybe there was safety in numbers. Fielding’s daughter was excited. What was worth spoiling a trip to see Father Christmas anyway? 

Braben and his colleague watched the doors, scrutinizing every face closely. How were they to know Ramos was already inside the area? Fielding and Deborah had almost reached the red-robed, white-bearded figure. He wondered how they kept their temper with all the children. Debbie was jumping up and down now, scarcely able to contain her excitement. Ramos edged closer. The gun in the parcel he now carried pointed towards fielding. He should be able to escape in the panic that followed. He had thoroughly cased the store and knew the back corridors and short cuts like the back of his hand. 

Ramos waited for a clear shot. He would more than likely only get one chance, and the silencer should give him a head start before anyone realised what had happened. Bodie and Doyle arrived together in the grotto. They saw Ramos – saw immediately that it was him – and although they couldn’t see the gun they saw the way he was holding the parcel and it didn’t take much imagination to realise what it was. Both Bodie and Doyle shouted a warning – despite having no idea who the target was – and launched themselves towards Ramos. Ramos was startled, and – although the bullet sped from the gun, it only shattered a coloured light on the Christmas tree. 

Before Ramos could get off another shot Santa Claus, with an agility that belied his years, grabbed what looked like a toy gun beside him, and got off two shots. 
Ramos, hit in the shoulder and the leg, went down in a heap as Bodie and Doyle threw themselves on top of him. Bodie grabbed the gun, and Doyle held on to Ramos although he obviously wasn’t going to be any more trouble. 
They looked up as Santa Claus stared down at them. “Well done.”
The voice was unmistakable, even from behind the flowing white beard. “But you could have been five seconds faster!” 

Bodie and Doyle looked at each other and started to laugh. One thing you could always count on. Cowley – even dressed up as Father Christmas – was never satisfied! 

A short story by series creator Brian Clemens. It's interesting in that it details the first meeting of Bodie and Doyle. In terms of if it's 'canon' or not that up to you to decide, but it was written by the man himself! Enjoy :)

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.

"I 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..

"I've done both, sir."

Cowley stopped, and turned to look at the young man again.

"Both?"

Doyle nodded. "And scuba, sir, deep sea fishing."

"Fishing? With a harpoon?"

"Yes, sir."

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?"

"Met Division, sir."

"Hmm, 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."

"Sir?!" Doyle was astonished. "You're in CL5 now, lad," said Cowley, "and that is your first assignment. Bring Bodie in, I don't care how!" 
* * *
Bodie 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 hand tightly. 

"Not 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.

Bodie 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.

"Yeah?"

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.

"Just 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. "What man?"

"Important man," Doyle replied.
* * *
They 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 two men."

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 not how."

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 work."

"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?"

Cowley nodded.

"That's O.K. then," said Bodie.

"Now what about price?"

"Price?"

Bodie grinned. "You don't expect me to stick my neck out for nothing, do you?"

"You'd 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 for success."

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 tonight."

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 a kind."

"How do you make that out?"

"Got to be insanity in both our families, hasn't there! ?"

"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 again.
* * *
No 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 blackness 
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 glider.

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 the battlements.

The 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.
* * *
Bodie 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?" 

They understood. 
* * *
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 leader." 

Doyle 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. Teamwork." 

They 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.

"What's wrong?"

"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."

"For 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."

The 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."