Confidential Episode 4 – Pro Patria Mori

St Peters Hospital, 1965

 

It was the day of Remembrance in England, as the Queen stood in front of the cenotaph. But just a few miles away, Lianne Williams was smiling for the first time in 11 hours. She finally had her newborn son, Harry, in her arms.

“Hey honey, what’s wrong? You’re really quiet.” Lianne asked her husband - Benjamin had stayed very silent since his son was born, just staring at the TV.

“Huh? Oh, nothing.” Benjamin stared straight through her, obliviously.

“You can tell me, Benny.”

“I just wish my dad could be here, that’s all. He would’ve loved to have met little Harry.” Ben’s death had been hard on Lianne’s husband.

“Aw, Benjamin, I know. But... World War 1 took it out of him. I’m sure he’s smiling down on us now though.” It was little comfort for Benjamin.

“Thanks, Lianne.” Benjamin meekly smiled, and sighed. She was right. “Anyway, let’s get this little guy home, shall we?”

The happy couple, and newborn son, left the hospital, a closer family than ever before.

 

NOVEMBER 12TH

BRUSSELS

 

“Mr Williams? Sir?” Harry had blanked out for a second, worrying his assistant. “Peter, please. Calm down.” He had a right to be concerned though.

“Sorry...” Peter wasn’t used to this kind of role, having been a junior minister under Harry for 7 years. But now he was Senior Advisor to the PM, he had a big job to get used to.

“Should we get going then Peter?” These new suits were really silky, and would be perfect for the upcoming service.

“Yes, the Jag is outside waiting.” Peter smiled optimistically. Today was going to be a good day.

 

Planes flying low overhead made the array of handguns in front of Andrei shake. The bookshelf rumbled as another jumbo flew off the Bruxelles-National runway.

Despite the failure of the first part of the mission, he still had the chance to cause much more agony to England, and the family of his grandfather’s killer.

“Hello Mr Prime Minister. Ready for our... meeting?”

Laughing to himself, Levsko prepared to go to the cemetery to see the PM.

 

LONDON

 

 

It had been less than 24 hours since Poppy and Chris had stopped a bomb detonating in central London. Sitting in their local pub together, they finally thought that they could rest. Andrei had been arrested, and was locked up. Or so they presumed.

Even Neil and Lucy got a day off to recover from the torments of the day before, which isn’t normal protocol. Nobody complained though, they were just happy to relax for once.

Unexpectedly, Sergeant got a phone call. He stood up and began talking in a stressed tone, becoming quieter and quieter the more the conversation went on.

“Hey, guys, I need to talk to you.” Neil’s face was stern, and Chris became worried. Something was wrong.

“What is it Neil?” Chris questioned his boss.

“The information we got about Levsko’s arrest was wrong.”

“What? How do you mean wrong?” A bolt of fear ran through Poppy’s heart. If Andrei hadn’t been arrested...

“He’s fled the country, escaped the police.” Neil could see the anger in her eyes, and the dread in Chris’ face.

“Where the hell is he then?” asked Chris. As Neil drew breath, Poppy shot in a firm answer.

“Brussels.”

Chris felt sick from the pit of his stomach. They were stood here in an English bar, celebrating saving the Prime Minister’s life, when actually he would be dead in the next couple of hours.

Poppy went as white as snow and her hands shook slightly as she downed her drink in one.

Neil sighed deeply as the intensity of the situation sank in. Someone was going to lose their job in the next week – most likely him.

“We need to do something.”

“But what Chris? Look, I’m sorry, it’s all my fault. I should’ve...” Neil blabbered nervously.

“No, Neil, sir. You weren’t to know.”

“We have to stop him, Chris.” Poppy mumbled.

“Okay. Call in some favours guys – big favours.”

BRUSSELS

 

Just a few hours later, and the duo were hurrying outside the Belgian capital’s airport terminal. Their eyes were focused and their faces were sharp. Passengers moved out of their way fast as they saw the determination walking towards them.

They climbed quickly into the executive car that drove up at speed to greet them. The doors slammed shut, the tyres squealed and the MI5 vehicle disappeared in a fog of exhaust fumes and tyre smoke.

 

His heart pounding, Andrei Levsko entered the frozen cemetery. The snow in London had spread further south, covering the Flemish countryside. ‘Now all I have to do is wait’, thought Levsko. It would be the longest 15 minutes of his life, waiting for the Prime Minister to arrive and begin the ceremony.

Glancing at his watch, he began to feel the cold down his back. His leg started to shake with nerves, and his teeth chattered. The wait was killing him.

 

“Come on Peter, we’re going to be late.” Harry glanced at his watch. The ceremony was due to start in just 10 minutes, and they were still in Brussels.

“Sorry, sorry sir. I had to take the call from London.” Peter was his usual self – a bag of nerves with skin as pale as the ground below his feet.

“This had better go without a hitch Peter – we need this to go well, understood?”

“Yes... yes sir.”

 

“...The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” introduced a speaker at the microphone.

Despite the freezing temperatures, Levsko smiled as Harry Williams brushed past him, heading towards the podium.

“Thank you, for that kind introduction sir. It is a deeply personal occasion for me, being here, with all of you today. My own grandfather fought in the war, here in Belgium and also in Turkey...”

Andrei began, slowly, to stand up. He had the gun held firmly in his hand, and it was loaded with two bullets. One for Williams, one for himself. He would die in happiness.

Just as he prepared to shoot, out of the corner of his eye he saw two figures running into the ceremony. The brown hair stood out – he could recognise Poppy Brown anywhere. His plan had been found out; even this plot had now gone wrong. But there was no time to waste, waiting for them to spot him.

The intense cold was numbing Chris and Poppy’s hands, but they didn’t notice. They were only interested in one thing, and one man. Andrei Levsko. Spotting him immediately, with his gun in hand, they stopped and ducked behind a stone wall and a hedge. He couldn’t see them, otherwise he would panic.

Poppy had prepared – she had spoken to her superiors in an emergency video call in the car, and SAS sniper troops were already in position behind the Prime Minister, hidden from view. Levsko was surrounded.

Sitting back down quickly, Andrei struggled with his emotions. He knew Poppy was there, waiting to stop him. As Williams continued talking unknowingly, Andrei hid his gun away. He had no idea what to do now – he was trapped and would hear a bullet screaming towards him any second now.

Poppy had left Chris around the front, having seen Andrei hide his gun. She knew that he had seen her, and had to get him shot now. What he would do if he remained alive, she had no idea.

“Get ready guys. If he as much as moves a muscle, shoot.”

“Yes, all the snipers are in position.”

Chris had the perfect view of Andrei, from where he was stood beside the wall. If Levsko touched his gun again, Chris would see it and be able to shoot. All it was now was a waiting game.

Peter had spotted the MI5 agents running to the fence, and could hear whispers behind him. A voice began talking to him from his earpiece – “Peter, this is MI5 Special Operative Commander John Clearson. As you may have noticed, we have surrounded the area, because we have a suspected assassin and terrorist sitting in the audience. We request that you take the Prime Minister out of the vicinity immediately, to prevent him being hit by a bullet. Understood?”

“Yes, yes it is.”

“Thank you.”

As Poppy and MI5 Special Ops prepared to shoot Levsko, and the PM’s team had to find a way to get him to safety, Chris was keeping Andrei within his sights. He wasn’t going to risk letting him get away with any more. This was the end of the line.

He stood up slowly, and flicked the trigger. A silent bullet blasted out of the barrel, and hit Levsko in the back of his neck. He slumped slightly, but nobody noticed a thing.

“Wait, wait guys... What the hell is he doing?”

“Ms Brown, one of our snipers has seen Levsko slumped slightly. He’s been shot.” Struggling to hide the surprise in his voice, John Clearson continued talking into his radio, angrily asking who shot Andrei.

“It was Chris, Chris David. The detective on the case with me.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

 

“Thank you for coming out here, guys. It’s greatly appreciated.” Chris praised the MI5 soldier, despite him doing all the hard work.

“Oh, don’t mention it. It’s my job – but it wasn’t yours to do that.” John smiled. This guy had potential.

“Yes, Chris, you went above and beyond your duty...” Poppy moaned slightly, but chuckled as she said it. He had better not get big headed, saving two people in less than a day, she thought to herself.

“In a good way though, Chris. Great job.” Commander Clearson winked at Poppy as he headed off to join his men. Their job was done here.

Poppy and Chris were left standing alone facing the cemetery, and the memorial. Andrei had been taken away by MI5 agents claiming to be medics, saying that he’d fainted from the cold. Nobody battered an eyelid, and the ceremony had continued as planned.

As the memorial reached it’s ending, the Prime Minister was closing it with a poem recital.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.