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   Chapter 18 EPILOGUE

Dead Centre By Owen Jones Characters: 24335

Updated: 2018-02-09 19:02

"Dave, we're thinking of wrapping DC up. I'm sure that I've mentioned this before, but the time is now coming soon. What do you think about coming with us? Are you up for it?"

"It would be fantastic to keep the old team together, " agreed Bob, as they were lunching in the Lord Nelson Hotel in Milford Haven one afternoon.

"You know lads, these last couple of weeks have been the happiest weeks of my life since leaving the forces. I knew that what we have been doing had a limited lifespan, but none of us are poor, are we? Where are you thinking of going? Not that it matters that much."

They shook hands and Dave ordered a bottle of champagne and three halves of Guinness in pint glasses.

"Where are we off and when?"

"Where and when is up to us so far, but who knows how far behind us they are. Behind Bob and me, that is, Dave. There is no paper trail leading to you. You would be better off not being associated with us. You could meet up with us wherever we all want to go."

"But where is that though?" asked Dave.

"Thailand, " said Bob.

"I can't argue with that, " said Gareg.

"I have set my heart on having a bar full of brown beauties in Thailand and calling the place 'C?m Ciddy' or 'C?m Ci Du' – The Valley of The Black Dog, " said Bob. "I mean. I will fall in with everyone else, but I will have a bar called 'C?m Ci Du' as well. It has been a dream for decades and now is dream fulfilment time, I reckon."

"I'll go with Thailand too, " echoed Gareg.

"It is a dream country. I'm still in, " said Dave. "Now we are only talking about when."

"Yes, when, " echoed Gareg. "Sell all your stuff and I mean everything, you can replace it over there and renew your passports in Newport if they are filling up. Let's arrive over there with enlarged, empty passports, so we won't need new ones for ten years. It'll give them time to forget us."

"Mines OK anyway, " said Bob.

"Yes, mine too, " said Gareg, "and you are not in danger, Dave."

They ordered three more halves of Guinness.

"Sir, " said the member of Captain Ursine's team that had a contact in Milan, "it seems that there has been a development with the doctor in Milan. He is willing to tell all he knows for a complete amnesty and a super grass deal. My colleague in Milan has recommended that I get down there right away. What do you think, sir?"

"A super grass, eh? I don't know much about them, but I'm sure I can get you down there. Mmm, you ought to go, it is worth a chance."

Captain Ursine cleared it with his boss and Lieutenant de Bois was dispatched on a very limited expense account. What he learned from sitting in at the meetings, he could have read in emails, but the emotion, especially the fear, on the doctor's face did convince him of the veracity of his story.

The doctor said that he knew his contacts via certain web sites and email addresses, which if contacted without a variable password using a seed code were useless. The doctor gave his up. This made anything posted to Gareg's web sites look as if it had come from the doctor in Milan, in a similar way to how an affiliate network works.

It seemed like a major breakthrough, yet it was frustrating, because it did not seem to get them anywhere. The French and the Italian police pored over the web sites for hours, but they seemed to reveal nothing. Then someone on Captain Sanchez's team suggested asking the Chinese government for help, because it was widely acknowledged that they had the best Internet hackers at their disposal. The Interpol group discussed which country should approach China about the matter. The USA was ruled out and so was the UK.

The task fell to Germany, so Captain Strumpf contacted his superiors with the request for help on a diplomatic level.

The help was granted and a week later, archive data on servers in Latvia were found that pointed via via to a phone number of an answering service in Argentina. The Argentinean government applied sufficient pressure to have the owner reveal that most contact calls originated in Europe. Further investigation put a lot of them in 'western England' as they called it, but when the information reached London, they were able to pinpoint it to west Wales.

The type of operation and the high level of professionalism pointed to ex-military personnel and pretty soon they were thinking of the SAS. Special Branch requisitioned personnel records relating to SAS members who had left the regiment within the last twenty years and lived in Wales. The search revealed five names and two of them were Gareg's and Bob's. Bob was registered as 'address unknown', but Gareg's was his farm.

A meeting was held at the highest level of the police and the military, including the SAS to discuss how to handle the situation of possible 'rogue elements'.

The military managed to persuade the police that they were dealing with a 'real live Rambo situation', for which they were totally unprepared even if they did use their elite Special Police Group. The police hierarchy reluctantly agreed to hand the case over to the army rather than take it and risk getting egg on their faces.

The top brass in the military were as one, they wanted to stop this madness even if it did involve their ex-colleagues and even if those colleagues were ex-SAS. However, the boots on the ground were having a tougher time. They were torn between their loyalty to the Crown and loyalty to ex-comrades, even if they had gone renegade. Nevertheless, in the end they had to condemn their ex-colleagues.

The die was set

The SAS would move against the four suspects with extreme caution, because the people they were after were more experienced than they were, although maybe not as fit. The only real advantages that they had were surprise and numbers. As far as they knew, the suspect group only consisted of up to two men, but none of the men who were selected to go on the missions underestimated the danger.

Investigations in the local villages of the four suspects, soon revealed that three of them were loners who hardly ever 'went anywhere', but one man stood out. Gareg Griffiths in St. David's, who was known to associate with an ex-colleague, Bob Jones. The others were soon eliminated from the enquiry and attention focussed on Gareg's farm.

The army's plan was a simple one. They would go to the farm mob-handed, surround it and call on Gareg to surrender. If he refused, they would just starve him out. The last thing they wanted on their hands was a shooting match with their ex-colleagues.

Preliminary reconnaissance did not reveal any suspicious activity. Gareg seemed to be there most days and Bob quite often, but it just looked like a normal, working farm. However, the Chinese had pointed the finger at Wales and the type of operations did suggest a military precision and access to military supplies and techniques, and so they were obliged to proceed with their investigation.

The SAS hierarchy decided to airlift six men into the hinterland around Gareg's farm so that they could keep an eye on the place until soldiers could get there and despatched thirty troops in two wagons from Hereford. It would take about three hours to get there and take up positions all around the farm and start the sie

use harm, just to keep the soldiers where they were. They also had old Bren guns on tracks that they could cause to poke out through the stonework on all four sides of the house. The first five hundred rounds in each belt were blanks, but they made the soldiers keep their heads down so that the live rounds whizzed harmlessly overhead.

Dave let off a whole series of smoke bombs that he had buried around the house to provide cover if they should need it to make a get-away. They could be triggered by advancing troops like landmines or by radio signal. They too were not meant to cause any harm, but it did make Major Harris wonder whether there were also more lethal devices hidden in the grass.

At six fifteen, Trevor tapped his watch from behind the bar to make Gareg aware of the time. He gave him the thumbs up.

"OK, boys, now is the time for the big exit. Are they all still well out of the way?"

"Yes, Gareg, " said Bob. "They are still at one hundred metres from the house."

"OK, lads, fingers on the buttons. On the count of three, one, two three."

They pressed their buttons and their screens went dead.

"We're with you, Trevor." They closed their screens, said goodnight to the locals and the staff. Bob tapped John on the shoulder as he left. Gareg put £100 over the bar for drinks for everyone and followed Trevor out of the back door to the car park.

He dropped them off at the Flying Club and they invited him in for a drink, but he wanted to get back to his pub.

"I'd better not. I've never driven one of these before and I don't want to get pulled over or crash it. Here, I've wrapped up three pint glasses for you to take wherever it is you're going. They've got the Red Dragon etched on them to remind you of Wales and the Mariner.

"Good luck, lads."

"Thanks for all your hospitality and help, Trevor, and thanks for the souvenirs too. I'll treasure mine, " said Gareg.

"Me too, Trev, " said Bob and hugged him.

Trevor shook hands with the three men, got back into the Bentley and drove off.

"Genaro, this is Dave, a great friend of ours. Dave, Genaro, likewise or we may still be stuck in the UK."

"Very nice to meet you, chiefy! Ah's ya bum for cracking walnuts?"

Genaro looked at him; studied him for a few long seconds and then he realised that Gareg would not take an idiot into his house and burst out laughing. He grabbed Dave's hand and shook it heartily.

"So what happened, Gareg? Come, my friends, sit down, let us eat, drink and be merry."

"We were lucky really. Dave came down to my farm to make some alterations – things to keep the police at bay until we could get away. That sort of thing. We never expected the SAS to turn up! Well, we didn't even know they were that close to us. Anyway, after three weeks at it, we were nearly done and starting to take things a bit easier.

"We were going away for a few drinks and not going home for a couple of days, especially on the week ends. We happened to be in Barry, Bob's hometown, yesterday, got drunk and stayed over when the army made it's move today. It was pure chance that we were not on the farm this afternoon when they arrived. We were still in Barry having 'a hair of the dog' as we say in English – another drink and the session was starting again, when one of Dave's devices alerted him that someone was phoning the house.

"We ran our whole defence from the back bar of a pub, but we still had the problem of getting out of the country. Then you stepped into the breach and saved our skins."

They stayed in Genaro's place in Les Calanques for five days, while he had fake French passports made up for Gareg and Bob. Dave had done nothing wrong as far as the authorities were concerned, in fact none of them had, but Gareg and especially Bob were wanted for questioning in respect of firearms and other related offences.

The passports were for naturalised citizens, so it was not an issue that they did not speak French fluently. Dave, however, had Genaro and his men in stitches for the whole of the time they were there. A natural entertainer anyway, he tried to translate his English jokes into his schoolboy French, which had been pretty good when he was a teenager.

It was returning to him quickly and he learned easily. However, it was not that his jokes were funny, but the way that he told them and acted them out was hilarious.

Everybody took to Dave sooner or later

Gareg and Bob kept their real names on Genaro's advice, because he said that no-one would be looking for them as French citizens.

On the sixth day, Genaro drove them to Marseille airport, where they boarded a connecting flight to Istanbul and then a Turkish Airlines aircraft to Bangkok. They each literally had only the clothes they stood up in and a holdall, containing a few things and Trevor's pint glasses.

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