CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN
NO PLAN SURVIVES THE FIRST CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY
Three hundred miles to the south, Edward Montford was in the command centre in Northwood Military HQ. The room was mainly filled with senior officers. He was with the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary.
Six Oxys had taken his heart rate down to the kind of numbers usually reserved for an Olympic marathon runner. All around him bodies moved with tense efficiency. Everyone was speaking in hushed tones for no particular reason. It wasn't like anyone was listening. The calm had been disturbed by the strange report from Charlotte Square. Something had certainly happened. Two policemen were laid out of the ground and the front door was wide open.
After a brief conversation, the officers in command had decided they had no other option than to continue as planned. Edward tried to make any kind of sense of the news, but drew nothing but blanks. Had it been some sort of kidnap? A coincidence to end all coincidences? No way. Not in a million years.
Was there any point in agonising about it? None whatsoever. The opiates gave him the clarity he needed. There were only two options on the table. He could either call the whole thing off or he could keep silent. Black and white. No grey area.
No way was he calling anything off. He sat quiet and kept his thoughts to himself.
When the much anticipated Zulu finally arrived, it proved to be something of a damp squib. At Zulu plus two the first report came in. A secured road junction. By the time Zulu plus five arrived the reports were coming in thick and fast. The last of the three barracks was secured at Zulu plus twenty one. The airport came in at Zulu plus twenty five. The Leuchars air base was the last target to be secured at Zulu plus thirty.
By this time Edward Montford was barely paying attention anymore. All the pleasure he had looked forward to feeling as a clockwork operation played out in front of him had started to evaporate at Zulu plus four when Team 7 checked in.
“Team 7 target secure. Repeat, target secure. Tango One unavailable. Repeat, Tango One unavailable.”
“Roger that Team 7. Maintain target security and wait out.”
It had been him. What in the name of fucking Christ was going on....
Montford had always prided himself on his instincts and right now they were setting off klaxons in his brain. Something was off. Badly off, But he couldn't begin to work out what it was.
He found out at Zulu plus 27.
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
ON THE RUN
As soon as they cleared the last of the city, Alf floored the accelerator and only dipped below eighty for the sharper corners. As the moonlit world hurtled by, Sam brought Scotland's First Minister up to speed with what was happening to his country.
At first, Angus refused to believe a word of it. Sam had expected nothing less.
“Come on Angus. Think about it. Think about what happened at midnight on Monday. The biggest fire London has seen in nearly 400 years. Now have a think about what Montford had to say the next day. Who did he have fitted up to play the part of the big, bad bogeyman? Come on Angus, get with the programme. The fire was the set up. No doubt he paid Holbrooke Securites to make it happen. Tomorrow morning the smug bastard will be telling the world all about how he had no choice.”
“But he can't just invade. This is 2030 for Christ's sake. You don't just go and take a bloody country.....”
He never came close to finishing the sentence. How could he? Because speaking half the sentence was more than enough for him to see how completely wrong it was. This could happen precisely because it was 2030. Five years of heat and drought had changed everything. Montford was empowered by Turkey and Israel and China. So, of course he could invade Scotland.
“Christ. I know. But still. I mean this is just crazy. We've just driven all the way out of the city and we've not seen a bloody soul. How can you tell me the English Army is right now taking control of our capital.”
Wendel tuned out of listening to the chatter and chipped in.
“It's not old school. This isn't Hitler marching the Sixth Army into Paris. It's twelve hundred guys taking hold of all the key targets.”
He gave Angus a five minute version of Barn Owl.
“But there will have to be more than twelve hundred?”
“There will be. Already in the air. In the next couple of hours, there will be plane after plane landing at the airport. By nine o'clock the Paras will be heading into town to take over from the special forces. By noon the city will be locked down by a force of three thousand. They think it will be a done deal."
“But you don't.”
“Too fucking right I don't. OK. We're almost at Balerno. Do you believe us yet?"
“Fair enough. Sam, get the radio on.”
Sam already had the SBC's favourite through the night programme tuned in. She switched on. Nothing. Silence. Dead air. She tried four more stations only to find the same ominous void. She tuned into BBC Radio Two to demonstrate the radio was working south of the border. It was. An old late night Sinatra song briefly filled the car before she snapped the radio off.
“By now all the main TV and radio stations will be locked down. From here on in Montford intends to have total control of all mainstream information.”
“It's like a bloody Coup.”
“Precisely. Army Command has pulled Barn Owl straight out of a CIA playbook from the 70's.”
Alf pulled up in front of a small cafe which was very much closed for the night. There wasn't much call for 24 hour coffee on the A70 between Edinburgh and Balerno.
“Come on sir. Let's be having you. Are we past the gun thing?”
“Yes, of course. Why are we stopping here?”
Alf dealt with the front door lock in less than twenty seconds. The cafe area was done out farmhouse kitchen style. Wendel and Alf took up a watching brief by the front door whilst Sam set up a video camera on a tripod. Once she was happy with it she positioned a lighting unit.
She clicked the record button and hurried to her mark.
“This is Sam Keating reporting from the South of Scotland. Twenty two minutes ago the Westminster Government launched what they are calling Operation Barn Owl. Barn Owl is basically an invasion of Scotland. 1200 men from the SAS and SBS have taken over all key installations in Edinburgh. Army barracks, TV and Radio stations. Police stations. The Scottish Parliament. As I speak it is fair to assume every target is now under the control of the English Army. Edinburgh International Airport and the Leuchars Air Base will also have been secured. The most important goal of Operation Barn Owl was to kidnap Scotland's First Minister and to take him into custody. Well, Barn Owl has failed. First Minister Angus Campbell is here with me right now. First Minister, do you have a message for the people of Scotland?"
Angus stepped into the light with a furious expression. "Yes Sam, I certainly do. I am still getting up to speed with the objectives of this so called Operation Barn Owl. It seems to me Edward Montford is somewhat deluded. He seems to think control of our capital and our military installations is enough for him to seriously believe he can rule us. Well, I suggest he takes a moment 'tae think again', to coin a phrase. Scotland is a mighty big country and we Scots don't take well to being invaded. So if you think it's all over Mr Montford, well, best of luck with that one.
'My message to the Scottish people? That is simple enough. Over the course of the next few days, you are going hear a whole lot of English shite coming out of the TV and the radio. That's ALL it will be. Pure shite. I expect we're all about to be treated to some fairy tale about it being our fault he didn't have enough water to put his fire out. No doubt we will say he had no choice but to invade us because he couldn't stand by and see his people go thirsty. I suggest his convenient fire might warrant a closer look. I wonder if his best pals from Holbrooke Securities might have had something to do with it? We'll see. I wouldn't put anything past the Right Honourable Edward Montford.
'Well. I am still your First Minister and as far as I'm concerned this war will only be over when I say it's over, not when that public school prick from London says it's over. I apologise for the intemperate language, but you will probably gather I am seriously pissed off. I have no doubt you will all feel exactly the same. That will have to do for now. We need to move. Watch this space.”
Sam nodded. Wendel gave a one man round of applause. “Bloody hell sir. I well liked the bit about 'English shite'. You'll do for me.”
Sam concentrated furiously as she hooked the camera to her laptop and transferred the footage. She checked the quality and nodded quiet approval. Next, she connected to the internet and uploaded to YouTube. She had already fully prepared a page to have everything ready for the film. Once it was transferred, she checked it was working and gave herself another nod. One final task. She had her editor's personal mobile all ready to roll. A groggy voice picked up on the fifth ring.
“Bloody hell Sam, what the......”
“No time Bill. Just listen OK. I've e-mailed you a YouTube link. Basically, it is the biggest story on planet earth and the Guardian is going to be in front of it. I have also e-mailed you the raw footage for the website. The film explains everything. You won't be wanting to go back to sleep anytime soon. Bye for now."
She killed the call and a minute later they were on the road again. Wendel made a call.
“LZ in five. You good?.... Roger that.”
“We're all good?” Asked Alf.
“Yeah. Good as gold.”
Three miles later they pulled into the car park of a small rugby club. Angus was about to ask what on earth they could possibly do in a rugby club at four o'clock in the morning. He didn't bother. The growing sound of an approaching helicopter told him all he needed to know. He had to admit it, this was a hell of a slick abduction.
The helicopter dropped down more or less right on the centre line of the pitch. The pilot was Bennie Gilmour, a Kiwi chancer who had lifted Wendel in and out of a number of tight corners over the years. Civvy Street meant a one man band which went under the name of 'Fly with Bennie'. Business hadn't exactly boomed and he was more than happy to agree to accept the whole of Sam and Wendel's savings as a fee for his night's work.
His passengers drove the car into the middle of the field and climbed aboard.
The pilot greeted them with a gap tooth grin. "Morning all. Welcome on board. We hope you'll enjoy your experience with 'Fly with Bennie..."
“Fuck off Bennie and get this crate airborne will you?”
“No worries mate.”
They strapped themselves in as the helicopter lurched up into the slowly lightening sky. Wendel helped Angus to get his helmet working and then spoke through the radio.
“Where are we going?”
“North. Fort George. The Black Watch. The brainboxes who planned Barn Owl didn't think there was a need to take Fort George. They assume once they have a complete hold of the rest of the Scottish Army and Airforce, the Black Watch will have no choice but to surrender. I expect they would have wanted you to make the call."
“Indeed. So here's what I need you to do. I'm going to get you through to the night officer and you're going to have to convince him to wake up Colonel Jackson. Do you know him?"
“Not particularly well. We've talked a few times.”
“Good enough. Tell Jackson what has gone down and make sure he goes onto full alert. Make sure he's ready for us to land …. how long do you reckon Bennie?”
“Nice night. No weather. Say 50 minutes mate.”
“Fifty minutes. You ready?”
“Go for it.”
At first, the squaddie on the desk wasn't having any of it. Angus had to adopt as fierce a tone as he could muster.
“Look sunshine, if you listen hard enough I'm sure you'll recognise my voice. And I'm sure you can hear the sound of the helicopter I am in. How many nutters make hoax calls at four o clock in the morning from a bloody helicopter? Not many, right? So stop buggering about and get Colonel Jackson on the line. Tell him this. When we sat next to each other at a dinner last November he told me some stupid joke about a frog and a rabbit. OK?"
The joke about the frog and the rabbit sealed the deal. A minute later the gruff tones of Colonel James Jackson AKA 'JJ' were in the headphones.
“Yes. Is the frog and the rabbit joke proof enough for you?”
“Yes, sir. More than enough. How can I help?"
“It might be a good idea to sit down. Bullet points, OK?”
“Less than an hour ago the English Army invaded Scotland. Special Forces have taken control of all key installations. They also have the media and the Parliament. They were supposed to have me but as you can hear I got away. They assumed once they had me and the rest of the Cabinet locked down, they could easily enough force me to order the Black Watch to stand down. Well if you'll pardon my French, fuck that. Ten minutes ago I posted a message to the people of Scotland on YouTube. In a nutshell, my message was 'No Surrender'. We have to assume they might guess where I am headed, though I very much doubt they will expect me to have a helicopter. They might well change their plans. You need to prepare for a possible air strike. OK. I think that's enough. We will be with you in about 45 minutes. Please be ready for us. Check out YouTube. Try to make contact with any of our bases in Edinburgh. It won't take you so very long to realise I've not gone round the bend. All clear JJ?"
“Yes. All clear. Good work sir.”
“Thanks, JJ. See you soon."
By now the sky was a starting to glow red. Ahead of them the mountains of the north were majestic in the light of the dawn. Angus drank in the view. It was genuinely awe inspiring. So Edward Montford thought he could take Scotland in a few hours did he?
TO READ ALL PREVIOUS CHAPTERS PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW
I HAVE WRITTEN THIS STORY TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE FOODBANK I MANAGE IN DUMFRIES, SOUTH WEST SCOTLAND. OVER THE COMING WINTER OVER 3000 PEOPLE WILL COME THROUGH OUR DOORS AND RIGHT NOW WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH CASH TO HELP THEM ALL OUT. MAYBE YOU MIGHT BE WILLING TO HELP US OUT BY BUNGING A COUPLE OF QUID ONTO OUR JUSTGIVING PAGE? I HOPE SO. JUST FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW. I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE REST OF THE BOOK AND IF DO, PLEASE SHARE IT. MARK.