FanFic: The Cold Hands Of Fate
Aug 8, 2003
James Bond was not happy. As he fought his way through the masses filling the heart of the Ginza shopping region of Tokyo, he tried to think. The Ginza was one of the noisiest regions of Japan; in fact, he could not recall being anywhere even half as busy recently. Even London's Victoria Station paled in comparison with the Ginza. Normally, the noise wouldn't have fazed him, but today he could feel it eating away at his concentration. It wasn't a hard mission - Bond had spent a great deal of time arguing with M about why someone from Station J couldn't handle it, but she had insisted he was the only man for the job - but Bond never liked to have anything less than total concentration when he was on a mission. M's insistence he come to Japan left him with the distinct impression she wasn't telling him everything. He had pressed Moneypenny, Tanner and Robinson for details but all had evaded his questions. Bond was still annoyed about this; secrets inevitably lead to surprises and surprises in this game can be fatal. M was gambling, Bond knew, gambling with his life. But who or what was the ultimate prize; and why did M deem it necessary to hide facts from him?
On the face of it, the mission was simple enough. Meet this guy Hiyao Usami at a time and place prescribed by MI6, hear his bargain and relay it to Quinn, the head of Station J. Standard enough procedure; the man would present information, proclaiming it vital and expect a hefty reward for his "troubles." It was safe enough, in theory, as the contact would never know where or when the meeting was to take place until five minutes beforehand, and no agent had ever been killed in such a meeting. Bond had experienced enough cases of this type before becoming a Double-O to know these informants" were generally disreputable; yet, on the chance one might be genuine, each would meet with an agent who would report back to his section, when its credibility and urgency would be decided upon. If it was deemed to be important - which happened less than one percent of the time, Bond remembered from one of those blasted reports M insisted all agents read - the informer was taken into protective custody and the warning was acted upon.
The drudge work - as it was known in the Service - was usually reserved for the most junior agents in each station, yet M herself had intervened and insisted Bond take the assignment. So Usami meant something - but what? Over dinner with his old friend 'Tiger' Tanaka the night before, Bond had asked if the name meant anything to him; yet Tiger, who had retired from the Japanese secret service after his third heart attack about two months before, was equally puzzled. As Bond rounded the corner towards the point of contact - a disused building scheduled for bulldozing - thoughts raced through his head. He forced himself to clear his thoughts as he stepped into the alleyway from which the building could be accessed. For the umpteenth time that morning, he found himself reaching for the Walther P99 in place in his shoulder holster, as if to reassure himself it was still there. He glanced casually over his shoulder to ensure he had not been followed, retrieved from his wallet his credit card lock pick and opened the door.
It was as though he had entered another world. The bustle of Ginza largely muted by the thick walls of the dilapidated building, Bond was relieved to finally have a chance to think things through properly. Reaching the third floor, he found the room he had selected to use during his meeting with Quinn upon arriving in Tokyo. A disused shop, it had once been a bookstore, judging by the kanji writing above the entrance. The reasons for him and Quinn choosing this room were threefold. Firstly, its being on the third floor, according to Service statisticians, lessened the chance of an enemy or a wayward civilian interrupting the rendezvous. Personally, Bond wasn't so sure it would lose a determined tail but it made sense as far as it went. Secondly, the room was completely interior, which meant there would be no eavesdroppers, not to mention snipers, watching through the windows. Thirdly, the shop was little more than four walls, making the preliminary sweep for listening devices much simpler. Which, he thought, is exactly what he should be doing. One of Q Branch's more useful inclusions into the standard-issue wristwatch of late was a silent bug detector. It had a range of 2½ metres and the face light flashed three times if it detected something. Bond unstrapped the watch from his wrist and, holding it against the wall in his right hand, circled the room anti-clockwise. According to the watch, there was nothing untoward; all he need do now was wait. Finding an old crate, he sat down and tried to think.
Before long and before he could reach any satisfactory conclusions, he heard a noise emanating from the basement. It was probably Usami and one of the Station J drivers but Bond had his Walther at the ready nonetheless. He heard a female voice say clearly, in Japanese, "The real estate agent said this place was cleaner;" - the code.
He responded in the same language, "Ah, but it's a renovator's dream." He switched to English. "Usami here?"
A new voice floated from below, male and Japanese. "I'm Usami."
The first voice added, "I'm the station driver."
Within minutes, Usami and the driver were in the shop. Usami was perhaps sixty years old but in great physical shape. More out of habit than any sense of danger; Bond quickly frisked the other man, glancing at the young woman as he did. About thirty, she had strawberry-blonde hair which cascaded over her shoulders. She had the most penetratingly clear blue eyes he had ever seen, soft pink lips with perhaps a hint of highlighting and a beautifully formed nose. She was dressed in a red business jacket and pants with a black blouse underneath open just enough to show a hint of abundant cleavage. Sophisticated yet sensual, thought Bond approvingly, before redirecting his attention to the job at hand.
"Ohayo gozaimasu," Bond greeted the other man. "Boku wa MI6-o daihyô shimasu." I represent MI6. "Nan ni tsuite ohanashimasho ka?" What shall we talk about?
"Boku wa Cassandra toiu kikai ni tsuite jôhô ga motte imasu," the response came. I have information about the Cassandra Machine. Bond furrowed his brow. The Cassandra Machine? What the bloody hell is that?
Quickly evaluating his options, Bond thought it most prudent to play it cool. "So desu ka?" Is that so?
Usami opened his mouth to reply but could say nothing before a loud crash had Bond pulling him to the ground. Looking up, Bond saw a wrecking ball withdrawing from a gaping hole which had appeared in the exterior wall across the hallway. The operator leant out of his cockpit and threw something towards them.
"Grenade!" Bond shouted, diving for the mediocre cover of the counter. The driver was already there and had her head between her legs. Bond looked around for Usami but couldn't see him. Taking a risk to lift his head above the counter, he saw Usami staggering in confusion into the open hallway. A split second later, a deluge of machine gun fire rang out and Usami was thrown back against the banisters. Then the building shook as the grenade exploded. Bond was momentarily confused about why it was not as powerful an explosion as he had anticipated before realising it must have fallen through the banisters to the ground floor, perhaps even the basement if it had fallen through into the empty elevator shaft. Bond momentary relief was shaken by the realisation the building's already poor structural integrity had undoubtedly been compromised more by the explosion.
Drawing his Walther, he fired two shots blindly around the corner in the direction of the wrecking machine. Both were extremely optimistic, given both the distance and lack of aim but they drew fire away from the critically wounded Usami. The machine gun's reply burst was cut short; probably by a lack of ammunition. Tentatively, Bond fired another shot which went unanswered. Satisfied the enemy gun was empty; he rushed to Usami and started to drag him to safety. The driver emerged from the counter to help. Even as he was doing this, Bond knew Usami was fatally wounded. Usami's eyes, vainly attempting to come into focus, gazed vaguely in Bond's direction.
Whispering, Usami managed only two words before he died, "Bond...Cassandra."
A rush of adrenaline jolted Bond back into the moment and, thrusting away the Walther, he pulled the driver to the ground. The wrecking ball was closer than it had been; the operator had moved the entire machine closer. If he and the driver had still been standing, it would have crushed their skulls. He groped for his gun but could not find it. He rolled to the right and stood, waiting for the ball to come back past. Seconds felt like an eternity but eventually the ball swung back past and Bond leapt onto it. He hung on as until the ball was out of the building and then stood up on the ball. The operator panicked and tried to throw Bond off the ball but he leapt from it towards the cockpit. He hit the wind shield and slid down it, grabbed a jutting bar and swung himself toward the cockpit before being king-hit by the operator. Barely retaining his balance, he forced his way into the cockpit. The man inside, 30ish, Japanese and expensively dressed, was obviously trained in some form of martial arts; but then, so was Bond. The two men fought with deadly intensity before the Japanese man landed a foot on Bond's face and used the momentary confusion to slide head first down the ladder built onto the machine. He set off on foot and quickly rounded the corner into the Ginza crowd before Bond could follow. If he thinks he's gotten away, thought Bond, he's dead wrong!
Searching for one person in the sea of bodies which is Ginza is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, this was the only clue Bond had in this whole murky affair. He set off toward the crowd. It was larger than he had anticipated; although the man he was chasing was dressed so distinctively it would take little more than a half-glimpse to set him back onto his track. He scanned the throng for the man for at least fifteen seconds before seeing the other duck into the alleyway behind a glittering skyscraper some hundreds of metres away. As he rounded the corner, a gut instinct warned him to duck as a dagger flashed through the air where his head would have been.
The Japanese man had attempted an ambush and he had run directly into it with only fate to thank for his survival. His head still down, he rugby tackled the man. He had played rugby for Eton for maybe a year before being expelled and had rudimentary skill in the art of the tackle. The other man, caught off guard by having his knife jammed in the mortar of the building, fell with Bond to the ground. Bond reached to where the knife had fallen to find the other man's hand wrapped around the hilt. He tried to pry the knife free, while with his left hand, he hit the man in the groin, loosening the other's grip ever so slightly. Amazingly, the assailant did not let go of the weapon, moreover he took seconds to recover and afterwards seemed to increase in strength exponentially.
Despite Bond's efforts to push it away, the knife, guided by the Japanese man, inched closer to his abdomen. Pressed against the rendered besser brick wall of the skyscraper, Bond had little hope of being able to escape. His legs pinned by those of the other man and his arms busy forestalling the onset of the glistening blade, Bond desperately tried to surreptitiously contort his body into a position in which he could head-butt the other man. It took what seemed like half a lifetime, but he eventually found himself in a suitable contortion, though it was hardly comfortable. The collision of heads sent Bond's world spinning, the other man, seemed even more dazed. Bond vaguely heard the sound of the knife clattering against the paved ground. Shaking off his dizziness, he gathered up the weapon and got to his feet. Once he was sure of his footing, he pulled his assailant to his feet and pinned him against the wall with the knife at his throat. "Now," he said, infusing as much faux politeness into his voice as possible, "let's talk about Cassandra, shall we?"
The other man made an assenting grunt. "But you have to protect me," he said, the fear evident in his eyes. This time Bond grunted, albeit noncommittally. The fear grew in the Japanese man's eyes and spread throughout his body. "Please," the man begged. "Please, Commander Bond."
"He identified you?" M looked up from the report and glared at Bond, who stood with his arms clasped behind his back in front of her desk. "How?"
"I'm not sure, Ma'am," Bond replied. "Tiger's people are interrogating him now, I believe."
"Tanaka? He's been out of the business for almost a year, now; with his heart the way it is."
Bond permitted himself a smile. "This was the excuse he was looking for to get back into the game, I think, ma'am. I couldn't leave the man with our own people; if I've been identified, there's no telling how much our security has been compromised. Best I left him with the Japanese service, I thought."
Since returning to London, Bond had tried to decide how he had been identified and, short of another mole in the organisation (a problem MI6 had experienced more than once recently, first with Helena Marksbury and then Miranda Frost being identified as enemy double agents, and M had since devoted a lot of time and money to upgrading security), he still had no definite ideas. Just as he was trying to word his thoughts, the intercom on M's desk beeped and the voice of Miss Moneypenny, M's personal assistant, filled the room.
"We've just received the report on Operation Trojan Horse from Tokyo," she reported.
"Thank you, Moneypenny. What is the status of Cassandra?" M replied.
There was silence for about half a minute as Moneypenny scanned the report. Bond remained poker-faced but it didn't escape his attention that both M and Moneypenny acted as though they had known about Cassandra since well before Usami's defection.
When Moneypenny answered, the relief in her voice was evident. "Non-operational. Repeat, Cassandra is non-operational."
M exhaled audibly before asking Moneypenny to bring in a copy of Tanaka's report. Bond stepped forward as if to speak before thinking better of it.
M stared at him. "Before you say anything, Double-Oh Seven, I'm going to fill you in on all we know about Cassandra. Then I'm sure you'll understand why we needed to send you in blind."
She glanced down at the report Moneypenny had handed to her before waving the other woman out. "Cassandra is a device which acts like a portable, wireless lie detector. It reads the pitch and frequency of brain activity to determine not only whether or not a person is telling the truth but also provide some rough indication of the subject's true intentions. It was developed here in Britain by one Professor Marius Quain but disappeared in transit to the United States, where further tests were due to be carried out. Our colleagues at the NSA report intensified activity along the entire US east coast by a Neo-Nazi terror outfit known as the Sons of Agamemnon."
"Another Homeric reference," Bond noted. "It's too unlikely to be coincidence."
"That's what our analysts concluded," M agreed. "There must be a link in Professor Quain's organisation to this group. That's why we think they were able to capture so much of the machine. It was disassembled for security reasons for transit and sent through different routes, both air and sea, to reduce the chances of something like this happening. We lost contact with the final piece just before Mr Usami contacted us. He told us then that the pieces were being transported around the world by the Sons of Agamemnon and their agents so as to lose our tails before being reassembled in their headquarters. He didn't know where that was, or so he said. He said to us he was just an agent for them charged with delivering a piece from a Son of Agamemnon based in Tokyo to a luxury yacht, the Dragon Maid, of Singapore registry. He did and we've had the Japanese service keep an eye on the yacht.
"When we sent you," M continued, "we had no idea whether the pieces had been reassembled, so we had to send you in knowing as little as possible. We've had Q-branch try to come up with something to counter it, but as yet they haven't been successful. Now, pay attention, Double-Oh Seven, because this is important. One or more agents in our Tokyo station have connections with the Sons of Agamemnon. This was uncovered in the security upgrades we had following Miss Frost's defection and we have kept them in Tokyo to feed them false intelligence and because we have such an effective intelligence ally in the Japanese. Because Station J is not reliable, we brought you in, and used the Japanese service. I have also placed our top counter-espionage agent, Rachel Thornleigh, in our Japanese station as the station driver. I believe you met her. The rest of our agents in Japan have their own assignments to throw the doubles off the scent. Bond, I need you to make sure Cassandra doesn't become operational or our every operation will become excessively risky. I want you to go to Singapore and rendezvous with Miss Thornleigh. She's ostensibly on leave so Station J shouldn't know she's there but don't count on it. You are to work only with her and with Tanaka's people. Do you understand?"
"Yes, M," Bond replied.
"Good. Q-branch is expecting you soon." M sighed and massaged her temples. "Good luck, Double-Oh Seven."