2 July 2002 – London
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” MI6 operative Ian Dennis could hear himself asking that question in his mind over and over again. How the hell was he supposed to find the courier’s briefcase amid the widely scattered wreckage of the Tupolev passenger jet? The horrendous mid-air collision with the 757 cargo plane could have sent it anywhere and by rights it and it’s classified contents should have been destroyed.
“The case is covered with genuine faux leather to be sure Dennis, but that conceals the titanium shell. Our man paid a small fortune in bribes to get in on board in Moscow so rest assured, it would survive the crash. It was designed to do just that.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Wilks. But why? This was supposed to be a milk run from Moscow to Barcelona. The courier was part of a UNESCO committee escorting a bunch of children on a school trip to Costa Dorada.”
“Thank you, Dennis. I am familiar with the facts of the Op.” A casual observer would conclude that Richard Wilks was in ill temper because what Ian had called a “milk run Op” had gone terribly sour but in actuality, he was always disgruntled. At age 72, he was one of the last of the old guard at MI6, his career as a field agent having spanned three decades. He was a young agent at the start of the cold war and he had a hand in the fall of the Berlin Wall (though very few were aware of that fact). Truth be told, he hated life behind a desk, but he had been forced to it at age 60 due to a botched hip replacement after being severely wounded in shootout in Sangi, Pakistan.
“Your security clearance does not justify you knowing the full details of the courier’s Op, Dennis. Your job is to go to Überlingen in the guise of an adviser to the German Air Accident investigators, retrieve the briefcase, and return it to London. You are not under any circumstances to attempt to open it.”