Jeremy Simpson nodded approval at Irwin’s memory. A call to MI6’s headquarters on the banks of the Thames- the striking building known as Legoland to many of its occupants- had returned sparse electronic notes which fleshed out Irwin’s recall. There had been, in the late nineties to mid noughties, a series of disappearances amongst the world’s disreputable club of arms dealers. Rumours had abounded, including one that they had all been victims of a gang of thieves.
With so many of the transactions conducted in cash, and occasionally diamonds or other easily transportable valuables, it was hard to track them. If anyone off the watch list came into possession of such booty, and were disciplined enough, the trail could go cold very quickly. So there was little to back up any of the theories about the retirement of any gun smugglers and it was generally notched up as one less bad guy. The disappearances had tailed off in the last few years. Until a report from January of an arms dealer and his family found in a bullet riddled Range Rover in Miami after rumours that an associate had ripped off a major client and promptly disappeared.
If the associate had been hijacked and killed then a large deal would have fallen through. There was no arbitration on the darker edges of the arms trade. The client wasn’t likely to sit down and try to work out a deal, they’d most often draw a gun.
So, were the pair next door part, or all, of a gang which had targeted arms dealers and stolen from them and their clients? In one way it was a dangerous trade to be in, the dead family in Miami was evidence of what happened to people who found they’d upset warlords or terrorists. In another way it was quite safe- who was going to tell the authorities that they’d been robbed whilst carrying out an illegal trade. So long as their victims remained in the dark about the identity of their robbers the gang could move relatively safely.
If this gang was able to target big deals, and they certainly had today, they must have access to some high level intelligence. If they could be made to talk they would be one hell of an asset. The gain would be so much more than Jed had hoped to get from the deal they had crashed. He was already working out how to get them out of the country- it wouldn’t do to give the French intelligence this valuable- and what sort of deals or threats would get the best information out of them. Jed wondered whether it might be worth abandoning the planned deal just to sweep these guys up quickly. The dark part of him started calculating the intelligence benefits against the loss of Williams’ wife and child.
Jed had a conscience, but he sometimes asked it to look the other way. This wasn’t yet one of those times. Irwin was good, he might recover Karen and Simon Williams. But even if he didn’t the two men holding Gerry Williams weren’t leaving the hotel free. Jed smiled. He was trying, by proxy, to do the right thing and save two innocent lives. But even if he failed at that he’d still come out of the day with far more than he’d expected going in.
Other fiction by Ian Pattinson