tagNon-EroticConspiracy Theory Pt. 01

Conspiracy Theory Pt. 01

byStarscream_UK©

Prelude



Bracks Club, Off Whitehall

Friday 9pm

It was damnable bad luck. Bracks had been an exclusive club for over two hundred years and most of the members looked like originals. The requirements of equality had been met by admitting two old prunes who never used the place and a young Sikh who had yet to hit the glass ceiling and so was working long hours. So it should have been a perfect place to meet up with the head of Lucas' Oracle team, and then celebrate. After five years the final tests were complete and Oracle was ready. Lucas had forced himself to wait patiently but now complete success was near.

And then that busybody Close had arrived at just the wrong moment. It was totally unsuspected. Close was in bad odour after some embarrassing pronouncements about the current government and who would expect him to be in this haven of the establishment?

He'd maintained outward civility, but inside he was incandescent with rage at the threat to his plans. So he'd left as soon as was decent. It would doubtless please his driver and that nosy little shit Erickson. Setting up the fake attempt on his life had been a brilliant move but having a MI5 bodyguard was a definite downside in the case of Erickson.

On the other hand his colleague Mitchell had been a major asset. She had already done him one major service, under the romantic impression that she was following secret orders. Perhaps she could solve another of his problems. Or all of them for that matter.

Till Death Do Us Part

For a Monday, it had been remarkably uneventful. Which suited Daniel Crossman just fine as he cradled a cup of coffee in his hands to nurse his hangover. As he stared out of the window through blurry eyes, snippets of the row between him and his ex-wife from the previous evening that had precipitated his intake of alcohol revolved around his head. His hand moved up and rubbed against three day old stubble as he heard the sound of people approaching his desk making a scratching sound that grated against his thick skull.

"…All I'm saying is that this isn't necessary -- Hemmings can deal with this," the first voice to penetrate the low-level buzzing that filled Dan's ears was that of Roberta Graham, the deputy editor of The Voice.

"I know she can, but he specifically asked for Dan." The second voice belonged to Peter Dixon, the editor. Dan slowly rolled around in his chair to take a look at them. "Danny boy -- how are you today?" Peter's voice was filled with his usual irritating enthusiasm.

"Just peachy." The grogginess in his voice made Roberta wince. "Whatcha got for me?" Peter passed him a sheet of paper.

"Do you remember Doctor Donald Close?" Peter asked. Dan shrugged his shoulders. "You interviewed him a couple of months ago -- former head of the National Audit Office," still there was no recognition in Dan's eyes. "He's been in the news recently talking about the Government's actions in the Middle East…"

"The head of the UN Weapon's Inspection team." Roberta butted in. Recognition flashed across Dan's eyes.

"I know whom you're talking about now!" he said, normality gradually returning to his vocal chords. "Why are you asking me?"

"He's offering an interview -- exclusively to The Voice," Roberta said. "And he's asked to talk to you -- urgently."

"Me?" Dan was genuinely shocked. "Seriously?"

"Seriously. You've no idea how much of a coup this will be for the magazine." Peter replied. "I want you to take Hemmings with you -- it will be good experience for her."

"Okay then," Dan said as he paused to drain his cup of coffee. "Tell her to meet me in the car park in fifteen minutes."

Crickleden

The plain grey saloon car pulled up outside the small-secluded house in Crickleden. As the engine stopped and rapidly cooled, two figures inside took stock of their situation. In the driver's seat was a woman dressed in a suit that mirrored the colour of their vehicle. In the passenger seat was a slightly nervous looking young man dressed in a dark blue suit. The woman brushed her brown hair back behind her ear before looking across at her colleague.

"Are you sure this guy has something we can use?" He asked.

"According to my informant he has some information that you can use in your little crusade against Denby." She said. "Although I still don't understand why you're so zealous about this all, I mean, we all have skeletons in our closets."

"Speak for yourself," He replied. "I don't know how you can turn a blind eye to it all -- he's been abusing his position and acquiring more power day by day. He's worse now than he was when we were first assigned to him."

"So?" she said as she took another look at the property. "You've done well out of it -- we both have -- I just don't understand where this recent urge of yours has come from to expose him."

"It's our duty to…" he began to answer her, only for her to cut him off.

"Don't insult me by saying that you're doing this out of some misplaced sense of duty, Erickson, you're just doing it for the kudos of dragging his dirty laundry out into the limelight and hoping that you get bumped up the ladder for it." Her voice dripped with contempt for his actions. "You only understand duty in as much as how it helps you get along."

"Well, when I make Team Leader before you I'll remember your part in all this and I'll try to help you get out of this PPU detail, partner." She looked at him with an acid stare.

"Who says I need your help with anything?" she glanced down at her watch. "Stay here," she directed. "I'll call you if I need you." With that, she got out of the car and made her way towards the property. Opening the gate and making her way up the garden path, she took stock of her situation and ran through her plan one more time in her head. There was only one car in the drive, which was as she had expected and was critical to the success of her scheme. As she reached the door she focused on what she was about to do.

The doorknocker rapped against the wooden structure, prompting Donald Close to stop applying the shoe polish to his footwear. Ever since he had been a child, he had taken to polishing his shoes while they were on his feet. His wife constantly berated him for it -- particularly considering the fact that their new suite was an awkward beige colour. He put the brush down on the counter and made his way to the door just as the knocker was rebounding from the wood once again.

"Hello?" He said as he opened the door to his unexpected visitor. The smartly dressed young woman confronted him. Something about her demeanour was faintly upsetting.

"Doctor Close?" she asked as she reached into the internal pocket of her jacket. Donald nodded. Her hand returned to view -- a small wallet held within it. "I'm Detective Sergeant Rachel Mitchell, can I come in?"

"Why? What's wrong?" Donald asked, fear beginning to grip him.

"I'm afraid there's been an accident…"

****



Amy Hemmings opened up her umbrella to shield her new hair do from the rain. As she fumbled with the mechanism she saw the green Volkswagen Golf pull up at the kerbside. The passenger door opened and a voice called out to her.

"Come on, get in." Amy took a moment to realise that it was actually Dan inside the car. Giving up on the umbrella idea, Amy held her briefcase above her head in a futile attempt to stop the rain and got into the vehicle.

"Hey there," She said as she closed the door. "Thanks for this."

"No need to thank me," Dan said. "Dixon thought you could use the experience -- and I hate getting my own coffee." Amy nodded, recalling what others in the office had told her about Dan Crossman's attitude. She opened up her briefcase.

"I printed off Doctor Close's career notes that I found on the Internet -- very interesting indeed." Dan rolled his eyes. "I mean, advisor to the Select Committee on Environmental Issues, UN Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Chairman of the National Audit Office, nuclear survey groups in Iran and Iraq…"

"Let me guess," Dan interrupted. "Roberta told you to do the background research on him before coming out to see him?" Amy nodded. "Well, in my experience, background research is overrated, particularly when it comes to dealing with folks with as many strings attached to them as Don Close has." The car came to a stop at a set of traffic lights.

"There's no need to be rude about Miss Graham." Amy retorted, feeling more than a little hurt at Dan's comment. "And what makes you say that anyway?"

"Look, doing legwork is fine when it's appropriate, but this guy asked to speak to me -- why, I have no clue -- but that means he's got something he wants to spill, so I say we let him spew it out." He replied as the car pulled away from the traffic lights.

"So you're saying we just take what he says at face value?" Dan shook his head.

"No, we take what he says and dig around afterwards rather than trying to pre-empt what he might be about to tell us." He put his foot down on the accelerator to take advantage of a gap in the traffic. "Where is this place he wanted to see us?"

"Crickleden -- it's about forty minutes out of Central London." Amy said as she looked around the dashboard. "You haven't got sat-nav."

"No, why?" Dan asked.

"How the hell are we going to find our way there?" a faint trace of panic was drifting through Amy's question. Dan took a hand off the steering wheel and plunged it into the pocket at the side of the driver door. He then flipped a dog-eared A to Z over to Amy.

"Hope you can read a map."

****



He sobbed as she handed him the cup of tea. The thought of never seeing her again had hit him hard. His hands trembled slightly as he raised the cup to his lips.

"Is there anyone you'd like me to call?" She asked. He drank from the cup and shook his head.

"No…when…can…?" Donald struggled to find the words.

"You'll be notified when the body can be released so you can make the appropriate funeral arrangements." Rachel replied as she watched him finish the drink. He nodded as he put the cup down. He took several deep breaths as he sat back in the chair. A few moments later his eyes began to flutter as his breathing became more rhythmic -- exactly as she'd expected. "Are you feeling alright Doctor Close?" The question was rhetorical, but it fitted in with the part she was playing.

"I…I think…I need to…lie down…" Close muttered, his speech slurring slightly.

"I'll help get you upstairs then."

****



The traffic hadn't been the best of friends to them as they navigated their way towards their destination. Dan spent his time alternatively cursing the other drivers or complaining about the unfortunate sequence of traffic lights that they kept encountering.

"So, is it true?" Amy asked as they ended up waiting at yet another set of traffic lights.

"Is what true?" Dan countered.

"They say that you…you were the one that ran the whole "Princess Diana was murdered by the Security Services" thing." Amy hesitantly raised the question. Dan had a rueful smile on his face.

"Let's put it like this," he said as the lights turned green. "A source gave me some information, I checked it out as best as I could and then ran with it -- however I failed to take account of the fact that even the Fourth Estate isn't immune from pressure."

"But why do you always go for the stories that are a bit…" she paused, choosing her next words carefully. "Out there."

"Do you believe everything you're told?" Dan asked. "I mean, do you ever look at the façade that's presented to you and wonder what's going on behind those curtains or behind the phoney politician's smile?" Amy looked at him with a slightly bemused expression on her face. "Okay -- you know the pub everyone goes to on a Friday lunchtime? The Temple," she nodded. "Well, that was originally part of a complex established by the Knights Templar back in the thirteenth century so that they could control the Judiciary of the time. Now it's the home of the Inns of Court -- that doesn't strike you as odd?"

"Well, in as much as it's a somewhat tenuous connection between a bunch of heretics and this countries formative justice system…" Amy replied.

"They weren't heretics -- that was a rumour spread by Philip IV of France in order to seize their land and assets to fuel his war with the English. The Templars were given a Papal pardon four hundred years later -- the Vatican at the time never found any evidence of heresy, Pope Clement was pressured into his action by King Philip." He interrupted. "What I'm trying to say is that whilst, on the surface, it's just a normal franchise pub in a long chain of them -- but if you look a bit deeper, just beyond the surface, you realise that its history is far more interesting."

"Right," Amy said as she consulted the map again. "You need to make a left turn up ahead."

****



She waited -- periodically checking her watch. Close's body lay in the bed -- there were several small spasms as the nerve toxin began to attack his heart. She reached into her pocket and removed a small bottle of sleeping pills. Taking a moment to examine the label -- which she had already printed up with the dying doctor's name on it -- she opened the lid and scattered a few around to make it look like he was taking them as he passed out.

Rachel checked her watch again, then reached over and picked up his wrist to check for a pulse. There was none -- and if the experimental paxilon hydrochlorate worked as well as she hoped then the evidence of her crime would remain unnoticed by the medical examiner. She made a cursory sweep of the bedroom before dropping a small envelope on the floor.

As she made her way down stairs she took a moment to return to the living room to make sure there was nothing there that could shatter the carefully sculptured image she had created. Content that her work was done she removed two small micro-discs from her jacket pocket.

"Now for phase two." She said to herself as she walked out of the front door.

****



Dan spun the wheel of the car and turned it off the main road that ran through the suburban area called Crickleden. Carefully navigating according to Amy's directions, they reached the cosy little property that they had for Donald Close. As the car pulled into the road both Dan and Amy found themselves shocked to be greeted by flashing lights from several police cars and an ambulance. A small crowd of people were huddled to the left of the road and watched events unfold. They sat in silence as they saw the paramedics wheel out the shrouded gurney and watched a female police officer escort an elderly woman towards a squad car. Dan killed the ignition and got out of the car.

"What's going on?" He said as he approached a nearby uniformed officer.

"I'm sorry, sir, I can't discuss it with you." The officer replied. As he tried to usher Dan away a somewhat bulky plain clothed officer some ten feet behind the temporary barrier stopped and looked at them.

"You don't understand," Dan said as Amy joined him. "He asked to see me -- I'm a journalist who he wanted to talk to about something."

"Excuse me," the plain clothed officer said as he walked up to the barrier. "You wouldn't happen to be some guy called…" he consulted his notebook before continuing. "Crossman?"

"Yeah, that's me." Dan said. The officer looked at the uniformed policeman.

"You'd better let them through, Simmons will want to talk to them."

Marston Industrial Estate

The car pulled up on an old industrial estate, one that was home to several burnt out wrecks from the local joy riders. Rachel pulled the handbrake on to secure the vehicle before handing the two discs to Erickson.

"There you go." She said. "Just as I promised."

"Fantastic." He said as he looked at them. "Where did you put my laptop?"

"It's in the boot." She said. Erickson looked at her. "What? You don't expect me to get out and fetch it for you do you?"

"Well, I thought…" Erickson replied. Rachel cut him off by opening her door.

"You thought -- that's a novel concept." She said as she made her way to the back of the car. She opened the boot and removed the satchel, then proceeded to walk around to the passenger side of the vehicle. Erickson opened the door and nearly snatched the black bag from her. "No thank you?" He was lost in the piece of technology that sat on his lap. Rachel shook her head.

He switched the laptop on and waited impatiently for the machine to get past it's initial set up phase. His fat fingers struggled to get the CD drive open, but once it was he hungrily placed the first disc in the slot. Rachel could hear the machine whirring as she stepped back slightly, out of Erickson's peripheral vision.

"There's an old saying…" Rachel said as Erickson watched the laptop screen intensely. The screen turned from a powder blue colour to black before the error message was displayed across it. Frustrated, Erickson pulled that disc free before inserting the second one. Forty tortuous seconds passed. The same process happened.

"They're empty, there's nothing on them…" Erickson sounded confused as he looked at the discs, as if his eyes could see something that the laser could not. He turned to look at Rachel -- only to be confronted by the barrel of a silencer pointing at him.

"…Always bet on the other guy to know what you're doing, before you do it." Her words rolled around his ears for a second before the barrel of the gun jerked upward. The bullet smashed into Erickson's skull, killing him instantly and decorating the interior of the vehicle with blood, bone and brain matter.

The laptop slipped out onto the hard ground making a clattering noise that seemed so much louder than the silenced gunshot. Rachel picked it up and tossed it back into the vehicle. She then returned to the open boot. Removing two black tubes, she threw one into the foot well of the passenger seat, just next to Erickson's right foot and the other one into the back of the car.

She went back to the rear of the car and tucked her pistol away inside a black duffel bag. Hoisting it over her shoulder, she took a small remote control device from her pocket as she began to walk away. Once she was at least twenty feet clear she triggered the charges within -- the magnesium based devices ignited, guaranteeing a slow burn at nearly six thousand degrees. Rachel paused for a moment to pull out her cell phone.

"It's done." She said as she spoke only briefly to the person on the other end. "I'll see you later." As she tucked the phone away she shook her head. "Partner my arse."

Crickleden Police Station

The cigarette hovered precariously between his lips and his fingers. In his mind two competing voices waged a now familiar argument. Just this one, it won't hurt, the first voice said. The second voice was equally persuasive as it whispered to him. Remember you promised her that you'd quit.

"Shit," Ed Simmons muttered as he returned the cigarette to the packet in his pocket. "Bloody Catholic guilt." He took a look at the note he had been handed by his colleague -- a series of scribbled notes concerning a couple of reporters who had arrived at the Close property. As he walked along the faded corridors to the interview room his hand reached back into his pocket and removed a stick of chewing gum. He popped it into his mouth as he reached the room noted down on his piece of paper.

"Good morning folks," he said as he opened the door. "Busy day for all of us," he added as he took a moment to look at the people sitting across from him. The redhead looked young and was understandably nervous, whereas the scruffy looking man seemed somewhat relaxed -- as if he'd been in this situation before. "I gather that you and your colleague here were due to meet with Doctor Close this morning?" he directed the question to the man -- Crossman.

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